Thursday, March 12, 2015

Jeremiah Field - A Mystery Solved

Look closely; can you see the vague outlines of a winged skull?  Ever since I came across this weathered slab of sandstone in the Church Grounds, it has intrigued and frustrated me.  I was certain there had been a soul effigy carved on it, but identifying the inscription was difficult.  The letters had eroded and distorted.  I tried photographing it from every possible angle, I tried photographing each letter individually.  I knelt in the grass in awkward positions on a stiff  knee. I enlarged images in Photoshop, tweaked the brightness and the contract, and even experimented with Instragram filters.  Still, I just didn't have enough to form a full name or date.

In many cases, I can match a fragment of an inscription from the Church Grounds to the Cemetery's burial records or to an inventory of graves moved from the State Street Burying Grounds to the Albany Rural Cemetery.  Unfortunately, there are certain stones - a cache of very old ones in the Dutch Reformed section - which are simply not documented in those records for various reasons.

A couple of months ago, an 1888 newspaper article caught my attention.  It recounted the discovery of old remains and gravestones on the site of the former Dutch Reformed graveyard on Beaver Street just off South Pearl Street. 

The description of one stone was especially interesting - a sandstone slab carved with a grinning skull.  It belonged to one Jeremiah Field.

And that's when the connection was made.

Jeremiah Field and The Headstone That Was Believed To Be Lost

A mystery was solved and it turned out to be even more interesting than I'd expected.

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