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Slingerland Family Burial Vault Is Rededicated

The Slingerland Family Burial Vault
Dave Lucas / WAMC
The Slingerland Family Burial Vault

A piece of Albany County history was in the spotlight Wednesday.

Descendants of the Slingerland family were joined by neighbors and elected officials representing the Bethlehem hamlet of Slingerlands Wednesday as the Slingerland Family Burial Vault was rededicated.

Frank Slingerland is a fifth cousin of those entombed.

"We can trace our lineage back to 1654 when the first Slingerland came over, that's Teunis Slingerland, came over from Holland, and they were all farmers back then. They had to pay the patroons to farm the land, but eventually the patroon era disappeared and they became their own farmers and they owned their own land. And from that, they established communities and, and worked the land, and the rest is history."

John I. Slingerland
John I. Slingerland

John I. Slingerland was a farmer, businessman, and politician. During the 1840s he served in both the New York State Assembly and the U.S. House.

According to The Friends of the Slingerland Family Burial Vault, in 1790 John A. (John I.'s father) was the first family member to take up residence in what is today Slingerlands. His body was likely moved to the vault in 1852. Other family members followed, the last body interred in the vault in 1914. As time moved on, the vault became more and more neglected. In the 1990s serious efforts began to restore the site. Town Historian Susan Leath:

"It's a place to enjoy and kind of invite some quiet kind of contemplation of our history and those who have come before us. And it's also an educational resource. It was my pleasure last spring to have every single fourth grader from Slingerland Elementary School walked over here. And I was able to connect what they're learning in the classroom to actual individual people who lived right here."

The vault stonework has been fully restored, with a new inscribed tablet and stainless steel door. Various donations and grants over the years totaling more than $100,000 led up to the vault's present restoration phase, with more improvements to come. Officials believe the site will attract visitors from the nearby railtrail. Rev. Chris Vande Bunte re-dedicated the vault. He pastors Delmar Reformed Church, the same church that dedicated the Vault back in 1852.

"In a time like this of recognizing our mortality, we pray that you would help all of us to have the hope of something new to come. We join in thanksgiving for all of those who have offered time, expertise and funding to make this day possible, as we pray that those entombed here may continue to rest in peace for many years to come. Amen."


Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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