Back on June 5th, 2005, the remains of more than a dozen 18th Century African slaves were found buried at the former Capital Region estate of the Schuyler Family, which was known as Schuyler Flatts. They were discovered during construction work in the Town of Colonie, Albany County, NY off Route 32 near Menands/Watervliet.
Archaeologists studying this unmarked burial ground “discovered 13 sets of remains plus another set of remains was found in 1998.”
In 2010, bioarchaeological analysis was completed by the NYS Museum. The analyses determined that the remains are about 200 years old and represent 6 women, 1 man, 2 children, and five infants.
DNA analysis concluded that four of the individuals are of African descent. (West/East and Central Africa) Two sets of remains are descendants of women from Madagascar (off the coast of Southeast Africa). One individual, who may have been of mixed ancestry, was descendant from a Native American woman (possibly Micmac Tribe: Eastern Canada and the Northeastern corner of the United States).
The burial ground was dated between the 1700s and early 1800s. Historical research indicates that the burial ground was part of a large estate owned by the colonial Schuyler family who owned a number of slaves in the 18th and 19th centuries.
Yes, this would be the same Schuyler family that Alexander Hamilton married into.
From a Times Union story by Paul Grondahl, which contains lots of details about the Schuylers: “In 1790, there were 217 households in Albany County that owned five or more slaves of African descent, a portion of the county’s 3,722 slaves, the most of any county among New York state’s 21,193 slaves counted in that year’s census.”
The graphic below is actually of the enslaved people in ALL of New York State.
“The bones [of the 14] rested on a shelf at the State Museum for the past 10 years while researchers pieced together what limited information they could using DNA analysis. Their names were never recorded and virtually nothing is known about their history.”
The Schuyler Flatts Burial Ground Project is organizing an official interment of the remains of the fourteen, in order for these people to be buried with dignity and respect, even as work is being done to try to find other remains.
The Remains Will Lie in State
June 17, 2016 12pm-8pm
Schuyler Mansion State Historic Site, 32 Catherine St, Albany
June 18, 2016 11am-12pm
St Agnes Cemetery, 48 Cemetery Ave (off Broadway), Menands
About the symbol: Sankofa is a word in the Akan language of Ghana that translates as “reach back and get it” (san – to return; ko – to go; fa – to fetch, to seek and take) and also refers to the Asante Adinkra symbol. Sankofa is often associated with the proverb, “Se wo were fi na wosankofa a yenkyi,” which translates as: “It is not wrong to go back for that which you have forgotten.”