In part of my adventure I visited the Vale Cemetery in Schenectady, New York. It’s one of the largest in all of Schenectady and it was opened in October 1857.
But how does one open a cemetery? Is it like one of those openings that is actually a ending of one’s life? I mean, honestly. How does that happen!?
It was actually all put together because of the old burial grounds that was used started getting run down, there’s a joke there somewhere. And so the town along with help from the Union College president, Dr. Eliphalet Nott, who for visitors and people who live in and around the area will notice a lot of areas named after Dr. Nott. A man who would eventually be laid to rest in the cemetery only a few months after the completion. Later the First Reformed Church also donated land to help with the creation of the cemetery, providing a second entrance.
According to the Vale Cemetery website, Burton Thomas and John Doyle designed a park-like landscape with pastoral vistas. Adding more than 1,000 trees of various species were planted. The cemetery was dedicated on Oct. 21, 1857, by Rev. Julius Seelye. Seelye was the pastor of the First Dutch Reformed Church in Schenectady, he had received his doctor of Divinity degree from Union in 1862. And would later become the president of Amherst College.
But you will notice I didn’t take any pictures of the outside of this cemetery, so I didn’t get a welcome to Vale Cemetery. Mainly because of it’s current location. Because it’s well, in a bad part of town. A part of town in which I actually lived in for a few years in my childhood. Thus making it actually less scary inside the cemetery, now that’s a first right!?
I took a bunch of pictures, inside the cemetery fence, as I mentioned earlier. I went looking for a few graves, but I’m quite terrible at searching out a grave. So I’ll just talk about the graves I did find, and took pictures of.
First I’m going to mention that there are numerous parts of this cemetery that have either been vandalized or have been left to rot. These are a sad state of affairs, as you can see that numerous tombstones have either been knocked over or gravity and time have done a toll on them. It’s a shame, that this is allowed to happen. Sadly, who’s going to stand up for the dead.
I thought this was interesting, so I took a picture, it’s my mother’s maiden name. The Hastings are a more popular family than my Hachey side, although we’re pretty big in Canada.
This cemetery could use a good cleaning and the overall upkeep as I have previously mentioned has gone away. There are some very famous people buried here and Schenectady at one time was a popular place to live. Sadly like this cemetery, it’s a thing of the past. As the entire area has been filled with crime and overwhelmed with poverty.
Here is a location within the cemetery commonly referred to as the African-American Burying Ground. It’s a location that was once previously somewhere else in Schenectady called Hamilton Hill but Judge Alonzo C. Paige purchased that area for real estate development. At his expense he purchased space in Vale and had the remains re-interred at his expense. Shockingly his action protected the graves, as people had disturbed the graves on the hill by removing sandy soil for cement making.
Here are some more graves. I had visited this cemetery on December 12, 2015 and it’s quite shocking how the lack of snow made it quite easier to view the graves.
Here is the Fronk family, the matriarch Frank was born in Minaville, New York in 1948 and passed away the day after the Fourth of July in 1927. His wife Della died ten years later. Along with these Fronk’s there are four others buried here.
This angel grave is of the Steinfuhrer family, featuring Ernest A.F. Steinfuhrer along with his wife. This grave is located in section J39, I will share a link to the Vale Cemetery website at the bottom of this which includes a map to this grave.
As you can see this was prior to Christmas, and these graves were nicely decorated. I also found it interesting that these trees were either planted around the grave or the grave stone was erected in between, not quite sure. John Baird and his wife Leona, John passed away in 1965 while Leona lived on to 1991 dying 4 years shy of her 100th birthday.
These two interesting grave stones are of Jacob Daum Sr. and William Daum. By their dates of birth one could assume they are father and son as Jacob was born June 3rd 1802 and William was born July 11th, 1830. William’s death seems to have happened before his father’s, while the date is hard to read, Jacob passed away in 1859.
Here is the grave of Clarissa Putnam. I’m not too positive but I believe it’s the same one who is famous for the Clarissa Putnam House as in this blog from New York History Blog. And was the main story in this book Clarissa Putnam Of Tribes Hill by John J. Vrooman.
Here is a secret location, I’m not sure what who it was for, or if it’s a special location. But the one quote says “Some Are Fallen Asleep.” I will have to visit again to find out more about this location, as it does indeed look interesting.
These are grave stones from the 1800’s, it’s numerous members of the Clute family. According to FindAGrave there are over 70 members of this family buried within the confines of Vale Cemetery.
There’s also a section within the Vale Cemetery dedicated to bird watching and there’s numerous amounts of birds that come and visit the cemetery. Obviously for those who are interested more in the living than the dead.
Next is this, as you can see this cemetery plot has been beheaded which is downright disgusting. There is no need for this, the Gates family and various other families have spent a lot of money if not their entire life savings on mourning the loss of a loved one, there’s no reason to deface it like this. People who do this should be punished severely, but sadly there’s really not much within the confines of the law, I mean, yes, there’s laws against grave robbing and all, but not too much about this. Yes, there are small things, but not major.
And if you do see someone you can always call the cemetery or the police. But then again, imagine if I was running a cemetery and caught someone vandalizing. I think there would be a six foot hole just for them.
All and all, the Vale Cemetery is a historic and has it’s charm. Yet, the location currently is well, not the safest. I was afraid to even get a picture of the sign welcoming you to the cemetery because it’s located in a area in Schenectady that has a high crime rate.
While most of Schenectady gets a bad image because of these few blights, they have been working to improve that. There’s also a lot of locations in Schenectady that are great to visit such as this one as well as Jay Street, Central Park as well as others.
For those who enjoyed this here follow along with some of the information I used as well as reading up on various other things about Vale Cemetery: