Without Stones

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A comparison of the Common Council’s 1868 inventory of graves removed from the African Methodist Episcopal section of the State Street Burying Grounds prior to the old municipal cemetery’s rebirth as Washington Park and the actual headstones in the A.M.E portion of the Church Grounds shows a substantial discrepancy.

The Common Council inventory lists 37 headstones, but of those, only 19 are actually found in the A.M.E. section now.  Since the names and dates in the inventory were copied from the actual stones, the stones had to have been lost after the list was compiled.  It is not impossible that some stones may been dropped en route to the Rural Cemetery.  Over the years, there have been at least two headstones discovered at points along Henry Johnson Boulevard/Northern Boulevard and Van Rensselaer Boulevard, the roads which connect Washington Park with the South Gate of the Albany Rural Cemetery.  Other stones may have been claimed by the families reburying their relatives elsewhere and it is possible that a stone or two may have been accidentally laid in a different congregation’s portion of the Church Grounds just as two stones from the Potters Field were placed among the A.M.E. graves.

The problem of stones which have gone missing between the Common Council’s inventory and the present is not limited to the A.M.E. section.  There are persons known to have been transferred here whose stones can no longer be located and many stones which are present, but not included in the inventory.  However, it does seem as if an unusually high percent of A.M.E. stones are missing relative to the small size of its plot and number of burials compared to some of the other congregations in the Church Grounds.

There are also nine stones in the A.M.E. section which, for reasons unknown, were not included in the Common Council’s inventory.  These unlisted stones include that of Dick, the young slave of John F. Pruyn.

Those listed in the Common Council inventory and transferred to the Church Grounds, but now without stones are as follows:

  • Bastien, Mary.  Wife of John.  Nov. 11, 1822, 31 years, 6 mos.
  • Bryant, Sarah Maria.  Dau. of Nicholas and Harriet, Dec. 20, 1841, 8 yrs., 2 mos.
  • Frances Amelia.  Dau. of Nicholas and Harriet, Mar. 20, 1842, 6 yrs, 5 mos.
  • Gilbert, Sarah.  Oct. 10, 1849, 74 years
  • Jackson, Eliza.  Sept. 2, 1851, 62 years
  • Jackson, John J.  Sept. 13, 1853, 47 years
  • Henry Jackson. Sept. 10, 1854, 64 years
  • Lattimore, Benjamin.  A Rev. War solider, April 28, 1838, 77 years
  • Lattimore, Letitia Keeler. Wife of Benj. Jr.
  • Mando, Charlotte.  Wife of Samuel, Feb. 8, 1842, 19 years
  • Morrell, Amelia C. Dau. of James and Catharine, May 5, 1841, 13 years
  • Thompson, Dinah. Consort of Richard, May 16, 1849, 36 years
  • Thompson, Oliver.  Oct. 22, 1845, 47 years
  • Thompson, Richard.  April 4, 1848, 45 years
  • Topp, Lewis.  Dec. 24, 1838, 51 yrs, 23 days
  • VanDazor, Charles.  Son of J. and S.A., Oct. 25, 1848, 1 yr, 9 mos.
  • Williams, Dinah.  Nov. 1, 1836, 62 years.

One of the most notable names on this list is Benjamin Lattimore, a veteran of the Revolutionary War who was a leading member of Albany’s post-Revolution African-American community and a found of the A.M.E. Church.  Described by Albany attorney Gerritt Dennison as a man of “irreproachable character for integrity and uprightness,”  Lattimore owned real estate on South Pearl Street, including his own residence, and helped found the city’s first school for black students.  His headstone, along with his wife’s, are sadly among those missing.

It is possible that some of these stones were transferred to the Rural Cemetery, but to private plots instead of the Church Grounds.  The grave of Ellen Baltimore, originally buried in the A.M.E. plot at the State Street Burying Grounds is, for example, located on the North Ridge in a section which includes the large plot purchased by one Ellen Jackson for the burial of African-Americans.

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2 Comments

Filed under Articles, Featured Gravestones, History

2 responses to “Without Stones

  1. Pingback: The Clawson Family Stones | albanychurchgrounds

  2. Christopher K. Philippo

    In addition to the possibilities you mentioned, the missing stones could be underneath the visible ones (or perhaps are only inscriptions on the back of visible ones?), buried beneath the grass somewhere in the Church Grounds, placed elsewhere in Albany Rural, placed in another cemetery… the 1945 report mentioned in the article I’d mentioned might hopefully have some answers: http://sites.google.com/site/bethlehemnyhistory/the-church-grounds

    A similar “rescue” effort to the 1945 one would be great. Search for missing ones, clean the stones again, perhaps even set some of them upright.

    Some unusual thoughts: enclosing the stones (or at least certain ones), as with John Brown’s? http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=137 A roof over them, to keep off snow and rain? Enclose the whole area inside a building?

    You mentioned elsewhere that there had been a building in or adjacent to the Church Grounds: http://albanyruralcemetery.blogspot.com/2012/06/western-lodge.html Would be interesting to know when it ceased to be; having a building somewhere around there would make sense.

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