Sunday, December 25, 2016

Grief and The Elusive Daniel Campbell.

I first came across this monument - both in person and in Henry P. Phelp's The Albany Rural Cemetery - Its Beauties, Its Memories - while still in high school.  Works by Erastus Dow Palmer had already become a favorite "find" at Albany Rural by then.  But information on the Daniel Campbell buried here was elusive until recently when I came across a tattered copy of a sermon preached by the Reverend William B. Sprague at an 1851 funeral.

The following is crossposted from my Facebook page, Albany Rural Cemetery - Beyond The GravesAdditional photos are posted there.


Located in Lot 4, Section 18, this monument is quite well documented in early written histories of the Albany Rural Cemetery, but the story behind it is a little more elusive.

In Edward Fitzgerald's 1871 “A Handbook For The Albany Rural Cemetery,” it's described as “a marble obelisk...erected by the young men of Albany” and that its inscription provides “an enduring record of that deed.” In his 1893 “Albany Rural Cemetery – Its Beauties, Its Memories,” Henry P. Phelps goes into a bit more detail and hints at a romance cut short, writing “The monument is of Italian marble and, on the reverse side will be found a bas-relief by Palmer, representing Grief, a bowed female figure, suggestive of the betrothed one whose heart was broken forty years ago.”

The inscription on the south face of the monument reads:

“The young men of the City of Albany, in their grief for his too Early Removal, have erected this Monument to the memory of Daniel Campbell; a man who loved humanity as most love their nearest kindred, and who, as his only riches, the blessings of the needy.”

The north face contains the relief of Grief by Erastus Dow Palmer. It depicts a young woman in a kneeling pose with her head bent and resting on one hand.

The monument, however, gives no further information on the identity of Daniel Campbell. He was obviously much loved, but no date of birth or death is given on the beautiful tombstone.

The lot was deeded to Archibald Campbell, the Scottish immigrant who had served as Acting Secretary of State of New York in the early 1840s and who died in 1856. The Cemetery's burial records list a Daniel D. Campbell in this lot. His index card states that this person died of consumption at the age of 22 on September 3, 1863. This, however, cannot be the same Daniel Campbell honored with the Palmer monument described above.

The Daniel Campbell so beautifully eulogized in marble must have died before 1858 as an engraving of the monument and a copy of the epitaph were included in the second edition Henry W. Churchill's “Guide Through The Albany Rural Cemetery” which was published that year. Erastus Dow Palmer's records indicate that he worked on “Grief” in 1852.

No other Daniel Campbells are recorded in the Cemetery's burial cards so information on his life must be gleaned from other sources. A pamphlet, “Sermon, Address, &c., Occasioned By The Death of Daniel Campbell,” contains both a sermon by the Reverend William Buell Sprague on the Sunday following Daniel Campbell's death. Also printed in the pamphlet is the sermon given by Ray Palmer, Minister of the Congregational Church in Albany.

The funeral's date was October 8, 1851. The newspapers indicate that Campbell died on the morning of October 6 at his father's home. His cause of death was not stated, but an illness is implied.

The fragile booklet also reprints several death notices published in the Albany Argus.

“We discharge a very painful duty in announcing the death of Daniel Campbell, a young gentleman in whose character all the better ingredients of our nature were harmoniously blended, and whose life has been devoted, assiduously, to works of unostentatious goodness and mercy....The deceased was a son of Archibald Campbell. He was born, educated, and has always resided in Albany. His impulses and sympathies, ever warm and generous, were ever prompting him and leading him to do good. He was known in the Schools, at the Asylums, in the Benevolent Societies, at the Young Men's Association and was seen, with his beaming countenance and affectionate manner, wherever aid could be extended to the unfortunate, wherever aid could be extended to the unfortunate or relief administered to the suffering.”

Another notice, from the Albany Express, reported, “On Sunday evening, at the close of a pure and noble life, there passed away from among us one of the choicest spirits of our city – Daniel Campbell. From an easy, natural sleep, he seemed to glide away into the deeper sleep of the good and true who rest from their labors....He was not widely known, but how well and earnestly esteemed, can be learned best among the poor, who he has served for years with a ceaseless and unwearying devotion. Occupying no public office and living so quietly among us that we seemed scarcely so much conscious of his presence as of the works he performed, all unambitious, he was in fact a public benefactor.”

Among the many institutions and charities mentioned in these various printed tributes were the Orphan Asylum, the St. Andrew's Society, the Mission Home, and the Young Men's Association.
Census records and city directories provide a few practical details of his life.

He was the son of Archibald and Mary Campbell. The 1850 census identifies him as a merchant, aged 40, and a member of his father's household (which included three siblings and two servants). The family home was at 60 Chapel Street (near the corner with Pine Street). The 1851 city directory lists him as a coal merchant, a partner in the firm of Belknap, McKercher & Campbell. The business was located at the corner of Broadway and Spencer Street.

