Featured Gravestone – Achsah Clarke

DSC03859Section:  Baptist

Material:  White marble

Large, plain stone that has broken into three sections, possibly from weight being applied.  Inscription is very worn, but name can be read with effort.

The Common Council inventory notes that she was from Saybrook, Connecticut and that she died May 28, 1842 at the age of 54.  Her name appears several times in the local newspapers in 1834 on lists of individuals with letters awaiting them at the post office.  There is very little other available information on her.

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From The Evening Journal

As noted in this previous post, the removal of remains from the State Street Burying Grounds was proposed as early 1845 (though it was more than twenty years later that the actual removal was undertaken by the Common Council).  While the author of the previously posted letter was in support of the removal of remains from the old municipal cemetery to the new Rural Cemetery, the opinion was clearly not unanimous.


At the last meeting of the Common Council, Alderman Robert H. Pruyn, introduced a Resolution, having for its object the removal of the dead from the various Burying Grounds in the city, to the new Cemetery in Watervliet. This appears though something like the moral compulsion of the subject was in contemplation. That the new Cemetery is a beautiful place, and well adapted for the purpose designated; and that the undertaking is most praiseworthy; and that the gentlemen engaged in it are deserving of high credit for their good taste and public spirit, is denied by none; and the writer of this most cordially unites in the universal sentiment; but that the public should be compelled to break up, disturb and eradicate the present receptacle of the departed, and carry the bones of their ancestors (perhaps for the second or third times) to a new resting place, merely to please the fancy of a few individuals, will be an undertaking, it is believed, beyond the power of an Alderman, or even a body of Alderman, to accomplish.

The grounds appropriated, some forty years ago, for the public cemeteries of the different churches of the city, comprises about thirty acres of land, which, although yet but partially occupied, contains the remains of more than forty thousand persons and there is scarcely a family, or a individual in the community, who have not friends or relations interred there; it is, therefore, very obvious that it will be a herculean task, to coerce the change hinted at in the Resolution now pending before the Common Council. In the language of Alderman Bleecker, “the Corporation have not the right to interfere in this “matter;” and I will go yet further, and ask, what right do “the Clergy” (as one paper has it) or “the Trustees of the different Churches,” (as another paper states the Resolution,) posses to enter into any arrangements for such a removal?

I do not believe that the Trustees of the Watervliet Cemetery countenance this movement, or that they desire to advance their undertaking in any other way than by the voluntary preference of the citizen. Let them, those who think proper, bury their dead hereafter in the new Cemetery, and let those who prefer the present Burial Grounds, use them as heretofore; but let not the “place of our fathers’ sepulchres” be disturbed or desecrated. People are not yet prepared to root out and (word blurred) up the bones of their friends and relatives, without some better cause than now exists, and I venture to predicted that the mover of this resolution will gain neither credit nor success by any further agitation of the subject.


July 16, 1845 – Albany Evening Journal

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Feature Gravestone – Samuel Graham

DSC03857Section:  Baptist

Material:  White marble

A very plain stone with significant erosion, wear and darkening.  Name is extremely difficult to read in person and the rest of the inscription is almost completely illegible.

The Common Council’s inventory (copied from the stones at the time of the removal) notes that Graham was a native of Drumlough, Rathfreland, County Down, Ireland and that he died at the age of forty.  No dates are listed, but a legal notice appear in the Argus and states that a Jane Graham had made application to the surrogate’s court to probate the last will and testament of Samuel Graham in September 1845.  It does not state whether Jane was his wife, daughter, or sister.  In 1841, there is a very brief mention (also in the Arugs) of a “conviction affirmed” in Samuel Graham vs. The People, but no further details are given.  He may also be the Samuel Graham who was robbed of cash by a boy named Dennis in 1843.

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Featured Gravestone – Andrew Van Woert

305Section:  Dutch Reformed

Material:  Sandstone

A simple stone with some damage to edge, particularly the chipped left finial.  Surface is darkened and has some lichen growth, but inscription is legible.

Inscription:  In memory of Andrew Van Woert eldest son of Henry & Catharine Van Woert who died the 27th Sept. 1798 aged 25 years & 2 months.  He came forth like a flower and was cut down.

Andrew was the oldest of eight children of Henry (also known as Hendrick) Van Wort and Catharine Eights.  His parents are also listed as interred in this section.

