A family cemetery at South Pearl and Hamilton Street


Throwback to when there was a large graveyard on what is now the southeast corner of South Pearl and Hamilton Street (now the site of the South Mall Towers apartment building).

It was established by Hendrick Hallenbeck (also spelled Hallenbeek and Hallenbake) in a will written in 1766. He set aside a portion of his land to be used as a family burying ground and maintained by his heirs. When he dies two years later, he was laid to rest there. It would not be his final rest, though. Over the years, as descendants moved away, streets were widens, and new buildings (including a bell foundry) surrounded the little cemetery, its upkeep became a burden to the remaining family members. By the mid-1800s, there were few new burials of family, but some of the space was used to bury victims of the 1832 cholera epidemic. In 1860, the corner lot was sold for taxes and a part of the proceeds used to relocate the Hallenbeck burial ground.

A large plot was purchased on the North Ridge at Albany Rural Cemetery. The graves from the corner of South Pearl and Hamilton were relocated there, a process that attracted so many onlookers that the police had to block their view of the exhumations and hold back the curious. A large marble monument with the names of Hendrick and his immediate family was erected in Section 73. The plot is just behind the Soldiers Lot on the edge of Glen Wood Hill. A small gate allowed visitors to access the plot from Dell Side Avenue overlooking the Kromme Kill.

From Paula Lemire’s Albany Rural Cemetery-Beyond the Graves on Facebook.

Benedict Arnold in the Albany Military Hospital; While Others Nursed his Wounds, He Nursed his Grievances

zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzsaratogabigToday, October 7, 1777 the Battle of Saratoga, which began on September 19th, ended. British General John Burgoyne made a last desperate attack on Bemis Heights. Disobeying a direct order from the commanding general, Horatio Gates, General Benedict Arnold flung himself into the fray, leading patriot troops against pockets of British attackers and exploiting weaknesses in British defenses. One soldier said “he was the very genius of war”.

zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz600px-Arnold-bootDuring one of the last attacks, Arnold was shot in the leg and fell, pinned beneath his horse.

The Americans won the battle, called the “turning point of the Revolution”. Burgoyne retreated, surrendering 10 days later. Benedict Arnold’s fighting days were over. His leg had been shattered by a musket ball. Arnold, along with 1,000 other American, British and German wounded, was sent to the military hospital in Albany. (By tradition, Arnold is reputed to have been transported initially to a house in Kinderhook after the Battle – but he ended up in Albany hospital.)

zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz22218658_1613266232081985_8976180239136605161_oThe hospital was constructed during the French and Indian War in the 1750s. It was located down the hill from Fort Frederick, overlooking the City at what is now the intersection of Lodge and Pine Streets. In 1776 it was refitted as one of 11 major military hospitals during the Revolution.

zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzlodge anbd pine(Once upon a time there was an historical marker identifying the location; that has disappeared.)

zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzlthospital300It was a large building, constructed in an H configuration; with 2 stories, and 40 small wards (to enable quarantine from infectious disease) and able to accommodate 500 patients. After the Battle of Saratoga, the hospital was so crowded that provisions were made to locate patients in the Dutch Church at the intersection of State and Broadway. The Albany Committee for Safety also commandeered several private residences. About 60% of the patients were British and German; they were accompanied by their own physicians and surgeons.zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz


Arnold was not a “good patient”. Surgeons wanted to amputate his leg to save his life. He refused. Contemporary descriptions from hospital doctors describe him as petulant and peevish. He was encased in the equivalent of wooden box; immobilized. Finally in January 1778 he was sufficiently recuperated to be able to sit up in bed and write letters. He would remain in the hospital until late February or early March.

Those 5 months gave Arnold time to think. From his hospital bed he learned that most of the credit for the victory at Saratoga was going to “Granny” Gates, notorious for his excellent organizational skills, but thought by many to be a man of little personal courage and deficient in battlefield tactical skills.

