12 March 2015

New York Genealogical Conference

Although this conference is months away, anyone interested in it should start planning to attend before hotel rooms and tickets are sold out.  This is being publicized all over and should be a great conference.  The hotel where this event is being held is directly across the street from the Thruway Exit 37. Details about the event are below:

New York State Family History Conference

The New York Genealogical and Biographical Society and the Central New York Genealogical Society are pleased to announce that our 2015 New York State Family History Conference has been chosen by the Federation of Genealogical Societies as one of their regional conferences. The Second New York State Family History Conference is increasing in size and duration and will feature three simultaneous lecture tracks and more exhibitors. The Federation of Genealogical Societies is sponsoring the first day of the conference.

When: Thursday, September 17, 2015 - 9:00am to Saturday, September 19, 2015 - 5:00pm
Venue: Syracuse/Liverpool Holiday Inn,441 Electronics Parkway, Liverpool, N.Y.
Sponsor: The New York Genealogical & Biographical Society and the Central New York Genealogical Society

For more info check the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society website or the conference website at The New York State Family History Conference

11 March 2015

Local Documentary on Irish-Americans in Albany

Coming up next week on public channel WMHT TV will be a documentary about the Irish in the local area.  It is titled Hard Days are Gone: The Irish in the Capital Region. Details for the show are below:

Hard Days Are Gone: The Irish in the Capital Region
Watch ON WMHT TV:Sunday, March 15, 2015 at 12:30pmMonday, March 16, 2015 at 7:30pm
When the Irish immigrated to the Capital Region they brought little with them but their strong backs and hands, their belief in God, and the dream of liberty and home for themselves and their family. Their legacy has endured and is affirmed in this hour-long documentary produced as a collaborative effort between WMHT and the Albany Institute of History and Art.
Through letters, diaries, poems, songs and oral history, the rich texture of the Capital Region's Irish heritage is woven. And the pride of being Irish continues today with the St. Patrick's Day Parade in Albany, an Albany visit by Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams, and the music of the popular group, The McKrells, performing at Saratoga's 'The Parting Glass'.

10 March 2015

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Week 7; Charles William White

This week's ancestral biography is on Charles William White; my great great grandfather. Charles was the second eldest son of Robert White (1813-1893) and Ann Strong (1815-1884) being born on 22 May 1835 in County Westmeath, Ireland. Siblings of Charles included:

  • Joseph (1834 - 1904) married Elizabeth Freeman 
  • Elizabeth (1838 - ?) 
  • Robert (1840 - ?) 
  • William Henry (1846 - 1896) married Josephine Elizabeth Parker 
  • Frances Ann (1849 - ?) married GLM Carter 
  • James (1850 - 1854) 
  • Thomas Edward (1854 - ?) married Agnes Jane Laing 
  • Sarah Jane White (1859 - ?) 

Robert, Sr. and family consisting of mother, Ann, and children; Joseph, Charles, Elizabeth, and Robert sailed from Liverpool, England on the Salem and reached New York harbor on 2 November 1843. Below are scans from the passenger lists of the ship showing the family.

page 1

page 2

The family was living in Albany by 1850 as can be seen in the Federal Census for that year.  Robert is listed as no occupation but he worked as a farmer and a laborer.  Brother Joseph is listed as a laborer and Charles is listed as a butcher; a trade that he would hold and become prominent at until he became elderly.

1850 Census

Charles belonged to the Episcopalian faith and worshipped at Grace Episcopal Church on Clinton Avenue and Robin Street.  At least three of his siblings, William Henry, Thomas Edward, and Sarah Jane were baptized there.  Charles became the senior Vestryman at Grace Church.  A position that he held until his death.  His son Joseph would succeed him as Vestryman until his death in 1954. 

Charles William White

Mary Ann Wilson White, circa 1907

Charles married a Catholic Irish immigrant girl, Mary Ann Wilson, on 23 September 1861.  Charles and Mary had eleven children.
  • Mary A. (1862 - 1918)
  • Charles William (1863 - 1937) married Minnie Adams
  • James Lincoln (1864 - 1885) married Elizabeth J. Goodwin
  • Robert (1866 - 1908)
  • Joseph (1868 - 1954) married Theresa Anna Neubauer
  • Margaret Agnes (1869 - 1939) married William Charles Brennan
  • George Washington (1871 - 1935) married Clara Boyd Hitchcock
  • Emma (1873 - 1874)
  • Christopher (1875 - 1877)
  • Bella (1877 - 1877)
  • John Bridgeford (1880 - 1903) married Clara Boyd Hitchcock

Shortly after the death of his daughter Emma, Charles purchased a very large lot in Albany Rural Cemetery for $150 which will become the family burial plot.  Below is a scan of his lot owners card.

Mary, Charles' wife died on 20 December 1908 and was buried in the family plot.  Charles joined her on 16 November 1917.  The family honored Charles with an impressive obituary in the Times Union as seen below.

