20 August 2015

Former Albany Recreational Areas

The following is taken from a sub chapter in my 2005 SUNY Masters Thesis, From Acceptance to Renunication: Das Ende von Albanys Deutschtum. A few weeks back on the Facebook page, "Albany, the way it was" there were discussions about the former Dobler Park which was located in the vicinity of Hoffman and Second Avenues. This article will give a brief description of the various picnic spots that were popular in Albany in years past.

Below is a portion of a map from the City Atlas of Albany, New York, 1876 showing picnic grounds off Second Avenue in the center of the photo.







The area west of Second Avenue and Garden Street extending out to the Delaware Turnpike, now Avenue, was known as Blackman’s Farm and also Blackman’s Bush.  The name eventually changed to Colling’s Grove after Leonard Colling purchased 25.9 acres for $5,000 in 1868.  Still, later came another name change to Dobler Park, after the Dobler Brewing Company purchased the land in 1899.  The park became an enormously popular picnic ground for the German element until the land was sold in 1909 and sub-divided into building lots.  In 1903 and 1904, Fritz Erhardt operated a saloon on the premises of Dobler Park before becoming the proprietor of Shafer’s Grove in 1905.  According to city historian Virginia Bowers, parades and picnics were common in the “South End” of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries; many would start at the bottom of Second Avenue and South Pearl Street and proceed up Second Avenue to Colling’s Grove, where food, drink, music, and dance was enjoyed by all.  The annual German “Schwabenfest” of the Schwabenverein was also held each summer on these picnic grounds. 
On September 19, 1904, Albany’s first annual Deutsch Tag or German Day was held at Dobler Park and was “an unqualified success.”[1] The night before, the German Hall Association arranged an enormous vocal and instrumental concert at the Harmanus Bleecker Hall to inaugurate the first Deutsch Tag.  A children’s chorus of 250 voices, a male chorus of 120, and a mixed chorus of 250 entertained the German citizens of Albany throughout the night.  The Albany Argus praised the German concert, stating, “…yet it was nevertheless distinctively an Albany audience, the Germans have become so thoroughly assimilated in the civilization of the new world that all, whether born here or in the Fatherland, are Americans.”[2] German Day celebrated the arrival of the “German Mayflower,” the Concord, and the subsequent establishment of the first German colony in America at Germantown, Pennsylvania.  The colony was established on October 6, 1683 by Franz Daniel Pastorius and was composed of mainly religious refugees from the Palatinate.  On August 28, 1905 and August 13, 1906, German Day celebrations were also held at Dobler Park.  The third annual German Day of 1906 saw over four thousand people attend the festivities.  The celebrations included a parade in the morning, a picnic, and a field day at the park, both in the afternoon and evening.  At the fest, confirming the importance and industriousness of the German people, the Times Union proclaimed; “There is no city in this broad land which owes more to the sturdy descendants of the land of the Rhine than does Albany.”[3]
Another picnic area popular among the Germans was the vicinity south of Dobler Park, known as Schaller’s Grove.  The grove was established in 1903 and was used until the early 1950s when New York State procured the land for the New York State Thruway.[4] A smaller recreational area east of Dobler Park was Grandview Park, off lower Second Avenue, circa 1912.  Around 1914, northwest of Dobler Park another picnic ground popular with the German element was Marshall’s Grove, located on Delaware Avenue.  The German Holy Cross parish held picnics and field days at this locale.[5]




[1] Times Union, September 17, 1904, 6:2; September 19, 1904, 1:2. Albany Argus, September 19, 1904, 8:1; September 20, 1904, 3:3.
[2] Albany Argus, September 19, 1904, 2:4.
[3] Times Union, August 13, 1906, 1:6; July 21, 1906, 2:3.
[4] Knickerbocker News, July 25, 1960, 9A:1. Bowers, “The Texture of a Neighborhood,” p. 208.
[5] Times Union, July 20, 1914, 6:3.

19 August 2015

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Capt. Andrew Meneely Hitchcock

This week's ancestor biography is on Captain Andrew Meneely Hitchcock. Older brother of my great great great great grandfather, Aistroppe Robinson Hitchcock. Yes, I would like to find out why the named my ancestor Aistroppe. No wonder why he went by Robert. My Hitchcock ancestors were originally from Westchester County and in the early 1800s they moved to West Troy; now Watervliet. Also, numerous Hitchcock men were river people. They worked on the Hudson as pilots and Captains on river sloops, schooners, and steamboats.

