Last Saturday I had another chance to meet some of the residents of Albany Rural Cemetery. I once again took a tour of a part of the cemetery during which cast members at various grave markers told us about their lives and how they wound up where they are. The event was put on by The Historical Society of the Town of Colonie. It was a fascinating experience that offered a tangible dimension that would have been missing from a simple tour with a dry presentation about who was buried where.
John G. Myers: Owner of Myers Department Store on North Pearl Street, which was one of the most prosperous and iconic department stores in downtown Albany. Tragically the building collapsed 4 years after Myers died, killing 13 people. Portrayed by Peter Crouse.
George Dawson: Editor of the Albany “Evening Journal” in 1846, he assumed control of the paper as senior editor and proprietor until 1877. Was close personal friend of Thurlow Weed and William Seward: he named his son George Seward Dawson. Portrayed by Bill Douglas.
John Swinburne: Graduated from Albany Medical College and became one of Albany’s most prestigious and successful doctors and surgeons. Served as surgeon behind the front lines during the Civil War. Became Mayor of Albany and U.S. congressman. Swineburne Park is named for Dr. Swineburne. Portrayed by Lou Nunez.
Erastus Dow Palmer: Renowned Albany sculptor. The most visited monument in the Cemetery is Palmer’s Angel at the Sepulchere, 1868. Also sculpted a bronze statue of Chancellor Robert R. Livingston located in Statuary Hall, Capitol Building, Washington, D.C. Portrayed by Brian Dollard.
James Wilson: Merchant, became partner in the firm Hartness & Company, manufacturer of soaps and candies at the corner of Chapel and Canal Streets in Sheridan’s Hollow. Served as Director of the Mutual Insurance Company and the Albany Plank Road Company. Portrayed by Sean Owens.
Gen. Philip Schuyler (Margarita Schuyler): Captain of British Forces in 1755 during French & Indian War. Was NYS Assemblyman, then elected to Continental Congress in 1775. Served as Major General during Revolutionary War. Represented NYS in the 1st U.S. Congress. Lost 1791 Senate election to Aaron Burr. Portrayed by Samantha Hall-Saladino.
Capt. Willard Glazier: Soldier, author, explorer. Graduate of State Normal School in Albany. Enlisted during Civil War in 1861 in the 2nd NY Calvary. Was in 50 engagements during the War. Spent 14 months confined in Confederate prisons. After the War he authored 7 books about his explorations. Portrayed by Larry Handy.
Hamilton Family: Andrew Hamilton was a prominent attorney and author of legal textbooks who married Jessie R. Walker. The family was beset by tragedy, and Andrew was also tied to the “yellow dog fund” scandal. The exquisite Celtic cross that dominates the family plot was designed by Marcus T. Reynolds. Jessie R. Walker portrayed by Carla Sofka.
John Boyd Thacher (Emma Treadwell Thacher): Businessman, politician. Partner in family firm the Thacher Car Works. Member of the Albany Board of Health. Elected as a State senator in 1883. Served two terms as Mayor of Albany. Emma donated 350 acres of their Helderberg estate, known as the John Boyd Thacher State Park. Emma Treadwell Thacher portrayed by Diane Doring.
Elisha P. Hurlbut: Attorney, judge. In 1847 was appointed Judge of the Supreme Court of the State of New York. Also served on the Court of Appeals. Was also quite knowledgeable on the subject of phrenology, the study of the skull. The unique design of the family monument is patterned after the headboard of Hurlbut’s bed. Portrayed by Ed Bablin.
For more stories about Albany Rural Cemetery residents, visit my page Visits With The Dead.
All photographs are © Dave Higgins and “Dave Higgins Photography,” 2019; all rights reserved.