Tag Archives: damaged gravestones

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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Featured Gravestone – Elizabeth Fenimore Cooper

DSC04608Section:  St. Peter’s Episcopal

Material:  White marble

A small stone broken across the middle and with significant breakage to the lower portion and right finial.  Inscription is worn, but legible with some effort.

Inscription:  Cooper, Elizabeth Fenimore aged 8 years daughter of Richard F. & Ann L. Cooper of Cooperstown, Obit 29 Sept 1814

This damaged little stone marked the grave of a niece of Last of the Mohicans author, James Fenimore Cooper.

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A Cherub


Although very weathered, this little sandstone cherub in the Episcopal section of the Church Grounds is a wonderful find.  Full-length figures angels on headstones in this section are quite rare (see the Ann Brown angel for another example) as winged faces were a more common depiction of cherubs or soul effigies.  This carving features a naked cherub with flowing hair in the stone’s tympanum.  The finials, too, have eroded and it’s difficult to say just what the original design was.  Unfortunately, due to the soft nature of this reddish-brown sandstone, the inscription on the stones tablet has eroded so much that only a few words (or parts of words) can be read now, such as “wife.”  There is not enough of the inscription left to match the stone with the burial records on file with the Cemetery office or with the list of inscriptions compiled by the Albany Common Council before this stone was removed from the State Street Burying Grounds.

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Featured Gravestone – Carl Rosche

DSC03856Section:  Baptist

Material:  White Marble

A small stone with severe damage.  Upper third has broken off, the carved lamb is eroded and there is much wear to the edges.  The inscription is eroding, but partly legible.

Inscription:  Carl Rosche geb 15 Dec. 1855 gest 14 Juli 1857

Census records show several Rosch(e) households listed in both Albany and nearby Watervliet, though no child by this name is listed.  This photo at Find A Grave illustrates how quickly this stone has eroded in just a few years.

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Featured Gravestone – Lewis Newman

DSC02650Section:  Episcopal

Material:  White marble

Small stone is darkening and fairly eroded.  Parts of the inscription are illegible.  A large crack divides the stone in two halves diagonally.

Inscription:  In Memory of Lewis Newman who died November 25, 1826 aged 46 years, 11 months, and 11 days.  Friends nor physicians could not save This mortal body from the grave Nor can the grave confine it here When Jesus calls it must appear.

The inscription was copied from the burial card on file with the Cemetery as the actual stone has become difficult to decipher.  The damage is by no means the worse suffered by headstones in this section.


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The Phelps Stone

DSC00844Unlike many stones in the Church Grounds which have broken or suffered other damage since being transferred to the Albany Rural Cemetery, this one was damaged prior to its removal from the State Street Burying Grounds.  The entry for it in the Common Council’s inventory of graves places it in the First Presbyterian Church’s lot and notes “”stone broken and gone.”

Exactly how the stone was damaged or when is not known, but it would have occurred prior to 1868 when the inventory was compiled.  The breakage may have happened when the grave was moved from its original location Most likely this headstone was first placed in the First Presbyterian Church’s graveyard and probably moved to the congregation’s section of the municipal burial ground just south of modern-day East Capitol Park before being moved yet again to the State Street Burying Grounds after 1806.  With so many relocations, it’s easy to see how the stone could have been broken prior to its final move to the Rural Cemetery.

Burial records from this church only begin in 1786, but at some point after the death of this unknown Phelps as I have not yet been able to locate any information on this woman beyond what is carved on the stone.  She would have been born around 1726, but her first name, maiden name (assuming that Phelps is her marriage name), and other information remain unknown at this point.  Evidently, whomever commissioned the stone was prosperous enough to afford one of the more elaborately-carved markers from this period and lot.  The tablet is surrounded by a border of bold scrollwork and it is very possible a stone like this would have featured some sort of soul effigy or other decorative element at the top.  The inscription includes a short epitaph:  Death is a debt to nature due:  Which I have paid and so must you.

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This piece of marble appears to be the lower portion of a headstone.   The upper part with the deceased’s name, dates, and other information is missing; though it’s impossible to say whether this breakage happened while the stone was in its original location, during the removal to Albany Rural Cemetery, or at some point after being placed in the Church Grounds.  The upper portion may yet be in the Church Grounds as there are more than a few partial stones laid among the complete grave markers.

In his multi-volume Annals of Albany, Joel Munsell included complete text from inscriptions in the Dutch Reformed, Presbyterian, and Episcopal sections of the State Street Burying Grounds prior to the transfer of remains and headstones to the Rural Cemetery, but no inscription in the Annals matches this one which makes it impossible to identify the deceased without the missing piece.  The epitaph reads:

My companion’s departed before me.  Afflictions no more shall she know.  Her spirit has landed in glory.  Her hours are finished below.

The white marble has darkened, though the text is generally legible.  Unfortunately, a large portion of the upper right corner has broken off from what seems to have been a finely carved stone.  Such additional damage is not uncommon to the stones in the Church Grounds as they lied flat or almost flat on the earth and are subject to erosion, damage from the weight of snow, and from the wheels of mowers passing over the rows of gravestones.


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Featured Gravestone – Alida Lansing Peck

Section:  Dutch Reformed

Material:  White marble

Misc.:  Marble is discolored and stone is broken horizontally just below the second line of the inscription.  The upper right corner is also broken, but present.

Inscription:  Alida D. Lansing, Wife of —- —-, March 1, 1842 Aged 21 Years

This stone is in poor condition; not only is it broken in two places, but it shows tracks where a mower has passed over it.  This is not uncommon among these stones and, no doubt, contributes to the damage.  Alida is listed in the Common Council inventory as the wife of Allen F. Peck and her date of death is March 1.  Several years after her death, her husband appears in the city directory as a moulder residing at 89 Eagle Street.

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