03 December 2015

Evangelical Protestant Cemetery Restoration Project in Albany

It is believed that the oldest visible cemetery within the city limits of Albany is the Evangelical Protestant Cemetery located on Krumkill Road. The cemetery was established in 1854. Lately, has anyone noticed the condition of the cemetery?  Well, the cemetery is being invaded by encroaching scrub brush and sapling trees. This growth is overtaking the cemetery plots that boarder its perimeter. Many of these grave sites are those of Civil War veterans.

Inside the cemetery, numerous stones have toppled over due to a variety of causes. The longer the cemetery is in this condition; the harder it will be to bring it back. More importantly the grave stones, if left as they are, will incur further damage.

A new blog and an accompanying video were created to exploit the plight of the cemetery. Its pictures and video speak loudly. The blog is Friends of the Evangelical Protestant Cemetery, Albany, NY

Anyone who is interested in preserving a part of our local history should visit the blog and perhaps contact the "friends" if they are interested in helping with this worthy cause.

12 November 2015

Veteran's Day Remembrance to a Fallen Soldier

This blog post is in remembrance of a fallen WWII soldier, James Lyons Quinn. Not much is known about him aside from being my grandfather, Joseph Albert Koreman's second cousin. At some point I will trace his branch of the family tree.

James Lyons Quinn

James Lyons Quinn was born in Albany circa 1912 to Thomas J. Quinn (1891-1957) and Katherine Redmond (1890-1979). Thomas and Katherine had the following children:

  • William N. Quinn (1915-?)
  • Catherine M. Quinn (1919-1997) married Thomas L. Appio (1915-1998)
  • Rosemary T. Quinn (1922-1992) married Thomas W. Gunther (1924-1996)

My grandfather spoke regularly about WWII since he lost a younger brother, Arthur Stephen Koreman, at Iwo Jima. He also mentioned other cousins who lost their lives during the war. One was another second cousin John Joseph Hohenstein (1914-1943). Through research I found that he died from malaria in Italy. The second was James Quinn; whom my grandfather angrily mentioned numerous times that he was beheaded in a prisoner of war camp.

Below is a copy of an article from an undated and unknown Albany newspaper reporting Quinn's death. This article was passed to me from my grandfather.

A transcription of the article follows:

Quinn Death In Jap Prison Reported
Mr. and Mrs. Thomas J. Quinn, 170 Morton, today were advised by the War Department their son, S/Sgt. James Lyons Quinn, previously reported missing in action over the Marshall Islands, was killed Feb. 2, 1944, while a prisoner of the Japanese.

First reported missing on Jan. 19, Sergeant Quinn was one of the first Albany causalities of the aerial battle for the Marshall's. Today's official confirmation of his death, stating he was killed at a prison camp, was the first news his family had received on his capture. The War Department revealed his death was reported in seized records of the Japanese government, which had failed to notify either the American military or Red Cross authorities.

Aerial gunner of a B-25, Sergeant Quinn had completed more than 15 missions with the 396th Bombardment Group during his one and a half years overseas.

He was graduated from St. Ann's Academy and prior to joining the Armed Forces in July, 1941, was employed by the city Department of Public Works as an electrician.

In addition to his parents, he is survived by two sisters, Mrs. Thomas Appio and Mrs. Thomas Gunther, both of Albany, and a brother Pfc. William N. Quinn, who has returned to the states after completing more than two years overseas.

Below is a grave marker for Staff Sergeant James Lyons Quinn at Calvary Cemetery in Glenmont, NY.

04 November 2015

Brief History of the German-American Club of Albany

A series of upcoming blog articles will be posted regarding the former German Day celebrations that were held in Albany from 1904 through 1917. They were enormous fests that occurred over numerous days. These former parades may have even dwarfed Albany's St. Patrick's Day parades of today. However, very few people are familiar with these events from the past. Circa 1900, Albany was home to upwards of one hundred German clubs or Vereine. All of these German Vereine have disappeared except for one. The last remaining German club in the Albany area is the German-American Club of Albany; located at 32 Cherry Street in Colonie. The following information on the history of the German-American Club was compiled and written by Ulrich Fellehner in 1995 and edited and revised by Christopher White in 2007.

The present German-American Club is a direct successor to the German Gun club, which was founded on March 2, 1895 as Deutsche Schuetzengesellschaft #1.  The founding took place at the establishment of Johann Stapf, a tavern at the corner of Quail and First Streets in Albany.  We shall endeavor to give you a brief history and some interesting facts about our ancestral organization.

The “Gun Club” was one the last of the many German Vereine or societies to come on the scene before the end of the century.  Membership was restricted to 40 men, all of whom had to be born in Germany.  Apparently, many were of modest means.  We find frequent records of expulsion for non-payment of dues, which were .15 cents per month.  Another indicator is the passing of a rule that forbade any member to buy another a drink.  We assume that this was meant to spare those who could not afford to buy one in turn, the embarrassment.  The club also kept several rifles for common use although members were permitted their own guns so long as they were of the same caliber.

From the beginning, shooting was the club’s main purpose.  The first Schuetzenfest was held on August 15, 1895 and we are fortunate to have a photo of this event.  Practice and family outings took place at a variety of locations during the summer.  We find mention of Settler’s Hall and Garden, Lagoon Island, Collins Grove, Schaefer’s Grove, Wilkin’s Grove, and Hinkel’s Farm.

1st Schuetzenfest

The many German groups in Albany cooperated in a variety of ways, especially through the common ownership of German Hall on Beaver Street.  The year 1905 is an excellent example.  During this year, the Gun Club bought 10 shares of German Hall stock for $50.00.  They rented Liederkranz Hall on Sherman Street for a ball.  They took part in the 40th anniversary celebration of the Maenner Quartett, accepted an invitation from the German Veteran’s Society to attend their function at Dobler Park, accepted another invitation of the Brewery Worker’s Union to a picnic at Schaefer’s Grove, and joined the German Aid Society in an excursion to Schaefer’s.  It was further agreed to take part in the German Day celebration and have a Schuetzenfest on September 3rd with a practice shooting the day prior.

