Amasa J. (Amasa Junius) Parker.

Landmarks of Albany County, New York online

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in 1836; county judge in 1839 and 1847-52; and recorder 1840^6. He died during
his term as mayor, March 15, 1856.

John Taylor, 1848-49, was born in Durham, England, in March, 1790, died in Al-
bany September 31, 1863. He came to Albany in 1793 with his father, whom he
joined in the tallow chandler business. Later he was very successful as a brewer,
and gained great wealth and popularity through his generosity to the poor.

Franklin Townsend, son of Isaiah Townsend, 1850-51, took charge of the Townsend
furnace and machine shop while yet a boy. He served also as alderman and super-
visor, member of assembly and for nine years as adjutant general of the State; he
was prominent also in the banking business. General Townsend now resides on Elk


Eli Perry, 1851-.'j4, 1856-60 and 1862-64, held also the office of alderman and
served one term in Congress. He accumulated a fortune in the meat packing busi-
ness, which he greatly increased by judicious real estate investments. His term as
mayor included most of the war period, during which his duties were arduous and
of great responsibility. These he performed with rare energy and ability and for
many years he was among the foremost citizens of the city. His second election
was contested by John V. P. Quackenbush and the case was taken to the courts,
Recorder W. S. Paddock acting in the mean time. The case was never tried, Mr.
Paddock serving the term, and Mr. Perry and Dr. Quackenbush both receiving the
full salary of mayor. Mr. Perry was born December 35, 1799, and died May 17,

George H. Thacher, 1860-63, 1866-68 and 1870-74, was descended from Rev.
Thomas Thacher, a Puritan and first pastor of the old South Congregational church
of Boston. He was born in Hornellsville, June 4, 1818, and settled in Albany in
1848, where he was successful in the manufacture of stoves, and later of car wheels
and other foundry products. He was a man of indomitable energy, active, public
spirited and ready at all times to co-operate in every enterprise that promised to be
for the public good. The present mayor, John Boyd Thacher, is a son of George
H. Thacher.

Charles E. Bleecker was mayor 1868-70.

PMmund L. Judson, 1874-76, is the grandson of Nathaniel Judson, one of the New
England immigrants who came to Albany in 1796. and son of Ichabod L. Judson,
who was a prominent Albany business man. He was born November 30, 1830, and
succeeded to his father's business. He was alderman 1863-66.

A. Bleecker Banks, 1876-78 and 1884-86, is a native of New York city and a mem-
ber of the law publishing house of Banks Brothers. He represented Albany county
in the Assembly in 1863 and in the State Senate in 1868-71, was a member of the
Constitutional Convention of 1894 and has held numerous offices of trust and honor,
both of a public and private nature.

Michael N. Nolan, 1878-83, a native of Ireland, was member of congress 1881-83,
is president of the Beverwyck Brewing Company, and a man of rare business

John Swinburne was mayor 1883-84. The contest for the office of mayor in 1883
was a very exciting one between Mr. Nolan and Dr. Swinburne and Nolan was de-
clared elected by a small majority, The case was taken to the courts and Nolan
resigned after filling the office about fifteen months and Dr. Swinburne was seated
June 25, 1883. Dr. Swinburne was one of the leading phy^sicians of the city. (See
chapter on the medical profession herein.)

John Boyd Thacher, 1886-88 and 1896 , is a son of George H. Thacher and a

prominent citizen of Albany. Mr. Thacher has held many offices both of a public
and private nature, notably state senator, 1884-86, world's fair commissioner,
1892-93. He still continues with his brother, George H. Thacher, the car wheel
foundry established by their father.

Edward A. Maher was may-or 1888-90. Mr. Maher was formerly manager of the
Albany Illuminating Company, and is now president of the Union Railway Company
of New York city^

James H. Manning, 1890-94, is the son of Daniel Manning, the distinguished jour-


nalist and politician, of whom a sketch is given in the chapter devoted to the news-
papers of Albany county. James H. Manning received a liberal education and subse-
quently occupied the post of managing editor of the Argus, and is now president of
the Weed-Parsons Printing Company.

Oren E. Wilson was mayor May 1, 1894, January 1, 1896, being the candidate of
the Honest Election party. Mr. Wilson was at the time of his election associated
with the large dry goods house of W. M. Whitney &• Co., but is now in the insurance

.Schools of Albany.

