Troy's One Hundred Years 1789-1889:
Troy Cemeteries

These are excerpts from Troy's One Hundred Years 1789-1889, compiled by Arthur James Weise, M. A., and published in 1891 by William H. Young of 7-9 First Street in Troy. They were transcribed and contributed by Bill McGrath of Clifton Park, Saratoga County, NY.

pages 91-93
The first burying-ground seen on the site of Troy by the early settlers was that of the VAN DER HEYDENs - a small plat fenced with pales, at the east ends of lots 37 and 38, at the south-east corner of River and Congress streets. In excavating for the foundation of one of the buildings erected in later years on them, the remains of some bodies buried there were disinterred.

After Jacob D. VAN DER HEYDEN removed to his mansion, at the head of Grand Division Street, he enclosed a small plat of ground on the eastern hill, a short distance north of the site of the Provincial Seminary, for a family graveyard. In it he and other members of his family were buried. In July 1857, the remains in it were transferred to graves in Oakwood Cemetery.

The burial-ground of the SCHUYLER family was not far north of the homestead, south of the Poesten Kill, near the later intersection of First and Madison streets. The following inscriptions were copied from some of the headstones marking the graves there, in 1848:

  • "Colonel Stephen J. SCHUYLER, died Dec. 14, 1820, aged 83 yrs."
  • "Helen, wife of Col. Stephen J. SCHUYLER, died May 22, 1818, aged 72 yrs."
  • "Barent SCHUYLER, born April 12, 1780; died Feb. 11, 1833, aged 52 yrs, 9 mos., 29 days."
  • "Tobias R. SCHUYLER, died June 2, 1808, aged 38 yrs, 1 mo., 12 days."
  • "Stephen V. R. SCHUYLER, born Oct. 3, 1786; died July 18, 1832, aged 45 yrs., 9 mos., 15 days."
There was another small graveyard east of it, on the west side of the Greenbush Road, near the later intersection of Fourth and Madison streets, where there were a number of the graves of the early inhabitants of Troy.

The first public burial-ground in the village extended along the east side of Third Street, from State Street to the lot on which the First Baptist Church is built. The patroon, Jacob D. VAN DER HEYDEN, conveyed it to the trustees of the village on May 10th, 1796. Before the close of the century, it contained the graves of many of the settlers. It is said that the last interment made in it was that of the body of Platt TITUS, who died on April 30th, 1833. At first a fence of rough boards enclosed it. In 1838, the pale fence was removed, and a more ornamental picket-fence of iron was substituted.

When the ground was chosen, in 1875, for the site of the City Hall, there were one hundred and fifty-six graves still there, many of the remains having been disinterred in previous years and buried in Mount Ida and Oakwood cemeteries. All the remains found in the plat now covered by the City Hall and the pavement were removed to Oakwood Cemetery at the expense of the city. Some of the graves between the building and the First Baptist Church were not opened. Those marked by tombstones were covered with them, and the enclosed space was then evenly sodded.

Among the provisions of the village trustees for the interment of the dead was the purchase of a pall, a large black cloth, fringed with heavy cord and tasseled at the corners, used to cover the coffins carried on the village bier, a long, wooden, black-painted frame, with projecting arms and legs. A black hearse, drawn by a horse, was also provided by the trustees of the village.

To provide other ground for the burial of the dead, a meeting of the freeholders and inhabitants was held on August 25th, 1813, at Seymour's Inn. The trustees having been authorized to raise $1,250 to buy sufficient land for the purpose, Timothy HUTTON, Hugh PEEBLES and Esaias WARREN were appointed to select it. Stephen VAN RENSSELAER having stipulated to give the village three and three-fourths acres of land on the eastern declivity of Mount Ida, west of the Poesten Kill, should the trustees within two years use it for a burial-ground, the remains of George YOUNG were interred there, and the trustees were given a deed, dated January 20th, 1815, of the property. On May 27th, George TIBBITS, Gurdon CORNING, Thomas SKELDING and Dr. John LOUDON were appointed to report a plan designating the order in which graves in it should be dug and were instructed to have a part of the ground leveled. Besides the dilapidated row of vaults on the western side of this neglected burial-ground, the tombstones still standing at the head of some of the graves bear epitaphs to implore "the passing tribute of a sigh." Two small headstones preserve in rain-worn letters the following inscriptions:

  • "In memory of Mr. George YOUNG who died November 6, 1814, AE. 55 years. The subject of the above inscription is the first person whose mortal remains have been deposited in this burying-ground."
  • "William FRASER, born at Inverness, Scotland, March 25, 1753, died April 25, 1826."
The stone inscribed with the latter sentence is already "to dumb forgetfulness a prey," and soon the memory of the man, who was the first to make a public prayer in the little village of Vanderheyden, and to perform with exemplary efficiency the duties of village grave-digger and bell-ringer, and sexton of the First Presbyterian Church, will be shrouded in the oblivion of the past.

When the "burying-ground on the hill" became closely occupied with graves, the city, on January 1st, 1832, purchased twelve and three-tenths acres of land, to which was given the name of Mount Ida Cemetery, on the south side of the Poesten Kill and east of the road to Albia. On February 5th, 1835, the city sold one hundred and thirteen perches of it to the trustees of St. Peter's Roman Catholic Church, which is now known as the Old Catholic Burying Ground.

One of the most conspicuous monuments in Mount Ida Cemetery is the marble one marking the grave of Col. Albert PAWLING, who died November 10th, 1837, aged 87 years. Not far from it is a monument erected to the memory of a noted lawyer of Troy, whose intellectual gifts and personal eccentricities had great fame in the past.

  • "John BIRD, whose ashes are deposited under this marble, died on the 2d day of February, 1806, aged 37."
On another monument is inscribed:
  • "Jacob I. VANDERHEYDEN, died August 23,1801, aged 52 years."
  • "Maria VAN SCHAICK, wife of Jacob I. VANDERHEYDEN, died April 6, 1813, aged 57 years."
In another part of the cemetery is the tomb of the first treasurer of the First Presbyterian Church and the author of a number of religious works. On the headstone marking it is inscribed:
  • "Benjamin GORTON, died August 14, 1836, in the 79th year of his age. He engaged in the revolutionary struggle in 1776 and served during the war. He became a resident of Troy in 1791."

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Debby Masterson

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