With rare exceptions (such as the Society of Friends lot), almost all gravestones in the Church Grounds were laid flat on the earth in single or double rows grouped by congregation. Several stones, however, are set upright and are immediately visible when one enters the Church Grounds section from the path which connects the Albany Rural Cemetery with the neighboring Beth Emeth Cemetery (there was once a third entrance to the Rural Cemetery at this spot and the small Western Lodge overlooked the Church Grounds in the late 1800s).
The white marble stone above is among these few upright stones and one of the best preserved markers in this section of the Cemetery. Though there are some dark stains, the marble is unusually white and may have been cleaned. The long inscription is legible and the details of the heavily carved foliage are crisp. The stone does appear to have been truncated; the lower part may have been broken off when it was removed from its original location. This grave is not found in the Common Council inventory, but it appears in Joel Munsell’s Annals of Albany as part of a list of inscriptions copied from the Episcopal section of the State Street Burying Grounds and this stone was among those.
Here lies the remains of John Craig, Deputy Assistant General Commissary General to the Forces of His Britannic Majesty; Who departed this life at Albany in the State of New York upon the 11th day of January 1832; Aged 44 years. He was the son of the late Thomas Craig, Tacksman of Barnauckety in the County of Moray Scotland. This stone is erected by his afflicted Mother, Helen Craig, in testimony of her affection for her dearly beloved son.
Apart from the information on his gravestone, I have found little background on John Craig and have not yet found any information on why he was in Albany at the time of his death, though he may have been en route to Canada at the time. His name does appear in an 1822 edition of The African Court Calendar and Directory where he is listed in Cape Town as one of six Deputy Assistant General Commissary Generals under His Excellency, the Right Honorable General Lord Charles Henry Somerset who served as Governor of the South African Cape Colony from 1814 to 1826.
Edited to add: The following account of his death appeared in the Albany Argus on the day after his death:
Yesterday morning, after a short illness, John Craig, Esq. a native of Scotland, and an officer in the Commissariat Department of the British Army.
The members of the St. Andrews society, and the citizens of Albany generally, are respecfully invited to attend his funeral this afternoon, at 3 o’clock, from Bradstreet’s Mansion House.
Mr. Craig was taken ill at Hudson, where he was confined for some days. He arrived in this city on Monday, in a state of extreme debility, and with symptons of a very alarming character.– These continued, notwithstanding the utmost efforts to remove them, until he expired. Although he had the misfortune to close his eyes among strangers, yet he had the consolation to feel assured that he was not without friends, or that sympathy with softens even the pangs of death.