A notation on a burial card for Section 98 leads to the final resting place of the last documented slave at the Schuyler Flatts.
The Schuyler Flatts Burial Project is seeking artists to design the wooden containers in which the remains will be reinterred. Details at the link below:
It has been announced that the remains (believed to have been slaves discovered during excavations on land that was once part of the Schuyler Flatts will be reburied with ceremonies on June 18, 2016 at St. Agnes Roman Catholic Cemetery.
Today’s Times Union has a short article on the effort to rebury the bones of slaves exhumed during sewer work not far from the Albany Rural Cemetery and the Schuyler Flatts.
In the event that this item is vetoed, perhaps it would be possible to raise the money for the reburial without state funding. $4,000 is not an impossible amount for fundraising with enough public interest and support from local companies.
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.
This afternoon, an informational meeting was held at the Albany Public Library to discuss the reburial of skeletons discovered near the Schuyler Flatts. The remains are of fourteen people who were undoubtedly slaves owned by the Schuyler family from the early 18th to early 19th centuries. The speaker was Paul Stewart of the Underground Railroad History Project; representatives from the New York State Museum, St. Agnes’ Roman Catholic Cemetery, and Albany Rural Cemetery were present, along with the Town of Colonie’s historian.
Some background information on the discovery of the skeletons and proposals for reburial were discussed. Continue reading
Section: African Methodist Episcopal
Material: Brown sandstone
Misc.: A small, but thick stone, it is in very good shape for its age with some chipping around the edges and a small spots of lichen. It predates the establishment of the African Methodist Episcopal Church and Dick does not appear in the massive list of graves inventoried by the Albany Common Council prior to the removal to the Rural Cemetery. However, that list is not complete. There are quite a few graves now in the Church Grounds that were not printed in the inventory, perhaps omitted by mistake as the stones were transcribed. He may have originally been buried in the previous municipal cemetery which stood just off Eagle Street south of the State Capitol. This cemetery received burials from around 1789 to 1799, the same year Dick died or he may have been buried in one of the small graveyards identified on period maps as “Negro Burying Grounds” There is also a possibility that he was buried in a family plot at the Dutch Reformed Church’s graveyard and was among the headstone found in later excavation, then placed in the vault of the Madison Avenue Reformed Church prior to being moved to the Church Grounds.
Inscription: DICK Slave of John F. Pruyn, Died Nov’r 15, 1799 aged 16 Yrs, 8 mos.
Nothing is known about this young man beyond the inscription on his gravestone. John F. Pruyn, a well-known skipper and merchant, was the owner of at least six slaves whom he began to gradually emancipate not long after Dick’s death. Exactly why Dick was provided with a headstone in an era when most slaves and even freed blacks were buried in unmarked and now lost graves is also unknown.