The First Burials in Albany Rural Cemetery- 1845

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A tall monument marked with the name “Strain” stands at the edge of a steep hill at the eastern edge of the North Ridge. It is a fairly simple tombstone by Albany marble cutter John Dixon,but an inscription on its south face tells that it marks “The First Interment In The Cemetary” (note the incorrect spelling of cemetery).

These first burials at the Rural Cemetery took place in May, 1845. Twenty-one year old David Strain died of consumption on October 24, 1844, just a few weeks after the consecration. Buried at the same time were Rebecca and Isabelle Strain. Rebecca was an infant sister who died in 1829. The records don’t indicate twenty-five year old Isabelle’s relationship to David. She may have been his paternal aunt; she died of an inflammation of the brain in 1819.

While the Cemetery had already been dedicated when he died, it was not yet completed; there was still landscaping required, new paths to be laid out, and other improvements to be made. It is likely that young David’s remains would have been placed in one of the public receiving vaults still in use at the old State Street Burying Grounds until the family plot was ready to receive him, along with Rebecca and Isabelle.

A sentimental poem later published in the Albany Argus hints that David may have gone abroad to seek a cure and reads: “Sleep on, it seems but yesterday,Thou wert in foreign lands, Where thou wert met by glowing hearts, And more than friendly hands. When all the spells their love had tried Could not thy health restore, Weary and faint, you dared the sea To reach thy home once more.”

David and Rebecca were children of Albany soap and candle manufacturer Joseph Strain. His soap and candle factory stood at 54 Church Street in Albany, his residence was a few doors away at 63 Church. The family’s summer home still stands at the corner of Broadway and McDonald Circle in Menands. For many years, it served as the Home For Aged Men.

The Strain family plot is located on what was originally called Kennisau Hill and later renamed Landscape Hill. It is now simply Lot 46, Section 6.

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