Saturday, December 28, 2013

Theodore Freylinghausen Wyckoff

This simple stone stands on the edge of Moordanaers Kill across the Pumpelly vault and just up the path from the massive granite monument of William Appleton.  It's one that I passed many times, yet never noticed until one day the sunlight fell across it at just the right angle and the carving caught my eye.  It's one of the most beautifully carved roses I've seen in Albany Rural. 

A close-up of the rose from my Instagram page.  The pale green lichen highlights the delicate petals.

This lovely monument marks the graves of Theodore Freylinghausen Wyckoff, a Dutch Reformed minister who was born in Catskill, New York in 1820 and died in the West Indies at the age of thirty-five.  The McClintock Bible Encyclopedia gives a short profile of him:

He graduated at Rutgers College in 1839, and at New Brunswick Theological Seminary in 1841; was pastor of the Second Reformed Church of Ghent, N.Y., from the 1843 to 1844; of the South Reformed Church, West Troy, from 1845 to 1854, and ministered at St. Thomas, W.I., in 1854-55.  He died of yellow fever, Jan. 19 of the latter year, only a few weeks after his arrival in St. Thomas.  He was a young man of cultivated mind and manners, a careful student, scholarly in his tastes and refined in accomplishments; he wrote much and well for the periodical press.  His sermons were ornate in style, evangelical in matter and spirit, and full of promise.

Three Little Lambs

This triple stone - now tilted and quite illegible - most likely marks the graves of children.  Lambs, of course, have long been a common symbol of innocence and childhood in cemeteries.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The Pyramid of Samuel Brown

Monuments inspired by the art and architecture of Ancient Egypt are fairly common in cemeteries.  The Rural Cemetery's twin receiving vaults and the hillside crypt of the Brinckerhoff-Pumpelly family are both Egyptian in style.  Most were designed as part of the fashion called "Egyptomania" when the art of the ancient Nile kingdom influenced everything from dresses and wallpaper to public buildings and monuments. 

This simple granite pyramid on the crest of the South Ridge, though, is especially appropriate.  It marks the grave of Samuel Brown, the Albany businessman who traveled to Egypt to purchase the pair of mummies which have been an extremely popular attraction at the Albany Institute of History & Art (and the subject of a special exhibit currently open at the museum).

Handwritten letter from Brown regarding the mummies.

More on the Albany mummies.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

James Gray

The grave of James Archibald Gray of Boardman & Gray, one of Albany's best known manufacturers of pianos.  Albany, at one time, was home to a number of piano makers.

All Over Albany - The Piano City

Gray's two wives and son are also buried here.  The monument was made by Young & Son in Troy as can be seen by a small inscription on the right side of the base.

Monday, November 18, 2013

John Tweddle

It's impossible to walk down State Street below the Capitol and not notice the Gothic bell tower of historic St. Peter's Episcopal Church.  That tower, with its gargoyles and carved faces, was erected in memory of John Tweddle.

John Tweddle is best remembered for Tweddle Hall, a large building which occupied the corner of State and North Pearl Streets.  The site is now the location of a rather stark modern building which houses a bank, Starbucks, and various offices.

Tweddle Hall was built in 1859 on what was previously known as Elm Tree Corner and Webster's Corner.  This vast building feature a brownstone facade by William Gray who was also responsible for a number of monuments at the Rural Cemetery (including "Sara and Her Babe") and numerous businesses (including tailors, druggists, art and music dealers, law offices, and shoe stores). 

Click here for an antique photo of Tweddle Hall on the Albany Institute of History & Art's site. 

Above the stores was a hall that could seat a thousand people.  Tweddle Hall would host everything from musical performances to conventions.  One of the most notable people to appear at the Hall was Charles Dickens who gave two sold-out readings there.  Like a modern-day rock concert, people lined up for hours in front of the Hall to buy the $2 tickets which sold out quickly or paid high prices to scalpers.   

Tweddle Hall burned in January 1883.  The many stairwells, flammable stage scenery and curtains, and long halls quickly spread the fire from the second floor throughout the building.  It was a total loss and, when it was rebuilt, it was a commercial edifice - the Tweddle Building - without the large performance hall.

John Tweddle was born in England in 1798 and orphaned at the age of nine.  He emigrated to the United States at twenty-one and, by 1847, was involved in the brewing business in Albany.  He was a founder and president of the Merchant's Bank and a Presidential elector voting for Abraham Lincoln's second term.

John Tweddle died of cancer on March 9, 1877.  He was buried on the South Ridge the following May where his grave is marked with a modest marble obelisk.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Sara and Her Babe

When twenty-six year old Sara Weed died in childbirth, her husband William commissioned William Gray to create this monument.  The soaring marble shaft bears the words Sara and Her Babe and it is topped by a figure of a robed woman cradling a bottle close to her face. 

