African American Men from Albany in the Civil War; the 54th Massachusetts, NYS “Colored Regiments” and 2 African American brothers serve in the 77th “Saratoga” Regiment

By the end of the Civil War roughly 175,000 black men (10% of the Union Army) served as soldiers in the U.S. Army, and another 19,000 served in the Navy. About 4,500 men from New York State served in the War. So far we’ve found the names about 90 men with links to Albany.

Black men were not allowed to serve in the Union Army until 1863 when Massachusetts raised the 54th regiment of “colored troops” in spring 1863. These are the men whose gallantry and courage are portrayed in the movie “Glory”. By early 1864 New York State finally raised 3 regiments of colored troops – the 20th, the 26th and the 31st. About 3,000 men from New York and elsewhere enlisted in this regiments, and in similar regiments mustered in the other Union states. Other Black men served in the Navy before 1863, scattered on various Union ship as cooks and stewards.

The 54th Massachusetts

We’ve identified 10 men from Albany County (mostly from Albany city) who served in the 54th Massachusetts.

  • Charles Bell – age 20, waiter, private
  • William Briggs – age 21, waiter, private
  • William Everson – age 19, laborer, private
  • William Francis – age 30, waiter, private
  • Benjamin Helmus – age 21, waiter, private
  • James Jones – age 33, waiter, mustered out as Sargent
  • Edgar Morgan – age 20, laborer, private
  • Alexander Thompson – age 25 laborer, private
  • John Titus age 21, laborer, private
  • George Alfred Wilson – 23, laborer, private

Bell, Briggs, Everson, Francis, Helmus, Jones, Morgan, Thompson, and Titus went to Massachusetts, and enlisted as a group on March 29, 1863, and became part of Company E. All but two of the of the men, Bell and Wilson, are identified as being present at the attack of the 54th on Fort Wagner in Charleston, South Carolina. Although the attack was unsuccessful it proved to the nation that Black men could fight with courage, bravery and skill. The Confederate soldiers buried the dead Union soldiers in a mass grave, and in a gesture of utter contempt, threw the body of their white commander Col. Robert Gould Shaw in the same pit. Later Shaw’s father wrote, “We would not have his body removed from where it lies surrounded by his brave and devoted soldiers. … We can imagine no holier place than that in which he lies, among his brave and devoted followers, nor wish for him better company. – what a body-guard he has.”

While some of the men from Albany were wounded, all but one survived – William Briggs died from his wounds a number of days after the battle. Some of the wounds were horrendous, and left many of the men serious disabilities from gunshot and bayonet wounds.

Alexander Hill from Hudson died in Albany in 1876; his death was attributed to the wounds received at Fort Wagner.

NYS Colored Regiments

The 20th, the 26th and the 31st regiments were raised in in New York City in Spring 1864. While many people were not totally on board with NY establishing African American regiments the State was having difficulty meeting its enrollment quotas, and the draft was despised. We’ve identified about 50 men who were born or lived in Albany County who served in these regiments.

Most of the Albany men were members of the 20th and 26th regiments, the first two established. Many of the volunteers were from outside of the city; farmers and laborers from Bethlehem, Coxsackie, Rennselaerville, etc. Most were in their late teens or early 20s. We need to do more research to find out more, but we can tell you some about two of the men.

William Latour was an older man, age 38, and a barber when he enlisted in the 26th NY (CT). His father Henry was born enslaved on the farm owned by the French aristocrat émigré the Marquis de La tour du Pin who fled to this area in the 1790s after escaping the guillotine in the French Revolution. When they purchased their farm in Watervliet Madame La Tour was shocked that General Schuyler and others advised that they would be unable to sustain the farm without slaves. It appears that when the family sold the farm before their return to France in 1798 they freed those they had enslaved. (There is no mention of slaves in the description of the farm used for the sale.) Most of the those previously enslaved made their way to Albany city, and appear as free people in the very early city directories. Henry was one of the Black men who attended the first New York State Colored Convention held in Albany in 1840, and played a pivotal role in aiding the escape of the fugitive Charles Nalle in Troy NY in 1859. (In the nick of time Henry arrived with a wagon and whisked him away, with the help of Harriet Tubman.)

