Friday, February 24, 2012

The Melvilles

Located on the South Ridge, this somewhat sunken granite stone marks the graves of Herman Melville's parents.

The author of Moby Dick had numerous ties to Albany (as well as the surrounding area) and his mother was the daughter of General Peter Gansevoort who lead the American resistance at Fort Stanwix during the Revolutionary War. Several other Gansevoort relatives are buried in the lot, but the General himself is buried on the Middle Ridge.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Vintage Advertisements

While exploring the Cemetery yesterday, I came across a recumbent gravestone which (in addition to the usual names and dates) had a small line of carved text near the bottom edge. The small inscription was upside down and on the portion of the stone which would have been covered by earth when the stone was in its original upright position. It may identify the manufacturer of the gravestone. While researching local stone cutters and monument supplier contemporary to this gravestone, I came across two fascinating old advertisements in an 1853 city directory published by Joel Munsell.

Neither of these businesses - or the buildings in which they operated - exist now. But it is very probable that much of their goods were destined for use at the Rural Cemetery which, by then, had almost completely replaced the State Street Burying Grounds as the primary resting place for Albany's departed.

As for that little line of upside down text, I didn't find a match for it and the research continues.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

John B. Van Schaick

A beautiful and simple obelisk-type monument near the Cemetery's very quiet northeastern corner. The monument features a marble relief of John Bleecker Van Schaick who died at the age of 35 in 1839.

John B. Van Schaick was editor of the Albany Daily Advertiser and president of the Albany Burgess Corps (an independent voluntary military company) whose members wore an emblem of mourning for thirty days after his death.

Judging from tributes and testimonials from his peers, he was a well-loved young man whose early passing was the subject of "universal regret." He was also described by noted Albany chronicler Joel Munsell as "a poet of some merit."

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Reburial of Schuyler Slaves

The A.M.E. Lot at the Church Grounds

The Times Union has a very interesting article on the reburial of the remains of slaves found close to the Schuyler Flatts. The Flatts, once a large farm belonging to the Schuyler family, is now a park and lies just across Broadway from the main entrance to the Rural Cemetery.

Input Sought On Schuyler Slaves Reburial

One of the sites proposed in the article for the reburial of these remains is the Church Grounds section of the Albany Rural Cemetery which is, as previously posted, the focus of my latest blog. As part of Africa-American History Month, I have been featuring gravestones from the African Methodist Episcopal lot in the Church Grounds. There are at two identified slaves in the A.M.E. lot and several other known slaves or former slaves buried in other areas of the Rural Cemetery, including Nancy (a slave buried with the Quackenbush family) and Adam Blake (a former slave at the Van Rensselaer Manor whose son founded the Kenmore Hotel).

I'll definitely be following this story with interest.