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Albany Rural Cemetery: A Visit Of (A Few) Faves

By Paula Lemire

Albany’s rural cemetery can be a lovely place for a stroll. As spring arrives, we asked Paula Lemire, who studies the history of Albany’s august park-like cemetery for Albany Rural – Beyond The Graves, to share some of her favorite landmarks there.

If one spends enough time walking and exploring the 467 acres of rural Albany cemetery, it becomes very difficult to choose one’s favorite monument. With over 200 numbered sections and thousands of graves ranging from crumbling sandstone slabs to larger-than-life statues, I fall in love with a new favorite with every visit.

That said, here are a few of my favorites – at least until the next walk.

Georgia (Lot 30, Section 5)

Albanian rural cemetery Georgie Shortiss monument

This gravestone caught my eye on my first visit to the rural cemetery years ago. At the time, someone had left a small jar of little thoughts at its base. Another time, I found stuck marigolds.

The weathered white marble shows a well-dressed young boy, an open book in one hand, pausing beside a tree stump shrouded in morning glory vines (the stump and the flowers are both symbols of premature death).

Albany Rural Cemetery Georgie Shortiss butterfly detail monument

There is an old story that this eleven year old boy was fatally stung by a bee on his way home from school and his sculpted likeness is staring at the bee as it comes to rest on his hand. The sculpture is (or was before the elements eroded some of the monument’s finer details) makes it a butterfly, a symbol of rebirth. Contrary to history, however, the burial records show that eleven-year-old George M. Shortiss died of typhus on February 1, 1861.

Georgie was the only son of George Shortiss and his wife, the former Mary Montheath. Originally from England, the elder George Shortiss was a baking soda merchant with a store at 43 Quay Street and a house at 259 State Street.

The McIntosh Vault (Lot 1, Section 10)

McIntosh vault albany rural cemetery

Part of the charm of this vault is its location. It is not visible from any of the main roads and is only accessible by isolated paths through the ravine that separates the southern and middle ridges. It overlooks a small stone bridge and the dry remains of the Lake of Consecration, where the fountains once sparkled and swans imported from Europe glided.

However, the site has not always been so isolated. When the vault was built, it overlooked one of the first portions of the Tour, a scenic route that visitors can follow through the cemetery. It was a highly visible section and considered top notch real estate. An engraving of the vault was even included in Churchill’s Guide Through Rural Albany Cemetery, the first manual for visitors and future lot owners.

Built partially into the hillside, the McIntosh vault is now missing the statue that once stood at the top, and the door is sealed with masonry blocks. Above the door, a dramatic winged hourglass illustrates the ancient saying “Time flies”. Although the vault is quite large, it contains only two burials: Ezekiel C. McIntosh and his first wife, Delia B. Tisdale.

Albany Rural Cemetery Detail of the McIntosh Arch

A native of Troy, McIntosh began his business career as a merchant of porcelain, tableware and lamps. With the money from his business venture, he is investing in real estate and, more importantly, in the new rail industry with Erastus Corning and Russell Sage. He was an investor in the Mohawk & Hudson Railroad and later chairman of the Schenectady and Troy Railroad.

Delia McIntosh died in 1826 after only five years of marriage. Eighteen years later, Ezekiel married Caroline Carmichael and purchased Schuyler Mansion as his primary residence.

Ezekiel McIntosh died on May 23, 1855 at the age of 49. Three years later his wealthy widow (who was described as possessing “a cheerful disposition and a cultivated mind”) married former President Millard Fillmore in the same mansion salon where, in 1780, Alexander Hamilton had married Elizabeth Schuyler.

This old grave even made a cameo appearance in a TV commercial for the iconic 288 nightclub on Lark Street.

Angel Parsons (Lot 12, Section 29)

albany parsons angel large rural cemetery

Unlike the McIntosh Crypt, the Parsons Monument is easy to find at the junction of Linden and Cypress avenues. It is an imposing cross of pale stone; at the base, a graceful bronze angel stands with open arms. The monument was one of two collaborations between famous Albany architect Marcus T. Reynolds and Oscar Lenz, a protégé of Augustus Saint-Gaudens. Reynolds created many works for the rural cemetery, including the main gate to Route 32, the now vacant Superintendent’s Cottage, and several monuments.

