Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Lockwood Family

This beautiful marble with a carved pall draped over its top and three delicate roses marks the graves of the Lockwood family of Albany.

Alvah M. Lockwood, a founding member of Albany's Burgesses Corps, died at the age of twenty-four on February 10, 1835 and was buried in the Dutch Reformed lot at the State Street Burying Grounds.  He was survived by his wife, Sarah, and young daughter, Alvah Ann.

Early on the morning of September 5, 1852, the boiler on the steam boat Reindeer caught fire and exploded near Saugerties.  Three dozen passengers were killed, either instantly or later from severe burns or other related injuries.  Among the passengers were Sarah Lockwood who the same day at the age of forty and Alvah Ann who died of her injuries on September 11.  A John Lockwood of Albany, most likely the brother of the late Alvah M., was also aboard the steam boat, but survived the disaster. 

The bodies of the two women were returned to Albany and interred in the Albany Rural Cemetery along with Alvah M. Lockwood whose remains were transferred from the State Street Burying Grounds to this North Ridge hilltop.

The inscription on the monument mentions the Reindeer tragedy and, near the bottom, it reads They sleep, but I do not forget them.

The Lockwood graves are located near the Strain family plot.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Frederick Hinckel

This stately figure of Hope stands facing Cypress Water on the South Ridge.  It marks the grave of Frederick Hinckel and his family. 

Hinckel's name is familiar to anyone with an interest in the history of Albany's many breweries.  With a partner, he founded the Cataract Brewery in 1857.  It was originally named for its location overlooking Buttermilks Falls (now a part of the sewer running through Lincoln Park's ravine).  Hinckel bought out his partner and changed the brewery's name.  In 1880, he built a complex of handsome brick buildings to house the business which was said to be one of the best equipped breweries in the United States.  The old brewery still stands across from Lincoln Park and has been converted into an apartment building.

Albany was once famous for its numerous breweries and there was obviously good money in the business as their owners were buried beneath some of the finest monuments in the Rural Cemetery, including this one in one of the most expensive sections and the elaborate Boyd marble on the Middle Ridge.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Young Double Stone


This stone, lying flush with the earth on the Middle Ridge, is one of the most distinctive.  Cut from a dull blue-gray slate, this double stone features two wonderful examples of New England gravestone art and has an interesting family story as well.

The stone was carved by William Young, known to gravestone historians as "the thistle-carver" since he often incorporated that plant into his designs.  This stone does not include any thistles, but does feature a pair of William's distinctive bewigged heads with their prominent noses, small mouths, and staring eyes.  William's work was almost exclusively confined to the area around Worcester, Massachusetts so finding one such as this here in New York is extremely unusual.  In fact, a bit of carving at the bottom of the stone indicates that this was actually removed from Worcester in the early 1870s.


This stone was carved by William Young to mark the graves of his father and grandfather, originally located in Worcester's Commons burial ground.  The neatly lettered inscription reads:

Here lyes interred the Remains of John Young who was born in the Isl of Bert near Londonderry in the Kingdom of Ireland.  He departed this life June 30th, 1730, aged 107.

Here lyes interred ye Remains of David Young, who was born in the Parish of Tahboyn, County of Donegall & Kingdom of Ireland.  He departed this life Decemb'r 23rd, 1776, age 94.

As one can see from the inscription, John Young and his son David lived exceptionally long lives in an era where men often died before the age of forty.

John Young immigrated from Ireland to Massachusetts at the age of ninety-five, bringing with him a family that included his son, David, and David's son, William.  The Young family settled near Worcester as farmers, but William would later be described as gentleman squire.  Well read, his personal library included six law books, six history books, six science books, eighteen on religious matters, one of poetry, and seven school texts. He would serve as the town Surveyor and a Justice of the Peace.  Carving gravestones was apparently only a side job for him, but he was certainly an active carver; the Farber Gravestone Collection contains photographs of numerous stones attributed to him, including the John and David Young double stone.

The John & David Young stone in the Farber Gravestone Collection

The Young monument came to Albany Rural Cemetery in 1873 when a descendent had it removed to a family plot here.  Unfortunately, when the stone was removed from its original site, the homespun epitaph at the bottom - presumably composed by William - was cut away.  The missing portion once read:

The aged Son and the more aged Father Beneath this stone their mouldering bones here rest together.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Cypress Water


Cypress Water is the old name for the ornamental pond at the heart of the Rural Cemetery's South Ridge.  When the Cemetery was founded in the 1840s, this area was nothing more than a bog fed by natural springs and was described in old books as being quite "disagreeable."  As the Cemetery expanded rapidly in its first two decades, this soggy ground was reclaimed to create some of the most expensive burial plots and the springs diverted to form this teardrop-shaped pond.  


