Participating in the recent Dinner with the Dead event held at Grace’s Restaurant were (left to right) Maggie Bammert as Ella Haskell; Tom O’Dea as Capt. Myron Dickinson; Debbie Toolan as Margaret Emerson; Dennis Martinez as Michael O'Connor; and Jim Corriveau as Marcus Russell. Attendees said the cast studied their roles well and presented their characters with flair and historical accuracy.
In the Oct. 22 installment of Turning Back the Pages column in the Adirondack Journal, references were made of the Russell family, including their servant, Carrie Doring, who labored at the Russell’s summer home, Bonnie Brae Villa, built after the Civil War.
The day after the story was published, Warrensburg Historical Society’s “Dinner with the Dead” event was held at Grace’s Restaurant in Warrensburg, and a Russell family member was depicted.
James Corriveau of Warrensburg portrayed Marcus Russell, one of the four sons of Capt. John L. Russell and his wife, Mary L. Denison. Corriveau, an accomplished actor, captured the character of the dashing Marcus Russell in his splendid performance.
Russell, a sergeant in the U.S. Cavalry, died a hero’s death June 24, 1893 at the age of 32 at Las Guasimas, Cuba when he became the second soldier killed in the Spanish-American War with Teddy Roosevelt’s Rough Riders.
Fifty horses died on the boat going over and six drowned getting off in Cuba and charging up San Juan Hill, Teddy was the only one that was mounted. The first soldier to fall in battle was Sgt. Hamilton Fish, grandson of President U.S. Grant’s secretary of war and one of several young aristocrats who had joined the Rough Riders.
Corriveau appeared at the dinner with blue chalk smeared on his face to resemble death and wearing little else but a quilt, as after the Spanish killed Marcus Russell they took away his clothes.
Barry Woodward, Warrensburgh’s celebrated mortician, traveled to Cuba to bring Marcus’ badly decayed body back to his grieving parents and to be buried in the family plot in the Warrensburgh Cemetery. The train arrived in Thurman and a long line of mourners followed the coffin back to town. The children were let out of school for the occasion. It was probably one of the biggest funerals the Queen Village has ever seen.
Take out the line, “Marcus Russell also has one of the largest and most impressive marble obelisk memorials.”
Marcus Russell is buried in the family plot beneath his family’s towering black granite monument located in the back of the old east side of the cemetery. His epitaph reads, “Loving generous and brave with out fear and without reproach.” The family’s faithful servant, Carrie Doring, lies near the boy she probably helped raise to manhood.
The Dinner with the Dead was truly a terrific evening, sadly marking the very last evening that Grace’s Pub would be open to the public before closing to the public.
The four other actors that evening also put on a marvelous acting performance, taking up the lives of the former Warrensburgh citizens that they portrayed. Tom O’Dea played Captain Myron Dickinson, Debbie Toolan played Margaret Emerson, Maggie Bammert played Ella Haskell, and Dennis Martinez played Michael O’Connor. Rita Ferraro and Rosemary Maher wrote up the research, and Paul Gilchrist was master of ceremonies.
Looking back at yesteryear, we cannot help but wonder who, 100 years or so from now, might some day be looking back at us.