Albany’s Native American Child – Sophie High Dog

The child who was known as Sophie High Dog or Wacheka Albanya was Sioux born in South Dakota around 1890. Little information is known about her early childhood or family, but she was brought to Albany at the age of five as an orphan. It was later claimed that she had been abandoned by her parents and that an uncle took no interest in raising her.

Wacheka was initially sent to the Indian Industrial School in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. The Carlisle school’s purpose was to assimilate Native American children in white society and its history is one of abuse and tragedy. Wacheka, however, came to the attention of the Albany Indian Association and was termed “too delicate” for a boarding school where hundreds of children died of disease and harsh treatment. The Association, which was founded in 1883 to aid in solving the so-called “Indian problem” through education, had the child brought to Albany and placed her in St. Christina’s Home. St. Christina’s, which operated under the auspices of the Episcopal Diocese of Albany, was located in Saratoga Springs and served as a summer home for the Child’s Hospital.

Described as a “bright and earnest” child, she soon became a favorite of caretakers who referred to her in the sentimental language of the era, as a “sweet flower out of rough forest soil.” The letters she wrote to her guardians in Albany were regularly featured in the local newspapers and, every Christmas, collections were solicited to fill a box of gifts for “the little Indian orphan.” It was reported that she hoped to become a teacher and, eventually, returned to the South Dakota as an educator.

Meanwhile, the delicate health that had first won the sympathy of her guardians worsened. Her body was weakened by measles and tuberculosis and she passed away on February 13, 1900. Four days later, William C. Doane, the popular Episcopal Bishop of Albany, presided over her funeral at the Cathedral of All Saints. Her little coffin was placed in the receiving vault of the Rural Cemetery until burial arrangements could be made that summer. She was buried in a little plot paid for by the Association and a marble headstone was paid for by donations, many which came from children.

A bell, cast by the famed Meneely foundry, was sent to the All Saints Episcopal Church on the Rosebud Reservation as a memorial to the little girl.

Her headstone, which has toppled in recent years, is located in Lot 156, Section 26.

By Paula Lemire, Historian at the Albany Rural Cemetery from the Cemetery’s FB page: https://www.facebook.com/albanyruralcemetery

The Church of the Holy Innocents

4

Holy Innocents Church (Episcopal), on the corner of North Pearl and Colonie St., was built in 1849 by the prolific English architect Frank Wills. It was built in a style called Gothic Revival”. (By way of comparison, Notre Dame was built in the original Gothic style.)

Wills (who wrote the definitive text “Ancient Ecclesiastical Architecture” in 1850) built a number of churches and chapels across the United States. They all draw on the elements of the great English Gothic cathedrals – Lincoln, Salisbury and Canterbury. Holy Innocents is unique because it included a seperate “Lady Chapel” (dedicated to the Virgin Mary) adjacent to the main church building. Because it was surrounded by the a small garden, it had and has the feel of an English country parish church.

Holy Innocents was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978 (We believe it’s the second oldest extant church building in Albany – the oldest would be St Mary’s on Pine St.)

But it’s fallen on hard times over the past 20 years while vacant. In 2015, while it was owned by Hope House, a residential recovery program founded by Fr. Howard Hubbard (before he became the Albany Catholic Diocese Bishop) part of the church collapsed. In late 2016 the church was acquired by a local developer. Based on recent asessments and photos it appear to continue to deteriorate since that acquisition. As a result it was placed on the 2019 Historic Albany Foundation “Dirty Dozen” list of Albany’s most endangered historic structures. There are fears it will simply end up as one more Albany demolition.

Holy Innocents Church 3/19 – credit Ian Benjamin

57437552_2102892663092318_4049684956425748480_o
Holy Innocents Church 3/19 – credit Ian Benjamin

57821731_2102892866425631_6616296445454581760_n
Holy Innocents Church 3/19 – credit Ian Benjamin

57578705_2102892559758995_8798264424528871424_o
Holy Innocents Church 3/19 – credit Ian Benjamin

58033204_2102892796425638_790039971170877440_n
Holy Innocents Church 3/19 – credit Ian Benjamin

(My grandmother’s family were Holy Innocents parishioners from 1870 to the early 1940s, so the old pics you see are from my personal collection. We love those altar boys. Grandma is the tall girl in front of church entrance and the somewhat goofy, albeit almost always cheerful, young man in the surplice is Grandpa, who was the organist at Holy Innocents from the early 1920s to early 1940s. That’s where they met – at Holy Innocents – and there’s a whole wacky courtship story I will save for another time.)

1
Easter Sunday Holy Innocents

2

5
Mae Kiernan & Catherine Vail – Holy Innocents c. 1918

The Demise of St. Paul’s; Demolition for the Empire State Plaza

12049374_908428615872068_6262118185718604903_n

Blandina Dudley came from an early Albany Dutch family and married Charles Dudley who eventually became a U.S. Senator from New York State.  When he died, he left her a very wealthy widow, probably one of the richest women in the State in the early 1840s.  She was a woman of great philanthropy. Her greatest achievement was donation of the funds to establish the Dudley Observatory in Albany in 1856, one of the first in the nation.  Her other good works included donation of half of the cost for erecting a new building for the Third Reformed Church on Lancaster Street between Swan and Hawk Streets, to be known as the Dudley Reformed Church.

