Category Archives: Soul Effigies

Featured Gravestone – Gerret Roseboom

271Section:  Dutch Reformed

Material:  Sandstone

Stone has some chipping along edges, surface is darkened, and there is some lichen.  Soul effigy is in very good shape compared to similar stones and inscription is very legible.  Distinctive soul effigy features a full-faced cherub with detailed hair, large wings, and ruffled collar.

Inscription:  In Memory of Garret Roseboom who died July 7, 1787 Aged 54 years and 3 months.

Gerret Roseboom, born in January 1732, is identified in various records as an Indian trader and constable in Albany.  In 1767, he married Elsje Roseboom.  They had no children.  He was buried in the Dutch Reformed burial ground on July 12, 1787.   Elsje survived him by at least a year as she appears on subsequent census records.


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Featured Gravestone – William Woods

Section:  First Presbyterian

Material:  White marble

Misc.:  This stone may have been cleaned as the marble is exceptionally white compared to many other monuments from the same period here.  There is a sizable chip on the base and a large piece has broken off from one of the finials.  The stone’s text is very clear, though there is some softening of the carvings from erosion.  The stone features a very distinctive soul effigy; the head is topped with a crown or halo resembling a gentleman’s wig of the era.  The wings sweep dramatically downward.  The head is flanked by carved flowers and a banner above reads “Memento Mori.”  This stone is attributed to John Collins, son of stonecarver Zerubbabel Collins.  The elder Collins carved the nearby headstone of Femmite Snyder.

Inscription:  In Memory of Mr. William Woods who died Sept. 20th, 1799 in the 66th year of his age.

So far, there is little information on William Woods beyond what his headstone gives us.  He does appear in a late 19th-century list of New England natives residing in Albany which gives at least a hint to his origins.  There was a William, son of Thomas and Elizabeth Wood, christened in Marblehead, Massachusetts in 1733.  This may be the same person.  The 1790 New York census contains two entries for the name, one at a Stillwater residence and one at Cambridge.  Whether these are two different William Woods or the same person and if there is any connection to this William Woods is not yet known.  It may be worth noting that a large number stones either by the Collins family or in their style appear in the Revolutionary War-era graveyard at Salem, not too far from both Stillwater and Cambridge.

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The Captain Peter Winne Stone

Carved in memory of Captain Peter Winne, this large sandstone is one of the most exceptional markers in the Church Grounds lot.  Located in the Dutch Reformed Church’s rows, it lies  at the northwest corner of Grounds.

Like the Rev. Ellison stone, this rectangular slab was not originally an upright headstone but was meant to serve as the top of a table-style tomb in the First Dutch Church’s graveyard at the modern-day intersection of South Pearl and Beaver Streets..  In contrast to the plain marble Ellison slab, however, this stone is quite richly decorated.  This stone is referenced as one of the stones that was later kept in the vault of the Madison Avenue Reformed Church after being unearthed during 19th-century construction.

Not one, but two soul effigies are carved at the head of the stone with the winged faces set at angles in each corner.  The soul effigies 
Though the soul effigies are often encrusted with lichens, the carvings themselves are reasonably clear.  They featured moon-like faces and flowing hair.  Incised crescents on the wings are meant to suggest layered feathers.

The corners at the foot of the stone features a stylized rose in each corner, though these are more worn than the soul effigies often partially covered with earth, grass trimmings, and other debris.

The stone’s edge is deeply beveled and the inscription is enclosed by a large, arched tablet.  The inscription is well-cut and still legible, though the upper portions of the text tend to be clears than the last lines.  The whole stone has some chipping, pitting, and erosion due to exposure.

The inscription reads:

In Hope of A Joyful Resurrection Here Lyes Interr’d the Body of Capt. Peter Winne who was Born May the 4 1690 and Departed This Life June the 6 1759 in the 70 year of his Age

Captain Peter (or Pieter) Winne was the son of Albany merchant Franz Winne and Elsie Gansevoort (whose gravestone is featured in this post on the Church Grounds’ oldest stones).  He inherited his family’s house which still stands just south of the city and was depicted in a painting by Len Tantillo.

From a young age, Pieter Winne learned the fur trade and, by his thirties, had his own sloop making monthly trips to transport goods between Albany and Manhattan.  The cargo included tobacco, furs, wine, lumber, grain, salt, rum, sugar, paper, textiles, and slaves.

From 1737 until his death, Captain Winne also represented Albany in the colonial Assembly which met in New York City.

Winne never married and, upon his death, the prosperous merchant and skipper left the majority of his estate to his brother-in-law, Abraham Douw, and his nephew, Peter Winne Douw.  His will can be read here.


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Featured Gravestone – Catharine McDowl

Section:  Dutch Reformed

Material:  White marble

Misc.:  Large stone with a very clear, deeply carved inscription.  Little wear to edges, some erosion to winged face, and a crack starting from the bottom edge.

