24 October 2014

German Hall, 48 Beaver Street, Albany

A few weeks back I was involved in a conversation and someone mentioned the former German Hall that was on Beaver Street in Albany.  Therefore I decided to put together a blog post about German Hall.  The following is an excerpt from my MA thesis.

German Hall post card
German Hall Post

For over forty years, the numerous German societies longed for a “Deutsche Halle” or German Hall.  Circa 1904, the German Hall Association was formed to aid the German desire for a hall.  On January 18, 1908, their dream came true.  The Albany German Hall, costing $125,000, opened at 48 Beaver Street.  The hall included large assembly rooms, a ball room, kitchens, a spacious banquet hall reputed to be the largest in the city, a grill, restaurant, and a bowling alley.  The German Hall was an elaborate cultural landmark that became the dominant venue for German societies and clubs in the city.[1]

Schenectady Herold Journal Ad
Times Union Ad Feb 1913

As late as 1915, the German Hall Association promoted the study of the German language for the younger generation.  They also encouraged its study in schools and various institutions throughout the city.  The hall association suggested that all parents of Germanic descent teach their children to speak, read, and write the German language.[2] On October 2, 1914, the hall was toured by a large New York City theatrical concern with the intention of leasing the hall as a theatre.  The hall was considered a promising site because very few alterations to the building were necessary.[3]  The writer of this work was unable to determine the outcome of this venture, but concludes that the deal fell through.  Although the hall was home to most of Albany’s German societies and was the site for many successful concerts, the German Hall Association seemed always to be short on cash.  The Association owed the Albany Trust Company $60,000.  

Times Union 31 July 1918 1:3

           Regrettably, on July 31, 1918, the German Hall was sold to the Independent Order of Odd Fellows for $68,000. [4] Over fifty years later, Edgar Van Olinda, a Times Union journalist, wrote in his weekly column “Around the Town” of the atmosphere inside the defunct German Hall.  He asked, 
…do you remember German Hall…where no ladies were admitted without a male escort? And the small Hungarian orchestra that played there, lending a strange, exotic touch to the scene? And the fat oiley [sic] violinist, strolling between the several tables playing his wailing Gypsy melodies for the occupants of the red table clothed drinking and eating pads? And the watery-eyed, silent little timpanist, wearing white cotton gloves, making soft, rippling music with his felt-covered mallets on the spinet-like instrument called a cymbalon?[5]

[1] Times Union, February 25, 1907, 6:2., 3:3.
[2] Ibid., August 20, 1915
[3] Ibid., October 2, 1914, 1:3.
[4] Ibid., July 31, 1918, 1:3. Schenectady Herold-Journal, June 1, 1917, 5:2; February 8, 1918, 1:6; June 21, 1918, 1:4.
[5] Times Union, January 14, 1970, 6:1.

21 October 2014

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Week 1; Henry Koreman

It is hard to believe that I did not find the challenge of writing a blog/biography article on 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks until this weekend.  I am a little behind so I have my work cut out for me if I am to catch up with other genealogical bloggers! Some bios will be longer and more detailed  then others.  My first bio will be on Henry Koreman; one of my great-great grandfathers on my mother's side.

Henry Koreman, circa 1910

Henry or Hendrikus Koreman was born in the city of Zierikzee, in the Province of Zeeland, in the Netherlands on 27 March 1841.  He was the son of Cornelis Koremans who was baptized on 29 August 1810 in the city of Oosterhout, in the Province of Noord Brabant and died in Albany, New York circa 1867 and Maria Catharina Colen who was born circa 1803 in Antwerpen, Belgium and died in Albany, NY on 11 May 1873.  Cornelis and Maria were married on 18 August 1837 in Zierikzee.

Hendrikus Koremans birth certificate

Cornelis and Maria had three other children; all born in Zierikzee.  Maria Allegonda born 16 March 1838, Catharina born 5 March 1839, and Adrianus Johannes born 31 January 1844.  Cornelis was a shoemaker in Holland and continued his trade in the United States after he and his family immigrated circa 1852.  I have yet to find the exact date when the Koreman family sailed to America yet I know that by 1855 they found a home in Albany, New York.  Below is a copy of the 1855 New York State Census.  Note the incorrect spelling of the Koreman name.  The census enumerator listed them as Coleman.