Oscar Lenz was born in Providence, Rhode Island. At twelve, he joined the Rhode Island School of Design, and at 16, he joined the Art Students League of New York where he attracted the attention of Saint-Gaudens. Working under Saint-Gaudens, Lenz contributed plaster models of the famous statue of Diana from the tower that stood atop the second Madison Square Garden. He also worked with Saint-Gaudens on several miniatures for the original Penn Station.

In 1906, Lenz created two bronzes for the monument Reynolds had designed for the Parsons family land. The first was the angel who stands framed by an arch. The figure is beautiful and wonderfully detailed, from the delicate folds of her dress to the garland of olive trees that serves as her belt. Although the spots have given the face a gloomy look from afar, the features are refined and the expression soft when seen up close. Closer examination is absolutely necessary to appreciate the intricate bronze frieze that surrounds the sides and rear of the monument. Dozens of figures appear in an ancient funeral procession. There are men and women, infants and the elderly. Some sing hymns written on scrolls, others wear crowns. Some seem hopeful, others are bowed down with grief.

Albany parsons rural cemetery angel frieze closeup

The monument was commissioned by Agnes Chase Parsons, wife of John D. Parsons, Jr., chairman of the Albany Trust Company and the National Exchange Bank, also known for her extensive collection of autographs and rare books. Parsons was a major benefactor of the former Albany Orphan Asylum, which eventually became the Parsons Child and Family Center. John Parsons died at the age of 57 on December 16, 1904. The design of his monument was based on ideas provided by his wife.

Reynolds and Lenz also collaborated at the Hilton Mausoleum just down the Angel Parsons Path in 1909. The simple granite vault features a solid bronze relief that depicts an angel offering a poppy to a seated man. Unfortunately, this will be their last collaboration. Oscar Lenz, a young man of great personal charm and wonderful artistry, died on June 25, 1912. He was 39 years old.

Emily Weed Barnes (lots 1-3, section 109)

Emily Weed Barnes poem rural albany cemetery

The Weed-Barnes lot is just across Linden Avenue from Angel Parsons. The centerpiece of the lot is a huge dark gray granite well honoring these two influential Albany editors, Thurlow Weed and his son-in-law, William Barnes. Around the imposing obelisk are assorted smaller tombstones.

As the sun set on September 8, 1848, Emily Weed Barnes, then 20, daughter of Thurlow Weed and future wife of William Barnes, wrote the following verses about the rural cemetery, which had only been consecrated four years earlier. :

As the children got tired of playing
Throw away their toys and yearn for rest
Fly into a mother’s arms
And fall asleep on his chest,

So, Tawasentha, my soul
Beside his thrown earthly toys,
So will he have your sweet control.
And sleep softly here at last.

Tawasentha was Mohawk for “the place of many dead” and was one of the first names proposed for the rural cemetery in Albany. (Naming the cemetery was a surprisingly touchy subject with many letters and editorials in the Albany Argus suggesting and debating various names). The name Tawasentha was most often applied to the Normanskill Valley and was popularized in Longfellow’s Hiawatha song.

Emily Weed was born in 1827 and in 1849 married William Barnes who succeeded her father as editor of the Albany Evening Journal. As the registration secretary of the Albany Army Relief Association during the Civil War, she was active with the famous Albany Army Relief Bazaar (also known as the Sanitary Bazaar) which opened in Academy Park in 1864 This fair raised around $ 85,000 for the Union War. effort and is perhaps best known for the auction of the first draft of the Emancipation Proclamation which was sent to Emily by President Lincoln via a family friend, Secretary of State William Henry Seward. This project is now owned by the New York State Library.

Emily Weed Barnes died on February 10, 1889. The verses she had written 41 years earlier were cast in bronze and affixed to her gravestone.

Elsie Cuyler Ten Eyck (Lot 1, item 49)

Albany rural cemetery Elsie Cuyler Ten Eyck gravestone

I really like the effigies of souls, winged faces or skulls which were a popular motif on tombstones from the late 17th to early 18th century. While these designs are much less common in Albany than in the Hudson Valley or New England, there are some wonderful examples at the rural cemetery.

This particular soul effigy does not have the usual wings and is simply surrounded by delicate flowers. The expression is serene and direct. It may even have been designed as a simple portrait of the deceased. The stone is unfortunately not signed by the sculptor.

Albany Rural Cemetery Elsie Cuyler Ten Eyck soul effigy image

This sandstone bollard was originally erected in the Dutch Reformed Cemetery that once stretched from Beaver Street to Hudson Avenue, just east of South Pearl. Over the years it has been moved several times from the original tomb to an arch under the Second Reformed Church which was built on top of the burial grounds. Eventually, it was placed in the Church Grounds section of the Rural Cemetery next to many old gravestones and relocated remains from the Old State Street Cemetery and other ancient Albany cemeteries.

