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 figure...one 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.