Monthly Archives: October 2012

The Mossop Obelisk

With very few exceptions, almost all of the stones in the Church Grounds are flat slab-style headstones laid directly on the ground.  There are a few variations, such as the vault covers of Captain Winne and Reverend Ellison, and a couple of obelisks like the one shown here.

The obelisk was a very popular style of gravestone in the early to mid-1800s and the rest of the Albany Rural Cemetery is filled with examples, ranging from small and slender to very large ones which tower over the surrounding memorials.  Tiny obelisks were even carved beneath the stylized willows on early 19th-century stones such as A number of the older, smaller obelisks in the Cemetery predate its 1844 consecration and were moved from the State Street Burying Grounds.  The weathered Charles Webster gravestone on the South Ridge is typical of these relocated obelisks, most of which were relocated to private family plots newly purchased in the Cemetery when the State Street site was closed in the late 1860s.  This particular obelisk of white marble was brought to the Church Grounds from the Episcopal lot at the State Street Burying Grounds, undoubtedly because the deceased had no descendants or other kin in the area to take charge of moving the grave in advance of the mass transfer of graves by the Albany Common Council. Continue reading

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Featured Gravestone – Thomas B. Hill


Section:  St. Peter’s Episcopal

Material:  White marble

Misc.:  The stone has darkened to gray and there are several large chips along the top.  Epitaph at the bottom is illegible, but the rest of the inscription, while worn, is general legible. This stone features an exquisitely detailed willow-and-urn motif.

Inscription:  Sacred to the memory of Thomas B. Hill, son of Samuel and Mary Hill, who departed this life August 12, 1825, aged 21 years, 3 months.  Is this the fate, that all must die? Will Death no ages spare?  Then let us all to Jesus fly, And seek a refuge there.

This exceptionally beautiful headstone marked the grave of Thomas Hill, son of prominent Albany merchant Samuel Hill and his wife, Mary Barry.  Samuel Hill founded the Albany Hardware and Iron Company (first located on State Street, this company would later erect a large building on Broadway, now famous for the U-Haul truck mounted on its roof) and his mansion, designed by Philip Hooker, became the home to Albany’s prestigious Fort Orange Club.  The epitaph on this stone was part of a list transcribed in Volume 4 of Joel Munsell’s Annals of Albany.

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Locating The Church Grounds

Also see our Maps page.

Albany Rural Cemetery Map (PDF)

The Church Grounds are located at the western edge of the Cemetery, near the end of the high Middle Ridge and adjacent to the Beth Emmeth Cemetery.  It is identified on maps such as the downloadable PDF map above as Section 49.In the past, the easiest driving route to the Grounds was the Middle Ridge Road which begins opposite the Chapel and Crematorium.  The Church Grounds are on the left just beyond the end of that road.  However, downed trees and a partial hill collapse on the north side of the Middle Ridge just west of the Burden vault have resulted in this entire road being closed to cars (though it is still very accessible on foot).  The best current route by car is to follow the North Ridge Road to its western end, turn left, follow the road down through a hollow, and look for the Church Grounds on the right hand side as the road comes back up out of this hollow.  Because most markers in the Grounds are flat, look for the taller Teunis Van Vechtan monument shown below.

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Featured Gravestone – William Woods

Section:  First Presbyterian

Material:  White marble

Misc.:  This stone may have been cleaned as the marble is exceptionally white compared to many other monuments from the same period here.  There is a sizable chip on the base and a large piece has broken off from one of the finials.  The stone’s text is very clear, though there is some softening of the carvings from erosion.  The stone features a very distinctive soul effigy; the head is topped with a crown or halo resembling a gentleman’s wig of the era.  The wings sweep dramatically downward.  The head is flanked by carved flowers and a banner above reads “Memento Mori.”  This stone is attributed to John Collins, son of stonecarver Zerubbabel Collins.  The elder Collins carved the nearby headstone of Femmite Snyder.

Inscription:  In Memory of Mr. William Woods who died Sept. 20th, 1799 in the 66th year of his age.

So far, there is little information on William Woods beyond what his headstone gives us.  He does appear in a late 19th-century list of New England natives residing in Albany which gives at least a hint to his origins.  There was a William, son of Thomas and Elizabeth Wood, christened in Marblehead, Massachusetts in 1733.  This may be the same person.  The 1790 New York census contains two entries for the name, one at a Stillwater residence and one at Cambridge.  Whether these are two different William Woods or the same person and if there is any connection to this William Woods is not yet known.  It may be worth noting that a large number stones either by the Collins family or in their style appear in the Revolutionary War-era graveyard at Salem, not too far from both Stillwater and Cambridge.

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Featured Gravestone – Infant Ballantine

Section:  Third Presbyterian

Material:  White marble

Misc.:  A small headstone with a pair of simple willow trees.  The bottom edge is partially embedded in the earth.  Inscription remains very legible with typical darkening of the marble.

Inscription:  Here lies the infant son of Robert & Elizabeth Ballantine, Died 28th August 28, 1831

A small, touching stone for a infant who evidently died at birth or before being named.  The Common Council report transcribed the name as “Ballatine.” Census records, city directories, and other records shows a number of spelling variations on this surname with the given name Robert.  An exact match has not yet been made.



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