By 1907, the Gun club was strong enough to purchase a lot at the site of the present German-American Club for $180.00.  Earlier, all meetings were held at local taverns, mainly at Stapf’s but also at Strempel’s Hall at 253 Central Avenue, and Pikard’s Hall at 241 Central Avenue.  Now, plans were made to immediately build a clubhouse in Colonie, and to purchase additional land.  To accomplish this, with the same number of members, initiation fees were raised to $5.00 and each candidate was required to buy $5.00 in shares in the German Gun Club, as it was to be known.

In 1910, all summer meetings, from April to October, were held at “Schuetzenpark,” membership was increased to 50 members and work began on a bowling alley.  The club was on its way!

Former Bowling Alley

The first World War had less adverse effect on the “Gun Club” than on other German societies in Albany.  It should be mentioned here, that Adolf Meyer, a most outstanding President, led the club during that period.  While the majority of German clubs folded after succumbing to the intense anti-German propaganda and consequent actions, the “Gun Club” was one of the few survivors.  The reason can only be speculated on, but, it was probably because of the outside location in Colonie.  Fairly inaccessible, the club was not subject to the harassment suffered by other city clubs.  1918, marked the end of the German influence in Albany.  In the census of 1869, 4744 citizens gave their birthplace as “Germany” and the estimate of German speakers in 1890 was 20,000.  One could belong to any one of over 40 German societies.  In 1918, few very Vereine or societies remained.  These included the “Gun Club,” the German Hospital Association, and the Albany Maennerchor.

The German Gun Club continued to change, if ever so slowly.  In 1922, a resolution was passed to permit English spoken at meetings and in 1924 minutes of meetings were kept in English also.  1922, was the year in which the dance hall was constructed and membership was increased to 150.  There was a definite upward movement in the organization.

In 1925, an event took place that had great significance for the club; the Ladies Auxiliary was founded!  The Ladies would become a very important and indispensable part of the club and their role has ever increased as the years go by.  From preparing and serving food, raising funds, helping the needy and serving as chairpersons of events, the Ladies are always ready to help.  More recently they have also take their place on the Board of Directors and we are all richer because of it.  The history of club would not be complete however, without mentioning and honoring some of the outstanding Ladies whose contribution will not be and should not be forgotten.  We honor: Mrs. Borrmann, Mrs. Paulsen, Mrs. Krueger, Mrs. Schweikert, Mrs. Hoffmann, Mrs. Traegler, Mrs. Zewe, Mrs. Betzweiser, Mrs. Kopp, Mrs. Schwikard, Mrs. Blau, Mrs. Meyer, Mrs. Schwarz, Mrs. Sieler, Mrs. Meister, Mrs. Jaeger, Mrs. Verstandig, Mrs. Drautz, Mrs. Hafner, Mrs. Munninger; one could go on and on.

Increased immigration brought another element to the German-American scene and that was an interest in sports, namely soccer.  In 1026, the “German Albany Sport Club Armenia” was founded and among its founders were a number of members of the “Gun Club” and or the Maennerchor.  Cooperation the three organizations proved to be a great benefit to all of them.

In 1927, the “old” part of our present clubhouse was built and soon after, all meetings, summer and winter, were held there.  The economic outlook was much improved by this investment.  Small events could be held on premises year round.  The hall could be rented out and with park rentals, the future of the club was more secure.

In 1923, Adolf Meyer had first called for unity of all German groups in the area.  In 1938, the voice were raised once again and this time with success.  On March 6th, 1938, the “German Gun Club” and the “Albany Sport Club” merged and became the “Albany Gun and Sport Club.”  It was to be another two years of deliberations the Maennerchor decided on its course.  The outbreak of World War II swayed the last doubters as memories of 1914 came to the surface.  On May 14, 1940, the Maennerchor joined the other two and the “Albany Gun and Sport Club and Maennerchor” came into existence.  With its new strength, and the dedicated leadership of Joseph Bauhofer, the club survived the war years (1941-1945) despite many adversities and some losses.

The decade immediately following the war were memorable.  Again, new immigrants invigorated the club.  A Ladies Chorus was added to the singing section and the sports section was able to field several teams.  Leadership was steady and devoted.  For the first 20 years, after 1945, with the exception of two years, the club had only two Presidents: Arthur Borrmann and Karl Paulsen.  This continuity of leadership made possible long-range planning.  The result was an expansion of the clubhouse to its present size.  Large events could now take place on the premises.  The stage offered the singers new opportunities such as performing with the Delmar Orchestra.  The basement was built high enough to permit soccer practice in bad weather.  In 1953, something happened that threatened to impede the advances made since the war.  Through an article in the Times Union, an attempt was made to thoroughly denigrate the German organizations, especially “Schuetzenpark.” It was alleged that the club had been a “hotbed” of “Bund” activity.  Honorary President Bauhofer and President Paulsen confronted the writer and the paper about this slander and forced an immediate public retraction of the allegations.  1954 was therefore very significant.  In this year the club held, or took part in 16 different events.

The most important day was the “German Day” at Bleeker Stadium.  Large crowds were on hand when President Paulsen, Congressman O’Brien, and Joseph Munninger stood side by side at the ceremonies and marched together.  This event was very well received by the public and the press alike.

1954 Program 

Meanwhile, the Sport Club made its mark in soccer.  Karl Zwicklbauer, who had been ASC coach and manager, took a number of players and formed the Albany Athletic Club.  Competition between these two clubs was intense and for many years they split success in league play throughout upstate New York.  In 1965, the teams reunited and continued to be the top area soccer team for years.  Play ended in 1975 because of a lack of young players.

It was now time to bring the name of the organization up to date.  The “Gun Club” had not been active for many years and the Sport Club had stopped playing soccer.  The name “German-American Club of Albany” was chosen; a name the club proudly bears today.

The singers of the Maennerchor and Ladies Chorus competed and performed throughout upstate New York and brought home many awards.  Their proudest however, were the events the club sponsored in Albany.  Many remember the Fests and Concerts in 1947, 1958, 1959, 1962, 1965, and 1977.  These events rivaled any in the area.  In the 1980s, starting with the Presidency of Jakob Jaeger and continuing with Edward Genhofer and Gunther Hamel and to some degree today, the German-American Club became very active outside the club.  We sponsored many “German Days” at the Empire State Plaza, took part in International Days, Vietnam Day, Statue of Liberty Day, Christmas Festivals, Food Festivals, and many other occasions.  We are especially proud of our part in Albany’s Tri-Centennial where we had an award winning float and held a tree planting ceremony in Washington Park.

