Amasa J. (Amasa Junius) Parker.

Landmarks of Albany County, New York online

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acts of resistance to force the proprietors into an acknowledgment of
their position, while the latter seemed to think that by military and legal
action they could compel the landholders to pay whatever was demanded.
At last the controversy was made a political issue, and a paper, the
Freeholder, was started in Albany in support of the cause of the land-
holders. Both the Whig and the Democratic parties strove to obtain
the advantage of alliance with the anti-rentei's, but the former party had
the largest number of them in its ranks. Their power was soon mani-
fested in the political field. Eleven counties promptly elected represen-
tatives with anti-rent proclivities to the Legislature, and Albany county
elected Ira Harris to the Assembly in 1845 by more than 3,000 majority.
Silas Wright, who had been considered invincible, was defeated by John
Young for governer in 184(; through the influence of the anti-renters,
and the strife went on. As far as its political features were concerned,
little was accomplished and in that respect the cause soon lost its in-

Among the conditions of the manorial grants in fee was a provision
that the grantee, or his heirs, was to pay to the ]3roprietor on every
sale of the land, ad iiijbiitinn, one-quarter of the purchase price ; so


that if a farm worth say $2,000, on which all the improvements had been
made by the purchaser, was sold iowr times at that price, the proprie-
tor would g-et the whole value of the farm, including the improvements,
in four payments of $500 each. Litigation began in the courts on this
quarter-sale provision in 1848 and in 1853 went to the Court of Appeals.
Without here attempting to follow the details of the decision, let it
suffice to say that it was in favor of the oppressed landholders. The
Court of Appeals was then comprised of Charles H. Ruggles, chief
judge, Addison Gardner, Freeborn G. Jewett, Alexander S. Johnson,
John W. Edmonds, Malbone Watson, Philo Gridley, and Henry Welles.
After this decision was rendered the manor proprietors were advised
by counsel to sell, and this was done in some cases prior to 1852. With
the changed conditions under the decision of the court, and the low
prices at which lands were now offered by the proprietors, speculators,
and adventurers came into the field and made many purchases. The
principal buyer was Walter S. Church, then of Allegany county, who
during the succeeding thirty or forty years, was responsible for end-
less trouble for himself and the landholders. Litigation continued and
in many instances families were dispossessed of their farms amid dis-
tressing conditions.

One of the first cases that went to the Court of Appeals after the de-
cision in the quarter- sale case before described, was that of Van Rens-
selaer vs. Ball in 1858. In the decision in that case the right of the
manor proprietors, or purchasers of their interest, to maintain actions
of ejectment was put upon a statute passed by the Legislature in 1805,
authorizing grantors of lands to have the same remedies for the recov-
ery of rent as if the reversion had remained in them ; this opinion was
written by Judge Denio, who then proceeded to apply the statutes of
landlord and tenant to the cases. This decision so shocked the public
conscience that the Legislature of 18ti0 repealed the statute of 1805, so
far as conveyances executed after that time were concerned. After
that statute was repealed the feudal rent litigation was renewed, and
other cases which had passed through the lower courts were carried to
the Court of Appeals where they were decided in 1863. That court
then took new ground and held that the statute of 1805 was not neces-
sary to the maintenance of the actions, but that the statute of 1840
abolishing distress for rent (a statute pa.ssed in the interest of landhold-
ers) supplied the place of the statute of 1805; this opinion was written
by Judge Henry R. Seklen. After relying on the statute of 184(J, as


Judge Denio had on that of 1805, to sustain the actions, Judge Selden
undertook to uphold them on the strength of an ojjinion expressed bv
Sugden in his work on Vendors and Purchasers, and on a few contro-
verted English cases. But neither Sugden nor the disputed cases even
hint that there can be a forfeiture of land for non-payment of rent, out-
side of the relation of landlord and tenant. It may be broadly and
safely stated that no case can be found, English or American, where
re entry, or ejectment for default in the payment of rent, has been had
or allowed, except where the relation of landlord and tenant existed,
or was supposed to exist. Of the eight judges of the Court of Appeals
at the time Judge Selden wrote his opinion in 18G3, it is noticeable that
two of the most distinguished refused to share in the decision. Upon
that remarkable decision hung all the later merciless exactions of the
])roprietors or purchasers of their interest, against the landholders and
the many instances of dispossession and suffering with which citizens
of Albany county are familiar, and for which space cannot here be
spared. The working of this injustice has thus been pictured by
Andrew J. Colvin, who has given much study to the matter:

