Saturday, March 31, 2012

Now and Then

This tiny tree-style monument marks the Brumaghim lot on the South Ridge overlooking the ornamental pond called Cypress Water. A little dove is perched atop the marble stump and, if one examines the monument closely, you can see a bit of carved ivy and lettering on the scroll near the base. The coping is partially detached, but intact.

Several days after taking this photo, I recognized the exact same monument in Edward Fitzgerald's 1871 Handbook For The Albany Rural Cemetery.

(The monument to the left still exists, though I didn't take a photo at the time. I was probably distracted by a nearby Civil War gravestone.)

The area in the background is almost unrecognizable now as scores of monuments have filled it in. The sections facing the pond in this engraving now contain some of the Cemetery's most beautiful monuments.

Moss and Lloyd

This oval bit of sandstone marks a lot at the end of the Middle Ridge, not too far from the site where the Cemetery's old western gate and its lodge once stood.

Thick patches of moss are covering the stone, but the name LLOYD can still be read. I believe this was part of a large monument that has since been deconstructed, but I have not found any description of the original. It may have come from a small vault, though the lot is not large.

According to Henry P. Phelps' The Albany Rural Cemetery - Its Beauties, Its Memories, this was the lot of Lyman J. Lloyd where "sleeps one of the old business men of Albany."

Lyman J. Lloyd was a manufacture of saddles, harnesses and trunks with a building at 340 and 342 Broadway. He resided at 49 Herkimer Street and, as a businessman, was described in an 1886 history of Albany County as "widely and favorably known." A Central Railroad locomotive was named in his honor in 1866.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

George Cooke

This weathered marble bust seems a little out-of-place amid the smaller and simpler stones on the North Ridge, just a few sections from the penitentiary plot where Confederate outlaw Samuel O. Berry is interred.

There is little biographical information on George Cooke, a patent medicine seller and self-promoter who claimed to be (among other things) a lawyer, a professor, a doctor, and a general.

He must have made a very good living in the medical elixir business, though, as he was able to commission this marble bust from prominent Albany sculptor Erastus Dow Palmer and leave a generous bequest to the Albany Young Men's Association to furnish 1,000 books for their library.

This bust was originally displayed in the Association's library, but was moved to the Rural Cemetery where it has suffered from exposure to the elements.

Cooke was born in 1788 and died in 1873. The inscription on his monument refers to him as General George Cooke.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Consecration Lake

One of my favorite areas to explore in the Albany Rural Cemetery is the ravine between the South and Middle Ridges. While there are very few monuments here, it is a fascinating and scenic well as an important part of the Cemetery's early history.

The picture above shows Consecration Lake in the mid-1800s and is a pleasant reminder that rural cemeteries were often designed for use as parks as well as burial places.

On the left, a horse-drawn carriage appears to be following the popular "Tour" laid out in several early guidebooks (notice the sign on the tree by the rustic bridge). On the right, a man pauses on the bridge and ladies sit beneath a tree in the background. The path beyond the bridge curves up towards the MacIntosh vault as seen in the recent photo below.

Consecration Lake was formed by damning part of Moordanaers Kill where the ravine widens into a sort of natural amphitheater. It was here, in a spot described by an old Albany newspaper as "beautiful and secluded," that the Cemetery was consecrated on October 7, 1844...hence the lake's name.

Paths on both sides of Moordanaers Kill led into the ravine from the Cemetery's main entrance road and several small bridges crossed the stream. These bridges are, for the most part, gone. One rusted and uncrossable bridge can still be found near the opening of the ravine.

Like most of the Cemetery's lakes (except for Cypress Waters on the South Ridge), Consecration Lake was drained in the mid-20th century.

The photo above shows the present waterfall were the damn was removed. The photo above shows the present waterfall were the damn was removed. The antique image below shows the same view around 1906.

Prior to the establishment of the Cemetery, this was the location of a mill (with a large waterwheel powered bythe stream) and a small schoolhouse.

Due to the terrain, there are very few graves and monuments around the old lake site, though there are a number of interesting monuments in a small glade just west of the bridge and, from there, a grassy path runs along the shoulder of the Middle Ridge. There are, however, two noteworthy mausoleums here. The first is the MacIntosh vault mentioned above. The other is the Yates crypt.

The Yates family crypt is one of the Cemetery's most secluded graves. Set deep into the hillside near the spot where the consecration ceremonies were held and almost invisible from the road above, it is almost eerie in its isolation now. However, when it was first built, this vault overlooked Consecration Lake and one of the Cemetery's prettiest strolling paths. In fact, it was described in one guidebook as one of the one of the "most admirably located" in the entire Cemetery.

Monday, March 19, 2012

The Chapel Butterfly

The Chapel at the Rural Cemetery stands just west of the main entrance and faces the foot of the Middle Ridge. The brick and stone structure was designed by Robert W. Gibson (the same architect responsible for Albany's Cathedral of All Saints and the Cemetery's Office) has been expanded with modern wings housing a crematorium and community mausoleum, but many of the original details are intact.

The exterior features a series of carved symbols of faith and hope, including crosses, anchors, stars, and this lovely butterfly which has just emerged from its cocoon (a popular symbol of rebirth and resurrection).

Below: A view of the Chapel about a century ago.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

The Terbush Tree

There are a number of tree-shaped monuments throughout the Rural Cemetery. A trunk without branches was a popular symbol of either a young life cut short or the end of a family line; several of these stone trees mark the graves of young men who died in the Civil War and left no children.