Sylvester Dorsey was born in Ithaca and enlisted in the 26th in 1864. He was also 38. After the War he settled in Albany (we think that there was a family relationship with the family of John Titus who served with the 54th Massachusetts). In Albany he married Frances Johnson, a member of a leading Black Albany family. He was a blacksmith by trade, and in 1879 he was the armorer for the Albany Zouave Cadet Company (which would become part of the 10th NYS National Guard). In 1910 the history of the Company was published and this description of Sylvester Dorsey in 1879 appears:

“Many of the exempts (note: this means members of the Company) will remember the faithful old servitor, and will the dispute the truth of the present day saying about all “coons” looking alike. Dorsey has an individuality all his own, and as the members of the old Guard conjure up his shining ebony face there will come trooping many recollections of happy days gone…”

(By 1879 many members of the Company were young and merely “playing” at being a soldier, yet Sylvester Dorsey had actually served in the War.)

Other Colored Troop Regiments

Based on information from various data bases we found another 40 or so additional African American men born in Albany who served in the other “colored” regiments across the North and in the Union navy who enlisted in places as diverse as Michigan, Pennsylvania and Maine.

Black Men Who Served in White Units

No one really knows how many African American soldiers served with white regiments in the Civil War. A low estimate is about a 1,000, and they are thought to have been mostly “contrabands”, enslaved men who made it to Union positions, and served as cooks and officer valets and stewards in white regiments.

But what we found turns that theory on its head. In late summer 1861, at the very start of the War, African American brothers born in Albany enlisted in the 77th NY (the “Saratoga Regiment”). They were William Topp Lattimore and Benjamin Franklin Lattimore. Their grandfather, Benjamin Lattimore, who had been one of the few Black Revolutionary War soldiers, settled in Albany in the late 1790s. He had been instrumental in creating the first African school in the city and had been a major mover and shaker in the Black community. His son, Benjamin Lattimore, Jr., followed in his father’s footsteps. He was an active member of Albany’s African American political and social community, an ardent abolitionist and a member of Albany’s Underground Railroad (UGRR). In 1847 he pulled up stakes and moved his large family to a farm he purchased in Moreau N.Y. in Saratoga County just south of Glens Falls. There he continued his UGRR activities.

By the time the War started both William (Billy as he was called) and Benjamin had lived in Moreau for 14 years. They enlisted and fought side by side with the white men with whom they had gone to school and church. Benjamin served one enlistment and returned to the farm.

Billy re-enlisted (he may have been the only African American soldier, or one of a few who served at Gettysburg), and was seriously wounded at Fort Stevens in 1864. After the War Ben became a rolling stone, traveling across the country, finally ending up as a porter at a San Francisco Hotel for several decades. Billy first went to New York City and then came back to the farm after his father died in 1873. For the rest of his life he would remain proud of his military service and was an active member of the 77th NY GAR (Grand Army of the Republic) Association for Union Army veterans. He attended every encampment and reunion, and often served as an officer of the Association.

We aren’t sure if the enlistment of the Lattimore brothers is a complete anomaly or similar enlistments happened across the North. We do know, based on picture of Billy in a large GAR re-union he was very light skinned (the family is listed variously as Black or Mulatto in different census data.) There is no indication in any military active service or pension records that either brother was not white. It’s a mystery that’s worth pursuing.

