Amasa J. (Amasa Junius) Parker.

Landmarks of Albany County, New York online

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in America, who became a distinguished divine and first pastor of the Old South
church of Boston.

George H. Thacher, the subject of the present sketch, obtained his earlier instruc-
tion at a private school in Alban)' kept by Professor Whitbeck. At the age of thir-
teen he went to Williamstown, Mass., where he was placed under the tuition of
Professor Griffin, an able and successful teacher, and by him was carefully prepared
for college. In 1868, at the age of sixteen, he entered Williams College in the class
of '72, the celebrated Mark Hopkins being the then president of that institution.
After leaving college Mr. Thacher took a short business course in Bryant & Stratton's
Commercial College, and then entered the car-wheel manufactory of his father as an
apprentice and clerk. He afterwards acted as foreman of the establishment. Al-
ways of an inventive and progressive turn of mind he was ever on the alert for ways
and means by which he might cultivate as well as qualify his tastes in the mechanical
arts. In 1880 he struck out for Colorado in the early and stirring days of Leadville,
as the representative of some eastern stockholders in the mining business, and there
his native born energy was not idle. He entered with great zest and alacrity into
the raining operations himself, remaining in this field of labor during the years 1881,
1882 and 1883.

Returning to Albany in the autumn of 1883, a short time after the death of D. S.
Lathrop, one of the partners in the firm of Thacher, Lathrop & Co., he was made a
partner in the concern, aud since the death of his father in 1887 he has, in connection
with his brother, John Boyd Thacher, conducted the business under the old name of
George H. Thacher & Co. In 1887 he succeeded his father as a director in the
Albany City National Bank, becoming vice-president of that institution in 1889. Mr.
Thacher is a trustee of the Albany City Savings Institution, trustee of the First Re-
formed Dutch church, trustee of the Fort Orange Club, a member of the Albany
Canoe. Camera, and Country Clubs, and in the Masonic Fraternity has attained to
the 32°. In May. 1892. he was appointed a water commissioner of the city of Albany
by Mayor Manning, but after vigorous though futile efforts to give to the city a new
and abundant supply of pure and wholesome water, he resigned the office December
1, 1894.

Of a rather slender physique, but inheriting a vigorous constitution, Mr. Thacher
is a gentlemen of pleasing address, easy in his manners, cordial in his friendships,
generous in his impulses, with a happy faculty of conducting successfully business
matters, and a supreme and lasting love for outdoor sports and pastimes of the pres-
ent day.

In college Mr. Thacher was a skillful boxer, oarsman, ball-player, swimmer, and
skater, and to this day retains much of his athletic excellence. He has also attained
high rank as an amateur musician, playing the 'cello with rare taste and ability, and
some of his musical compositions are of great merit. His knowledge of banking as
well as of business matters is extensive and deep. His judgment is sound and dis-
criminating, and among the industrious, useful and progressive citizens of Albany, in
whose welfare he has taken a lively interest, no name shines with fairer luster than
than that of George H. Thacher.

In 1880 Mr. Thacher married Emma Louise Bennett, of Albany. They have five
children living: George H., jr., John Boyd, 2d, Thomas O.xenbridge, Kenelm
Roland, and Edwin Throckmorton. The family reside at 111 Washington avenue.


The Rt. Rev. William Crosswell Doane, D. D., LL. D., bishop of Albany, was
born in Boston, March 2, 1832, the son of George Washington Doane, who was
in that same year elected bishop of New Jersey. The family is descended from
Deacon John Doane, who came over from England in one of the three first ships to
Plymouth, Cape Cod, between 1620 and 1623. He lived at Plymouth until 1044.
when he with six other families moved to Eastham, Cape Cod, which they founded,
and in which Deacon Doane was one of the most influential members of the com-
munity, serving on important committees and in various executive capacities. The
first Bishop Doane, of New Jersey, was one of the most distinguished men in the
Episcopal church of the United States. He served as a young man as the assistant
rector of Trinity church in New York, became a professor in Washington College, at
Hartford, Conn., and was rector of Trinity church in Boston at the time of his elec-
tion to the bishopric. He was the founder of St. Mary's Hall, for girls, and of
Burlington College, for boys in Burlington, N. J., the author of many sacred songs
and fugitive verses, and of strong and eloquent sermons which have been published.
William Croswell Doane resided in Burlington until the year 1863. He graduated
from Burlington College in 1850, with honors, delivering the English oration and the
poem at the commencement, and immediately afterward began the study of theology.
He was tutor and assistant professor of English literature in BurHngton College, from
which institution he received the degree of Bachelor of Theology in 1857. He was
ordained deacon by his father in 1853 and priest in 1856; was his father's assistant in
the rectorship of St. Mary's church, Burlington ; founded and had the care of St. Barn-
abas's Free Mission in that city, and became rector of St. Mary's in that place on his
father's death in 1859. In 1864 he became rector of St. John's church, Hartford, Conn. ,
and in 1867 he was called to be rector of St. Peter's church in Albany, succeeding
the Rev. William T. Wilson. In these several charges the son had shown qualities
of power and learning, inherited from the father, which proved his fitness for the
high place, and he was called to be the first bishop of the Albany Diocese, being
consecrated February 2, 1869.