The touching to a tribute to a wife and stillborn child was described by Edward Fitzgerald wrote in his Handbook For The Albany Rural Cemetery:

Many ridiculous notions have prevailed concerning the meaning of the figure by which it is surmountedIt is intended to illustrated some Scriptural ideal; but what that ideal is, we have been unable to discover.  The memorial is very neat and appropriate.

The ridiculous notion mentioned by Fitzgerald refers to the publication of a cheap paperback novel entitled Sara and Her Babe.  The book told the sordid tale of a lovely young woman who met an early death thanks to a love of rum.  According to the book, the statue of Sara cradling her bottle of rum and that her grieving husband erected the monument to warn others of the dangerous of drink.
The bottle held by the marble lady is actually a "tear bottle."  Also known as a lachyrmatory, these vessels were used to collect a mourner's tears.  They were popular in Ancient Rome and again came into fashion for a time in the 19th-century.  It's certainly not a bottle of rum!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Drowned In The Albany Basin

The inscription on this very worn marble headstone reads:  The Grave of Alexander Smith of the city of Hudson who was drowned in the Albany Basin on the night of the 4th of April A.D. 1829, aged 49 years.

The Albany Argus carried a short news item about Smith's death which noted that his body was found a week after he was seen aboard a steamboat bound for Albany.  It was presumed that he attempted to go ashore in the dark, missed the pier, and fell into the water.  He left behind a wife and child in Hudson.

He was originally buried in the Episcopal section of the old State Street Burying Grounds, but was not part of the mass removal to the Church Grounds to make way for Washington Park.  He was instead reburied on the North Ridge.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

John W. Wood

The Rural Cemetery had only been open for about two years when sixteen-year old John Wood was laid to rest on this South Ridge hill.  At the time, this area was known as Mount Olivet, though now it is merely identified as Section 5.  The white marble monument features a broken column - a popular and sentimental symbol of a young life cut short - draped with a floral garland.  There is also a lovely carved rose just above the inscription on the pedestal. 

Based on the burial records, it appears that his father, Samuel, died in 1833 at the age of thirty-three and was interred in Havana, Cuba.  The lot was purchased by John's mother, Sarah, who passed away in Albany on March 28, 1886.  She was seventy-nine and, three days later, was laid to rest in the same lot she had purchased for her son forty years earlier.

The brownstone monument of the Strong family can be seen in the background.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Strong Roots

The roots of this old tree have grown right into the stone of the embankment where Moordanaers Kill crosses from Wild Flower Dell and Oak Hill Grove into Sylvan Dell (those old section names come from the map of the grounds found in Henry Phelps' 1892 book The Albany Rural Cemetery - Its Memories, Its Beauties.)

Sunday, November 3, 2013

James Eights

James Eights's watercolors are among the few visual records of early 19th-century Albany.  Painted in the 1840s, the pictures illustrate the city as it appeared in 1805 (and, in some cases, earlier).  Eights worked not only from his own memory, but from maps, documents, and personal recollections of locals.

Eights was born in Albany in 1798 to Dr. Jonathan Eights and his wife, Alidea Wynkoop.  His maternal grandfather, Jacobus Wynkoop, was a skipper, boatbuilder, and veteran of the Revolutionary War.   Jacobus reportedly built the sloop Experiment which was famous for its 1786 voyage to China.

As a young man, James Eights was appointed as a draftsman working on the geological surveys made for the construction of the Erie Canal.  By 1829, he was at sea as a surgeon and naturalist on a voyage to Antarctica.  Despite publishing his accounts of the voyage and the later naming of the Eights Coast in his honor, he was not a member of a follow-up expedition to the Southern Hemisphere, apparently as a result of the same alcoholism which would leave him broke later in life.

He returned to Albany in 1830 to live with his parents and, in the 1840s, began work on his series of paintings of his native city.  An excellent visual comparison of his historic views with the present can be found here.  In addition to painting, he wrote and published a number of reports on geology and history.

Unmarried and destitute, James Eights moved to his sister's home in Ballston Spa where he died of Bright's Disease on June 22 1882.  He was eighty-four years old.  Two days later, he was buried in his family's plot on the Middle Ridge.  The eastern face of the monument bearing his name is rather worn and difficult to read, but his parents' names on the north face of the marble are fairly legible.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Lawson Annesley

The Annesley family plot on the Middle Ridge is marked with a tall, simple granite shaft marked with an elegant letter "A."

The most notable grave in this lot is that of Lawson Annesley (1795-1865), a well-known dealer in mirrors, picture frames, and art.  He was a friend of sculptor Erastus Dow Palmer and his shop and gallery became a gathering place for Palmer and other prominent local artists of the era.

