29 July 2017

Underground Railroad History Project of the Capital Region

This week's historical organization plug is on the Underground Railroad History Project of the Capital District. The following information was taken verbatim from its website.

ALBANY, NY 12210
TEL: 518-432-4432


The Underground Railroad was the movement that enslaved African Americans used to gain freedom in the 19th Century. The Capital Region of New York State was visited by thousands of fugitives seeking freedom in the years prior to the Civil War. URHPCR, Inc. seeks to acknowledge the active underground railroad movement in our region, to raise awareness about and stimulate interest in this little recognized and inspiring part of our history, to understand it in its historic context, to encourage the recognition of local historic figures and the activities in which they engaged, to preserve that history, and to relate that history with us today.

Underground Railroad History Project of the Capital Region, Inc. (URHPCR) is a non-profit organization that seeks:
To promote and encourage knowledge and understanding of the Underground Railroad Movement and its genesis and legacy in the Capital Region and in New York State, and as a significant element of the history of the United States;
To acknowledge the participation in, cooperation among, and felicity between African- and other Americans in the Underground Railroad Movement;
To promote and encourage historical research on the Underground Railroad Movement in the Capital Region, in New York, and in the United States;
To gather, preserve, display, and make available for study artifacts, relics, books, manuscripts, papers, photographs, and other records and materials relating to the history of the Underground Railroad Movement in the Capital Region and New York State;
To encourage the suitable marking of places of historic interest relating to the Underground Railroad Movement in the Capital Region;
To purchase, gift, devise, or otherwise acquire the title to or the custody of historic sites and structures relating to the Underground Railroad Movement in the Capital Region, to preserve and maintain such sites and structures, and to interpret them for the benefit of the public; and
To place the Underground Railroad movement in its proper context as the first civil rights movement, and as part of the ongoing struggle for equity, freedom, and justice.

Since its incorporation in 2003, this effort has created a strong program of education and research that celebrates and preserves the story of the Underground Railroad in Albany and the Capital Region and its relationship with us today.URHPCR has identified the key primary and secondary figures and their activities, and has developed a general outline of the local history of the movement.

We offer here research about local Underground Railroad figures and the local story. We ask you to help us in this work. If you would like to help us in the programs we do please get in touch with us. The story of the local Underground Railroad is compelling, dramatic, and something that can help us in the present day as we struggle with many of the issues that arose then and are still with us today. These are issues such as civil rights, voting rights, education in the community and for African Americans, self-determination, constitutional rights questions, and even international relations. If you know of such information that can help us as we research and document the UGRR in the Capital Region, please contact us!

28 July 2017

Rensselaer County Historical Programs

The following two articles come to me from today's Rensselaer County Advertiser newspaper. These events take place this weekend. Time is short.

Loyalist Presentation in Hoosick Falls
Historian Todd Braisted will deliver a presentation entitled "The Royalist Corps in the 1777 Burgoyne Campaign" at the Louis Miller Museum located at 166 Main St., Hoosick Falls, NY on July 29 at 2:00 PM

Braisted has appeared as a Guest Historian on the PBS Series "History Detectives." He is the author of Grand Forage 1778 as well as co-author of eight other books on the American Revolution. He has written over thirty published journal articles and lectured extensively throughout the United States and Canada. In 2015, Braisted was selected to become the official project historian for the town of Fort Lee's American Battlefield Protection Program grant.

The drive to Albany by General John Burgoyne in 1777 included not only British and German troops, but over 1,200 Americans, raised principally during the campaign. Some four battalions and several independent companies, collectively known as "Royalists," would continue in service, to one degree or another, through 1781. Their service during and after the campaign brought both honor and disappointment to those who commanded and served in the corps. To the British commanders in Quebec, they would mostly be the cause of headaches. Join us as we cover the careers of such people as Francis Pfister, John Peters, Ebenezer Jessup and Daniel McAlpin in their fight to maintain British rule in America!

Nassau History Story Day
Ever wonder what it was like growing up in Nassau years ago? Is there something you always wanted to know about Nassau? Or if you just want to hear a good story or two, join a panel Nassau's "mature" residents as they talk, reminisce and gossip at a Nassau History Story Day on Sunday, July 30th, at the Village Commons Park on John Street. Taking place between 2 and 4 pm in an informal setting under the tents; all are invited to take part in this free event. For more information see www.Nassau12123.com or call 766-2291. Rain or hot weather location will be Nassau Village Hall, Malden Street.

