Friday, July 31, 2015

Caught In A Landslide

Something about Section 189 on the North Ridge has always struck me as odd.

It's at an extreme corner of the Cemetery near the North Pond.  Behind the fence, traffic passes on Spring Street and houses have sprung up in the years since I first started exploring.  Sounds from Siena College often carry over.

The stones in this field are arranged very neatly and almost all face the same direction.  It's quite symmetrical compared to most lots where the monuments face whatever direction the owners wanted which gives the older sections a pleasantly disorganized look.

Many of the stones here are fairly old in what is a relatively newer section.  It doesn't appear on the extremely useful 1912 lot map, yet many of the stones predate it.  A search of all burials in Section 189 shows that burials in this section only began in 1941,, but clearly some of these stones are far older.  Many date from the mid to late 1800s.

Researching a few of the names found on the older stones revealed another interesting detail.  I picked one of the names - Charles Angus who died in 1875 - and checked the burial index cards which showed he were buried in Lot 22, Section 89. 

Several of the Angus family stones in Section 189

For a moment, I thought it could be a typo - that perhaps it was supposed to read "189," but the "1" was accidentally omitted.  A check of a few other names, however, showed they were all listed as buried in Section 89. 

Several years ago, when I began my research, I came across a passing reference to a landslide in a back issue of the Friends of the Albany Rural Cemetery's newsletter.  More recently, I found a brief article in the defunct Knickerbocker News describing a court case in which the Cemetery sought and obtain permission to move a number of graves which had been affected by a landslide.  The article didn't mention what part of the Cemetery had been damaged by the landslide, but the connection was clear.

In 1951, a landslide caused part of Section 89 to collapse.  Section 89 overlooks the Kromme Kill ravine and the remains of Lake Bathesda.  The landslide caused some graves and monuments above the old Bramble Copse walk to tumble into the ravine.

Detail of an 1871 map showing Section 89.

As a result of the landslide, approximately 150 graves had to be removed from the portion of Section 89.  The article didn't mention where the graves were going to be placed.  However, a second check of records for the Angus family and a sample of other names on those older monuments in that far corner of Section 189 showed they were all not only listed as Section 89, but most came from lots along the edge of the ravine overlooking Bramble Copse Walk.

Map from 1912 showing the original location of the Angus lot on the ravine side of Section 89.  The wavy parallel lines in the lower left of the corner are part of the lake.

These monuments seems subtly out of place because, in a way, they are.  The older gravestones in Section 189 are those which were relocated after the 1951 landslide damaged Section 89.

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