Niagara Gazette


July 12, 2013

Oakwood Cemetery plans go beyond Garden Walk

Niagara Gazette — Those who want to get a jump on the Garden Walk Saturday can enjoy several events at the Oakwood Cemetery, including a tour by a master gardener, which starts an hour before the official walk begins.

Gardens throughout the Main Street area are expected to be open to the public at 10 a.m., but Oakwood, at 763 Portage Road, will begin the day at 9 a.m. with a tour of the trees in Oakwood, led by master gardener John Farfaglia of Cornell Cooperative Extension.

“I’ve been doing this for a few years,” said Farfaglia, noting that the cemetery has a wide variety of mature trees to discuss. “Sometimes the best tree collections are found in cemeteries,” he added, “because people plant trees in remembrance.”

As many garden walkers begin touring the gardens on streets around lower Main Street — including Fourth Street and Park Place to Orchard Parkway and Pierce Avenue — the cemetery staff and volunteers will continue at 10 a.m. with a non-gardening event: a medal presentation to the heroic soldier, Sgt. Leroy Williams, who volunteered to lead four others into enemy fire during a bloody Civil War battle and retrieve the dead body of Peter A. Porter.

A museum quality replica of the Medal of Honor, which was awarded to Williams, will be presented by Warren Baltes, archivist at the Connecticut Street Armory in Buffalo, who found and purchased the replica online with the intention of presenting it to the cemetery.

During a battle in Cold Harbor, Va., where 80,000 were killed, Porter had been hit by a sharpshooter, and Williams was said to have led his men just a few feet away from rebels fighters to retrieve Porter’s body.

Peter A. Porter was the son of Peter B. Porter, a prominent city elder and major general who was a hero in the War of 1812. Both Porters are buried in a Porter family site near Williams’ grave.

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