Here is the list we have so far of Albany men who served in colored regiments

  • Anthony, Fleetwood – 29th NY CT
  • Baker, Charles – 26th NY CT
  • Becker, John Henry – 20th NY CT
  • Brent, William – 2nd Cav CT
  • Brown, Jackson – 20th NY CT
  • Bulah, Joseph – 11th Heavy Artillery CT
  • Burns, William – 26th NY CT
  • Cain, Andrew – 26th NY CT
  • Cane, David – 26th NY CT
  • Ceasar, John – 31st CT – KIA in Petersburg
  • Champion, Theodore – 26th NY CT
  • Cisco, John 20th – NY CT (also listed as 31st CT)
  • Crummel (Cromwell?), James – 5th Heavy Artillery CT
  • Curtis, Milo – 20th NY CT
  • Dickson, Albert – 26th NY CT
  • Dickson, Peter – 20th NY CT
  • Dickson, Richard – 26th NY CT
  • Dickson, William – 26th NY CT
  • Diffenderf, Henry – regiment unknown
  • Dixon, Robert – 26th NY CT
  • Dorcey, Abraham – 20th NY CT
  • Fletcher, Harvey – 26th NY CT
  • Green, Zebulon – 11th Heavy Artillery CT (also appears to be listed as sailor and 24th CT)
  • Groomer, Solomon – 26th NY CT
  • Habbard, Luther – 26th NY CT
  • Harding, George – 8th CT
  • Hallenbeck, William – regiment unknown
  • Holland, George – 20th NY CT
  • Harding, Morris – 26th NY CT
  • Holland, George – 20th NY CT
  • Holmes, Poliver – 26th NY CT
  • Houzer, Richard – 3rd CT
  • Ingold, George – 29th NY CT
  • Jackson, Charles – 11th Heavy artillery CT
  • Jackson, Jacob – 26th NY CT
  • Jackson, Jerod – 26th NY CT
  • Jackson, John – 31st CT
  • Jackson, Joseph – 26th NY CT
  • Jackson, Prime – 31st CT
  • Jackson, Robert – 26th NY CT
  • Jackson, Samuel – 26th NY CT
  • Jackson, William – 26th NY CT
  • Jackson, William Henry – 11th heavy artillery CT
  • Jarris, Henry – 26th NY CT
  • Johnson, Daniel – 26th NY CT
  • Johnson, Henry – 20th NY CT
  • Johnson, William – 44th NY (may be in accurate)
  • Johnston, Henry – 24th CT
  • Jones, Davis – 20th NY CT
  • Jones, Solomon – 1st CT and 1st CT Cavalry
  • Keyser, Zacariah – 26th NY CT
  • Kniskern, Harrison – 61st NY (may be inaccurate)
  • Lavendar, Benjamin – 11th Heavy Artillery CT
  • Lawyer, George – 20th NY CT
  • Lewis, Peter – 26th NY CT
  • London, George – 26th NY CT
  • London, Michael Thomas – 26th NY CT
  • Manuel, Charles – 26th NY CT
  • Marco – 30th NY – probably inaccurate
  • Moore, John – 41sr CT (New Hampshire)
  • Morgan, Henry – 11th Heavy Artillery CT
  • Morgan, Luther- 20th NY CT
  • Murphy, Charles – 20th NY CT
  • Nash, James 20th NY CT
  • Nash, Samuel – 26th NY CT
  • O’Neil, William – 26th NY (also listed with 31st CT)
  • Panton, Charles – no regiment listed CT
  • Raymond, J.S – 5th CT cavalry (Mass) CT
  • Richard, Hart – 26th NY CT
  • Richard, Scott – 26th NY CT
  • Rix, Ambrose – 144th NY (probably inaccurate)
  • Rondout, John – no regiment listed
  • Saulter, Isaac – 26th NY CT
  • Sawyer, George – 30th CT
  • Scott, Richard – 30th CT
  • Smith, William – 8th CT
  • Smoke, Josiah – 20th NY CT
  • Smoke, William – 31st CT
  • Snyder, Thomas – 18th NY (probably inaccurate)
  • Spanberg (Speanbergh), Henry – 91st NY (probably inaccurate)
  • Sternbergh, Lorenzo – 26th NY CT
  • Sternberg, William – 26th CT
  • Stewart, John – 26th NY CT
  • Stewart, William – 29th NY CT
  • Sutphen, James – 31st CT
  • Swan, Elisha – 26th NY CT
  • Sylix, Andrew – 20th NY CT
  • Teabout, Joseph Henry – 11th heavy artillery CT
  • Ten Eyck, Anthony – 20th NY CT
  • Thompson, John – 20th NY CT
  • Thompson, Prime – 26th NY CT
  • Thompson, Lysander – 26th NY CT
  • Tilson, John – 26th NY CT
  • Titus, George – regiment unknown
  • Van Cruren, Peter – 6th cavalry CT
  • Van Slyke, John – 26th NY CT
  • Van Slyke , Samuel – 20th NY CT
  • Vroman, Daniel – 26th NY CT
  • Ward, Phillip – 31st CT
  • Weddington, George – 20th NY CT
  • White, John – 11th Heavy Artillery CT
  • Wilbur, Noruse – 26th NY CT
  • Williams, Henry – 20th NY CT
  • Williams, James – 20th NY CT
  • Wilson, Frank – 8th CT
  • Wright, Major – 26th NY CT

Julie O’Connor

Wellington Hotel Annex, demolished, 23, August 2014

Koffeefrkeleven's Blog

I brought the new-to-me Kodak digital camera downtown today around 9 am to shoot some pictures as The Wellington Annex was demolished. The city must have thought that people were there to celebrate because they set off fireworks:

derp. derp.