1986 Tri-Centennial Float
Today, we are mostly a social club.  Membership is open to all, regardless of sex, nationality, or religion.  We endeavor to maintain as much of our German heritage as possible under present circumstances.  We continue to speak German, play German music, and serve our German food.  Above all, we try to maintain that, which all who went before, considered most important, i.e., being hard-working, honest, and loyal citizens of our country, the United States of America.

The Albany Maennerchor

Between 1820 and 1900, 5.2 million Germans immigrated to the United States and in just the last two decades of that century, 100,000 arrived from Germany each year.  It was only natural that the traditional love of music should come to the fore.  The first singing societies emerged in large cities such as Philadelphia, Baltimore, and New York, which led to the founding of the first German-American Singing Federation in 1849.  During this year, the Albany Germans formed the first Literary Society and the first singing society, the Albany Liederkranz.  The society lasted only six years, but in 1865 a new group, “the Albany Maenner Quartett” was founded and from that day on, Albany was never again to be without a German Singing Society until 1990 when the voices of the mixed chorus of the German-American Club fell silent.

The time-period of 1870-1910 was a high point of German cultural and economic activity in Albany.  During that epoch, Albany had five different German Singing Societies and at times had as many as seven had.  In 1897, representatives of 22 upstate societies met in Albany and signed the constitution of the Central New York Saengerbund.  In 1911, Albany was host to the Sixth Saengerfest.  All five Albany clubs cooperated to make it a brilliant success.  Soon afterwards, all of the clubs felt a lessening of interest and competition between the clubs increased.  As the clouds of the European “Great War” cast its shadow over the land more and more, farsighted members advocated unity among the clubs.  On September 24, 1914, the “Albany Maenner Quartett” (founded in 1865) and the Eintracht Singing Society (established in 1868) met in the music hall of German Hall on Beaver Street and the Albany Maennerchor was born.

The new club counted 235 members, 75 of whom were active singers.  The first officers of the new organization were: President: Dr. George Lempe, First Vice President: Adolf Fraser, Second Vice President: Henry O. Sturm, Recording Secretary: Alfons Bachmeier, Correspondence Secretary: Franz Franke, Financial Secretary: August Mitzenheim, Treasurer: August Weber, Archivist: William Berben and Fred Phillips, Trustees: George Kreuger, Henry Fischer, and Dr. George W. Papen.  The first musical director was Frederick W. Kerner.

The Maennerchor emerged from the dark days of World War I, very diminished in numbers, especially, in the ranks of the non-active members.  A good number of singers remained true to their club however, in large part due to the inspiring leadership of such officers as Dr. Lempe, Adolf Fraser, and Henry O. Strum.  After 1918, a new wave of immigrants rejuvenated the Maennerchor but it also became a wandering club.  German Hall was sold and singing was moved to Liederkranz Halle on Sherman Street, to Strempel’s Hall on Central Avenue, to Washington Hall at 206 Washington Avenue, and then from 1926 to 1934 to 69 South Pearl Street and back to Washington Hall.  Concerts, plays, and other social affairs took place at several different locations.  Odd Fellow Hall (former German Hall) was used for large gatherings until 1952.  Our Lady of Angels Hall was frequently used for concerts as was Chancellors Hall in the New York State Education Building.  In 1936, Professor Laabs led the Maennerchor and the WGY Orchestra in a Spring Concert at this location.

In 1925, the Maennerchor became stronger with the addition of a Ladies Auxiliary, which proved to be invaluable as the club struggled to maintain its integrity.  The feelings of the singers about their uncertain state of affairs is best expressed by a little poem written by Honorary President Christian Martin on its Twentieth Anniversary in 1934.

Maennerchor braucht ein Plaetzchen
Und waer es noch so klein,
Von dem er koennte sagen:
Das ist unser Heim
Hier singen wir, hier feiern wir,
Hier ruhen wir uns aus;
Es ist unsere Heimat;
Es ist unser Haus!

Friendly relations between the Albany Gun Club and the Maennerchor date back to the very founding of the latter.  As early as 1915, members of both groups would join in sponsoring balls, picnics, and plays.  Henry O. Sturm, who was President of the “Gun Club” in 1912-1913 was also President of the Maennerchor in 1916-1918.  AS the years went by, more and more men were involved in both organizations and by 1934 prominent in “Gun Club” affairs.  We like to mention a few: Meyer, Martin, Schilling, Bauhofer, Drautz, Forkel, Mitzenheim, Barth, and Erb.

It was another six years before the poetic dream of Christian Martin came true.  On May 14, 1940, the Maennerchor found a home, and the Albany Gun and Sport Club and Maennerchor, a dream for unity became a reality.

The singing section of the Gun and Sport Club and Maennerchor now had a Ladies Chorus that was almost as strong as the Men’s Chorus and with new immigration became even stronger. Under the baton of the very able Professor Arthur Laabs, the Albany singers competed in every city belonging to the Central New York Saengerbund and brought home many honors.

In 1947, the Albany Club was honored to host the 50th Anniversary of the Central New York Saengerbund.  The three-day event took place in Odd Fellows Hall, formerly German Hall, and culminated with a picnic at Schuetzenpark.  Other memorable events in Albany included the five City Concert in 1958, the 62nd convention in 1959, the 19th Song Festival in 1962, and the 20th Saengerfest in 1965.  The size of the mass-chorus at this affair rivaled the 800 voice chorus that was heard in Rochester in 1959.  The last major event in Albany was the 24th Saengerfest in 1977.

By this time the Albany Chorus had shrunk considerably.  It was only through the dedication of such stalwarts as Adam and Eva Schweikert, Mildred Blizinsky, and the talent of John Tanis that singing continued for several more years.  We remember fondly the mass chorus (with Troy and Schenectady) at the German Days at the Empire State Plaza, the club singing at the mall at Christmas or at the Tri-Centennial in Washington Park.

