27 June 2015

Old Homestead

A lot of us talk about what it was like going to grandma or grandpa's house when we were kids. But how many people can say they know the house that their great grandparents or earlier lived in. I have a small collection of photos of the home's of my ancestors when they lived in Albany. Most of the photos are recent. 

A decision was made to check out the ancestral homes of my relatives after viewing city directories for years and documenting where they lived. Then I thought, lets see if these houses are still standing and what it looks like today. I have found that some are in great shape and others, well, not in as great shape.

Further below are a couple of photos of the former home of my ggg grandfather, Thomas O'Donnell. He was a longtime resident at 31 Van Zandt Street in Albany. Thomas was born in County Tipperary, Ireland in 1827. Thomas immigrated in 1844; perhaps to Canada for a cheaper fare to North America. He may have come through Grosse Île, Quebec’s former immigrant quarantine station. Canada's Ellis Island. This might be feasible because he married Catherine McCarthy in 1845 in Montreal and their oldest child Mary Anne was born in Canada the following year. Children of Thomas and Catherine:
  • Mary Anne (1846-1895) married James A. Burns
  • Johanna (1853-1912) married Henry Joseph Bailey
  • William (1856-1888)
  • John James (1858-1892) married Rose M. Clair
By 1853 the family was living in Albany where the rest of the children were born. Thomas was a laborer, served in the Civil War, and died on 25 September 1869. He was originally buried in St. John's Cemetery on Delaware Avenue in Albany. After all of the interments were removed, there is no trace of him being re-buried in St. Agnes' Cemetery where his wife is buried.

Below; two angles of 31 Van Zandt Street, Albany, New York.





Photos from the New Mount Ida Clean-Up

About two weeks ago I helped out on a tombstone cleaning and restoration project at the New Mount Ida Cemetery on Pinewoods Avenue in Troy. About a dozen people came out to help. One from the Troy Irish Genealogy Society, a few from the Sons of Union Civil War Veterans, Willard Camp #154, some RPI fraternity brothers chipped in, and a few of us who are interested in cemetery preservation.

We cleaned the stones and leveled their bases and then Joe Ferraninni from Grave Stone Matters worked his magic on patching the broken stones back together. The project was a two day affair. Saturday, when I was there was brutally hot and the sun unrelenting when you were not in the shade. I am told that the organizers were there until late Sunday afternoon finishing up. It was rewarding to everyone who helped because we knew that we were doing good. Although an enormous tree fell in the cemetery the night before during a quick moving summer thunderstorm, the cemetery is greatly improving due to the dedication of those who "adopted" the cemetery and are investing their time and efforts to restoring it back to a place of beauty.

Below are photos from the restoration project.













22 June 2015

Tombstone Cleaning Follow-Up

Earlier this morning, I went to Albany Rural Cemetery to place a flag on the grave of a man, George H. Swartwout, who married into my family. Recently I discovered that he was also a veteran of the Civil War. But unfortunately he died very shortly after he was mustered out of service.

George H. Swartwout


While at his plot I noticed a stone that I used to demonstrate how to clean a tombstone with D2 biological solution. The 10 minute video can be found on YouTube by clicking on this link. In September 2014 a blog post was created on this process. However today I was very surprised. I have known for a long time that all tombstones are not created equal. Some stones cleanup better than others. But this stone really whitened and brightened over the fall through the early summer.  The photos below will speak for themselves.


The above photo was taken before cleaning with D2.





The above photo was taken about one month after cleaning with D2.



The above photo was taken this morning; 8 months after cleaning.

16 June 2015

Old Mount Ida Cemetery Clean-Up

Calling all Volunteers! For a great cause, coming up this Saturday and Sunday, June 20th & 21st, there will be another cemetery clean-up, at the Old Mount Ida Cemetery in Troy; not to be confused with the New Mount Ida Cemetery (which isn't really new anyways).

The Old Mount Ida Cemetery is located on lower Pawling Avenue just up from the intersection at Congress Street. This clean-up day is organized by the Troy Irish Genealogy Society. Details about the day are cut and pasted below from their Facebook page.

Old Mount Ida Cemetery cleanup

Our first cleanup work date will be this coming Saturday-Sunday (6/20-6/21) at the Old Mount Ida and adjacent Old Catholic cemeteries on Pawling Avenue. We'll be starting about 9am, but come any time.