This large tree monument along the South Ridge Road is an especially detailed example with its textured bark, scrolls bearing the names of the departed, and a large anchor.

Among those buried here is Captain Henry Terbush who, according to Joel Munsell's Annals of Albany, was killed by the machinery of the steamboat A.L. Lawrence on October 2, 1849.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Harp and Shamrocks

A garland of shamrocks and a harp on one of the brown sandstone posts flanking the entrance to the Strong family lot.

The harp symbol (note the broken string) also appears on the headstone of Samuel Pruyn.

Friday, March 16, 2012

The Strong Lot

One catches a nice glimpse of this impressive monument from South Ridge Road, the main route leading uphill from the Cemetery office, but that glimpse is actually from the rear. The monument actually faces a half-forgotten path which runs parallel to the road.

This Gothic brownstone, complete with a flaming urn atop, stands at the center of the Strong family lot. Anthony M. Strong was an original Trustee of the Rural Cemetery.

The smaller marble monument adjacent marks the grave of Robert Strong who died at Camp Bonnet Carre in Louisiana during the Civil War.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Moordanaers Kill

View of Moordanaers Kill looking east from Section 19 near the Appeleton lot and Stanford vault.

Moordanaers Kill is one of two large streams which cut through the Rural Cemetery in a roughly west-to-east direction. These streams help divide the Cemetery into its three sections - the North, Middle, and South Ridges. Moordaners Kill runs through the ravine between the Middle and South Ridges.

Moordanaers Kill is Dutch for "Murderer's Creek," but the exact origin of the name is vague. A 1903 bulletin from the New York State Museum says refers to "an early battle on its banks between settlers and robbers." In his history of the Cemetery, Henry P. Phelps writes that the name comes from "a tradition of a murder committed near the bridge that crossed its mouth at the time the road between Albany and Troy ran along the river bank."

Further east from this vantage point, the stream once provided water power to a mill which processed "oil cakes" for animal feed. When the Cemetery was founded, the mill and a tiny schoolhouse which overlooked the stream were torn down. The stream was damned to create the ornamental Consecration Lake. Just west of this vantage point, there was a second lake, Tawasentha. Old maps of the Cemetery also show a slate quarry and springs near this spot.

Consecration and Tawasentha have both long since been drained. Remnants of the damns and the bridges which linked the Ridges can still be spotted along the stream's course.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Enoch Leonard

The inscriptions on this marble obelisk are weathered and difficult to read, but if you look closely, you can make out the name of Enoch Leonard (1755-1810) who served as Assistant Commissary General during the Revolutionary War. The small green marker near the base was placed by the local chapter of the D.A.R..

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Another Antique Advertisement

This delightfully detailed advertisement from an 1870 directory of Albany businesses features a cherub carving a gravestone - complete with the popular motif of a willow tree. Behind the busy little cherub are more samples of this marble dealer's stock, including an urn and an obelisk (two very common monument styles found at the Rural Cemetery), as well as a marble mantle.

Previously posted advertisements

Monday, March 12, 2012

Weeping Willows

Above and below: Two ornate examples of the willow and urn motif from the Church Grounds section

As soul effigies passed out of fashion for gravestones, two motifs replaced the solemn winged faces - willow trees and urns. Often, these two were combined in carvings with an urn depicted beneath the branches of a willow. Sometimes, the urn was replaced with a tiny carved monument in the willow's shade. Willows might also appears in pairs on headstones, especially those of married couples.

A matching pair in the Church Grounds

This is one of a set of small gravestones in the Hitchcock family lot on the slope of the South Ridge overlooking the Cemetery's main gate and office. Each stone in this set has a slightly different variation on the willow and urn motif.
Numerous examples of these willows can be found at the Albany Rural Cemetery, both in the Church Grounds and in private family plots. They most commonly appear on headstones from the early 1800s with far fewer examples appearing post-Civil War.

With its low, drooping branches, the willow was a simple, elegant symbol of mourning.

Late example of a willow motif on the South Ridge

The Letter P

This low stone, marking the boundary of a large family lot on the South Ridge, caught my eye because of its strong resemblance to an antique typewriter key.

Friday, March 9, 2012

The Winslow Mortuary Chapel

Situated at the foot of the North Ridge, this massive stone structure is the largest private vault at the Albany Rural Cemetery. A glimpse through its ornate bronze doors reveals the marble-covered burial niches of dozens of members of the Winslow family, including John Flack Winslow...a name tied to today's 150th anniversary of the Battle of the Ironclads at Hampton Roads, Virgina.

Winslow, who managed Erastus Corning's Albany Ironworks, was a key figure in the building of the Union's ironclad ship, Monitor. Frustrated by the Navy's delays in approving and financing the building of the ironclad, Winslow arranged to pay for the construction himself at a cost of $275,000. Because he had not been fully repaid by the time of the Monitor's historic encounter with the Confederate ironclad Merrimack, he was technically its owner.

For more on John F. Winslow, click here. Also, today's Times Union has an article highlighting the other local connections to the Union's ironclad.

Also, apologies for the lag in posts here and at my companion blogs. I'm slowly recovering from a dislocated knee which means I can't get out and sitting at my computer is a bit of an awkward challenge. I will, when possible, post photos taken before my injury and - hopefully - when those run out, I'll be back on my feet and running around with my camera again.