Tag Archives: newspapers

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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Taking Up of The Dead

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From the June 27, 1868 edition of the Albany Express, an advertisement from John W. Brasure offering his services for the removal of remains from the State Street Burying Ground for those families who wished to arrange for the transfer of their loved ones graves before the mass removal as the land was cleared for Washington Park.

Taking Up of the Dead from the Burial Ground on the Hill.  John. W. Brasure, Undertaker, and Manufacturer of Coffins and Caskets, No. 104 Madison Avenue, one door east of Pearl street, would respectfully announce to the public that he is prepared to disinter the Dead on the Hill, in the old Burial Grounds, and convey them to any place of burial desired, on the most reasonable terms.

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A City Vault

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The December 19, 1828 edition of the Albany Argus contained the following letter:

It has been suggested by several of our citizens that a large public building, for the deposit of our dead be erected in some convenient place contiguous to the city. An edifice of this kind, of a neat, durable and secure shape, having separate tenements or apartments for the various sects or societies, might be put up, at an expense easily defrayable. Each “friend” of the deceased, by interment in the vault, would save the expense of digging, sodding, and tomb, and therefore, could afford to pay $3 or $5 for each niche or coffin; and this (with the poor gratis) would shortly pay for the building. It might be done by individuals, the churches in union, or the corporation; perhaps the latter would be better owners, to prevent collisions or difficulties. Its benefits are obvious. The waste of ground and the other needless expense would be saved — The rattling of the rope, the thump of the sod, and the sight of the coffin sunk in the cold watery pit, may be prevented. The horrid burial before death will not occur, and the feeling friend, husband, or child my visit the sepulchre and see the coffin, knowing his wife or mother is there.

The letter was signed “BURIED ALIVE.”

The 19th-century fear of premature burial prompted the formation of a Society for its prevention, as well as the invention of various alarms, burial vaults with escape hatches, and other devices designed to prevent “burial before death” or to aid its supposed victims.  The vault as proposed in this letter (not too unlike modern community mausolea) was not built, though various churches and the city did maintain receiving vaults at the State Street Burying Grounds.

It’s interesting to note the emphasis placed on the description of the grave as watery at a time when the Albany Burying Ground was indeed troubled with flooding of newly opened graves as described in court testimony in 1840.

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Ancient Albanians

The article below was published in the Albany Journal on July 31, 1888 and, while the container here is described as a flour barrel, it relates to the same discovery of remains covered in a second article published on August 2 – see Bones In A Sugar Barrel.  Any question marks or brackets in the body of the article indicate that the newspaper is illegible in those places. 

The Albany Journal, Tuesday, July 31, 1888

ANCIENT ALBANIANS

Some Of Their Bones Dumped Into A Flour Barrel

Excavations on Beaver Street Disclose the Crumbling Remnants of Dutch Burghers – A Former Graveyard Under Pick and Shovel – Antique Inscriptions on Tombstones

Three skulls and a number of thigh bones, ribs and other of the smaller bones of human skeletons were unearthed Tuesday afternoon in front of the old Jackson corps armory on Beaver street. Together with the space in front of the old armory building and the old public market building site, the [illegible] between Beaver street and the old Dutch church was used as a burial ground by the congregation of that church many years ago. The Dutch church on Beaver street was built in 1805, when the tombstones and the remains of members of the congregation who had been buried in the original Dutch church burying plat at the intersection of State street and Broadway, were taken up and re-interred at the Beaver street house of worship. Continue reading

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