26 March 2017

Holy Cross Church, Albany, NY

The first German Catholic parish in Albany was the Heilige Kreuz Gemeinde or Holy Cross Parish. The parish was organized in 1842 as the German Roman Catholic Church of the Holy Cross, through the assistance of a Redemptiorist priest, Reverend Sebastian Gruber. The church was located on the corner of Hamilton and Phillip Streets.[1] 

Holy Cross Church, Albany, NY

On May 12, 1850, an enormous celebration was held for the laying of the church cornerstone. The festivities included a parade where approximately three thousand spectators viewed the gala.[2] The church had a seating capacity of over eight hundred and was dedicated on November 23, 1851. The final cost of the edifice and its interior decorations amounted to $9,000. The first Pastor was the Reverend Theodore Noethen from Cologne, Germany. He was able to preach not only in German, but also in French, Italian, and English. Noethen, therefore, ministered to the other immigrants in mission stations in the area.[3] 

Holy Cross Church interior

In July 1852 the church formed the German Roman Catholic Association for the purpose of providing the children with a “good religious education.” In 1864 an elementary school was established and the Sisters of Saint Joseph of Carondelet were secured as religious teachers for the children. On January 21, 1880, a new Holy Cross school was opened with the Sisters of Christian Charity as the school’s educators, until the religious community withdrew in July 1919 and was replaced with the Sisters of Notre Dame. During the summer of 1955, the Holy Cross School and convent were both closed and demolished. On the former site, a new and modern elementary school was built to serve both Holy Cross and Saint Anthony’s parishes. This was the first time that one elementary school was planned and constructed to serve the needs of two parishes.[4] 

Holy Cross school

The parish of Holy Cross used its Hamilton and Phillip Streets grounds until 1959, when the parish moved to its new and present location in 1960 on upper Western Avenue in Albany. Holy Cross also opened a Catholic secondary school in 1900. The high school was incorporated in September 1897, but closed in June 1919 due to a lack of students.[5]

Benevolent societies that aided the sick, poor, and old associated with Holy Cross church included the Saint Joseph’s Unterstützungverein und Wohlthätigkeitverein, founded on February 14, 1851, which was the first Catholic Unterstützungverein in the city. One hundred eleven members paid monthly dues of $.50 for a weekly sick payment of $4.00, a $200 death benefit, and a $75 disbursement for the death of a member’s spouse. By 1897 the society’s assets totaled $5,387.73. In 1874 the Verein joined the German Roman Catholic Central Verein.[6] Saint Peter’s Krankenverein und Unterstützungverein, established on February 28, 1856, became Albany’s second Catholic Unterstützungverein. Forty-two members paid $.50 per month for dues granting them sick payments of $3.00 per week, a $100, and $60 for the death of a member’s wife. The society’s treasury totaled $1,526.23.[7] 

On July 23, 1867, eighty-one members left Saint Peter’s Krankenverein to form the Saint Franziscus Verein on August 1, 1867. As of 1897 the society numbered ninety-five members and had paid out $27,311.35 in expenditures since its formation. Members paid quarterly dues of $1.25 for weekly sick payments of $5.00 per week, a $150 death benefit, and a $75 payment for the death of a member’s wife.[8] 

The Jünglingverein, or the Young Men’s Society, was established in January 1880 for the purpose of giving young boys a good moral upbringing. On May 16, 1880, the Jungfrauen Sodality, or Young Women’s Association, was organized with the same intent, but for young girls. 

The Christliche Mütterverein, or Christian mother’s society, was organized in July 1893 and stressed a Christian upbringing and aid to the poor. Other societies included the Saint Aloysius Sodality, established circa 1883, the Young Men’s Sodality, founded in 1895, the Young Ladies Sodality, and the Ladies Catholic Benevolent Association, Branch 360, established circa 1901.[9] The Holy Cross choir was highly esteemed in the musical circle of Albany as a recognized force in the musical organizations of the city.[10]

In 2009 St. Margaret Mary Church merged with Holy Cross Church and became All Saints Catholic Church.

