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Grave concerns

Founding father Gideon Putnam
rests in his own small burial ground on Saratoga’s west side, but much of the city’s history can be traced in the monuments of Greenridge Cemetery, just off Lincoln Avenue. Consecrated in 1844, Greenridge is a splendid example of the era’s rural cemetery movement; and, true to the form, the picturesque, rolling landscape is a lovely spot for a stroll.

Among the first to be buried (or moved) here were journalist, historian, and early abolitionist William Leete Stone (1792–1844); Joshua Porter (1759–1831), first president of the village of Saratoga Springs; and John Clarke (1773–1846), who first bottled and sold Saratoga spring water.

Also here are New York State Senator Edgar T. Brackett (1853–1924), who sponsored the bill that saved the mineral springs and led to creation of the Spa State Park, and US Congressman Reuben Hyde Walworth (1788–1867), whose tragic family saga is detailed inside the Canfield Casino museum. Also in Greenridge are his son Rev. Clarence Walworth (1820–1900), a founder of the Catholic Paulist Community; daughter-in-law Ellen Hardin Walworth (1832–1913), a founder of the DAR; and her daughter Reubena Hyde Walworth (1867–1898), a nurse who died of typhoid in the Spanish American War and was buried with military honors.

The grand mausoleum of George Sherman Batcheller (1837–1908), who served on the International Tribunal in Egypt, is Egyptian Revival in design and nearly as striking as his famed Batcheller Mansion on Circular Street. A carved piano marks the elaborate monument over Obed Coleman, who died at sea while returning from a European concert tour. Architect R. Newton Brezee, designer of many late Victorian buildings in town, has only a simple stone devoid of ornament. John K. Walbridge (1870–1933), who died at his desk at the Saratogian after thirty-three years as owner and publisher, is memorialized with a plate of the next day’s front page featuring his obituary.

The famous rest in peace alongside humble trainman Willory S. McMillan (1832–1853), “killed by his engine”; the ageless Mrs. Thomas, whose stone says only “died Feb. 12, at 8:40 a.m.”; scores of Irish Catholic masons and laborers relegated to the flat Section A; and hundreds of war dead, from the Revolution forward. Civil War graves include many from Saratoga’s 77th New York Volunteer Infantry and a Corporal Alexander Hagermore (1836–1892) of the 20th Regiment US Colored Volunteers.

Back in the newer sections lie Skidmore’s first two presidents, Charles Henry Keyes (1858–1925) and Henry Moore (1886–1967); Temple Grove Seminary principal Charles F. Dowd (1825–1904); Hall of Fame jockey Lavelle “Buddy” Ensor (1900–1947); George S. Bolster (1913–1989), who chronicled and preserved Saratoga’s history in photographs; and Hattie J. Moseley (1904–1998), whose legendary fried-chicken restaurant nourished Saratoga for more than half a century.

Atop a hill rests actor Edgar “Monty” Woolley (1888–1963), who grew up in Saratoga’s Grand Union Hotel. Renowned for his role in The Man Who Came to Dinner (1942), he was known around town for grand storytelling and a gentlemanly demeanor undiminished by three martinis a day at the Gideon Putnam Hotel.

The jewel of the newest section is the lovely and understated memorial to Cornelius V. “Sonny” Whitney (1899– 1992), the self-effacing oil and railroad heir, founder of Pan Am airline, funder of Gone with the Wind, horseman, philanthropist, and husband of Saratoga society icon Marylou Whitney.

The Greenridge grounds are open dawn to dusk, and maps are available at the cemetery office on weekdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. But even an unguided ramble from front to back provides a fascinating, gentle journey through Saratoga history. —KG