21 June 2014

New Mount Ida Cemetery

After picking up my daughters from sleepovers and treating them to lunch at Famous Lunch on Congress Street in Troy, we decided to head over to the New Mount Ida Cemetery on Pinewoods Avenue.  In reality the cemetery is not "New."  It is simply to differentiate two cemeteries with the same name.  The "Old" Mount Ida Cemetery is located not far from the "New" at the Poestenkill where Congress Street and Pawling Avenue intersect.

This was my first jaunt to this cemetery in almost twenty years.  The cemetery was in much better condition than I had remembered it.  I recall grass that stood knee high to over two feet high.  Through the work of a few dedicated volunteers, the cemetery is being brought back to a usable and friendly status.

We stopped at Mount Ida to snap some photos of an ancestor's grave site. My gggg grandmother, Geesje Raeloss Hoorn married Klaas Booij on 28 October 1828 in Nijeveen, Holland.  They immigrated to America in the early 1840s with their children and eventually resided in Albany.  Somewhere along their journey their name changed from Booij to Boyd.  An even more dramatic change was my gggg grandmother's name change from Geesje Raeloss to Lucretia; as can be seen on her stone.

Boyd gravestone

Lucretia Boyd

While we were at Mount Ida, we met some of the people who are volunteering their time to help bring back the cemetery.  They were leveling and resetting some stones.  We chatted for about twenty minutes and they mentioned that Joe Ferrannini from Grave Stone Matters will be giving a presentation on grave stone conservation at the cemetery on Saturday 28 June 2014 at 9 AM.

In October 2013 I wrote a small piece on Joe.  He was repairing stones in the Greenbush cemetery.  It will be worthwhile to check this out.  Joe is very knowledgeable and friendly.  I will be definitely be checking this out.

30 May 2014

LaGrange Cemetery

Has anyone noticed the old LaGrange Cemetery in Slingerlands? It is located at the end of Vista Blvd behind the new Shop Rite off Rt 85 or New Scotland Road.  It is a very small old cemetery with very few stones. Four larger stones are very prominent with a few small stones behind them.  We are fortunate that this old farmer's cemetery was not lost to the development of the new commercial development occurring there. Perhaps the previous owner of the land knew of the small cemetery and stated to the developers that the cemetery must stay and the development be built around it? Either way the cemetery still stands.

LaGrange Cemetery

Buried in the cemetery are Abram C. LaGrange who died 6 July 1859 aged 37 years, 4 months. Below is his stone.
Abram C. LaGrange

Christian C. LaGrange died 7 December 1851, aged 25 years.
Christian C. LaGrange

Jamima LaGrange, wife of Christian I. LaGrange died 2 December 1828, aged 32 years.

Jamima LaGrange

Christian I. LaGrange died 24 July 1848, aged 69 years.
Christian I. LaGrange

03 May 2014

German proprietors in Albany

The following is an excerpt from my 2005 MA Thesis, From Acceptance to Renunication: Das Ende von Albanys Deustchtum. This sub-chapter gives a brief history of Albany's German hotel proprietors and a brief synopsis of the times.

Many Germans proudly worked in the service sector of Albany’s various business entities.  They provided board, entertainment, camaraderie, and Bier.  German proprietors ran many halls, hotels, cafes, and Biergartens.  German hotels were numerous in the downtown business section and also outside the city limits.  According to Howell and Tenney, the first German hotel was the National Hotel situated across from Steamboat Square at 266 Broadway and run by former barber John Wachter.[1] Wachter operated the hotel from 1848 until his death circa 1860.  His wife, Catherine, then became proprietress until John Bissikummer (1843-1883) took control around 1868.  Another early German hotel was Schweitzer’s Hotel, located on the corner of Lydius Street (now Madison Avenue) and Broadway.  The hotel was listed in the Albany city directory of 1851-52. 
Henry Parr

Outside the city limits, Henry Parr provided a fine assortment of wines, liquors, and cigars at the Abbey Hotel, located south of Albany on River Road (today Route 144) in the Bethlehem hamlet of Kenwood.

Abbey Hotel

The landmark hotel offered accommodations for private parties, picnics, and social gatherings.  The Abbey was “…famous for its marvelous German food and good draw of hops and malt.”[2]  The famous structure was said to have been built around 1680 and was in constant use until 1945, when it became vacant.  The building became a ruin when it mysteriously collapsed in 1959 and was consequently razed for safety concerns.[3]  

