Friday, September 19, 2014

The Boyd Family

When this impressively tall white marble shaft was raised, it was at the very edge of the Albany Rural Cemetery.

At the time, the Rural Cemetery had only been open for two years and this lot on the Middle Ridge was close to its western boundary.  A map published that same year shows the section was then called Wildrose Bank;  at the time, the sections were known by such fanciful names as Kelpiesford, Songbird's Bower, and Poetry Glen.  Later, the Church Grounds would be laid out just beyond this point and a lodge built here.

Before the Rural Cemetery was founded, most residents of Albany were laid to rest in the municipal State Street Burying Grounds.  Once the new Cemetery was consecrated in 1844, however, there was increasing interest in closing the old municipal graveyard and removing its burials.  By the end of the Civil War, the City's Common Council had begun that process in order to redevelop the old Burying Grounds into a public park. 

Some families, however, didn't wait for the City to disinterred their dearly departed en masse.  They made their own arrangements to have their loved ones' graves removed to newly purchased lots at the Rural Cemetery.

James and Peter Boyd, sons of a prominent Albany brewer also named James Boyd, purchased this lot in 1846.  That June, the remains of their parents and six siblings were exhumed from their graves in the First Presbyterian section of the State Street Burying Grounds, an event noted on the monument itself.  A month later, they were laid to a final rest on Wildrose Bank.  Also buried with them was Peter Boyd who himself passed away just before the re-interment.


James Boyd (the elder) was born in Scotland, but settled in Albany before the Revolutionary War.  In 1776, he married another native of Scotland, Jane McMaster.  In 1796, he founded the Arch Street Brewery (later known as the Albany Breweing Company) on a site near South Pearl Street and the outlet of the Beaverkill.   He died in 1832.

Another member of the Boyd family is buried just down the Middle Ridge Road beneath a large and elaborate monument.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Drawings by George Hubbard

This blog by George Hubbard features some of his pen & ink drawings of monuments and buildings at the Albany Rural Cemetery, as well as other nearby landmarks.  Do take a look!

George Hubbard

The drawing above is of Little Georgie;  his white marble headstone is a familiar site along the Cemetery's South Ridge Road.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Event: Wreath Laying At President Arthur's Grave

On October 5, there will be a wreath-laying ceremony at the grave of President Chester A. Arthur at 11 a.m..  The ceremony is in honor of Arthur's 185th birthday.

That afternoon, the Cemetery Trustees will be holding a special event at Schuyler Meadows.  More information on the event, which will feature journalist and author Paul Grondahl, can be found on the Cemetery's site:

Events at Albany Rural Cemetery

See also:

The Presidential Grave
Ellen Herndon Arthur

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Boy Injured At Cemetery

This story serves as a serious reminder that one should definitely keep a close eye on children in cemeteries.

Times Union - Police: Tombstone falls on, seriously injures boy - Boy injured from falling tombstone at Albany Rural Cemetery

There are so many potential hazards in a cemetery, ranging from holes caused by wild animals or sinking old graves and Old headstones which can be very unstable; leaning on them or pushing them can easily cause a stone to topple.  Every year, I come across stories (local or national) about children who are injured by climbing on stones, too.  Of course, it's not yet known just what caused this boy's injuries and here's hoping he makes a complete recovery.  But it is also reminder that everyone - children and adults - should be careful in cemeteries.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

John Kolkanis

This tiny headstone on the North Ridge (not far from the G.A.R. plot) is fairly unique.  It includes a photograph of the deceased;  such headstone photos are not common in the Rural Cemetery, though I have seen a few other examples in other local cemeteries such as Calvary in Glenmont.

The grave belongs to one John Kolkanis, though his name is spelled "Colcanis" on the stone.  He was born in Greece and, at the time of his death, resided at 469 Delaware Avenue (near the corner with Whitehall Road).  The burial record lists his cause of death as "Drowned in the Hudson River," but search of local newspapers didn't reveal any any additional details.

Monday, August 25, 2014

The Great Bibliopole

 This large granite headstone with its little carved flowers in located in a very obscure corner of the Rural Cemetery, just up a grassy steep path from a wildly overgrown row of charity plots.  It's a hilly area just west of the South Ridge and labelled Summit Ridge on some older maps of the grounds.

While it's not carved deeply and a little difficult to read, the epitaph on this monument caught my eye.  Maybe the light was at just the right angle, but the words, YE OLDE BOOK MAN stood out and certainly required a closer look.

1834 Joseph McDonough 1917 - Ye Olde Booke Man - Here lies McDonough The Great Bibliopole.  Shall he be forgot?  Oh no.  He no promise broke, served no private end.  Unblamed through life, lamented in the end.  A wise old sage was he but not severe.  His manly sense checked no decent joy.  A graceful looseness he could put on, Enjoying life's enchanted cup to the brim.

McDonough was a well-known seller of used books in downtown Albany, beginning in 1870.  He was a native of Ireland who sold books in Liverpool before continuing that trade here.  He did business at a number of different locations in downtown Albany;  over the years, various ads and directories place him at 53 and 55 State Street, 98 State Street, 30 North Pearl Street, and 39 and 41 Columbia Street.  Later, he had a shop on Hudson Avenue.  An ad in The Literary Collector for Ye Olde Booke Man, offers "libraries, or odd lots, or remainders of editions purchased" and "monthly catalogues of second-hand books mailed free on application."  He was also a publisher;  one of the more noteworthy local titles he produced was Players of A Century which traced the history of theatre in Albany and was authored by Henry P. Phelps who also wrote The Albany Rural Cemetery - Its Beauties, Its Memories.

He died on April 8, 1917 following what the Albany Evening Journal described as "a three weeks illness." The newspaper noted he had a "wide circle of friends"  He was survived by a married daughter and a son, Paul Arthur McDonough, who was described as "an actor in London."  Also buried with him are his wife and an eighteen year old daughter, Jane, who died of tuberculosis on Christmas Day, 1881.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Albany Medical College Lots

Located not far from the massive Winslow family tomb at the low, eastern edge of the North Ridge, these small granite mark lots reserved for the remains of individuals who have donated their bodies for anatomical research and other study at the Albany Medical College.

The Times Union has a feature on yesterday's service in honor of over three hundred people newly interred here.