Amasa J. (Amasa Junius) Parker.

Landmarks of Albany County, New York online

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H. Fitch, whose name has been mentioned, is a great-grandson of Will-
iam Allen, who was a member of one of the Scotch families that set-
tled early in this town. Dr. Milton B. Lamb came about 1855 and
practiced until 1866. Dr. Valentine Dennick resided between Clarks-
ville and Unionville, was an early postmaster, and also kept a tavern.
Drs. Schermerhorn, Holmes, and Ingraham were settled at Clarksville.
Later physicians were Drs. Conrad J. Crounce, M. S. Dayton, Israel
Day, Henry Sager, G. V. Voorhees, A. Oliver, Hiram Crounse, and
Dr. Fred Surbrie.

The many Scotch and Irish settlers in this town were bred in the
Presbyterian faith and in their new homes in this strange land brought
with them the religious beliefs of their ancestors. The earliest religious
organization in New Scotland of which there is authentic record was
that which became later the New Scotland Presbyterian church. About
the year 1776 a Presbyterian missionary visited New Scotland village
and held a service in the open air. While here he laid the foundations
for the latter church, which was organized in 1787 by the Presbytery of
Suffolk, afterward called the Presbytery of Long Island. In 1789 the
church was transferred to the Presbytery of New York. In 1790 the
Presbytery of Albany was established and held its first meeting No-
vember 9, 1 79 1. At that meeting New Scotland petitioned for sup-
plies, and three ministers were named who should each give one Sab-
bath. In 1792 Rev. Mr. Lindsley preached on eight Sundays, but
from this date until March, 1795, there was no stated preacher. A call
was then extended to Rev. Benjamin Judd and he was installed in Sep-


ternber, 1795. Tlie Lord's Supper was celebrated for the first time on
the second Sabbath in May, 1796, with twenty-two communicants, at
which time David Allen and Michael Bruce were elders. The first
board of trustees, chosen in February, 1791, were Thomas Burn-
side, Feter Cutchen, James Henderson, John Jackson, John McCough-
try, and John Vorns. In 1791 a house of worship was built and in
1795 the parsonage was occupied by Rev. Mr. Judd. He was soon
dismissed and Rev. John Arnold was installed in November, 1798. He
preached about three years, after which the church was without a pas-
tor until October, 1807, when Rev. Thomas Holiday was called. The
fourth pastor was Rev James McDonald, who was ordained and in-
stalled in October, 1832 His successors were Revs. Robert Knell, a
supply; Reuben Sears, 1836-45 ; Gains Mills Blodgett, supply, 1846-
56; John James Cameron, 1857-60; Samuel L. Gamble, 1861-67;
James William Edie, 1 868-70 ; William G. Handy, 1871-74; James
G. J. McClure, 1874-79; William H. Ford, 1880-82; DewittC Rocke-
feller, 1884. During the pastorate of Mr. Blodgett in 1848 the old
church edifice was taken down and a new one erected, which was con-
siderably enlarged in 1869, and in 1877-78 a basement was built for
use as a chapel and for Sunday school. The real estate of this church
was a gift from the Patroon, and consisted of about 156 acres of land.
The land v.-as part of the farm owned in recent years by Robert Moak,
and being distant from the church, was exchanged with Jacob Moak,
who owned 73i acres adjoining the original church lot. In June, 1795,
the Patroon gave his consent to the transaction, and Jacob Moak took
the church farm. On February 6, 1844, Stephen Van Rensselaer gave
the trustees a quit claim deed for this farm, and on February 27, 1872,
the remaining part of this property was sold to D. V. S. Raynsford.
In September, 1877, the parsonage was burned and a more modern
one erected.

Reformed churches in this town are situated at Feura Bush, New
Salem, Clarksville, Union and Onisquethau. Although Dutch settlers
were in this town as early as 1650, there are no existing records of an
organized church among them until 1780. Previous to that year the
inhabitants doubtless went to Albany to worship, and later perhaps to
Schenectady. From 1780 to about 1785, services were probably held