A stone slab at the north end of the pond dates the project to 1869.  The view at the top of this post was published in the 1870s.  A canoe is seen beside a little island near the center of the pond and relatively few monuments can be seen in the distance. 


The little island has since been replaced by the fountain shown above (placed there in 1950 by Captain J. Fred Werzinger in honor of his parents and brother) and the pond is surrounded on all sides by some of the Cemetery's loveliest monuments.  The bronze angel seen above marks the grave of department store founder John G. Myers.

See also:  Consecration Lake.
               A Bench For Souls

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Theophilus Roessle - Colonie's Celery Magnate


Near the Gansevoort-Melville lot on the South Ridge, a massive granite shaft marks the grave of a man who owed at least part of his substantial fortune to the cultivation of celery and owned a large portion of what is now the town of Colonie.

Born in 1811 near Stuttgart, Theophilus G. Roessle was a German immigrant from who came to Albany penniless at the age of fifteen having lost both his trunk counting his few possessions and his traveling companion who took ill and died not long after their arrival in Rochester.

He worked at various jobs and learned both landscaping and market gardening until he was able to afford to lease a farm and, with the income from the farm, began to buy land along the Albany-Schenectady Turnpike (now Central Avenue between Osborne and Wolf Roads). This area would later become the hamlet of Roessleville and, as his wealth increased, Theophilus Roessle built a large, elegant mansion near present-day Elmhurst Avenue. The estate, its entrance road flanked by stone lions, is long since gone.

A wholesaler of produce whose property included orchards with about five thousand fruit trees, he focused his attention on the cultivation of celery, especially the white variety which was achieved by covering the young plants with earth to deprive them of sunlight. He reportedly sold a thousand bunches of celery a day in season which a good percent of the sales being out-of-state. He even authored a book on the subject, How To Cultivate and Preserve Celery in 1860. He later purchased Albany's famed Delavan House in 1849, founded the Fort William Henry Hotel in near Lake George, and later took over the Arlington Hotel in Washington, D.C.. Roessle died in 1890 and his sons followed him in the produce business.

Monday, November 5, 2012

William Manson's Business Card


This detailed advertisement comes from the 1869 edition of the Albany city directory (where such ads are referred to as business cards).  It shows a variety of marble items offered by William Manson's establishment, including elegant fireplace mantles and a selection of funerary work.

There are quite a few examples of Manson's work in the Rural Cemetery, including the Col. Mills monument, the massive granite marking the Appleton lot, the Fireman's Monument on the North Ridge, the Thomas W. Olcott monument, and the beautiful marble sarcophagus marking the grave of Ellen Hardin (wife of President Chester Arthur). 

It's amusing to note that the business card for James Gazeley's Monumental Marble Works just a page or two away in the same 1869 directory features some of the same images as Manson's.  They apparently came from a set of ready-made printing dies used by the publisher and were essentially the clip art or stock images of the era.


Thursday, November 1, 2012

The Professor of Elocution


This old headstone lies flush to the ground in an old section of the South Ridge (not too far from the sandstone sarcophagus of Captain Cortlandt Van Rensselaer and the graves of the Melvilles) and is quite easy to miss.  It marks the grave of John Hanbury Dwyer, one of several 19th century actors buried at the Rural Cemetery.

The darkened marble stone, which originally stood in the Episcopal section of the State Street Burying Grounds, has a lengthy inscription:

In memory of John Hanbury Dwyer
Professor of Elocution
One of the most distinguished actors of his day.
A man of brilliant talent talent and dedication:
An ornament of the British and American stage:
Author of the best Essays on Elocution 
ever published in this country.
Born in Clonnel, County Tipperary, in 1780,
came to America in 1811, died December 14, 1843

He was the son of a colonel in King Louis XVI's Irish Brigade.  As an actor on the British stage, it was said that the mere act of drawing his sword could excite the audience.  He emigrated to the United States where he found continued success and was known for "the elegance of his person, the fascination of his deportment, and that perfect knowledge of the stage business which never suffered the slightest embarrassment."  He often performed at Albany's Pearl Street Theatre (which later became home to the Baptist Church where a sermon by the Reverend Bartholomew T. Welch led to the establishment of the Albany Rural Cemetery).

Professor Dwyer's three-hundred page "Essays on Elocution" was first published 1824 and went through at least a half dozen reprints.  It can be read on Google Books.  Dwyer even sent a copy of his book ("intended for the promotion of the morals, and intellect, of the youth of America) to President James Madison who wrote back:

I have not found it convenient to give the Work a critical examination.  But a Cursory one has satisfied me that its explanations, its precepts, and its exemplifying selections, justly class it with the books useful to the Teachers & pupils, of the branch of Education on which it treats.