 

I wasn’t there to celebrate the demolishing of the Wellington to make way for a convention center. Like many in Albany, I went downtown more with sorrow for all the historic buildings Albany has lost over the years –many of which live on in my personal collection of photos. Since at least 2003, I have been taking photos of abandoned and neglected Albany properties with a cobbled-together collection of cheap digital point-and-shoots, and 35mm film SLRs I find at garage sales. 

When I first moved to Albany, The Wellington Hotel was still standing, and preservationists were actively trying to save the building. The main building on State Street was (at…

View original post 360 more words

The Boys of Albany. Not Just Names on the Vietnam Wall

There are 37 names on the Vietnam Wall from Albany, NY.

USA Capt. Thomas J. Bergin, 30, 3/14/64
USAF Maj. Theodore R. Loeschner, Jr., 37, 4/24/65
USMC Pfc. Hans Jorg Rudolph Lorenz, 21, 4/26/66
USA Spec 4 Keith Knott, 19, 5/9/66
USA Pfc. Robert G. Burrell, 19, 8/2/66
USA Pfc. Arthur J. McNally, 23, 10/17/66
USMC Lance Corp. William F. Ditoro, 22, 1/7/67
USA Spec 4 Richard J. Mosley, 20, 1/27/67
USA Spec 4 Donald J. Sheehy, 20, 5/5/67
USMC Lance Cpl. Rich Rockenstyre, 18, 8/31/67
USMC Capt. William M. Van Antwerp, Jr. 30, 9/16/67
USA Pfc. Frank Maleca, 20, 10/13/67
USA Spec 4 Ralph J. DiPace, 20, 10/21/67
USA Spec 4 Gerald H. Slingerland, 10/26/67 (a day after his 19th birthday)
USA Spec. 4 Robert J. Winters, 22, 11/9/67
USA Spec. 4, Edward A. Finlay, 19, 12/6/67
USA Corp. Willam M. Seabast, 22, 1/31/68
USMC GY Sgt. Anthony N. Valente, 38, 2/27/68
USMC Cpl. Bertram A. Deso, 20, 3/1/68
USMC Lance Cpl. Michael G. DeMarco, 21, 4/11/68
USMC Corp. John J. Vennard, 34, 4/17/68
USA Staff Sgt, Robert J. Smith, 22, 4/18/68
USMC Pfc John C. Fiffe, 18, 5/8/68
USN, Fireman, Joseph S. Ott, 20, 7/14/68
USMC Pfc. Kevin J. McArdle, 18, 8/18/68
USMC Maj. Harold S. Lonergan, 39, 2/23/69
USA Spec 5 Christopher Brow, 23, 2/26/69
USMC Lance Cpl. Richard J. Leahy, 22, 3/6/69
USMC Pfc. 1st class, Clifford G. LaBombard, 19, 4/15/69
USA Spec 5 Charles Chandler, 20, 4/18/69
USMC Pfc. John W Gladney, 19, 7/4/69
USA, Spec 4, Thomas K. Ryan, 18, 8/2/69
USA 1st Lt. Stanley A. Brown, 23, 11/1/69
USA Spec 4 Lewis C. Ouellette, 19, 4/13/70
USA Corp. Samuel W. Williams, 21, 7/26/70
USA Staff Sgt. Daniel E. Nye, 25, 11/28/71
USN Lt. Ralph P. Dupont, Jr., 24, 5/16/72
USMC Lance Cpl. Ashton N. Loney, 5/15/75

They came from all neighborhoods – Pine Hills, Arbor Hill, North Albany, West Hill,  New Scotland and the South End. They lived on  Myrtle Ave, Livingston Ave.,  Clinton Ave., Second Ave., Emmett St., Madison Ave.,  First St., Washington Ave., Lark  Dr., Magnolia Terrace, Hunter Ave.,  So. Main Ave. and Ontario St.