Arnold’s Revolutionary War career had already been full of ups and down – the capture of Ticonderoga with Ethan Allen (Allen received most of the credit); an extended campaign in Canada, during which he was promoted, shot in the leg (yes, the same leg) to brigadier general, then replaced and finally forced to retreat from his occupation of Montreal; a rout in the Battle of Lake Champlain (that did serve to delay the British drive south to Albany until the following year), and shot again in the leg (yes, that leg) in the Battle of Ridgefield, Ct. He was passed over for promotion by the Continental Congress several times and accused of corruption and malfeasance by fellow officer. He finally submitted his resignation which was refused by Washington, who then dispatched him to upstate New York.

As he lay in the Albany Hospital, abusing phycians, orderlies and everyone in sight, we see a really angry man with more than ample time to think about his life. He was 36, a widower with 3 sons. He was a man of action and a natural warrior whose fighting career was over. He had thrown himself into the War and his business had suffered. A doctor who treated him after his initial leg wound in Canada less than two years before noted that Arnold, while in the Albany military hospital, seemed to be a different man – now dissatisfied, disgruntled and truculent. Several visitors note the same; it is quite probable that those long months during a cold and bleak Albany winter provided a time for reflection and set the stage for the perfidy that was to come.

By the time Arnold left Albany for his home in Connecticut, the Albany hospital had few patients. The Marquis de Lafayette had spent the month of February, 1778 in Albany. During that time he made arrangements for the remaining British and German patients and their physicians to be transferred to General Howe in New York City. In early June, the hospital closed. The War in upstate New York was mostly over and the hospital was no longer needed. The last patients and staff were transferred by sloop down the Hudson to another hospital near West Point.

The Hospital itself seems to disappear by the end of the War. We surmise land became too valuable and it was demolished and the land sold .

Copyright 2021 Julie O’Connor

Global Domination.. Why Albany is the home of the American Globe

The man who manufactured the first globe in the United States was a farmer and part time blacksmith, James Wilson. He was born in New Hampshire 1763, but moved to Bradford, Vt. in 1796. While on a brief visit to nearby Dartmouth College he saw a pair of terrestrial and celestial globes and resolved to try and duplicate the effect. Family documents indicate that Wilson’s meager knowledge of geography and astronomy made it necessary for him to purchase a voluminous and well-illustrated encyclopedia, using money from sale of farm stock. He also visited Amos Doolittle, New Haven, for some instruction on engraving (Doolittle’s engravings had been included in Jedediah Morse’s “Geography Made Easy” (1784), the first geography published in the U.S.)

Wilson experimented with various methods to construct the globe and engrave on a curved surface. After many attempts he had a globe he felt he could sell. The earliest sale identified dates to 1810, but more work was required. Family tradition has it that Wilson published his “first edition” of perfected globes in 1814, and exhibited them in Boston. He manufactured both terrestrial and celestial globes. “The small unpainted black­ smith shop had become a globe factory which was throwing off its products as far as Amherst and paralyzing the heart of the English globe trade in America.”

2Wilson realized he needed to move his operation to an urban area, but didn’t want to leave the farm, so he sent 2 of his sons to start the business in Albany. The date the Wilson Globe manufactory started in Albany is not clear, although it was about 1815 and most certainly not later than 1817. The location was Washington Ave., but there are various addresses within a 5 year period – 110, 133 and 166 – all in the block between Swan and Dove. The globes were sold directly by the Wilsons and by commission agents in places like New Haven, New York City and Boston, as well as the western parts of New York State.

4.1     Initially, the oldest Wilson son Samuel seems to have been in charge of the Albany shop, but a year later, another son, John is running the Albany business in 1818. David, Wilson’s third son, joined his older brothers at Albany, and did the engraving on a forthcoming new edition of three-inch terrestrial and celestial globes. (He left the business in the early 1820s to become a painter of miniatures.)

The celestial globes made at that time “had the Greek letters affixed to the groups of stars, and were furnished with a new horizon,” as one observer states. “The frames of the sets were of ash and each globe was furnished with a brass quadrant and the screw at the bottom could be easily turned with the fingers without a screw driver. Each globe was packed in a pine box of material half an inch in thickness, planed, and dovetailed, with hinges and clasp.”


