A notation on a burial card for Section 98 leads to the final resting place of the last documented slave at the Schuyler Flatts.
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. Continue reading
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
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.
From the companion blog, Albany (NY) History, a brief look at some (though not all) of Albany’s former burial grounds.
A brief article in the August 2, 1888 edition of the Albany Evening Journal recounts the discovery of remains at the former site of the Dutch Reformed burial ground on Beaver Street near South Pearl Streets. A previous article appeared on July 31 – see Ancient Albanians and The Burying Places.
THE CRUMBLING REMAINS OF ALBANY BURGHERS EXPOSED
Excavations at the Old Churchyard on Beaver Street – Italian Workmen Avoid Contact With the Relics
The four human skeletons that were unearthed today on the site of the old Dutch church burying ground on Beaver street were placed in a sugar barrel. The barrel was about half fill when the last skull was dropped in. The bones were found about 8 ½ feet below the surface, after the three feet of filled-in earth had been removed. The skulls of the four skeletons were towards the west. They were laid out very regularly, the back bones of the arms and legs being held as if in a mould in the grasp of the light loam soil. Under two of the skeletons evidence of the cedar bottom of a coffin was found. There was nothing left, however, of the sides or top of the coffin. The decayed bits of wood were so very small and decayed that even if there had been a cover and sides to the casket, the shovels and picks of the Italian workmen would have scattered them before the bones of the dead were reached.
They Had Sound Teeth
The soundness of the teeth was remarked by all who saw the skulls. In two of the skulls, the teeth were perfect. The Italian workmen were careful not to touch the bones with their hands. They would force the bones from the grasp of Mother Earth with a pick and then toss them upon the embankment with a shovel. When the bones were discovered, the tan-colored Italians jabbered less than usual and seemed more awe-stricken that the few spectators of the scene.
Material: White marble (both stones)
A matched pair of stones for a husband and wife. Both feature a willow-and-urn motif and oval tablets surrounded by wreaths of foliage. Both feature inscriptions below the tablets and a twisted-rope border near the base. Samuel Hill’s stone has typical darkening. Inscription is deeply carved and very legible. There is a large break at the base on the right side and some wear to the finials, especially on the right. Mary Hill’s stone is in comparable condition.
Inscription: Sacred to the memory of Samuel Hill who departed this life May 12, 1819 in the 52nd year of his age. Friends nor physicians could not save This mortal body from the grave Nor can the grave confine me here When Christ commands me to appear.
Inscription: Sacred to the memory of Mary Hill who departed this life January 15, 1816 in the 44th year of her age. Behold we see while here we look The dearest ties of friendship broke The grief and sorrow pierce the heart The dearest friends we must see part.
Samuel and Mary’s son, Thomas B. Hill, is also buried in the Church Grounds and featured in this post. His headstone also features a willow-and-urn motif, but in a different style, more ornate style.
Samuel Hill was a prominent Albany merchant whose brick mansion (designed by Philip Hooker) still stands as the Fort Orange Club on Washington Avenue. More on Hill can be found here. His wife, Mary, was the daughter of Thomas Barry, an Irish-born merchant whose business contacts included Sir William Johnson and who was a founding member of Albany’s first Catholic Church, St. Mary’s.