During the quarter century the number of clergy in Bishop Doane's jurisdiction
has grown from sixty-eight to one hundred and thirty. This diocese, over which he
now holds sway, is largely missionary ground, containing 20,800 square miles and
including the nineteen counties of Northern New York. A number of beneficent in-
stitutions have been established in the diocese. The more noteworthy are St. Agnes
School, the Child's Hospital and St. Margaret's House, all of this city. It is to these
institutions particularly that Bishop Doane has given greatly of his time and efforts.
The St. Agnes School was established first, and its home is valued at §150,000.
The land was given by the late Erastus Corning and it is called the "Corning
Foundation for Christian Work." This institution, started in 1870, is for the education


of girls, being similar to other female colleges. It accommodates 225 pupils.
Tuition fees are §500 a year, though daughters of clergymen are educated at a less
cost. Features of the school aside from its delightful building, are the library and
the collection of geological specimens.

The Child's Hospital, located for thirteen years in a smaller building, and now in
a large new one at the corner of Elk and Hawk streets, cares for one hundred chil-
dren, eighty of whom are under treatment. The institution is absolutely free to
every sick child and to cripples, and they may come from anywhere. It is sup-
ported by money paid by different cities for poor support, by a small endowment and
by private subscriptions.

A nursery for babies — St. Margaret's House — was established in 1884, in connec-
tion with the Child's Hospital. Here eighty foundling babies and orphans are cared
for every year. All of this work is in charge of the Sisterhood of the Holy Child
Jesus, which cares, also, for the St. Christina Home in Saratoga, where girls are trained
f'lr domestic service. The Diocesan Sisterhood was organized by Bishop Doane in

All Saints' Cathedral is the chief glory of the bishop's work as a founder. For
thirteen years the old Townsend foundry, which had bee'i fitted up, was used as a
church. Finally, on land given by the present Erastus Corning, the present cathe-
dral was built. The corner stone was laid on June 3, 1884. Though the exterior is
only partly finished, §450,000 has been spent on the cathedral. Its interior finish is
srand and imposing. Massive stone pillars, beautifully carved, divide the audi-
torium into three sections. The altar is a solid block of Carlisle .stone, twelve feet
long, and rests upon a separate solid foundation of stone built up from the ground.
In the choir aisle and sanctuary are a mosaic pavement and four mural mosaics,
among the mtjst beautiful features of the building. The furnishings and windows,
with the architectural beauty of the place, make this one of the notable cathedrals.
Three thousand persons can be seated comfortably in it. All seats are free, and the
church is supported entirely by free will offerings. There is now no debt, the last
$75,000 having been raised in 1893.

The most important work the bishop has done outside of hi.s diocese is that in re-
lation to the revision of the prayer book. For six years he was chairman of the
committee on revision. His eflforts were so thoroughly appreciated that in the gen-
eral convention held in Baltimore in 1892, the following resolution offered from
the standing committee on the revision of the prayer book, was unanimously adopted :

WuKREAS, By action of this house in passing upon the fifty-two resolutions which
propose various alterations in the book of common prayer, the work of revision has
been on the part of this finally completed ; therefore

Resolved, That this house desires to recognize and gratefully record its sense of
the gracious goodness of God and the overruling presence of the Great Head of the
church, in that during nine years past the revision of the book of common prayer has
proceeded, and has at last reached a conclusion in a spirit of forbearance, harmony
and practical accord.

