Monthly Archives: January 2012

Featured Gravestone – Rudolph Ziegenhorn

Section:  First Universalist Church

Material:  White marble

Misc.:  This simple stone is partially embedded in the earth along its edges, but in otherwise very good condition and completely legible.

Inscription:  Rudolph Ziegenhorn Born in Germany 1821 Died at Albany April 3rd, 1855.  “After life’s fitful fever, He sleeps well.”

There is very little information on this young man beyond what is carved on his gravestone.  The Common Council’s inventory of graves from the State Street Burial Ground lists him, but slightly misspells his name as Zeigenhorn and lists his date of death as April 15.  The stone is noteworthy in its use of the quote from Shakespear’s Macbeth instead of the more typical religious epitaphs or verses admonishing the living to be mindful of their own mortality.

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Featured Gravestones – Gertrude Visscher & David Van Der Heyden

These are two of the most distinctive gravestones in the Church Grounds; both feature soul effigies which can be attributed to known carvers.

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Featured Gravestone – Mary Bloodgood

Section:  Dutch Reformed

Material:  White marble

Misc:  This narrow stone features a flower-liked six-pointed star.  The simple lettering extends almost edge to edge.  The upper right point is broken as is the bottom right corner, but it is in otherwise very good condition and very legible.  The inventory of the Common Council lists this markers as “Stone sunk” and did not include the dates, only the names (and lists the father as Ubin – clearly a mistake in transcription).

Inscription:  In memory of MARY Daughter of AB & Eliz. Bloodgood who died 13 April 1794 Aged 4 years, 10 months & 1 Days.

Young Mary was one of seven children of Abraham Bloodgood and Elizabeth Van Valkenburgh.

A native of Long Island, Abraham Bloodgood relocated to Albany and was the skipper of sloops which carried cargo between Albany and Manhattan, as well as more distant ports such as Antigua.  Elizabeth was a native of Albany, daughter of Jacobus Van Valkenburgh and Margarita Radcliff.



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Featured Gravestone – William Scorsby

Section:  St. Peter’s Episcopal Church

Material:  White marble

Misc:  A very simple stone with upper half of text in script, lower half in plain block lettering.  Marble has darken to gray and there is minor chipping around the edges, but slab is in otherwise very good condition and extremely legible with just the lower edge embedded in the earth.

Inscription:  This Stone indicates the temporary resting place of William Scorsby, Native of England, Died May 3, 1852:  Aged 37 Yrs..

The 1844-5 edition of Hoffman’s Albany City Directory lists a William Scorsby as a carpenter living at 162 South Pearl Street and his name appears on naturalization documents held by the Albany County Hall of Records; he appears to have filed a Declaration of Intent in 1849.  He appears in the 1850 census as a resident of the city’s 1st Ward with his wife, Elizabeth, and a nine year old son, also named William.

Baptismal records from Scarborough, England show a William Scorsby was christened there on October 2, 1814.  If this is the same William, his parents were Matthew and Martha.

It is interesting that his gravestone notes “a temporary resting place” which could suggest that there were plans to have William Scorsby’s remains returned to his native England.  His resting place was indeed temporary as he was among those moved from St. Peter’s lot at the State Street Burying Grounds to the Rural Cemetery.

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Featured Gravestone – Elizabeth Hagarty

Section:  Dutch Reformed

Material:  Brown sandstone

Misc:  Lower half of the stone appears to have been embedded in the earth or broken away.  Also, a piece has broken away at the upper right.  Heavy lichen patches, but a very legible inscription.  This stone features a soul effigy in very good condition with a somber moon-like face, slightly bulging eyes, pursed lips, and well-feathered wings.

Inscription:  In Memory of Elizabeth Hagarty Wife of William Hagarty who departed this life January 8, 1792 

(According to a list of transcribed inscriptions from the Dutch Reformed  burial grounds printed in Volume Six of Joel Munsell’s Annals of Albany,  the last line of carving read aged 34 years, 7 m.)

I have seen very little biographical information on Elizabeth Hagarty, but records show that William served in the 13th Regiment of the Albany County Militia during the Revolutionary War.