The high point of the company came in 1826, when they brought out an entirely new set of plates for all three sizes of globes. It was’ after this new edition that James Wilson withdrew from the ·direct involvement the business side of the company, and he introduced Cyrus Lancaster, a young man who had studied at Philips Academy into the firm. He was doubtless expected to speed up sales to the educational institutions.


The new edition of the globes, complete in every way, their appearance quite equal to the London make, and their engraving of the North American continent more accurate, the Wilsons told their story to the nation’s capital. In December, 1827 members of Congress were presented with a notices which touted the American manufactured globes by James Wilson & Sons, Albany NY, “exhibiting now for public inspection at the United States Library of Congress” a pair of thirteen-inch globes, and claimed he was “the original manufacturer of Globes in this country, and has brought the art to such a degree of perfection, as to supersede altogether the necessity of importation of that article from abroad.”

All was going well until about 1830 when both of James’ sons, John and Samuel, die in quick succession. Cyrus Lancaster, the employee brought in by Wilson in the 1820s now ran the business, while James remained in Vt. In 1835, Cyrus marries Samuel’s widow Rebecca, raises the Wilson children and has several more with Rebecca.

The business continued, but now there was competition and cheaper globes wee being manufactured in a much less labor intensive process, producing an adequate product for the growing masses eager to learn about the world However Cyrus Lancaster continued to manufacturer globes in Albany with superior quality. Throughout the 1830s and 1840s and until at least 1851, his globes win prizes because they were works not only of science and geography, but art as well. He continues to acknowledge James Wilson (and probably pay some sort of fee to him), but they are manufactured under his own name.

During the 1840s and early 1850s there are addresses for the business on Westerlo St., probably near Green, 144 Hamilton and 230 Dallius St. But there are no references to Cyrus after 1851 in Albany, and in 1854 we find him in Brooklyn as an inventor of a self-adjusting railroad switch and an improved ventilator for railroad cars.

5James Wilson died in 1855 in Bradford Vt, up on the farm he loved. Cyrus Lancaster died 8 years later in Brooklyn.

While James gets the credit for the invention of the globe, to this day globes with the gorgeous wooden frames you often see in libraries are still generally referred to as “Lancaster” models. Wilson and Wilson/Lancaster globes are on exhibit in museums all over the world, and when they do come up for sale they can fetch as much as $50,000. And if you want to buy a “Lancaster” globe from Walmart, it will cost you about $250.


(Parts of this post excerpted from Leroy Kimball, “James Wilson of Vermont, America’s First Globe Maker”, April, 1938 “Proceedings of the American Antiquarian Society”)

