The Albany Cemetery Association was incorporated in 1841 and, in 1844, the Albany Rural Cemetery was consecrated. This picturesque and romantic cemetery was meant to replace the old municipal graveyards (such as the State Street Burying Grounds which occupied the site of Washington Park), small churchyards, and the last few private burial grounds in and around New York's capitol city.
Not only does the 467 acre site continue as an active cemetery today (offering not only traditional interments, but cremations, green burials, and other options), it is also a truly important historic site. It is part of the I Love New York Path Through History, the Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area, and the National Register of Historic Places.
Of course, most people know that Chester A. Arthur, the twenty-first President of the United States is buried here; there is an annual wreeth-laying on his birthday which is well worth attending. But there are also so many more people whose lives are a part of Capitol Region history. There are early Dutch settlers with headstones which date to the 1720s, slaves and former slaves such as Dianna Mingo, the Patroons of the Manor of Rensselaerwyck, heroes of the Revoltion, unknown soldiers of the Civil War, poets and artists, and orinary people whose stories are part of our historic and cultural fabric.
The Cemetery has also been described as an open-air museum where monuments range from folksy winged skulls carved in weathered sandstone to imposing bronze angels and marble vaults. It's a place to walk or jog or just sit by Cypress Waters and relax (dogs are allowed, but please respect the signs that ask that they be kept on leashes and do clean up after them).
The following is from a letter to the Times Union from Frank M. Slingerland, President of the Cemetery's Board of Trustees:
Over the years, many generous donors have made tax-deductible gifts to the cemetery and such support is needed now, more than ever. For the sake of “these exalted acres” and the many people who enjoy the parklike setting, a historic resource in the upper Hudson Valley, we hope to broaden our base of support.
The full letter can be read here:
Cemetery funding an ongoing need
If you'd like to be a part of that much needed base of support that the Cemetery needs, there are many ways to help.
Or a general donation can be made at any time. More information on donating can be found on the Cemetery's site:
albanyruralcemetery.org - Donation or special gift to ARC
You can also join the Friends of the Albany Rural Cemetery. There is a newsletter which is now in color (enlarge the image below for the first page of the most recent issue) and, from time to time, specal events. A printable membership form is linked below the image.
Join the Friends.
Volunteer! Do you have free time or a skill that you could put to use at the Cemetery? Contact the Cemetery directly at Friends of the Albany Rural Cemetery, Cemetery Avenue, Menands, New York 12204 or 518-463-7017
Read more about the Cemetery here:
Blog - Albany Rural Cemetery - Beyond The Graves
Blog- The Church Grounds at Albany Rural
Facebook - Albany Rural Cemetery - Beyond The Graves
The Rural Cemetery's history is Albany's history.