Friday Funny

Friday Funny
If you mess with my genealogical data, pictures, or tombstones. I will show you a level of crazy that will make your nightmares seem like a happy place!

27 July 2017

Throwback Thursday : Charles Koreman?

The above Carte de Visite (CdV) came from the album of Henry Koreman (1841-1923). Henry was one of my great great grandfathers. Henry had a younger brother Charles (1844-1908) who enlisted in the Civil War but was discharged for being a minor, as can be seen below from the New York State Volunteers 177th Infantry rooster.

Family lore has it that his father, Cornelis Koreman, bought him out of military service only to have him re-enlist later into the NYSV 12th Calvary. The above CdV is of a young man in a Zouave uniform. Brief research finds that Company A of the 177th Infantry was also known as the Albany Zouave Cadets. Although Charles' rooster data indicates that he enlisted in Company E, could his company information be incorrect? And could this be Charles Koreman in a Zouave uniform?

Charles Koreman, NYSV 12th Calvary
The above tin-type is that of Charles Koreman in his 12th Calvary uniform. If this photo was taken near the time of his discharge, he was 21 years old. If the above CdV was taken at the time of his enlistment, Charles was 18 and not 19 as indicated in the rooster. I see a resemblance. Does anyone else?

26 July 2017

Albany I Spy, August 12th

Albany I Spy
I spy with my little eye... Albany!

The fourth, almost-annual Albany I Spy will be kicking off in Downtown Albany once again Saturday, August 12! We're switching things up a bit this year though. The first five picture clues will be available to hunt early on August 7th and those last seven, you'll have to arrive at The City Beer Hall at noon, Saturday August 12 to find out what they are and you will be timed! That's right, Albany I Spy is now a timed event! Whichever team finishes the quickest will be crowned (figuratively only of course) the new kings and queens of Albany scavenger hunts.

Where to find the first five clues:

On Monday morning, August 7th, the first five clues will go live at albany.org/albanyispy

Make sure you register your team on the Eventbrite site by Friday, August 11 at 6 pm. We'll need to know how many people to expect.
Here are those sticky rules to make sure you're keeping it clean:

1) All team members need to stay with their teams at all times. You may not "divide and conquer." There will be spies throughout the city keeping an eye on what you are doing. Don't chance it. If your team is caught it could mean an immediate disqualification.

2)You may have up to six (6) people per team. Any more than that you will need to split up.

3) You may NOT use modes of transportation. This is a scavenger hunt for your feet. If you get tired and need a break, no worries, there are outdoor benches and indoor bar stools all over the place.

4) Your team must take a picture with each building/landmark/statue to prove you found it on the clock. Your entire team must be present in the photo with the exception of the team member taking the picture. No selfies! If you want to do silly things in your pictures, we can't stop you and in fact we urge you to do so.

5) Each team will be given one team sign that will need to be featured in each of your photos. You only get one so don't lose them.

6) You will have a three hour time limit. If you don't finish within the time frame you will receive a DNF but don't let that dissuade you, come on back to the City Beer Hall and enjoy drinks and some face time with your fellow local history nerds.

7) Having a hard time? Don't forget your Twitter feeds. Throughout the event additional clues will be posted to help you along.

8) This is supposed to be fun! It's great to be competitive but don't be a jerk.

9) Be aware of private property. All clues can be seen from the roads and sidewalks. Don't go trouncing through people's yards, there's no need to.

10) Don't break the law. Easy enough.

There will be prizes, because what kind of competition doesn't have cool local stuff to win? The first three teams to finish will get their choice of three prize packages from local businesses.

