Tag Archives: Albany

Genealogy in the Capital District


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The Historians LogoThis week’s topic on “The Historians” podcast is genealogy, three interviews recorded with members of the Capital District Genealogical Society.

The program features Eric Johnson on African American history; Terri Moran with a family history that stretches to Sweden; and Jim Richmond, whose family research inspired him to write a book, The Middleline, the story of the founding of a Saratoga County community. You can listen at “The Historians” online archiveContinue reading

Early Years Of Steamboating On The Hudson


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800px-Robert_R_Livingston,_attributed_to_Gilbert_Stuart_(1755-1828)In 1798, Robert R. Livingston, Jr. (1746-1813) requested and obtained a monopoly from the New York State Legislature granting him the exclusive right to operate passenger steamboats on the Hudson River.

The Livingston family was very wealthy and owned the large estate, Clermont, just south of Albany. They ran an iron foundry and machine shop for many years where they had installed a steam engine to power the equipment. Continue reading

A Few Tickets Left For ‘Rail, River, Hudson!’ Event


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rail_river_hudson_composite_for_2015_promoOn Saturday, July 11, the publishers of AllOverAlbany.com will lead a full day excursion called “Rail, River, Hudson!” The journey begins with a 25-minute train ride by Amtrak from Rensselaer to the City of Hudson, and ends with a 2.5-hour sunset cruise from Hudson back to Albany on board the Dutch Apple II riverboat. Only a few tickets remain for this event, which sold out in 2014.

“Taking a day trip down the Hudson Valley by train or riverboat was the Saturday thing to do in Albany until the 1940s,” said Mary Darcy, one of the publishers of All Over Albany. “We’re making it possible for people today to experience what that was like. And it’s a lot of fun.” Continue reading

Civil War Albany Rises To Action


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Shipment of Guns and Ammunition from the Watervliet ArsenalAs had happened during the French and Indian War and later the Revolutionary War, from the first days of the Civil War Albany was converted into a military camp. Lincoln’s original request for troops designated Albany, New York City and Elmira as military marshaling points. Troops from the entire northeast, including upstate New York as far west as Buffalo, east to Vermont, New Hampshire and western Massachusetts reported to Albany. Continue reading

A Short Biography of Engineer Benjamin Prescott


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Pipes of the Albany Water Works excavated by Wolfert Roost CC circa late 1980s002The Wolfert’s Roost Country Club in Albany maintains a small dam, pond, and pump house to provide water for their golf course. In the 1980s workers excavating the pond, which is fed by the Maezlandtkill, discovered several sections of ancient wooden and very early cast iron pipe along with iron bands. The pipe and other artifacts were placed in the woods near the club’s tennis courts and forgotten.

Benjamin Prescott, engineer of Albany’s first municipal water system and the man responsible for those pipes, is all but equally forgotten, despite an illustrious career in engineering.  Prescott served as an Engineer in the American Revolution, Superintendent of the Springfield Armory, and was the designer of several notable projects, including one of this nation’s first inclined planes (on the Connecticut River). He also conducted a 1790s survey of Niagara Falls, consulted on the Erie Canal, designed the Troy Sloop Lock (the Federal Dam) and more. Continue reading

The First Days of the Civil War in Albany


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Fort Sumter Newspaper HeadlineEarly Sunday morning on April 14, 1861, barely two months after Lincoln left Albany, news arrived there that Fort Sumter had been fired on and surrendered. Fort Sumter was not far from Washington, and this news hit Albany like a shock wave.

New York State Governor Edwin D. Morgan called an emergency meeting of his staff and leaders of the Senate and Assembly that afternoon in the Executive Chamber in Albany. A bill was drafted calling for New York to appropriate $3 million to provision and provide 30,000 New York Militia to support the preservation of the Union. Continue reading

1861: Lincoln and John Wilkes Booth in Albany


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The Delavan House on BRoadway in AlbanyFollowing his election as President in 1860, Abraham Lincoln undertook a train ride to Washington that took him through Albany. He arrived in the city on February 18, 1861 with his wife and three sons.

As their train passed the West Albany railroad shops, an electrical switch was turned off at the nearby Dudley Observatory, causing an electromagnet mounted on the roof of the Capitol in downtown Albany to release a metal ball that slid down a pole, signaling to military officials to start a 21-gun salute in Capitol Park. Continue reading

Hamilton’s Mistress; My Historic Namesake


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StaatsburghDowntonTour6-2014 (153)In the study of history, a personal connection is often what draws us in to begin to explore a subject, place, or era.  We might be interested in World War II after hearing grandpa’s war stories.  We might begin to read about the Underground Railroad after discovering stations in our hometown.

