Sunday, August 29, 2010

Hudson's Cemetery

From Anna Bradbury's History of the City of Hudson, published in 1908.
In the autumn of 1784, Daniel Paddock and Cotton Gelston were appointed by the proprietors a committee to procure ground for a Cemetery. They called upon Col. Van Alen for advice and assistance and after viewing several different localities, settled upon the site of the present ground, owned by Col. Van Alen. When asked his price for four or five acres, the Colonel replied "that he would give that quantity to the proprietors to be used for a burial ground forever, and for no other purpose."

Additions have been made from time to time, and it is now of quite considerable extent, and greatly admired for the beauty of its scenery. The committee deserve credit for the selection of a spot, at once so secluded and so accessible.

The original ground is that portion first entered from the small gate, and well preserved stones mark the resting-places of Seth Jenkins, Gelston, S. Pomeroy White and many others, while beyond are scattered the brown moss-covered stones grown hoary with age, whose inscriptions are almost undecipherable.

The first person buried in this ground was Phebe, wife of Benjamin Folger, the first man who was buried there was Colonel John Van Alen, who died December 15th, 1784.

About the middle of the last century the city erected a substantial monument to his memory, bearing the following inscription:

"He was a man of strong mind and liberal heart. He took an active interest in the settlement of Hudson, was the donor of the original burying ground, and the third person buried therein."
Almost thirty years ago, in 1983, the Hudson City Cemetery--the original portion of the cemetery--was determined to be eligible for listing in the State and National Registers of Historic Places. This was confirmed in 2005 by William Krattinger, Historic Preservation Specialist with the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation: "[T]he portion of the cemetery located west of Paul Avenue and south of Columbia Turnpike was considered as the National Register-eligible portion, containing as it does a noteworthy collection of funerary art, ranging from typically late 18th century stones executed by a master carver--and embellished with winged effigies and other typical design vocabulary--to tombs, such as the Egyptian Revival-style tomb which is an outstanding reflection of American romanticism in the antebellum period and the interest in that period of utilizing Egyptian design motives in cemetery design. The cemetery would appear a virtual treasure trove for historians and enthusiasts of American funerary art, offering as it does a wealth of markers and crypts that illustrate various themes and styles within this genre."

Krattinger suggested that the State Historic Preservation Office assess the newer Cedar Park section of the cemetery because of "landscape design elements that might well have been rendered by an as-yet identified professional hand" and urged that the City of Hudson move ahead with the designation process for one or both areas, depending on the outcome of the evaluation of Cedar Park.

With the new attention to the cemetery being generated by the project to restore Sanford Gifford's grave, pursuing National Register designation for the Hudson Cemetery may be an idea whose time has come.

1 comment:

  1. I'm sorry to say I haven't walked up there lately, but I'm wondering how Phase II of Academy Hill Townhouses has impacted on the historic
    Cemetery, given it's proximity of the graves at the top of the hill.