I have previously asked several questions about my 4th great grandfather Hugh Sellars/Sillars that included Finding Naturalization Record for Hugh Sellars from Scotland who lived in Albany (New York State) 1855-1872?

Today I was alerted to a new record set by Ancestry.com:

Ancestry.com. New York, Wills and Probate Records, 1659-1999 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2015. Original data: New York County, District and Probate Courts.

I have not found Hugh there, but I did find three entries for his second wife Mary related to the same probate and then a burial record for her at:

Ancestry.com. Menands, New York, Albany Rural Cemetery Burial Cards, 1791-2011 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011. Original data: Albany Rural Cemetery Internment Cards. Menands, New York: Albany Rural Cemetery.

From those records I now know that:

  • Mary died on 24 Apr 1872 at Albany with her last residence given as 311 Washington Ave (which is where their Variety Store was located). She was buried on 26 Apr 1872 at Menands (Albany Rural Cemetery) in Lot 32, Section 103 which was the Lot of Hugh Sellars. She was aged 67 and born in Devon, England.
  • On 7 May 1872 Caroline Paleur, a daughter of Mary Sellars (who died intestate), was granted the administration of her mother's goods, chattels and credits. I was not previously aware of this daughter but the 1865 New York State Census recorded that she had 4 children, and this is the first of those that I have been able to find.

There is no mention of Hugh in the probate, but the 1872 Albany Directories records him with a Variety Store and house at 311 Washington Ave which suggests he had been living with Mary until at least close to when she died. That is the last time he appears in those directories, and the last record that I have of him.

Given the above, what might be inferred from the following on Mary's burial record ...

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Does it simply mean that Hugh bought the Lot? Does it mean that Hugh was the first occupant of the Lot? If the latter then it is odd that Mary can be found using http://albanyruralcemetery.org/search-arc/ but Hugh cannot.

As a postscript to this Q&A I contacted the cemetery Registrar as suggested in this answer and, unfortunately, learned that they do not have a copy of the deed to this lot in their files.

3 Answers 3


I do research on Albany Rural Cemetery burials on a very frequent basis.

The phrase "In whose lot interred" on the Albany Rural Cemetery burial index cards always refers to the person whose name is recorded on the lot deed (as in whomever purchased the lot). The party would not have to be living to be listed as the owner of the lot. The ownership of the lot would pass to whomever was named as an heir, but the name on file would be the original purchaser of the deed.

If you contact the Cemetery and give them the lot/section number, they will have a copy of the deed on file. There is usually a minimal cost for copying and mailing.

Burial cards with the notation "This record made from the lot" or a similar phrase means that the name, date, age, and other information on the card was copied from the headstone, often years after the interment was done. In some cases, it means all of the information, but in other cases partial or additional data to supplement what was already recorded in the burial books and card files (for example, the name might have already been on the index card, but the date of death or maiden name might have been added after examining the headstone). If the person was not actually buried in the Cemetery, but listed on the headstone or monument, the card would usually include a note stating something like the following examples: "buried at sea" or "cenotaph - ashed scattered at California" or "inscription only - buried with spouse at St. Mary's."

Some burial index cards contain a letter and number at the upper right which indicates there is additional information on file in the office. None of the cards for the individuals buried in this lot have such a number which means there might not be anything else on file besides a copy of the deed.

The lack of a burial record implies that Hugh indeed purchased the lot, but is not buried there himself or that he was buried there, but there is no burial card (an omission that does occasionally occur). Some burial cards were, as noted above, prepared entirely from inscriptions on the stones at some point well after the original burials. If there was no headstone or the headstone was lost or illegible, it could account for the lack of an index card.

Also, the two catalogues of lot proprietors mentioned in a previous answer are just that - lists of owners. They do not list the individuals buried in the lots, only the name on the deed.

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    – Jan Murphy
    Commented Sep 18, 2015 at 21:52
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    It is great to get an answer from someone experienced with working with this particular set of records. I will edit my answer to remove my false assumption that the grave proprietor had to be alive to be recorded as such on the burial card.
    – Harry V.
    Commented Sep 18, 2015 at 22:04
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    Many thanks for your much appreciated answer. I am hoping that @vervet will understand me changing my Accept tick to your answer because I am very keen to see your experience join our community and want to reward your first effort.
    – PolyGeo
    Commented Sep 19, 2015 at 3:49
  • Unfortunately, when I contacted the cemetery the Registrar replied to say that they do not have a copy of the deed to this lot in their files :-(
    – PolyGeo
    Commented Sep 28, 2015 at 23:37

I agree that there can be little doubt that "In Whose Lot Interred" refers to the proprietor of the lot.

A search on the Albany Rural Cemetery website, entering only the section number 103 as my search parameter, made it possible to locate the other people buried in the same plot. In section 103, lot 32 are buried:

  • Harriet Forster, d. 29 Nov 1874
  • Caroline Palmer, d. 4 Sep 1874
  • William Palmer, d. 19 Jul 1881
  • William Palmer, d. 20 Dec 1884 (Note this William may not have actually been buried in the cemetery as his burial card record was made from the lot, i.e. memorial inscription, rather than a burial record.)

Caroline Palmer is surely the daughter of Mary you interpreted as 'Caroline Paleur'.

The burial cards for these individuals also all indicate that Hugh Sellars/Sellers was the lot proprietor.

Two books that may shed further light on the plot ownership:

  • This has been incredibly helpful to me. I originally thought Palmer when I saw Caroline's name handwritten in several places but in one it seemed to be a slightly clearer Paleur so now I will go back to Palmer. However, the bigger breaks are that I recognized Harriet Forster/Foster from Hugh and Mary's 1855 and 1865 census households as 32 yo Harriet Martin and 44 yo Harriet Foster respectively. Harriet appears to have a 3 yo daughter Caroline Foster in the 1865 census too. I think I may now be very close to identifying Mary via her children and grandchildren.
    – PolyGeo
    Commented Sep 12, 2015 at 22:19

For those who haven't yet visited the website of the Albany Rural Cemetery -- the site has other resources besides the search box that allows you to directly search for people who might be interred there.

Of particular instance in this case: Churchill's 1858 Guidebook which has in its front matter a section of rules and regulations about what can be done with the lots, and when people can visit. Two excerpts from this section (page 4 of the PDF) are quoted below:

Under Rules and Regulations. on the left-hand side of the page:

II. The proprietor of each lot shall have the right to erect any proper stones, monuments, or sepulchral structures thereon, (except that no slab shall be set in any other than a horizontal position), and to cultivate trees, shrubs and plants in the same; but no tree growing within the lot or border, shall be cut down or destroyed without the consent of the trustees.

Under Rules Concerning Visitors on the right-hand side of the page:

Each proprietor of a lot will be entitled to a ticket of admission into the Cemetery with a vehicle, under the following regulations, the violation of which, or a loan of a the ticket, involves a forfeiture of the privilege:

I suspect that "in whose lot interred" may be a reference to the owner of the lot (in their terms, the lot proprietor). Perhaps this could be confirmed by cross-checking the database for other married couples who are buried there. But it might be easiest to use the Contact Us form on the website to ask them what information is generally stored in that field.

See the page on Family/Genealogy Research for the services they offer, which include copies of plot maps.

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