Resolved. That in thus recognizing the divine guidance in this important, deli-
cate and difficult matter, this house desires also to mention, with cordial appreciatior\,
the untiring and painstaking labor of those who have borne the burden of leadership
in this movement; and pre-eminently in this regard, the Bishop of Albany (the


Right Rev. Dr. William Croswell Doane"), whose unfailing courtesy, patience and
considerateness have so greatly facilitated this happy consummation.

Bishop Doane is a man of strong personality. His vfgorous intellect makes him
one of the most prominent, perhaps the most prominent of the American bishops,
with an influence that radiates far beyond the limits of his own diocese. Affable,
kindly and courteous in his personal intercourse, scholarly and refined in his tastes
and culture, dignified and eloquent in the pulpit, a man of strong spirituality, and
withal of practical affairs, he has built up, here in Albany, an influence for good, for
activity in church work, which is felt and responded to be)-ond the limits of his own

Like most men of large activities. Bishop Doane finds abundant time for reading
and writing. He retains his knowledge of and interests in the classics, and is inter-
ested in all the intellectual movements of the age. Surrounded by a large and well
assorted library, he loves the companionship of books, works readily with his pen,
and is a frequent contributor of verses which possess a high order of literary merit,
among them the familiar -'Sculptor Boy." His sermons are polished, thoughtful
and direct, and bear the stamp both of the culture and spirituality of the man. Many
of his poems have been published, as have also a number of his sermons, his annual
addresses to the diocesan convention and his addresses to the graduating classes
of St. Agnes. In addition to these, he has issued: "The Life and Writings of
Bishop Doane of New Jersey," four volumes; "Questions on Collects, Epistles, and
Gospels of the Church's Year, and Their Connection ; " " Songs by the Way," poems
by Bishop Doane, sr. ; "Mosaics; or, the Harmony of Collect, Epistle, and Gospel
for the Christian Year," which was published in 1882. He frequently contributes
to the "North American Review" and other standard publications. He was elected
a regent of the University of the State of New York in the winter of 1892, the candi-
date of both parties in the Legislature. In September of that year he was elected
vice-chancellor, succeeding the Rev. Dr. Upson, made chancellor to fill the vacancy
caused by the death of George William Curtis.

No bishop of the American church has received such honors abroad as Bishop
Doane. By invitation he preached at Edinburgh, in 1884, a sermon commemorative
of the one hundredth anniversary of the consecration of the first bishop for Amer-
ica at Aberdeen — the Rt. Rev. Dr. Samuel Seabury. In 1892 he received degrees
at the hands of Oxford and Cambridge, the first American to have two such marks
of distinction bestowed upon him at the same time. For several years he has been
designated by Bishop Williams to officially visit the American churches abroad.

At the Triennial convention of the church at Minneapolis October, 1895, Bishop
Doane was elected chairman of the House of Bishop.s. He is consequently called
"the assessor of the Primus "

Bishop Doane is known to all Albanians and is admired and loved. He is a strik-
ing figure on the street. Albany has no more public spirited citizen and every good
movement commands his sympathy and co-operation. His stirring speech at the
organization meeting in the City Building of the committee of fifty, is well remem-
bered. He has on many occasions spoken from the platform in behalf of practical
temperance and his appearance before the legislative committees on measures affect-
ing the moral side always ensure a warm champion of the right.



Bishop Doane bears his age well. He is as vigorous to day as he was twenty-five
i-ears ago and his voice has lost none of its strength and charm.


Hon. John Van Sch.\ick L.\nsing Pruvn,' known as John X. L. Pruyn, was born
in Albany, June 22, 1811, of Holland-Dutch ancestry. The family has resided in
Albany for over two centuries and has held positions in the city government. The
subject of this sketch, after studying at private schools, entered the Albany acad-
emy in 1824 and completed a full course of study. The famous Theodoric Romeyn
Reck, M.D., LL. D., was principal of the academy at this time. Immediately after
leaving the academy, Mr. Pruyn entered, as student, the law office of the late James
King, who was one of Albany's eminent lawyers and distinguished citizens. In this
office Mr. Pruyn's habits of order, system and thoroughness were brought to a per-
fection which he retained through life. He became Mr. King's principal and confi-
dential clerk, and remained as such for some months after his admission to the bar.
lie was admitted as an attorney in the Supreme Court of the State of New York and
a solicitor in the Court of Chancery on January 13, 1832. The latter court made him
a counselor May 21, 1833, and the Supreme Court"january 17, 1835.