A very small number were college graduates.  Most had just completed high school when they joined the service – they were graduates of Albany High, Philip Schuyler, Milne, Cardinal McCloskey, and VI.

Most were impossibly young… 18, 19, 20. (There is an old Bellamy Boys lyric, “..they sent him off to Vietnam on his senior trip”.)

Some enlisted, some were drafted and, and in the time honored Albany tradition, several had brushes with the law and Albany’s justice system offered them the “choice” – jail or the Army.

Their deaths span 11 years.  The first to be killed was an Army captain “observer” who died in 1964.  One was an MP  who died defending the US Embassy during the Tet offensive of 1968.  Most died  in the harsh and unforgiving provinces of Vietnam during the War’s brutal years of 1967 -1969. One was a medic who went borrowed a gun and went into save other men. The last one to die  was a Marine killed  in the Mayaguez “Incident” by the  Khmer Rouge in 1975. His body was never recovered.   He was not even a US citizen (he was from Trinidad, but his mom lived on Lark Drive).  His name, as well as the others killed in the “Incident”, are the last names on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

An astonishing number died within their first 4 months in Vietnam. Johnny Gladney, who was a year ahead of me in Jr. High and High School,  was killed after being in Vietnam less than a month – on the 4th of July.

During  the 10 months of my junior year in high school, 15 boys died.  This is Smalbany, so you always knew the boy, or you knew his sisters/brothers  or  his cousins, or a friend of a friend.

The City moved on, but underneath, people felt a sadness and then  they went numb – just like the rest of the country. The killing seemed inexorable.  There was no way to stop it – it went on and on and on.

They are more than names.. each one has a story.  One was a long distance runner who could fly like the wind.  One was an avid reader; he won a Boy’s Club prize for  reading the most books when he was  11. Another was fascinated by flying, so he became a helicopter pilot. Some were quiet and reserved, some were outgoing and  boisterous.

8  boys were from the same class in Albany High and all members of the same Hi-Y club,  They all enlisted  in the Marine Corps.  The bond between 2 of the boys was so strong, that after the death of one, the other, sensing his own imminent death, begged to be buried next to his buddy when his time came.  They rest together in St. John’s Lutheran Cemetery – one Catholic and one Protestant.  A third boy from that same group died a year later.  ( See Semper Fi – In life and Death for the store of Rich and Mike.)

Here are pictures of some of the boys/men.

Christopher Brow
Christopher Brow

Ashton Loney

Richard Rockenstyre
Richard Rockenstyre

Bertram Deso
Bertram Deso

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Theodore Loeschner
Theodore Loeschner

Clifford LaBombard
Clifford LaBombard

Michael DeMarco
Michael DeMarco

Donald Sheehy
Donald Sheehy

Edward Findley
Edward Finlay

Gerald Slingerland
Gerald Slingerland

Hans Jorg Rudolph Lorenz
Hans Jorg Rudolph Lorenz

Harold Lonergan
Harold Lonergan

John Fiffe
John Fiffe

John Gladney
John Gladney

Keith Knott
Keith Knott

Richard Mosley
Richard Mosley

Ralph DiPace
Ralph DiPace

Robert Smith
Robert Smith

Stanley Brown
Stanley Brown

oueleete

chandler 1

RIP Pat Rocco Albany Chef and Artist Extraodinaire

Yesterday (2/24/14), Albany lost a legend – Pat (Pasquale) Rocco, chef extraordinaire and all around mensch.

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 Pat started out with a small restaurant on upper New Scotland Ave. 

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1950s

Pat  then went on to become  the Executive Chef at the legendary Ambassador Rstaurant – first on State St. and then on Elk St. when it was forced to move by  South Mall demolition.  

ambassador 3

rocco

After  the Ambassador closed, he  served as executive chef to Governors Carey and Cuomo.  Chef Rocco was instrumental in the development of the pastry department of the well-known culinary division of  Schenectady County Community College.  Pat subsequently  moved to Las Vegas  and worked his magic there, before returning to Albany.

Pat was perhaps most known for his magnificent  and spectacular sugar creations; extravaganzas of pastillage. Pastillage is  the art of creating decorations and objects from sugar dough, and dates back to perhaps the 16th century.

Pat was the master.  He  exhibited at the International Culinary Food Show in NY, Societé Culinaire Philanthropique, for many years.  In 1972, he won the silver medal in the pastillage category in the World Culinary Olympics in Frankfurt, Germany.  His pieces were amazing!