The reader of Chapter XV has learned something of educational
affairs at large and as they existed in Albany county in early years.
It is there made clear that the education of the young in Albany city
was much neglected prior to the beginning of the present centtny.
Elkanah Watson has left a record that the schools of Albany in 1788
were mostly taught in the English language; but how many there
were or what their character he did not state. In 1790 the Com-
mon Council passed an ordinance for the establishment of free schools ;
but it was many long years before anything of a practical nature was
accomplished. The Albany Gazette of November 2U, 1804, has an item
of news regarding a school that was taught in a building erected through
contributions for the benefit of helpless female children, where twenty-
three pupils were instructed by a matron in reading, writing, and plain
work. Munsell's Annals of 1810 note the fact that there were no pub-
lic schools in the city at that time, and the corporation was then con-
sidering the project of starting the Lancasterian school, which is de-
scribed in Chapter XV. In 1813 the record shows that the following
schools were in existence in the city:

Widow Catherine Goheen, 1 Liberty ; Widow Esther Bedford, 119 Washington;
Catherine Peck, 39 Hudson; Widow Martha Wilson, 39 Steuben; Miss Brenton, 118
State; Catherine B. Thompson, Young Ladies' School, 38 Colonie; Sarah McGeorge,
Young Ladies' Seminary, GO Market; Mrs. Smith, School, 13 Washington; John
Nugent, Young Ladies' Seminary, 81 Pearl ; and the following male teachers: Thomas
D. Huggins, 43and45Pearl; John Keys, 5T Church; Joshua Tinker, 16 Deer; George
Upfold, 8 Yan Tromp ; William Andruss, 19 Pearl; Robert O. K. Bennet, 67 Pearl;
James W. Blacket, 70 Hudson; John Brainard, 3.") Chapel; Joseph Caldwell, 2r) Steu-
ben ; Thomas Ennis, 48 Beaver.

Between 1830 and 1865 the schools of Albany do not seem to have
advanced in proportion to the growth and intelligence of the city,
though the causes for this condition maybe difficult to determine. The
first important step towards the founding of the free school system in


Albany was taken in 1830 when, on April 17, an act was passed by the
Legislature providing for the annual election of a Board of School Com-
missioners and a Board of School Inspectors, 'one commissioner and
one inspector to be chosen from each ward. This action divided the
city into nine districts for common schools. The commissioners had
power to appoint three trustees for each school district, and to appor-
tion the money received from the State on the basis of the number of
scholars of school age, and they prescribed the rate of tuition so as not
to exceed two dollars a quarter for each scholar. Under this law the
Board of Supervisors was directed to cause a sum of money to be raised
and paid to the chamberlain of the city for the support of the common
schools of the city. The schools east of Perry street were to be taught
nine months of each year, and those west of that street, four months,
in order to enable them to draw this public monej'. This was the old
free school system. The several boards of trustees were at that period
compelled to supply the necessary rooms for school purposes for which
no provision had been made by the city authorities. The school in the
first district was kept in a building which had formerly been a stable;
in the ninth district the cellar of the old Universalist church on Herki-
mer street was used for a time and afterwards the basement of a church
on Westerlo street. In district No. 8 the school was taught for some
years in the lecture room of St. Peter's church, while another school
occupied the upper part of the engine house on William street. The
other schools were most of them located in equally undesirable quar-

In 1832 the first school building, excepting the Lancaster school, was
erected by the trustees of district No. 2, at a cost of $22,000; being
three stories high, and containing four large school rooms, two halls, and
a room for an engine company. It stood at 218 State street, and was
sold in 1884, when the present building on Chestnut street, known as
No. 2, was erected at a cost of about $37,000. George H. Benjamin is
the present principal of this school, and has twelve teachers under him.

In the year 1838, after the Lancaster school had been abolished, a
new impulse was given to educational affairs in Albany by the erection
of eight new school buildings, as follows: No. 1, 310 South Pearl street,
three stories, 312 seats, cost $13,00(,). No. 3, at 7 Van Tromp street,
three stories, 200 seats, cost $13,000, sold in 1882. No. 4, at 55 Union
street, three stories, 206 seats, cost $11,000, sold in 1882. No. 5, at 172
North Pearl street, three stories, 296 seats, cost $13,000, sold in 1882,

and the present building erected. No. 7, at 5fi Canal street, three sto-
ries, 300 seats, cost $11,000. No. 8, at 157 Madison avenue; three sto-
ries, 338 seats, cost $17,000; rebuilt in brick in 1880, with 448 seats at
a cost of $25,000. No. 9, corner of South Ferry and Dallius streets,
three stories, 210 seats, cost $12,000. No. 10, at 182 Washington ave-
nue, three stories, 313 seats. No. 18, formerly at No. G, and located
at the junction of Madison and Western avenues, originally one story,
a second added in 1870, cost originally $7,000. The change in the
number of this district was caused by alteration of the city school limits,
leaving that school out of the jurisdiction of the Board of Education
and placing it under control of the trustees west of Perry street;
thereupon the school on Second street (Arbor Hill) in 1849, took the
number 6.