at Jerusalem, (Feiira Bush), and records show that in 1786 Dirck Ro-
meyn of Schenectady passed through the town, preaching and baptiz-
ing, the people gathering together to hear him at Helderberg, Salem
and Jerusalem, and after him came Rev. Harmanus Van Huysen in 1794.
Meanwhile in 1790 an organization was perfected and a church built
between Union and Jerusalem. With the incoming of a more intelli-
gent class of farmers and the increase in the number of inhabitants,
religious services were held with more regularity and were numerously
attended. In course of time it was felt that a more central location was
desirable, and a new church was erected in 1825 at Feura Bush, which
has been used up to a recent date. Rev. Mr. Van Huysen died in 1 833 and
is buried in Mount Pleasant Cemetery. The present house of worship
at Jerusalem has been repaired and improved at various times. The
Salem Reformed Church was intimately connected with the Feura
church in its early life. There was probably an organization here as
early as 1794, and the people received the ministrations of both Rev.
Dirck Romeyn and Rev. Harmanus Van Huysen. In 181 3 a perma-
nent organization was made, with the following first officers : Benjamin
Van Zandt, John Terwilliger, John Van Etten, Jacob I. Hallenbeck,
Frederick Fuller, Jeremiah Cronssler, John A. Severson, and David
Van Etten, and a church building was erected on land given by Stephen
Van Rensselaer. This building was used until 1844, when it was taken
down and a new one erected on the site, by Wilhelmus Young, Fred-
eric Markle, Frederick Fuller, and Peter L. Houck, who were the
building committee. This edifice served its purpose for about thirty
years, when the present handsome church was built at a cost of about
$10,000 in 1875. It stands on a new site, and the old church property
was purchased by Abram Mann.

The Reformed church of Union was organized in 1825 from the
Jerusalem and Salem congregations. The first pastor was Rev. Ira C.
Boice, who preached also at Salem. The present church was built soon
afterward, the property being valued at about $5,000. The Reformed
church of Onisquethau is the successor of a Presbyterian society which
was organized by the Presbytery of Albany in 1824, a church being
built in the following year, when Rev. Thomas Holliday was pastor.
In 1839 the church and property passed into possession of the con-


sistory of the Reformed church and took the new name and government.
Tlie building was extensively improved in 1884.

The Reformed church of Clarksville was organized in 1853 by Rev.
Staats Van Santvoord, with seven members, Rev. Jasper Middleton
being the first pastor, and a house of worship was built in 1853 at a
cost of $2,400, and is still in use.

The first Methodist preacher who labored in tliis town was Rev.
Freeborn Garrison, an itinerant. Services were held by him and others
at intervals until about the year 1S20, when the first Methodist society
was organized under the name of the Black Creek Methodist church, in
the northwest part of the town. A house of worship was erected at
about the same time and was used, with various improvements, until
about 1890, when it was taken down and removed to Voorheesville and
rebuilt in modern style, in which place a prosperous society had been
previously organized.

The Methodist Episcopal church of New Salem was organized in
1850 and a house of worship erected in the same year on land purchased
from Abram Mann in the north part of the village. Among the prom-
inent workers in the early organization were Ebenezer A. Fitch, Alan-
son Van Auken, and Andrew J. Smith.

The Methodist Episcopal church of Clarksville was organized in i860
by Rev. S. S. Stillman, who was its first pastor, and the church was
erected in the ne.xt year at an expense of $4,000. The society has had
a prosperous existence ever since.

A Presbyterian church was organized in Voorheesville and the pres-
ent handsome church edifice erected in 1886.






Nci name is more conspicuously associated with the bar of Eastern New York
than that of Hon. Hamilton Harris, of Albany, and few lawyers have brought to
their profession a more energetic mind, a more fortunate combination of legal and
scholarly acquirements, or stronger or more practical administrative abilities. Mr.
Harris is of English and Scotch descent, his parents being natives of this State and
pioneers of Preble, Cortland county, where he was born May 1, 1820. Receiving a
good preliminary education in the common schools of his native town and at the
Homer and Albany Academies, he was graduated from Union College in 1841, and
while yet a student manifested a strong inclination for the law. His collegiate
career marked him as a classical scholar, and he distinguished himself at the com-
mencement exercises by a very able and admirably delivered address. Upon grad-
uation he entered the law ofHces of his brother, Hon. Ira Harris, afterward one of
the ablest and most eminent of the judiciary of the State and a United States sen-
ator, of Albany. Mr. Harris was admitted to the bar in 1845 and immediately be-
gan active practice in the capital city, where he has ever since resided. He rapidly
acquired a high reputation as an able, accomplished lawyer, and for many years has
been a leader of the Albany bar. In 1848 he formed a copartnership with Hon.
Hooper C. Van Vorst, which was dissolved in 1853 by the latter's removal to New
York city, where he became a judge of the Superior Court. Soon afterward he asso-
ciated himself with Hon. Samuel G. Courtney. In 1857 he became a partner of Hon.
Clark B. Cochrane and Hon. John H. Reynolds, both of whom were elected to Con-
gress during this connection. This firm, which was one of the strongest legal co-
partnerships that ever existed in Albany, ended with Mr. Cochrane's death in 1807,
but Mr. Harris and Mr. Reynolds continued until the latter's death in 1875. Mr.
Harris has now associated with him in practice his son Frederick, William P. Rudd,
and Edmund C. Knickerbocker.