Andrew Meneely Hitchcock was born in West Troy on 16 February 1808. He was the oldest son of Captain James Hitchcock (1785-1858) and Peggy Meneely (c. 1790-a. 1818). Andrew was named after his maternal grandfather Andrew James Meneely. He was also baptized at the First Presbyterian Church of Troy on 01 May 1808. Andrew's siblings included:

  • Aistroppe Robinson (1810-1876) married Margaret Ann Sickman
  • Alexander (1812-1871) married Abigail Irena Hanks
  • Marian (1814-      )
  • James Harvey (1816-1894) married Juliette Harriet Fuller
  • Eleanor Levina (1818-    )
On 11 August 1831, Andrew married Charlotte Crowner at the Reformed Protestant Dutch Church at Gibbonsville. Andrew and Charlotte's children included:
  • Barbara Helen (1834-1922) married Dr. William Ogden McDonald
  • Oscar Meneely (1838-1908) married Mary P. Platt
  • Richard Crowner (1846-1880)
  • Charlotte (1858-1871)
Their first three children were born in West Troy. Then the family moved to Brooklyn. Perhaps to be closer to the New York harbor shipping industry. Captain Hitchcock died on 21 March 1883. He was long associated with Hudson River as the below obituaries state.

From the Daily Brooklyn Eagle, 22 March 1883, 3:7

Captain Andrew M Hitchcock, the oldest surviving steamboat captain on the North River and one of the best known men connected with the inland transportation service, died early yesterday morning at his home, No. 427 Sixth street, in this city, in his 76th year.  Captain Hitchcock possessed a strong and vigorous constitution, and enjoyed excellent health until Ash Wednesday, February 9, when he was stricken by an attack of Bright's disease of the kidneys.  He rallied at times and it was hoped by his many friends that he would recover, but advanced years and the strain incidental by the long and active business pursuit in which he had been engaged, proved too much to contend against and his illness eventually terminated in death.  He was born in West Troy on February16, 1808, and commenced life on the river at the early age of 11 years as a cabin boy.  Working hard and not shrinking from taking his part in the "rough and tumble" peculiar to his occupation, he soon earned the esteem of his captain and employers and was promoted to the office of cook.  From this station he was advanced to that of mate, and from mate to captain, which position he filled with admirable ability and to the satisfaction of all with whom he had commercial transactions.  He commanded at various time the steamboats Oliver Ellsworth, Commerce, Trojan, John W. Mason, Jenny Lind, Oregon, Mercury, Koscisko and others, which were famous in their days as models of floating architecture.  His career was full of exciting and novel scenes and would furnish excellent material for a volume of abscribing interest.  In the course of his sixty-five years experience became acquainted with many of the most prominent men of the time and the name of Captain "Neely, by which he was popularly known to merchants and tourists was "as familiar as household words."  In consequence of being the oldest captain on the river, he was selected to carry President Lincoln and Cabinet during the Summer of 1863 or '64 on his boat River Queen, to Albany, whom the party made an excursion to the Capital city of the Empire State.  Captain Hitchcock was highly esteemed as a man for his sterling honesty and for the ability with which he discharged the duties devolving upon him.  He leaves a son and daughter, both of whom are married, and a circle of friends whose name is legion.  His funeral will take place from his late residence tomorrow afternoon at 4 o'clock.  the internment will be in the Albany Rural Cemetery.  the flags on all the Hudson River boats were raised at half mast as a tribute to his memory, immediately upon the receipt of the news of his death.