Above all, we remember the untold hours of pleasure derived from their singing at the club.  In 1990, the voices of the Albany Maenner and Ladies Chorus were forever stilled.  The void in our midst is felt deeply.  May the memory live on!

The Albany Sport Club

The Albany Sport Club was founded in 1926 under the original name of “Albany Sport Club Armenia.” On June 19, 1926, a group of 27 sportsmen gathered at the club room of the Albany Maennerchor at 69 South Pearl Street in Albany to elect a slate of officers to direct the club’s affairs.  Elected were: President, Karl Gross; Vice President, Heinrich Allmendinger; Recording Secretary, William Barth; Financial Secretary, Robert Kopp, and Trustees for quarter-year terms, Hermann Gminder and Karl Heilig.  Henry Schwarz and Joseph Eid were responsible for the gymnastic section of the club.  Joseph Bauhofer was appointed liaison to the Maennerchor and work out details about use of that club’s facilities.

In July 1926, the name, which had caused some confusion, was changed to Deutscher Sport-Club Albany’26 (German Sport Club Albany 26).  Almost immediately a second team was formed in order to have an opportunity for training.

The next few months were filled with straightening out details of a growing club with questions such as; Who will pay for laundry? Who shall pay for trips? How much to pay the player for doctor bills? How to train referees and first aid personnel? There were also some games against the Arrow Soccer Club Troy, Caledonia Schenectady, Clan Mac Gray Schenectady, and Amsterdam.

In Spring 1927, the club changed its headquarters to 39 Quail Street in Albany, and paid $37.50 monthly in rent.  These premises had a bar, clubroom, hall, and almost immediately the club began to have social functions.  At this time it was decided to accept ladies as members with the same rights and duties as the men.  Wives of male members were dues free.  The result was that quite a few ladies joined the club and separate gymnastic hours, for men and women had to be established.

By 1928, the club was in full swing! League play was steady; the first members were suspended for attacks upon the referee! Sunday dances and outing filled the social calendar.  Non-Germans were accepted into the club after two years of debate over the issue; but a restriction was added to prevent non-Germans from becoming a majority.  Also in the same year, the first discussions were held about uniting all German Clubs in Albany into one club, but without success.  This did not deter cooperation between the clubs in other matters.  In 1928, the Sport Club arranged a large Sport-fest with participation of Troy and Schenectady.  The event was held at Schuetzenpark and all clubs pulled together to change a common field into a soccer field for this event and made it a success.  This year also saw the final change-of-name.  On October 2, 1928, the club became the “Albany Sport Club,” a name under which it was to have many successes through the coming years.

Former Dance Hall at Schuetzenpark

As in other clubs, economic considerations occupied much of the club’s leadership.  Dances had to be held, rooms to be rented, and things to be raffled off in order to pay the bills.  The players were very active and in 1930 participated in nine Cup-Games beside numerous friendly games.  Later that year the financial situation turned so bad that the club could no longer afford its clubhouse.  A decision was made to sell the equipment and rent a room for occasional use only.  Talks with the Albany Maennerchor about a merger went nowhere.

Records after 1932 are not available, but numerous trophies, won in cup play show that the soccer section of the Albany Sport Club was very active and competitive.  For many years, charter members and members of the Sport Club, advocated merger of the two.  It was a proud day for J. Bauhofer, R. Kopp, H. Gminder, W. Meister, A. Verstandig, H. Schwarz, J. Eid, P. Miller, A. Mueller, and many others when on March 6, 1938 the “Albany Gun and sport Club” was founded.

Under the new association, soccer continued vigorously.  By 1940, Franz Zwicklbauer was manager of the ASC and in 1941 he was able to report an unbeaten season.  The war put an end to further advances.  Many young players entered into the Armed Services and some lost their lives.  Soccer in New York State was so depressed that the Albany Club joined the New Jersey Soccer League.  When the war ended, in 1945, the players returned and resumed training.  In 1946, Franz was able to report his team ready for league play- and so they did.  In 1948, the reserve team was able to win the Central New York League Championship.

Unfortunately, there was friction between the main club and the sports section (ASC) which came to a head in 1948.  Franz Zwicklbauer took a group of players out of the club and formed the Albany Athletic Club (AAC).  This was a start of a great rivalry.  The two teams were always competing for dominance in area soccer; some year one would win and the next year the other.  In all fairness it must be said that the AAC was the stronger team, but it was the ASC which survived.  In 1965, the two teams re-united under the banner of the Albany Sport Club.  This was one of the best, if not the best team the area had ever seen.  With different players it campaigned with great success until 1975 when the ASC “took down its goals.”  The lack of new, young players was the deciding factor.

Fortunately the tradition continues.  Some of the excellent players became active in area soccer as coaches, advisers, referees, and managers.  Youth soccer has been the great benefactor of their dedication.  Any time one of the area’s young teams wins a game, or even a championship, somewhere in its history is certain to be someone who either played for or against the Albany Sport Club.

31 October 2015

General Respect & Patriotism in Albany circa 1918

This blog post is not meant to be soap-box oration. However with the way our culture and society has changed and disrespect appearing to become the norm and many issues becoming overblown with the need for politically correctness. I dug out a scrapbook that I created from photocopies of old newspaper articles from Albany newspapers when I was writing my Masters Thesis.

It is pure shame that an individual/s would desecrate a mausoleum in Albany Rural Cemetery this past summer and just recently the Vietnam Memorial in LaFayette Park was defaced by graffiti. Fortunately both memorials were cleaned and restored. Last year the Tri-County Council of Vietnam Era Veterans raised $250,000 to refurbish the 23-year-old memorial and added new features including benches and a 30-foot lighted flagpole.

During my thesis research numerous articles were copied and saved which detail the American fervor for patriotism after American entry into World War I in April 1917. The Capital District was no different than other American cities. A patriotic wave swept the Nation where all things German became hated. Germany was now our enemy and the "Hun" had to be defeated. This fervor also morphed an over excited American population where any citizen could bring charges of not being patriotic against anyone.