Pastors of Holy Cross Church
  • Theodore Noethen, 1850-79 
  • Joseph Ottenhues, 1880-1918 
  • James Hilden, 1918-59 
  • Monsignor John F. Bourke, 1959-63 
  • Lawrence E. Ryan, 1963-1974 
  • Richard J. Downs, 1974-94 
  • Daniel J. Maher, 1994- to the present (2005)
[1] n. a., Geschichte der Deutschen in Albany und Troy, p. 61.
[2] Joel Munsell, Annals of Albany, Volume II (Albany: J. Munsell, 1870), pp. 338-339. Reynolds, Albany Chronicles, pp. 603-604 & 614. Phelps, comp., The Albany Hand-Book, p. 59.
[3] Rowley, “Albany: A Tale of Two Cities, 1820-1880,” p. 291.
[4] Leary, The History of Catholic Education in the Diocese of Albany, pp. 37-38, 135. Church of the Holy Cross: 125th Anniversary, 1859-1984. (Albany: 1984), p. 5-9.
[5] Leary, The History of Catholic Education in the Diocese of Albany, p. 136.
[6] n. a., Geschichte der Deutschen in Albany und Troy, p. 191.
[7] Ibid.
[8] Ibid.
[9] Ibid., p. 65.
[10] Louden, ed. Catholic Albany, pp. 165-166.

25 March 2017

Saturday's Society : Deutscher Kriegerverein (DKV)

German immigrants who fought in the Civil War and the Franco-Prussian War established the Deutscher Kriegerverein, or the German Veterans Society, on December 1, 1889.  Members paid dues amounting to $.10 per month.  

Albany Times, 3 December 1889

Gustav Zinserling, the proprietor of the Hotel Columbia, was the leader of the veterans’ group for many years. 

Gustav Zinserling in uniform
Gustav Zinserling

They met monthly at the Hotel Columbia until 1901, then they met at the Grand Army Hall, located at 31 Green Street.

1893 Albany City Directory ad

In 1908 the society moved to its final meeting place- the German Hall.   

German Hall, 48 Beaver Street, Albany

The Veterans’ Society celebrated its twenty-fifth anniversary at Shafer’s Grove.  The group had 150 members in its heyday; by 1897 membership included seventy-two members and two honorary members, but by March 1918, membership had dwindled to twenty-nine individuals, and the society dissolved itself after twenty-nine years.[1]

[1] n. a., Geschichte der Deutschen in Albany und Troy, p. 179. Schenectady Herold-Journal, March 29, 1918, 1:2.

24 March 2017

Vandalized Jewish Cemetery in Philly Being Restored

Recently a Jewish cemetery in Philadelphia was targeted by vandals numerous times. A plan is underway to restore the 175 gravestones that were toppled. Joe Ferrannini of Grave Stone Matters will be leading the project. A link for an article on this venture is here.

Friday Funny

As a youngster my grandmother would sometimes bring me to the cemetery when I asked her. Not yet old enough to drive, I remember loading shovels into her car to help turn over stones that had fallen. My grandfather said "we'd be arrested for digging up graves." This comic was found on Pinterest.com.

21 March 2017

Tombstone Tuesday : Joseph Kline Emmet

This week's Tombstone Tuesday is on the mausoleum vault of Irish-American Joseph Kline Emmet (1841-1891). His family vault is located in Albany Rural Cemetery. Emmet was a stage actor who successfully promoted Germanism in the Albany theatre and stage. Emmet became known as the originator of German dialect comedy. His performances combined graceful dancing, singing of sentimental or comic songs, and yodeling. Emmet became enormously popular in December 1869, when he created a character known as “Fritz Von Vonderblenkenstoffen” in a show called Fritz, Our Cousin German. The performance returned to Albany for an eleven day run at the Academy of Music in April 1870.[1] On October 18, 1870, Emmet again returned to Albany, this time at the Trimble Opera House, with his performance of Fritz. He had just completed seventy-five consecutive nights at Wallack’s in New York City. The Albany Argus advertised the show as a “magnificent reception of the talented young comedian, Mr. Joseph K. Emmet… in his great specialty of the German Emigrant… in which he will introduce songs, dances, and instrumental solos.…”[2] Emmet made Albany his permanent home in 1882. He erected a mansion on Van Rensselaer Boulevard known as “Fritz Villa.” Later, his former property was transformed into Wolfert’s Roost Country Club.[3] The former Laughlin Street in North Albany was renamed to Emmet Street in honor of Albany’s celebrated performer in June 1879.