Copyright 2021 Julie O’Connor

The Great Fire of 1848.. or why there aren’t more historic buildings in Albany

$3,000,000 Property Lost!!
Fire, though a good servant, is indeed a fearful master! And fearfully did this mad element rage yesterday! Our city is desolate! The ruin is appalling! The spirit sinks and the heart sickens, in contemplating such frightful losses – such side-spread ruin. Painful, most painful, is the task of gathering up the afflicting details.
Most of the commercial portion of the city, with fifteen or twenty densely populated squares, is a black and smouldering (sic) ruin. From Herkimer st., where the Fire broke out, to Columbia st., where it was arrested, in distance, is MORE THAN HALF A MILE And all that work of destruction was accomplishes in FIVE HOURS There could, therefore, have been little time to snatch property from the rapacious flames.
Amid all this suffering, there is much cause for gratitude. When the conflagration was at its height – when more than half the city was threatened, and when no human arm could save, a kind Providence interposed! The wind suddenly changed from South to N West, and this change brought with it abundant and continued rain. Fires that had extended to several buildings in the vicinity of the burnt district, were providentially extinguished by the rain.
The great loss, superadded to the large sums swallowed up during the winter and spring. By kindred calamities, has impaired the fortunes or wealthy people, unpoverished hundreds of the middling class, and utterly ruined hundreds of poor hard working families.
This fire ran over portions of the city that had been laid waste by recent conflagrations, and upon which new buildings had just been finished. The Columbian Hotel and Fort Orange are again demolished. Mr. S. F Shepard, who had erected new buildings and resumed business, is again burnt out. We are happy to learn, however, that he saved about $2,000 worth of goods.
The Steam Boats ISAAC NEWTON and RIP VAN WINKLE were both on fire, but both got off into the river and preserved.
Eleven Tow Boats, between forty and sixty Canal Boats, one small Steam Boat, one Schooner and two floats, were destroyed.
This disastrous fire originated in the Stable of Mr. Callaghan, which adjoins that of Mr. Johnson. It is not known how it originated.
The ruins cover an area of 200 acres, every foot of which was densely covered with buildings.
There were more buildings upon it than upon any other equal space in the city. Four fifths of the buildings burned were brick – most of them large and substantial; and many of them three or four stones in height.
Until 5 o’clock, it was feared that the flames could not be checked south of State street; but about this hour the wind changed to the north, and gave new hope to those ready to despair.
But while this change of wind was of great service in the heart of the town, it proved expensive to the property on and south of Lydius street, between Dalhus and Broadway and Lydius and Herkimer All the property within these boundaries was destroyed after the wind changed. No fears of its destruction were entertained previously.
There have been several lives lost. Mr. JOHNSON, wife, daughter, and grand-child, who lived next to the Columbian, were horribly burned. The child and Mr. J. are dead: others are not expected to recover. We have rumors of other deaths, but cannot trace them.
The Firemen did as well as they could; but it seemed impotent to attempt any thing against the fury of the flames; no human power could stay them. Our neighbors from Greenbush, West Troy and Troy, came to the assistance of our Firemen, and did efficient service.
At 1 o’clock, A. M., the wooden buildings on fire in Union st. looked threatening, and the alarm was sounded. At this moment, the Cohoes Engine Co came into the city, having left their village at 9 o’clock – dragging their engine all the way by hand. They at once proceeded to the place of the alarm, and by their timely aid, the fire was checked.
When it was ascertained that the engines were unable to cope with the flames, it was determined to blow up some buildings in Hudson-street and Broadway. Capt. Stone, of the Ordinance Department and now stationed at the Arsenal, volunteered his services, and three buildings were blown up, and the flames thus kept on the south side of Hudson-st.
Not more than four or five buildings are left standing between Herkimer and Hamilton and Union sts. and the River. The desolation is complete. Mr. Akin’s buildings, south of Herkimer-st and near Dalius-st., are badly scorched; but nothing was burned south of that line.
We have endeavored to gather the names of all the principal sufferers, and where it was possible, the amount lost. In the former we have been successful; in the latter, not. It is quite out of the question, generally, to get at figures.
Losses on the Pier.
The buildings on the Pier, from the Hamilton street bridge to the cut at Maiden Lane, which were all constructed of wood, were entirely destroyed. We give the occupants and losses as far as could be ascertained, commencing at the cut.
Carpenter’s shop, Loss not ascertained
Wm Coughtry’s grocery store, Do
Albany and Canal Line, No loss
Oswego Line, L. S Littlejohn, No loss
VanDerwater & Co, No loss
Evans’ Transportation Line, Trifling loss
Clinton Line – Wm. Monteath, No loss.
Utica Line, Small loss.
H. F. Meech & Co, Small loss
Geo. E. Gay, Do.
(illegible) Jacobs, Total loss.
L. G. Chase, No loss.
E. S. Prosser, Do
C. W. Godard & Co, Loss $2000; no insurance
Climac, John McCardel, Total loss; no insurance
Swiftsure Line office and People’s Lane.
Porter House,
Geo. Kreuder, boarding house, Total loss, not known.
Peter Van Bramer, oyster house.
Wm. Radcliff, cooper. Loss now known
A. L. Lawrence, grocery store; Insured
Lay & Craft, produce dealers, Insured $5,000, which will cover loss.
A. P. Vandenburgh, produce dealers, Insured – loss $1,000.
Allen & Read, produce dealers, insured $1000, loss small.
E. A. Benedict, produce dealer; loss trifling.
O. G. Terry, do; fully insured.
Read & Rawls, do; ins $4,000 in Lexington Co, Ky; $3,000 in N. Western Co., Oswego, $3,000 in Fireman’s Co, Albany; fully insured.
B. P. Jones, do; partially insured.
E. A. Durant & Co, do; loss $10,000; insured $6,000 in Howard Ins. Co. N Y
Wing, Chipman & Co, do; insured $500, fully covered
Mr. Crantz, boarding house; loss not known.
Western Hotel, kept by Jesiah L. Dow; loss $6,000, insured $2,000
The building below the bridge, occupied by the Troy and People’s line, was also destroyed; loss now known.
In the Basin.
Schr. Cotun, Barnstable; total loss.
Schr. Elize Matilda, slightly damaged.
Two boats belonging to Swiftsure line, Walace, Eli Hart, A. Marvin, Western, Superior, and the large float. 100 tons merchandise burnt. Loss on boats $60,000.
T. James loss – barge Rough and Ready and the lake boat Josephine.
Hudson River Line; large Float. Loss $3000.
Eagle line: boats Lockpot and Barber. Loss $12,000
Canal Boats – Mazeppa, Chamberlain & Olmstead Loss 300; ins. Henry Williams 1 bt loss 1000; insured. T. P. Waters 2; 2000; no insur W. H. Clarke & Co., 4; no ins. Clinton line 2, H. T. Meech 2, laden. E. S. Prosser 1.
The small towing steamer Wm. Seymour.
The Hamilton street bridge was also destroyed.
In Columbia street, the Washington Market was burned to the ground; and two, two story brick buildings north of it, belonging to C. A. Ten Eyck, were gutted – nothing but the walls remain standing.
Albany Evening Journal, Albany, NY 18 Aug 1848