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Pat  literally wrote the book, in 1998.

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He was an astonishing talent, in addition to being a much beloved husband and father.  

Pat Rocco Obituary

Albany Business College Albany N.Y.

The Albany Business College was a private, for profit  educational insitution and  was a maintain of the city for over a century.  It was established in 1857  as a subsidiary of Bryant and Stratton in 1857 by C.E. Prentice, John Carnell and Benton Hoit.   In later years it severed its affiliation with Bryant and Stratton and was privately owned.

It was originally located at 51-53 North Pearl St.  In 1889 it moved into a grand building, designed by Edward Ogden at  the corner of North Pearl and Columbia Streets in downtown Albany.  

The College moved  twice more in the 2oth century; first to Washington Ave,. 19 133 and then to Central Ave outside the City limits,  to an old Vallee’s restaurant site in the 1970s.  It closed in 1988, and was purchased by Bryant and Stratton, coming full circle.

ABC, as it as known, was sort of a family tradition. A great grandfather from Cohoes attended in the 1880s, a great uncle graduated in 1890, a great aunt in 1918 and another  uncle in 1956.

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1909

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c. 1910

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c. 1910

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Employment Desk 1912

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c 1895

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If you are on Facebook, consider joining “Albany.. the way it was.”, a FB Group devoted to memories of Albany, NY.  Here’s the link.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/375351089205442/606197369454145/?notif_t=group_comment

Echoes of Pine Hills/Madison Ave Albany NY

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Corner of Madison and Partridge c 1973

Dutch Oven Bakery   1938
Dutch Oven Bakery 1938

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Lake and Madison c 1920s

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School 4 Madison and Ontario

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c. 1953

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Madison looking east near Ontario, Vincentian on right and School 4 on left

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1950s

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Steamer 10

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1940s

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1915

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1967

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c. 1955

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early 1950s

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Mike Flanagan.. second owner of Petit Paris Restaurant mid 1960s and musician extraordinaire.

The Westerly Apts.. S. Main Ave.  Constructed in the early 1900s
The Westerly Apts.. S. Main Ave. Constructed in the early 1900s

The Betty Schuyler Restaurant
The Betty Schuyler Restaurant 1940s

 

Joe's Maitre'D
Joe’s Maitre’D

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c 1959

Madison between Quail and Ontario, north side c 1973

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Service station/Garage corner of W.Lawrence and Madison 1930s

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Walter's  c. 1958
Walter’s c. 1958

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Old NYS Museum Albany NY

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The old NYS Museum in the wonderfully iconic State Education Building was a garden of earthly delights. Tens of thousands of  NYS school children visited  the museum during its 60 some odd years, until it closed when the “new” Museum in the Cultural Center in  the Empire State Plaza opened in the 1970s.

9353424451_b4ce44d14f_zBut for the children of Albany, especially the baby boomer kids of  the ’50s and ’60s,  the Museum was special. It was a source of infinite wonder; it was our own very, very  cool playground.   The Museum was on bus lines; it  was located within walking distance of  two ethnically diverse neighborhoods, Arbor Hill and the South End,; both teeming with children.  And it was free.   When kids in Albany sighed, “I’m bored”,  many an Albany mother replied, “Go to the Museum”.  That was  the big deal about the old Museum.. it was kid friendly.

Rotunda NYS Education Building
Rotunda NYS Education Building

The Museum was on the 5th floor; to get there you passed though the grandeur of the State Ed Building.   The exterior of the building is magnificent and imposing with its massive 36  Corinthian column colonnade.  But it’s even more  gorgeous inside.  The scale is part of it; but it’s also a stunning example early 20th century Beaux-Arts architecture. The central rotunda with a barrel vault ceiling and stupendous chandelier are awe-inspiring. It never failed to take my breath away.  Even the rowdiest kids calmed down, lowered their voices and stopped fidgeting,  sensing they were in the presence of something special. 960x540 (1)

When you reached the Museum floor, the first thing  you saw was a replica of the Gilboa prehistoric forest, filled with ancient fossilized tree stumps and  wonder of wonders, a waterfall.  I don’t know about other kids, but for me, it was so peaceful, it was the equivalent of a Zen garden.