Emmet vault

Peek inside the Emmet vault

[1] Phelps, Players of a Century, p. 305. Albany Argus, April 20, 1870, 1:9.
[2] Albany Argus, October 18, 1870, 1:9.
[3] Reynolds, Albany Chronicles, p. 722. Howell and Tenney, eds., History of the County of Albany, N. Y., pp. 706-707.

18 March 2017

Saturday's Society : International German Genealogy Partnership

The International German Genealogy Partnership's slogan is " Uniting German Genealogy Researchers Worldwide." The IGGP is a group of partner societies interested in German Genealogy. The partnership is a network to share ideas, contacts, research information and resources to help our members trace their Germanic heritage wherever it is found.

The IGGP facilitates German genealogy research globally as the internationally recognized federation of German genealogy organizations. IGGP was formerly known as German-American Genealogical Partnership (GAGP).

The IGGP has a new website and will be hosting its first conference at the Minneapolis Marriott Northwest on 28-30 July 2017. Registration for 2017 Conference has begun. Register now for best pricing. Prices will go up.

17 March 2017

Happy St. Patrick's Day

Happy St. Patrick's Day! Here is a throwback picture supposedly from the first St. Patrick's Day parade in Albany. Walter A. Sheahan, my grandmother's first cousin was the parade Grand Marshall.

Walter A. Sheahan

Blog Anniversary

Just a quick note that tomorrow, 18 March 2017 this blog will be three years old. Until recently I have not been posting articles as regularly as I should have. Hopefully my momentum is rolling and I can keep this going.

Friday Funny

Not so much a funny but definitely a strong truth.

15 March 2017

Wordless Wednesday

City Flag of Oosterhout, Province of Noord Brabant, Netherlands
Homeland of my Koreman Clan

14 March 2017

Tombstone Tuesday : What Not to Do

Ok, this photo is not a tombstone. The gravestone photos are below and should be a strong example of what not to do when restoring grave markers. The stones are in a local cemetery and obviously repaired by someone with good intentions but no clue. The above stone was photographed in April 2016 and the lower photo was taken three days ago. It was simply a matter of time before the upper part of the stone broke away from the lower. The extreme angle that the stone was leaning also did not help the repair's cause.

The proper method would have been to level the lower stone, clean both pieces with D2, bond the stones together with an epoxy such as Akemi 2030, clamp and hold the stones in position for 24 hours, and then fill the seam/joint with a Lithomex mortar.

12 March 2017

March & May Genealogy Programs

Upcoming genealogy programs at the East Greenbush Community Library. Details are below:

10 Essential Websites for Genealogy
Thursday, March 16 at 6 PM

There has never been a better time for discovering your Irish ancestors than NOW! Join genealogist-in-residence for the Irish American Heritage Museum in Albany, Lisa Dougherty, for a practical guide to where you can access these resources for documenting your family story! PLEASE REGISTER.

10 Websites for Genealogy
Thursday, May 18 at 6 PM

Join professional genealogist Lisa Doughtery for a presentation on free websites where you can find records, record your family information, share stories and pictures, browse old newspapers, view photographs, or read the musings of hundreds of genealogy hobbyists. PLEASE REGISTER.

Both of these programs require attendees to register.

For further information please contact:
East Greenbush Community Library
10 Community Way, East Greenbush, NY 12061
Phone: 518.477-7476
Web: www.eastgreenbushlibrary.org

11 March 2017

Saturday's Society : Troy Irish Genealogy Society

This week's Saturday's Society is on the Troy Irish Genealogy Society (TIGS). For a heads up: the society is not only about Troy's Irish. The group aims to make local genealogical records available online and its focus covers many areas in the Capital District.

A few of their "projects" that are online that helped me greatly in my research are:

TIGS has many many more records that were transcribed and put online and can be found on their website. Check them out. Join the group. Get involved and volunteer in the Capital District's genealogy community.

TIGS is also on Facebook.

10 March 2017

Friday Funny

Another genealogy statement found online which rings true especially after coming off recent elections.

