Saturday, April 28, 2012

John Lamb Clark

John Lamb Clarke (or Clark) has two gravestones, one in New Jersey's Rahway Cemetery where his wife, Mary Brown, lies buried and one in the Church Grounds of the Albany Rural Cemetery. 

 Born in New Jersey in 1786, Clarke evidently moved to Albany some time after his 1806 marriage to Mary as census records show him as a resident of the city by 1810. Clarke evidently maintained strong ties to his native state as he served as a captain with the New Jersey Militia during the War of 1812. 

He died in Albany at the age of thirty-four and was buried in the tiny Garretson Station Methodist Episcopal churchyard. His grave was moved from its original resting place at Garreston Station (just south of Albany) to the State Street Burying Grounds and was included in the Common Council's 1866 inventory of graves to be moved to the Rural Cemetery. His widow Mary returned to New Jersey with their children. She died in 1869 and was buried at the Rahway Cemetery. Some years after her death, a small marble stone in honor of Captain Clarke was placed beside her headstone, though his actual resting place is in the Church Grounds. 

The inscription on his now weathered and broken headstone reads:

In memory of John Lamb Clarke
who departed this life
March 18, 1820
in the 34th year of his age.

Come unto Me all ye who labour and are heavy laden and I will give you rest

The Broken Pitcher

This monument, not too far from the Charles Webster obelisk on the South Ridge, has some unique imagery on its north face. 

A niche depicts a stone well with a carved cascade of water pouring down over a pitcher lying in pieces (a reference to the Old Testament's Book of Ecclesiastes).  This tall marble monument is showing many signs of wear; the stone is blackening and a long crack is visible running upwards from the well.  Above the niche is a lovely garland of carved roses (not shown here).  The style is reminiscent of some of Robert Launitz's work.

This monument marks the grave of James Morrow who died in 1859 at the age of sixty-nine.  A city business directory for 1849-50 lists a James Morrow at the corner of Broadway and Ferry Street, but does not list any occupation.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Friend Humphrey

This marble monument on the South Ridge (not far from the Strong lot and what's left of Catharine Hamilton's vault) has weathered to gray and its ornamental finials have broken off (parts of them are stacked on top on the stone).  It marks the grave of Friend Humphrey who served two terms as Mayor of Albany and held that office at the time of the Rural Cemetery's consecration.

Born in Simsbury, Connecticut in 1787, he came to Albany in the early 1800s and was a successful leather merchant.  According to the "Bicentennial History of The County of Albany," Humphrey was "especially known in all the movements for the advancement of learning and sound morals" and that Albany "never had a Mayor better understood or more popular."

Friend Humphrey, as Mayor, took place in the Cemetery's consecration ceremonies in 1844 and was buried there a decade later.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Charles Webster

This mossy obelisk is set back in a sort of alcove of trees on a little knoll overlooking Consecration Lake and marks the grave of noted Albany printer Charles Webster.

Charles Webster (cousin to the more famous Noah Webster) was born in 1762 in Connecticut and, as a young man, served in that state's militia during the Revolution. Having been apprenticed at a Connecticut newspaper prior to the war, he took up the printing trade when he settled in Albany. Later joined in the business by his twin brother, George, he printed everything from handbills to newspapers to Masonic literature.

His first Albany office was destroyed in the Great Fire of 1793 and he relocated to one of Albany's busiest intersections, Elm Tree Corner (the northwest cornerState and Pearl Streets).

A greatly respected man known for his “simple habits” and “unwearing activity,” the “Father of Albany printing” took a trip to Saratoga Springs in 1834 in the hopes that the mineral waters there might benefit his health. He died there on July 18 at the age of seventy-two.

Charles Webster was originally buried in the First Presbyterian section of the State Street Burying Grounds, but his remains and monument were transferred to the Rural Cemetery around the time the old municipal graveyard was closed to make way for Washington Park.

The Webster monument at the State Street Burying Grounds as it appears in Joel Munsell's Annals of Albany

A small plaque noting his service in the Revolution was added to his grave by the Yosemite chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution.

Carl Johnson at Hoxsie! has some great pieces on Webster.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


A sleeping child resting his head on a rustic cross. This tiny monument on the South Ridge was carved from white marble which has since weathered to gray.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Archibald McIntyre

This majestic sarcophagus-style monument stands in an old section of the South Ridge (once called Roseland Hill) and marks the grave of Archibald McIntyre.

McIntyre was born in Kenmore, Scotland on June 1, 1772. His family emigrated to America when he was just two years old and he began a long political career while in his early twenties.

McIntyre held a number of offices including State Assemblyman representing Montgomery County (for seven terms between 1798 and 1821), Deputy Secretary of State, and New York State Comptroller (1806 to 1821).

With Henry Yates, whose hillside crypt overlooks Consecration Lake, he purchased the Ithaca and Owego Railroad which later became part of the Delaware, Lackawanna, and Western Railroad.

McIntyre was also an original trustee of the Rural Cemetery.

The namesake of the McIntyre Mountains in the High Peaks region of the Adirondacks, he died on May 6, 1858. His monument was the work of Robert E. Launitz and was described in an early guidebook as being a "superior speciman" of the sculptor's work.