There are many damaged and overgrown headstones in this cemetery including a number of veteran's stones. Work on Saturday will include cleaning overgrowth around and dirt and moss on headstones and identifying stones for future (probably August) repair date. Tools and D/2 cleaner will be provided. Work gloves advisable.




29 May 2015

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Week 13; Patrick J. Cummins

This week's ancestral bio is on one of my great great granduncles, Patrick J. Cummins. He was an older brother to my great great grandmother Anne Cummins; who married Michael J. Gannon. Very little is known about him. He was born in County Roscommon, Ireland around 1850 and immigrated to America in 1865 according to the 1900 Federal Census. He was listed as a laborer in census records.

Patrick was son of Bernard Cummins and Catherine Dockey. Another brother was

  • Frank, married Maria Cox

Bernard was later married to Bessie Lenehan and had the following children:

  • Thomas Joseph, (1859-1943) married Anne M. Cox
  • Catherine, (1864-1931) married Michael J. Gannon
  • Martin Joseph, (1865-1954) married Ann Mary Gill
  • Anne M., (1866-1927) married Michael J. Gannon
Patrick J. Cummins

At some point after immigrating to the states, the name Cummins had a "g" added to it. I have no clue whether Patrick did it himself or possibly custom officials. After coming to America, Patrick lived in Bennington, Vermont and was married to Bridget Casey (1843-1877). Patrick and Bridget had the following children. All born in Vermont.
  • Bernard, (1868-1961) married Anna Hickey
  • James, (1870-1872)
  • Mary E., (1872-1939)
  • Francis J. (1874-1967) married Mary J. Maher
It is believed that both, wife Bridget and son James are buried in Bennington, Vermont. Soon after Bridget's death, Patrick married Ellen Barry on 29 October 1877 in Bennington. By 1882, the family was now living in Catskill, New York.  Patrick and Ellen had the following children; all born in Catskill.
  • George H., (1882-1939)
  • Patrick A., (1884-1932)
  • Ida Winifred, (1886-1979) married Floyd Shultz
  • Helen Elizabeth, (1890-1977) married Abraham Patrick Frank Shiel
  • Julia A., (1892-1991) married Franklin A. Banks

Patrick and Ellen are buried in St. Patrick's Cemetery in the Jefferson Heights section of Catskill.

Patrick & Ellen Cummings grave stone

Gravestone Clean-up / Restoration Project at the New Mount Ida Cemetery

Earlier today I was notified that in a couple of weeks there will be a gravestone clean-up and restoration project at the New Mount Ida Cemetery on Saturday June 13th and Sunday June 14th. Joe Ferrannini from Grave Stone Matters will be there lending his expertise at preserving and conserving gravestones. The project will begin around 9 AM.

A very small group has "adopted" the New Mount Ida Cemetery located on Pinewoods Avenue. Through their efforts they are slowly transforming this once abandoned cemetery into a place of welcome. At one time the grass was continually un-mowed and waist high. Numerous fallen trees were all over. However that is not the case today.

The cemetery is on Pinewoods Avenue less than a mile from the intersection of Pinewoods and Pawling Avenues. The group is looking for as many volunteers as can be mustered up. A primer will be given how to clean lichens and environmental pollution from the stones and then we will go and "have at it." After the stones are cleaned, Ferrannini will address the stones that need further attention.

Please spread the word to anyone who may be interested in this kind of volunteer work. They can contact me on this blog and I can get further information from the organizers. Hope to see you there!


17 April 2015

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Week 12; Aistroppe Robinson Hitchcock

With work and the warmer weather here now, I am playing catch up on this 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks program. For this week I am changing their theme for the week of "how do you spell that?" to "how do you pronounce that name?" I will write about my gggg grandfather, Aistroppe Robinson Hitchcock. Personally, I am glad that I was not named after him.

Aistroppe was born on 15 September 1810 in West Troy, New York; now Watervliet to Captain James Hitchcock (1785 - 1858) and Peggy Meneely (c. 1790 - c. 1818). He was baptized on 03 February 1811 in Troy at the First Presbyterian Church. I believe that Aistroppe was named after a brother-in-law to James Hitchcock. In the First Presbyterian Church records, a marriage took place on 08 August 1804 between Eliza Hitchcock and Aistroppe Robinson. I believe that Eliza was a sister of Captain James. The names and time frames fit and where would his parents come up with that name also?