A closer view of the soul effigy:

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From The Books – Early Authors and The Church Grounds

The Albany Rural Cemetery was the subject of at least three early books, Churchill’s Guide Through The Albany Rural Cemetery (published in 1859, it pre-dates the establishment of the Church Grounds), Fitzgerald’s A Hand Book for the Albany Rural Cemetery, and Phelps’ Albany Rural Cemetery:  Its Beauties, Its Memories.

The latter two books touch only very briefly on the Church Grounds, devoting just a few paragraphs each to this section and without mentioning its significance to early Albany history or any of the noteworthy burials there.  If anything, they paint a somewhat forlorn (and, in Fitzgerald’s case, even slightly dismissive) image of the section.

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Featured Gravestone – Thomas & Mary Diamond

Section:  First Presbyterian Church

Material:  Marble

Inscription:  This stone records the death Thomas Smith Diamond Who departed this life  July 18th, 1796.  Aged 59 years.  Also Mary Diamond Relict of the above who departed this life December 16th, 1817 Aged 79 years.

This stone is in reasonably good condition with no visible breaks, although the lower half is embedded in the earth and exposure to the elements has darkened the white marble to a dull gray.  It remains legible.

Thomas Diamond was reportedly of Huguenot ancestry.   He is known to have been a member of the Albany Masonic Lodge and to have served in the Albany militia during the Revolution as he was granted a land bounty after the war.  A carpenter by trade, he worked on the building of the Van Rensselaer Manor. Before settling permanently in the city of Albany, he lived for a time in Lansingburgh and his son, William, was said to be the first male child born there.

Mary Diamond’s maiden name was McLane.  After Thomas’ death, she is known to have lived at 109 Lydius Street (now Madison Avenue near South Pearl Street).

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Featured Gravestone – Andrew Abel

Section:  Dutch Reformed

Material:  Brown sandstone

Misc.:  Small, faint carvings can be see at the bottom edge of the stone (which would have been underground when the stone was upright in its original location) and include the number 73.

Inscription:  In Memory of Andrew Abel who departed this life October 5th 1793  Aged 48 years and 11 Days

This stone has some minor damage to the lower half and some minor scaling of the stone the beginning of the last line of text, but is very legible.

Andrew Abel was born in Hanover, Germany and emigrated to Albany sometime prior to 1768 when the first local written record of him appears.  Abel served as a constable and firemaster in Albany where he married Anna Marshall in 1771.  He also served as an apprentice to shoemaker Jacob Groesbeck.

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The Common Council Report

In 1866, the Albany Common Council published a Report of A Special Committee On Burial Grounds to address the deteriorating condition of  the State Street Burying Grounds (now the northeast corner of Washington Park).  Established to replace a municipal burial ground just off Eagle Street (just south of modern-day East Capitol Park), the State Street site had declined after the Albany Rural Cemetery was consecrated in 1844.  Its fences were in disrepair, headstones were damaged, and it wasn’t uncommon for neighbors to let livestock wander and graze among the graves.  New burials were rare as more people chose the new Rural Cemetery as the final resting place for their departed and some families had already removed their lots from the State Street Burying Grounds and relocated them to the Rural Cemetery.

In the opinion of the Common Council, the decay and desecration of the State Street Burying Grounds was a serious discredit to Albany. Continue reading


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Welcome to a new blog focusing on the Church Grounds section of the historic Albany Rural Cemetery.

If you’ve come here from one of my existing blogs or social media profiles, you might know that I’ve been working on a book about the Albany Rural Cemetery.  In the course of my research for the book, I’ve been increasingly fascinated by an area known as the Church Grounds.

It’s not the Cemetery’s most spectacular areas, but this unassuming field of headstones has become one of my favorites and one that will have its own chapter in my book.

This section contains graves moved from other resting places; primarily the State Street Burying Grounds, but including headstones from even older churchyards with some of the earliest stones dating back to the 1720s.

These stones are old and many have already weathered to illegibility, but those than can be read are a treasure trove of local history and it is my goal to document as much of the Church Grounds as possible.

This project is in its earliest stages as we begin 2012, but I will be updating this blog with photos, articles, and other findings as the project  progress.

For more information, please see the menu above the banner and select About or The Project.

Thanks for visiting and check back often.

Happy New Year!


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