Reburial of Schuyler Slaves

The Times Union has a very fascinating article on the reburial of the remains of slaves discovered near the Schuyler Flatts.  The Flatts, a large farm which belonged to the Schuyler family for over two centuries, is now a park and is located just across Broadway from the main gate of the Albany Rural Cemetery.

Input Sought On Schuyler Slaves Reburial

One site proposed for the reburial of these remains is the Church Grounds.

“Peter Hess, the president of Albany Steel and the owner of some of the land on which the bones were discovered in June 2005, said he would like to see them returned not far from where they were found.

Hess is a past president of nearby historic Albany Rural Cemetery and suggested that might be an appropriate final resting place. He noted that a section of Albany Rural was devoted to the relocation of 18 cemeteries from the city of Albany, including two belonging to black churches.

“These are not arrowheads. They didn’t find some strings of wampum. These are human remains,” Hess said. “There should be some kind of a ceremony, and they should be put to rest and not left in some cardboard box on a shelf forever. I just think, ‘How would I feel if this were my family?'”

In the past, it has not been uncommon for historic remains unearthed by construction projects to be reburied at the Rural Cemetery.  When the Alms House burial ground just off New Scotland Avenue was excavated, the bodies removed from that site were interred in a section of the Church Grounds and the spot marked with a large granite monument.

At this point, I agree that the Church Ground would be a very appropriate resting place for these remains.  It is close to their original burial place and there is precedent for such interments here.  Another possible section, if there is sufficient space, would be the North Ridge lot purchased by one Ellen Jackson in the 19th-century for the burial of Albany’s black residents.

I will be following this story with interest and post updates as they become available.

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1 Comment

Filed under Articles, History, News

One response to “Reburial of Schuyler Slaves

  1. This story is two years old, but I was still attracted to it, having grown up in the area, and having visited the dig when it was first begun, in the early 70’s.

    The State Street Burial Grounds (where Washington Park now stands) section of the Albany Rural Cemetery–where remains were interred when removed from city cemeteries shortly before and after the Civil War era, does indeed contain graves of two slaves, one belonging to one of the Van Rennselaer family, as I recall.

    And yes, members of the African Methodist Episcopal Church are there as well–sadly, those church remains were SEGREGATED, just dumped into several mass graves…in the WEEDS near the edge of a ravine.

    They were only marked with tiny granite markers around the parameters. I found them quite by accident in the early 1980’s, while doing extensive historical research on the cemetery as a hobby. No one was interested then, and for all I know, the mass graves are still there, neglected and lost forever. If anyone ever reads this and wants to know the location, my email address is: oldmaidwhovian@yahoo.com

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