Onondaga Historical Association Educational Coordinator Scott Peal looks over his notes on the scripts for performers in this month's Ghostwalk, taking place in the Village of Liverpool. Peal stands beside the sign marking the Gleason Mansion, located on the corner of Sycamore and Second Streets. The former home of Lucius Gleason now houses the Village Museum, Chamber of Commerce, and offices, and is situated between the Liverpool Village Hall - Police Department on one side and the Willow Museum on the other. The mansion is one of several stops along the Ghostwalk.
continued The large elegant corner structure was inhabited by Lucius, who never married, his spinster sister, aged parents and brother Orson. Lucius made his mark in local history by first manufacturing salt when salt was a commodity in great demand, but when the price of salt plummeted, the intuitive entrepreneur shifted his attention to two large farms he owned, one in the town of Salina, the other in Clay. Planting willow, Gleason became the willow basket magnate of the area. This area's largest producer of willow, Gleason had his banner year in 1892, seeing 33,000 dozen baskets produced, which set a record. That's 396,000 willow baskets, made by hand. Liverpool still has fine examples of willow barns scattered throughout the village, and the Willow Museum, located adjacent to the Gleason home, is dedicated to keeping this part of local history alive.
As often happened with community founding fathers, Lucius Gleason was named president of the Third National Bank of Syracuse, after investing $300,000 of his own money in the project. He remained bank president until the day he died, at age 74. The Ghostwalk will not focus on Lucius Gleason's death, which was neither mysterious nor controversial; however there is much of the story yet to be told and concerns what happens after his death. It is likely the Ghostwalk will touch on that part of his history.
OHA's most recent Ghostwalk, which is used as a fundraiser for the organization, was staged last June at Syracuse's historic downtown Oakwood Cemetery. That Ghostwalk included the spirits of a convicted criminal, an artist, an inventor, a Civil War major general and a rather shady — though shapely — “gold digger.” If you missed that one, Peal promises a second chance as Oakwood Cemetery will be revisited in June 2013, but with different spirits.
Meanwhile, reservations for the Liverpool Ghostwalk are highly recommended, as the Oakwood event quickly sold out. The cost is $12 per person, or $10 for OHA members. To make your reservation, call Karen Cooney at 428-1864, extension 312, but call soon. People are dying to be a part of it.