The stone marked the grave of Elsie Cuyler, wife of Barent C. Ten Eyck. Born in 1728, she married in 1756. Her husband was a prominent silversmith and town councilor in Albany. Elsie died on November 27, 1791. She had no children and her gravestone was probably ordered by Barent, who survived her for four years.

Paula Lemire is the creator of Albany Rural – Beyond The Graves on Facebook.

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White Plains rural cemetery wants a crematorium

WHITE PLAINS – The historic rural White Plains cemetery is requesting a zoning change for the town to allow for the construction of a crematorium.

“In light of the clear trends from underground burials to cremation,” the cemetery said the cremation facility is necessary “to remain financially viable in the long term,” in a letter submitted to the Joint Council last week.

167 North Broadway Cemetery, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is requesting that the zoning code be amended to allow the construction of a crematorium on properties over 20 acres and currently set up as cemeteries. The municipal council referred the request to various municipal agencies for review and comment; a vote on the request has not yet been scheduled.

If approved, the White Plains Rural Cemetery Association said in its letter that a one-story, 1,800-square-foot crematorium building would be constructed on an existing maintenance site located off of Cemetery Road, adjacent to the ‘Interstate 287, about 100 yards down the hill from North Broadway. The neighborhood is not near residential buildings on North Broadway or near Ferris Avenue.

Cemetery officials could not be reached for comment.

According to the National Funeral Directors Association, the number of cremations performed in the United States has increased steadily in recent years. In 2010, 61.4% of all funerals ended in burials. This year, the association predicts that 46.7% will involve cremation this year. By 2020, most funerals will involve cremation.

Organized in 1854, the 30-acre cemetery includes graves from the 1700s, when it was part of the First Methodist Church in White Plains. The church building now serves as the cemetery office. The city’s annual Memorial Day and Veterans Day celebrations are held here.

Notable graves include James Bard, a 19th century painter of Hudson River ships; Margaret Floy Washburn, the first woman to earn a doctorate in psychology; “The Waltons” television actor Ralph Waite; and former heavyweight boxing contender Carl “The Truth” Williams.

Twitter: @RIchLiebson

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Westerlo Rural Cemetery needs your help

For the publisher:

The Westerlo The cemetery is one of the oldest in New York State with burials dating back to 1800. Did you know we have veterans as far back as the War of Independence, through Civil War to conflict the most recent ?

When you walk past Memorial Day or Veterans Day, you see how many of our veterans who fought for our freedom come from here to Westerlo. Not only that, but many families, friends and local neighbors are buried here.

We need your help.

The cemetery has seen a complete change of officers and administrators this year. All of these members are volunteers. In order to honor those who are buried here, and will be in the future, we now need your help in maintaining the cemetery.

The state imposes what can and cannot be done in cemeteries, while offering no help with running costs. The only source of guaranteed income is the interest generated by the permanent investments that the state regulates on the amount of each funeral that must be deposited as such. Everything but $ 50 goes to this fund.

We have an average of eight burials a year. Years ago, with high interest rates, there was a high return on operating costs, but today it is around $ 2,500, which has to cover everything – insurance, fees. ‘Condition, repairs, lawn mowing, pruning, equipment, cemetery backfilling, road care and gas.

The cemetery is approximately seven acres of which three quarters are currently mowed and trimmed. The equipment that the new agents started with this year is in poor condition and needs to be repaired or replaced. Once again, we need your help.

The reality is that if we exhaust all funds and all options, we are forced to turn the cemetery over to the city. The guidelines under which cities are required to take care of cemeteries are neither what we expect to see nor what our deceased family and friends deserve.

Help us maintain our rural and historic cemetery by making a donation today. Your donation is extremely important to the Westerlo Rural Cemetery as it provides resources that have an immediate impact, which will help us through these interesting and difficult times.

All donations are tax deductible and should be sent to “Westerlo Rural Cemetery” and mailed to Westerlo Rural Cemetery, Post Office Box 29, Westerlo, NY 12193. If you would like a receipt, please attach a stamped envelope to your address.

Did you know that you can also remember the cemetery with an endowment or life insurance policy? When making your donation tax deductible, mark it on your calendar to do so annually

Also, did you know that if you have a tombstone on your family land, by law you and your family are responsible for the maintenance of that stone? Many did not know it.

