Stories of local legends and spirits will return with a live performance when SUNY Oswego's storytelling class presents the eighth annual Oswego Town Rural Cemetery: Ghost and History Storytelling Tour at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 28, 2023.

Under the direction of professor Jonel Langenfeld of Oswego's theatre faculty, costumed storytellers bring the tales of local historical figures to life in this admission-free family-friendly event.

Performers will recount the stories of university founder Dr. Edward Austin Sheldon; Dr. Mary Walker, the local women’s rights pioneer and only woman to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor and now the first woman in history to have a military fort named in her honor, Fort Walker; Underground Railroad hero Harriet Tubman; Queen Lili’uokalni Kamaka'eha (and her Oswego connection to Walker); Saint Marianne Cope; Chief Pontiac; university library namesake Lida Penfield; Dr. Richard Shineman; Audrey Munson (considered to be the “first supermodel”) and many more.

“I am very proud of the students in the storytelling class and their passion for sharing the stories of famous and not-so-famous historical figures residing in this and other local and regional cemeteries,” said Langenfeld, who teaches the interdisciplinary course. “The students have a great time researching the area where they go to school and its people of the past. They especially embrace the social justice aspect. Students learn a great deal about Oswego, gaining greater respect and understanding of the university, the people, the region and its history. They also learn the value of understanding everyone’s story and telling it in a truthful way."

The production will once again feature our collaboration with George Demass, Oswego Town historian and a 1966 SUNY Oswego alumnus; the Oswego Town Historical Association; professor Candis Haak of the SUNY Oswego history faculty and her "Death, Data and Local Cemeteries" course; as well as all the campus and local community volunteers and businesses whose support and dedication help make the cemetery show experience a success.

In addition, Langenfeld would like to offer her enormous gratitude to the Shineman Foundation and SUNY Oswego for the award of a Shineman Endowed Grant to support this year’s production.

Admission is free and sponsored by the Oswego Town Historical Society and the SUNY Oswego Theatre and History Departments.

New production format

Due to overwhelming popularity and attendance, adjustments have been made to the production format and attendance process in order to provide the best possible guest experience while protecting the integrity of the cemetery grounds. Organizers once again ask for your patience as they continue to integrate the new approach.

  • The performance date is on a Saturday, Oct. 28.
  • This year the performance has an earlier start time of 2 p.m. and will run a bit longer than in past years, to allow for the new two-part structure.
  • All listed times are estimates.

2 to 3 p.m.

  • Part I: The first act will take place separately from the walking tour under a tent, in a separate part of the cemetery. You will enjoy stories by beloved people not actually buried in the Oswego Rural Cemetery, but who have had a huge impact on the town and city of Oswego, SUNY Oswego and other parts of the United States.

▪     These include: Edward Austin Sheldon, Chief Pontiac, Lida Penfield, Ruth Gruber, Richard Shineman, Harriet Tubman, Queen Lili’ uoKalani of Hawaii, and others.

3:15 to 6:30 p.m. (approximate):

  • Part II: The second act will be the walking tour portion of the show and will feature such people as Mary Walker and James Lee, both recipients of the Congressional Medal of Honor. It will be split into two groups.

    • *You must be able to walk in order to experience this portion of the cemetery show.
    • Cemetery History Trivia: While one group is taking the walking tour, the other group will have the opportunity to play trivia, for fun, local prizes. Free cider and donuts will be available.

Ticket reservations: Since tickets sell out quickly, organizers strongly encourage reserving early. When tickets are gone, they are gone.

  • You must reserve a free ticket online at:
  • Your ticket will put you in one of the two Walking Tour choices to enjoy the second half of the show.
  • Your ticket printout will contain important information so make sure to read it carefully.
  • You will need your ticket to enter the performance so do not lose it.
    • There are 200 tickets available, with 100 slots each for the walking tour portion of the show.
    • By having two “smaller” walking groups rather than one large group, we hope to lower the physical impact of the walking tour on the cemetery grounds while allowing for a better performance experience.

Parking and transportation

To help protect the integrity of the cemetery grounds and provide a better guest experience, there will be no general parking allowed at the cemetery unless you have accessibility needs or obtain prior approval.

  • Free, mandatory on-campus parking will be provided the day of the event: Commuter Lot C32
  • Free mandatory on-campus parking with bus transportation will be provided to and from the SUNY Oswego campus Commuter Lot C32 (the lot to the right after you enter the main campus entrance off Route 104).
  • If you do need to park at the cemetery for accessibility purposes, please email, to reserve a parking spot, as on-site parking is limited.

Bus schedule

  • There will be four bus loops from campus for the delivery and return of guests.
  • Bus capacity: 44 people.
  • You MUST return to campus on the same bus you took to the cemetery.

Pickup: from SUNY Oswego Campus Commuter Lot C32 to Oswego Town Rural Cemetery

  • 12:40 p.m.
  • 1 p.m.
  • 1:20 p.m.
  • 1:40 p.m.        

    • Cemetery: Bus drop off: You must be able to walk the short distance from the road down into the cemetery.

▪ Return: to commuter lot, from cemetery

  • 4:45 p.m.
  • 5:05 p.m.
  • 5:25 p.m.
  • 5:45 p.m.
    • Cemetery: Bus Pick Up: You must be able to walk the short distance from the cemetery up to the road.

Visitors are encouraged to visit the merchandise table, which is cash only.

Proceeds will help support the Oswego Town Historical Society. Items for sale will include bottled water, Oswego Town Rural Cemetery stickers and other items.