Tales From Sleepy Hollow at the Ten Broeck Mansion

Tales From Sleepy Hollow

When: Friday, Aug 4, 2017 - 7:30 PM 
Where: Ten Broeck Mansion Gardens9 Ten Broeck Place AlbanyNY 12210
Cost: $15

Get ready for a good 'ol fashioned ghost story, steeped in the history and culture of upstate NY! Adapted from Washington Irving's beloved stories, "Rip Van Winkle" and "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow," Tales From Sleepy Hollow brings both these classics to life like you've never seen them before!
Rip van Winkle is a man who "never stands when he can lean, never leans when he can sit, never sits when he can fall asleep, and would sooner die than do a good day’s work," much to the dismay of his long-suffering wife. So when a mysterious stranger invites him out for a wild night in the Catskills, he leaps at the opportunity for a little rest and relaxation. Little does he know he's in for a little more rest than he bargained for...
Ichabod Crane always has an angle. Wherever there's money to be swindled, food to be seized, and beautiful women to con, that's where you'll find him. Unfortunately for him, he finds all three in Sleepy Hollow, which is also where a certain headless spectre makes his home…
Come see both stories mingle and overlap in surprising ways in this original script by Marty Egan and Stephen Henel, offering both comedy and spookiness in a show that's sure to entertain the whole family!
Confetti Stage, Inc. and Ten Broeck Mansion partner again for their fourth year of bringing exciting outdoor theater to the Arbor Hill Community.

 As a special treat for the community, performances on Sunday, August 6th at 2PM and Thursday, August 10th at 7:30PM will be free to everyone! There will be light refreshments available to purchase at all performances. Students and children 12 and under get in for just $8! Watch Confetti Stage’s Facebook Page for more updates!
Tales from Sleepy Hollow is directed by Cory Haines and features: Laura Darling, Keyonn Everett, George Filieau, Spencer Flottman, Elizabeth Helmer, Chris Kowalski, John Nickles, Alyssa Plock, Joe Plock, John Quinan, Tricia Stuto, and John Whitehead; with puppet creation and design work by Carol Bosselman.

Ancestral Home : 445 Clinton Avenue, Albany

445 Clinton Avenue, Albany
Home of great great grandfather Charles William White
one of few homes on Clinton Avenue with a front lawn

25 July 2017

Tombstone Tuesday : Henry Gerrick

The above photo was taken in the Evangelical Protestant Cemetery in Albany during the early Summer of 2016 before I repaired little Henry Gerrick's gravestone. The bottom right corner was broken and missing. However, shortly thereafter his stone was repaired. Here a red tail hawk is keeping guard on his stone. The below photo appears that the stone is slanted. It is level.

24 July 2017

Military Monday : Colonel Adolph von Steinwehr

The following information was culled from the web site Fold3. For more information on Adolph von Steinwehr, see Frederick Phisterer's 1912 work, New York in the War of the Rebellion, 1861 to 1865.

Colonel Adolph von Steinwehr
Adolph Wilhelm August Friedrich Von Steinwehr was born 25 September 1822 in Blankenburg, Brunswick, Germany. Immigrated to the United States in the 1850s. Enlisted in the Union Army as Colonel of the Twenty-ninth New York Volunteers; also known as the Astor Rifles: First German Infantry. Engagements include First Battle of Bull Run, Battle of Chancellorsville, and Battle of Gettysburg. Died in Buffalo, New York on 25 February 1877. Buried in Albany Rural Cemetery.

von Steinwehr monument at Albany Rural Cemetery

Monument Relief

Monument Plaque

Monument Committee

Krumkill Road Cemetery Clean-Up Party

My friend Brian, who is also helping to reclaim and maintain the grounds of the Evangelical Protestant Cemetery on Krumkill Road has a clean-up party at the cemetery set for this Sunday, 30 July; from 8AM till 1PM.

He created an event on Facebook to publicize this clean-up day. If anyone has a couple of hours to spare for a good cause, please stop by and lend a hand. We are going to attempt to clear and remove the scrub brush, vines, and weeds from the center hilly area of the cemetery.

Brian is attempting to secure donations from local businesses to supply the workers with free coffee, drinks, and hopefully pizza for the workers.

Hopefully we will see you there!