In the fall of 1853 Mr. Harris was elected district attorney of Albany county, and
served until January 1, 1857. During his administration of that office he con-
ducted a number of noted crimmal trials, promment among them being The People
vs. Hendrickson, 10 N. Y. Reports, 13; McCann, 16 N. Y. Reports, 58; and
those of Phelps, McCrossen, Dunningan, and Curaraings. As a pleader Mr.
Harris has won great distinction throughout the State. He masters every detail
of fact, pays close attention to the conduct of a case, and though

gruff, and, to a certain extent, dictatorial, is kind, dignified, quiet, and honest.
He is earnest and powerful, imbued with the highest principles of the law, and
possesses a winning personality. The numerous reported cases in the Supreme
Court and the Court of Appeals, argued by him. show in some degree the extent
and the magnitude of the legal business in which he has been engaged and the
important questions of law which he has argued.

Early in life Mr. Harris became prominent in the Whig party in Albany county,
advocating its measures on the platform and with his pen with such fidelity and
ability that he soon was recognized as a leader in both county and State. In 1850
he was elected member of assembly, and was largely instrumental in securing the
State Library and the improvement of the State Capitol. He was also, during that
session, a member of the joint committee of six to call State conventions and con-
struct a new party platform, which was one of the first steps in the formation of the
Republican party, of which he has always been one of the strongest and ablest
champions. From 18G2 to 1870 he was a member and from 1864 to 1870 chairman of
the Republican State Committee, and from 1862 to 1864 he was also chairman of its
Executive Committee. A prominent writer has said of him: " His keen intuitions
and his rare skill as an organizer, with a singular union of discretion with boldness,
render him a natural leader of men." As a delegate to many State and National
Conventions he was active and strongly influential in sustaining the measures of his
party. Hon. James G. Blaine, in his "Twenty Years of Congress," after recount
ing the action of Mr. Harris in the National Convention of 1868, speaks of him as
"a man of marked sagacity in political affairs." In 1865 Mr. Harris was elected
president of a new Board of Capitol Commissioners and served until 1875 with abil-
ity and success so marked that he has been frequently termed " the father" of that
great measure which resulted in the erection of the present Capitol in Albany. A
contemporary newspaper, in commentmg upon the subject, .said; "Let the people
of Albany remember that to Hamilton Harris more than to any other man they are m-
debted for the New Capitol from its inception in 1865 to its progress in 1879," while
the Troy Daily Times editorially stated that he was " the father of this structure,
which is to rank foremost among the majestic buildings of the world."

In 1875 Mr. Harris was elected to the State Senate, and as chairman of the
Finance Committee, of the Committee on Joint Library, and of the Select Commit-
tee on Apportionment his labors were useful and exhaustive. He alw-ays took a
prominent part in the discussion of leading public questions, and his arguments
never failed to command respect and attention. In 1877 he was re-elected State
senator by a large majority, and two years later he declined a re-election. Among
his senatorial addresses which have passed into history are those touching the New
State Capitol, on the question of convict labor, on the Grand Army bill, on the
question of historical societies holding real estate for preservation and monumental
purposes, on higher education, on sectarian appropriations, and on taxation. In
1884 he ran as one of the Republican electors on the State ticket.

