Friday, October 24, 2008

Albany Rural Cemetery

The Albany Rural Cemetery was one of the first rural cemeteries in the state of New York and with the burial of Chester A. Arthur, the 21st President of the United States, is probably the most famous of all New York rural cemeteries.


Technically located outside the city limits, in Menands, the Albany Rural Cemetery was incorporated April 2, 1841 and currently consists of 467 acres of unbelievably beautiful landscaping. 

Previous Albany Burial Grounds

Many of the churches within the city limits created and maintained their own burial grounds next to those churches. By 1780 those cemeteries were full so the city created a municipal cemetery at State and Eagle Streets. In 1801, the State Street Burial Ground, another city-run cemetery, was opened with sections for each of the city's churches. Church then began disinterring bodies from their own burial grounds and relocating them to State Street.


As with many other cemeteries organized just prior to or as part of the Rural Cemetery Act, the Albany Rural Cemetery was created due to overcrowding at church burial yards within the city limits and concerns about flooding at the State Street Burial Ground.


Albany Rural Cemetery was dedicated by Gov. William C. Bouck, on October 7, 1844 in an elaborate ceremony with thousands of people from churches, fraternal organizations and civic groups participating.

Transferred Remains

On October 12, 1886, the Albany City Council adopted a resolution[1] authorizing the removal of remains from the following cemeteries to be relocated to a special section called the "Church Ground:"

Dutch Church
St. Peter’s Episcopal Church
First Presbyterian Church
Second Presbyterian Church
Third Presbyterian Church
United Presbyterian Church
Methodist Episcopal Church
Garretson Station Methodist Episcopal Church
Baptist Church
Society of Friends of Albany
Lutheran Ebenezer Church
St. Mary’s Catholic Church
First Universalist Church
African Methodist Episcopal Church
Potter’s Field

As part of the resolution, the Report of a Special Committee on Burial Grounds was published listing the cemeteries participating in the relocation and the process. Betty Fink has headed up a project which recently put together an online database of the bodies removed and relocated.

Famous Burials

Besides President Arthur, five governors, three members of the Continental Congress, five U.S. Senators, 29 U.S. Congressmen and 55 mayors of Albany are among those buried in this still active cemetery.

Ames, Ezra (1768 - 1836), artist

Arthur, Chester Alan (1829 - 1886), 21st President, United States

Arthur, Ellen Herndon (1837 - 1880), First Lady (was a posthumous first lady as she had died before her husband assumed the presidency)

Barnard, Daniel Dewey (1797 - 1861), United States Congressman

Bleecker, Harmanus (1779 - 1849), U.S. Congressman

Corning II., Erastus (1909 - 1983), Mayor of Albany for 41 years

Corning, Erastus (1794 - 1872), U.S. Congressman, Mayor of Albany, founder New York Central Railroad

Corning, Parker (1874 - 1943), U.S. Congressman

Dix, John Alden (1860 - 1928), Governor of New York

Dudley, Charles Edward (1780 - 1841), U.S. Senator

Edson, Franklin (1832 - 1904), Mayor of New York City

Ellis, Chesselden (1808 - 1854), U.S. Congressman

Gansevoort, Leonard (1751 - 1810), Continental Congressman, Continental Army Colonel

Gansevoort, Peter (1748 - 1812), Revolutionary War hero

Harris, Ira (1802 - 1875), U.S. Senator

Jenkins, Lemuel (1789 - 1862), U.S. Congressman

Lansing, Gerrit Yates (1783 - 1862), U.S. Congressman

Marcy, William Learned (1786 - 1857), U.S. Senator, Governor of New York

Miller, Morris Smith (1779 - 1824). U.S. Congressman

Parker, Amasa Junius (1807 - 1890), U.S. Congressman

Paterson, William (1745 - 1806), Signer of the U.S. Constitution, U.S. Senator, 3rd Governor of New Jersey, U.S. Supreme Court Justice

Peckham, Rufus Wheeler (1809 - 1873), U.S. Congressman

Perry, Eli (1799 - 1881), U.S. Congressman, Mayor of Albany

Pruyn, John Van Schaik Lansing (1811 - 1877), U.S. Congressman

Redfield, William Cox (1858 - 1932), U.S. Congressman

Sanford, Rollin Brewster (1874 - 1957), U.S. Congressman

Schoolcraft, John Lawrence (1804 - 1860), U.S. Congressman

Schuyler, Philip (1733 - 1804), , Revolutionary War Continetal Major General, U.S. Sentaor

Southwick, George Newell (1863 - 1912), U.S. Congressman

Spencer, Ambrose (1765 - 1848), U.S. Congressman

Spencer, John Canfield (1788 - 1855), U.S. Congressman, Secretary of War

Swinburne, John (1820 - 1889), U.S. Congressman

Tayler, John (1742 - 1829), Governor of New York

Ten Eyck, Peter Gansevoort (1873 - 1944), U.S. Congressman

Tremain, Lyman (1819 - 1878), U.S. Congressman

Van Alstyne, Thomas Jefferson (1827 - 1903), U.S. Congressman

Van Rensselaer, Solomon Van Vechten (1774 - 1852), U.S. Congressman

Van Rensselaer, Stephen (1764 - 1839), U.S. Congressman

White, Hugh (1798 - 1870), U.S. Congressman

Wood, Bradford Ripley (1800 - 1889), U.S. Congressman

Yates, Abraham (1724 - 1796), member Continental Congress


Organized: April 2, 1841
Dedicated: October 7, 1844
Location: Menands, Albany County, New York
Size: 467 acres
Active: Yes


[1] "Whereas, The burying grounds between State and Hudson streets have not been used as a place of internment for several years, and they have been almost entirely neglected, the fences being destroyed, and the grounds used for pasturing purposes; and,

Whereas, This desecration of so sacred a spot is in the highest degree discreditable to the city authorities and the churches interested; therefore,

Resolved, That a Special Committee of five be appointed by his Honor the Mayor, to confer with the Trustees of the various Churches holding possession of and interested in the grounds for burial purposes, with a view to cause the removal of the remains of the neglected dead to cemeteries where they can be properly interred and cared for in a suitable manner." (Adopted)"


M. Diane Rogers said...

Very interesting post, Thomas. And, 'Welcome', from another Graveyard Rabbit!
(And, of course, being Canadian, I'm always at least a little interested in anything about Chester Alan Arthur.)

Elizabeth O'Neal said...

I love interesting, old cemeteries, and this one definitely sounds interesting! Wish I lived closer!

Anonymous said...

Have you seen: