18 November 2018

Ancestral Homes : 44 West Van Vechten Street

44 West Van Vechten Street

44 West Van Vechten Street, Albany, off Second Avenue. Ancestral home of my grandfather, George Edward Kirk White (1910-1982). He grew up in this house with his four sisters:
  • Margaret Agnes White (1905-1984) married Stanley Carr
  • Clara Edna White (1906-1978) married George Jacob Fleig
  • Mary Wilson White (1908-1973) married Elton T. Blanchard
  • Marie Mulder White (1912-1976) married John Joseph Fish
And his parents:
  • George Washington White (1871-1935) and Clara Hitchcock Boyd (1882-1966).

George Washington White

Clara Boyd Hitchcock White

13 November 2018

Exploring Your German Heritage in Albany

The Guilderland Public Library will host Christopher White, genealogist, historian, and gravestone conservator, on Saturday, 17 November 2018, at 2 PM, as he presents Exploring Your German Heritage in Albany.

Tips, ideas, and sources will be shared for researching your Germanic ancestors here in the Capital District. He will provide a brief history of German immigration into the Albany area and detail the two German enclaves in Albany and the institutions within their community to aid you in finding your elusive ancestor.

For further information, please see
Guilderland Public Library
2228 Western Avenue
Guilderland, New York 12084

09 November 2018

Upcoming History and Genealogy Programs

According to today's Rensselaer County Advertiser newspaper the following history and genealogy programs will be held soon by various historical societies.

Paul Raider to Speak on WWI
Paul Raider and others are giving an illustrated talk on World War I- On the Homefront, at the Stephentown Historical Society meeting on Sunday, November 11, at 2pm.

This special date is the 100th anniversary of the signing of the armistice ending the Great War. The event is at Stephentown Heritage Center, 4 Staples Road (corner of Garfield Road), Stephentown, New York.

The program is free, and the building is handicapped accessible. For directions, telephone 518.733.0010.

Veterans Day Event at Bennington Battlefield
Bennington Battlefield State Historic Site will host a Veterans Day observance, November 11th, at 11am. Speakers will highlight American service through the centuries, discussing the American experience in the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, and World War I. A musket salute will follow. This free event is open to the public, no RSVP required.

Anti Rent War Lecture
The Pittstown Historical Society has planned a lecture event. The Anti-Rent War of 1839 to 1869 will be the subject of a lecture by historian, Michael Barrett on November 15th, at 7:30pm, at the Pittstown Town Hall in Tomhannock. Barrett will talk about the turbulent pre-Civil War period in which armed resistance, terror, imprisonment and strife swept across 16 counties of upstate NY.

The Anti-Rent movement protested the leasehold property that the landed aristocracy refused to relinquish. Barrett, who is presently serving as the Executive Director of the Hudson Mohawk Industrial Gateway and the Burden Iron Works Museum in Troy, has lectured extensively and is a member of numerous local historical societies.

The meeting, which is sponsored by the Pittstown Historical Society, is free and open to the public. For further information, email: Pittstownhs@gmail.com or call Connie Kheel at 518.686.7514.

Holiday Pop-Up Tours at Oakwood Cemetery
Do you have relatives coming from out of town for Thanksgiving? Are you wondering how you'll amuse them after you've done all the turkey dinner and Black Friday stuff? Here's your chance to impress them with something completely different!

The Friends of Oakwood will offer guided tours of the Gardner Earl Chapel at 1pm and 2pm on Saturday, November 24th, for just $10 per person. Children under 12 are free. Registration is not required, but each tour will be limited to 40 people with priority going to registrants.

Please call 518.328.0090 with preferred tour time, name, phone, email, and number of people. The castle-like Earl Chapel is a National Historic Landmark boasting spectacular stained-glass windows, oak carvings and marble mosaics. It is popular venue for intimate weddings as well as memorial and funerals. For Googlemap directions, use 186 Oakwood Avenue, Troy.

Poestenkill Heritage Center Welcomes You
Situated on the outskirts of the Village of Poestenkill next to the Lutheran Church is a quaint home which we have transformed into a historical museum. During the three years we have been there, we have rotated various exhibits which we feel would be of interest to you.

During the Month of November, we are featuring an exhibit displaying various items from the Civil War, World War II, and the Korean War. We have many items of interest, including a greatcoat from the Civil War, a Marine, WAC, Army, and Navy uniforms, donated from various people in the community.

