Monday, October 15, 2012

The Old Arsenal Burying Ground

Near the western end of the North Ridge, there is a large corner lot filled with headstones which predate the Rural Cemetery's consecration in 1844.  Unlike many of the Cemetery's oldest stones which were transferred here from the State Street Burying Grounds (now Albany's Washington Park), these graves were relocated from the old Arsenal Burying Grounds in nearby Watervliet (formerly known as Gibbonsville and West Troy). 

As the name indicates, the Arsenal Burying Grounds stood near the south side of the Watervliet Arsenal.  This graveyard originally belonged to the Gibbonsville Reformed Church which was established in 1815.  A little less than a century later, this little cemetery (which contained between 275 and 300 graves) was all but abandoned and the Reverend C.P. Evans of Watervliet undertook to copy the inscriptions from the neglected gravestones in 1913.  Not long after Reverand Evans' transcription was compiled, the graves and headstones were removed from the Watervliet site and transferred to this lot in the Rural Cemetery. 

Among the relocated burials was that of Benjamin Hanks, a veteran of the Revolutionary War and a key figure in the area's bell-making industry.

The stones in the photo above belong to Washington J. Gilbert (died in 1838 at the age of 26), Mary Clinton (the daughter of John and Effy Clinton, died at the age of 11 in 1813), and Almira (wife of Daniel Carthy, died in 1829 at the age of 40).   Almira's stone features a very nice willow-and-urn motif.

The simple, pretty stone below, which also features an urn flanked by a pair of graceful willows, is that of Elizabeth Dyer.  The wife of William Dyer, she died in 1841 at the age 30.


One interesting occupant of the Arsenal Burying Ground who was not reburied at the Rural Cemetery was Doctor Nelson L. Hungerford.  On May 27, 1839, he was killed by a falling rock in the Cave of the Winds at Niagara Falls.  Originally buried at the Arsenal, he was later re-interred in Connecticut.

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