Nancy Andrews, Professional Photographer
Although the large cemetery is congested, she has an ideal spot under the trees to shade her, and open space to sit for a visit. Despite the nearby road, it is very quiet and peaceful. It was a hot late-July day, but sitting in her shady spot was comfy.
After a few minutes of resting with Parcella, a baby woodchuck came out from the woods — probably, about 20 feet from me. I had just begun to admire his cuteness when he went back into the woods.
I would speak to Parcella, and each time I said something, the wind picked up a little, as if she was acknowledging me being there. There’s a spinning pinwheel at her grave that someone left as a remembrance, and it was spinning in the wind. I sat with her for a good 10 to 15 minutes. As I was leaving, I saw a butterfly, which hopefully was a sign of her thanking me for the visit.
I spent some time trying to figure out what her grave marker said. Sadly, time has eroded it away — a little bit. It took some time but I was able to translate it. I may go back and do a rubbing sometime.
whose unknown parents
sent the little body by
mail to an Albany undertaker
Nov. 20, 1922
buried here through the
kindness of individuals
Nov. 27, 1922″
Excerpt from the August 9, 1960 remembrance article (below), by Dick Weber:
“On the Monday afternoon of Nov. 20, 1922, a mailman came to the front door of the A.B. Kiernan Funeral Home…and delivered a package. [An] employee pulled the end off the package…inside was the nude body of a tiny girl. On the body lay a $5 bill.
The Police and a physician were called.
Finger marks on the baby’s mouth indicated someone had pressed a hand over her nose and mouth. Police began an intensive search. The detectives considered the date on a particular piece of newspaper…[that] had the brown mark of a flat iron on it, indicating it had been used around the house for a day before it was used as wrapping [for the baby’s body].
On the third day of the investigation, they learned the parcel had been sent from a subpost office…just three blocks away from the…funeral parlor.
[A witness at the subpost office] said he had overheard a conversation between an American girl with light hair and the…postmaster.
…the girl…said…”It is a package of laundry.”
The discovery led nowhere.
The coroner gave her a name, Parcella Post because the way she was sent to the undertaker was the only clue to her origin.
Mr. Kiernan announced he would hold funeral services for the baby.
By the week’s end, more than 200 women had filed into the parlors to view the tiny dead child.
…Mr. Kiernan himself provided a little white, glass-covered casket. Mrs. Kiernan sewed a white dress for the infant.
Neighborhood women gathered funds for funeral sprays of flowers. The superintendent of Graceland Cemetery provided a plot in a far corner of the infant’s section.
A volunteer subscription was started to raise money for a grave marker.
Two men offered to loan large cars to carry the mourners to the graveside.
At the grave, city detectives hovered in the background, keeping close watch on all visitors with the hope that…the identity of the mother [would be revealed]. There were no women at the grave.”
The Knickerbocker News – Albany, NY – Tuesday, August 9, 1960 (Courtesy of fultonhistory.com)
“In 1965 a car drove into the Graceland and asked where her stone was. They left flowers on the grave site, but no one thought to question the occupants in the car until after they were gone. People still adorn her grave site with toys, flowers and notes. …If she were alive today, she would be 89 years old. What would she have done with her life?”
643 Delaware Avenue
Albany, NY 12209
THINGS TO BE MINDFUL OF
I went to the cemetery’s office to get a map so that I could find the grave of Parcella Post. The staff were kind of unprofessional about it. They kept saying to each other “oh she’s trying to find the ghost”. I replied “No, I’m not. I just want to visit her.”
Reviewing Graceland Cemetery’s directory reveals pages upon pages of infants buried throughout the cemetery. Most during the Victorian era, 1920s and 30s. Parcella is buried in the special infant section where there are many other babies who lack names. It’s quite heartbreaking and if you stop by to visit Parcella, please consider some kind words and thoughts for the others.
Nancy lives in NY’s Capital District with her partner, Dave, and their toy-hoarding rescue pup, Macy.
When she isn’t behind the camera, she’s competing in obstacle races, playing roller derby and befriending squirrels.
She is a frequent, and valued, contributor to The Dreamy Idealist.
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Macy and Nancy (Photo by Times Union Photographer, Lori Van Buren)
(Photos by Nancy Andrews, unless otherwise noted.)