An example of this below comes from the Albany Evening Journal dated 17 April 1918;

If you ever, on the street, or in a trolley car, should hear some soft-shell pacifist or hard-boiled but poorly camouflaged pro-German, make seditious or unpatriotic remarks about your Uncle Sam you have the right and privilege of taking that person by the collar, hand him over to the nearest policeman or else take him yourself before the magistrate.

You do not require any official authority to do this and the only badge needed is your patriotic fervor. The same thing applies to women. Every American under provisions of the code of civil procedure, has the authority to arrest any person making a remark or utterance which "outrages public decency."

Attorney general Lewis wrote an opinion to this effect today, after F.J. McCarthy of Silver Creek, arrested a man he heard make a seditious remark promptly took him before a justice of the peace and had him imprisoned for three months, all inside of three hours. ...McCarthy was standing in the lobby of a hotel when he overheard the remark which was to the effect that "it is a shame to send our young men across to Europe to be slaughtered."

One week earlier on 8 August 1918 the Albany Evening Journal reported;

Benjamin F. and Earle Bullis, brothers, 22 and 20 respectively, who were arrested in Proctor's Fourth street theater, Troy, last night, for failing to rise when "The Star Spangled Banner" was played were summarily discharged from the Watervliet arsenal, at which they were employed, face a charge of disrespect to the flag for which they were arraigned before United States Commissioner Sipperly and committed to jail without bail to await a hearing later, and will be arraigned in Police Court tomorrow on the charge of disorderly conduct.

Colonel Monroe commandant at the arsenal, issued a statement today giving notice that he had discharged the men and would deal similarly with any like case in the future. The brothers are from Amsterdam and were given a deferred classification for being arsenal workers.

The next day the Bullis brothers' fate was reported again in the Albany Evening Journal newspaper dated, 9 August 1918; 

A mother's tears nor the eloquent plea for leniency by a prominent lawyer from Amsterdam failed to prevent Judge Byron in Troy Police Court today, passing sentence on B. Fay Bullis and Earle Bullis, brothers, of Amsterdam, for being the cause of the disturbance in Proctor's Fourth street theater in Troy Wednesday night, when they refused to stand while "The Star Spangled Banner" was being played. The court sentenced each to the county jail for six months, and there is also a charge under the espionage act pending against them before United States Commissioner Slipperly, besides which they have been discharged from their lucrative positions at the Watervliet arsenal and recommended for immediate induction into the army.

Yes, times have changed greatly. This should be food for thought for the disrespectful and for them to be grateful that times have changed.

New Mount Ida Cemetery Veterans' Monument Restoration

In September, a restoration project was undertaken at New Mount Ida cemetery in Troy. The focus of the project was to restore the grave sites of Civil War veterans who are buried in the cemetery. This venture was undertaken in the name and memory of Ed Dodge. Ed was a fellow cemetery enthusiast who passed away recently. Mr. Dodge was implemental in getting grave stone replacements for missing and damaged grave markers for veterans at the old Lansingburgh burial grounds. Ed researched, found, and photographed old abandoned Rensselaer county cemeteries. He posted his findings and photos on Find a Grave. Joe Ferrannini from Grave Stone Matters was secured and lent his expertise at preserving and conserving gravestones. 

Upwards of 24 stones were marked for restoration. Volunteers that helped in this venture included members of the Boy Scouts, members of the Sons of Union Civil War Veterans organization, and other interested parties. I brought two unwilling participants, my daughters, to help. It was thought that it would be a good lesson in sacrifice. The day was beautiful and why not have the girls give up some hours to help restore the grave sites of others who sacrificed so much more than a few hours. Grave stones of fallen Civil War soldiers not much older than my girls were found including one for a young man who died at the Battle of Gettysburg. I can only hope the girls learned a lesson about true sacrifice.

The three photos below were taken during the restoration. Notice the condition and how unlevel the stones are aside from also being broken.

The photo below is of another stone that was re-purposed for another reason. Perhaps something was incorrect with the stone or carving. Instead of discarding the stone, it was used as a base and placed under the stone and buried. Notice how clear the carving is. It almost looks brand new. The newly found stone was reburied under the tombstones after the ground was leveled.

Taken a few days later, the photo below of the semi-complete stone restoration. The stones were cleaned, re-leveled, and epoxied. The large stone needs re-mortaring where it was broken.

Forest Park Cemetery Tour

After a short hiatus from any blog posts, due to unexpected things that life holds in store for us. I am now playing catch-up on writing about events and other topics that I planned on delving into.

Forest Park receiving tomb
Last Saturday afternoon was the yearly Forest Park cemetery tour. It was led by Brunswick town historian Sharon Zankel . She mentioned that after ten years of hosting this event that this afternoon's tour might be the final tour. Although the day was a little chilly, there were over 50 attendees, including myself. This year was my first tour of the cemetery. Sharon began the tour with a welcome and an informative talk about the history of the cemetery and stated that this year's tour was dedicated and in memory of Edmund Dodge. Ed was a fellow cemetery enthusiast who researched, found, and photographed old abandoned Rensselaer county cemeteries. Mr. Dodge passed away while doing what he enjoyed most; discovering a long forgotten cemetery. Another project a couple of weeks earlier at the New Mount Ida Cemetery was also completed in Ed Dodge's name. That project will be the focus of my next blog entry.

Sharon discussed how the cemetery was created in the late 1890s by a group of wealthy Troy business men. The cemetery began with 220 acres and was designed by RPI graduated Garnet Baltimore. The goal of the cemetery was to imitate the "rural cemetery" movement from decades earlier. 

Enlarged map of cemetery layout

The cemetery financially fell on hard times filing for bankruptcy numerous times. The cemetery board also agreed to sell 200 acres of its undeveloped land to the Troy Country Club to help stay solvent. Ornately created shares of stock in Forest Park were also sold. An example of a stock certificate is below.

Stock certificate for Forest Park

As the tour began we walked to the famous headless statue at the Hollister lot where the head of the angel is missing. Horror stories about bleeding tombstones surround this moment. Vandals damaged the momument years ago as they have ruined other momuments in the cemetery also.

