Amasa J. (Amasa Junius) Parker.

Landmarks of Albany County, New York online

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the very unfortunate political influences of the time was not included in the new
commission. He and his friends, for reasons not necessary to enumerate, regarded
his being dropped as a very high compliment to him.

Mr. Pruyn laid the first stone of the foundation of the new building on July 7,
1869, in the presence of Governor Hoffman (now deceased), the State oflScials and
few friends. He made some appropriate remarks, which he closed as follows: "Here"
may wise laws be enacted; here may purity and integrity of purpose always mark
the action of executive power; here may justice, the attribute of Deity, be inflexibly
administered, and may Almighty God blessthe State and prosper the undertaking."
Mr. Pruyn was a representative in Congress from the Albany district twice; first in
the Thirty-eighth Congress (1863-65), as successor to Erastus Corning, resigned, and in
the Fortieth Congress ((186T-69). In Ccmgress he served upon several important
committees — the ways and means (before it was divided), claims. Pacific Railroads,
joint library and foreign affairs. In the Thirty-eighth Congress he was unanimously
chosen by the Democratic members from New York to present, on their behalf, to
the House of Representatives a resolution of censure of the executive authority for
closing the offices and suspending the publication of the A'etv Var/c Wor/d and
Journal of Commerce newspapers. In this Congress he made, among others,
speeches in opposition to the Confiscation act ; against the centralizing influence of
the Currency bill; in favor of the reciprocity treaty with Canada, and upon the
abolition of slavery. In the Fortieth Congress his principal speeches were on the
treaty -making power, under the Alaska treaty with Russia; on the reconstruction
acts, he being oppo.sed to military rule in the Southern States; on the Diplomatic
Appropriation bill; on the resumption of specie payments, and against the impeach-
ment of President Johnson. In this Congress, on the part of the House, he was
chosen a Regent of the Smithsonian Institution in conjunction with the Hon. Luke
P. Poland of Vermont, and the late President Garfield, at that time a member from
Ohio. On the first election of General Grant, Mr. Pruyn was appointed with the
Hon. James F. Wilson of Iowa, a Teller of the House, and in conjunction with Mr.
Wilson and Senator Morton of Indiana, he was one of the committee to inform Gen-
eral Grant of his election. Mr. Pruyn's remarks upon that occasion, referring chiefly
to those holding office, were warmly endorsed. Mr. Pruyn did excellent work in the
fields of philanthropy and education. In 1831 he was elected a member of the Al-
bany Institute, which, as the successor of societies previously organized and consoli-
dated, is really one of the oldest literary and scientific societies in the State. In it
he held various positions, including that of President, to which he was elected about
1857 and held until his death.

In May, 1844, at the age of thirty-three he was appointed a Regent of the Univer-
sity of the State of New York, and in January, 1862, was chosen chancellor. He
was regent for thirty-three years and chancellor (up to the time of his death) for over



The Regents perform a very useful work, comparatively but little understood. The
Board of Regents was organized by the Legislature in 1784, but important changes
were made in 1787. The university is similar in idea to those of Oxford and of Cam-
bridge, except that the institutions composing it are scattered throughout the State
instead of being concentrated in a single city. The educational institutions of the
State (colleges and academies) are under the visitations of the Regents, and the
Regents conduct certain examinations known as the preliminary and higher academic
examinations. The Regents have the power to confer degrees above that of master
of arts. Unfortunately the usual Baccalaureate degrees, as well as most of the de-
grees in medicine and law, can be and are conferred by the several colleges. It is
hoped, however, that the time will come when all degrees will be conferred by the
central body. The excellent work that this body has done of recent years is largely
due to Chancellor Pruyn

Mr. Pruyn was also a member of the executive committee of the State Normal
School at Albany, and president of the Board of Trustees of St. Stephen's College at
Annandale, New York — a training school of the Protestant Episcopal church.