Picture-23-600x364But then the fun began.  The old  Museum was really a museum of natural history. Just up the street was the Albany Institute of History and Art. It had an excellent collection of old Dutch paintings, china, furniture and artifacts, and 2 Egyptian mummies!  But other than the mummies, the Institute held little attraction for most of us kids.  So when I think about the old Museum,  it’s impossible not to think of the movie, Night at The Museum.

Where you went next depended on your mood.. did you want to go visit the Iroquois Indian diorama exhibits?  I remember the first time I saw them; I swear it was if the pages of a National Geographic had come alive. There were Native American artifacts… huge pots and best of all, arrow points and arrowheads. Arrowheads were part of our Akbany childhood. Between digging in back yards and playing in the residential, commercial and public constructions sites that dotted the city for 2 decades, kids were always finding, them.  They were a staple of school “show and tell”.  But the Museum placed them in context.. you  understood that cool thing you found dated back thousands of years.  And then you looked back at the Iroquois exhibits and began to have a better understanding of the people who used them.

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You could visit the huge Cohoes mastodon; one of three on display. or maybe a stroll through the  taxidermy  animal collection (which I found sort of creepy.)  The paleontology collection was amazing.. rows upon row of cabinets of miilion year old fossils,  There were botany and biology exhibits; beautiful illustrations of the birds, flora and flowers we saw in our yards and park, and those funky mushrooms we saw growing in the woods.

mastdon

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The fossilized sea life and shells were pretty nifty. I  still love a curvaceous wentletrap or a nautilus.

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G-11366Every time I visited, there seemed to be something new.. or something I’d missed. I first fell in love with

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Pyrite

sedimentary rocks; fascinated by the layers and strata in limestone and shale.  But there were so many choices.. the sparkling Herkimer Diamond, the “man made diamond”, iridescent quartz of all hues, meteorites, minerals and rocks that shimmered like gold or looked like coral.

The was a tall (maybe 4′)  pillar of rock salt that showed the tongue depressions of decades of New York school children who had licked it.  And we licked it too, just like our parents and aunts and uncles had done before, (I always called it Lot’s Wife.)

There was a bunch of rocks that glowed in the dark in a small room.  Recently someone said that the State Museum was the perfect “group date” for young teen kids in Albany.  You could go into the little dark nook and steal a first kiss.  The Museum had it all.

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A friend’s father was the building superintendent of the State Ed Building; I’m still jealous.

If you are on Facebook,  you might want to join the  Facebook Group, “Albany …the way  it was”, to share  your memories of Albany, NY with others. Here’s the link.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/375351089205442/606197369454145/?notif_t=group_comment

The Altamont Fair – Albany Agricultural Society

The first Fair was sponsored by the Albany Agricultural Society in 1813.

From then until 1892, fairs were held in Albany and other surrounding towns, including Bethlehem Center and Slingerlands.

The Altamont Driving Park and Fair Association was incorporated on May 20, 1893. The Board of Directors voted to establish a grandstand (which would be the first permanent structure on the fairgrounds) and also instructed him to draw up plans for a front gate.

Within a month the Board of Directors also approved the purchase 24.5 acres of land in Altamont originally owned by George Severson now held in trust by Isaac Reamer to be known as the “Altamont Fair Grounds.” This is the site of the present fairgrounds.

The first fair to be held at the Altamont location was from September 12 through 15, 1893. Admission was 25 cents for adults, and the net receipts for the four days was $884.13. A racetrack was built in front of the Grandstand, and horse racing was held at the first fair and continued at the Altamont Fair until the mid 1990’s.

In 1896 the Board of Directors appointed a committee to travel to the Cobleskill Fairgrounds to obtain plans and cost estimates of duplicating Cobleskill’s two story Fair Building to be used at Altamont for the “exhibition of Domestic, Manufacture Art and Fancy Work and Fruits and Vegetables.” On August 26, 1896 the Board examined the completed Exhibition Hall and voted to approve and accept the structure, which thy felt had been built with “superior workmanship.” This building is now known as the Flower & Fine Arts a Building and has recently been named to the State and National Register of Historic Sites.

