Monday, August 27, 2012

David Strain

The monument is a tall shaft in a corner lot at the very edge of a hill on the North Ridge.  From here, one can look down on the massive Winslow vault or out across the Hudson River towards Troy.  Near the top of the shaft is the family name "Strain."  But the inscription that makes this rather obscure monument noteworthy is near the base on the south side.  It reads FIRST INTERMENT IN THIS CEMETERY.
That first interment - or "pioneer of this silent city" as one of the Cemetery's early chroniclers wrote - was a young man named David Strain.  His name can be found higher up on the same face of the monument along with the following information:  Born October 27, 1823 - Died October 24, 1844.
It is believed David died of tuberculosis, then commonly called consumption, just days shy of his twenty-second birthday.  His parents were Joseph and Elizabeth Strain, also buried in this family plot.  The elder Strain was a manufacturer of soap and candles who is listed in the 1844 city directory as residing at 63 Church Street.  Later city directories list his business at Church and Herkimer Street with his residence being at 196 Lydius Street (now Madison Avenue). He is also listed as having a mansion on the Troy Road.  This estate, just south of the Cemetery, was later the Menands Home For Aged Men.

Although David died just seventeen days after the new Rural Cemetery was consecrated (October 7, 1844), he was not actually interred here until May of 1845.  During the interval, it is likely that his body lay in the receiving vault of the old municipal burying grounds.  At the time of burial, this section of the Cemetery was called Kennisau Hill, later to be renamed Lanscape Hill.  It is now listed on maps as Section 76.

The Strain monument was the work of John Dixon whose marble works were located at the corner of Howard and Lodge Streets.  The crispness of the white marble has somewhat darkened and blurred in the years since it was erected over the first grave in the Albany Rural Cemetery.

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