From the New York Times, 23 March 1883


CAPT. ANDREW M. HITCHCOCK.
Capt. Andrew M. Hitchcock, the oldest Captain on the North River, died yesterday morning at the residence of his son, No. 426 Sixth-street, South Brooklyn, of Bright's disease of the kidneys, from which he had been suffering for the past two years. Capt. Hitchcock, who was known familiarly by the name of "Capt. Kneely" at every landing place between this city and Albany, commanded steam-boats on the Hudson for more than 50 consecutive years, and was known and steamed by hundreds of river men.  He was born in West Troy Feb. 16, 1808. and was 75 years old at the time of his death.  He removed to this City when a boy and begun to work on the North River boats when but 12 years old.  At the age of 21 he became the Captain of a river steamer running between this City and Albany. and continued to command boats on the Hudson until about two years ago, when he was compelled to retire from business on account of ill health.  During his more than half a century of active work as Captain he commanded, among others steamers, the Oliver Ellsworth, Swiftsure, Commerce, Trojan, Anna, Kosciusko, Alida, Ontario, and Hero.  He was in command of the River Queen when President Lincoln and his Cabinet made a trip to Albany in her.  Capt. Hitchcock leaves a son and daughter, both of whom are married. The funeral services will be held at the residence of his son, No. 426 Sixth-street, South Brooklyn, tomorrow afternoon at 4 o'clock.  The interment will be in the Rural Cemetery, Albany.

Captain Andrew Meneely Hitchcock, lot

Obelisk Inscription


18 August 2015

Albany's Veterans Memorials, part II

This post is a follow up to a February article regarding the numerous Veterans memorials that are spread throughout Albany. An attempt was made to photograph as many of the memorials that I could remember. I am sure that I missed on or two.

As far as I know, the memorial that was on Sheridan Avenue; which is in the center of the urban renewal program there has not been relocated. Shortly after noticing that the former building and flag pole were missing, I discovered that a VFW group was trying to get a hold of the flagpole so that it could be honorably used elsewhere. I assume that they were not successful. Just think about how much that flagpole would bring it in scrap money for a hungry contractor. Or how great it would look on his front lawn or in front of his business offices.

The building that was torn down was a local community project from years past, I am told. Neighbors purchased the land, erected the building, and created the memorial for the neighborhood men who served and died in the Second World War. As time passed the building fell into disrepair. Most of the residents who maintained the property either moved from the neighborhood or died. The property was therefore off the city's tax rolls for many years. City officials must have been salivating at the mouth and waiting to pounce regarding the thought of a land seizure and its resale.

A further follow up will have to be looked into regarding the outcome of the flagpole. Below is a photo montage of memorials spread throughout the city, in no particular order. Descriptions as to what the memorial is and its location are given. Some photos were taken a distance to get the full monument in focus.

Community Park Memorial, Second Avenue & West Van Vechten Street















Spanish-American War Memorial at Graceland Cemetery
Henry Johnson Memorial Park, Henry Johnson Blvd
10th Ward Veterans, Townsend Park

WWII Memorial, 11th Ward, Northern Blvd




Civil War Soldiers & Sailors Monument, Washington Park

Civil War Soldiers & Sailors Monument, Washington Park

Henry Johnson Memorial, Washington Park
Spanish-American War Monument, Townsend Park
WWI Monument, New Scotland Ave & South Lake Ave
Sheehy-Palmer Memorial, Delaware Avenue
NYS Purple Heart Memorial, ESP

NYS Korean War Memorial, ESP

NYS Women's Veteran's Memorial, ESP

                                             WWII Memorial, ESP

16 August 2015

Upcoming Genealogy Event

Coming up soon is a genealogy event hosted by the New York Genealogical & Biographical Society in Albany at the New York State Library on October 29 through October 31. Below is an excerpt from their webpage.

Research in Albany 2015
When: Thursday, October 29, 2015 – 8:30am to Saturday, October 31, 2015 – 5:00pm
Venue: Albany, New York
Sponsor: The New York Genealogical & Biographical Society
The NYG&B’s popular research trip Albany is Thursday-Saturday, October 29-31, 2015. Join the New York experts, the people who know New York research best, for three days of research concentrated in the vast resources of New York State Archives and the New York State Library. You’ll also enjoy the camaraderie of friendly people who share your interest in family history.
If you need additional information please email education@nygbs.org or call (212) 755 – 8532 x211.
Members $295.00/ Non-Members $360.00. Price guaranteed through April 30. Purchase tickets for the event via our online store. Please call the Hilton directly at 518-462-6611 for room reservations and use code 1GENEB.
PROGRAM INCLUDES:
Orientation to the New York State Archives and the New York State Library by staff experts.
A private consultation with a professional genealogist.
Access to a professional genealogist for all three days of the program.
Welcome gathering on Wednesday night (Oct. 28) Dinner on Thursday night. (Guests not registered for the research experience may attend the dinner for just $40.)
Wine and cheese reception on Friday evening.
Lunch in the library on Saturday.
Reduced rates at the Albany Hilton