The establishment of the State Commissioner of Charities was recommended by
Governor Fenton upon Mr. Pruyn's suggestion. From the time of its organization,
in 1867, until his death, he was, with a slight interruption, its president. He was
also at the time of his death president of the Board of Commis.sioners of the State
Survey. He had been a member of the Centennial Commission, but resigned before
1876. He was a member of the association for the codification of the law of
nations, of the New York Historical Society, of the Wisconsin Historical Society, of
the American Geographical and Statistical Society, of the Literary Fund Society of
London, of the Union and Century Clubs of New York, and of other clubs and

Mr. Pruyn received the degree of master of arts m 1835 from Rutgers College, and
in 1845 from Union College, and in 1853 that of doctor of laws from the University
of Rochester.

Originally brought up in and an oERcer of the Dutch Reformed church, he subse-
quently joined the Protestant Episcopal church, and was at one time a vestryman of
St. Peter's church, Albany. In all church affairs he took a deep interest and his
views were essentially broad.

Of his personal character it is for his friends to speak. A writer in the Albany
Evening Times, November 21, 1877, says:

It may be added, however, in the language of one who has known him intimately from boy-
hood, that amid all the many virtues of John V. L. Pruyn, his pre-eminent characteristic was
justice. "Is this just? is this honest?" was the first question with him always, and the one
which, answered, decided his course. He was always gentle, and was never known to speak ill
of anyone, however much he mi.ght differ with him or be abused. The saying so common was of
him strictly true: " He had not an enemy in the world." He led a life of personal purity and in-
tegrity, unsullied by even so much as a rumor of anything to the contrary. The wise counselor.
the prudent, conscientious public servant; prominent in all things tending to dignify and elevate
the human race; given to boundless hospitality; a kind, sympathizing, sincere friend; a loving,
indulgent husband, father and brother: in all things the man of integrity, conservatism and good
sense; such is the record of John V. L. Pruyn. In all that pertains to those "things which are of
good report," it is a proud record for any man to leave— a record that all may well study, and
may well aim to equal.

Mr. Pruyn died November 21, 1877, at Clifton Springs, New York, where he had

gone in October to take the mineral baths for a complication of disorders. A son by
his first wife, his second wife and two daughters survive him.


The ancestry of Mr. Brooks's family is traced to Capt. (1) Thomas Brooke, who
came from England and settled at Watertown, Mass., in 1630-31, at the time of the
formation of the Massachusetts Bay colony under Governor Winthrop. He was ad-
mitted freeman December 7, 1636, and about the same time he became one of the
founders of Concord, Mass. He was a captain in the local militia, constable 1638,
appointed 1640 under law to value property at Concord, a representative or deputy
to the General Court at Boston eight years, between 1644 and 1662, and commissioner
under authority of this court to regulate the liquor trade among the Indians. He owned
a large tract of land in Concord, and at one time controlled the fur trade among the
Indians, by purchase of grant from the court, in the Concord district. In 1660 he
purchased, with his son-in law, Timothy Wheeler, 400 acres of land in Medford for
£404 sterling, and the most of this tract has been continuously owned by his de-
scendants in the Brooks name. Capt. Thomas Brooke (this style of spelling is
f.^und in the King's Court records at Boston) died in Concord, May 21, 1667. He
was married in England (where two if not three of his children were born) to Grace