While he was in Mr. King's office, Mr. William James, the father-in-law of Mr.
King, died, leaving a large fortune. The will was contested and the case was one
of the famous litigations of the day, involving the whole subject of trusts and pow-
ers under the then new revised statutes of the State. Questions of the gravest im-
portance were submitted to and called forth the highest abilities of the lawyers en-
gaged, of whom Mr. Pruyn was one. Many of the most distinguished counselors in
the State took part in this litigation ; among them the three revisers, John C.
Spencer, Benjamin F. Butler and John Duer; Samuel A. Talcott, Henry R. Storrs,
Harmanus Bleecker (of whom hereafter), Daniel D. Barnard, Mr. Sibley and Mr.
King himself.

About 1833 Mr. Pruyn formed a partnership for the practice of the law with Henry
H. Martin, who had been a fellow student in the office of Mr. King. In 1833 Mr.
Pruyn was appointed by Governor Marcy an examiner in chancery, and in 1836 a
master in chancery; and upon receiving the latter appointment, Chancellor Wal-
worth designated him as injunction master for the third circuit — a position which
placed him next in official position to the vice-chancellor of the circuit. For many
years Mr. Pruyn's business was chiefly in the Court of Chancery, a court, which,
however, went out of existence by the adoption of the new State constitution in
1846. He was occupied very laboriously, and it may be safely said that few persons
enjoyed the confidence of Chancellor Walworth to the extent that Mr. Pruyn did.
The chancellor sent to him many references, and it is believed never overruled any
of his reports. In 1848 Mr. Pruyn was admitted to practice as attorney and coun-
selor in the United States Supreme Court. In 1834 the Albany City Bank was in-

1 This name is pronounced in one syllable, as if written Pryiit; a corruption of one of the


corporated, with Mr. Erastus Corning as president and Mr. Watts Sherman as
cashier. Messrs. Pruyn and Martin were the counsel to the bank, but in 1851 Mr.
Martin became its cashier.

Mr. Pruyn became a director and was afterwards its vice-president. After Mr.
Martin became connected with the bank, Mr. Pruyn formed a partnership with John
H. Reynolds, one of the most brilliant lawyers of the day.

About this time occurred an act which gave evidence of the confidence reposed in
Mr. Pruyn.

Harraanus Bleecker (alluded to above), one of Albany's distinguished citizens, an
eminent lawyer, member of Congress during the War of 1812, and during the presi-
dency of Honorable Martin Van Buren United States minister to Holland, died in
July, 1849.

It had been Mr. Bleecker's intention, as an unmarried man, to leave the whole of
his estate- about eighty thou.sand dollars, in those days a very considerable fortune
— to some public object for the benefit of the citj' of Albany. When in Holland,
however, he married a Miss Menz, daughter of an official at The Hague. His
wi.shes were not relinquished upon his marriage and were fully concurred in by his
wife. Upon his death the property went to her with the verbal request that, he having
no children, she would at her death of it in some way for the benefit of the city.
Mrs. Bleecker for a period resided in Albany, but before long she married Henrich
Coster, a Dutch gentleman, and returned with him to Holland. Previous to their
departure, Mr. and Mrs. Coster united in an absolute conveyance of the whole prop-
erty to Mr. Pruyn, reserving only life estates to themselves, and trusting that at the
expiration of those estates, he would carry out the wishes of Mr. Bleecker.

In April. 1851 ('Laws of New York,' 1852, cl.ap. 818), the Legislature, at Mr.
Pruyn's request, enacted a law drawn up by him by which the Bleecker estate was
absolutely protected from any contingency to which his private affairs might be ex-
posed. This law also gave Mr. Pruyn power to transfer the estate in whatever man-
ner he might see fit. Mr. Coster died some years ago, but Mrs. Coster survived Mr.
Pruyn, and upon opening the latter's will in 1877, it was found that the property
was left to Mr. Amasa J. Parker of Albany, "in the confident belief that he will
carry out the views of Mr. Bleecker as fully and completely as I was requested to
do." Mrs. Coster, who resided at Arnheim, Holland, died in 1886. The estate, dur-
ing Mr. Pruyn's administration of over a quarter of a century, and of Judge Parker's
administration of more than ten years, has largely increased in value.

