Tag Archives: african-american history month

Featured A.M.E. Gravestone – Samuel Mando

152Section:  African Methodist Episcopal

Material:  White marble

Misc.:  A small stone with a rounded upper edge; the deceased name follows the contour of the curved edge.  Large patches of the stone have darkened, but some white still shows.  Half of the epitaph at the bottom is almost illegible, though the remainder of the inscription is legible (though eroded in places).

Inscription:  Samuel Mando Died Feb’y 15, 187 In his 52nd Year, Louis infant daughter of Samuel and Hannah Mando, Aged 10 mos.  Blessed are the dead who died in the Lord.

Samuel Mando’s stone does not appear in the Common Council inventory.  However, the inventory does list a stone for a Charlotte Mando who died on February 8, 1842 at the age of 19.  The inventory, compiled from the actual headstone inscriptions, notes that she was the “wife of Samuel” so it is likely that the Hannah Mando mentioned on Samuel’s own stone is his second wife or third wife.  Census records from the 1850s list his wife as Ann Mary.

Samuel Mando appears in the 1855 Albany census as residing in Albany’s 8th Ward with Ann and three children, Abraham (10), Hellen (3), and Emma (2).  While his headstone indicates he would have been born around 1819, this particular census estimates his birth year as 1810 and lists Rensselaer as his birthplace.

The census records also list Samuel Mando’s occupation as a waiter.  It was while working as the headwaiter on the Hudson River Day Line steamer Chauncey Vibbard in  September 1865 that he became the victim of an assault that was undoubtedly racially motivated.  Two men from Kentucky, George Merriweather and George H. Williamson, had been drinking heavily and shouting pro-Confederate mottoes in an attempt to cause a chaos as a distraction for attempted pickpocketing of fellow passengers.  During the disruptive scene, Merriweather quarreled with and then stabbed Mando in the chest with a sword-cane.

More on Samuel Mando, his family, and the 1865 assault can be found here.

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Featured A.M.E. Gravestone – Alfred Wellington Watson

167Section:  African Methodist Episcopal

Material:  White marble

Misc.:  A very small stone,  plain design, inscription is worn, but still more or less legible.

Inscription:  Alfred Wellington Watson Son of Charles A. and Phebe Watson, Died June 6, 1848, Aged 13 months and 16 days

Census records from 1850 list Charles Watson as a “mulatto” born in Pennsylvania ca. 1798.  His occupation is given as a cook and his residence was in the Third Ward.  Other members of his household at the time of the census included his wife, Phebe, and two children, Samuel and Georgianna (ages 5 and 1).

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The Clawson Family Stones

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Returning to the A.M.E section for African American History Month.

Shown about are three stones bearing the name Clawson and belonging to members of a single family;  Mary (wife of Robert), John, (son of Robert and Mary), and Robert A. (presumably the son of Mary and the elder Robert), as well as a Charles Ferdinand, a grandson of Robert and Mary.

These stones represent one of the few intact family plots transferred together from their original locations in the State Street Burying Grounds to the Church Grounds.  The stones of most families originally buried together were separated or otherwise lost at some point between the time the transcript of graves was published by the Common Council and the present.  In the Episcopal and other sections of the Church Grounds, it’s possible to find a few stones from a single family laid together, but it is generally not very common.  Some family graves were  moved privately before the mass transfer and are located together elsewhere in the Cemetery, but many  were simply lost (see Without Stones) or mixed with other burials.

Census records for 1850 show a Robert Clawson residing in the household of John Troter, a physician, and was probably employed as a servant of some type.  The census lists him as a black male born around 1790.  The headstone for Robert A. Clawson, likely his son, notes that the young man died of consumption.   Census records from 1855 show the elder Robert Clawson residing at the home of his son-in-law, William P. McIntyre , a barber who had married Robert’s daughter, Mary.