Headless Hollister momument

As we circled through the cemetery stopping at various lots; the tour ended at the formerly ornate receiving tomb which is now in ruins. The building was errected at a cost of $90,000 if I remember correctly. After the cemetery fell into disrepair and became overgrown and the receiving tomb vandalized; the building, which originally had a copper dome roof which was removed and scrapped by theives. The tour concluded with the rise of urban legends and ghost stories about the cemetery which was interesting. Below are photos of the ruins today.

27 September 2015

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Week 39; Jacobus Mulder & 73 Dove Street

It seems that I fell behind on my weekly ancestor bios. Summer and nice weather holds lots of things to do over research and writing. But, after racing around in yesterday's Albany History Race and being very near to a home of one of my great great great grandparents located at 73 Dove Street in Center Square I decided to revisit these ancestors.

Jacobus Mulder and Klaasje Klasen Booij were both Dutch immigrants to America. Jacobus, born 7 March 1824 in Leerdam, Zuid-Holland, Netherlands arrived in New York aboard the "Emblem" on 24 August 1848 with his siblings and German-born parents, Christian Friedrich Moller and Ursula Muller.

Klaasje, born 14 March 1833 in Oostellingwerf, Friesland, Netherlands also arrived in New York in 1847 with her siblings and parents, Klaas Booij and Geesje Raeloss Hoorn. At some point after arrival in the United States my ancestors names changed.

Klaas Booij changed to Nicholas Boyd. Geesje Raeloss Hoorn Booij became Lucretia Boyd. Their children's names changed also; Klaasje Klasen Booij was now Clara Boyd; brother Remmelt Klaus Booij became Robert Boyd; and younger brother Mense Booij was now known as Nelson Boyd.

Jacobus and Clara both Dutch immigrants met in Albany and were married on 13 July 1850 at the Madison Avenue Reformed Church. Jacobus was naturalized in Albany and became a United States citizen on 23 October 1854.
1854 Jacobus Mulder Naturalization

Soon after becoming American citizens the couple began their family which included:

  • Eugenia: (03 October 1855 - 03 March 1876)
  • John Nelson: (13 August 1858 - 12 June 1878)
  • Maria Louisa: (11 November 1859 - 19 February 1919) married Edward Kirk Hitchcock
  • Nicholas Boyd: (19 June 1862 - 03 October 1919) married Euretta E. Bates
  • James: (08 December 1873 - 06 July 1928) married Henrietta Dorothy Karl
73 Dove Street, May 2015

In the early 1870s the family purchased 73 Dove Street. Jacobus was a carver and I am curious whether his shop was on the first floor of his home. The interior photos of the home were found on the Internet when the home was previously for sale.

73 Dove Street, interior, pre 2014

73 Dove Street, interior, pre 2014

Shortly after daughter Eugenia died in March 1876 from consumption, Jacobus purchased a plot in Albany Rural Cemetery on 20 May 1876 for $50.00. 

1876 lot purchase card

On 19 December 1887, Jacobus died from pneumonia at 73 Dove Street. His wife, Clara, died on 19 February 1920 from arterio sclerosis. They are buried in the Mulder family plot at Albany Rural Cemetery.

Mulder plot in Albany Rural Cemetery

26 September 2015

Albany History Race 2015

Earlier today my new friend Paul and I competed in the second annual Albany History Race hosted by the Albany Public Library. The goal of the race is to introduce Albany's history in a fun and competitive way by getting clues from a booklet and then driving to a specific location where a photo of a team member has to be taken to prove that you found it. It is a big scavenger hunt. Last year I missed the race but was not going to miss it this year.

Every team had to pick four out of six "missions" to seek, find, and photograph with a team member in each picture. Each mission had two locations to find. So we had to find a total of eight locations. Upwards of twenty teams; each with varying numbers of members competed today. After finding each location and taking a picture, we raced to the next location.

We quickly tried to plan our route in a loop fashion so that we did not have to back track. When we left the Albany Public Library on Washington Avenue we headed out and got on Lark Street on our way to a secluded ravine just west of Lincoln Park where the water from the Beaverkill can be seen. The stream is completely underground flowing through a large conduit.

Our next stop was to find the Trolley Tree Sculpture at the Delaware Avenue public library.

Next we headed over to the Myers Middle School off Whitehall Road for a quick photo.

The fourth stop was to go to where Dan O'Connell was born at the corner of Second Avenue and South Pearl Street.

Our fifth stop was to photograph the small bridge and fencing where the Patroon Creek went underground and flowed to the Hudson River on North Pearl Street near Tivoli Street.

The sixth stop was to find the Myers house on Livingston Avenue.

The seventh stop was head to the birth place of Mayor Erastus Corning. He was born on Chestnut Street between Lark and Dove Streets. We realized this mission/stop while we were on Lark Street heading to our first stop; just after we passed Chestnut Street. With all of the one way streets in that area it was thought to get it later.

Our last stop was at the United Traction Company on Broadway and Columbia Street.

After we left the former United Traction Company we rushed around the corner to McGeary's where the finish line was. Paul and I came in third place and it was a great time. If this race is continued, I would recommend this event to anyone; especially families. At McGeary's it was nice to meet and chat with some other Albany historians who are involved with the Facebook group Assiduity!

15 September 2015

Cemetery Restoration Project at New Mount Ida Cemetery

Coming up this weekend is a cemetery restoration project at the New Mount Ida Cemetery on Pinewoods Avenue in Troy. The dates are Saturday and Sunday, September 19th and 20th beginning around 8 AM.

The focus of this project will be to restore the grave sites of Civil War veterans who are buried at New Mount Ida. This venture is being undertaken in the name and memory of Ed Dodge. Ed was a fellow cemetery enthusiast who passed away recently. Mr. Dodge was implemental in getting grave stone replacements for missing and damaged grave markers for veterans at the old Lansingburgh burial grounds.

Joe Ferrannini from Grave Stone Matters will be there lending his expertise at preserving and conserving gravestones. Please stop by to lend a hand at restoring the graves of our veterans.