1855 New York State Census

In the 1860 Census, 19 year old Henry was listed as a shoemaker  as was his father Cornelis.  By 1863 Henry entered the trade of harness maker and saddler.  Not yet married he still lived with his parents and boarded at 49 Jefferson Street according to the 1863 Albany City Directory.  At the end of 1863 on December 29  Henry married Margaret G. Behrhof; born August 1844 in Grossbardorff, Bayern, Deutschland and died in Albany on 4 February 1908.  The couple were married at the Holy Cross Church on Hamilton Street.  The church was the only German Catholic church in the city at the time.  The newly weds resided at 160 Broad Street.  Interestingly Henry's younger brother Adrianus Johannes, who in all New York records is found as named Charles, married Margaret Behrhof's younger sister, Magdelena.  Therefore two brothers married two sisters.

Henry and Margaret resided in Albany's South End at 16 Osborn Street for upwards of thirty years. This section was called "Dutch Hollow" which centered on the area of Elizabeth, Delware, and Alexander Streets.  The area was called "Dutch Hollow" not for the number of "Holland-Dutch" residents that lived there; but for the large number of German or "Deutsch" immigrants who lived in that neighborhood.

Henry and brother Charles were in business together in 1873 as saddlers according to the Albany City Directory for that year.  Below is a listing from the directory for their business.

1873 Albany City Directory, p. 123

By 1880 Henry was listed as a harness maker and his business was located at 373 South Pearl Street, which was the building immediately next to Eintracht Hall, number 371.  Eintracht Hall was the premiere German Hall during this time.  Numerous German societies including many of the Gesängvereine or singing societies held their practices and meetings there.  Singing would play a large role in Henry's life.  Henry kept his harness making business in the Albany's South End on South Pearl Street at various locations for the remainder of his working career.  From 1899 till 1919 he was located at 395 South Pearl Street.

373 South Pearl Street - vacant lot & Eintracht Hall to right (2004)

Henry and Margaret had ten children all born in the South End of Albany.  One child is unknown. Their children were

  • Mary Louisa (1866 - 1962)
  • Henry (1867 - 1916)
  • Catherina (1872 - 1911)
  • Theresa Ann (1873 - 1959)
  • John Henry (1875 - 1942)
  • Anthony George (1878 - 1936)
  • Stephen Joseph (1882 - 1968)
  • Edward George (1884 - 1945)
  • Joseph William (1886 - 1979)

The photos below are of Henry and other family members most likely after a Saengerfest or at one of the German Day festivals that Albany held on a yearly basis.  These fests always ended with a large picnic.  One such picnic area was Dobler Park which is in the vicinity of today's Hoffman Park. 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.  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.

Henry Koreman seated center 

Henry Koreman seated left

Singing held a large role in Henry Koreman's life.  On September 20, 1875, the Mozart Singing Society was established.  It was a very small Gesängverein, having only eight members.  Although, the club was diminutive, it was still able to compete with the larger singing clubs, on account of the talents of its members.  In 1884 Henry Koreman was its president, Peter Behrhof was vice president, and Stephen Behrhof was secretary.  The Behrhof brothers were also brothers-in-law to Henry. By 1886 the society numbered fifty-three members. 

In 1860 Henry joined the Holy Cross choir and in 1910 the choir held a 50th Anniversary banquet for him. Below is a scan of the program.

Front cover
Rear cover

Pages 1 & 2
Pages 3

Below left is an article from the Times Union detailing the events of the anniversary banquet and to the right is a scan of the Holy Cross Choir from 1912.  Henry's sons Edward and John along with son-in-law Andrew Hahn were also members of the choir.

Henry Koreman, a many faceted man.  He was a son, an immigrant, a husband and father, a singer, and a prominent tradesman.  Henry passed away on 18 February 1923 in Albany at the home of his daughter Theresa Ann Koreman Hahn at 120 Morton Avenue.  When Henry died there was a lot of coverage on his passing in the Albany newspapers.  Below are some of his obiturary articles.




Henry Koreman was buried in the Koreman family plot at Our Lady Help of Christians Cemetery in Glenmont, New York.