Julie O’Connor

Albany’s First Public Bath; a Clean Albany is a Moral Albany

3The “Municipal Journal and Engineer” from July 1902 featured a thorough overview of Albany’s first public bath, Public Bath No. 1, located at 665 Broadway (smack in the middle of the east side of the block between Orange and Quackenbush), hailing a public bath as a “step in the interest of public morals, clean living and the betterment of citizenship.” A clean populace, apparently, was a moral populace.

There was, for many years, dating back to 1880, a floating public bath located at the foot of Columbia St. It was open during the summer months, and limited to use by men and boys. But it was wildly popular, with as many as 5,000 patrons per week in high summer, and 180,000 visits in the first four years it was open. However, after more then 15 years of use, it sunk in to Hudson in 1897.

By then there was a sense that there needed to be a municipal bath, open all year for both men and women. Social and health reformers had been pushing the need for the baths across the northeast in the latter part of the 19th century, as immigrant populations arrived in throngs and were crowded in unsanitary tenements with inadequate plumbing. There were significant public health concerns.

1.2As with all things Albany, the Common Council dilly-dallied. But on December 17, 1901, “..The public bath was opened.. and, while not of pretentious proportions, is a decidedly attractive building. The arrangement of the rooms could not be better and the sanitary conditions are of the best. At the entrance to the building is a large waiting and reading room and the superintendent’s office. Back of this is the private bath with two tubs and ten showers and toilet rooms. At the rear of the private bath is located the swimming tank surrounded on two sides by thirty-eight dressing rooms and these are so arranged that no one can enter the pool without first passing through a small shower bath room, in which everyone must take a shower bath. This tends to keep clean the water in the pool. Above and around the plunge is a gallery for running or for visitors. The tank itself contains 70,000 gallons of water and is lined with white tile. The depth of water varies from four feet at one end to seven at the other. There is a diving platform on one side about five feet above the surface of the water. The water is kept fresh by a steady inflow of pure water and is kept at a moderate temperature by steam pipes. The dressing rooms are of black marble, the walls of white tile and the ceiling of metal painted a light green. A large skylight admits an abundance of light to the pool and rooms.”



Albany’s new public bath represented the height of modernity. Many of the so-called city “public baths” at the time across the country only had showers. They were strictly utilitarian affairs.. meant to improve sanitation with no thought to recreation. A public bath with showers and a pool was the bomb!

