27 June 2015

Old Homestead

A lot of us talk about what it was like going to grandma or grandpa's house when we were kids. But how many people can say they know the house that their great grandparents or earlier lived in. I have a small collection of photos of the home's of my ancestors when they lived in Albany. Most of the photos are recent.

A decision was made to check out the ancestral homes of my relatives after viewing city directories for years and documenting where they lived. Then I thought, lets see if these houses are still standing and what it looks like today. I have found that some are in great shape and others, well, not in as great shape.

Further below are a couple of photos of the former home of my ggg grandfather, Thomas O'Donnell. He was a longtime resident at 31 Van Zandt Street in Albany. Thomas was born in County Tipperary, Ireland in 1827. Thomas immigrated in 1844; perhaps to Canada for a cheaper fare to North America. He may have come through Grosse Île, Quebec’s former immigrant quarantine station. Canada's Ellis Island. This might be feasible because he married Catherine McCarthy in 1845 in Montreal and their oldest child Mary Anne was born in Canada the following year. Children of Thomas and Catherine:
  • Mary Anne (1846-1895) married James A. Burns
  • Johanna (1853-1912) married Henry Joseph Bailey
  • William (1856-1888)
  • John James (1858-1892) married Rose M. Clair
By 1853 the family was living in Albany where the rest of the children were born. Thomas was a laborer, served in the Civil War, and died on 25 September 1869. He was originally buried in St. John's Cemetery on Delaware Avenue in Albany. After all of the interments were removed, there is no trace of him being re-buried in St. Agnes' Cemetery where his wife is buried.

Below; two angles of 31 Van Zandt Street, Albany, New York.

Photos from the New Mount Ida Clean-Up

About two weeks ago I helped out on a tombstone cleaning and restoration project at the New Mount Ida Cemetery on Pinewoods Avenue in Troy. About a dozen people came out to help. One from the Troy Irish Genealogy Society, a few from the Sons of Union Civil War Veterans, Willard Camp #154, some RPI fraternity brothers chipped in, and a few of us who are interested in cemetery preservation.

We cleaned the stones and leveled their bases and then Joe Ferraninni from Grave Stone Matters worked his magic on patching the broken stones back together. The project was a two day affair. Saturday, when I was there was brutally hot and the sun unrelenting when you were not in the shade. I am told that the organizers were there until late Sunday afternoon finishing up. It was rewarding to everyone who helped because we knew that we were doing good. Although an enormous tree fell in the cemetery the night before during a quick moving summer thunderstorm, the cemetery is greatly improving due to the dedication of those who "adopted" the cemetery and are investing their time and efforts to restoring it back to a place of beauty.

Below are photos from the restoration project.

22 June 2015

Tombstone Cleaning Follow-Up

Earlier this morning, I went to Albany Rural Cemetery to place a flag on the grave of a man, George H. Swartwout, who married into my family. Recently I discovered that he was also a veteran of the Civil War. But unfortunately he died very shortly after he was mustered out of service.

George H. Swartwout

While at his plot I noticed a stone that I used to demonstrate how to clean a tombstone with D2 biological solution. The 10 minute video can be found on YouTube by clicking on this link. In September 2014 a blog post was created on this process. However today I was very surprised. I have known for a long time that all tombstones are not created equal. Some stones cleanup better than others. But this stone really whitened and brightened over the fall through the early summer.  The photos below will speak for themselves.

The above photo was taken before cleaning with D2.

The above photo was taken about one month after cleaning with D2.

The above photo was taken this morning; 8 months after cleaning.

16 June 2015

Old Mount Ida Cemetery Clean-Up

Calling all Volunteers! For a great cause, coming up this Saturday and Sunday, June 20th & 21st, there will be another cemetery clean-up, at the Old Mount Ida Cemetery in Troy; not to be confused with the New Mount Ida Cemetery (which isn't really new anyways).

The Old Mount Ida Cemetery is located on lower Pawling Avenue just up from the intersection at Congress Street. This clean-up day is organized by the Troy Irish Genealogy Society. Details about the day are cut and pasted below from their Facebook page.

Old Mount Ida Cemetery cleanup

Our first cleanup work date will be this coming Saturday-Sunday (6/20-6/21) at the Old Mount Ida and adjacent Old Catholic cemeteries on Pawling Avenue. We'll be starting about 9am, but come any time.

There are many damaged and overgrown headstones in this cemetery including a number of veteran's stones. Work on Saturday will include cleaning overgrowth around and dirt and moss on headstones and identifying stones for future (probably August) repair date. Tools and D/2 cleaner will be provided. Work gloves advisable.