Aaron Burr Slept Here

a 14725522_1116882888359972_4854986053856491345_nThere is a family plot at the Albany Rural Cemetery perched somewhat precariously on the Middle Ridge hill just above the Ozia Hall monument and not too far from the Samuel Schuyler lot. From the path below, it appears to be just a row of granite urns facing a tall, but otherwise unassuming marble shaft. From the hill above, though, a set of old flat gravestones can be seen laid between the granite urns and the marble shaft. The shaft reads simply “The Family of The Souldens.” One of the headstones has a very simply carved hand with its index finger pointing toward heaven. Another stone is a very pleasant discovery; a plump, winged cherub’s head framed by a lozenge and flanked by daisy finials.

Lot 22, Section 61 was deeded to an Englishman named William Soulden who was interred there in 1851, just seven years after the Cemetery opened. Several of the gravestones in the lot predate the Cemetery and were likely moved here from the State Street Burying Grounds by Soulden.
Those interred in this lot include:
Sarah A. Smith, died September 7, 1825, age 88
Catherine Eliza Soulden, died February 24, 1831, age 9
William M. Soulden, died October 23, 1835, age 19
Catherine Townsend, died May 18, 1849, age 70
Ann M. Soulden, died August 9, 1849, age 32
Louisa B. Muir, died August 13, 1849, aged 32
William Soulden, died August 21, 1851, age 64
Ann M. Soulden, died November 16, 1860, age 80
The burial cards on file unfortunately provide no other details, a common occurrence with some of the older records or relocated graves.



The family had a connection to one of Albany’s oldest and well-known buildings, a brickmansion built on Washington Street for Samuel Hill (who is buried in the Rural Cemetery’s Church Grounds section) and attributed to architect Philip Hooker (also buried in the Church Grounds). Documentation for the National Register of Historic Places gives some details:

“In 1820, the property was acquired by Sarah Smith, a widow, and her niece, Catherine Townsend and the Albany City Directories list Mrs. Sarah Smith as living in Hill’s Mansion House on Washington Street. In 1821, William Soulden is also listed as an occupant. The Townsend-Soulden family operated the large property as a boarding house, with Aaron Burr having been among their guests in 1824. When Sarah Smith died in 1825, she bequeathed the house to Catherine Townsend and William Soulden, in trust for another neice, Ann Maria, the wife of Soulden. William and Ann Soulden owned the property until 1827.”

As noted, Aaron Burr a resident at the Soulden House (also refered to as the Selden House) while looking after some legal matters two decades after shooting Alexander Hamilton in the infamous duel. Earlier in his career, Burr had a law office in Albany.e14567993_1116883601693234_3728131552865385156_n

The old Soulden House still stands on Washington Avenue and is quite familiar to many as the Fort Orange Club.


Albany Rural Cemetery’s Alexander Hamilton Connections

“We rowed across the Hudson at dawn.”

The Hamilton-Burr Duel took place on this date – July 11, 1804. While Hamilton is buried in Manhattan’s Trinity Churchyard, the Albany Rural Cemetery has several ties to the infamous duel.

Alexander Hamilton was, of course, married to Elizabeth (Eliza) Schuyler, daughter of one of Albany’s best known historical figures. General Philip Schuyler, who lost his 1791 Congressional re-election bid to Aaron Burr, died just four months after his son-in-law was killed. After having his grave moved several times over the years, he was laid to rest at Albany Rural in Lot 66, Section 29.

Eliza’s sister, Margaret “Peggy” Schuyler eloped with the young Patroon, Stephen Van Rensselaer. She died at the age of 42 in 1801. She is buried in the Van Rensselaer vault in Lot 1, Section 14. Fans of the musical, Hamilton: An American Musical sometimes leave notes, flowers, and coins on the monument.

John Tayler, who served as Governor of New York for four months in 1817, and his son-in-law, Dr. Charles D. Cooper, are both buried in a family plot in Lot 15, Section 19. The comments by Hamilton which ultimately led to the duel were made at a dinner at John Tayler’s home and were reported to the Albany Evening Register (and reprinted in the New York Post) in a letter by Dr. Cooper. General Schuyler, who was also at the dinner with Hamilton, refuted the remarks in his own letters to both papers, but it did not prevent the duel.

Two decades after the duel, Aaron Burr resided in the mansion-turned-boarding house which today houses the Fort Orange Club. At the time, it was owned by the Soulden family. They are buried in Lot 22, Section 61.

General Philip Schuyler, Lot 66, Section 29
Margaret “Peggy” Schuyler Van Rensselaer, Lot 1, Section 14
John Tayler and Dr. Charles D. Cooper, Lot 15, Section 19


From Paula Lemire’s Facebook PageĀ  Albany Rural Cemetery – Beyond the Graves