Albany Rural Cemetery

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Albany Rural Cemetery
Albany Rural Cemetery 16.jpg
Albany Rural Cemetery is located in New York
Albany Rural Cemetery
Albany Rural Cemetery is located in the US
Albany Rural Cemetery
Location Cemetery Ave.
Menands, New York
Coordinates 42°42′24″N 73°44′8″W / 42.70667°N 73.73556°W / 42.70667; -73.73556Coordinates: 42°42′24″N 73°44′8″W / 42.70667°N 73.73556°W / 42.70667; -73.73556
Area 467 acres (189 ha)
Built 1844 (1844)
Architect Douglass, Maj. D.B.
Architectural style Queen Anne
NRHP Reference # 79001566[1]
Added to NRHP October 25, 1979

The Albany Rural Cemetery was established October 7, 1844, in Menands, New York, just outside the city of Albany, New York. It is renowned as one of the most beautiful, pastoral cemeteries in the United States, at over 400 acres (1.6 km2). Many historical American figures are buried there.[2]


On April 2, 1841, an association was formed to bring the cemetery into being. A committee of the association selected the site on April 20, 1844. The cemetery originally contained 100 acres (0.40 km2). This portion was consecrated October 7, 1844. Daniel D. Barnard delivered the dedication address, which was one of many given at rural cemeteries across the northeast in the years from Justice Joseph Story's address at Mount Auburn Cemetery in 1831 to Lincoln's Gettysburg Address in 1863.[3] The first interment was made in May, 1845.[4] Located near the entrance is the Louis Menand House.

In 1868, bodies from other cemeteries were removed and reinterred in Albany Rural Cemetery.[4]

Notable burials[edit]

Grave of President Chester A. Arthur

In 1886, President Chester A. Arthur, the 21st President of the United States, was interred at Albany Rural Cemetery in Lot 8, Section 24, along with his wife Ellen Lewis Herndon Arthur, who had died in 1880. His memorial was designed by Ephraim Keyser and dedicated on June 15, 1889. Friends of the former president contributed a fund that provided $10,000 for the memorial and for a statue that was erected in New York City.

John Van Buren, son of President Martin Van Buren, is buried in lot 28, section 62. John Van Buren, a handsome attorney known as "Prince John", died at sea on October 13, 1866, while on the voyage from Liverpool to New York. His grave in Lot 28, Section 62 is marked by an Italian marble cross.

A 36-foot (11 m)-high doric column at Lot 2, Section 29 commemorates General Philip Schuyler, major general in the Continental Army, delegate to the Continental Congress, and one of the first two United States senators elected from New York.

The last patroon, General Stephen Van Rensselaer, who died in 1839, was founder of the scientific school which later became Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. His grave is located at Lot 1, Section 14. Also interred in the same plot is William Paterson, U.S. Senator and Governor of New Jersey and a signatory to the Constitution of the United States. Paterson ended his career as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, serving until his death in 1806.

Albany Rural Cemetery 32.jpg
Grave of Margaret Gregory

Daniel Manning, who died in 1887, was a journalist, politician and banker and served as Secretary of the Treasury under President Grover Cleveland. His grave is located in Lot 5, Section 27.

Erastus Dow Palmer, a world-renowned sculptor, is buried in Lot 15, Section 34. He worked in an Albany studio producing statuary and portrait busts for many years before he died in 1904. He produced two statues which are on exhibit at the United States Capitol Building in Washington D.C.; the Robert Livingston Statue and "Peace in Bondage". Several of Mr. Palmer's works adorn markers at the cemetery, one of which is titled "The Angel at the Sepulchre" which is located in Lot 1, Section 31, or the Banks plot. Palmer also designed the granite monument at the grave of William Learned Marcy, a U.S. Senator and three-term Governor of New York. The monument is in Lot 94, Section 62. Marcy also served as Secretary of War under President James K. Polk and Secretary of State under President Franklin Pierce. When he died in 1857, relatives recalled that Marcy "frequently expressed the wish to be buried where he had spent so much time in reading and in contemplation".

Located on a large circular plot in Lot 2, Section 31 is the gravesite of Erastus Corning, founder and president of the New York Central Railroad. His great-grandson Erastus Corning 2nd, who served as mayor of Albany for 41 years and who died in 1983, is also buried in the family plot.

The Peckham family plot in Lot 19, Section 11 includes Rufus Wheeler Peckham, an associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, and his brother, Wheeler Hazard Peckham, a prominent New York City lawyer and a failed nominee to the Supreme Court. The plot also includes a cenotaph to their father, New York Court of Appeals judge and U.S. congressman Rufus Wheeler Peckham (1809-1873), who was lost at sea.

The Spencer family plot includes John Canfield Spencer, Secretary of War and Secretary of the Treasury under President John Tyler and a failed nominee to the Supreme Court. His father, Ambrose Spencer, a prominent New York lawyer, judge and politician, is also buried nearby.

Franklin Townsend (1821–1898) is buried here along with his wife. Townsend was a 19th-century industrialist, active in his family's iron business which was a branch of the Stirling Iron Works, the maker of the Hudson River Chain that prevented the British Royal Navy from sailing up the Hudson River during the American Revolutionary War. He was active in Albany politics, serving as an alderman and one term as mayor of the city. He served as adjutant general of the state of New York from 1869-1873.

Thomas Kirby Van Zandt, a noted painter of horses, is buried here.

Ebby Thacher, an early member of Alcoholics Anonymous, the best friend and sponsor of the co-founder William Wilson (Bill W.)[5] is buried here, in Section 56, Lot 24.[6]

Two monuments within this cemetery incorporate works in bronze by the sculptor Oscar Lenz. Lenz created The Angel of The Resurrection and frieze on the Parsons family monument, as well as the relief of a seated warrior receiving a bouquet of poppies from the Angel of Death on George Porter Hilton's mausoleum.[7]



  1. ^ National Park Service (2010-07-09). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 
  2. ^ "Cultural Resource Information System (CRIS)" (Searchable database). New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. Retrieved 2016-05-01. [permanent dead link] Note: This includes Elizabeth Spencer-Ralph (July 1979). "National Register of Historic Places Registration Form: Albany Rural Cemetery" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-05-01.  and Accompanying photographs
  3. ^ Alfred L. Brophy, "These Great and Beautiful Republics of the Dead": Public Constitutionalism and the Antebellum Cemetery
  4. ^ a b Howell, George Rogers & Tenney, Jonathan (Eds.) (1886). Bi-centennial History of Albany: History of the County of Albany, N.Y., from 1609 to 1886. New York: W. W. Munsell & Co. p. 645. Google Book Search. Retrieved on October 4, 2010.
  5. ^ B., Mel (December 22, 1997). Ebby: The Man Who Sponsored Bill W. (5th ed.). Hazelden. ISBN 156838162X. 
  6. ^ Grondahl, Paul. "These Exalted Acres - Unlocking the Secrets of Albany Rural Cemetery". Times Union. Retrieved 30 December 2015. 
  7. ^ "ALBANY RURAL CEMETERY". Bella Morte ( Retrieved 30 December 2015. 

External links[edit]