Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Solomon Van Rensselaer

Solomon Van Rensselaer's tall marble monument is perched on a slope overlooking Ravine Side Way, a path that begins near the remains of Consecration Lake and runs parallel to the Middle Ridge Road at the top of the same slope.  Since it overlooks this somewhat secluded walk and faces away from the main road, it's fairly easy to miss.  Two of the early histories of the Rural Cemetery - Henry Phelps' The Albany Rural Cemetery - Its Beauties, Its Memories and Edward Fitzgerald's Handbook For The Albany Rural Cemetery - both make substantial mention of this grave site.

Solomon Van Rensselaer was, among other things, a soldier, a U.S. Congressman, postmaster of Albany, and owner of Cherry Hill which had been built by his father-in-law.  He is perhaps best known, though, for his service during the War of 1812.  Serving under his cousin, General Stephen Van Rensselaer III, he took part in the Battle of Queenstown Heights.  During the American defeat there, he was said to have been "riddled" with shots.

He died at the age of seventy-seven on April 23, 1852.  His wife, Harriet, had passed twelve years earlier.  They were originally buried in the Dutch Reformed Church's cemetery (part of the old municipal burial grounds), but were later moved to this large family plot on the Middle Ridge.  However, several newspaper clippings from the 1960s identify his original resting place as Capitol Park where Colonel John Mills was also buried for a time.

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