The Shafer’s Hotel and Family Resort also known as Shafer’s Grove was operated by Martin Shafer and was located at Central and Colvin Avenues; the present site of the Armory Garage complex.  The grove was in operation from circa 1894 till 1924.  It featured a swimming hole and an amusement park.  The grounds were the setting for many German picnics and outings.
The Hotel Germania, at 34 Beaver Street and summer Biergarten in the rear of the building was first managed by John Bissikummer from 1871 until his death on May 24, 1883.  Bissikummer’s wife, Caroline [Wachter] (1847-1926), then operated the hotel until 1889.  William Menk took charge next until 1892, when John Bissikummer Jr. (1869-1895) brought hotel proprietorship back to the Bissikummer family from 1892 to 1894.  Theodore J. Gutekunst was the last manager of the Hotel Germania.  
1893 Ad
He operated the hotel until 1901, when he opened the Hotel Washington, located at 93 Washington Avenue.  Gutekunst ran the Hotel Washington only three years.  Mrs. Bertha Klemp next took control of the 93 Washington Avenue locale, until 1906 when she opened a new hotel at 73 Whitehall Road.  The Whitehall Road hotel was in operation until circa 1924.
Washington Hotel

Michael Milhauser
German proprietors sometimes moved from location to location.  When this occurred, other German proprietors soon followed and established their businesses in the locale of a former German establishment.  For instance, Michael Milhauser (1841-1935) ran a saloon at 49 Madison Avenue from 1887 to 1889.  He relocated to 33 Green Street and opened the Württemberger Hof there from 1890 to 1891.  William Firmbach next moved into 49 Madison Avenue and established the German Hotel between 1891 and 1892.  After Milhauser left his 33 Green Street location, John Markert (1855-1920) moved into the locale and established Markert’s Hotel from 1892 to 1907. 
John Markert
Markert made lodging available weekly or daily board along with Dobler’s Lager, fine liquors, and cigars.  Württemberger Hof from 1892 to 1912.  Nearby, at 29-31 Green Street, Nicholas Engel (died 30 July 1896) operated a restaurant known as the “The Best Lager.” The rear of the restaurant backed into John Bissikummer’s summer Biergarten at the rear of the Hotel Germania.[4] Meanwhile, Milhauser moved to 68 Green Street and reopened the
 The Hotel Columbia was a first class German hotel and restaurant.  It was located at 44 Beaver Street.  Gustav Zinserling was the owner from 1892 to 1900.  Louis Dube operated the hotel from 1901 to 1903 and John B. Staats from 1904 to 1911.
1893 Ad
 The Schlitz Hotel and Rathskeller, operated by Phillip H. Kalkbrenner (1863-1925) was located at 578-580 Broadway from 1897 until the 1930s. 
Schlitz Hotel
1902 Ad
Ernest Zeller (1827-1879) operated the Progress Hotel at 93 Green Street from the early 1860s till 1873.  He then became the operator of the Belvedere House, sited at 39 Beaver Street, until his death.  Zeller’s wife, Elizabeth, ran the hotel until 1892, when Nicholas J. Dell and Joseph Neuser took over. 
1889 Ad
The Bavaria at 38 Beaver Street was managed by Ernestine F. Gioth, in 1889 and 1890, until she moved to San Francisco in 1890. 

1891 Ad
Other German hotels and cafes included the Café Columbus, the Deutscher Hotel, located at 270 Broadway, the Old Homestead Hotel and Restaurant, which was run by Wilhelm Grandpré (1855-1922), who was also the president of the local branch of the DANB.  The hotel was situated at 33 Hudson Avenue.  Henry Schuster (1840-1922) from Nordheim, Bavaria ran the Hotel Schuster at 199 South Pearl Street from 1895 to 1900. 
Wilhelm Granpre

[1] Howell and Tenney, eds., History of the County of Albany, N. Y, pp. 652-653.
[2] Times Union, July 7, 1970, 5:1.
[3] Knickerbocker News, October 12, 1959, 1B:1.
[4] City Atlas of Albany, New York (Philadelphia: G. M. Hopkins, C. E., 1876), Plate E.

07 April 2014

Paul Grondahl Talks About Albany Rural Cemetery

An upcoming talk on Albany Rural Cemetery will be held on April 24, 2014 at the William K. Sanford Town Library; located at 629 Albany-Shaker Road, Loudonville, NY. Below are the details from the library's monthly newsletter, At the Library.

Paul Grondahl, an author and award-winning report at the Times Union, will speak about These Exalted Acres: Unlocking the Secrets of Albany Rural Cemetery on Thursday, April 24th at our Noon Author Talk. The book includes historic photographs and 50 biographies of notable people buried at Albany Rural Cemetery. Grondahl wrote the book and it was published in December, 2013 by the Times Union. (When we went over to the TU to purchase copies for the library last December, the line went out the door! So here's your chance to get a copy if you couldn't last December.) All proceeds benefit the Times Union Hope Fund, a not-for-profit organization run by volunteers at the paper that sends underprivileged and at-risk children to after-school programs and summer camps. The hardcover illustrated book costs $25. Paul's talk will be followed by a book signing. The talk starts at 12:15 PM; bring your lunch if you are on lunch hour.

26 March 2014

Blizzard of 1888

This winter simply will not give up. Here it is; the end of March and we still have temperatures in the single digits! As Eastern Massachusetts is being presently being slammed with a blizzard, this reminds me of stories that my grandfather mentioned to me that were passed to him from his Aunt about the Blizzard of 1888. Massive snow piles and no where to put the snow in Albany. Remember there were no plows back then!