15 August 2015

Joseph Wagner & Maria Koreman, bio & gravesite restoration

In mid Spring, I took a ride to Our Lady Help of Christians cemetery in Glenmont to do a quick check on the family plots to see if they needed attention this Summer. While at the cemetery I noticed that an old cast iron bench was missing which belonged to the family of a woman who married one of my cousins. I called her to notify her about the missing bench and during our conversation she asked if I would check on her grandparents grave site. I obliged and while looking for the grave I literally tripped over a set of stones that were spread over the ground and I noticed that those stones were those of my great great grandfather's older sister, Maria Koreman, who married Joseph Wagner. Then a memory from long ago immediately came back to me. Years ago, while at the cemetery with my grandfather, Joseph Koreman, we were visiting the grave site of his grandfather, Henry Koreman, and he mentioned to me that over there is another relative somehow related to the family. It was never followed up by myself and then it all clicked when I stumbled on the graves. Unfortunately, the grave site was a complete disaster. There were only three stones. One, was still attached to its base but was leaning forward just waiting to break; the second stone was broken in three sections and also broken from its un-level base; and the third stone was broken from its un-level base. Below is a photo of the site and the condition of the stones on March 30th.

Spring-time photo of grave site 

Seeing this I knew that I had an additional cemetery job to handle. So that nothing would hopefully happen to the stones before I could get to rehabbing them, I leaned the stones against the only upright stone and placed a flag in the ground with them. The flag was mysteriously gone when the rehab began. Joseph Wagner was mustered in the 7th Heavy Artillery during the Civil War. Below is a picture of the grave site in April. Finally work began on the site on Thursday, August 13th.



While I was waiting for the weather to warm up; some research on Joseph & Maria was conducted. Both, Joseph & Maria, were immigrants. Joseph was born 03 September 1845 in Frankfort, Prussia. He immigrated to America circa 1859 with his siblings and parents, Conrad & Barbara Wagner. Maria was born Maria Allegonda Koreman on 16 March 1838 in Zierikzee, Netherlands. Below is a scan of Maria's birth certificate from Zierikzee.

Maria Allegonda Koreman, birth certificate


Maria immigrated to the United States with her siblings and parents Cornelis Koreman and Maria Catharina Colen circa 1852. Joseph and Maria were married at Holy Cross Church in Albany on 04 May 1869. They had the following children:

  • Mary A., born 15 May 1870
  • Margaret A., born 17 November 1872, married Charles Aloyisus Beck
  • Barbara, born 20 April 1875
  • Joseph, born 03 November 1877
  • Anna B., born 29 May 1880
  • John Joseph, born 12 August 1884

Joseph and Maria lived for many years at 8 Osborn Street in Albany's South End. Brother, Henry Koreman lived up the street at house number 16 for over thirty years. Below is a photo of 8 Osborn Street today. Fortunately the house is still standing. I am not sure if the house is original or the facade has changed over the years. This is questioned because this style home does not fit the architectural style of the surrounding homes.



Below is a photo of a trunk key and name tag listing Joseph Wagner as living at 8 Osborn Street.



As mentioned earlier, Joseph was mustered in the 7th Heavy Artillery and before being mustered out was seriously injured. According to his pension records, his left arm above his elbow had a scar that was five inches long and three inches wide and that "all of the muscles were shattered." Perhaps he was hit with grapeshot? Below is a scan of Maria's Declaration for Widow's Pension.



Joseph died 03 August 1904 and on 08 July 1908 Maria followed him. Both buried in Glenmont. Below is a series of photos of the grave site rehab project which occurred over a three day period. Getting set up; the area looks like a construction site.



Photo below of the condition of the site before beginning work.



The first stone worked on was Maria's. Her stone was broken in three pieces and also broken at its base. First step was to clean all of the pieces with D2 to get them ready for epoxying them together.



Next, the upper two pieces of her stone were epoxied together using a conservator's professional grade epoxy from a German company, Akemi. The two stones were then clamped together overnight.



After putting the top two pieces of grave stone together, my next step was to re drill the lower stone and its base so that the marble could be re pinned for better stability, Below is the final product after cleaning, re pinning and motaring the base with a lime based mortar, Lithomex. 



Next, the stone to the right, son, John J. Wagner's was lifted and its base leveled. Had the stone been left leaning forward, in time the marble where the pins are located would have broken due to stress on the stone. This adverted a future stone failure.