There is, however, no hint of just who “the betrothed one” alluded to by Phelps might have been. Her identity remains a mystery.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

James' Cancer Fight

As those of you who follow either my personal Facebook profile, my Albany Rural Cemetery Facebook page, or Twitter account might know, my partner of eight years has recently been diagnosed with throat cancer and, last week, underwent a temporary tracheostomy to relieve serious breathing problems that occurred as a side effect of the radiation treatments.

I affectionately refer to James as my research assistant though his assistance generally consists of carrying my backpack full of maps and notes, asking if it's time to go home for lunch, or making sure I don't tumble down various hills while taking photos at Albany Rural.

His cancer is in the early stages and, even with setback due to the breathing complications, his prognosis is good.  But this is still an incredibly difficult time for us.  I am acting as his full-time caregiver until he completes his treatments and completely recovers.

More can be read at our GoFundMe page.  If you can contribute or even just share the link, it would be truly appreciated.

James' Cancer Fight on GoFundMe

Thank you and Happy Holidays.


Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Repairs To A Van Rensselaer Gravestone

 The following article is from the Times Union.  If you are not a Times Union Plus subscriber, link around by Googling the phrase "patroon van rensselaer plot at albany rural to be repaired times union" and the first result will take you to the article.

Times Union - Patroon Van Rensselaer plot at Albany Rural to be repaired.

The photo above shows the headstone to be repaired and was taken in late March. 

Sunday, April 3, 2016

The Kneeling Child

 The Anderson monument at Albany Rural Cemetery

When I unexpectedly came across the Anderson plot last spring, the badly weathered little statue atop the monument was already a familiar sight.  I had previously seen the figure atop a monument in Schenectady's Vale Cemetery.  The same figure also appeared as stock artwork in several 19th-century city directory advertisements for local stone cutters, including James Gazeley, William Manson, and Edward Remond (all of whom created monuments for Albany Rural).

 The Anderson lot viewed from one of the old ravine paths.

Variations on the statue also appeared in Facebook groups for cemetery enthusiasts;  there were examples in cemeteries such Brooklyn's vast Green-Wood, and Union Grove in Canal Winchester, Ohio, Oakland Cemetery in Atlanta, Forest Hill in Boston, Elmwood Cemetery in Detroit, and Mount Auburn (the original "rural" cemetery).  Examples also appear in Ireland and England. Some of these figures were marble, one was white zinc. 

Vale Cemetery, Schenectady

The little figure was originally the work of Florentine sculptor Luigi Pampaloni (1791-1847).  Created around 1826, the figure was originally one of a plaster pair;  a sleeping girl and a kneeling boy beside her.  On a visit to Pampaloni's studio, Countess Anna Potocka commissioned a marble copy of the boy for the grave of her young daughter Julia in Krakow.

 1870 Albany city directory advertisement

The statue, which shows a child kneeling with one knee raised and one foot tucked behind, clasped hands, an upturned face, and long curls, became quite popular and copies some appeared in gardens and cemeteries.  Appealing to popular sentimental taste, plaster, alabaster, and porcelain examples could be found in parlors and drawing rooms.  Some examples include wings.  In some versions, the child kneels on a cushion, other omit the cushion.

Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn

The figure is known by several names;  "The Praying Child," "Kneeling Samuel" or "Little Samuel," and "The Orphan."  Some claimed it was meant to represent the son of the late Emperor Napoleon.  It is also called "The Prayer of Pampaloni."

There is even a Flickr group of images of the various versions found around the world.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

A Few Favorites

Thanks to AOA for asking me to do a second article on the Rural Cemetery.

A tour of (a few) favorites

(You can just imagine how hard it is to pick favorites!)

Monday, February 15, 2016

Rediscovering A Soul Effigy

A recent research walk on the Rural Cemetery's Middle Ridge revealed a few interesting surprises, including only the second marble section marker I've seen intact.  Stopping near the wonderfully eclectic monument to Ozias Hall to retrieve a lot map from my backpack, I happened to look back down the hill toward a corner lot I'd visited several years ago.  

There's a cache of older headstones there, mostly transferred from the State Street Burying Grounds and laid flush to the earth in a large family plot.  I'd photographed a few of them back in 2013, but gave up because several of them were positioned at the very edge of a short, but very steep slope.  Since I was using a cane as I recovered from a badly dislocated knee, I didn't want to risk a tumble! 

As I looked down from the Ozias Hall lot, I noticed about two or three headstones in that corner lot.  These had not been visible on that previous visit.  They looked quite old so I retraced my steps back down from the Hall lot for a closer look.  One was fairly plain;  the inscription was partially obscured, but I could make out a partial date of 17--.  The stone next to it was heavily embedded in the earth.  Only a couple of inches were visible with most of the slab covered in very thick moss and the upper portion overlapped by a tree root.