The sum of money thus expended in 1838 for school buildings was
about $119,000, affording accommodations, with those of the buildings
erected in 1832, for 2,783 scholars; but at that time there were at least
7,000 children of school age in the city. While very many of these
attended private schools (as they were forced to do in order to obtain
education), the utter inadequacy of .school facilities in the city at that
time is apparent. Nothing further was done until 1849, when the
old school No. G was erected at 105 Second street.

In 1844 a law was passed authorizing the creation of the Board of
Education, to be elected by the people and to take the place of the
former Board of Commissioners and trustees. In 1854 school No. 24
(formerly No. 11), at 417 Madison avenue, was erected. It was en-
larged in 1868, and on completion of the Grammar School adjoining
the number was changed, the latter school taking the old nttmber and
No. 24 going to the old building. The present school No. 34 was
erected in 1893 on Delaware Square, near the corner of Delaware and
Madison avenues, at a cost of $47,000; it seats 700 and is under charge
of Jennie A. Utter, principal.

In 1856 School No. 12, corner of Washington avenue and Robin street,
was erected as it stands at present, at a cost of about $75,000; it seats
1,000 and is under E. E. Packer, principal.

At this time there were thirteen public schools in the city, besides
academies, while there were seventy private schools, some of which were
excellent, while many were inferior and insignificant. In the year 1856
there were registered 6,813 scholars in the public schools, which was


nearly double the number for which there were proper accommoda-
tions; at the same time 5,293 attended private schools. This condition
called out in the report of the Board of Education for 1857 a statement
that the public schools were wholly inadequate and led to the erection
of several new structures. School No. 16, 201 Hudson avenue (the
Wilberforce school for coloi;ed children), was opened in 1858, with ac-
commodations for 143 scholars; it ceased its existence as a distinctive
colored school in 1871: and was sold in 1883. During the period of
1856-58 the school buildings from No. 1 to 10 inclusive, excepting No.
6, were enlarged and improved by the addition of another story or more
recitation rooms. In 1858 the Common Council purchased the old State
Arsenal, corner of Broadway and Lawrence street, for $10,800, and re-
modeled it into a school building for 594 scholars, at a cost of $7,300.
This is now No. 13. The arsenal was erected in 1799. A. Elizabeth
McCarthy is principal.

School No. 14, at No. 70 Trinity Place, was built in 1801 substan-
tially as it at present stands, at a cost of $35,000. This was the last
school building erected under the supervision of the old Board of Edu-
cation. James L. Bothwell, A.M., is principal of this school, which
seats 804.

By act of the Legislature, passed in 1866, the Board of Education was
given the title of the Board of Public Instruction. The new board took
charge of the schools and under its subsequent supervision the school
system of the city has been developed to its present magnificent propor-
tions. At that time the value of the school property was estimated at
$187,000, while the annual expense of maintaining the schools was
about $69,000. The new board was confronted by the same conditions
that had surrounded their predecessors — the great lack of school ac-
commodations. Moreover, there existed at that time a feeling of
serious opposition among the people to the expenditure of much money
for public improvements, while the condition of the currency and of
business generally was unsettled through the effects of the war. The
need of a higher department of education in which more advanced
studies could be pursued was imperative, and led to an effort to estab-
lish a free academy. A majority of the board and many progressive
citizens favored this plan, and on December 17, 1806, a bill was pre-
sented to the Legislature for this purpose. The Common Council and
a large body of prominent citizens opposed the measure. Upon a thor-
ough examination of the law of 1806 it was discovered that the board



