Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Captain Samuel Schuyler

This towering marble monument with anchors carved on both its east and west faces stands on the brow of the Middle Ridge with a commanding view of the Hudson River and valley below.

Anchors on headstones often represent steadfast faith and are found on a number of graves in Albany Rural Cemetery.  In this case, they also symbolize the occupation of the deceased (such as the Bogart and Townsend monuments)

He was born in 1781, but very little is known of Samuel Schuyler's origins, though it has been speculated that he was a descendent of the prominent Albany family of the same name.  Sometime prior to 1805, he married Mary Martin-Morin; the couple would have eleven children.

Like many other African-Americans of his era, Samuel began his working life as a laborer on Quay Street, along Albany's thriving waterfront. Within five years of his marriage, though, he had his own boat to haul lumber, produce, and other goods. He would expand his business interest to real estate, owning a substantial number of lots along South Pearl Street.  His sons would join him in business, as partners in a flour and feed store and, later, they would establish the Schuyler Towboat Company.

Captain Schuyler died in 1842 and was buried in this lot which also holds the graves of three generations of his family.  It's interesting to note that, when his son and namesake died in 1894, the New York Times obituary made no mention of the family's African-American heritage and referred to his ancestors as "the early Dutch settlers of Albany." 

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