But there was something interesting on that upper portion.  A row of tiny parallel lines was just visible under a layer of thick dirt and moss.  It hinted some sort of carving, perhaps the bottom edge of wings.  It might even be a soul effigy - the winged faces popular on 18th-century tombstones.  They were not particularly common in Albany compared to New England and the lower Hudson Valley, but there are some interesting examples in the Church Grounds and the Schuyler lot.  Many, though not all, of the Cemetery's soul effigies are documented in Experiencing Albany:  Perspectives On A Grand City's Past.

I keep a few "tools" in my backpack when I'm at the Cemetery, including a soft brush which I used it to sweep the dirt from the upper part.  And, yes, there was a soul effigy complete with a fashionable wig atop on oval face.  There is even a hint of a heavenly crown peeking out from under the turf.

The inscription was much harder to reveal with just the brush.  But I was able to clear just enough to reveal some elegant flourishes and enough letters to copy for identification.

The headstone belongs to Jacob Ten C. Eyck who died on September 8, 1793.  Born in Albany in 1705 to silversmith Coenradt Ten Eyck and Gerritje Van Schaick Ten Eyck, he followed in his father's line of work.  As a young man, he apprenticed to Charles Le Roux in New York City.  He returned to Albany around 1736 where he practiced his trade as a smith - an example of his work is currently on display as part of the Albany Institute of History & Art's excellent exhibit, Masterworks - 225 Years of Collecting.  He also served as constable and city firemaster and, eventually, as sheriff of Albany County.  From 1748 to 1750, he served as Mayor.

In 1736, he married Catharina Cuyler.  They had four children.  Catharina died in 1790.

Jacob C. Ten Eyck was eighty-eight at the time of his death.  He was buried in the Dutch Reformed Church's section of the municipal burial ground which closed in 1868 to allow the land to be redeveloped into Washington Park.  While most graves were relocated to the Rural Cemetery's Church Grounds, Jacob C. Ten Eyck's was moved to this large plot in Section 60.  Records indicate that Catharina was also moved here and her headstone is likely nearby, waiting to be cleared, too.

 AIHA - a silver bowl by Jacob C. Ten Eyck

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Flags and Wreaths, 1965

This silent compilation of video of War-time Albany includes some excellent footage of flags being placed on the graves of soldiers in May, 1965.  The Civil War Soldiers Lot is included in the video, along with an impressive wreath-laying ceremony at the grave of President Arthur.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Cemetery Lane, 1907

A rather clever postcard was printed to look like birch bark that was peeled back to reveal an image of Cemetery Lane (now Cemetery Avenue).  It is, of course, the approach to the Albany Rural Cemetery (and St. Agnes Cemetery) from the main gate on Broadway. 

Postmarked 1907, it shows the Avenue before the installation of the current fence which lines both sides and before disease wiped out the rows of elm trees.

The card was mailed from Albany on July 2 and address to a Miss Lila C. Ritter in Alder Creek, Oneida County.  A little research shows that Miss Ritter graduated from Boonville High School two years later and became a teacher until she married Loren Yerdon in 1915  The Yerdons lived on a farm in Steuben County, but later moved back to Alder Creek.  She passed away on September 10, 1971 at the age of 82.

There is no note on the card and the sender didn't sign his or her name, though there are two sets of initials inked on the lower edge and "Cemetery Lane, Albany" is written in pencil on the reverse. 

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Lost At Sea

The burial card and monument for Jacob F. Benjamin lists his date of death as Christmas Day, 1853 and it includes an intriguing notation - LOST AT SEA.  

It was December 25, 1853 when a vessel from the Pacific Mail Steamship Company encountered a terrible gale and foundered near Charleston.  The ship had left New York and was bound for Panama. Aboard were both soldiers (the ship was transporting the Third Regiment of the United States Artillery) and civilian passengers, including women and children. The decks were swept with wind and water, the smokestacks toppled, the boats lost.  Reports of the total casualties vary;  some contemporary newspapers reported about 300 casualties and 150 saved. First hand accounts of the disaster can be read here.

Among those reported dead that night was "The barber, colored, washed overboard."  This barber's name was not given in any accounts of the tragedy, but it was most certainly the same Jacob F. Benjamin; he Albany city directory for the same year lists him as a barber residing at 111 Knox Street.

His body was not recovered, but his name was carved on the marble shaft in a family plot deeded to his wife, Abigail.  At the time of his death, they had five children who ranged in age from an infant (his father's namesake) to eleven years old.  Jacob was thirty-five when he was lost to the waves.

The Benjamin plot is Lot 94, Section 100.  It is adjacent to the Arsenal Burial Ground and the grave of Dr. Thomas Elkins.