Beginning on March 11, 1888 and for the next three days the East coast was paralyzed with one of the most severe Nor'easters ever recorded. The storm became known as the Great White Hurricane. Approximately 48 inches of snow fell in Albany and the city felt the effects of 50 mph winds. Railroads shut down and people were confined and stuck in their homes for days. A picture below says a thousand words!

18 March 2014

Online Family Trees

Since I came back to researching my roots I instantly found that the Internet has greatly expanded the reach of the genealogist.  Numerous paid online sites such as Ancestry, MyHeritage, and Geneanet allow subscribers to search and access their holdings for genealogical gold.  These sites and other web pages also allow their users to upload family trees for either public or private viewing.  These online family trees have both pros and cons to them.

I use all of the above mentioned sites.  My family information is public except for the data on living people.  I will not publicize any vital data on any of my living relatives.  My online tree is public so that I can easily share my information with anyone researching the same families or individuals.  Hopefully my available info will prompt another researcher to contact me.  Some researchers call this "cousin baiting."  Data is posted and other genealogists find it and then contact the tree owner.   I do this to lure other researchers to my tree and perhaps we find common ancestors/relatives and then we can collaborate.  So far I have been successful finding other cousins who are also researching their lines.  Using the MyHeritage site, I have found numerous cousins in the Netherlands who are researching the same lines as myself.  This was accomplished with their "smart matches."

At the same time using the same online sites can have cons also.  The biggest con that I have found is incorrect data on the Internet.  New genealogists need to realize that just because they found their ancestor on the Internet does not make the new found data correct.  The information definitely could be but not always.  There is a lot of misinformation on the Net.  Aside from obviously wrong data such as a child being born well after the death of his/her mother,  I have seen other people's data on websites and they list their ancestors under nicknames.  Perhaps they did not know their ancestor's real name?

Unsourced information is another dilemma on the Net.  Where did the researcher find this information? Did the info come from a marriage record, census record, bible record, or an interview? Another genealogist may want to recheck the record for accuracy or look for other information that might have been missed.

On Ancestry I found incorrect data on some of my ancestors on other researcher's trees.  I contacted the owner's of these trees to explain their error.  Some individuals were very glad to correct their data.  Others simply have ignored my notes to them and the wrong data stays in cyberspace for others to find.  Unfortunately no one except the tree owner can correct or remove the data.

Another dilemma that I have read about and have experience with is other researchers taking your data without giving credit to the original researcher.  On blogs and forums that I read, some researchers are vehement about not posting their family tree online for fear that someone may take their information and use it as their own.  I do not fear that issue.  I welcome anyone to view and use my data.  It would be nice if they did give credit to me in their work; but if they  do not so be it.  I posted many photos of my ancestors on Ancestry and I have been notified numerous times that another user attached my photo to their tree.  I am glad when this occurs but always question myself as to why these people do not contact me for more information.

I have not dealt with this issue yet but I have heard that it can be difficult to delete your online tree on certain sites.  I do not understand why it would be difficult to do this? But that is what I have read.  If I were to guess; perhaps their subscription expired and now they want to remove their tree.  Without having a current account, I would not expect a subscription site to let someone update the account.  I believe that if the account is valid then the user should be able to alter, change, or delete the information at will.  Perhaps I am wrong?

02 March 2014

Russian Winter Festival

An upcoming local cultural event is on slate at Proctor's in Schenectady on Saturday March 8, 2014.  Details for the event are below

Winter festival honors Russian culture with music, crafts and food.

Don’t miss the Grand Finale of the 6th Annual Russian Winter Festival at Proctors! A day of Russian music, folk art and food - pancakes and caviar in particular. Russian culture is celebrated during the closing day of a monthlong festival.

The Russian Winter Festival has roots dating back to the pagan era. In Russia, the festival goes by the name Maslenitsa, a weeklong celebration meant to signify the end of the winter. The festival gives Capital Region a taste of cultural tradition. The celebration might be thought of as a Russian Mardi Gras or Carnival but has a few quirks specific to the Russians, the most important being the blini - Russian pancakes.

The headlining group at this year's festival is Art-Trio Volnitsa from Moscow known to play both improvised and arranged music, giving them a sound described "as a Russian take on jazz." The group performs popular Russian folk songs tied to the spirit of the celebration and its historic background.

What else is to enjoy at the festival?

The art exhibitions, “Remembring Russia” by Tatiana Rhinevault and the Soviet propaganda posters. Contests: Best Braided Hairdo and Russian Poetry Recital. People can dress up in costumes inspired by traditional clothing and get their photos taken. Among the other learning opportunities featured at the finale, the Third Rifle Division Association, a reenacting group, portrays a typical squad of a World War II Russian rifle division.

Check Proctor's website for more details