23 July 2017

German Language Education in Albany Schools

In the mid 1850s, German was taught in all of the German parochial schools, but not in the city’s public schools.  A society to create a Freier Deutscher Schulverein, or a free German public school, was therefore instituted in 1855.  Picnics, balls, and theatrical performances were organized to help aid the school society.  On March 2, 1856, the school opened at 63 Green Street.  Three years later, the school moved to Madison Avenue near Franklin Street.  Tuition cost $.06 week for children under nine years old and $.12 per week for children over nine years old.  Carl A. Meyer was hired as the school teacher for $7.00 per week.  Meyer remained in that position until the school closed in August 1882.[1]
Beginning in the early 1870s German was now taught in both private and public schools, such as the elite Albany Academy for Boys, the Albany Academy for Girls, and Albany High School.  By 1873 German citizens had endowed a yearly prize for German at the Albany High School.[2] The honor was known as the German Medal and was awarded to both students of German parentage and also of non-German parentage.  Within Albany High School the Barbarossa Society was founded around 1885.  The society nobly and zealously promoted the German language at the Albany High School.  Membership included over one hundred students.[3] The society was active, awarding the yearly Barbarossa Prize to the student with the highest standing in German for three years.  The prize was worth $5 in gold.  The Barbarossa prize was awarded yearly until 1930, except for the years 1918 and 1919 when no awards were given in the German language department.  Furthermore, the society sponsored an annual evening dance known as Barbarossa Abend.  The event included a play and a musical program with vocal, piano, and violin solos from its talented members.  Also, German poems and German compositions usually were read during the affair.[4] From 1912 to 1916 the local branch of the DANB annually awarded a student from the Albany Academy and the Albany High School a silver medal for the best German essay.
As Joy Becker states, “By 1893, there was an advantage for the modern language department: French and German were now taught in the primary grades, so upper class students had a basic grounding before they began.”[5] Conversely, according to Reimer, German was not taught in public grade schools, and in 1908 the local Lutheran ministers organized an unsuccessful campaign to have German taught in all public schools where the children of German parents predominated.[6]  However, a bill was later introduced by Nebraska House of Representative member John H. Mockett, Jr. and after its approval by Legislature on July 17, 1913, the Mockett Law went into effect.  It provided that every school was required to teach modern European languages in grades above the fourth if it was requested by at least fifty parents.  By this time, French, Latin, and Spanish were also taught in Albany High School.  Meanwhile, Albany High School’s German language department was the largest of all the foreign language departments.  It had three full-time teachers and a department head.  Over the years the German language department supervisors included Leo H. Altmayer.  He was appointed department head on September 7, 1868, and he was educated at Bonn and Göttingen.  The second German language supervisor was Carl A. Meyer.  He was appointed in 1886 and educated at Hamburg, Johanneum.  Meyer died April 30, 1899, and Heinrich Bosch was appointed next in 1901.  Frederick Mueller followed Bosch and was appointed in 1908.  He was educated at Sinsheim Gymnasium in Germany.[7]  Mueller also was pastor of the Fourth Reformed Church.
After the United States became a belligerent in World War I, the American government became fearful of German sympathizers and of German ideologies infiltrating the general public.  According to pro-American attorney Gustavus Ohlinger, German schools and churches abroad were outposts of her power.  Secret German agents were introduced into native education to disseminate doubt with regard to the adequacy of established institutions and to replace national spirit by fostering an admiration of Kultur to the disparagement of national achievements.[8] As a result of American entry into the war and nativist anxieties, legislators succumbed to pressure and enacted new laws restricting the instruction of the German language.  Most laws were phrased to prohibit all non-English languages, but in Ohio and Louisiana, the laws were explicitly written to outlaw German.[9] The Smith-Towner Act, passed by Congress in 1918, at the behest of the National Education Association, provided that no state was allowed to receive federal funds unless it enacted and enforced laws requiring the chief language of instruction in all schools, both, public and private, be English.[10] As a result, a bill was introduced in the New York State Senate at Albany to abolish all foreign-language papers in the state of New York.[11] Fortunately the bill failed.  Furthermore, the Mockett Law mentioned earlier was repealed by the House in 1918.  But its repeal did not forbid the teaching of foreign languages in public schools, but merely removed the provision that school districts had to offer such instruction when requested by the parents of at least fifty pupils in grades above the fourth.[12] This further reduced the number of students studying the German-language.  Meanwhile, there were some voices of reason among governmental officials, although, unfortunately not many.  One such spokesperson was Doctor Philander P. Claxton, the United States Commissioner of Education.  Claxton opposed the elimination of German language instruction. “The United States is not at war with the German language,” he wrote in a widely publicized letter.[13]
According to local city historians, both Thomas Reimer and John J. McEneny, Albany ceased the teaching of German after American entrance in the war.  However, the SHJ reported that both Superintendent of Schools Jones and Abram Roy Brubacher, President of the State College for Teachers, declared that German would continue at both Albany High School and the New York State College for Teachers.  Brubacher noted that prospective teachers’ interest in German-language courses drastically declined at the college subsequent to America’s entrance in the war.[14]  Later, in 1932, Florence Ellen Chase, an Albany school teacher of German, since 1914, wrote, “Albany represents one of the few public school systems which did not discontinue the teaching of German.”[15]  Still, Albany drastically decreased its expenditures on foreign language textbooks employed in the high school; (see Table X.)  The German-language department used a total of eighteen books, during the school years of 1913, 1914, and 1915, but by 1918 the number was significantly reduced to only four textbooks.  At the same time, Frederick Mueller, the Supervisor of German at Albany High School, was discriminated against for teaching and promoting the German-language.  As Albany resident, David Cook put it, “Mueller was proud that his students came out of his class with [German] good accents.”[16]
Table X: Textbook Expenditures at Albany High School[17]