05 September 2015

Albany History Race 2015

Coming up soon is an event that I missed last year and sounds like a lot of fun. The Albany Public Library is hosting its second "History Race" on September 26. It is modeled after the TV show the Amazing Race. Details of this event are below and clipped from Albany.com

Albany History Race

September 26, 2015 - September 26, 2015

  • Location: Albany Public Library
  • Address: 161 Washington Ave, Albany, NY 12210
  • Times: From: 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM
  • Admission: Free!
  • Contact: Local History Librarian
  • Phone:518-427-4376
Why visit one historic site in Albany when you can visit eight in one afternoon followed by a discounted meal with fellow history enthusiasts? The Second Annual Albany History Race is an Amazing Race style afternoon scavenger hunt for history experts, novices, and visitors interested in learning about Albany's past. The event will begin in the library's local history room and conclude at McGeary's Pub where participating teams will receive 20% off their food and drink that afternoon, plus additional discounts and prizes for the fastest teams! Registration required. For more details on how this exciting and educational competition works, and to register your team, visit the albanypubliclibrary.org event calendar.
Event Duration (Hours): 3
* Advanced registration required
Advanced Registration Information: Registration required. Please register your team by September 26th through the albanypubliclibrary.org event calendar.  Register here 
Not suitable for children under: 8
Additional Equipment required: Each team must have a car and either a phone or digital camera to take and store photos of their visits.
Not Wheelchair Accessible

20 August 2015

Former Albany Recreational Areas

The following is taken from a sub chapter in my 2005 SUNY Masters Thesis, From Acceptance to Renunication: Das Ende von Albanys Deutschtum. A few weeks back on the Facebook page, "Albany, the way it was" there were discussions about the former Dobler Park which was located in the vicinity of Hoffman and Second Avenues. This article will give a brief description of the various picnic spots that were popular in Albany in years past.

Below is a portion of a map from the City Atlas of Albany, New York, 1876 showing picnic grounds off Second Avenue in the center of the photo.

The area west of Second Avenue and Garden Street extending out to the Delaware Turnpike, now Avenue, was known as Blackman’s Farm and also Blackman’s Bush.  The name eventually changed to Colling’s Grove after Leonard Colling purchased 25.9 acres for $5,000 in 1868.  Still, later came another name change to Dobler Park, after the Dobler Brewing Company purchased the land in 1899.  The park became an enormously popular picnic ground for the German element until the land was sold in 1909 and sub-divided into building lots.  In 1903 and 1904, Fritz Erhardt operated a saloon on the premises of Dobler Park before becoming the proprietor of Shafer’s Grove in 1905.  According to city historian Virginia Bowers, parades and picnics were common in the “South End” of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries; many would start at the bottom of Second Avenue and South Pearl Street and proceed up Second Avenue to Colling’s Grove, where food, drink, music, and dance was enjoyed by all.  The annual German “Schwabenfest” of the Schwabenverein was also held each summer on these picnic grounds. 
On September 19, 1904, Albany’s first annual Deutsch Tag or German Day was held at Dobler Park and was “an unqualified success.”[1] The night before, the German Hall Association arranged an enormous vocal and instrumental concert at the Harmanus Bleecker Hall to inaugurate the first Deutsch Tag.  A children’s chorus of 250 voices, a male chorus of 120, and a mixed chorus of 250 entertained the German citizens of Albany throughout the night.  The Albany Argus praised the German concert, stating, “…yet it was nevertheless distinctively an Albany audience, the Germans have become so thoroughly assimilated in the civilization of the new world that all, whether born here or in the Fatherland, are Americans.”[2] German Day celebrated the arrival of the “German Mayflower,” the Concord, and the subsequent establishment of the first German colony in America at Germantown, Pennsylvania.  The colony was established on October 6, 1683 by Franz Daniel Pastorius and was composed of mainly religious refugees from the Palatinate.  On August 28, 1905 and August 13, 1906, German Day celebrations were also held at Dobler Park.  The third annual German Day of 1906 saw over four thousand people attend the festivities.  The celebrations included a parade in the morning, a picnic, and a field day at the park, both in the afternoon and evening.  At the fest, confirming the importance and industriousness of the German people, the Times Union proclaimed; “There is no city in this broad land which owes more to the sturdy descendants of the land of the Rhine than does Albany.”[3]
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.[4] A smaller recreational area east of Dobler Park was Grandview Park, off lower Second Avenue, circa 1912.  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.[5]

[1] Times Union, September 17, 1904, 6:2; September 19, 1904, 1:2. Albany Argus, September 19, 1904, 8:1; September 20, 1904, 3:3.
[2] Albany Argus, September 19, 1904, 2:4.
[3] Times Union, August 13, 1906, 1:6; July 21, 1906, 2:3.
[4] Knickerbocker News, July 25, 1960, 9A:1. Bowers, “The Texture of a Neighborhood,” p. 208.
[5] Times Union, July 20, 1914, 6:3.

19 August 2015

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Capt. Andrew Meneely Hitchcock

This week's ancestor biography is on Captain Andrew Meneely Hitchcock. Older brother of my great great great great grandfather, Aistroppe Robinson Hitchcock. Yes, I would like to find out why the named my ancestor Aistroppe. No wonder why he went by Robert. My Hitchcock ancestors were originally from Westchester County and in the early 1800s they moved to West Troy; now Watervliet. Also, numerous Hitchcock men were river people. They worked on the Hudson as pilots and Captains on river sloops, schooners, and steamboats.

Andrew Meneely Hitchcock was born in West Troy on 16 February 1808. He was the oldest son of Captain James Hitchcock (1785-1858) and Peggy Meneely (c. 1790-a. 1818). Andrew was named after his maternal grandfather Andrew James Meneely. He was also baptized at the First Presbyterian Church of Troy on 01 May 1808. Andrew's siblings included:

  • Aistroppe Robinson (1810-1876) married Margaret Ann Sickman
  • Alexander (1812-1871) married Abigail Irena Hanks
  • Marian (1814-      )
  • James Harvey (1816-1894) married Juliette Harriet Fuller
  • Eleanor Levina (1818-    )
On 11 August 1831, Andrew married Charlotte Crowner at the Reformed Protestant Dutch Church at Gibbonsville. Andrew and Charlotte's children included:
  • Barbara Helen (1834-1922) married Dr. William Ogden McDonald
  • Oscar Meneely (1838-1908) married Mary P. Platt
  • Richard Crowner (1846-1880)
  • Charlotte (1858-1871)
Their first three children were born in West Troy. Then the family moved to Brooklyn. Perhaps to be closer to the New York harbor shipping industry. Captain Hitchcock died on 21 March 1883. He was long associated with Hudson River as the below obituaries state.