Inscription:  Here lies the body of Catharine McDowl Wife of John McDowl who departed this life Nov’r ye 30th 1790 Aged 35 years, two Months and 28 days.  How lov’d, how valu’d once avails me not, To whom related or by whom begot:  A heap of dust alone remains of me, This all I am, and all the world shall be.

Catharine McDowl may have been born Catharine Clark, daughter of merchant Peter Clark (or Clerke).  She married John McDowl in August 0f 1772.  Her husband’s surname also appears as McDowell, McDole, and Dole in various records.  During the Revolution War, John was twice suspected of harboring escaped prisoners or aiding in the escape of prisoners.  He died in 1821.  The McDowls were members of both the Dutch Reformed and Episcopal churches.

This stone features a very simple soul effigy consisting of a slightly egg-shaped face and large wings which fill much of the stone’s tympanum.

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Beyond This Blog

Below are links to posts related to the Church Grounds at my companion to this blog, Albany Rural Cemetery – History In Photos.  While that blog features monuments throughout the entire Cemetery, there are a number of Church Ground posts there.  Some of the Church Ground stones featured there will also be included here at a later date (such as the Garrett Roseboom soul effigy).

The Old Halenbeek Burial Ground

Philip Hooker, Architect (one of the Church Grounds’ best-known graves)

Zerubabbel Collins (a soul effigy by a well-known carver)

Violet (believed to have been a slave)

A Soul Effigy

John Lamb Clark (War of 1812)

Elizabeth Ann’s Roses

Weeping Willows

The Samuel Richards Headstone

Elsie Cuyler Ten Eyck (her soul effigy is featured on this blog’s banner)

The Western Lodge (which formerly stood adjacent to the Church Grounds)

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Featured Gravestone – Caroline Pennie

Section:  St. Peter’s Episcopal

Material:  White Marble

Misc.:  This stone features a very distinctive example of a late soul effigy.  These winged skull or cherub heads had generally gone out of style by the early 1800s.  This is the latest one found here so far.  The face is somewhat weathered, but very expressive.  Marble has darkened, but is in relatively good condition.  Lower part of the stone was probably cut away when it was removed from the State Street Burying Grounds, but the inscription is complete.

Inscription:  In memory of Caroline, wife of Amos C. Pennie, daughter of Daniel & Hannah Wall, died December 15, 16, 1851, aged 25 years.  Also thire infant daughter Ann.  They sleep but we do not forget them.

Note that the carver misspelled the word their as thire.  I have found little information on Caroline, only that her death was briefly noted in Joel Munsell’s Annals of Albany which often drew on newspapers (including death notices) for information.  Amos Pennie served in the Civil War as records show that, at thirty-five, he enlisted on April 20, 1861 and served until May 21, 1863.

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Featured Gravestone – Maria Dow

Section:  Dutch Reformed

Material:  Brown sandstone

Misc.:  Stone appears to have a substantial piece broken from the right side.  Upper portion has also broken away, but the portion of carving visible suggests that this stone originally had a soul effigy; the carving appears to be the lower part of a wing.   The surviving text, however, is deeply carved and legible.  Incomplete, but interesting example of an inscription in Dutch.

Inscription:  Hier Ligh Maria Dow Johannes Ganse Heere Ontslaepe Augustus 1759 (incomplete word) 7 Maend

Maria Dow or Douw was the wife of Albany brewer Johannes Gansevoort.  She was born in 1725 to Petrus Douw and Anna Van Rennselaer.  Married in 1750, Maria had four children before her death in 1759.

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Featured Gravestone – Marron Newland

Section:  First Presbyterian

Material:  Brown sandstone

Misc.:  Very large headstone with heavy patches of lichen obscuring parts of the text and carved decorations.  Some heavy chipping along upper part of stone. Visible parts of finely carved  inscription are not badly eroded.  Features a soul effigy with deeply cut wings flanked by floral emblems.   There is an inscription above the soul effigy, but only parts of  it  – the uncertain or the uncertainty – is legible between the lichen patches.

Inscription:  In Memory of Marron Newland, Daughter of Joseph and Isabel Newland, who departed this life May 5, 1791, aged 2 years, 1 month, and 8 days.

Murran’s father is identified in historic church records as a merchant, evidently a prosperous one as he was able to afford a very generously sized and finely carved headstone for his small daughter.  Murran’s mother was a a native of Scotland whose maiden name was Minnoch.

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The Oldest Stones

In general, the majority of the stones in the Church Grounds section date from the late 18th-century through the 1840s when the newly-established Rural Cemetery replaced the State Street Burying Grounds.  However, there are also quite a few stones which are much older.  In fact, some of these stones predate the State Street cemetery by as much as eighty years.  These stones originated in small churchyards in downtown Albany, especially the Dutch Reformed Church’s burial ground which was located at the corner of State Street and Broadway. Continue reading


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Featured Gravestones – Gertrude Visscher & David Van Der Heyden

These are two of the most distinctive gravestones in the Church Grounds; both feature soul effigies which can be attributed to known carvers.

Continue reading


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