It’s often reported that 40,000 graves were removed from the State Street Burying Grounds to the Church Grounds at Albany Rural.
A recent find in the Albany Institute of History & Library sets the record straight.
Like Albany’s Washington Park, Chicago’s Lincoln Park was previously used as a large cemetery. The site below is a fascinating look at a project exploring that history:
This small headstone of black granite stands out among the uneven rows of flat stones in the Church Grounds. It is unusual, not only because it is one of only a few upright stones in this lot, but because it is also much newer. It was not among the scores of old stones brought to Albany Rural Cemetery from the State Street Burying Grounds when the Common Council cleared the old graveyard to make way for Washington Park, but was placed here over twenty years after the massive transfer of remains.
On September 10, 1893, a woman’s hat was found on the edge of Washington Park Lake. A short time later, the body of Tillie Boehm was pulled from the water. She was twenty-three years old and the newspapers reported that no motive could be assigned to her suicide. The papers also noted that she was the adopted daughter of Professor William Boehm. The German-born Professor Boehm was a music teacher, organist at Saint Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church in Albany’s Ten Broeck neighborhood, and organizer of The Mozart Singing Society, a local musical club.
Tillie was short for Matilda and the 1880 census lists a ten-year old daughter by that name in the household of William and Louisa Boehm. The census lists another daughter, Amelia, as the same age; it is possible that she was Tillie’s twin sister. The other children in the family were listed as William (age five) and Kate (age three). The 1892 census adds another child, Gertrude (age four), but Matildia/Tillie is not listed as residing with the family at this time, but appears on the census for the town of Bethlehem.
The records, unfortunately, give few hints as to why Tillie drowned in the Washington Park Lake or why she was buried among the much older graves in the Church Grounds.