The Phelps Stone

DSC00844Unlike many stones in the Church Grounds which have broken or suffered other damage since being transferred to the Albany Rural Cemetery, this one was damaged prior to its removal from the State Street Burying Grounds.  The entry for it in the Common Council’s inventory of graves places it in the First Presbyterian Church’s lot and notes “”stone broken and gone.”

Exactly how the stone was damaged or when is not known, but it would have occurred prior to 1868 when the inventory was compiled.  The breakage may have happened when the grave was moved from its original location Most likely this headstone was first placed in the First Presbyterian Church’s graveyard and probably moved to the congregation’s section of the municipal burial ground just south of modern-day East Capitol Park before being moved yet again to the State Street Burying Grounds after 1806.  With so many relocations, it’s easy to see how the stone could have been broken prior to its final move to the Rural Cemetery.

Burial records from this church only begin in 1786, but at some point after the death of this unknown Phelps as I have not yet been able to locate any information on this woman beyond what is carved on the stone.  She would have been born around 1726, but her first name, maiden name (assuming that Phelps is her marriage name), and other information remain unknown at this point.  Evidently, whomever commissioned the stone was prosperous enough to afford one of the more elaborately-carved markers from this period and lot.  The tablet is surrounded by a border of bold scrollwork and it is very possible a stone like this would have featured some sort of soul effigy or other decorative element at the top.  The inscription includes a short epitaph:  Death is a debt to nature due:  Which I have paid and so must you.

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