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.