This tiny coffin-style gravestone is also located in the McIntyre family lot.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Elizabeth Ann's Roses

In recent months, I've been attempting to document gravestones in the Church Grounds section of the Rural Cemetery. There are some, unfortunately, that are very difficult to identify due to badly eroded inscriptions or serious breakage to the stone.

The lower half of this headstone is broken and missing. The stone seen in the lower half of the photo is part of a completely different monument. All that is legible is part of the name Elizabeth Ann.

The Common Council's 1868 inventory of graves to be transferred from the old State Street Burying Grounds to the Albany Rural Cemetery lists dozens of Elizabeths and many with the middle initial A, but so far, I have not been able to match any of them with this stone.

Still, this sadly damaged bit of marble holds my attention, perhaps because of the beautifully carved roses in the tympanum.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

A Fallen Civil War Stone

April 12 marks the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War with the firing on Fort Sumter.

The Albany Rural Cemetery is the final resting place to hundreds of Union soldiers, as well as several Confederate veterans.

Many of the Cemetery's Civil War burials feature headstones with such military and patriotic emblems as swords, flags, shields, cannons, and soldier's caps. This fallen stone, its inscription now worn and illegible, is very typical of those monuments.

For previous Civil War posts, click here.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Prince John Van Buren

This worn, but detailed cross on the east slope of the Middle Ridge marks the grave of John Van Buren.

Reported to have "a remarkable memory," the second son of President Martin Van Buren, John Van Buren was a successful lawyer in Albany before pursuing a political career. He served as the New York State Attorney General and, in 1845, led the prosecution of some of the participants in the Anti-Rent Wars. Later, in private practice, he represented the actor Edwin Forrest in a highly publicized divorce case.

He is said to have earned the nickname "Prince John" after attending the coronation of Queen Victoria and later dancing with the young monarch at a ball in 1838.

He was also known for his involvement is scandals, including allegedly losing $5,000, his father's home in Kinderhook, and his beautiful Italian mistress in a single card game.

In 1866, while returning from a European trip with his daughter (his wife had died years earlier), Prince John took ill and died at sea. His body was returned to the United States. Following funerals at both New York City's Grace Church and St. Peter's Episcopal in Albany, he was buried at the Rural Cemetery.

The cross is white marble, but has weathered to gray and the surprisingly realistic vines are eroding. From the edge of this lot, which is just uphill from the Chapel, can look down into the ravine and catch a glimpse of the waterfall.

Aistrappe Robinson Hitchcock

This marble headstone on the North Ridge caught my eye partly because of the distinctive first name and partly because of the carved image.

The 1858-9 Albany city directory lists one A. Robinson Hitchcock as a machinist residing at 193 Green Street. I would assume, given the dates on the headstone, that this is the same person who also appears in the 1860 census.

And then there is the rod carved on the stone. To me, it resembles the batons used by conductors of music or even some sort of flute and not a tool of the machinist trade. Whatever it was, it was important enough to this man that it was included on his headstone.

As for the name Aistrappe, the only other example I've seen is in a parish directory from Lincolnshire, England.

Unfortunately, I've found no other biographical information on this man and have not been able to decipher the inscription on the lower portion of the stone yet.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Alrutz Children

This family lot on the North Ridge is one of the Rural Cemetery's most poignant, marking the graves of the Alrutz children.

A single marble stone is carved to resemble nine little headstones. Each section is carved with a name - almost all are illegible - and a flower. Beside them is a tiny, but wonderfully detailed chair with a closed book on its seat. Another headstone next to the little chair is, unfortunately, broken away at the base.

I've found little information on the parents. A 1920 census list Lewis F. Alrutz and his wife, Annie (who was born in Ireland) as residents of Schenectady with one child (a five-year old daughter named Elizabeth).

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Ozias Hall

Family lot of Ozias Hall on the north branch of the road leading up to the Middle Ridge, just north of the Burden crypt.

I have to admit this is a rather ecclectic monument. It's a variation on the white marble obelisk style that was very popular in the 19th-century, but with the addition of these brown umbrella shapes. From a distance, they appear to be cast iron, but when viewed up close, you can see they are sandstone. There are also tiny metal loops on the points of the "umbrellas" as if something was meant to be hung from them. There is also a tiny nice in the base of the which contains a marble sculpture of a sleeping lamb (though it's so worn that it resembles a dog or even a piglet from some angles), but often the tall grass hides this detail.

Even early guidebooks describe this monument as "odd-looking."

According to a city directory from 1858, Ozias Hall was an ice dealer with an establishment located on Broadway.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Sculptor Oscar Lenz

The Rural Cemetery's many beautiful works of art include two sculptures by Oscar Lenz. One is The Angel of The Resurrection on the Parsons family monument. The large cross also includes a dramatic frieze of a procession of figures in classical robes.

The other is the stunning relief on the mausoleum of George Porter Hilton, president of the Hilton Bridge Company. This marvelously detailed bronze depicts the Angel of Death handing poppies to a weary poet-warrior.

Both of the monuments were collaborations with famed Albany architect Marcus T. Reynolds.

Oscar Lenz, a native of Rhode Island, studied sculpture under Auguste Saint-Gaudens and assisted in creating the statue of Diana which stood atop the former Madison Square Gardens. He also worked on some of the sculptures at the original Penn Station. Sadly, Lenz's artistic career was all too brief as he died in 1912 at the age of thirty-eight.