Mr. Harris possesses keen literary taste and culture and great ability as a writer,
lecturer, and public speaker. Several of his addresses have been published, notably
" Politics and Literature," "The Tower of London," and "Self-Effort." He has
a large and valuable library of general literature, numbering about 3,500 volumes,
while his law library contains nearly as many more. On March 10, 1885, he was

unanimously elected a member of the Regents of the University of tlie State of New

A man of handsome and commanding presence, of sound physical constitution,
and of capacious intellect, Mr. Harris's popularity is well merited. As a forensic
and political orator he occupies a high position in the history of the city, the State,
and the country, and as a citizen he enjoys universal confidence and esteem. He
has great knowledge of human nature and keen perception of character. His
loyalty and patriotism are among his chief characteri.stics and he has won a lasting
place in the history of his adopted city.


Hon. Ch.\ri.i;s Tracey descends from a long line of influential Irish ancestry, and
has achieved through hife own personality a more than local prominence in business
and political aflfairs. His father, John Tracey, a man of high character, came to
this State from Canada in consequence of the so-called Patriot war in 1837. Settling
in Albany he became officially connected with many financial and charitable institu-
tions, was esteemed and respected as a citizen, and on one occasion was candidate
for State senator. He died in the capital city July 13, 1875. The death of his wife,
Maria, occurred in 1880.

Charles Tracey was born in Albany on the 27th of May, 1847, and was graduated
from the Boys' Academy in 1866. While there he became deeply interested in ele-
mentary military tactics, and was elected captain of the battalion of cadets. In 1866
he started on a trip through Europe, Egypt and the Holy Land, visiting the chief cen-
ters of art, history and science. There he entered the Pontifical Zouaves and served
two years. He returned to Albany in 1869, but in 1870 went to Rome, Italy, where
he was captured and retained some time as a prisoner during the siege of that city.
Returning to the United States again, after his release, he was for a time engaged
in business in New York, where he organized the Catholic Union, which soon had
over 10,000 members, and of which he was the first secretary. After his return from
Europe Pope Pius IX conferred upon him, in recognition of his military services, the
order of St. Gregory the Great, with rank and title of chevalier.

General Tracey finally returned to Albany where he has since resided, and where
he soon became an active and mfluential member of the Democratic party, whose
principles he has always upheld. He also held several honorary offices, and was
aide-de-camp with rank of colonel on Governor Tilden's staff and commissary-gen-
eral of subsistence under Governor Robinson. His high personal qualities, his well
known executive ability, and his ardent devotion to true Democracy eminently fitted
him for responsible positions, and with unusual rapidity he won distinction and
honor in his party's councils. In 1887 he was nominated for representative in con-
gress to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Congressman Kane, and was elected
by 1,659 majority over Hon. John M. Bailey, Republican. There was also a labor
candidate in the field. In Congress he served on various important committees,
pushed forward succesfully a number of needed measures, and was especially active
in the establishment of the Watervliet Arsenal, making a speech in June, 1888, in

support of a liberal appropriation for " the continuance of the manufacture of large
cannon at Watervliet." This act was passed and became a law in September of that
year, and was mainly due to the efforts of General Tracey. September 22, 1888, he
was renominated for Congress and in November was again elected, this time by a
majority of 2,306. His second term was marked by conspicuous effort. He origin-
ated the project to deepen the Hudson River to permit sea-going vessels to ascend
to Albany and Troy, and introduced bills (which became laws) to change the designs
on United States coins, to make Albany a port of immediate transportation, forrelief
of the State of New York to refund $42,000 duties paid on arms in 1863, for the relief
of enlisted men in the ordnance corps, allowing them to collect bounties, and to
enforce the eight-hour law on government premises. In 1890 he was unanimously
renommated and re-elected to Congress by a majority of .5,078, and during his third
term in that body served with the same fidelity and increased usefulness to his con-

General Tracey is actively identified with many business and other institutions of
Albany. Since its organization in 1886 he has been president of the Columbia Dis-
tilling Company, which he had managed for ten years previously, and which was
founded by his father in 1838. He is also vice-president of the Consolidated Car
Heating Company of Albany, a life member of the Burgesses Corps, and a member
of the Catholic Union, the Fort Orange and Albany Clubs, the Albany Press Club,
the Dongan Club, and the Manhattan and Reform Clubs of New York city. He has
been manager of St. Peter's Hospital since 1882, is a trustee of St. Agnes's Cem-
etery and the Albany Savings Hank, and a director of the National Commercial
Bank of Albany. He was appointed a trustee of the House of Refuge at Hudson,
N. Y., by President Cleveland, who also tendered him a diplomatic position as min-
ister abroad, which he declined. (Jeneral Tracey is a public spirited citizen, a good
organizer of measures, a pleasing and forcible public speaker, and a man endowed
with attributes of a high order. During the presidential campaign of 1896 he was
especially conspicuous, serving as the New York member of the Democratic National
Committee of the sound money wing of his party.

