Monday, July 28, 2014

Ellen Herndon Arthur

With its tall bronze angel and polished black sarcophagus, the monument of Chester A. Arthur is easily the most famous in the Albany Rural Cemetery.  Small metal markers throughout the Cemetery point the way to it and annual wreath-laying ceremonies honor the 21st President of the United States.

President Arthur isn't - as a few visitors (and authors) have mistakenly assumed - buried inside that black stone sarcophagus.  His grave is actually just behind the massive monument.  And that is where the delicate white marble sarcophagus-style headstone of his wife is located.

Ellen Herndon was born in Culpeper Court House, Virginia in 1837.  She was daughter of Captain William Lewis Herndon, a Mexican War veteran and Naval explorer who headed an expedition to the then largely uncharted Valley of  the Amazon in South America.  Herndon was hailed as a hero when he went down with his mail steamer, the SS Central America.  When the ship was crippled during a hurricane near Cape Hatteras, Captain Herndon arranged for over a hundred and fifty women and children to be transferred to another vessel before Captain Herndon went going down with his ship on September 12, 1857. 

Chester Arthur, then a promising young lawyer, proposed to Ellen on the verandah of the U.S. Hotel in Saratoga Springs in 1856 and they were married in New York City three years later.  The couple had three children;  William Lewis Herndon Arthur who was named after the Captain, Chester Arthur II, and Ellen, known as Nellie. During the Civil War, Ellen quietly sympathized with the South because of close family ties in her native Virginia while her husband served as Quartermaster General of the New York Militia.

Ellen Arthur, known to those close to her as Nell, died at the age of forty-two on January 12, 1880.  She had caught a cold while waiting for her carriage after a benefit concert in New York City which quickly developed into pneumonia.  She died before Arthur could reach her bedside. 

Ellen was buried in a family plot at the Rural Cemetery originally purchased by her father-in-law and her grave was marked by a sarcophagus-style monument of white Italian marble on a bluestone base. It was erected in early 1883 by William Manson who was also responsible for creating the Fireman's Monument, the Col. Mills monument, and the massive granite monument in the William Appleton lot. The top of this sarcophagus is carved with a cross which runs the length of the monument.  During Chester Arthur's lifetime, the lot in which Nellie was buried was beautifully landscaped with rose bushes, geraniums, and ornamental trees. At the time, this area, rather near the western edge of the Cemetery, was known as “Sunset Lawn.” 

When Vice-President Chester Arthur became President after the assassination of James Garfield, he had freshly-cut flowers in front of Nell's portrait every day and he had a stained glass window depicting the “Annunciation To The Shepherds” installed as a memorial to her in the south transept of St. John's Episcopal Church which he could see from his White House windows, especially at night when the church was kept lit. A talented singer, Ellen Arthur had been a member of that church's choir during her youth.

A year after his own Presidency ended, Chester Arthur died in 1886 and was buried near Ellen in the family plot. 

Friday, July 18, 2014

A Stone With Symbols

Located in the Stone family plot where South Ridge Road winds uphill from the main office, this headstone has sunk into the earth and may be truncated, but the upper portion is covered with symbols. 

At the center, there is a hand with heart on the palm which often represents charity.  Beneath the hand are three chain links.  Both are symbols often found of the graves of Odd Fellows, though the hand-and-heart is also associated with the Shakers.  There are two symbols commonly found on the graves of Masons - a carpenters square to the left of the hand and an all-seeing eye above it.  To the right of the hand is an image that resembles the divining rods used to douse for water.  This, too, is a symbol associated with the masons. 

The lot contains the graves of Julia Jay Stone (died December 11, 1848, age 1), Kyes Stone (died April 16, 1855, age 46), Alfred Stone (died September 24, 1859, age 50), Mary A. Jay Stone (died October 2, 1861, age 48), Nettie W. Stone (died March 14, 1877, age 22), Henry Alfred Stone (died October 12, 1877, age 1), Florence Stone (died March 20, 1885, age 13),  and Charles H. Stone (died December 4, 1894, age 41). 

Kyes Stone's name is carved on the tall marble monument at the center of the lot, along with the name of his wife, Mary A. Jay.  Nettie and Florence have small headstones to the right of that larger monument.  This stone with symbols is very likely the grave of Alfred Stone who, according to the 1850 census, was a printer.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Cicero Loveridge

This marble headstone in the shadow of a large old tree is quite easy to overlook.  It is an unassuming monument with an inscription that is very difficult to read as the stone has darkened and the delicately carved letters have eroded.  Fortunately, publisher Joel Munsell preserved this epitaph in a list of inscriptions from the Dutch Reformed Burying Grounds in Volume 6 of his Annals of Albany.

Self-educated and highly gifted, Early distinguished, As well in his profession of the Law, As an accomplished writer, And an eloquent orator.  

His many friends, Mourning in his untimely death, The blight of so much promise, Have erected This tribute to his cherished memory.

Esteemed and beloved, For his generous nature, true heart, Unswerving faith, And unsullied integrity.

"To war on Fraud entrenched with Power, On smooth pretence, and specious wrong, This task was in his life's brief hour, For this he banished sky and song.”

Loveridge died in October 1842.  His obituary appeared in newspapers as far away as Utica.  The Troy Daily Whig ran the following notice:   

DIED,  In Albany on the afternoon of the 27th in the 34th year of his age, after an illness of a few days, CICERO LOVERIDGE, Esq., Counselor at Law, formerly Editor of the Troy Mail and recently Police Justice of the city of Albany.  Thus in the flower of early manhood, and with scarce a note of warning, while the star of promise was shining brightly over the future, has he been cut down like the grass which perisheth, leaving void in the bosom of a young, interesting and amiable family, which nothing earthy can supply.  The friends and acquaintances of the deceased are invited to attend his funeral from his late residence, 33 Beaver street, Albany, this afternoon, at 3 o'clock.

The Schenectady Cabinet's obituary also noted that his death was the result of scarlet fever.  The Albany Argus described him as "a sprightly and vigorous writer" who was "lamented by a large circle of friends, and all who enjoyed his acquaintance bore testimony to his estimable and social qualities."

Beyond his legal profession, Loveridge was also a poet.  A couple of years after his death, the Saratoga Republican printed some verses from his pen, "The Home of My Youth," which read in part:

For these, most gladly would I give
My lightest hopes, my brightest dreams;
And Reason's wide prerogative, 
And Learning's dim, tho' boysted beams,
For I am weary of the strife
With which a busy world is rife
And vain ambitions schemes ---
Of toling, with a solemn tread
O'er withered hopes, and pleasures dead.

Cicero Loveridge's wife, Gloranah Groesbeck, died in 1865 and is also interred in this lot.  Their son, Clinton Loveridge, was a landscape painter.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Henry M. Galpin

Lt. Col. Henry M. Galpin was born in Fly Creek, New York on Independence Day 1836.  Twenty-five when the Civil War began, he would suffers numerous wounds over the course of the conflict.  He was wounded in the back of his at Malvern Hill, Virgina in 1862 and then in the eye at Spotsylvania in May of 1864.  He was shot through both thighs at Cedar Creek late that same year.

Despite those wounds, he survived the war.  He died on March 9, 1871 of consumption.  He was thirty-five years old.

Buried in his family's South Ridge lot, his monument is full of symbolism.  The cut tree without branches represents a young life ended without descendants.   A flag is draped on the tree while a cannon and a shield (carved with his name and the dates of his birth and death) rest against the stump.  The stone pedestal is very difficult to read as the soft marble has weathered, but it lists some of the battles in which he fought.