The facade of Annesley's Ten Broeck Street home still stands.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Orange Peck

Unusual names aren't uncommon in cemeteries.  This one - Orange Peck - caught my eye in the Soldiers Lot.  Unfortunately, there is little information on him beyond the fact that he died on December 28, 1864. 

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Murdered At Cherry Hill

The weathered marble monument isn't particularly distinctive from a distance.  It's darkened to deep gray by the elements and the style - loosely patterned on ancient Hebrew altars - can be found repeated several times throughout the Cemetery.  Take a closer look, though, and the inscription reveals a name connected to one of Albany's most famous crimes.

John Whipple Born at Sunderland, Vermont August 11, 1793.  Father Was An Officer In The Revolutionary War.

The date of his death is not given with the longer description on the back, but his name is repeated on the front with the following dates:  1793-1827

 The newspapers - both local and beyond - carried the following description of his death.

One of the most horrible instances of deliberate assassination that we have ever been called upon to record, was committed in the vicinity of Albany...the victim, John Whipple, who whilst writing in a back room in the second-story of his dwelling-house on Cherry Hill, a mile below the city, between 9 and 10 o'clock last night, was fired at through the sash, with a pistol.  The ball passed through and shattered a pane of glass, entered the body of Mr. Whipple through the blade bone of his left shoulder, cut one of the principal arteries of the heart, and lodged in the right lobe of the lungs....When he was shot, he rose from his seat, exclaimed, 'My God! what was that!" and made for the door at the head of the stairs, descended a step or two, fell, and instantly expired.  The wife of Mr. W. had been in the room but a moment before, and the next time she saw her husband he was a lifeless corpse!  Her feelings may easier by imagined than described.

His wife, of course, was Elsie Lansing Whipple, and before long, she and her lover, a handyman named Jesse Strang, were implicated in the murder of John Whipple and the subsequent trial became front page news across the country.

Elsie was a Van Rensselaer on her mother's side.  Her father, Abraham A. Lansing, was successful businessman who could afford to own eleven slaves.  Her father died while Elsie was quite young and, at the age of fourteen, Elsie (who was described as a pampered and difficult girl) eloped with John Whipple.  He was a neighbor and nine years her senior.  Her family initially disapproved of the match, believing Whipple was only after Elsie's money.  However, Whipple proved to be a sensible guardian of her inheritance and greatly increased it through a good combination of business skill and wise investment.  After his death, the newspapers described John Whipple as "in the prime of life, industrious, enterprising, and fair in all his transactions...a valuable and intelligent citizen." 

John and Elsie Whipple had one son, Abraham, born in 1821.

Elsie, however, caught the eye of a man named Joe Orton. Elsie met him at a nearby tavern where he worked.  Not long after, he moved to the Cherry Hill estate as a handyman and the pair eventually became lovers.  First came the daily exchange of passionate letters, followed by trysts.  They wanted to run away together, but lacked the funds to do so.  Elsie's money belonged, under the law, to her husband.  As for her lover, his name wasn't really Joe Orton.  He was Jesse Strang, a man who'd abandoned his wife and children in Fishkill, moved first to Ohio and then back to western New York where he faked his death before coming to Albany.

Divorce was unthinkable.  Aside from the social scandal it would cause, it would leave Elsie penniless.  The lovers decided murder was their best option.  John Whipple's death would leave Elsie single and rich.  Elsie first tried to poison him with arsenic, but the dose was too low.  John was sickened, but survived. 

Elsie offered to give Jesse one of her husband's own pistols to commit the deed, but Jesse declined and bought a flintlock.  The pair then spread rumors than unknown enemies were out to kill John over a business matter and claimed to see prowlers around the estate.  Then, on the night of May 7, 1827, Jessie climbed onto a shed at the rear of the Cherry Hill mansion and fired the fatal shot through the closed window.

Elsie and Jesse planned to elope to Montreal, but at the coroner's hearing, Jesse's over-enthusiastic testimony about prowlers raised suspicions.  Just two days after the murder, he was arrested.  Two weeks later, Elsie was also arrested.

The trial shocked the city.  It attracted such great crowds that it had to be moved from the courthouse to the Assembly Chamber at the State Capitol.  The sordid mix of sex, money, respected family names, and murder was a great draw and, when Jesse was convicted and executed for the murder of John Whipple, his hanging attracted nearly a crowd of nearly forty thousand (a spectacle that lead city officials to end the practice of public hangings in Albany).  Elsie stood trial separately.  The judge refused to let Jess testify and the jury acquitted her without even rising from their seats.  Albany was not prepared to condemn a woman with ties to some of its most prominent families, regardless of the evidence.  Little is known about Elsie's later life. After the murder of her husband and the hanging of her lover, Elsie married Nathaniel Freeman in Brunswick, New Jersey.  She died in 1832.