All three stones are marble, modest in size, but with epitaphs.  Mary’s stone notes that she died on June 7, 1846 at age 58 and reads, And Mary hath chosen that good part which shall not be taken away from her.  John’s stone notes that he died at the age of 21 on February 22, 1846 and reads, Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord.  The stone of the younger Robert notes his cause of death at the age of 23 on May 18, 1853 and the same Biblical text as John’s stone.  Charles Ferdinand shares as stone with his uncle, having died just a month later on June 21, 1853 at the age of 4.  His epitaph reads, Suffer the little children to come unto me.

There is, unfortunately, no stone here for the elder Robert Clawson.  The Common Council’s report does not list him.  He may have been buried elsewhere, buried without a stone, or his stone may have been lost prior to the 1868 inventory.

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Without Stones

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A comparison of the Common Council’s 1868 inventory of graves removed from the African Methodist Episcopal section of the State Street Burying Grounds prior to the old municipal cemetery’s rebirth as Washington Park and the actual headstones in the A.M.E portion of the Church Grounds shows a substantial discrepancy. Continue reading

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Featured A.M.E. Gravestones – Two Broken Stones

Section:  African Methodist Episcopal

Material:  Brown sandstone (both)

Misc.:  These are fragments of two different broken headstones laid together.  The upper stone has little damage above the break, some wear to the lettering, and some dark lichen or moss growth.  The lower stone is broken at both the top and the bottom, some wear to the lettering (especially at the bottom), and heavy lichen growth obscuring a portion of the  inscription.

Inscription (top):  Flora Lansing Grandmother of John Titus, who died Feby 14th, 1802, aged 82 years, and her children.

Inscription (bottom):  Memory of Nicholas Smith Who Departed ___  ___ ___ 

The last part of the year on Fora’s stone is hidden by grass in this photo and I will copy the correct year on my next visit to the Church Grounds.  It appears to be one of the older graves here.  The age indicates that Fora may have been a slave for part of her life.  There were Lansing slave owners in Albany during her era; Flora may have belonged to them and taken their name upon being freed.  I have not found any additional information on her or her grandson, John Titus.  The fact that John Titus is mentioned on her stone hints that he may have paid for his grandmother’s burial and marker.

Nicholas Smith’s stone appears to be older and the style of the letters is a little cruder.  More detailed photos may aid in transcribing the visible portions of the text.

Neither was transcribed in the Common Council inventory.

Edited June 26, 2013 – A search of the Cemetery’s burial cards shows a match for Nicholas Smith and a transcription of his epitaph.  This stone did not originally come from the Negro section of the State Street Burying Grounds, but from the Potter’s Field.  His stone reads:  In Memory of Nicholas Smith who departed this life 11th Dec. 1819, aged 4 yrs, 9 months, and 5 days.  Sleep on, sweet babe, and take your rest, for God has done as he thought best.  The same epitaph is found on the headstone of Merit Ogden.

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Featured A.M.E. Gravestone – Hager Van Vankren

Section:  African Methodist Episcopal

Material:  White marble

Misc:.:  Plain, but large and well-carved stone with a crack near the lower right corner.

Inscription:  Hager Van Vranken Wife of David Van Vranekn Departed this life the 28th day of Feby. 1844 in the 53rd year of her life.  Remember this as you pass by; As you are now so once was I  As I am now so you must be; Remember God eternally.

There is little information on Hager.  The Common Council list omits the space in her surname.  There are several David Van Vrankens in the 1860 census, one of who may have been her widower.

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Featured A.M.E. Gravestone – Mary McCany

Section:  African Methodist Episcopal

Material:  Brown sandstone

Misc.:  Well-carved with deep, clear lettering.  Very little damage beyond wear to edges and minor lichen spots.

Inscription:  In Memory of Mary McCany; Who departed this life, June 7th, 1811, Aged 32 years, 11 months, And 7 days.  Teach me to do thy holy will, And lead me to thy holy hill, Let the good spirit of thy love, lead me to thy courts above.

This is one of the oldest stones in the A.M.E. lot and is in very fine condition.  There is, once again, little biographical data for this woman.  This stone appears in the Common Council list as McCanny.

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