General Tracey was married in 1883 to Miss Hermine. daughter of Colonel Duches-
ney. of Montreal. Canada. They have had five children: Marie T., Charles, jr.,
Philip D. , John, and James (deceased).


Thk history of Albany embraces the careers of many men who by their own in-
domitable pluck and perseverance have achieved .success in one or more of the
numerous industries, but probably none has won higher distinction as a manufac-
turer and promoter of manufacturing and other enterprises than Peter Kinnear, who
has been actively associated with a number of the city's leading establishments for
about forty years. Born in Dundee, Scotland, April 24, 1826, he early imbibed the
sturdy characteristics of the land of 'Wallace, and Bruce, and Burns, and received
a good practical education in his native town, where he subsequently served a si.K
years' apprenticeship at the machinist's trade. His love for Scotland's banks .and


braes was stroug, but his ambition to make a name and place among men was
sti-onger still. In 1847, when scarcely more than a youth, he started ft)r America,
but at the very outset met with an accident which nearly .cost him his life. Un-
daunted, however, he continued the journey and soon found himself a stranger in
the metropolis of this country. He tried to obtain employment at his trade in New
York, Rochester, and Toronto successively, but failed, and then turned to such
work as came in his way. During one winter he was employed in cutting timber
u\ a Canadian forest. Returning to the United States he again unsuccessfully
sought employment at his trade in Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, and Utica, but
upon arriving in Albany he entered the employ of William Orr, proprietor of a
foundry at No. 64 Beaver street. This establishment was started more than sixty
years ago by Lewis Aspinwall, who was succeeded by Mr. Orr, who in turn was
succeeded by Orr & Blair, with himself at the head of the firm. In 1873 Mr. Kin-
near purchased Mr. Orr's interest and finally became the sole successor of the firm
of Blair & Kinnear. In May, 1884, Mr. Kinnear bought two lots known as Nos. 64
and 66 Beaver street, corner of Grand, and made extensive improvements to the
propertj'. His business increased steadily, and the great variety of goods which he
manufactured under the head of brass castings consisted of innumerable pieces of
brass, bronze, composition, nickel, white, and other soft metal castings, steam cocks
and valves, brass work for breweries, steam engine and plumber brass work, etc.
His goods were used for countless purposes, and his establishment soon became the
most important and extensive of its kind in Albany or Eastern New York.

Perhaps the most noteworthy industry with which Mr. Kinnear has been con-
nected is the Albany Billiard Ball Company, the most unique and only one of its
kind in the world. This company was organized by him in 1875 and was the
legitimate successor of the Hyatt Manufacturing Company, which was formed in
1868, and which was the pioneer in the attempt to make composition billiard balls.
It is not necessary to go into the details of the trials and failures of the original
organization in its experiments to produce billiard balls by pyroxiline, and later
celluloid, that would replace ivory. Suffice it to say that thousands of dollars and
much valuable time were lost with little or no practical results until the present
company was formed. Since then, by the vse of perfected machinery invented by
J. W. Hyatt, the company has successfully manufactured billiard balls more perfect
than ivory and far less expensive. Mr. Kinnear's connection w-ith the
dates from a time when failure and disaster seemed imminent. He had faith in
the industry, and mainly through his skillful business management and practical
ability soon won the highest success. At considerable personal trouble and no small
self-sacrifice he invested and induced others to do so, and the results have more
than vindicated the wisdom of his advice and his sound judgment. He has been
president and treasurer of the company since its organization, and has personally
conducted its affairs.

Mr. Kinnear has also been prominently and officially connected with many other
inil)ortant manufacturing and commercial enterprises of Albany. No man has taken
a greater or a more active interest in the city's industrial affairs, and no one has
worked more steadily, more earnestly, and more effectively to advance them. He
has ever been the first to welcome and encourage new industries, and through his

Online LibraryAmasa J. (Amasa Junius) ParkerLandmarks of Albany County, New York → online text (page 56 of 138)