Source Page
p. 675
p. 620
p. 609
p. 597
p. 795
p. 672
p. 595
p. 587
p. 482
p. 442
p. 539

To protect and shelter German and German-American children, Superintendent of Schools C. Edward Jones “called attention of the principals [of Albany’s schools] to the necessity of seeing that children of German parents in the schools are not embarrassed in any way and that it should be assumed they are as loyal as any other American children.”[18]
In contrast, other New York State school districts were not as progressive as Albany.  The study of German was gradually and quietly withdrawn from public schools in Buffalo, where German language study was always optional.  The Board of Education stated that at start of the new school year no new German language classes would begin.  Pupils that already began its study had the option of continuing it or dropping it.[19] Finally, the study of foreign-languages in the elementary schools of New York City was to be discontinued after February 1, 1918, according to a decision by the New York City Board of Education.  Approximately sixty-five percent of all pupils studying foreign-languages in New York City elementary schools were studying German.[20] The New York City Board of Superintendents determined most of the curriculum taught in its public schools.  The Board demanded that its teachers and principals present a lasting effect on the ideals and emotions of the pupil regarding the World War.  Therefore in 1918, the Board adopted a handbook, The World War, A Syllabus for Use in the High Schools of the City of New York.  The pamphlet explained why America entered the war, expounded Americanism, condemned Germany, and detailed Germany’s guilt for the war and its atrocities.  As Professor of History Todd Pfannestial put it, “The experiences of New York City public school teachers during the First World War…stand[s] out as an example of how patriotic appeal can quickly degenerate into negative stereotypes, ethnocentrism, and the repression of students.”[21]
According to The Literary Digest, fewer pupils in Albany were taking German than in the past.[22] Chase confirms that statement as she affirms, “Immediately upon our entry into the World War, German began to decline both in numbers and percentage relations.”[23] She bases her conclusion on the number of Regents papers in New York State.  Her figures were acquired from data amassed by Dr. A. W. Skinner, Director of the Examination Division of the New York State Department of Education, and from statistics in “German in Our High Schools” by Curtis C. D. Vail, in the German Quarterly, May 1929; (see Table XI.)
Table XI: Study of Modern Languages in High Schools throughout New York State[24]

Number of Students in NYS High Schools
Percentage Relation




In September 1918, the Albany School District had twenty students registered in the first year of German-language study at the Albany High School, while seventy scholars and fifty-five pupils were enrolled in the high school’s second and third year of German-language study, respectively, according to a reporter from the Albany Argus.[25]
A national campaign to offset the influence of pro-German propaganda and “Kultur” would soon be launched in the schools of Albany according to an April 1917 report from the Times Union.  Plans were being made for students to take a “Course in Americanism.” The itinerary would teach students the truth about Germany and the war.  Emphasis was to be laid on the truth that Germany was the aggressor and that the Entente Allies and the United States were the defenders of civilization.  Every student would be required to pass an examination on the main facts of the war.[26] Ironically, Americanization courses began, in Buffalo, in 1908, before the word was coined.  In 1914 three thousand non-English speaking men and women were studying English and the principles of our government in night schools of Buffalo.[27] By 1925 Albany had established evening classes in Americanization for the foreign-born adults of the city, and 525 individuals were enrolled in the classes.  The majority of the students were of German nativity.  Eugene D. Holmes, Director of Americanization, reported to the Albany Board of Education that this year’s numbers are not as great as preceding years owing to the effect of the new immigration law.[28]

