Tag Archives: church grounds

The Burying Places

An article published on my personal site recently takes a look at the locations of the early Dutch Reformed burial places of Albany from the 17th-century to the removal of graves to the Church Grounds at the Rural Cemetery.  Included is the rarely mentioned first burial ground on the north side of Fort Orange.

The Burying Places @ gardenalley.net

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Thomas Hewson’s Mourner

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This is a wonderfully detailed gravestone in the St. Peter’s Episcopal section of the Church Grounds.  The tympanum features an excellent example of a mourner similar to those described in this blog post.  The mourner wears a contemporary dress, complete with a bow tied at the back and what appears to be some sort of cap or bonnet.  In her hands, she holds an object which could be either a fan, handkerchief, a wreath or garland to be laid on the grave, or even some sort of purse or reticule.  The figure is shown leaning towards a monument, bowed under the weight of grief.  The monument depicted is an obelisk atop o a square pedestal (a common style in the early to mid-19th-century).  Both the mourner and the monument are positioned beneath the branches of a willow tree.

The bottom of the stone is broken and several small portions of the inscription are missing.  However, the epitaph was transcribed in the burial records.  The complete inscription reads:

Beneath this sod is interd the remains of Thomas E. Hewson who died Sept. 28th, 1818 in the 27th year of his age.

And are thou gone sweet friend ne’er to return To charm thease eyes and soothe this aching bre’st.  Must weeping friendship scatter oer thy urn Her tributary tears with grief opprest But heaven decread and heaven’s decree is just Thine earth should mingle with it’s native dust.

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Burials In 1869

On September 15, 1869, the Albany Morning Express reported quite briefly that “Six hundred and eighteen bodies have been interred in the Albany Rural Cemetery from the 1st of April to the 13th of September, 1869.”

While the news brief does not specify, this may refer to bodies being removed from the State Street Burying Grounds to the Church Grounds lot.  Certainly, it would represent a good percentage of the remains to be transferred and these reported burials occur at a time when such exhumations and reburials would have very likely been underway as the Burying Grounds had closed and work had yet to begin on landscaping Washington Park.

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From the Albany Express – September 8, 1868

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The following activities of the Common Council regarding the removal of the State Street Burying Grounds were reported in the September 8, 1868 edition of the Albany Morning Express.

The Special Committee to whom was referred the matter of removing and reinterring the bodies from the burial grounds west of the Parade Grounds, reported that they had purchased from the Trustees of the Albany Rural Cemetery two acres of ground for which they have agreed to pay the sum of $5,000. The Trustees of the St. Agnes Cemetery have yet failed to make any communication in regard to the matter. The Committee believe that the number of the bodies to be removed will be 11,000 to 14,000 and they have ordered 8,000 boxes in which to deposit the remains to be removed. The price of each box is $1. The contract for the removal of the bodies was awarded to W.A. Phillips, and he immediately proceeded to the discharge of his duty.

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Historic African-American Burials In Albany

A brief overview of historic African-American burials in Albany, including the State Street Burying Ground and Albany Rural Cemetery.

A Brief Overview of Historic African-American Burials In Albany

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Featured Gravestone – Jane Wendell

202Section:  Dutch Reformed

Material:  Brown sandstone

A small stone with a heavy amount of lichen on the surface.  Carving is partly obscured by the lichen, but otherwise legible.  Bottom of stone was broken, possibly at time of transfer.

Inscription:  In memory of Jane Wendell daughter of John and Cathalina Wendell who departed this life November 24, 1795 aged 1 year, 9 months and 21 days.

She was the daughter of John H. Wendell

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Featured Gravestone – Mary and Pamelia Pells

DSC04846Section:  Garretson Methodist Episcopal Church

Material:  White marbl

A double stone, there is a complete diagonal break beginning at the top between the two halves and continuing downward through Mary’s half of the stone.   Upper part of Mary’s section is also partly embedded in the earth.  Stone has darkening from exposure, but text is generally legible.

Inscription:  In Memory of Pamelia C. Pells who died Sept. 30 1831 aged 2 years 2 months.  In Memory of Mary J. Pells who died Oct 1, 1831 aged 9 months.  Gone is the flowers sweet buds of early spring Thy ruthless Death cold finger rudely press’d Yet ah grim tyrant pointless is thy sting They fading fell to ripen with the blest.  Parents to you this cheering hope is given They sank to Earth to freshly bloom in Heaven.

The stone makes no mention of the parents’ names, however, burial records show an Ebenezer Pells, age twenty-six, also buried in this lot.  He died approximately seven months after these two little girls and the epitaph from his widow is written in a similar tone to that of these children making it possible that he was the father of Pamelia and Mary.

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