Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Family of The Souldens

There is a family plot perched somewhat precariously on the Middle Ridge hill just above the  Ozia Hall monument and not too far from the Samuel Schuyler lot.  From the path below, it appears to be just a row of granite urns facing a tall, but otherwise unassuming marble shaft.  From the hill above, though, a set of old flat gravestones can be seen laid between the granite urns and the marble shaft.

The shaft reads simply The Family of The Souldens.  One of the headstones has a very simply carved hand with its index finger pointing toward heaven.  Another stone is a very pleasant discovery;  a plump, winged cherub's head framed by a lozenge and flanked by daisies finials.

The lot was deeded to an Englishman named William Soulden who was interred there in 1851, just seven years after the Cemetery opened. Several of the gravestones in the lot predate the Cemetery and were likely moved here from the State Street Burying Grounds by Soulden. 

Those interred in this lot include:

Sarah A. Smith, died September 7, 1825, age 88
Catherine Eliza Soulden, died February 24, 1831, age 9
William M. Soulden, died October 23, 1835, age 19
Catherine Townsend, died May 18, 1849, age 70
Ann M. Soulden, died August 9, 1849, age 32
Louisa B. Muir, died August 13, 1849, aged 32
William Soulden, died August 21, 1851, age 64
Ann M. Soulden, died November 16, 1860, age 80

The burial cards on file unfortunately provide no other details, a common occurrence with some of the older records or relocated graves.

The family had a connection to one of Albany's oldest and well-known buildings, a brick mansion built on Washington Street for Samuel Hill (who is buried in the Cemetery's Church Grounds section) and attributed to architect Philip Hooker.  Documentation for the National Register of Historic Places gives some details:

"In 1820, the property was acquired by Sarah Smith, a widow, and her niece, Catherine Townsend and the Albany City Directories list Mrs. Sarah Smith as living in Hill's Mansion House on Washington Street.  In 1821, William Soulden is also listed as an occupant.  The Townsend-Soulden family operated the large property as a boarding house, with Aaron Burr having been among their guests in 1824.  When Sarah Smith died in 1825, she bequeathed the house to Catherine Townsend and William Soulden, in trust for another neice, Ann Maria, the wife of Soulden.  William and Ann Soulden owned the property until 1827."

The house in question still stands on Washington Avenue and is quite familiar to many as the Fort Orange Club.

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