Albany Rural Cemetery in Menands, New York

Designed by Major David Bates Douglass and established in 1841, Albany Rural Cemetery, on Cemetery Avenue off NY State Route 32, in Menands, Albany County, New York, is a 467-acre National Historic Landmark and the final resting place for over 135,000 people. According to the Times-Union, 55 Albany mayors, five New York governors, 34 congressmen, eight presidential cabinet members, and one president, Chester Alan Arthur, are buried here. You can easily spend days exploring the grounds.

Monument to President Chester A. Arthur (1829-1886). Arthur, then vice president, became the 21st President of the United States in 1881 after President James A. Garfield succumbed to complications stemming from an assassin’s bullet. Generally forgotten today among the pantheon of presidents, Arthur competently led the country through an uneventful 4-year term.

The Repentant

Receiving vaults like the one pictured above were intended to temporarily house remains before burial, particularly during winter when the ground was too frozen to dig. Modern excavating equipment has rendered these structures obsolete.

Burning With Regret

Monument to John D. Parsons, Jr. (1847-1904) and his wife, Agnes Evans Chase (1847-1935). This majestic sculpture was designed by Oscar Lenz. John D. Parsons, Jr. was a law book publisher, president of the National Exchange Bank and Albany Trust Company, and a Freemason.

Photo by Michael Kleen

Monument to Nelson (1813-1876) and Eliza Miller Godfrey (1812-1883). This moving statue was made from Westerly Granite by New England Granite Works at a cost of $5,500 (or roughly $136,350 today). This is a popular monument design found throughout New England, though I’m not sure what it represents. Possibly Athena, Greek goddess of wisdom or Minerva, the Roman equivalent?

As the Light Does the Shadow

Monument to Frank B. Graves (1861-1931) and his wife, Mary E. Van Wormer (1863-1953). Frank B. Graves was a cotton and wool merchant, born in Massachusetts. His mother and father moved their family to Albany in 1867. He later became president of the National Textile Manufacturing Company.

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Author: Michael Kleen

Michael Kleen is an author, raconteur, and occasional traveler. He has a M.A. in History and M.S. in Education. He enjoys studying military history, folklore, and philosophy.

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