Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Samuel One-Armed Berry

Among the hundreds of Civil War soldiers interred at the Albany Rural Cemetery are the remains of three Confederates, including Private Abasalom Bainbridge, one of the men who encountered John Wilkes Booth on the night before Lincoln's assassin was himself killed at Garrett's farm.

The headstone of Samuel O. Berry stands alone in an open meadow on the North Ridge, giving no hint of his violent history.

A schoolteacher and ordained minister from Kentucky, he served in the Confederate Army with Company G of the 6th Kentucky Calvary.

Following the death of his commanding officer, General John Hunt Morgan, Berry joined Henry Magruder's guerilla band in attacks on Union troops and supplies. It isn't clear whether he lost an arm in battle or in these raids, but he had become known as "One-Armed" Berry.

He soon allied himself with Marcellus Jerome Clark, a fellow Kentucky soldier who gained notoriety for dressing as a woman and using the alias Sue Mundy.

Together, Samuel “One-Armed” Berry and Sue Mundy took part in a series of bloody crimes across Kentucky as a member of a band that, at times, included Frank James, Bill Marion, Jim Davis, James Younger, and William Quantrill. The brutal spree included the gunpoint robbery of survivors after a train derailment, pistol-whipping the clerk of a drugstore during a robbery, the killing of a hostage during a bank robbery, and the murder of innocent civilians during violent robberies.

After Sue Mundy was captured, tried and hanged in early 1865, One-Armed Berry continued his vicious attacks for several more months before his own capture. When he was brought to trial in 1866, he face twelve counts of murder, six counts of robbery, and two counts of rape. Convicted, he was originally sentenced to hang, but his sentence was commuted to ten years of hard labor at the Albany Penitentiary. The old Penitentiary stood just off modern-day Delaware Avenue near the present sites of the Stratton V.A. Hospital and Hackett Middle School.

Berry served seven and a half years of his sentence before dying of tuberculosis at the age of thirty-four.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Inverted Torch

Inverted torches can be found on many older monuments throughout the Albany Rural Cemetery. A sentimental and popular symbol of mortality, some are shown extinguished. Others, like this very fine example, are shown still aflame.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

The Broken Eagle

When I first encountered this monument, it was a January day in the early 90s and I'd been exploring the Rural Cemetery with a good friend. Snow had buried the little flag beside the headstone and was piled in the vee of the eagle's broken wings.

The monument marks the grave of Colonel Edward Frisby, commander of the 30th New York Volunteer Infantry.

Born in Trenton Fall, Oneida County in 1809, Frisby was killed in action at the Second Battle of Bull Run on August 29, 1862.

Originally buried at the battlefield four days after his death, Frisby's remains were located and transferred to Albany (where he had moved at the age of seventeen).

He was re-interred at the Rural Cemetery on September 11, 1862.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Vaults

Photo taken from the door of the now-unused receiving vaults at the Albany Rural Cemetery. The pair of large crypts are set into the hillside opposite the Cemetery's chapel. The gray stone vaults were constructed in the late 1850s and the exteriors are patterned after Egyptian mastabas. The Cemetery's original receiving vaults had been deemed inadequate and were demolished in 1858.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Philip Hooker, Architect

Grave of noted architect Philip Hooker. When I first found this monument in a section known as The Church Grounds, it was in poor condition. Several of the broken pieces were propped against a nearby tree. I was happy to see that it has since been assembled and placed upright.

Hooker was one of Albany's leading architects of the early 19th-century whose surviving designs include the former Albany Academy building between Lafayette and Academy Parks and a wonderful facade on State Street just below North Pearl Street (currently Bank of America).

The Church Grounds section in the Rural Cemetery has become one of my favorites. Expect more about this fascinating and very historic part in the near future.

The Church Grounds Project