Cemetery History


Albany Hebrew Cemetery (aka Waverly Jewish Cemetery) is listed in the National Register of Historic Places in the area of Ethnic Heritage for its role in recording the history of an ethnic immigrant population in the Albany area around the turn of the twentieth century. The earliest marked grave in Albany Hebrew Cemetery dates from 1877. In 1878, the Senders family deeded surrounding land to the newly organized First Hebrew Congregation of Albany. By 1924, the congregation being “few in number” could no longer care for the property, and deeded the cemetery to the Masons. In exchange for the deed and funds for maintenance, St. John’s Lodge No. 17 AF & AM agreed to maintain the cemetery in perpetuity as a Jewish burial ground. In 1980, the Masons conferred exclusive responsibility for the Jewish section to the Willamette Valley Jewish Community Burial Society, which oversees Jewish burials in this cemetery and maintenance of the grounds.

Albany Hebrew Cemetery is unique for its distinctive symbolism and its association with Western American Jewish history. The Jewish community of Albany, Oregon played an important role in the early commercial, social, and political development of Albany and vicinity. Albany Hebrew Cemetery, as the most visible and emotive reminder of this contribution, and reflects important aspects of both community and regional history. These include the diversity of immigrants, the creation of a market system of related storekeepers and peddlers in the western United States, and the preparation of the next generation for a more integrated and sophisticated economy. The cemetery also embodies the burial customs of an ethnic and cultural group whose impact on the community was significant and not well documented in other resources.

From Albany-Democrat Herald, 7-29-1980 – “…But Albany historian Lee Rohrbough is unhappy about the cemetery being disturbed. His father first took him to the cemetery when he was a boy. The senior Rohrbough’s job included making caskets for the Fortmiller Funeral Home and Furniture Store. Rohrbough remembers a circular wagon-way leading to the cemetery. The congregation had built a small house in the circle. “We went inside the house. There were some benches, and open rafters above, and suspended from the ceiling was a body-shaped casket,” said Rohrboough. Being a curious boy, he climbed up for a closer look. “The casket had no lid and no body inside,” he said.”

(Read more in the  Oregon Historic Site Record)


Glass Negative. Entrance to Albany Hebrew Cemetery (Early 20th Century)

glass negative of cemetery      glass negative of cemetery

Daniel Froehlich, the Albany Hebrew Cemetery historian, was promised the glass negative for this picture from a descendant of the photographer, whose last will and testament included
a clause that his heirs sell the negative to Daniel, and he even included a fair estimate for the price. Consequently, Daniel was able to obtain the negative for a reasonable price. Currently, the negative resides at the Oregon Jewish Museum in Portland.

Daniel Froehlich was able to have a friend make a photo from the negative, which is the photo shown here. He estimates the time of the photo at around 1910. His notes concerning the photo follow:

“Documentation confirms that there was a small building as shown in the photo.
The tall obelisk marker is that of Lizette Zuckermann, died 14 Oct., 1878.
The marker with the crown appearing top should be that of Sarah Kline Rosenthal, close behind the left gate in the image is a stone showing “died 11 Jan., 1884.” Her marker is quite distinct. The marker of Emanuel (Menachum Hebrew name) is next to his wife, the above mentioned Sarah. Emanuel died 2 July, 1885.”

“Tentatively date then, about 1890. A Kline marker, if I am correct, places the date a bit later, as he died 8 Oct., 1900. An online “history of glass negatives” says “dry glass negatives were common between the 1880s and the late 1920’s”, so a date of about 1900 could certainly be feasible.”