Since 1837, the church had been at Green and South Ferry Streets, but “frequent floods swept over this section of the city during spring freshets,” and they decided to move to the west, where the filling and grading of the Ruttenkill ravine had recently opened a new and desirable neighborhood.

In May 1861, with construction nearly complete, disaster struck: within two weeks four city banks failed. Funding for the church disappeared, and Third Reformed was forced to abandon the project. They remained on Green Street until 1914, when the congregation moved to 20 Ten Eyck Avenue, where they still worship today.

Third Reformed Church’s tragedy created an opportunity for another city congregation in crisis. St. Paul’s Episcopal was also planning to move up the hill, from its location on South Pearl Street. They had selected a site, hired an architect and obtained funding for a new church, when the same banking crisis destroyed their plans. Because they had already begun negotiations for sale of the old building, the congregation feared that they could become homeless. A year later, they were able to buy the unfinished Dudley Reformed building from the builder, modify it for Episcopal liturgy, and move there by 1864.

St. Paul’s was to worship on Lancaster Avenue for a century, forced to leave when the area was leveled for construction of the South Mall*. The congregation was able to take some of the windows to the new building on Hackett Boulevard, and the New York State Museum rescued the church’s pulpit, but many of the contents of the building were sold at auction.

12063687_908428809205382_6580965740289120306_n

 

12109045_908428745872055_3000883429547083830_n

12109062_908428725872057_4360303017851364919_n

11249403_908428905872039_8173282887700410661_n

 

14805339222_25fdda7cab_b12187808_908540295860900_612266559135548726_n

10109803925_20ec41aff1_b

The congregation’s pleas to spare St. Paul’s “as a spiritual and aesthetic center in the midst of the new State Building” were rejected by planners. But whenever we walk through the Empire State Plaza, we envision the former Dudley Reformed Church building, neatly tucked between Agency Buildings 3 and 4.

  • St. Paul’s was one of  4 churches demolished  to construct the Empire State Plaza; the others were St. Sophia’s Greek Orthodox Church (which re-built on WHitehall Rd.);  the Church of the Assumption) which re-built in Latham and  the First Methodist Church, whose congregation with Trinity Methodist in Albany on Lark St.

By Paul Nance from his blog, Grains Once Scattered

Child’s Hospital

13923488_1048790681835860_8513756776108758367_o
Child’s Hospital in 1884. The tall building in the background is St. Agnes’ School. The separate building to the right, and the rear of the main building are parts of St. Margaret’s Home.

Do you remember the fine old building that stood on the northwest corner of Elk and Hawk Streets from 1890 until 1960? If so, you probably also remember that you (or a sibling) were there to have tonsils removed. For Albany children in the first half of the twentieth century, Child’s Hospital was the place for tonsillectomy. In 1950, Child’s set a tonsil-pulling record: 102 pairs in a single month.

The hospital’s name requires some explanation. You might reasonably think it was called Child’s because most of its clients were children, but that is not the case. Nor was it named for a wealthy Mr. or Mrs. Child who endowed it. No, Child’s Hospital was named for the order of Episcopal nuns who ran it from 1874 until 1949: the Sisterhood of the Holy Child Jesus.

The Sisterhood, founded in Albany’s Cathedral of All Saints in 1873, also ran St. Agnes School and St. Margaret’s Home for Babies. All of these institutions were located on the north side of Elk Street, between Hawk and Swan. When it was founded, Child’s Hospital was the only hospital for children between New York, Montreal, Boston and Buffalo. While it was affiliated with the Episcopal diocese, Child’s services were offered without regard to religious affiliation, and many services were offered free of charge. In addition to routine patients, Child’s Hospital also served children who needed long-term care for chronic conditions.

The Sisters’ trio of institutions on the corner of Elk and Hawk began to break up in the 1930s. In 1932, with several of the buildings threatening to slide down into Sheridan Hollow, the diocese offered to sell all three buildings to the State. The State declined that offer, but St. Agnes’ School moved to Loudonville that same year, and St. Margaret’s Home moved to the former Alms House site south of New Scotland Avenue in 1936. The hospital, however, remained on Elk Street until 1959, when the Episcopal diocese again offered to sell the property to the State to build a much-needed parking lot. The State accepted this offered, and the diocese chose to move the hospital near to St. Margaret’s, creating the new Good Samaritan Center off of Hackett Boulevard.

Child’s Hospital closed its Elk Street building in summer 1959, and the building was demolished in August 1960. The new Child’s Hospital, on Hackett Boulevard, received its first patient on October 23, 1961.

13923804_1048813331833595_1240397982675986212_o.jpg
Child’s Hospital, from a watercolor by Edwin W. Becker. The section to the left was the Sisters’ residence. [image courtesy Pruyn Collection, Albany Public Library]