Ancient Albanians

The article below was published in the Albany Journal on July 31, 1888 and, while the container here is described as a flour barrel, it relates to the same discovery of remains covered in a second article published on August 2 – see Bones In A Sugar Barrel.  Any question marks or brackets in the body of the article indicate that the newspaper is illegible in those places. 

The Albany Journal, Tuesday, July 31, 1888


Some Of Their Bones Dumped Into A Flour Barrel

Excavations on Beaver Street Disclose the Crumbling Remnants of Dutch Burghers – A Former Graveyard Under Pick and Shovel – Antique Inscriptions on Tombstones

Three skulls and a number of thigh bones, ribs and other of the smaller bones of human skeletons were unearthed Tuesday afternoon in front of the old Jackson corps armory on Beaver street. Together with the space in front of the old armory building and the old public market building site, the [illegible] between Beaver street and the old Dutch church was used as a burial ground by the congregation of that church many years ago. The Dutch church on Beaver street was built in 1805, when the tombstones and the remains of members of the congregation who had been buried in the original Dutch church burying plat at the intersection of State street and Broadway, were taken up and re-interred at the Beaver street house of worship.

Tombstones and Skulls

When the old public market was built a few years ago, many skeletons and tombstones were unearthed. A large quantity of those bones were collected and deposited in a hole east of the parsonage and lecture room, which was later the Jackson corps armory building. Yesterday workman engaged in excavating for a saloon building on the site of the Dutch burying ground in front of the armory did not find the bones that were reinterred there. Mr. Rufus K. Veile has assumed charge of the bones that were reinterred there. “The relics will be carefully collected,” said Mr. Viele to a Journal reporter, “and placed in the cellar of the Dutch Reformed church at the corner of Swan street and Madison avenue.

What He Expects To Find

Mr. Viele says the space in front of the old armory has been filled into a depth of about three feet. “When this filled-in earth has been removed,” said he, “I think we shall find many more headstones and bones.” The Dutch church congregation did not use this site for a burying ground later than 1805.”

Some Hair On One Skull

On the top of one of the skulls that was yesterday tossed out of a deep hole underneath the stumps of a great elm treet were a few fine hairs. The skull was small, and this fact led truckman Maginnes – who was on hand with a big carryall to drag away the elm tree stump – to believe that it was the cranial relic of a female.

A Barrel Full of Bones

The skulls and numerous other human bones have been placed in a flour barrel and are kept in the old armory under lock and key. One of the skulls, which is badly broken, must have served a man with a very low forehead. Some of the thigh bones are very large and long, evidencing the fact that the old Dutch burghers were not lacking in brawn and muscle. The cellar for the building about to be erected will be eight feet deep.

Inscriptions On The Headstones

The inscriptions on the headstones show that the tombstones were made far back in the colonial days. They follow:

“Hir lyt be legham van Martie Besset, der hu? ve? geborrem im et year 1730 den ? Martines Geslusvin in het year 1766, den Jan. out synode 55 yaer ? monden en 7 dage.”

“Hier leydt her Ichaern ? van Naeltje buy frvouw van Thomas Lansing overieden den 7 April 1789 oudt 35 (or 55?) jaren, 5 maonde ren 7 dage”*

Here lies the body of Jeremiah Field deceased Oct 15, 1762, aged 32 years.”

A Grinning Skull

The tombstones had evidently been placed horizontally upon the top of the graves. Carved into the soft brown stone upon the top of the Field headstone is the outline of a human skull, the teeth being chiseled out in large squares and the skull of the figure being small. The skull at a distance appears to be grinning. The headstones all appear well preserved. One of them was broken in removing it from beneath the elm tree stump.

*This is most likely Cornelia De Foreest. Born October 1733. Daughter of Jesse and Neeltie Quackenbush De Foreest. Married March 1764 to Thomas Lansing.  No known children. Died between 1783 and 1790.

The Jeremiah Field headstone mentioned in the article is documented in greater detail here:  Jeremiah Field and The Headstone That Was Not Lost

See also:  The Burying Places


Filed under History

2 responses to “Ancient Albanians

  1. Pingback: Bones In A Sugar Barrel | albanychurchgrounds

  2. Pingback: Jeremiah Field and The Headstone That Was Not Lost | albanychurchgrounds

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