09 March 2017

Ancestor of the Week : George Eger

This week's ancestor biography of the week is on one of my great great grandfathers, George Eger. George was born in Trausnitz, Bayern on 29 January 1865. According to my grandmother he had a twin sister, Maria. Their parents were Johann Eger (1825-1904) and Anna Katharina Meindl (1827-1883). George had the following siblings.

  • Maria (1865- 1944) married Benedict App
  • Josef (1870-1954) married Anna Simon
  • Johann (circa 1871-1959)
Josef and Johann remained in Trausnitz. 

Ancestral Eger home in Trausnitz

Not much about George is known while he was living in Germany aside from that he was in the German army for a stint. Below is a photo of him in his military uniform.

George Eger

George and his future bride Katharina Schuster (1870-1935) immigrated from Antwerp, Belgium to the United States and landed at Castle Garden in New York City on 26 May 1891 aboard the Ship Waesland. The next day they were married in Manhattan on 27 May. 

The newly weds headed North to Albany and settled and raised their family. George and Katharina had the following children.
  • Margaret Eger (1891-1892)
  • Mary Frances Eger (1893-1985) married John Joseph Kane
  • Catherine Madeleine Eger (1895-1949) married John Joseph Aloyisus Gannon
  • Michael G. Eger (1897-1942)
  • Louise Eger (1899-1960) married William Herrington
  • George (1902-1968) married Mildred Elmer Smith
  • Joseph (1906-1906)
L to R, Louise, Mary, Michael, Catherine, George, George, & Katharina
George received his naturalization papers to become an American citizen on 07 May 1900. Below is his naturalization paper.

George and Katharina became members of the German Catholic parish of Our Lady of Angels where their children were baptized. George was a blacksmith for the New York Central Railroad at the West Albany shops for many years. The family lived in Arbor Hill for many years until land was purchased on Mereline Avenue circa 1914. Mereline Avenue is now know as Tremont Street. Their home which appeared to also be a farm was in the vicinity of what became Public School #26 on Tremont Street. Below are three views of the Eger homestead.

Mereline Street

George Eger & son Michael

George became a member of the German Gun Club located off Central Avenue and his wife Katharina became involved in numerous religious societies in Our Lady of Angels parish. 

George, wife Katharina, & daughter Louise

In 1922 George returned to his former home in Germany to visit his family. Below is a scan of his US passport and passport photo.

On 05 October 1935 George tragically lost his wife Katharina when she was struck by a car while attempting to cross Central Avenue. She was buried in the family plot at Our Lady of Angels Cemetery. George joined her on 21 March 1940.

08 March 2017

Genealogy Programs: Certificate & Degree

The world of genealogy has expanded; especially online. Today numerous certificate programs can be found online and there are also a few degree programs available and many webinars are offered. A list of these offerings have been compiled. The list is extensive but by no means all encompassing. A link to the web site is provided. Check with the web site for further details, contacts, and prices.

Degree Programs

Certificate Programs

Online Courses

Onsite Courses


Wordless Wednesday

Home of my Murray ancestors, Cushina, County Offaly, Ireland

07 March 2017

Tombstone Tuesday : Jennie

Today's tombstone Tuesday is not of a relative of mine. It is that of a gravestone that was overgrown and unlevel at this time last year. Below is a photo of the gravestone of Jennie Nopper after her site was rehabbed. She is buried in the Evangelical Protestant Cemetery in Albany.

wife of 
Co E. 172nd Inf. N.Y. Vol
Died May 2, 1897
Aged 42 years

03 March 2017

Saturday's Society- Harmonia Gesangverein

On October 31, 1881 a German singing society was founded; the Saengerbund Harmonia or Harmonia Singing Society. The group later reorganized itself on March 23, 1884. Over the years, the Gesangverein met and practiced at many locations, including the Hotel Columbia, Caecilia Halle, and Saint Matthew’s schoolhouse. The society began with fourteen members and grew to include thirty active members and fifty passive members by 1886. Eleven years later the club numbered twenty-two active and seventy-five passive members.[1] Harmonia disappeared from city directories after 1910.  

An undated photo of the Harmonia Gesangverein

[1] Howell and Tenney, eds., History of the County of Albany, N. Y., p. 745. n. a., Geschichte der Deutschen in Albany und Troy, pp. 81, 167, 169.

02 March 2017