A piece of Armonk’s history will come to life this November. St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church will take visitors back 175 years in time, as the church, which dates back to 1842, holds a dramatized tour of its historic cemetery. The tour, which will be held on Nov. 5 at 4 p.m., will include a selection of monologues delivered by performers cast by the Armonk theater company.
The stories told will focus on people who served in the U.S. military, particularly during the Civil War. Tour-goers will visit the gravesites of two veterans of the Civil War, U.S. Army Private William Freeland and Corp. Albert Ransom.
Freeland, who died of typhoid fever in 1864 at the age of 25 while stationed at Rikers Island, and Ransom will each be given new headstones this year by the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs. Ransom was held as a Prisoner of War at the notorious Andersonville Prison in Georgia, where nearly a third of the 45,000 Union soldiers held there died of disease, starvation, overcrowding, or exposure to the elements. According to research by George Pouder, an Armonk-based historian and author, Ransom was so traumatized by his experience during the war that he lost all memory of his military service.
Much of the material performed at the cemetery tour is drawn from Pouder’s research. Pouder, a World War II veteran, published biographies of more than 100 Civil War veterans from North Castle, including 68 who are buried in the town’s cemeteries. After discovering that Ransom had no tombstone and Freeland’s was in a state of disrepair, Pouder worked with Rev. Nils Chittenden of St. Stephen’s to lobby the government to issue new headstones.
Tickets for the tour can be purchased online in advance at ststephensarmonk.org for $10, or at the door for $15; children under 12 are $5 in advance or $10 at the door. Visitors can also view the recently-renovated historic sanctuary of St. Stephen’s, with a visual history of the church’s artwork, artifacts, and photographs provided in the Parish Hall.
For more information about the tours, visit the church’s website or call (914) 273-3812. St. Stephen’s is located at 50 Bedford Road in Armonk.
Andrew Vitelli is a Westchester native and the editor of Inside Armonk.