In 1897, the Altamont Driving Park and Fair Association changed its name to the Albany County Agricultural Society and Exposition. Over the next 20 years, more property was acquired and more buildings were constructed, including the Poultry Building in 1899  and a Ladies’ Building (now the Vegetable Building )

In  addition to the the  agricultural, animal  and domestic arts competitions and  exhibitions, the Fair has, through the years, incorporated other attractions. Auto racung was started in 1915 and continued through the 1990s.  Other feature events included wrestling, boxing, a rodeo, a fall out shelter exhibit in the 1960,  dramatic  readings  and plays, an Atlas Missile exhibit in 1962 and, in 1964, a raffle for a house.  Of course, Fair queens have been crowned. Here’s smattering of Fair ads from the 1920’s through the 1960s.

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Altamont Fair 1927

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Altamont Fair 1937

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Altamont fair 1950

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Altamont Fair 1951

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Altamont Fair 1959

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Altamont Fair Fallout Shelter Display 1960

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Altamont Fair 1962

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Altamont Fair Home Giveaway 1964

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Altamont Fair 1965

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Miss Altamont Fair 1968

 

If you are on Facebook,  you might want to join the  Facebook Group, “Albany …the way  it was”, to share  your memories of Albany, NY with others. Here’s the link.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/375351089205442/606197369454145/?notif_t=group_comment

 

The Little French Church Albany NY

There once was a little jewel of a church, the Church of the Assumption, located at 107 Hamilton Street. In its location there is now a parking garage for the Empire State Plaza. It was known as the Roman Catholic French Church. It was originally named L’Assumption de la Ste. Vierge.

The church was formed in the early 1860’s by a group of French Canadian emigres who left Canada t come to the United States.

The Church was established in 1869 . The first structure burned and it was re-built in 1892.catholic-page265It was demolished in 1963. Early records were maintained in both Latin and French. The parish was re-created as Our Lady of Assumption Church in Latham. Here are some photos of the 1892 church interior and a photo printed in KN on August 15 1944; a man giving thanks for the American liberation of Paris. There is also a poignant interview with the long time Pastor of the Church.. just before it went under the wrecking ball.

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assumption interior

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assumpton aug 15 1944

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Interview with Monsignor Grattan June 1963 (Albany Knickerbocker News – fultonhistory.com)

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See http://www.olalatham.org/PDF/History%20Part%20I.pdf for additional information, the source of many of these imagss

The Public Market Albany NY

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Albany NY Open Air Market early 1800s by James Eights

 

In the  early 1800’s Albany’s open air public market was located at the intersection of State and Market Street (now Broadway).

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 Over time the market are moved north, as real estate in the City center became more costly. By the early 1880s  it was held once a week and located at the top of the State St. hill, just below Eagle St. and the State Capitol.

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 By the late 1880’s it was re- located  near the base of the Madison Ave .  In the early 1890s, over some opposition who wanted located closer to the Hudson River and railroad lines,   it was relocated to the Lyons Block.   This was a large open area below the Lyon’s Printing Company Building.  It was bounded by Grand, Hudson, Beaver and Daniel Streets.  In the early 1930’s, there was again sentiment to move the market farther south,closer to the River. Those efforts were unsuccessful, and in the mid 1930’s the market was enlarged, through the demolition of buildings on Philip and  Grand Streets.  The market remained in that location for about 30 years.  However, the Lyons Building was demolished in early 1964 to make way for construction of the Empire State Plaza, and the land around it appropriated for the same purpose.

I think my last visit to the Market was in 1963, when  I went with my grandfather to buy flats of petunia to plant for my grandmother for Mother’s Day.  I was about 12, and had no idea I would never see it again.

Here’s a reminiscence by Charlie Mooney, a columnist for the Albany Knickerbocker News, about the old Public Market.

Albany NY Knickerbocker News 1964 - 1326

1890s
late 1880s

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c. 1890

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Lyon Building when first constructed in 1892

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AFD Fire Dept. Hook & Ladder #1 on parade. Public Market  Looking northeast on Beaver and Grand St. October 1910 albany ny early 1900s .
AFD Fire Dept. Hook & Ladder #1 on parade

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c. 1910

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1912

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market place grand and beaver

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West Point cadets drilling in the Public Marketplace 1918

1920s
1920

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Albany Open Air Market c. 1922

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Overflow from Lyon’s Block on to Market St. mid-1930s

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1933

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1936

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1961 A couple of years prior to the demolition

demolition january 1964 lyons