Opposite At The Intersection Of These Streets Stood The Old Dutch Church Built 1656 Rebuilt 1715 Removed 1806. Burial Ground Around It.
As the plaque notes, an early burial ground stood adjacent to the church. Early burial records are, unfortunately, very scanty. The churchyard does not appear in various engravings and paintings of the church, which were done well after the church was torn down. As this burial ground reached capacity, a second graveyard was established on Beaver Street just off South Pearl Street. While the remains from the first churchyard were removed to the Beaver Street site, some were left behind; in the mid-19th century, several sets of bones were discovered during excavations for water pipes.
Because this burial ground also filled rapidly, it became the practice to cover each layer of graves with a deep amount of earth and then dig new graves in this layer. As a result, graves were stacked one upon the other and were, in some places, in three or even four tiers. The site of this burial ground would later be occupied by the Second Dutch Reformed Church. Burials from the vault beneath the original church were then moved to a chamber under the bell tower of the new church and, later to the vault beneath the tower of the Madison Avenue Reformed Church. Remains from this second churchyard were eventually removed to the church’s lots at the municipal burial ground just south of the Capitol or its successor, the State Street Burying Grounds. As with the churchyard at State and Broadway, some remains were forgotten during the removal. Some were discovered during excavations in the 19th century (see Ancient Albanians and Bones In A Sugar Barrel while other were not found until construction projects during the later 20th century.
While early burial records are quite scarce, a “Book of Burials” containing over 1,700 burials made from the Dutch Church between 1722 and 1757 was printed in the first volume of Joel Munsell’s Annals of Albany. As Munsell observed, this list of burials was “more valuable since the usual memorials of the church yard are obliterated. The list will be posted here, sorted by location. (vault, church yard, on private land, etc.) See the links below.
Once the State Street Burying Grounds were closed and removed to make way for Washington Park, the graves from the two large Dutch Reformed lots were transferred to the Albany Rural Cemetery. While some graves were removed privately by families to new plots, the majority of them were placed in the Church Grounds. The Dutch Reformed lot is one of the largest in the section and can be found at the extreme edge bordering with Beth Emeth Cemetery. The Cemetery’s card file only lists Church Grounds burials dated from 1775 onward, but there are many stones which are much older. The oldest legible headstone dates to the 1720s, but there is a possibility that still older remains are present here.
The Book of Burials 1722-1757 – At The Lutheran Church
The Book of Burials – 1722 – 1757 – At Schodack
The Book of Burials 1722-1757 – Other Locations
Other related posts:
The First Church In Albany (Church’s site)
The First Church In Albany (The People of Colonial Albany project)