John Whipple, murdered at Cherry Hill, was buried in the Episcopal lot at the State Street Burying Grounds.  His entry in the Common Council's inventory of burials makes note that he was "murdered at Cherry Hill."  When the graves were removed forty years later, John was not transferred to the Church Grounds, but privately reburied in this North Ridge lot purchased by his son, Abraham Lansing Whipple.  Abraham and his wife, Hannah, are also buried here.

Cherry Hill, the mansion at Albany's southern edge, made news again in the past week.  The site was faced with the possibility of closure, but generous donations prevented the loss of one of Albany's finest historic treasures.  In a city that has lost much of its early history, the Cherry Hill mansion is marvelously intact and contains generations of family possessions. See the Times Union stories for more details:

Albany Mansion May Be History
Donors Keep Cherry Hill From Closing
Support is still needed and donations can be made at Cherry Hill's site:

Historic Cherry Hill

Sunday, July 7, 2013

John Simpson

Although broken and missing a piece, this headstone on the North Ridge features a skull-and-cross bones.  While this macabre motif was popular on old New England gravestones (and a rather fine example can be found at Vale Cemetery on an 19th-century stone), it's less common in this area.

This stone, badly repaired and quite worn, marks the grave of one John Simpson who died on November 11, 1874.  The burial records indicate that Simpson, who was fifty-eight when he succumbed to heart disease, was a resident at the Kenwood Toll Gate just south of Albany.  Kenwood was, at the time, the site of a vast estate belonging to Joel Rathbone and family.  It included mills along the Normanskill and a hilltop mansion (part of which survives having been incorporated into the former Doane Stuart School).

His wife - who has a rather unusual name - is buried in the adjacent plot.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

At Gettysburg

Easily visible along the stretch of South Ridge Road that curves up hill from the main office, this marble tree stump is one of the many graves of fallen Civil War soldiers at the Albany Rural Cemetery. 

The tree, truncated and without branches, indicates a life ended in its prime.  A soldiers' cap lies on the roots, a flag wraps around the trunk, the stone bases is carved with the names of the fourteen battles in which this young man fought (including Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, and Fairfax Courthouse).

This beautiful monument marks the grave of Lieutenant William Pohlman.  He was born in 1842 Borneo to missionary parents, but raised in Albany by an aunt following the death of his mother.  He was a student at Rutgers University when the war began and soon enlisted in the 1st New Jersey Infantry Regiment.  By the following year, Pohlman was a Lieutenant and Adjutant in the 59th New York Infantry.

On July 3, Lt. Pohlman was struck in the arm by shrapnel from a cannon at Gettysburg.  Wounded, he continued to fight until shot in the arm during Pickett's Charge.  He was first brought to a field hospital, about a week later transferred to the hospital set up in the nearby Swopes Mansion.  A surgeon was brought from Baltimore to examine him and, at first, it seems the young man would recover.  He was able to receive visitors and wrote to his sister to ask her to come see him.  He would ask every day if she had arrived.  But on July 20, his condition worsened.  Following a hemorrhage, he entered into a brief coma.  He regained consciousness on the 21st, but was confused and called out, "Cease firing!"  They were his final words, now carved on his monument's canon. His body was embalmed and returned to Albany for burial.

Grave of Rev. Henry Newman Pohlman
He was buried in the plot belonging to his uncle, the Reverend Henry Newman Pohlman, the former pastor of Albany's 1st Lutheran Church.  It was Rev. Pohlman who oversaw the Cemetery's consecration ceremonies in 1844.

The shield on the front of the younger Pohlman's headstone reads:

Died July 21, 1863 At Gettysburg From Wounds Received In Battle In The 22nd Year of His Age

Click here for a more extensive bio of Lt. William Pohlman, including photos

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Ulysse Pahud

It's a low monument that matches the rest of the headstones surrounding the massive obelisk in the family plot of  Thurlow Weed and William Barnes (two very prominent names in Albany's political history). But two things set this marker apart from the others; the distinctive name and the verse on the bronze plaque which reads:

No Man Was Truer To The Pole Of What He Thought His Task.  No Fear Could Touch His Loyal Soul.  What More Can Human Ask?

An inscription like that certainly hinted at an interesting story and a look through the Cemetery's records reveled that he had died at the age of forty in Nantucket.  The cause of death was listed as "shock from burns" on June 25, 1911.  

