Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Past & Present Views - The William Watson Lot

I've always wanted to do side-by-side comparisons of monuments with their historic images, but antique images of the Albany Rural Cemetery are surprisingly hard to find.  Aside from some postcards (usually of the entrance, President Arthur's tomb, or the Angel At The Sepulchre) and illustrations in a few 19th-century books, there aren't too many older photographs immediately available outside of museum libraries.

Recently, the Cemetery has made some terrific old stereoviews available and, now that spring is here, I'm matching up these antique images with the present views. Once I've photographed them all, I'll post them together on a single page at gardenalley.net.  This one is just a preview.

The monument above is on the South Ridge just up hill from the Office.  At one time, a beautiful iron fence surrounded the lot and there were few other monuments nearby.  Now, the fence is long gone and the stocky brown sandstone vault of Artemas Fish can be seen next to it.  This monument marks the grave of William Watson.  Born in Rensselaerville in 1804, he died of "consumption of the throat" on February 26, 1857.  His wife, Julia, survived him by thirty-five years and is buried here.  Also buried here is their only son, Howard, who died on November 1, 1858 at the age of twenty-four.  The couple also had a daughter named Mary shown on the 1850 census.

William Watson was a banker (William Watson & Co.) with offices at 51 State Street and a residence at 25 Ten Broeck Street.  He was among the citizens who attended the December 31, 1840 meeting at the Exchange Building which addressed the need for a new cemetery for Albany and led to the establishment of the Albany Cemetery Association to create the Rural Cemetery.

19th-century stereoview from Albany Rural Cemetery office

The burial index card for the elder Watson includes the notation "Vault" and may indicate that this lot contains an underground burial crypt like the main Van Rensselaer family plot.

Other comparisons:

The Howe-Robinson Lot
The Isaac Vosburgh Lot
Now & Then
The Kreuder Lot

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