We are planning a fall clean-up day on November 7 from 10 a.m. to noon and we plan to put flags for Veterans Day, then in the spring we will have a clean-up day on April 30, 2016, again from 10 h at noon.

Your whole family is invited! In addition, we need more volunteers to sit on the board. We need you! Please mark your calendar.

To receive email notifications for upcoming meetings and events, please send an email to [email protected] and thank you for identifying yourself.

We plan to do more fundraisers over the next year and hope you will be behind us in our efforts to keep your cemetery going. We plan to put the information about the cemetery tombs online for historians and people logging into their family tree, erect fences, repair abandoned historic stones, plant flowers and trees in strategic areas. and set up boxes for cremation.

We are posting our next meeting on the City of Westerlo website – – so please mark it on your calendar and come join us. We are trying for October 22 at 7:30 p.m.

Many thanks to you for taking the time to understand our dilemma, reading our letter, and sending a gift today. Your donation will make all the difference. We promise you.

Betty Filkins, Vice-President

and Steve Peck

Fundraising Committee

Westerlo Rural Cemetery volunteers

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Vandals desecrate mausoleum, gravestone in rural Albany cemetery

City police are investigating vandalism at the Albany rural cemetery, including an anti-gay slur and other black paint spray-painted graffiti on a white marble mausoleum and gray granite marker.

Desecration of the historic cemetery burial grounds apparently occurred either late Saturday evening or early Sunday morning when a frequent cemetery walker spotted it and notified cemetery staff.

“It is the most vicious act we have had in the 35 years that I have been here,” said chief executive John Buszta. “I think it’s an act of random vandalism, unrelated to the burial grounds.”

“We think of bored teenagers in the area who did something really stupid,” said Detective Sgt. George Thomaides. He ruled out a hate crime or crime targeting family members buried in the mausoleum.

The vandalized Hosler Mausoleum can be found in Section 130 at the northwest end of the 467-acre cemetery, near homes along Schuyler Road.

The ornate mausoleum features a stained glass window and a filigree copper door grille, with space for six coffins along its walls. Five burials began with Patriarch Frederick W. Hosler, the family patriarch, born in 1864 and died in 1940. He was president of the Hosler Ice Cream Co. on Spruce Street in Albany. His wife, Mattie May Wheeler, and other members of his family are buried there. The last burial was Harold J. Magee in 1980.

The vandals spray-painted “RIP” and a six-letter anti-gay slur on either side of the richly carved columns, along with a caricature of a person’s head and a capital “A” on the side and side. the back of the mausoleum.

Nearby, “Argo” was spray painted – an apparent reference to Ben Affleck’s political thriller – on a cross on the front of a granite gravestone for William J. Smith and two family members.

Thomaides said investigators did not recover a spray paint or any other evidence.

Investigators will compare the cartoon with a database of taggers and graffiti kept by police in an attempt to match the cemetery vandals, Thomaides said.

“In my opinion, it was the work of young children or a graffiti tagger,” said Buszta, although there is no indication of alcohol consumption activity among adolescents in the area. .

The Hosler Mausoleum commands a small grassy island in a secluded part of the picturesque and wooded cemetery, established in 1841. Albany Rural is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and many political notables are buried there, including President Chester A. Arthur, including the tomb is the most visited among more than 135,000 tombs.

Albany Rural is of national significance as it was at the forefront of the country’s rural cemetery movement in the mid-19th century. At that time, cemeteries were located on the outskirts of overcrowded and polluted northeastern towns. They were landscaped by landscape architects who incorporated wooded ravines, streams, and monumental stone carvings to create a park-like setting for the dead and a popular destination for Victorian-era picnickers.

Buszta said the cemetery will apply for a grant from the State Cemetery Council’s vandalism fund to pay for the specialized cleaning process needed to remove the spray paint from the porous marble mausoleum and granite marker. He could not provide an estimate of the costs of the cleanup.

Following the vandalism, cemetery officials are considering additional security measures, including surveillance cameras, Buszta said.

“It’s terrible. Why ? asked Chris Bunting, a gardener for eight years. “Why would anyone do that in a grave? It’s a total disrespect.”

“Just so sad and sick. I hope the vandals are caught,” Paula Lemire, an Albany Rural expert who blogs frequently on the cemetery’s history, wrote on Twitter.

[email protected]518-454-5623@PaulGrondahl

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