His last place of residence was given as 229 State Street.  That address no longer exists; it was demolished to make way for the old State Office Building.  In 1911, though, it was the residence of the Barnes family and Ulysse Pahud was a Swiss immigrant employed as a valet there (some records list him as a butler). There's some discrepancy about his age;  some records list his birth year as 1879, but others give it as 1871.

The wealthy Barnes family had a boathouse at their summer home, the former Sherburne House Hotel in Nantucket.  On June 24, 1911, Ulysse Pahud was working with the estate's handyman and the Barnes' coachman to strip and wax floors in the boathouse. 

Thurlow Weed Barnes II (who'd just recently graduated from Harvard) and a party of young friends had spent the day sailing.  It was a warm afternoon and Pahud had made it a bit more pleasant by setting up a gramophone and making sure some cold soft drinks were close at hand for them in a small room adjacent to the main reception room where the refinishing work was underway.

He returned to his task in the reception room, but tragedy was only moments away.  A young man in the party tossed aside a lit cigarette.  The careless act ignited a mop which had been used to apply turpentine and, before anyone could react, a line of flame separated two young ladies from the rest of the group.  Hoping to douse the fire and aid the women, another young man grabbed a pail of water and tossed it onto the flames.  Only it wasn't water.  It was still more turpentine.

A few minutes later, a captain tying up a boat at a nearby wharf and a lady sketching on the landing witnessed the terrible site of two young women and a young man running out of the boathouse.  Their clothing was ablaze and so was the back wall of the boathouse itself.  Several members of the party made it outside, but the two young women who'd been cut off from their friends by the initial flames were still trapped.  Thurlow's own clothes were on fire and a witness heard him shout, "For God's sake, Ulysse, save those girls!  They are burning up!"

Ulysse Pahud tried to reach the girls, but by then, it was too late to help them.  The entire boathouse was aflame.  His own clothes completely on fire, he was able to dive into the water and was taken to a nearby doctor.  Despite immediate medical attention, he died about six hours later. 

In addition to Ulysse Pahud, the two young women (Helen Wilson and Mildred De Haven) died in the fire, as did a young man named Thomas Kerr.  Thurlow Weed Barnes II was severely burned, but survived.

Ulysse Pahud's body was returned to Albany and he was buried in the Barnes family plot on July 6, 1911. 

It's said that the Barnes family lost no time in rebuilding a new, larger and more luxurious boathouse.  The second structure stood until 1971.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Memorial Day 2013 - William Walker

This large buff-colored cenotaph on the South Ridge reads:

In loving memory of PFC. William John Walker, Jr.
Born April 18, 1925
Killed in action March 18, 1945
Buried in American Cemetery At Hamm. Luxembourg

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Memorial Day 2013 - Jacob J. Kirchner

This low granite stone is located along the south edge of the North Ridge and along the same path as the grave of Captain William Wooley (Civil War).  It marks the grave of Corporal Jacob J. Kirchner, a Marine who died in World War I.  The Albany city directory for 1907 show a Jacob J. Kirchner as employed at Kirchner Brothers, a brewing company on Central Avenue.  The directory lists him as bookkeeper at the bottling plant at 228 Spruce Street.  He was thirty years old when he was killed at Saint-Mihiel, France.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Memorial Day 2013 - Clarence R. Castle

This stone on North Ridge honors Clarence R. Castle, Private of Ordnance in the U.S. Army.  Born in 1882, he died in 1911.  He may have been assigned to the nearby Watervliet Arsenal

Saturday, May 18, 2013

The DuMary Vault

This large free-standing vault is located on the South Ridge, just around the corner from the Parson's monument where the road turns from Cypress and leads out to the Cemetery's South Gate.

The vault's construction actually gives a hint about one of its occupants, Charles DuMary (or Dumary).  Born in 1822 in Albany to Irish parents., he appears in the 1850 census records as a stone cutter living in Troy.  He enlisted during the Civil War and was eventually promoted to 1st Lieutenant of Companies C&G of the 169th Infantry.  Returning to Troy, he resumed his trade and later census records list him firs as a marble cutter, then as a master stone cutter.  It is very possible that this vault was his own work.  He died of Bright's Disease in 1879.

Despite its fortress-like appearance, this vault was the site of one of the Rural Cemetery's worst incidents of vandalism.  In June, 1972, someone forced open the doors and pried open several crypts inside.  Charles Dumary's crypt was broken open and part of his remains removed from his coffin.  

While the design of this vault is very simple to the point of austerity, it's worth walking around to the side to see this beautiful window.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Jamie's Mamma

This stone isn't in the fanciest area of the Rural Cemetery; it's in the same North Ridge section as the penitentiary and Female Guardian Society lots (the latter was an organization which looked after impoverished women, unwed mothers, and other "friendless" females). 