Ejectment suits are brought to recover one year's rent claimed to be due — gener-
ally the last year — and recovery of possession of the farm for non-payment. The
landholder, on prosecution, goes to the office in Albany to pay the year's rent
sued for, and the costs of the action. Payment will not be accepted unless
he will also pay all rents claimed to be in arrear; it may be for fifteen or twenty,
perhaps thirty years. The landholder remonstrates on the ground, as often hap-
pens, that he has only owned the farm a few years, and should not be asked to pay
longer than he has owned. He is told that that makes no difference ; the fann is lia-
ble, no matter who may have been the owner, and he must pay all rents claimed or
lose the farm. On inquiry as to the amount claimed, he is startled to learn that it
exceeds the value of the farm, perhaps, with all the buildings and other improve-
ments. That result is brought about by charging the fullest prices for the wheat,
the fat fowls, and the days' service with carriage and horses, with annual accumula-
tions of interest on each. It is the old story; the successors of the old patroon chas-
tised the landholders with whips; the adventurers chastise them with scorpions.

This depressing subject inay be concluded with the following sug-
gestive statement of claims made upon the Board of Supervisors for
services in the anti-rent difficulties rendered as late as 18iiG:

Claimed. .Mlnwed.

Leonard & Bradt §1,295 73 §1,268 59

Edward Scannell 1,053 00 576 00

Tenth Regiment, N. G. S. N. Y .-.. 992 25 992 35

Company F, 25th llegiment " 762 24 762 24

Company C, " " " 636 40 (;26 40



Claimed. Allowed.

Company C. 35th Regiment, N. Y. _ _ 256 93 356 93

L(>rd& Thornton 500 02 498 03

Albany & Susquehanna R. R. Co 2^8 80 238 80

John Cutler... 157 00 150 00

Augustus Brewster... 132 00 80 00

Walter S. Church. -.'- 115 00 Disallowed.

( )f the history of the thirty years that have passed since the close of
the war there is little to record that is not found in later chapters. The
population of the county in 1870 has already been stated as 133,052;
that of the city at that date, 69,422. The increase in the next decade
brought the number of inhabitants in the county to 15-1:,890, and in the
city to 90,758. In 1890 these figures had reached respectively 164,555,
and 94,923. There has been a considerable increase since that year,
the census of 1892 showing the population of the county to be KIT, 289,
and of the city, 97,120. While these are substantial gains it must be
recorded that most of the towns in the county have during the period
under consideration, lost slightly in population, while the cities and
large villages have gained. This result is observable in most counties
of the State and in many other States.

By an act of the Legislature passed April 19, 1867, the Albany and
Schenectady Railroad was incorporated, and authorized to construct a
railroad on the Albany and Schenectady turnpike and Washington
avenue, in Albany, the cars of the company to be propelled by horses
or dummy engines. The promoters of the project abandoned it.

The Boston and Albany Railroad was chartered November 3, 1870,
for the consolidation of lines constructed many years earlier. The new
company effected a combination of the Western Railroad Corporation,
established by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in March, 1833;
the Castleton and New Stockbridge Railroad Company, incorporated
in this State May 5, 1834, the name of which was changed May 5,
1 836, to the Albany and West Stockbridge Railroad Company. On
November 11, 1841, a permanent contract was tnade for the operation
of the last named road by the Western Corporation. On May 24, 1867,
the Commonwealth of Massachusetts passed an act consolidating the
Western Railroad Corporation with the Boston and Worcester Railroad
Company. Further legislation by Massachusetts and New York within
the next three years effected the consolidation of the Boston and Al-

bany Company, the All)an\' and West vStockljrid^e Cuiiipany and the
Hudson and Boston Company, under the name it now l)ears, the Bos-
ton and Albany. The road is an important factor in the transporta-
tion facilities of Albany county.