was amply clothed with authority to establish such an academy, with-
out further legislation, and measures were promptly adopted to carry
out the plan. The board leased ^'an Yechten Hall on State street,
where the Normal School had formerly been held. The Free Academy
was opened in September, 1868, with Prof. John E. Bradley, principal,
and 141 pupils. The other teachers were Charles W. Cole, A.M. (now
superintendent of schools of the city), Samuel B. Howe, A.M., Mary
Morgan, and Rebecca I. Hindmaq. Soon afterward Mr. Howe re-
signed and Charles A. Home, A. M., was chosen in his place. The
hall was soon found inadequate for the attendance and other rooms
connected with the premises were engaged and occupied. In 1870 the
rooms over the Harris livery stable on Maiden Lane were fitted up, and
in 1873 those in the second story, formerly a part of a carpet store, were
adapted to school purposes. The academy prospered and was placed
under visitation of the Regents of the University in 1873, at which
time its name was changed to the Albany High School. In 1873 there
were 130 academic scholars in the High School; this number gradually'
increased until 1896, the report of which year shows that there were 800.
The High School was continued in Van Vechten Hall until 187(1, when
the western part of the present splendid structure was erected. It has
a front on Eagle street of eighty seven feet, 135 feet on Steuben street,
120 feet on Columbia street, and ninety-two feet in rear. The cost
of the building with the addition erected in 1893 was $185,000. John
I'xlwin Bradley was chosen as principal of the High School and was
succeeded in 1886 by the present incumbent, Oscar D. Robinson, A.M.,
Ph. D. The following table shows the enrollment in the High School
from its establishment to 1896:

Whole Whole

Year. number of Increase. Decrease. Year. number of Increase. Decrease,

pupils. pupils.

1868-09 ..141 .. -. 1882-8H 591 7

1869-70.. 209 08 1883-84... 607 1(1

1870-71 279 70 1884-85 608 1

1871-73. 314 :55 1885-86. 622 14

1872-73 ..338 14 1886-87 ...633 1

1878-74 362 34 1887-88 ..646 23

1874-75 429 67 1888-89 646

1875-76 494 65 1889-90. 698 52

1876-77 533 38 1890-91 75S 60

1877-78 580 48 .. 1891-92.. 765 7

1878-79 581 1 .- 1893-93 794 29

1879-80 595 14 .. 1893-94 773 .. 21

1881-82 584


The number of "Academic scholars" — that is, those holding Re-
gents' preliminary certificates — in the institution each j'ear since it was
received under the visitation of the Regents, has been as follows:
1873-73. - 130 1884-85 ._.. 527



1885-86 ,


1874-75. _




1875-76 _ ,












1878-79... ,















-. 643


-. 473




_-..: 491



The Albany High School occupies an enviable position in the educa-
tional world; being admittedly in the front rank of the secondary schools
of the country. Its varied and elastic courses of study offer opportu-
nities for ciioice in lines of work that permit special preparation for all
walks in life, thus meeting the needs of the great majority of its pupils
who must end their scholastic career with the High School, and that also
afford the best facilities for preparation for collegiate and professional
study. Evidently the success of such an institution must largely de-
pend on the organization of the elementary schools from which it draws
its students. The elementary public schools of this city are organized on
a broad and generous plan, in accordance with the best educational
thought of the day, and are equipped with skillful instructors and the
most approved apparatus and material in all grades,

Returning to the other schools of the city, we find that No. 15,
corner of Herkimer and Franklin streets, was erected in 1871, the cost
of the building and lot being $91,000. This was the first school build-
ing erected in the city on modern plans and now seats 940 scholars.
Levi Cass, A. M., is principal.

School No. 17, corner of Second avenue and Stephen street, was
erected in 1856 by the town of Bethlehem. It came within the city
limits in 1870. The present building was erected in 1878 and has a
seating capacity of 440. Its cost was $15,000. Martha B. McFarland
is principal.

The school formerly situated in West Albany, and then known as
No. 19, was erected by the town of Watervliet, but came within the city


limits in 1870, and was abandoned in 1875, and School No. 21, at G60 Clin-
ton avenue was erected to take its place. This buildinj^ seats 854, and
cost $48,000. P. H. McOuade is principal.

What was formerly school No. 20, on Mohawk street, was erected in
1872, but was sold in 1880, and the present brick two story structure,
corner of North Pearl and North Second streets was erected to take its
place. The building seats 008 and cost $18,000. Ernest A. Corbin,
A. M , is principal.

School No. 32, at 292 Second street, is of brick, two stories and base-
ment, and was erected in 1874 at a cost of $24,000. It seats 440. Mary
A. Simpson is principal.

School No. 25 was erected in 1878, corner of Morton and South Swan
streets, at a cost of $15,000. It is two stories, brick, and seats 440.
Julia Cordell is principal.

School No. 11, at 409 Madison avenue (before mentioned in connec-
tion with No. 24), was erected in 1873 at a cost of $50,000. The build-
ing is of brick, three stories, and seats G40. Lewis H. Rockwell, A.M.,
is principal.

In 1882 school buildings Nos 3 and 5 were sold and the Tabernacle
Baptist church. North Pearl street, was purchased and converted into
a school building, at a cost of about $35,000. It is now known as No.
5, and seats 584. Thomas S. O'Brien is principal.