It's a nice stone of dark granite, a stone which became popular for cemetery monuments because of its durability compared to marble and sandstone.  But the simple design of the stone and its location aren't what make it special; it's the inscription carved into the curved top.  It reads JAMIE'S MAMMA.

There's a little information on Sarah Kate Farmer.  She was born in England, as was her husband Thomas R. Farmer.  In 1880, the census lists them here in Albany.  He was employed as a clerk in a drygoods store, she was a "keeping house" with one son - the Jamie mentioned on the stone.  There was also a servant in the household, a young girl named Mamie Deck.  Since the stone mentions an infant son, it's possible Sarah died during or shortly after giving birth to Arthur.  The cemetery burial records don't list Thomas or Jamie here. Jamie was born in 1873 and he ould have been about twelve when his mother was buried here.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013


I came across this broken stone on the North Ridge while looking for several veterans of the 54th Massachusetts Colored Infantry known to be buried in the nearby G.A.R. plot.  The elegant script used for the name "Francesca" caught my attention and I'd love to know what the rest of the stone looked like originally.  The partial inscription is in Italian and this is likely the Francesco La Canfora listed in burial records for 1931.

Monday, May 6, 2013

The Drummer Boy

By the time the Civil War began, the State Street Burying Grounds were little used for new graves.  The Albany Rural Cemetery was already two decades old and, as the city began to bury its fallen soldiers, a special section was set aside for those who were not buried in family plots and those who had no one to claim their bodies (including several unknowns).  But, before it was closed for good, the old Burying Grounds became the temporary resting place of a drummer boy named George H. Barnard.

George was born in Albany in 1844, the son of George A. and Louisa Barnard.  The 1850 census lists his siblings as William, Louisa, and Creswell.  The 1858 city directory lists his father as a clerk at 444 Broadway (an address that included law offices, an insurance agency, and a hat and fur shop).  The family seems to have lived at 20 Quackenbush Street.

Young George served under General Abner Doubleday, a Ballston Spa native.  Still in his teens, he was a drummer boy when he was killed on September 17, 1862 at the Battle of Antietam.  His body was returned to Albany and he was buried in the Dutch Reformed section of the State Street Burying Grounds.  When the city's Common Council closed the Burying Grounds a few years after the war's end and removed the graves to the Church Grounds, George H. Barnard's remains was transferred to a family plot on the North Ridge of the Rural Cemetery.

His final resting place is marked with a small white marble headstone.  The top is carved with roses and the front reads "Killed At Antietam."  There is some additional text near the base, but it has eroded.  The word "soldier" remains visible, though. 

The Washington Post has a brief, but good overview of the role that young men like George H. Barnard played in the Civil War.  Drummer boys were often sentimentalized in poems (including one by Alfred Billings Street), ballads, and inexpensive engravings of the era.  

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Visiting Vale

I took a brief break from exploring and researching Albany Rural Cemetery and spent an afternoon wandering Schenectady's historic Vale Cemetery.  A photo essay can be found at my new site:

Saturday, April 13, 2013

The Titanic Survivor

The Rural Cemetery is the final resting place of a survivor of Titanic, an Albany man named Gilbert M. Tucker, Jr..  He was the grandson of Luther Tucker, the well-known publisher of The Country Gentleman, a periodical for farmers, and the son and namesake of author Gilbert M. Tucker, Sr..

Last year (for the centennial of Titanic's sinking), the Times Union ran an excellent article on Tucker, who boarded Lifeboat 7 - which was launched only half filled - after the ship struck an iceberg and had to live with the stigma of surviving a disaster that claimed so many men, women, and children.  The article includes photos of the Glenmont home where Tucker lived.

Tucker's headstone is one of a number of simple granite markers which surround his grandfather's handsome obelisk which overlooks Moordanaers Kill from the South Ridge.  A large, simple stone cross also marks the family lot.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Kate Stoneman

Kate Stoneman's granite headstone stands on a slight rise above the footpath running along the south side of the Middle Ridge. In front of the monument is a bronze plaque which gives a short history of New York's first female member of the Bar.

Kate Stoneman was the first woman admitted to practice law in New York State.  After training in a private firm, her application to join the Bar was rejected because of her gender.  She then successfully campaigned to amend the Code of Civil Procedure to permit the admission of qualified applicants without regard to gender or race.  Her admission to the NYS Bar in 1886 paved the way for thousands of women and minorities who followed.  Ms. Stoneman continued her legal education by attending Albany Law School and, in 1898, became the first woman to graduate.