We hope you will visit our museum. We are open on Saturdays from 1-3. A volunteer will be there to greet you and share some of the stories surrounding our artifacts. Our Town Historian is also there on Mondays from 11-3.

Ancestry.com Tutorials at North Greenbush Public Library
Library Trustee and North Greenbush Town Historian, Jim Greenfield, is offering a free personal tutorials on the use of ancestry.com. Ancestry Library Edition is available at the library and provides access to 7,000 databases delivering an extraordinary online collection of genealogy information.

To set up your individual session, please call the library at 518.283.0303. The librarian will take your information, and Jim will call you to schedule an appointment. Don't miss this chance to learn how to use the most popular online genealogy resource.

29 October 2018

Brief Commentary on the South End

Recently I took a ride through Albany's South End neighborhood and was very surprised at what I saw. The day was cool but not cold. Aside from South Pearl Street between Madison and Morton Avenues it was very noticeable that the streets were completely empty. No one outside. No one walking. No activity. It was completely "dead."

At the same time, very evident was the number of newer buildings that have been constructed in place of those that were torn down over the years. Even more distinct were the number of empty lots lining the streets. Drive down Third Avenue.

It seems not that long ago the streets were lined with homes. Many of them frame structures in desperate need of attention. But the buildings were still standing. It appears that very soon most of the original structures will be gone if this neighborhood is not revitalized.

Over the past year the city has torn down numerous buildings during the evening hours. A structure is deemed condemned, a call to cut the electricity is issued, and the home is demolished under cover of darkness. When most citizens take notice the building is already gone and it is too late.

I wonder what the neighborhood was really like circa 1900. My grandparents told us stories of the different ethnic groups that lived there and their businesses. Everything was within walking distance. Kids playing in the street. There were very few cars then. Women cleaning their stoops and sweeping the sidewalk. Men walking home from work; relaxing on the stoop with a glass of beer. Lots of activity. One section of the South End where some of my ancestors lived was known as the "Beehive" which was situated around Catherine and Elizabeth Streets. That area held that title because there was so much activity buzzing around. Generally, people enjoying each others company and having a great time. Everyone knew each other.

From what I witnessed during my tour of the area the above description no longer exists. Perhaps the area will return to vibrancy someday but it appears that presently that is just a dream.

26 October 2018

Food Friday : Sauerbraten

Now that you know how to make the appropriate side dishes; such as red cabbage, German potato salad, and potato pancakes for many German dinners. Go for the big meal - Sauerbraten! This meal needs to be planned and prepared in advance since the meat must marinate for at least three days. If you choose to have this meal with red cabbage, the cabbage can be prepared earlier and then re-heated if desired.


- 4 lb bottom round roast
- 3 large onions, chopped
- 3 stalks celery, chopped
- 3 carrots, chopped
- 5 garlic cloves, whole
- 2 cups dry red wine
- 1 cup red wine vinegar
- 1 cup Coca-Cola
- 1 tbsp salt
- 1 tbsp pepper
- 1 tbsp parsley
- 3 tbsp sugar
- 2 tbsp mustard seeds
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 10 cloves
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 2 bay leaves
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1/4 cup gingersnap crumbs
- Cornstarch, as needed

1) To make marinade, in stock pot, add & mix onion, celery, carrots, garlic cloves, red wine, red wine vinegar, Coca-Cola, salt, pepper, parsley, sugar, mustard seeds, nutmeg, cloves, tomato paste, and bay leaves.
2) Bring marinade to a boil, simmer for 10 minutes, let marinade cool.
3) Put marinade and roast in large sealable plastic bag, refrigerate for 2 or 3 days, turn meat every 12 hours.
4) Pre-heat oven to 350F.
5) Remove meat from marinade, keep marinade, allow roast to warm to room temp (60 minutes), season roast with salt & pepper, on stove top heat oil in large Dutch oven over medium to high heat, once hot, brown roast on all sides, pour in marinade and bring to boil.
6) Cover Dutch oven with aluminum foil (to lock in juices), put Dutch oven lid on, put in pre-heated oven for 3 to 4 hours until meat is fork tender.
7) Remove roast from oven, tent w/aluminum foil
8) Strain marinade, discard mixture solids, add strained marinade back into Dutch oven, on stove top over medium heat, whisk in gingersnap crumbs and cornstarch until gravy is thickened.
9) Serve with red cabbage, and Spaetzle or potato dumplings.