Joseph's stone was worked on next. His stone's base was re leveled and there was already a repair made to his stone sometime in the past. All of the Portland cement that was on the base was chipped off to make for a smooth surface to reattach the stone and base. Both the stone and base were re pinned and mortared with Lithomex.



The next day, on Friday, I came back to check on the top two pieces that were epoxied. Unfortunately the break occurred right where Maria's dates are located on the stone. They are practically unreadable. Also there was not much surface area to bond the stones together. Therefore the upper stone was re pinned with the lower section and epoxy was placed where the sections met. The stone also has a lot of missing surface area that needs to be fabricated. Below is a photo of the stone with the top section on the lower before the clamp was placed.



Below is the stone, re pinned, epoxied, and clamped. The next day the clamp will be removed and Lithomex will be used to fill in the seams and where the stone is missing and also to help stabilize the top portion of the stone to the lower. 



The below photos are the final product of efforts at restoring Maria Koreman Wagner's grave stone and that of her husband, Joseph Wagner, and her son, John J. Wagner. When dry the Lithomex filler should fade to more closely match the actual stone color making the seam less noticeable. 




The Wagner plot restored, below, Saturday evening, 15 August 2015.





11 July 2015

Reclaiming Lost Relatives Gravesites

As I begin to wind down my projects at Albany Rural Cemetery with rehabbing my ancestors gravesites that have fallen into disrepair; today I had ambitions of reclaiming 5 gravestones of my ancestors in Section 100. Today, my father and I retrieved 2 out of 5 stones. My relatives and their accompanying gravestones were previously located in the old Gibbonsville Cemetery in Watervliet on what is now property of the Watervliet arsenal. In 1918, the cemetery property was sold to the United States government. The cemetery was overgrown and not taken care of and at the same time the arsenal wished to expand its grounds. It would appear to be a win - win situation for the city of Watervliet and for the arsenal. After the cemetery property was sold, the interments and gravestones were removed to a section of Albany Rural Cemetery for re-burial. Over the past 97 years gravity has worked its wonders and the gravestones have sunken into the ground upwards of almost 10 inches.

Below are a series of photos of the work in progress. The first stone that I recovered was of Amanda Hitchcock, daughter of Capt. John Hitchcock and Harriet Palmer. John was an older brother of Samuel Hitchcock, my gggggg grandfather. The photo of Amanda's stone was after the project was completed.

Amanda Hitchcock 



The next few photos are from the recovering efforts of Louisa Martel Hitchcock's gravestone. Louisa was an adopted daughter of Alexander Hitchcock and Abigail Irena Hanks. Alexander was a younger brother to my gggg grandfather, Aistroppe Robinson Hitchcock.


Below is a photo of excavating the stone. It was almost 10 inches deep.



The next two photos are of my father cleaning the mud off the stones after they were removed from the ground.




The ground, refilled, tamped down, and leveled; awaiting placement of the gravestone in the exact spot where it was previously located; only now raised to the surface.




Louisa's gravestone placed, leveled, and surrounding area re-graded.





Project done! Three more gravestones to reclaim.

Irish Parish Records Online

The hottest topic on the genealogical circuit today is about Irish parish records going online for free. Yes, the National Library of Ireland has digitized almost 400K images from its Catholic parish records holdings. The dates of their Catholic parish registers are from 1740-1880s and cover almost 1100 parishes. This is a very significant event. The registers have been available for viewing since the 1970s; but you had to visit the library in Dublin. Now they are available for free and searchable anytime. To get to the registers directly, they are online at http://registers.nli.ie/

Before using the site be prepared by knowing your ancestors parish. Without that information you will trudge through thousands of images and still possibly not find your ancestor. I have used the site with limited success. As of today, my search for a particular gg grandmother has turned up empty but I did find one of her brother's marriage records and another brother's baptism record.

Some of the images are very grainy and some very very faded making for an extremely difficult translation of the records. All images in this collection are not created equal, some are pristine while others are un-readable. Check them out and good luck hunting!

Below are images of a marriage record for my gg granduncle, Thomas Cummins and a baptism record for his brother, Martin Cummins. The records were found in the pages for the parish of Aughrim in County Roscommon.

Thomas Cummins & Anna Cox marriage record


Martin Cummins baptism record