Albany Law School celebrates Kate Stoneman every April and maintains an informational site about her.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Then & Now - The Howe-Robinson Lot

Edward Fitzgerald's 1871 Handbook For The Albany Rural Cemetery describes monument as a very striking little structure of polished Scotch granite surmounted by a chaste marble of the most delightful little specimens we have yet seen.  The admiration it receives is partly due to the fact that it embodies that highly appropriate ideal for a cemetery memorial - Remembrance.  The darker color of the polished pedestal gives pleasing prominence to the pure white marble figure, so sweet in expression, graceful in form and pose, and perfect in finish.

The monument stands on the South Ridge, just north of the Van Rensselaer lot and close to the enclosed lot of William James' family.  The statue which elicited such enthusiasm from Fitzgerald is surrounded by small granite headstones, each carved with a stylized floral motif.

The graves of Silas B. Howe and his wife, Eliza, are located on the south side of the lot.  A city directory for 1844 lists Howe as a draper at 28 Division Street.  He died in 1869 in New York City at the age of sixty-four and Joel Munsell noted his passing in Collections On The History of Albany.

Silas Howe will long be remembered for his genial and catholic spirit, and friendly disposition.  His ear and heart were always open to the needy, and of his means, those who knew him best, were well aware that he bestowed with liberality, even perhaps to a fault.

The 1850 census lists Howe's household as the following:  Silas B. (44), Eliza (38), Benjamin (14). Alexander (8), Margaret (4).  Also listed in the same household are Samuel Robinson (32), Margaret Robinson (36), Alexander Lloyd (45), and a servant from Ireland, Bridget Howard (25).  Alexander was Margaret's older brother.

Samuel Robinson and his wife, Margaret, are buried on the east side of the lot.  He died in 1876, she in 1870.
The engraving at the top of this post was published in Fitzgerald's Handbook shows the area around the monument free from any other gravestones.  This was definitely a bit of artistic license as many memorials surrounding the Howe-Robinson lot now are from the same period or earlier.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

April 2, 1841

Resolved, That a committee be appointed whose special duty it shall be to ascertain whether a suitable place for a cemetery can be obtained in the vicinity of Albany, and upon what terms, what probable expense would be incurred in fitting it for that purpose; to suggest some plan or principle of organization which in their judgment, will be the best calculated to carry fully into effect the measures that may be adopted, and that said committee make their report to a meeting to convene on this subject at some future time. 

The sign outside the Broadway (Route 32) entrance to the Cemetery.  The Cemetery wasn't dedicated until 1844, but the Albany Cemetery Association was formally established on this date and began the task of acquiring a  location for the new cemetery.

Monday, April 1, 2013

The Burden Vault

In a cemetery filled with beautiful monuments and vaults, the Burden vault is one of the most spectacular. 

Henry Burden was one of the area's best known industrialists and its said he selected this spot on the east slope of the Middle Ridge because, from here, one could look across the Hudson River and see his Iron Works with its massive waterwheel

Just opposite the vault is a large marble book.  On its open pages, there are lengthy inscriptions in honor of Henry Burden and his wife, Helen.

He was born in Stirling Shire, Scotland, April 22nd, 1791.  Died, Troy, Jan. 19th, 1871.  Endowed by Providence with an intellect marked by strength and originality, he early evinced a taste for the study and application of the forces of Nature and became the author of several mechanical inventions, which have served to lighten human toil and promote human happiness.  The results of his creative genius are known in all parts of the civilized World, and have secured him a place among the Benefactors of the Race.  Commanding in person:  Honest in his dealings with his fellowmen:  Affable in social life:  Liberal in his benefactions:  Refined and loving in his family, with a simple Faith in the Redeemer, he closed his useful life on Earth and entered into the Rest which remaineth for the people of God.

She was born in Stirling Shire, Scotland, Febr'y 13th, 1803, and died in Troy, March 10th, 1860.  Noble in person:  Refined in manners:  Prudent in counsel:  Faithful in friendship:  Generous in benevolence:  Sincere in religion:  With all the virtues in happy combination.  She beautifully adorned the relation of Daughter, Sister, Wife, and Mother, and has left an example worth of study and imitation.
“A perfect woman nobly planned –
To warn, to comfort, and command;
And yet a spirit still and bright
With something of angelic light –“
Her children rise up and call her blessed; and her husband also, and he praiseth her.

The vault was built in 1850 and some of the early histories of the Cemetery attribute the design to Helen Burden herself.  The ornate facade includes a woman's face above the door; it's said to be an idealized portrait of Helen herself.  The dogs atop the vault were modeled after family pets.

