Category Archives: History

Rediscovering Sibbie

A notation on a burial card for Section 98 leads to the final resting place of the last documented slave at the Schuyler Flatts.

Rediscovering Sibbie

 

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The Albany Vault Company

albanyvaultcompanyad

From the advertisement appearing in the Albany Argus newspapers in 1830-1:

ALBANY VAULT COMPANY – Notice is hereby given that the said company have erected and finished in a substantial manner, a vault, west of the burying grounds of the First Presbyterian church, into which they will admit the bodies of deceased persons for a certain period previous to their interments.  For terms, apply to Joseph T. Rice, No. 17 South Pearl street, or to the subscriber, No. 226, N. Market street.  DAN’L CARMICHAEL, Secretary

Incorporated in 1831 with a capitol of $1,500.00, the Albany Vault Company constructed at least several receiving vaults at the State Street Burying Grounds and, possibly, some of the private vaults erected there.

At least one private vault was deeded to Blandina Bleecker Dudley and in use until Mrs. Dudley removed the remains of her family from the Burying Grounds and other locations to a lot on the Middle Ridge of the Rural Cemetery.

A vault belonging to St. Peter’s Episcopal Church temporarily received the body of Major Richard Garland of Anitgua who fell ill while staying at the Mansion House hotel and was removed to the quieter residence of “the Misses Carter” where he died on August 8, 1831

In The Grave-Digger of Other Days, an Albany policeman reminisced about an attempted burglary of a vault at the Burying Grounds;  the crime was thwarted (at least temporarily) by a storm and fire.

When the State Street Burying Grounds closed, the vaults were demolished and their bricks, stone, iron, and other materials sold at public auction for reuse.

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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

ANCIENT ALBANIANS

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. Continue reading

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The Book of Burials – The Churchyard

The greatest percentage of interments records in The Book of Burials are those from the churchyard.  Established around 1676 on Beaver Street east of South Pearl, this churchyard was the successor to the burial ground alongside the Dutch Reformed Church at Broadway and State Street.  In addition to new burials, it received remains moved from its predecessor.  As this graveyard ran out of room, the headstones would be laid flat over the graves and a new six-foot deep layer of  earth spread over it.  New graves would then be opened in this layer above the older burials, a process repeated at least three times.

In 1806, the Second or Middle Dutch Reformed Church was constructed on the site and, again, the remaining headstones were laid over the graves and covered with earth.  Burials here had, by this time, ended with the opening of a municipal cemetery just south of the Capitol and, later, with the establishment of the State Street Burying Grounds which included two large sections for Dutch Reformed interments.  Continue reading

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The Book of Burials – The Vault

Below is a chronological list of burials in the vault of the First Dutch Reformed Church which stood on Broadway at the foot of State Street hill until 1806.

Many of these burials were removed to the Second Dutch Reformed Church where they were placed in a vault beneath the bell tower.  Later, some were moved to the Madison Avenue Reformed Church and, eventually, to the Church Grounds (see Albany’s Dutch Stones and Not The Right Stones). 

See The Book of Burials master post for further details on the list.

Continue reading

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A Tour of Lost Cemeteries

From the companion blog, Albany (NY) History, a brief look at some (though not all) of Albany’s former burial grounds.

A Tour of Lost Cemeteries

 

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The Cost of Removing A Burial Ground

parkscape

Above:  Crews at work laying out the new Washington Park ca. 1869.

When the Common Council authorized the removal of 4,000 graves from the State Street Burying Grounds in advance of its redevelopment as a park, it allocated $30,000 for the project.  However, this was not sufficient and an addition $15,000 was added.

A breakdown of expenses:

For removals from

United Presbyterian ground…… $638.03
Methodist Episcopal…… 818.75
First Presbyterian…… 2,103.95
Garretson Station M.E….. 983.20
Dutch Reformed…… 3,369.00
Friends…… 624.90
Universalist…… 1,119.90
Lutheran Ebenezer…… 1,534.35
Third Presbyterian…… 1,194.90
Baptist….. 998.85
Second Presbyterian….. 368.10
St. Mary’s…… 2,514.15
Potter’s Field…… 3,702.25
African Church (estimated)…… 3,814.00
Saint Peter’s (estimated)…… 2,500.00

To grounds in Rural Cemetery…… 4,000.00
To grounds in St. Agnes Cemetery…… 3,000.00
To boxes, large and small…… 8,947.00
To insurance, clerks, sextons, etc……. 2,795.97

The total cost of the project was $42,373.05 or a little over $11 per body.  It’s interesting to note that the most expense sections to remove was the African Church at an estimated $3,814 which hints that the number of burials there far exceeded the number of graves recorded in the Common Council inventory.  The inventory lists forty names, but as the list was compiled from headstones present in 1868, it is likely that many graves there were unmarked. By averaging the cost of the individual burials, it is possible to estimate that the Potters Field and African lots contained approximately 330 and 340 bodies respectively.

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