From the Daily Brooklyn Eagle, 22 March 1883, 3:7

Captain Andrew M Hitchcock, the oldest surviving steamboat captain on the North River and one of the best known men connected with the inland transportation service, died early yesterday morning at his home, No. 427 Sixth street, in this city, in his 76th year.  Captain Hitchcock possessed a strong and vigorous constitution, and enjoyed excellent health until Ash Wednesday, February 9, when he was stricken by an attack of Bright's disease of the kidneys.  He rallied at times and it was hoped by his many friends that he would recover, but advanced years and the strain incidental by the long and active business pursuit in which he had been engaged, proved too much to contend against and his illness eventually terminated in death.  He was born in West Troy on February16, 1808, and commenced life on the river at the early age of 11 years as a cabin boy.  Working hard and not shrinking from taking his part in the "rough and tumble" peculiar to his occupation, he soon earned the esteem of his captain and employers and was promoted to the office of cook.  From this station he was advanced to that of mate, and from mate to captain, which position he filled with admirable ability and to the satisfaction of all with whom he had commercial transactions.  He commanded at various time the steamboats Oliver Ellsworth, Commerce, Trojan, John W. Mason, Jenny Lind, Oregon, Mercury, Koscisko and others, which were famous in their days as models of floating architecture.  His career was full of exciting and novel scenes and would furnish excellent material for a volume of abscribing interest.  In the course of his sixty-five years experience became acquainted with many of the most prominent men of the time and the name of Captain "Neely, by which he was popularly known to merchants and tourists was "as familiar as household words."  In consequence of being the oldest captain on the river, he was selected to carry President Lincoln and Cabinet during the Summer of 1863 or '64 on his boat River Queen, to Albany, whom the party made an excursion to the Capital city of the Empire State.  Captain Hitchcock was highly esteemed as a man for his sterling honesty and for the ability with which he discharged the duties devolving upon him.  He leaves a son and daughter, both of whom are married, and a circle of friends whose name is legion.  His funeral will take place from his late residence tomorrow afternoon at 4 o'clock.  the internment will be in the Albany Rural Cemetery.  the flags on all the Hudson River boats were raised at half mast as a tribute to his memory, immediately upon the receipt of the news of his death.

From the New York Times, 23 March 1883

Capt. Andrew M. Hitchcock, the oldest Captain on the North River, died yesterday morning at the residence of his son, No. 426 Sixth-street, South Brooklyn, of Bright's disease of the kidneys, from which he had been suffering for the past two years. Capt. Hitchcock, who was known familiarly by the name of "Capt. Kneely" at every landing place between this city and Albany, commanded steam-boats on the Hudson for more than 50 consecutive years, and was known and steamed by hundreds of river men.  He was born in West Troy Feb. 16, 1808. and was 75 years old at the time of his death.  He removed to this City when a boy and begun to work on the North River boats when but 12 years old.  At the age of 21 he became the Captain of a river steamer running between this City and Albany. and continued to command boats on the Hudson until about two years ago, when he was compelled to retire from business on account of ill health.  During his more than half a century of active work as Captain he commanded, among others steamers, the Oliver Ellsworth, Swiftsure, Commerce, Trojan, Anna, Kosciusko, Alida, Ontario, and Hero.  He was in command of the River Queen when President Lincoln and his Cabinet made a trip to Albany in her.  Capt. Hitchcock leaves a son and daughter, both of whom are married. The funeral services will be held at the residence of his son, No. 426 Sixth-street, South Brooklyn, tomorrow afternoon at 4 o'clock.  The interment will be in the Rural Cemetery, Albany.

Captain Andrew Meneely Hitchcock, lot

Obelisk Inscription

18 August 2015

Albany's Veterans Memorials, part II

This post is a follow up to a February article regarding the numerous Veterans memorials that are spread throughout Albany. An attempt was made to photograph as many of the memorials that I could remember. I am sure that I missed on or two.

As far as I know, the memorial that was on Sheridan Avenue; which is in the center of the urban renewal program there has not been relocated. Shortly after noticing that the former building and flag pole were missing, I discovered that a VFW group was trying to get a hold of the flagpole so that it could be honorably used elsewhere. I assume that they were not successful. Just think about how much that flagpole would bring it in scrap money for a hungry contractor. Or how great it would look on his front lawn or in front of his business offices.

The building that was torn down was a local community project from years past, I am told. Neighbors purchased the land, erected the building, and created the memorial for the neighborhood men who served and died in the Second World War. As time passed the building fell into disrepair. Most of the residents who maintained the property either moved from the neighborhood or died. The property was therefore off the city's tax rolls for many years. City officials must have been salivating at the mouth and waiting to pounce regarding the thought of a land seizure and its resale.

A further follow up will have to be looked into regarding the outcome of the flagpole. Below is a photo montage of memorials spread throughout the city, in no particular order. Descriptions as to what the memorial is and its location are given. Some photos were taken a distance to get the full monument in focus.

Community Park Memorial, Second Avenue & West Van Vechten Street

Spanish-American War Memorial at Graceland Cemetery
Henry Johnson Memorial Park, Henry Johnson Blvd
10th Ward Veterans, Townsend Park

WWII Memorial, 11th Ward, Northern Blvd

Civil War Soldiers & Sailors Monument, Washington Park

Civil War Soldiers & Sailors Monument, Washington Park

Henry Johnson Memorial, Washington Park
Spanish-American War Monument, Townsend Park
WWI Monument, New Scotland Ave & South Lake Ave
Sheehy-Palmer Memorial, Delaware Avenue
NYS Purple Heart Memorial, ESP

NYS Korean War Memorial, ESP

NYS Women's Veteran's Memorial, ESP

                                             WWII Memorial, ESP