The present School No. G, at 105 Second street, was erected in ISiKS,
at a cost of $50,000. Almond Holland is principal. School No. 7, at
165 Clinton avenue, was erected in 188G; it is of brick, three stories,
and cost $30,000. It seats 600, and C. E. Franklin, A. M., is prin-
cipal. The present School No. 8, at 157 Madison avenue, was erected
in 1881, at a cost of $25,000. It is of brick, two stories, and John E.
Sherwood, A. M., is principal. The present School No. 10, corner of
Central avenue and Perry street, was erected in 1890, at a cost of $37,-
000. It is of brick, two stories, and seats 440. Mary E. Howard is

The following statement shows the number of schools in the city
and the number of scholars registered in each from 1857 to 1895 in-


6,539 1877 .
7,760 1878 .

1859.... - 13 7,832

1860 14 8,395

1861 15 9,182

1863... 15 9,614

1863 15 9,507

1864 15 8,917

1865.. 15 8,850

1866 15 8,934

1867 15 8,880

1868 15 9,414

1809 - 16 9,665

1870 10 9,933

1871.... ; 33 10,939 1891.

1873.. 24 13,060 1893.

1873 24 13,327 1893.

1874 25 12,460 1894

1875 35 13,773 1895.










































Connected with the city schools is an admirable kindergarten system
which is now under supervision of Frances C. Hayes. There are
eighteen of these schools, all of which are well attended. The follow-
ing table shows their condition for the school year, from .September,
1895, to June, 1896:

Number Number Number Number

Scliools. of boys of girls Schools. of boys of girls

register'd. register'd. registered, register'd.

No. 1 40 88 No. 12 . . . 32 48

No. 3 24 31 No. 13 .18 32

No. 3 30 33 No. 15 40 37

No. 4 .23 33 No. 20 ....44 33

No. 5... .29 23 No. 31 39 26


^ A. M 31 24 No. 22 30 35

( •"■ " ....16 18 No.34..._ 34 47

No. 7 .30 18 No.35... 19 19

No. 8 25 19

No. 10 37 33 501 535

The grand proportions of the public school system may be judged
from the present total valuation of the buildings and lots devoted to
public education, namely, $1,036,000.

The Board of Public Instruction was reorganized March 18, 1893,
the membership of the body being reduced from twelve to seven in


number, and other desirable changes effected. Following is a list of
the officers of the board since its organization in ISGC:

Preszde}its.—*]o\in O. Cole', 1866-1869; George W. Carpenter, 1869-1871;
*CharlesP. Easton, 1872; *Addison A. Keys, 1873-1874; *Charles P. Eastoii, 1875-
1880; Herman Bendell, 1881-1882; Alden Chester, 1883; *George B. Hoyt, 1884;
Peter J. Flinn, 1885; Oren E. Wilson, 1886; James M. Riiso, 1887; William P. Rudd,
1888; Henry W. Lipman, 1889; Charles H. Gaus, 1890; Michael F. Walsh, 1891;
William L. Learned, 1892,

Superiniendenis of Schools.— ^Uemy^.'Ha.zweW:-' 1806-1869; "John O. Cole,-'
1869-1878; Charles W. Cole, A. M., Ph. D., 1878.

Superintendents of Buildings. — *John G. Treadwell.^ 1872-1879; Alexander
Sayles, 1879-1885; *Hugh J. McDonald, = 1885-1886; Robert Parker, 1880-1887;
John'H. Oliver, 1887-1892; Thomas H. Dwyer, 1892.

The following is a list of the member.'
tion since its organization in 1866:

)f the Board of Public Instruc-

chosen. Term of service.

1866*John O. Colef'^ 1866-1869

1866 George W. Carpenterf. .1866-1872

1866 Michael Delhantyf 1866-1869

1866*Charles P. Eastonf 1866-1881

1866*Paul F. Cooperf 1866-1868

1866 John G. Tread vvellf' ....1866-1872
1806 *Charles Van Benthuyseuf 1866-1868

1866 *Stewart McKissickf 1866-1868

1866 *James L. Babcockf 1866-1873

1866 ^Bradford R. Woodt*

1866*Jacob S. Mosherf 1866-1868

1866 William C. McHargf ....1866-1873

1866 *Howard Townsend' " -1866

1867*PorterL. F. Reynolds... 1867-1870

1868 Joseph Lewi 1868-1880

1868*Robert H. Waterman" .1868-1872

Online LibraryAmasa J. (Amasa Junius) ParkerLandmarks of Albany County, New York → online text (page 33 of 138)