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Not The Right Stones

From one of the companion blogs, a post about two Church Grounds stones and a mistake on an interpretive sign in Washington Park.

Not The Right Stones

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Featured Gravestone – Gertrude Lush

294Section:  Dutch Reformed

Material:  Sandstone

Plain stone with large section flaked away near base, chipping around edges and finials, and some darkening.  Inscription is generally quite legible near the top of the stone, but worn towards the the left side and the lower portion.

Inscription:  Here Lies The Body of Gertrude Lush (illegible) April 1788 Died (illegible) June 1789 Aged One Year Two Months and Three Days.

Gertrude Lush was the daughter of Albany attorney Stephen Lush and granddaughter of Dr. Samuel Stringer who is considered Albany’s first trained physician.  She was also the great-granddaughter of David and Gertrude Vanderheyden.  A later daughter of Stephen Lush and his wife, Lydia Stringer, was also named Gertrude and married Robert James, a son of wealthy Albany merchant William James.

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Removal Of The Dead To The New Cemetery

While the actual removal of the graves from the State Street Burying Grounds did not take place until the late 1860s, the call for such a removal was recorded in the Albany newspapers and was brought to the Common Council as early as the 1840s.  The letter below appeared in the Albany Argus less than a year after the consecration of the Albany Rural Cemetery.   The Boyds are an example of the earliest families to remove the remains of their kin to the new Cemetery.

(The author of this letter refers to the new Rural Cemetery as “Towasentha.”  During the first few years of its existence, the name of the new Cemetery was a matter of some surprisingly spirited debate and Tawasentha, meaning “Place of Many Dead,” was among the names proposed. )


It appears by the report of the proceedings of the Common Council on Monday evening, a resolution was introduced, and laid, by consent, on the table, for the appointment of a committee, “ to consult with the Trustees of the several churches,” possessing burial-places, within the tenth Ward of the city, on the propriety of removing the remains therein interred to the new Cemetery, TOW-A-SEN-THA, in the town of Watervliet; and to report to the board what measures may be within the competence of the Common Council to promote a removal so loudly called for by the health and convenience of the increasing population of the tenth ward.”

Alderman PRUYN deserves commendation for introducing this resolution. The opportunity of the measure suggested will not be denied. The propriety of a general removal of the remains of persons interred in their burial grounds has begun to be agitated in some of our churches. Many members, it is known, have expressed the intention, and are about to make arrangements, to transferr the remains from friends from their present, it may be almost said, desecrated resting places, to the more solemn and suitable depository at TOWASENTHA. It may be safely assumed that the instances will multiply when once the example shall have been set, or the season permit.– The grave-yards of several churches will consequently be almost wholly broken up, and defaced beyond restoration, except at an expence which no prudent body of trustees will be disposed to encounter, in view of the growing disposition of their inhabitants of the tenth ward to insist on their right to as pure an atmosphere as their neighbors, and to apply for a law interdicting the burial of the universal dead of the city in their midst.

It is therefore a question whether it be not wise in our Common Council to prepare the way for a measure which their duty as guardians of the health of the city, and of equal rights of its citizens, must lead them to encourage and must soon oblige them to urge.

Where the beautiful parks of the Capitol and Academy now refresh and delight citizen and strange, was within recollection of many, a vast burial spot, as unseemly and out of place, as the grounds now occupied by the churches in the luckless tenth ward. The Common Council of those day was as little prone to disregard ‘rights,’ probably, as its successors in times when the expression of the public will is apt to be less equivocal and its influence more potent. Yet it was by their actions, as ungracious as it was liberal, that the removal of the ancient grave yards was made to their present site; and the heart of our town from a jumble of shapeless sepulchres and neglected graves, offending sense and corrupting health, has been changed into a square not to be surpassed in the world for spaciousness, wholesomeness and beauty.

With such a precedent in their favour, and supported by the opinions of all enlightened medical men, and the practice of every civilized nation, except the English, the inhabitants of the 10th Ward, cannot be rebuked for impatience or encroachment, but should rather be praised for their forbearance, since they have waited to agitate a measure so nearly concerning themselves, until the the removal, they desire and will certainly claim, could take place to a more appropriate, save, and inviting spot. But for this, peradventure, they would have appealed to a grand jury before they would have consented to allow State-street to be graded along the grave-yards as low as the usual level of the coffins.


Albany Argus, July 17, 1845

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