Saturday, June 30, 2012


This low sarcophagus-style monument of rough-cut granite blocks is topped by two delicate, but rusty urns of painted cast iron. The monument was erected for Kittie Hall, wife of prominent surgeon John Lochner. Beneath her name and the dates of her birth and death is the single word amavimus, Latin for “we have loved.”  It's located on the North Ridge near the Soldiers Lot and Gould monument.

Friday, June 29, 2012

The Witt Crypt

This old vault is obscured by its location on a low path which runs parallel to the Cemetery's South Ridge Road.  Built into the hillside, its roof vents can be seen from the plot of Little Georgie.  With its entrance now sealed with stone blocks and its approach ankle-deep in leaves or grass (depending on the season), it looks rather forlorn now, but still retains some elegance with its wonderful rose-colored granite pillars (one of which is sadly missing) and arched doorway.

The crypt was built for Stillman Witt, a millionaire industrialist and philanthropist from Cleveland.  Witt died at sea while on a trip for his health.  His 1875 obituary from the New York Times can be read here.

When it was first built, this would've been considered a very fine location.  There are a number of notable plots along this path - including the Strong family and Mayor Eli Perry.  The crypt would have also overlooked Consecration Lake with its scenic ravine paths.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Our Emme

The delicate little monument most likely marks the grave of a young girl.  The pretty white headstone features an open book and a bouquet of flowers.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

The Western Lodge

This antique photo shows the small lodge which once marked the Rural Cemetery's western limit.  When established in the 1840s, the Cemetery was less than two hundred acres and this lodge was built some years later.  It overlooked the historic Church Grounds just past the western end of the Middle Ridge. There is nothing left of it today, though the Cemetery's two remaining lodges are still in use at the Main and South Gates.

The Church Grounds Project

Friday, June 22, 2012

Holding Hands Forever

This distinctive arch-shaped monument on the North Ridge features a pair of clasped hands, a symbol found on a number of old stones throughout the Cemetery.  Showing a woman's hand and a man's, it represents marriage as the husband and wife join hands for eternity.

The pattern is repeated on the back of the monument as well, though the eastern face of the stone is a bit more worn than the western face shown above.

This monument marks the grave of several Lansings:  Jacob I. Lansing (died 1884 at age 76), his wife Mehetable (died 1877 at age 65), Myron Lansing (died 1875 at age 21) and Thomas Lansing (died in 1877 at age 56).  One tablet on the eastern side is blank.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Gould Monument

 This exceptional monument is not easily spotted from the road winding up the North Ridge.  It's hidden in one of the Rural Cemetery's oldest sections on a sort of small promontory which overlooks the Winslow vault.

The monument is white marble, though much of it has turned dark gray.  The tablets on the large base are flanked by simple amphorae.  An ornate sarcophagus stands a top with an angel beside it.  One of the angel's wings is missing and its features are quite worn, giving the figure a rather ghostly look.  A scroll drapes over the corner of the sarcophagus and the angel's hand rests on it.  If anything was carved on that scroll, it's now illegible.

This monument marks the resting place of Anthony Gould and his wife, Martha Jennette.  Anthony Gould was a publisher of law books who took over the business co-founded by his brother William.  The firm operated in both New York City and Albany with the latter establishment located at 475 Broadway and then at 68 State Street.  Anthony Gould died in 1858 at the age of 55. 

According to old Cemetery maps, this section at the eastern edge of the North Ridge was known first as Kennisau Hill and, when most of the Cemetery's roads and sections were renamed, it was called Landscape Hill.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Hamilton Cross

This tall, stunningly-detailed stands across from a row of private mausoleums just south of Cypress Waters (the ornamental pond at the center of the Cemetery's South Ridge).  Designed by Marcus T. Reynolds, the architect who designed some of downtown Albany's most recognizable buildings (as well as the lodge at the Cemetery's South Gate), it marks the Hamilton family plot.

Executed by sculptor John Francis Brines, it was commissioned in 1900 by Andrew and Jessie Hamilton in memory of their only son who had died at the age of seven.  Andrew and Jessie would also be laid to rest here and, tragically, their three daughters would join them here in 1912 after being killed in a terrible train wreck over the Saugatuck River at Westport, Connecticut. 

The soaring monument is heavily carved on both the front and back.  It features the intricate strap-work characteristic of Celtic crosses along with a myriad of traditional Christian symbols - ranging from Christ surrounded by the Four Evangelists to the ancient pelican piercing its breast to feed its young.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Made By Dickerman

While photographing an adjacent headstone, the upside-down text on this one caught my eye.  Located near the bottom of the headstone, it reads Dickerman Albany.  This portion of the stone would've been most likely hidden by the earth when the stone stood upright.