Siblings of Aistroppe include:

  • Andrew Meneely (1808 - 1883) married Charlotte Crowner
  • Alexander (1812 - 1871) married Abigail Irena Hanks
  • Marion or Mary Ann (1814 - ?)
  • James Harvey (1816 - 1894) married 1st Juliette Harriet Fuller, 2nd Mary E. Fuller
  • Eleanor Levina (1818 -  ?)
Aistroppe's mother Peggy died possibly shortly after Eleanor Levina's birth. James started another family with his deceased wife's younger sister Eleanor Meneely (1804 - 1888). They were married on 28 July 1821. Their children included:
  • Frances Juliet (1822 - 1899) married Aaron Clinton
  • Emily H. (c. 1830 - ?) married John K. Quail
  • Amelia G. (c. 1834 - 1892) married John U. Learned
  • Ellen M. (1840 - 1929) married Carlos Carpenter Pope
  • Edward Payson (c. 1842 - a. 1879)
A page from the Hitchcock Bible



On 13 April 1883 at the North Reformed Church in Gibbonsville (Watervliet), Aistroppe married Margaret Ann Sickman (1812 - 1892) daughter of Henry Sickman and Elizabeth Waltz (1769 - 1861). Their children included:
  • James Henry (1834 - 1886) married Caroline Gertrude Ruenburgh
  • Edward Newton Kirk (1837 - 1840)
  • Edward Newton Kirk (1842 - 1842)


Aistroppe and family resided in West Troy for many years before moving to Albany and purchasing a house at 198 Green Street sometime before 1855. In 1850, still residing in West Troy, Aistroppe was listed as an ironworker, perhaps at the Watervliet Arsenal. He was mainly found in Albany city directories as a machinist; but later was listed as an armorer for the 10th Regiment.

At age 51, on 21 October 1861, Aistroppe enlisted in the 44th Regiment of the New York State Volunteers as a Fife Major. According to his widow's pension application papers, he was suffering from a double hernia; which could explain why he was honorably discharged on 10 April 1862.

Aistroppe died on 06 May 1876. As mentioned, Aistroppe was a musician and was a noted fife player. Below is a transcript of his obituary from the 08 May 1876 issue of the Albany NY Evening Times.

Death of "Bob"Hitchcock
A.R. Hitchcock better know as "Bob" Hitchcock, the veteran fifer died at his residence 198 Green street at 11 o'clock Saturday night of apoxlexy.  He retired to bed at 10 o'clock in apparent good health but in one hour was a corpse.  He was sixty-five years old and leaves a wife and son.  He has blown the fife for upwards of fifty years, served in the late war, and was ell and favorably known all over the country.  His death will be sincerely mourned.  He was armorer of the Tenth regiment at the time of his death and a member of Doring's band, which latter organization was to tender him a complimentary concert in Tweddle hall on the 24th inst. the concert will take place as announced and the proceeds given to Mr. Hitchcock's family. The funeral will take place tomorrow afternoon at 2 o'clock from his late residence. The funeral arrangement are in the bands of Post 5 G.A.R., Doring's band will attend as mouners and Amtg's Tenth regiment band will furnish the music.  The following list of mourners was singularly prepared by Mr. Hitchcock March 25th Asa K. Patten, Brad Frost, Stephen Schreiber, H. Golirey, Frank Doring, Peter Klein, John Nidock, and John Wilkes.

The following circular was been issued from brigade headquarters:
HEADQUARTERS 9th BRIGADA N.G.S.N.Y. 
Albany, May 8, 1876 {Circular}
The general commanding 9th Brigade N.G. learning with profound regret that A. Robinson Hitchcock reg identified with the National guard as a soldier and armorer of the Tenth regiment has been suddenly removed by death requests the members of his command to attend the funeral of the deceased as a mark of respect to his memory.
D.M. Woodhall (Brig.-Gen.)

J.S. Dickerman (Lieut.-Col. & A.A.G.)
Also the following by Post 5:
HEADQUARTERS LEW BENEDICT POST
No. 5 DEPARTMENT OF NEW YORK
G.A.R. Albany May 8, 1876

Comrades of this post and also those of Post 63 and 121 are hereby requested to meet at Post headquarters tomorrow (Tuesday) afternoon at 1 o'clock for the purpose of paying the last tribute of respect to our late Comrade A.R. Hitchcock.  Comrades will parade in citizens' dress with white gloves.
By order, Oscar Smith, Post Commander

Chas. E. Gavtz, Adjutant

Aistroppe Robinson Hitchcock was buried in the Albany Rural Cemetery on 09 May 1876. Note, on his tombstone is the relief of a fife.

Aistroppe Robinson Hitchcock, gravestone