An act of the Let^islaturc of Aiiril C, IS'n, annexed small ])arts of
the towns of Bethlehem and Watervleit to the city of Albany. The
boundaries of these sections may be found in the session laws of that

During this period considerable legislation was enacted affecting
the Albany county Board of Supervisors, some of the acts of which
board also possess more than ordinary interest. On April 13, 1857,
the office of supervisor was made a salaried office, the annual salary
being fixed at $100 and the usual traveling fees. InMay, 1871, this
salary was raised to $350 and has so i-emained. In the year 1875 the
powers of supervisors were considerably enlarged, particularly in re-
spect to their control of county property, their agency in the erection
of county buildings, etc. On the 14th of May, 1878, the term of office
of supervisors was extended to two years, the act taking effect at the
first election of 1879.

In the proceedings of the board for 1863, the county clerk reported
that in pursuance of a previously adopted resolution of the board, the
work of reindexing of moi'tgages had been completed covering the
period from 1856 to 1863, and condensing what had filled eight books
into two, for which his charges were $10,633.

During the session of 1864 when several calls for troops had recently
been made and a draft seemed imminent, the board took prompt and
liberal measures for the payment of large bounties, that a draft might
be avoided. At that time there had been almost $3,000,000 disbursed
in the county for bounties. The amount of bonds issued during the
war period was $3,540,200. The county budget in 1865 was $766,-
094.89, or nearly double what it was at the beginning of the war. This
sum was gradually decreased to a little more than $500,000 within a
few years, but recently it has increased again to more than the figures
above given. By resolution of the board adopted November 31, 1871,
resulting from a communication received from several leading lawyers
and judges, the salary of the county judge of Albany county was
raised to $5,000.

On the 15th of April, 1887, a law was passed making provision for


the erection of an Armory in Albany. This resulted in the splendid
structure now in use, which is more fully described in a later chapter.
In the following year (1888) an act was passed by the Legislature ap-
propriating $35,000 from the State funds for an armory in Cohoes,
provided a suitable site was furnished by the supervisors.



United States Presided. — Martin \"an Buren, elected to the presi-
dency in the fall of 183G, though not a native of Albany county, resided
and practiced law in Albany city many years.

\'ice-Prcsidciit. — Daniel D. Tompkins, elected in 1817, passed many
years of his life in Albany and at the time of his election to the vice-
presidency was governor of the State.

Governors. — John Tayler, elected in 181U; he was elected lieutenant
governor January 39, 181-4, under a special act of the Legislature of April
11, 1811, after the death of John Broome, who died August 10, 1810. A
that time Daniel D. Tompkins was serving his second term as gov
ernor (elected first in 1807). In 1816 Mr. Tompkins was again elected
governor and John Tayler, lieutenant-governor. The next year Mr.
Tompkins was elected vice-president and Mr. Tayler became governor.
Martin Van Buren, elected 1828; he was appointed secretary of state
under President Jackson, March 13, 1839, resigned the office of gov-
ernor and was succeeded by Enos T. Throop. John A. Dix, elected
1873. David B. Hill, now a resident of Albany, elected 1885, having
then served a remaining part of Grover Cleveland's term, and re-
elected in 1888.

Lieutenant-Governor. — Daniel Hale, March 31, 1793; Charles D.
Cooper, April 17, 1817; John Van Ness Yates, April, 1818; and Feb-
ruary 13, 1823; John A. Dix, February 1, 1833.

United States Senators. — Philip Schuyler, chosen July 16, 1789,

served to 1791; chosen again January 34, 1797, and served one year.

Martin Van Buren, elected February 6, 1831, and February 6, 1837;

Charles E. Dudley, elected January 15, 1859; William L. Marcy, elected

16 ' '


February 1, 1831; John A. Dix, elected January 18, 1845; Ira Harris,
elected February 5, 1861. Roscoe Conkling and Leland Stanford, who
held this high office, were natives of Albany county.

