Sunday, November 27, 2011

Robert Seymour

In contrast with humble slab-style gravestone of Violet in the Church Grounds, the white marble monument of Robert Seymour on the South Ridge is quite ornate. A draped casket sits on a pedestal beneath an elegant Gothic baldachin. Seymour died in 1849.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


Located in the Church Grounds, this simple stone was moved from the African Methodist Episcopal Church's section of the State Street Burying Grounds. Violet was born in 1745 and died at the age of 100 in 1845. She is believed to have spent large part of her life as a slave before slavery was abolished in New York State in 1827. She is one of at least three slaves known to be buried at the Rural Cemetery.

The Church Grounds Project

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Battersby Monument

On the Battersby monument, an angel leads a young soul towards Heaven. This monument overlooks the curving road where Lizzie Calhoun who was killed in 1877 while on a weekend drive through the Cemetery with friend. The horses drawing the carriage bolted and 19-year old Lizzie was thrown.  She is buried nearby.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Captain Cooke

Located in one of the older sections of the South Ridge, this small monument reminds me of an old-fashioned tea chest. In his history of the Cemetery, Henry P. Phelps describes it only as a "queer little sandstone" and gives no information on who this Captain J. Cooke was. The inscription on the monument is almost completely eroded and not at all legible.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Zerubbabel Collins

Among the many monuments in the quiet field of the Church Grounds is a white marble marker signed Z. Collins.

This stone features a winged, moon-like face - one of several soul effigies found in this section - surrounded by a stylized floral design. The inscription notes that this stone was erected in memory of Femmitie Snyder, wife of Nicholas Snyder and daughter of the Reverend Ulpianus Van Sinderen. Femmitie died at the age of 37 on October 14, 1789. Her father, Reverend Van Sinderen, had come from Holland in 1746 to preach in Dutch Reformed Churches in what is now Brooklyn.

Zerubbabel Collins was one of his era's most respected stonecarvers. Like his father, Benjamin Collins, he specialized in gravestones embellished with soul effigies. Examples of his work can be found in Vermont and Connecticut graveyards.

Several rows away from Femmitie Snyder's stone, the stone of William Woods bears a very similar soul effigy, but with very different downswept wings and less ornate designs around the face. This monument, which is not signed, is dated two years after Collins' death.

More on Zerubbabel Collins
The Church Grounds Project

Friday, November 11, 2011

The Soldiers Lot

In honor of Veterans Day...

The Albany Rural Cemetery is the final resting place of veterans from all eras of American history, from the Revolutionary War (and prior) to Iraq.

Consecrated less than twenty years before the Civil War, it would naturally become the burial ground for scores of Union soldiers. Nearly 159 of them are buried in the Soldiers Lot on the North Ridge.

This large lot was donated to the federal government in 1862 by the Albany Cemetery Association which resolved that “a sufficient and suitable ground be set apart to inter the remains of officers and soldiers who have fallen or may fall in endeavoring to suppress the present rebellion.”

Many of the soldiers buried here came from local military hospitals, though some had been transferred from graves in the South. Some were provided for soldiers whose families could not afford to bury them in private plots.

The orderly rows of white marble stones face a fine monument of a solider at parade rest. The granite pedestal bears plaques (cast from captured cannons) with the names of over six hundred local men who fought in the Union army and an oval relief of Abraham Lincoln (the laurel wreath surrounding President Lincoln has vanished and is presumed stolen).

2014 Update:  Restoration work on the headstones is nearly completed 
The Soldiers Monument ca 1900

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Ezra Ames, Painter

Located on the high Middle Ridge, this monument marks the grave of Ezra Ames (1768-1836).

A native of Massachusetts, Ames moved to Albany where he quickly earned a reputation as a popular portrait painter. His subjects included many prominent figures of the early 19th-century, including Joseph Brant, Alexander Hamilton, Governor DeWitt Clinton, and numerous local person of note. He produced some 700 known paintings. In addition to portraits, Ames also painted such varied objects as mirror frames, signs, carriages, and fire buckets. He was an active member of the Albany Masonic Lodge and also served as a director and, later, president of the Mechanics and Farmers Bank.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Time Flies

A winged hourglass on the McIntosh vault illustrates the old saying, Tempis fugit.

This vault was built for Ezekiel McIntosh, a wealth merchant from Troy who once owned one of Albany's most famous homes, the Schuyler Mansion. After his death, his widow married former President Millard Filmore at the Mansion.

This vault is now one of the most secluded in the Rural Cemetery, located in a wooded ravine between below the Middle and South Ridges. When the crypt was first erected, though, this area was one of the most scenic and popular areas of the Cemetery and overlooked a stone bridge at the head of the lovely Consecration Lake.