10 October 2014

New Mount Ida Cemetery clean-up day

I am told that on Saturday 18 October 2014 there will be a clean-up day at the New Mount Ida Cemetery on Pinewoods Avenue in Troy from 9 am till 3 pm.  A small dedicated group is slowly transforming this cemetery gem from a neglected eyesore to a friendly walkable retreat.  Years ago the cemetery was a mess; with grass growing upwards of being waist high.  Today the cemetery is not overgrown anymore and volunteers are up righting and repairing fallen tombstones.  The volunteer group needs help clearing fallen tree branches and debris.  Come spend a few hours with a great bunch of people and help return the New Mount Ida cemetery to greatness.

04 October 2014

Gravestone Cleaning Follow-Up

This morning during a break in the rain showers I took a ride to Albany Rural Cemetery to check the stone that I cleaned last Sunday with D2 biological solution. The stone was noticeably brighter than last week after we finished cleaning it and filming the process. Below are three pictures of the stone; the upper photo is the stone before cleaning, the middle photo is after cleaning, and the lower photo is one week later after the stone brightened from the cleaning.

Before cleaning

Immediately after cleaning

One week later

All in all it was a successful project. The stone cleaned up nice and it may continue to brighten a little more as the sun shines on it.

02 October 2014

Pinewoods Cemetery Walking Tour

According to the Facebook page of the Troy Irish Genealogy Society, there will be a walking tour of the Forest Park or Pinewoods Cemetery in Troy to be held on Saturday October 25 at 1 PM with a rain date of Sunday October 26 at 1 PM. 

I looked into this further and the Brunswick Town Historian will be the host and guide. There was nothing listed on the Brunswick Historical Society's web page. For more info it would be best to contact Sharon Zankel, Town Historian at 518.279.3461.

Historical Photo of the Cemetery Entrance

28 September 2014

Gravestone Cleaning Video

Earlier this afternoon, my wife and I were at Albany Rural Cemetery and we created a short video on how to clean a gravestone. We went to a relative's lot and chose a stone within it and I began to clean the stone and also described why and how to clean it while Michele filmed the demo. The video will be at the end of this blog entry.

I must mention that I am not a professional gravestone conservator; simply a genealogist and descendant from my ancestors who is caring for his ancestors and relatives gravesites as best as he can. I have cleaned numerous gravestones of my relatives and have uprighted and leveled half-dozen others.

I admit that some stones have cleaned up better than others. But whether one gravestone comes out better than the next; they all are in much better condition that before I started.

A picture of the gravestone pre-cleaning is below.

A picture of the gravestone post-cleaning is below.

In two weeks, I will come back to this plot to check whether the gravestone has brightened. The lichens that were growing on the stone were removed and the stone is obviously cleaner than before. Time will tell how it comes out.

Below are two photos where the outcome was great with only one cleaning application.


The original video was shot in HD and was crystal clear but unfortunately the video had to be compressed in order to be uploaded on this blog.  Video quality and clarity were lost.

26 September 2014

Murder at Cherry Hill

Another annal October tour at one of Albany's historic gems will be held in a few weeks at Cherry Hill located at 523 1/2 South Pearl Street on the outskirts of the South End. A description from Cherry Hill's web page states:

On May 7, 1827, a notorious murder occurred at Cherry Hill that resulted in two sensational trials and Albany’s last public hanging. Come relive that night! Meet the historical players, walk in the footsteps of a murderer, and revel in harrowing titillation during this annual event!

$18/$12 for members

Friday, October 24 at 4:00, 5:30, and 7:00 pm

Saturday, October 25 at 4:00, 5:30 and 7:00 pm

Pre-registration and payment are required to guarantee your spot. Contact Education Director Becky Watrous at (518) 434-4791; becky@historiccherryhill.org

Historic Cherry Hill is open for tours April through December. Closed Christmas Eve through March.

Adults: $5
College Students and Seniors: $4
Children: $2

Historic Cherry Hill is located at 523 1⁄2 South Pearl Street in Albany, just off Exit 2 of Interstate 787. From the North, take Exit 2. At the light, turn left, and look for Historic Cherry Hill immediately on your right. From the South, take exit 2, and follow the ramp straight to the end. At the light turn left. Under the overpass, take anther left onto Route 32 South. Bear right onto 787's exit ramp. At the light, turn left, and look for Historic Cherry Hill immediately on your right.