[1] n. a., Geschichte der Deutschen in Albany und Troy, pp. 109-115.
[2] Conners, “Their Own Kind,” p. 109. Reimer, “Ethnicity in Albany, N. Y., 1888-1908,” pp. 46-47.
[3] The AHSIAN, 1914-1915 (Albany: Students of the Albany High School, 1915), p. 85.
[4] Times Union, February 3, 1915, 8:2.
[5] Joy Becker, “Educating and Reforming Youth in Albany, 1868-1905” (Masters thesis, State University of New York at Albany, 1992), p. 84.
[6] Reimer, “Ethnicity in Albany, N. Y., 1888-1908,” pp. 46, 50.
[7] Proceedings of the Common Council of the City of Albany, Volume II, [reports] 1913 (Albany: The Argus Company, Printers, 1914), pp. 614-617.
[8] Ohlinger, The German Conspiracy in American Education, pp. 15-16.
[9] Rippley, The German-Americans, p. 123.
[10] Luebke, Bonds of Loyalty, p. 312.
[11] Wittke, The German-Language Press in America, p. 271.
[12] Rodgers, “The Foreign Language Issue in Nebraska, 1918-1923,” Nebraska History 39(2): 8-9.
[13] Philander P. Claxton, “Patriotism and the Study of German,” The New Republic 14 (March 2, 1918): 146. Frederick C. Luebke, “Legal Restrictions on Foreign Languages in the Great Plains States, 1917-23” in Germans in the New World: Essays in the History of Immigration (Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1990), p. 36.
[14] Schenectady Herold-Journal, May 31, 1918, 1:5.
[15] Florence E. Chase, “A Study of the Results of Regents Examinations in German in the State of New York From 1917 to 1931” (Masters thesis, New York State College for Teachers, 1932), p. 15. In 1914, Miss Chase was appointed to a new position created in the German department; Proceedings of the Common Council of the City of Albany, Volume II [reports] 1914 (Albany: The Argus Company, Printers, 1915), p. 684. In early November 1918, the Albany High School was closed, and the Times Union printed homework orders from Superintendent Jones.  Listed were all courses, including German language study, and the appropriate work to be completed by students in the listed courses. This occurred shortly before the Armistice. The Spanish Influenza rapidly spread through the city and claimed the lives of between 300 and 400 residents.  To prevent further spread of the disease, Mayor Watt recommended closing public halls, theaters, and schools.  Headlines in the October 28, 1918 Times Union reported “Influenza is Still Raging All Over the City.” Times Union, November 3, 1918, 2:3. Bowers, “The Texture of a Neighborhood,” pp. 243-245.
[16] David Cook, interview by Anne Rabe, 31 March 1978, Albany, NY, tape recording, Albany County Hall of Records.
[17] Proceedings of the Common Council of the City of Albany, Volume II [reports] 1910-1920 (Albany: The Argus Company, Printers, 1911-1921).
[18] Knickerbocker News, April 11, 1917.
[19] “Teaching German in the Schools,” The Elementary School Journal 18 (October 1917): 92.
[20] New York Times, December 27, 1917, 20:3.
[21] Todd Pfannestial, “The Little Red, White and Blue Schoolhouse,” New York Archives 3(2): 17.
[22] “American Students Boycotting German” The Literary Digest 56 (March 30, 1918): 49.
[23] Chase, “A Study of the Results of Regents Examinations in German in the State of New York From 1917 to 1931,” p. 7.
[24] Ibid., pp. 7-9.
[25] Schenectady Herold-Journal, September 13, 1918, 1:7.
[26] Times Union, April 11, 1917, 1:1.
[27] Yox, “Decline of the German-American Community in Buffalo, 1855-1925,” p. 246.
[28] Proceedings of the Common Council of the City of Albany, Volume II, [reports] 1925 (Albany: The Argus Company, Printers, 1926), p. 335.