Monday, August 27, 2012

David Strain

The monument is a tall shaft in a corner lot at the very edge of a hill on the North Ridge.  From here, one can look down on the massive Winslow vault or out across the Hudson River towards Troy.  Near the top of the shaft is the family name "Strain."  But the inscription that makes this rather obscure monument noteworthy is near the base on the south side.  It reads FIRST INTERMENT IN THIS CEMETERY.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Thomas and Elizabeth Beckett

The western edge of the North Ridge contains many graves privately transferred to the Rural Cemetery from the State Burying Grounds prior to the closure and mass removal of graves by the Albany Common Council in the late 1860s (see also the David Fonda stone).

This white marble headstone marks the relocated graves of Thomas and Elizabeth Beckett which were moved here from the Dutch Reformed Church's lot at the old Burying Grounds.

Elizabeth Beckett died in  1854 at the age of forty.  Thomas died in 1862 at the age of forty-eight.  According to the city directory, he was a grocer with an establishment on at the corner of Lumber Street (now Livingston Avenue) and Lark Street.  Their home was a few blocks away at 104 Clinton Avenue.

The Beckett headstone is a simple rectangle of white marble which features some of the loveliest carved roses in the Cemetery.  The flowers and leaves are very details with two open blooms and one rose hip berry.  The style is not too unlike the roses carved on the broken stone of Elizabeth Ann in the nearby Church Grounds and may even be the work of the same stone-cutter.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Edward Delavan

This cross-topped marble monument on the Cemetery's high Middle Ridge marks the grave of Edward C. Delavan, a prominent Albany hotel owner and temperance advocate.

Mr. Delavan owned the eponymous Delavan House, one of old Albany's most famous hotels.  Located on Broadway on the site of Union Station, the hotel hosted Charles Dickens, the Lincoln family, Boss Tweed (he used a luxury suite there as his local headquarters, complete with a private entrance), Theodore Roosevelt, and many other famous figures before it was destroyed in one of the city's worst fires.  Nineteen people were killed in the inferno on December 30, 1894.

Born in Westchester County in 1793, Delavan was one of the wealthiest New Yorkers by 1860.  Much of his fortune had been made in real estate investments after the opening of the Erie Canal.

Despite an early career as a wine merchant, Edward Delavan was, by the late 1820s, a fanatic participant in the temperance movement and founding member of the American Temperance Union.  He is said to have emptied the entire contents of his own expensive wine cellar into the gutters.  He also traveled to Europe to promote temperance in Italy and France, both countries famed for their wine production and consumption.  An enthusiastic propagandist, he used his personal wealth to distribute a million temperance tracts to Union soldiers during the Civil War.

Of course, a "dry" hotel was not profitable and the managers of his Delavan House reportedly found loopholes in the establishment's lease which allowed wine and liquour to be served there despite its owner's zealous objections to all alcohol.

It was Edward Delavan who bought the first deed to a lot at the new Albany Rural Cemetery in 1845.  He was buried there after his death in 1871.

Monday, August 6, 2012

James Gazeley

This granite cross stands high on the easternmost slope of the South Ridge near the Rural Cemetery's main lodge and office.  It marks the grave of James Gazeley, one of the most prominent manufacturers of monuments associated with this Cemetery.

Born in 1830, Gazeley's stoneworks were located right at the Cemetery; old maps of the grounds identify a large lot adjacent to the Cemetery near the barn complex and nearby Jermain family estate as Gazeley's property.  He also had an office at 163 Madison Avenue.

Gazeley was responsible for many monuments throughout the Cemetery, including the impressive granite Root and Visscher family vaults.  The Bayeux obelisk and David Zeh monument are early works by Gazeley.  The Samuel Pruyn headstone also bears his name.

After Gazeley's death in 1908, his company became Empire Granite.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

The Sandstone Portrait of Martha Parratt

This stone, erected just a little over a decade after the Rural Cemetery was consecrated, is rather unusual in that it features a portrait in carved in sandstone.  While this red-brown stone was popular for monuments during the Cemetery's early years (and there are still older examples in the Church Grounds), it was never as popular as white marble for likenesses and, in fact, is the only sandstone portrait here.