One can peek around the wooden panel covering the iron gate and see the marble-covered burial niches of Henry, Helen, and other members of the Burden family.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

A Marble Lamb

Lambs, a popular Easter symbol, were also a common motif on children's graves.  Many lambs - usually marble - can be found throughout the Albany Rural Cemetery.  This one, its base unfortunately fallen, is located along the edge of the North Ridge.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Idol of His Command

The grave of Colonel Walter A. Van Rensselaer (1836-1879) is set into the slope of the Middle Ridge just above the Burden family vault (one of the sculpted Burden dogs can be seen in the background on the left). 

A descendent of two of Albany's most prominent families - the Van Rensselaers and the Schuylers, - he served with the 20th NY Militia and was wounded in the neck during Pickett's Charge at Gettysburg.  An 1858 graduate of Albany Medical College, he became a physician after the war. 

The inscription on his simple granite headstone reads:  Idol of His Command, Chosen Comrade of His Peers, Pet of His Superiors.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Celtic Cross on The South Ridge

The graceful Celtic-style cross of wealthy lumber merchant Dean Sage on a  hillside close to the Angel At The Sepulchre and the large lots of the Corning and Schuyler families.  Another Celtic cross can be seen in the background.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Our Darling Anna

This ornate marble monument for a little girl is part of the large McClelland family lot near the Hallenbeek enclosure on the North Ridge. The centerpiece of this lot is a large, elaborate monument crowned with a flaming urn and will be the subject of a future post.

Anna's grave has both its original headstone and footstone, though the latter was probably topped with a now-missing cross and the base of that missing ornament is now askew.  The curbing of this bed-like monument is still intact and the area enclosed by it was most likely planted with flowers at one time.  The headstone, with some nicely caved drapery over the top features a relief of the little girl as an angel carrying a banner.  The writing on the banner is too worn to read easily.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Captain Samuel Schuyler

This towering marble monument with anchors carved on both its east and west faces stands on the brow of the Middle Ridge with a commanding view of the Hudson River and valley below.

Anchors on headstones often represent steadfast faith and are found on a number of graves in Albany Rural Cemetery.  In this case, they also symbolize the occupation of the deceased (such as the Bogart and Townsend monuments)

He was born in 1781, but very little is known of Samuel Schuyler's origins, though it has been speculated that he was a descendent of the prominent Albany family of the same name.  Sometime prior to 1805, he married Mary Martin-Morin; the couple would have eleven children.

Like many other African-Americans of his era, Samuel began his working life as a laborer on Quay Street, along Albany's thriving waterfront. Within five years of his marriage, though, he had his own boat to haul lumber, produce, and other goods. He would expand his business interest to real estate, owning a substantial number of lots along South Pearl Street.  His sons would join him in business, as partners in a flour and feed store and, later, they would establish the Schuyler Towboat Company.

Captain Schuyler died in 1842 and was buried in this lot which also holds the graves of three generations of his family.  It's interesting to note that, when his son and namesake died in 1894, the New York Times obituary made no mention of the family's African-American heritage and referred to his ancestors as "the early Dutch settlers of Albany." 

Sunday, February 24, 2013

The Meads Monument

This marble monument stands in the Meads family plot on the Middle Ridge, close to the Young double headstone and Erastus Palmer's monument for Lucia Olcott.

The monument consists of a urn enclosed within a marble canopy.  The cross which once topped the monument has fallen off and rests by the urn.  It marks the graves of several members of the family of Orlando Meads (a founding member and later president of the Albany Institute), most notably his son.

The inscription on the urn reads:

John Hun Meads Son of Orlando Meads Died Aug. 11, 1855 On Board The Steamer Pacific Aged 19 Years & 5 Months.  

There is also a inscription in Greek.   Near the base of the urn, is the notation "Buried In Albany" which hints that the urn may have been created first as a memorial to the young man and located elsewhere before being placed in the Cemetery.  His father, Orlando, served as president of the Albany Institute of History & Art. 

An inscription on the front of the monument bears the name of another John Meads who died  in 1870.  According to Henry Phelps' history of the Cemetery, John Meads was a great admirer of the Rural Cemetery who visited almost daily.  The Fitzgerald guide to the Cemetery describes him as "an old and respected citizen of Albany, who was conspicuous in many noble public charities."

Thursday, February 21, 2013

The G.A.R. Lot

The G.A.R. (Grand Army of the Republic) Lot is set near the western edge of the North Ridge and not as visible or striking as the Soldiers Lot with its even rows of headstones and bronze statue.  Almost overlooked in comparison, it contains the graves of Civil War veterans.

Among the soldiers buried here are several African-American men who served the Union Army, including Private Alfred Dana (Co. I, 31st US Colored Troops, present at Appomattox), James N. Lucas (Co. E, 38th US Colored Troops, a native of Barbados), Corporal Jacob Thompson (Co. K, 26th NYS Colored Infantry), and Sargent William M. Walters (31st US Colored Troops).