The main White headstone at Albany Rural Cemetery; below.

09 March 2015

Samuel Hitchcock, A Soldier of the Revolution; Week 6: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks

This week's ancestral biography is on Samuel Hitchcock, my gggggg grandfather. Recently, I tied Samuel and other Hitchcock's into my tree through the help of another cousin, Bob, who is also researching the tree.  Bob found an online tree on Ancestry.com, told me about it, I check out the online tree, made a couple of contacts, and now we have our first found ancestor who fought in the Revolutionary War. For years, I have found Samuel Hitchcock in local records but had no strong connection; only a hunch.  Now I have a connection.  I hope that the connection and sources will be strong enough to allow me entrance into the Son's of the American Revolution or SAR; which is a lineage society of male descendants of an ancestor who fought in the Revolution.

Samuel Hitchcock was born in 1760 in Ossining, New York.  He was a son of David Hitchcock (1733 - 1825) & Rachel Knapp (     - 1807). Samuel is supposedly descended from Edward Hitchcock, who immigrated from England and settled in New Haven, Connecticut around 1635.

In March 1776 Samuel was mustered into the Second New York Regiment as a Private.  The Regiment was commanded by Captain Jacob Wright under Colonel Phillip Cortland. Samuel finished his third term of his enlistment in June 1783 and was mustered out.  In Samuel's pension records, it states that his pension for his service in the war amounted to $8 per month to commence on the 25th of March 1818.

Samuel married Mary Schlippe (1760 - 1827).  Mary was born in the Netherlands and immigrated to the colonies. They had the following children:

  • James (1785 - 1858) married Peggy Meneely
  • Joel (1787 - 1853) married Freelove Dyer
  • Rachel (1789 -     ?) married Stephen M. Conger
  • Jeremiah (1790 -    ?)
  • Isaac (1796 - 1882) married Nancy Meneely
  • Nathaniel (1799 -    ?)
  • Nicholas (1800 - 1870) married Sarah
Shortly before brother Isaac was born Samuel and Mary moved the family from Westchester County up to West Troy; now Watervliet.  Not much more is known about Samuel.  According to his gravestone, Samuel died on 4 October 1831.  He was buried in the Gibbonsville Cemetery in Watervliet. In 1918 the Watervliet Arsenal purchased the land where the Gibbonsville Cemetery was located and removed all of the internments to Albany Rural Cemetery.  A photo of Samuel Hitchcock's grave is below.

Genealogical and Historical Happenings at the East Greenbush Community Library

The following two programs at the East Greenbush Community Library may be of interest to some readers.

Genealogy 101: Getting Started in Researching Your Family History
Saturday, March 21 at 2:00 PM

This workshop will review the basics of getting started in genealogy, such as discovering what you already know, interviewing family members, organizing information, using a library to do research, identifying websites, and finding your family in the census.  Our presenter, Terri Moran, is a retired school librarian and current vice-president of the Capital District Genealogical Society.
Registration required

Greenbush Historical Society presents Fort Crailo
Sunday, May 31 at 2:00 PM

Shirley Dunn, local historian and author, will talk about her latest research and book on Fort Crailo (soon to be published). Fort Crailo, erected in 1662 by Hendrick van Rensselaer, was a place of refuge for local settlers during wars among the Indians. Learn about the early complex. Crailo is now a state historic site and open to the public.
Registration required

All programs are free and open to the public. Due to limited space registration is required for all programs. Call 518.477.7476 or visit their webpage and use their online registration.

The library is located at
10 Community Way
East Greenbush, New York 12061

08 March 2015

Our Lady Help of Christians Church

This blog post is in response to a great photo of the interior of Our Lady Help of Christians Church that was posted on the Facebook group, Albany... the way it was.  The church is located on lower Second Avenue in Albany's "south end" neighborhood.  This information is culled from the vast bank of data that I have collected on German-Americans in Albany.  Below is a copy of the photo from Matthew Magin.

Our Lady Help of Christians Church, interior

Albany’s third German Catholic church was Maria H├╝lfe der Christen, or Our Lady Help of Christians, situated at 74 Second Avenue.  The area surrounding Second Avenue was originally located in the Bethlehem hamlet of Groesbeckville until Albany annexed the district, in 1870.  Today the area is known as the “South End.”  The district was predominantly a German enclave.  Its inhabitants resided in small one-family frame homes.  The South End German Catholics originally worshipped at Holy Cross Church, but many found it difficult to travel to Hamilton Street.  Therefore in 1873 they requested that another German parish be created for their locale.