The bath was instantly busy, and the City often had to turn patrons away, seeing an average attendance of 150 a day in those first months. “From the first of April to the twelfth the attendance amounted to 1,861, of which 875 were boys, 125 girls, 763 men and 98 women. The women and girls are chiefly of the working classes, the kind for whom the bath was mainly intended, and the attendance of all sexes is constantly growing. It is stated on local authority that bathing parties are coming into vogue among the young ladies of the city.”

The hours and prices were complicated. Residents paid a fee of 10 cents (non-residents, 25 cents) on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday; baths were free Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. Women and girls over 15 could go any day except Friday from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Men and boys over 15 had from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday was upside-down day, and the hours were reversed. The bath provided soap, towels, trunks for males and bathing suits for females were all provided free. Those who wanted to wear their own could rent a locker for $1 a year; their suits and towels would be washed, dried and returned to the locker by snappy attendants. “The fact that at times a small fee is charged has caused some to grumble, but many poor people favor a small fee for it relieves them from the feeling that they are receiving charity.”

“About $30,000 has been expended for the construction of the bath, but the money could not have been used to better advantage. This bath has proved the popularity of such an institution in the city and it is probable that others of like character will be erected in the near future.”




Over the next 10 years Albany would construct two more public bath houses along similar lines. Public Bath 2 on Fourth Ave. was constructed around 1905 and Public Bath 3 on Central Ave. around 1910. A 4th bath house was proposed in 1915 for the area near Livingston and Lark in Arbor Hill, but was never constructed.

1Public Bath 1 succumbed to urban renewal of the mid 1960s and the construction of 787. Bath 3 at Central and Ontario in 1989 and Public Bath 2 on Fourth Ave. closed in 2010. That is the one building that remains.


Thanks to Carl Johnson and his blog Hoxsie.com for some of  the background of this post.

Copyright 2021  Julie O’Connor

Creepy Clowns and a Trolley – Albany NY

Festive Albany

When Santa could drive you on the Trolley (with 2 creepy clowns)

1936 – Whitney’s was an upscale department store on N. Pearl St. in Albany for almost 100 years, with a very large Christmas toy department.

(Whitney’s in downtown closed circa 1969.)


The Story of the Women’s Suffrage Movement in Albany Part II – Women’s Rights in the Gilded Cage – 1880 -1900


In the early years of the campaign for women’s right in New York State there was just a handful of women and some men in Albany aligned with the cause, but over three decades progress was been made.

Finally, after the Civil War more women in Albany became active in the movement. By then state laws had been enacted that gave women additional rights to own property, engage in business, manage their wages and other income, sue and be sued, and be joint guardian of their children.

In 1880 the NYS Legislature enacted a law that permitted women to participate in school votes that involved taxation and representation. (This had followed a series of dramatic and well-staged Women’s Tea Parties across the country.) The women of Albany were ready. Mary Seymour Howell, wife of a NYS librarian and Kate Stoneman, a faculty member at the State Normal School (now the University at Albany), sprang into action and organized women to get out the vote.9

When the day of the vote came about 25 women summoned their courage and went to the polls. Howell and Stoneman had worked with the election inspectors and things went fairly smoothly (although women were denied the right to vote in several districts). Stoneman (who would later become the first female lawyer admitted to the NYS bar) was the first to vote at about 8 am.

The names of the women who voted were identified in the newspapers. The women represented an astonishing and remarkable cross –section of women of all types and ages. They included widows who were running boarding houses, women who were housekeepers in some else’s home; single school teachers; wives of teamsters; wives of men building the new Capitol, an Afro-American woman whose husband was a barber, the only female doctor in the Albany, and, Stoneman and Howell. Of note were Jane Hoxsie and her daughter-in-law Elizabeth – Jane was the last link to the earlier days; she had been a spectator, along with Lydia Mott and Phoebe Jones, in City Hall during the indictment of Susan B. Anthony in 1873 for voting in a federal election.