Making a personal connection with the people we read about and study is a common impulse for history lovers.  It helps make history come alive. This story isn’t about an ancestor, or a history connection to my home town, it’s about a woman with a more unique connection to me, one who shares my name. Continue reading

Free Family Event At Historic Cherry Hill


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Cherry HillOn Saturday, June 6th, Historic Cherry Hill will present the Hudson River Family Day, from 1 until 4 pm. Participants are invited to step into the 1700s and experience Hudson River sloop trade and daily life at this free event. The Hudson River Trading Game, with its 34-foot game board, will immerse all ages in the adventure of 18th century trade and travel. The game is based on the actual experiences of merchant and sloop owner, Philip Van Rensselaer of Cherry Hill. Continue reading

The Albany Connections of Burr, Hamilton, and Schuyler


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Hamilton-burr-duelDuring the Revolutionary War, Alexander Hamilton served as an artillery captain and later a colonel and trusted aid to General George Washington. Colonel Aaron Burr also served in the Colonial Army and accompanied Benedict Arnold on his march through the Maine wilderness and his failed attempt to capture Quebec. Burr had been with General Richard Montgomery when Montgomery was shot and killed in Quebec. Later in the war, Burr was placed in charge of a regiment and his troops were stationed in Westchester County, New York. Continue reading

Black Civil War Veteran James Lucas of Albany


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coloredtroops recruitment“Albany’s Only Negro Civil War Veteran” was the title of an article in The New York Age in May, 1933. The paper reported an interview with the city’s last surviving black veteran from the War Between the States, Sergeant James N. Lucas.

After serving with Company E of the 38th U.S. Colored Volunteers from early 1865 until 1867, he lived in Troy before moving to Albany in 1869. Continue reading

Albany History Fair To Feature Brews, Spirits


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History Fair 304“Something’s Brewing: A Historical Look at Albany Brews & Spirits” is the theme of the 16th Annual Albany History Fair to be held at Historic Cherry Hill on Sunday, May 3, from 1 to 4 pm.

This free event will include an 18th century brewing demonstration by Harvey Alexander, music by Friends Union, house tours, exhibits, and a brewing and agricultural scavenger hunt for families, throughout the afternoon. Continue reading

New Exhibit On Albany’s Walter Launt Palmer


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image008Artist Walter Launt Palmer (1854–1932), the son of Albany sculptor Erastus Dow Palmer, has enjoyed a revival of interest in the art world over the last several years. It’s now common to see his paintings in art magazines and at major auctions across the country, bringing record prices for his oils and watercolors.

As an artist who preferred living and working in his home community of Albany, rather than New York City, Palmer carried forward the creative genius that emerged in the region generations earlier with the Hudson River School and his father’s own sculpture. Continue reading

An Interview With Historian, Reporter Paul Grondahl


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The Historians LogoThis week “The Historians” podcast features author and Albany Times Union Reporter Paul Grondahl. Grondahl has an update on his biography-in-progress of CBS news commentator Andy Rooney. Plus he discusses the career of long-time Albany promoter Ed Lewi. Grondahl collaborated with Lewi on the book A Wild Ride: Bears, Babes and Marketing to the Max. Grondahl has also written books on longtime Albany Mayor Erastus Corning and Theodore Roosevelt. Listen at “The Historians” online archive at http://www.bobcudmore.com/thehistorians/
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USS Slater Opens For The Season In Albany


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USS SLATER 2015USS Slater has opened to the public for the ship’s 18th season in Albany.  A National Historic Landmark, the Slater is the only remaining World War II Destroyer Escort afloat in America.

Destroyer Escorts originally were conceived to battle Nazi U-Boats while escorting convoys across the Atlantic. However, their versatility proved useful in the Pacific defending task forces from Kamikaze attacks. Many Destroyer Escorts continued to serve during the Korean and Viet Nam Wars. The current US Navy Fleet’s frigates are descendants of these small ships. Continue reading

Historic Steamboat Planned For Hudson River


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ss columbiaIn the years between 1807 and 1971, the Hudson River was alive with boat traffic. The great Hudson River Day Liners were perhaps the best known of all the vessels – famous for their elegance and speed. New Yorkers and visitors alike experienced the river and magnificent landscapes from their decks and plush salons.

Now, a New York City nonprofit is planning to restore the S.S. Columbia, believed to be America’s oldest surviving excursion steamship, for service on the Hudson River between New York City and Albany, with stops at Bear Mountain State Park, Poughkeepsie, Kingston, and Hudson. Continue reading