Secretary of the Treasury of the U. S. — Alexander Hamilton, who
studied law and married in Albany, and passed much of his time here,
was appointed to this office September 11, 1770; John C. vSpencer,
March 3, 1843; Jno. A. Dix, January 11, 18G1 ; Daniel Manning, March
6, 1885.

U. S. Secretary of State. — Martin Van Buren, appointed March (i,
1829; William L. Marcy, March 7, 1853.

U. S. Secretary of the Navy. — Smith Thompson, appointed Novem-
ber 9, 1818.

U. S. Secretary of War. — John C. Spencer, appointed October 13,
1841; William L. Marcy, March 6, 1845.

Members of Congress.— The following changes have taken place in
Congressional districts that have directly aiTected Albany county: By
act of 1789, a part of Albany with Columbia, Clinton, Saratoga and
Washington counties constituted a district. Act of 1792, Albany
county was a district by itself. Act of 1797, this county and Schoharie
were constituted the 8th district. Act of 1802, Albany county was the
9th district. Act of 1808, Albany and Schenectady counties were made
the 7th district. Act of 1812, it was made the 9th district. Act of 1822,
it was made the 10th district. Act of 1842, it was made the 13th dis-
trict, and by act of 1851, was constituted the 14th district. By act of
1862 Schoharie was joined with it as the 14th district. By the act of
1873 Albany became the 16th district, and by the act of May, 1883, it
was numbered the 19th. The last change was made by the act of 1892,
under which Albany county became the 20th district. Those who
have held the office of Member of Congress from this county are the

Jeremiah Van Rensselaer, 1789-91 ; James Gordon and Peter Silvester, each part
of term of 1791-98; Henry Glen, 1793-1801 ; Killian Van Rensselaer, 1801-1811 ; Har-
manus Bleecker, 1811-13; John Lovett, 1813-17; Rensselaer Westerlo, 1817-19; Sol-
omon Van Rensselaer, 1819-32; Stephen Van Rensselaer, 1833-39; Ambrose Spen-
cer, 1839-31; Gerrit Y. Lansing, 1831-37; Albert Gallup, 1837-39; Daniel D. Bar-
nard, 1827-39, 1839-43; Bradford R. Wood, 1845-17; John I. Slingerland, 1847-49;
John L. Schoolcraft, 1849-53; Rufus W. Peckham. 1853-55; Samuel Di.xon, 1855-57;
Erastus Corning, sr., 1857-59; John H. Reynolds, 1859-61; E. Corning, 1861-65;
Charles Goodyear, 1865-67; John V. L. Pruyn, 1867-69; Stephen L. Mayham, 1869-71 ;
Bli Perry, 1871-75; CharlesH. Adams, 1875-77; Terence J. Quinn, 1877-78; John M.



Bailey, elected 1878 vice Quinn deceased; Michael N. Nolan, 1881-83; Thomas J.
Van Alstyne, 1883-85; John Swinburue, 1885-87; Charles Tracey, 1887-95; George
H. Southwick, 1895-97, 1897-

Dclegates to Constitutional Conventions. — There have been four Con-
stitutional Conventions in this State, and one Constitutional Commis-
sion, all of which met in Albany. The first was held October 13 to 27,
1801. Following are the names of the Albany delegates: John Jost
Dietz, Leonard Gansevoort, Daniel Hale, John V. Henry, Josiah Og-
den Hoffman, Abraham Van Ingen, Stephen Van Rensselaer, and
Peter The second Convention assembled August 28, 1831, and
adjourned November 10. Daniel D. Tompkins was president, and fol-
lowing are the names of Albany delegates: James Kent, Ambrose
Spencer, Stephen Van Rensselaer, and Abraham Van A'echten. The
third Convention was held June 1, 184G, and adjourned October 9. The
Albany delegates were Ira Harris, Peter Shaver, Benjamin vStanton,
Horace K. Willard. The fourth Convention assembled on June 4,
1867, and adjourned November 12, of that year. The delegates from
Albany county were Ira Harris, at large, and William Cassidy, Amasa
J. Parker, and Erastus Corning. What was called the Constitutional
Commission met in Albany December 4, 1872, and adjourned March
15, 1873. The delegates from the third district, which included Al-
bany county, were Robert H. Pruyn, and William Cassidy, of Albany;
George B. Burdett, of Troy; Joseph B. Hall, of Catskill, and Cornel-
ius Tracy, of Troy. Robert H. Pruyn was chosen chairman.