The citizens of Albany having raised fifty thousand dollars. Judge Parker has
transferred the Bleecker fund to the Young Men's Association for Mutual Improve-
ment in the city of Albany. A large public hall, costing two hundred thousand dol-
lars, is to be erected, and called the Harmanus Bleecker Hall. The buildings be-
longing to the Bleecker estate, and which were occupied by the association, have
been conveyed to it. Thus Mr. Bleecker's name is perpetuated, and an existing in-
stitution preserved and strengthened.

The partnership with Mr. Reynolds lasted until 1853, when Mr. Pruyn's relations
to the railway system of his State interfered so greatly with his law practice that he
was obliged to relinquish it.

In 1835 Mr. Pruyn was chosen a director of, and counsel to, the Mohawk & Hudson
Railroad Company, which was organized by the Patroon, Stephen Van Rensselaer,


Mr. George William Featherstonhaugh and others. This was the first railroad in
the State, if not in the United States, its charter having been granted by the Legisla-
ture in April, 1826. In 1847 the name of this company was changed to the Albany &•
Schenectady Railroad Company.

He was also connected with the Utica & Schenectady Railroad Company, which
was chartered in 1833, as counsel and treasurer. He also was president of the Mo-
hawk Valley Railroad Company, which was organized in 1852.

These and other railroads formed a system extending from the Hudson River at
Albany and Troy to Buffalo and Niagara Falls. By an act of the Legislature passed
April 2, 1853, any two or more of these railroad companies were authorized to con-
solidate and form a new corporation to be called the New York Central Railroad
Company. The railroads forming the new corporation were ten in number, and
the consolidation agreement between them was drawn up by Mr. Pru"n. This in-
volved probably as large, if not larger interests than had before been embraced in
any one transaction not made by the government in this country. This instrument
was for years most carefully scrutinized by various counsel, but never questioned.
It was a remarkable instrument, and in the words of Mr. Martin, Mr. Pruyn's former
partner, "this could not have been done by any ordinary man."

Mr. Pruyn was a director of the New York Central Railroad Company and its gen-
eral counsel until 1866, when the road passed into the control of the Vanderbilts.

The Hudson River Bridge Company, at Albany, was chartered by the Legislature
in 1856 for the purpose of bridging the Hudson at Albany. The right thus given
was questioned and for many years the matter was in the courts, up and down, and
became one of the causes celebres of the country. Mr. Prujm took part in it, and
associated with him were many distinguished counsel, among whom was Mr. Brad-
ley, now a justice of the United StatesSupreme Court. The case was finally argued,
in the Supreme Court of the United States by Mr. Pruyn alone for the bridge com-
pany, and the dcision in its favor virually ended the great controvensy of many yeans'
standing in different parts of the country as to the right to bridge navigable streams.

It may not be out of place here to allude to the celebrated Sault Ste. Marie Canal,
Michigan (St. Mary s Falls Ship Canal Company). This very important work, with
its two enormous locks, was canned through a very trying period while Mr. Pruyn
was its financial officer. Mr. Erastus Corning, the president of the company, stood
by Mr. Pruyn, and to these men as much as to any others is due the success of the

Mr. Pruyn was connected, directly or indirectly, with some of the leading financial
and railroad enterprises of the country. He was a trustee of the Mutual Life In-
surance Company of New York from its foundation, and was for many years the only
surviving member of the original board. He was also a director of the Union Trust
Company of New York and had declined the offer of its presidency.

Mr. Pruyn, although always interested in political life, never held political office
until after he was fifty years old. He was a Democrat of the old school, and when
the Civil war broke out he at once took sides with the North as a conscientious Dem-
ocrat and a loyal citizen.

In the autumn of 1861 he was elected State senator. He did not seek the nomi-
nation and accepted it only upon the condition that neither he nor any of his friends
should be called upon to contribute, directly or indirectly, any money to control the

vote ef any elector. At the close of the session he gave his salary to the poor of

It was about this time that the law was passed, at the instance of Mr. James A
Bell, Mr. Pruyn and others, for the building of the new Capitol. Mr. Pruyn was one
of the original commissioners and remained a member of the commi.ssion until 1870.
At this period the board was reorganized, and Mr. Pruyn not being in harmony with

Online LibraryAmasa J. (Amasa Junius) ParkerLandmarks of Albany County, New York → online text (page 64 of 138)