A search of contemporary city directories shows that a stone-cutter by the name of Joel R. Dickerman had a shop at the corner of Westerlo and Green Streets.  His home was at 208 Lydius Street (now a block of Madison Avenue occupied by the New York State Museum).

I've found little information about this Andrew Briare, except that other members of his family were in the confectionery business.  In fact, a Mrs. Pearl S. Briare is listed as a confectioner at 124 Greene Street, just a few doors away from Dickerman's stone-cutting shop.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Benjamin Hanks, Bell-Maker

Near the western edge of the Cemetery (where some of the North Ridge's older lots lie adjacent to some of its most modern sections) is the grave of Colonel Benjamin Hanks.

Born in Mansfield, Connecticut in 1755, Benjamin Hanks served as a drummer during the Revolution and, in that role, took part in the march to Lexington in response to Paul Revere's alarm and later as a drummer with General Israel Putnam's Third Connecticut Regiment. He worked as an apprentice to Thomas Harland, a noted Norwich clockmaker, and he is said to have spent time working in a foundry owned by Paul Revere. During and after the war, he continued in the metal-smith’s trade making (according to an advertisement from the late 1770s) spurs, buckles, beads, hilts, clocks and watches, as well as general silver and gold work. Around 1780, he established a bell and cannon foundry in Mansfield.

Later, with his son Julius, he established a brass foundry in Gibbonsville, New York (now Watervliet). This new foundry, which began advertising its goods in 1808, was located in a hamlet just north of the future Rural Cemetery and later called West Troy, now part of the city of Watervliet. The foundry made an assortment of items, including tower clocks, surveying tools, and church bells.

One young man apprenticed at the Hanks' West Troy foundry was Andrew Meneely who would later establish his own foundry in Troy and become one of America's leading bell-makers.   Meneely is also buried in the Rural Cemetery in a family lot on the Middle Ridge.

Colonel Hanks died at Troy in 1824 and buried Gibbonsville, just to the southwest of the current Watervliet Arsenal. His original grave site was badly neglected until it was removed to the Rural Cemetery through the efforts of the Daughters of the American Revolution in 1918.  (See also The Old Arsenal Burying Grounds)

Colonel Benjamin Hanks, drummer of the Revolution and bell-maker, was said have been related to Nancy Hanks, the mother of Abraham Lincoln.

Friday, June 1, 2012

The Appleton Monument

This massive granite monument with its carved palm fronds atop and heavy granite coping enclosing the lot was erected for a well-to-do Albany merchant named William Appleton.

William Appleton, who resided at 188 Washington Avenue, is listed in old city directories as being in the produce business with stores located at 71 Quay Street and 4 and 87 Bowery (now Central Avenue).

Born in Goodmanham, Yorkshire in 1811, William Appleton came to Albany after the loss of a substantial inheritance and entered the grain and malting businesses.  Later, he would also own a number of barges which traveled up and down the Hudson River between Albany and New York City.  He would also become one of the largest owners of real estate in the Albany area. 

In 1844, William Appleton married Jerusha Frisbee; they would have eight children.

A decade and a half after his death in 1870, Appleton was remembered with great respect:

His life though quiet and retiring was full of good deeds. He was, in an unostentatious way, one of the most benevolent of men and many poor people of Albany to whom his death brought sadness can testify to his kindness and liberality.  Highly esteemed by all who knew him, he was one of the most welcome of friends and companions and his extensive knowledge of a wide range of subjects made him very interesting in conversation. He was a model husband and father and with his family he was exceptionally liberal and painstaking. His home was the place of all places where he loved to spend his time and upon it he lavished care and expense without stint.

(from the Bi-centennial History of Albany County)

His monument, which cost $9,000 when it was commissioned, was the work of William Manson.  The Scottish-born Manson not only created several noteworthy monuments for the Cemetery (including the eagle-topped column honoring Colonel Mills), but also worked on sculpted elements for the interiors at the New York State Capitol and Court of Appeals.

The capstone of the Appleton monument was said to be the largest single piece of granite used for a monument at the time and reportedly weighed over twenty tons.

The Appleton lot stands along a low path at the northwest corner of the South Ridge and is just across from a series of impressive hillside vaults, including the Egytian-inspired Brinckerhoff-Pumpelly crypt

In the past, a small set of steps just behind this lot led down to the Moordanaers Kill and Tawasentha Lake, a small ornamental pond which has since been drained.

(While the lot is badly overgrown in the above photo, it had been mowed and cleared by my next visit.)

 View of the Appleton lot from the early 1890s.