Collectors of Customs. — The collection of customs in Albany was be-
gun in 1833, under the direction of New York Custom House, with
William Seymour, deputy collector. For many years there was very
little for him to do in his office, but with the opening of the Champlain
and Erie Canals, new avenues of trade were opened necessitating the
establishment of an office at the head of tide water. The collectors
since Mr. Seymour have been as follows: Albert Gallup, Dennis B.
Gaffney, and William Bruce. On March 2, 1867, a law was passed
making Albany a port of entry, with a surveyor of customs as the
chief officer; under that law the following have held the position: Peter
M. Carmichael, 1867; Isaac N. Keeler, 1870; John C. Whitney, 1875;
William N. S. Sanders, 1879; John A. Luby, 1882; Addison D. Cole,'
1885; John M. Bailey, 1889; John P. Masterson, 1893.

State Secretaries of State.— V)&-a.\Q\ Hale, March 24, 1793; Charles
D. Cooper, April 17, 1817; John Van Ness Yates, April, 1818, and


February 13, 1823; John A. Dix, February 1, 1833; John Palmer, No-
vember 7, 1893; re-elected November, 1895.

State Treasurers. — Robert McClallen, March 16, 1798; Abraham G.
Lansing, February 8, 1803; Abraham G. Lansing, February 18, 181U;
Charles Z. Piatt, February 10, 1813; Gerrit L. Dox, February U, 1817;
Benjamin Knower, January 29, 1821; Stephen Clark, November 7,
1855; Nathan D. Wendell, November 4, 1879.

Comptrollers.— ]ohnV . Henry, March 12, 1800; Archibald Mclntyre,
March 25, 1806; William L. Marcy, February 13, 1826; Azariah C.
Flagg, January 11, 1834; Azariah C. Flagg, February 7, 1842; Fred-
erick P. Olcott, January 1, 1877, appointed vice Robinson resigned.

Surveyors-General.— ?h\\\-p Schuyler, March 30, 1781; Simeon De
Witt, May 13, 1784; Simeon De Witt, February 8, 1833; Orville L.
Holley, February 5, 1838.

State Eiioiiieers and Surveyors. — William J. McAlpine, November 4,
1851; Sylvanus H. Sweet, November 4, 1873; Elnathan Sweet, No-
vember, 1883.

Canal Commissioners.— 'Aie-^hen Van Rensselaer, April 17, 1816; Asa
Whitney, February 23, 1840; Stephen Clark, February 8, 1842; Stephen
Clark, November 4, 1844; Charles H. Sherrill, Novembers, 1856.

State Senators. — There have been many changes in the senatorial
divisions of this State. Under the first Constitution the Senate con-
sisted of twenty -four members apportioned among four large districts.
An additional senator was to be added whenever it was shown by a
septennial census, that the number of electors in a district had increased
one twenty-fourth, continuing thus until the number reached one
hundred. The census of 1795 made the number forty-three. This
arrangement was soon proven to be unequal in its operation and in 1801
the Constitution was amended so as to fix the number of senators at
thirty-two, which number remained unchanged until the Constitution
of 1894 went into effect, January 1, 1895. The Constitution of 1821
divided the State into eight senatorial districts, each of which was enti-
tled to four senators, one being elected each year for a term of four
years. Under the Constitution of 1846 the State was divided into thirty-
two districts, in each of which a senator was elected each odd year.
Albany coiinty formerly constituted the 13th district, later the 17th,
and finally the 19th. By the Constitution of 1894, the State was divided
into fifty senatorial districts, of which Albany county composes the
29th. The senators chosen in 1895 hold office for three years while

their successors are to be chosen for but two years. Following- is a list
of Senators from this county:

Abraham Yates, jr. , 1777-90 ; Dirck W. Ten Broeck, 1777-78 ; Anthony Van Schaick,
1777-78; Rinier Mynderse, 1777-78. (The first session of the legislature assembled
at Kingston m September, 1777, but was soon driven out by British troops. The
second meeting was held in Poughkeepsie beginning January 15, 1778.) Rinier
Mynderse, 1778-81; Dirck W. Ten Broeck, 1778-83; Philip Schuyler, 1781-84, 1786-
88, 1793-97; Henry Oothoudt, 1782-85; Volkert P. Douw, 1786-93; Peter Schuyler,
1787-92; Leonard Gansevoort, 1791-93,1797-1802; Stephen Van Rensselaer, 1791-95';
Anthony Ten Eyck. 1797-1801; Anthony Van Schaick, 1797-1800; Abraham Van
Vechten, 1798-1805, 1816-19; Francis Nicoll, 1797-98; John Sanders, 1799-1802;
Stephen Lush, 1801-2; Simon Veeder, 1804-7; John Veeder, 1806-9- Joseph c'
Yates, 1806-8; Charles E. Dudley, 1830-35; John McCarty, 1827-30; Peter Gansvoort,
1833-6; Friend Humphrey, 1840-1; Ira Harri.s, 1847; Valentine Tredwell, 1848-49;
Azor Taber, 1853-53; Clarkson F.' Crosby, 1854-55; John W. Harcourt, 1856-57;
George Y. Johnson, 1858-59; Andrew J. Colvin, 1860-61; John V. L. Pru'yn, 1862-
63; Lorenzo D. Collins, 1866-67; A. B. Banks, 1868-69, 1870-71; Charles H. Adam~s
1872-73; Jesse C. Dayton, 1874^75; Hamilton Harris, 1876-79; Waters W. Braman,'
1880-81; Abraham Lansing, 1883-83; John B. Thacher, 1884-85; Amasa J. Parker^
jr., 1886-7; 1888-9, Henry Russell ; 1890-91, Norton Chase; 1892-5, Amasa J. Parker -
Myer Nussbaum, 1895-8.

Members of Assembly.— i:\\e State Assembly originally consisted of
seventy members, which could be increased one with every seventieth
increase in the number of electors, until it reached 300 members.
When the constitution was amended in ISOl the number had reached
108; it was then reduced to 100, with provision for an increase after
each census at the rate of two annually until the number reached 150.
The constitution of 1831 fixed the number permanently at 128, but the
number was increased by the Constitution of 1894 to the present num-
ber, 150, each of whom is elected, as has always been the case, for one
year. Under the various apportionments since 1801 Albany county has
had in 1803, six members; in 1815, four; in 1833, three; since that year
it has had four members.

The representatives from Albany in the Colonial Assembly were as
follows :

1691-93, Dirck Wessels, Levinus Van Schaick; 1693-95, Dirck Wessels Ryer
Jacobs; 1695-98, John Abeel, Dirck Wessels; 1698 (May and June), Jan Jansen
Bleker, Ryer Schermerhorn ; 1699-1701, Hendrick Hansen, Jan Jansen Bleker Ryer
bchermerhorn ; 1701-02, Dirck Wessels, Ryer Schermerhorn, Myndert Schuyler
John Abeel, Johannis Bleker, Hendrick Hansen; 1702-04, John Abeel Myndert
Schuyler, Evert Banker; 1705-06, Myndert Schuyler, Johannis Cuyler, Peter ^■an
Bruggen; 1708-09, Johannis Cuyler, Hendrick Hansen, Myndert Schuyler; 1709


(April to November), Myndert Schuyler, Johannis Cuyler, Robert Livingston; 1710-
11. Johannis Cuyler, Johannis Schuyler, Robert Livingston; 1711-12, Robert Liv-
ingston, jr., Johannis Cuyler, Johannis Schuyler; 1713-14, Robert Livingston, jr.,

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