Friday, October 10, 2014

David Zeh

This fascinating stone lies well off the main road along the North Ridge.  It faces away from the road and looks towards the Kromme Kill ravine.  In between mowings, it can quickly be swallowed up by the tall grass and clover.

The monument is made of a reddish-brown sandstone and, considering how easily this material erodes, the carved details are in fantastic shape.  If you look closely at the bottom right corner below the name, you'll see it's signed by James Gazeley.  It's likely one of his earlier works. 

The style is almost whimsical and folksy;  an angle bearing tablets carved with the words "EVEN SO" emerges from puffy clouds that almost resemble clusters of grapes.  Below the heavenly messenger, there are old-fashioned scales piled with scrolls.  There is a passage from Corinthians on either side of the scales.  Above the angel, it reads, "Scripture Balance."  Below, it reads, "On Earth Peace Good Will Toward Men."  The top of the monument is certainly missing something;  a column or urn or obelisk would've have completed it. 

This unusual stone marks the grave of David Zeh who died on April 8, 1880, but was likely erected well before his death to mark the graves of other family members.  The first burials in this lot took place in the 1850s and David Zeh probably commissioned the monument then.

David Zeh, who was born in Berne, New York in 1802, was a Trustee of the First Universalist Church in Albany.  City directories identify him as a merchant at the corner of State and Hawk Streets (with a residence nearby at 7 High Street).  Based on the burial records, it would seem he married twice;  his first wife, Catherine, died in 1833 at the age of twenty-eight.  His second wife, Mary Janes, survived him and passed away in 1893.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

October 7, 1844

 Nothing could exceed the order and decorum with which everything was done.
---The Albany Argus, October 8, 1844

It was one hundred and seventy years ago today that the Albany Rural Cemetery was consecrated.  The event was marked with a great deal of ceremony;  a procession of dignitaries, civic organizations, and "a great concourse" of private citizens made their way from North Pearl Street to the new Cemetery where the dedication took place in a glen just below Consecration Lake.  That section now overgrown and forgotten but once considered one of the Cemetery's finest attractions.

It had taken three years from the formation of the Albany Cemetery Association to the opening of the new Cemetery grounds.  During this time, several other sites were considered for the Cemetery, but there were obstacles to obtaining them.

The ceremony - which began at nine in the morning and didn't end until half past three - was reported on in great detail by the local newspapers, including the Argus which printed the full text of several hymns written for the occasion, Reverend Doctor Pohlman's readings, and Alfred B. Street's poem.  They did not immediately reprint Daniel Dewey Barnard's lengthy dedication speech, but published it a day later and it can be found in Henry Phelp's The Albany Rural Cemetery - Its Beauties, Its Memories.  

The Argus concluded the account by noting the weather which seems to have been quite like this morning's.

The weather was not at all that could have been desired – the sky being overcast and threatening rain. The grounds in consequence did not appear in all their beauty – but none who visited them could fail to be impressed with the adaptation of the place to the purposes to which it is to be sacredly devoted. Many, we presume, visited it for the first time yesterday – but few we presume will not omit an opportunity to re-visit in. We hope soon to see the walks and carriage-ways laid out, and a beginning made towards converting this retired and inviting spot into a general place of burial.

Below:  The gate mentioned in the advertisement above.  It was erected some time after the dedications and was later replaced with the current gates which were designed by Marcus T. Reynolds.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Stephen Lush

Set on the edge of the North Ridge overlooking the Kromme Kill ravine, this tall marble monument marks the grave of Stephen Lush and his family.

A native of New York City, he studied law and moved to his brother's home in Albany just before the Revolution.  He served very actively during the Revolution.  He was a member of the Albany Committee of Correspondence and served captain of the New York Volunteers.  He later joined the Fifth New Jersey Regiment and served as an acting judge advocate general.  As an aide-de-camp to General George Clinton, he was captured by the British when Fort Montgomery fell in 1777.  He was released in a prisoner exchange the following year.

After the war, he returned to Albany and married; his wife, Lydia, was the daughter of Dr. Samuel Stringer.  One of their children who died in infancy is buried in the Church Grounds.  Their Market Street house adjoined that of Dr. Stringer.  Lush was among the last slave owners in Albany, owning slaves as late as 1820.  A successful attorney, he served multiple terms the State Assembly and Senate.

Lush died in 1825 at the age of seventy-two.  Since he is not listed in the Common Council's inventory of interments in the State Street Burying Grounds, it's likely he was originally buried in the String family vault which stood in a small private cemetery leased by David Vanderheyden at what is now the northwest corner of Washington Avenue and Swan Streets. 

His wife, one son, and his brother are also listed on the east face of this monument.  When it was originally erected, this plot commanded a very fine view of the ravine below with two ornamental bodies of water, Lake Bethesda and Indian Lake.