Shortly thereafter the women founded the Albany Woman’s Suffrage Society. While Howell and Stoneman were elected officers, other women were tapped to play key roles. One woman was Experience Miller, with a completely different background from Howell and Stoneman. Miller was a Civil War widow in her 60’s, reduced to keeping house for a physician who was willing to allow her daughter-in law and 2 grandchildren live in the household. It was clear that all sorts of women were joining the cause.

Over the next several years Howell emerged as a leading light on the national women’s rights scene, allying herself closely with Anthony and Stanton.

Howell was an eloquent and forceful speaker who traveled across the country, attending state and national conventions. In 1885 she made a powerful speech to Congress that specifically addressed need for the women of Albany to have the vote. 12

Other women became involved. There were women physicians and wives of physicians and the wives of bakers, and lots of single school teachers and librarians. But supporting women’s suffrage was still a dangerous business. Martha Winne, a graduate of the NYS Normal School, was the principal of school 17 (the building can still be seen on lower Second Ave). She was fired by anti-suffragists on the Albany School Board when she was elected president of the Suffrage Society.

Nevertheless, they persisted. In 1885 Stoneman, Howell and several others tried to cast their ballots in a general election; they were turned away. Howell, undaunted, went to a judge in Troy to get a court order permitting them to vote. The judge refused on the grounds he had insufficient constitutional knowledge.

Despite these setbacks by the 1890s women (and men) across the country (and in Albany) had flocked to the cause. Social reformers in the State were making in-roads on labor laws, public health and the temperance faction had gained significant traction. Most unions supported the cause and even the Grange Associations across NYS were supportive (as men left the farms for other employment, the agricultural work fell to women). It looked like a critical mass was being achieved that might tip the balance.

Then the NYS Constitutional Convention of 1894 happened. The Albany branch of the NYS Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage was established to counteract the possibility of a woman’s right amendment to the NYS Constitution.


The women in this group came mostly from the wealthier classes; their headquarters was at 13 Elk St. in the area known as “Quality Row” (a/k/a “Millionaire’s Row”). These women great social standing, money and political clout.

13And the Lord was with them in the form of William Croswell Doane, Bishop of the Albany Episcopal Diocese, a vehement and somewhat rabid anti-suffragist.

Despite submission of over 600,000 petition signatures gathered from all over the NYS in favor of a woman’s right to vote (vs. 15,000 from the “Anti’s’) and impassioned speeches by Anthony and Albany’s Mary Seymour Howell, the Convention refused to support putting a woman’s suffrage proposition to NYS voters.

Copyright 2021 Julie O’Connor

Duncan Phyfe and Albany

The preeminent American furniture maker of the 19th century, Duncan Phyfe, learned his trade in Albany.

Duncan Phyfe, original name Duncan Fife (born 1768, near Loch Fannich, Ross and Cromarty, Scotland—died August 16, 1854, New York, New York, U.S.), Scottish-born American furniture designer, a leading exponent of the Neoclassical style, sometimes considered the greatest of all American cabinetmakers.

The Fife family went to the United States in 1784, settling in Albany, New York, where Duncan worked as an apprentice cabinetmaker and eventually opened his own shop on State St.

In 1792 he moved to New York City (changing the spelling of his name to Phyfe about 1793). Two years later he was listed as a cabinetmaker in the New York Directory and Register. From his first shop on Broad Street, he later moved to Fulton Street. In later years he employed more than 100 carvers and cabinetmakers.

One of the first American cabinetmakers to successfully use the factory method of manufacturing furniture, in 1837 he took two of his sons, Michael and James, into partnership as Duncan Phyfe and Sons. After the death of Michael (1840), the firm name was changed to Duncan Phyfe and Son. In 1847 the business was sold and Duncan retired.



Copyright 2021 Julie O’Connor

Albany – Then and Now- Eagle St.


Eagle St., circa 1842 and today

The building to the left was called the “State Hall” – it’s still there and functions as the NYS Court of Appeals. The building to the right is the old City Hall, designed by Philip Hooker. It was destroyed by fire in 1880 and the current building replaced it.

In the first illustration you can see Academy Park and the park which surrounded the old NYS Capitol in the foreground. Both parks still exist in the same configuration, more or less.


Copyright 2021 Julie O’Connor