Our Lady Help of Christians

The church began in a small frame building as a mission for Holy Cross, with services conducted by priests from Holy Cross.  In 1874 Reverend Stephen A. Preisser became the first pastor.  The corner stone of the church was laid on June 27, 1880, during an impressive ritual with “pomp and ceremony” where at least two thousand people attended.[1]  On August 28, 1881, the church was consecrated with impressive services.[2]  Within the congregation, the church was known as “Maria Hilf,” or “Mary Help."

Among the parishioners it was well known that the early worshippers, the majority of them immigrants, had mortgaged their homes in order that their beloved church be built.  The cost of the church was $14,000.  In 1874 the church purchased eighteen acres of farmland in Glenmont for use as a parish cemetery.   

Our Lady Help of Christians, interior

Societies that functioned within the church included two benevolent aid societies or Unterst├╝tzungvereine: the Saint Stephen Society, established in 1874, and the Saint Boniface Verein, founded on August 27, 1875. As of 1897 eighty members paid monthly dues of $.35 enabling them to weekly sick payments of $4.00, a $100 death benefit, and a $50 disbursement for the death of a member’s wife. The society’s capital amounted to $3,042.41, and in 1891 the Verein joined the German Roman Catholic Central Verein. Both of these associations were benevolent societies that catered to the needs of newly arrived immigrants. The Holy Name Society and the Christian Wives and Mothers Society were based on spiritual enlightenment for women. Other female associations included Branch 452 of the Ladies Catholic Benevolent Association, the Saint Monika Verein, the Sacred Heart Society, and the Junglings und Jungfrauen Sodality, which promoted the advancement of religion in the lives of young females.[3]

Under the direction of the first resident pastor, Reverend Preisser, a parochial school was established in January 1875 on Krank Street, before the congregation was incorporated into a parish. Initially, lay teachers, including John Hess, taught the students until the services of religious teachers were secured. In 1882, responding to an invitation from the pastor, the Sisters of Saint Francis from Syracuse, New York came to replace the lay teachers. Their rigorous and demanding protocol gave the school a reputation for maintaining high standards. The school affectionately became known as “Krank Street College.”

In the 1890s the school had an enrollment of three hundred students.  School tuition was $.50 per month for pupils above the first grade and $.25 per month for first grade students.  As was true of so many of the German national schools of the time, instruction was given in both German and English.[4]  Morning classes were taught in German and afternoon classes in English.  

In 1935 a modern school was built and was in operation until the school closed in 1975, because of low enrollment.  Sadly, the church said an emotional Auf wiedersehen, after one hundred thirty years of service to the community, owing to dwindling parishioners.  The final mass was held on February 10, 2002.[5]

[1] Albany Argus, June 28, 1880, 8:2. Phelps, comp., The Albany Hand-Book, p. 59. Reynolds, Albany Chronicles, p. 688.
[2] Albany Argus, August 29, 1881, 8:3.
[3] Louden, ed. Catholic Albany: An Illustrated History of the Catholic Churches and Catholic Religious, Benevolent and Educational Institutions of the City of Albany, pp. 274-276. n. a., Geschichte der Deutschen in Albany und Troy, p. 155.
[4] Leary, The History of Catholic Education in the Diocese of Albany, pp. 53-54. Howell and Tenney, eds., History of the County of Albany, N. Y., From 1609-1886, p. 757.
[5] Robert J. Hohenstein, Our Lady Help of Christians Church Cornerstone, 1880-1980: 100th Anniversary (Albany: Phil’s Offset Shop, 1980), pp. 1-20.  Roberts and Cockrell, eds., Historic Albany, p. 218. The Evangelist, January 31, 2002.  Times Union, January 24, 2002, 1A:1.

27 February 2015

Albany's Veteran's Memorials

When Spring and warmer weather finally get here a blog post will be posted on the many Veteran's Memorials located throughout Albany.  It's just too cold to drive to and photograph the monuments. The idea for this upcoming post was put together after a surprising drive down Sheridan Avenue in Arbor Hill last week.

There is a lot of construction going on in that area.  Lower Sheridan Avenue previously named Canal Street was an Irish slum neighborhood known as Gander Bay.  Most of the homes in that area have been long torn down including number 172 Sheridan Avenue where my great great grandparents, Michael J. Gannon and his wife Anne Cummins Gannon lived and raised a family.  Their home was located where the New York State steam plant is now.  The homes that were left were very dilapidated.

The level of construction going on there did not surprise me.  The area definitely needs rehabilitation. What did irk me was the fact that a veteran's memorial, building, and flag pole dedicated to those from that neighborhood who served and died in World War II was completely torn down.  There was no remnant left. Everything was gone.

When I got home I contacted a couple of Veterans of Foreign War posts and they were aware of this. One person who I spoke with mentioned that the building had seen better days and was in rough shape.  I do not know how bad it was but I am assuming that it could have been saved with a little effort.  Also I was told that one of the construction contractors wanted to take the flag pole that was located on the site for his own personal use.

I may be off course but I do not know how Albany's officials could let this happen.  Shame on them!