of St. John’s Church Showing Current Condition
1878 and 1879, the Albany City Council ordered that no further burials
were to be made in St. John’s Cemetery. Burials, however,
continued as late as 1888-1890. Reinterments from St. John’s
started in the early 1900’s.
Many of the people interred there were reinterred to the new Calvary
Cemetery, while others were reinterred to St. Agnes Cemetery in
Menands, St. John’s Cemetery in Rensselaer or to other area
Richard Power – Interred in St. John’s on
April 24, 1842. Stone and remains now at Calvary Cemetery.
In Memory Of
March ? 1842
May He Rest in Peace
Erected By His
to an 1880 newspaper article, upwards of 21,000 people had been
interred in St. John’s Cemetery. It is interesting to note
that as late as September 2009 a number of skeletons and coffins
were uncovered at the former cemetery site during work on Delaware
Avenue Today – Former Site of St. John’s Cemetery
has been widely reported that the interment records for St. John’s
Cemetery were lost or destroyed. However, the historian of St. Agnes
Cemetery in Menands, in a chance conversation, found that a retired
Calvary Cemetery employee was in possession of the St. John’s
interment book which she promptly recovered. The binding of the
book is rotted and the loose leaf pages were in disarray and some
pages were missing. A number of pages also were quite stained and
a few had crumbled edges where some information was lost. However,
scanning of the pages did provide a good enough image to allow the
transcribing of this extremely important historical data. The book
is now with a preservation company which will stabilize the fragile
The 12,731 entries in the recovered book start with interments in
August 1841 and go through September of 1887. During the 46 years
of record keeping for this interment book, there have been several
recorders employed by the cemetery, each of which filled out the
entries in a different manner.
One of the recorders named M. Murray made a beautiful ink and colored
drawing shown below on one of the pages in March, 1854. The drawing
shows an angel head with wings (Soul Effigy), an Irish harp and
green shamrocks, a candle holder and cross along with prayers including
the Hail Mary and the Our Father.
The preprinted column headings on the interment book were for parent's
names, name of deceased, date of interment, county of residence,
country of residence, place of death and grave location. In the
beginning years all the pages were filled out correctly and the
entries in each column reflected the pre-printed heading. Then in
later years the recorders ignored the pre-printed column headings.
Entries on some pages had the cause of death or the address of the
deceased written across all columns on the page. Quite a few pages
had no entries at all in many of the pre-printed columns.
The one item in this interment book that will delight genealogy
researchers is the identification of the County in Ireland where
many of the individuals came from. Generally in researching old
records for Irish immigrants you only see the words Ireland
and nothing further.
breakdown of the Irish immigrants show the following:
countries of origin identified in the interment records shows the
Canada 89, England 30, France 8, Germany 198, Holland 7,
Poland 2, Scotland
6, Spain 1, Wales 2
identified are individuals from the following states; California,
Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Maryland,
Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania,
Vermont and Virginia.
As would be expected, Albany with a total of 5,815 records was shown
as the county of origin for the largest number of individuals. Of
course this figure includes the second and third generations of
those early Irish immigrants. As you look at the alphabetical listings
of the surnames you would think you were looking at a current Irish
A smaller number of records shows one or two individuals from all
over New York State cities, towns and counties while three locations
show a heavier concentration; Rensselaer with 106, Greenbush with
77, and New York City with 63.
The place of death information was only reported for 9,447 entries
with Albany being the predominant death location reported. It is
more than likely that Albany was also the place of death for the
majority of the 3,284 entries where no place of death was indicated.
A Remarks column has been added to the transcribed records
to show the extraneous entries that were made on the pages which
did not follow the pre-printed column heading. These entries cover
items such as address of deceased, cause of death, free grave, died
in the poor house, private or no baptism, reinterment from another
cemetery, interment in lot owned by other individuals or in Potters
Field, etc. Of particular interest is that 189 individuals are identified
as cholera victims during two outbreaks in Albany in 1849 and 1854.
Then there are the over 46 young children that Died of Teeth.
A few reinterments from St. Mary’s Cemetery in Albany are
PROJECTS on the TIGS website you can read more about the
closing of St. Mary’s Cemetery, currently the site of Albany
High School on Washington Avenue as well as the closing of the State
Street Burial Grounds, currently the site of Washington Park.
There were 190 records, mostly of still born children, identified
as Unknown. On forty-six of these records, the given names
of the parents was reported but the recorder did not enter the family
surname in the interment book.
reviewing the individual pages of the St. John’s Interment
Book, it was quite apparent that several family members were interred
on the same date or within days of each other. As this obvious relationship
would not be so apparent when all 12,731 records were merged together,
a notation about this was made in the Remarks column. The
data base created from this amazing long lost historical document,
from a cemetery that had interments over 173 years ago and that
has been closed and has not existed for over 100 years, is a genealogists
dream come true.
Index of 12,731 Interment Records St. John’s Cemetery,
Albany, New York 1841 to 1887