, who died May 2, 1664. They had at least four sons — Joshua, Caleb, Ger-

shom, and Thomas, jr. — and one daughter, Mary, who married Timothy Wheeler.
These sons originally spelled the name Brookes, but by mutual agreement in 1680
dropped the "e," and ever since the present style. Brooks, has uniformly prevailed.
(2) Joshua Brookes (later Brooks), a tanner and aresident of what is now Lincoln (then
Concord), Mass., was probably born in England, and on the 17th of the 8th mo, (Octo-
ber), 1653. was married to Hannah Mason, of Watertown, daughter of Hugh Mason,
a tanner, deputy to the General Court and a commissioner against the Dutch in
1664. Joshua was admitted freeman May 26, 1652, was a deacon in the church for
many years, and died prior to April 16, 1697. He had eleven children, of whom (3)
Daniel Brooks, the fourth, born November 15, 1663. married Ann Meriam August 9,
1692, and died October 18, 1733, at Concord, where his tombstone is still standing.
She died January 24, 1757. Daniel was an ensign in the militia, and a prominent
man, selectman 1716 to 1719, 1725 to 1729, and a large landowner in Concord and
Lincoln. He had eleven children, of whom the sixth, (4) John Brooks, born February
12, 1702, married, January, 1728, Lydia Barker, daughter of John and Elizabeth
Barker of Concord, Mass., born June 18, 1711 ; he died March 6. 1777, she died June
3, 1802, aged ninety-one ; both are buried in Woodlawn Cemetery (tombstone) at Acton
(a part of old Concord), Mass. John was for many years a deacon in the church at
Acton and a selectman of the town, and assessor several years. December 21, 1772,
he was on a committee from his town to consider the state of the rights of the colon-
ists and the violation of said rights and report a draft of such votes as they shall
think proper, and was a cousin of Col. Eleazer Brooks, who commanded the minute-
men at the North Bridge at Concord, April 19, 1775, and ordered them to fire on the
British. He also had eleven children, of whom (.5) Charles Brooks, the third, born at


Concord April C, 1733, lived, after his marriage, in Marlboro until 1764, and then
purchased lands and moved to Princeton, Mass., where he died in March, 1798. In
1757 he was a member of Lieutenant Maynard's Company of Marlboro, and was at
Fort William Henry when it was captured by Montcalm, being one of the 700 out of
the 3,500 American troops who escaped the massacre that followed by Montcalm's
Indians. In 1773 he was one of a Committee, appointed by the town (Princeton), of
Correspondence "to reply to a letter from the Selectmen of the Town of Boston,
showing infringement upon and violation of our Rights and Liberties (by the mother
country)." On April 30, 1775, he marched as a member of minute-men in Capt.
Joseph Sargent's Company, Colonel Sparhawk's regiment, to Cambridge, in
to the Lexington-Concord alarm of April 19; in service sixteen days. June 3, 1775,
was chosen ensign of Alarm Company. 1777, one of a committee (town of Princeton)
"to make an everage of the money and servisesof the present war." 1778, treasurer
of the town. 1779, on committee of three "to borrow the money to pay the men
which may be engaged for the Army." 1779, September 9, on standing committee
' • to procure money from time to time to pay men which shall be called for the defence
of their country." The town records also show the following:

"To Enoch Brooks, Treasurer, You are hereby required to pay to Capt. John Mirick, Lt.
Charles Brooks and Josiah Davis, a committee appointed by the Town to procure money to pay
jt for to enter into the Continental or State servis, the sura of Eleven

"Benj. Holden,


"Paul Matthews,
"July 1. 1780. Selectmen."

'■ For value received, I the subscriber, promise to pay the sum of eleven hundred pounds, in
tlie present currency, to be paid in three months, for a hors for the Continental servis, and if not
paid then to be on interest till paid, as witness my hand. Charles Brooks.

"Princeton, July 13, 1780."

September 11, 1780, on treasurer's account, "Lt. Charles Brooks, one day pro-
curing horses for the Continental army;" again in 1783 for same services. He
took an active part in raising men and supplies to carry on the Revolutionary
war and was one of the most loyal supporters of the colonies. November 34,
1757, he married Mary Hapgood (born June 4, 1740, died August 16, 1808), daugh-
ter of John and Abigail (Morse) Hapgood, of Marlboro. They, too, had eleven
children, of whom the fifth, (6) Jonas Brooks, born in Princeton December 16,
1770, died there October 7, 1865, was a builder, contractor and farmer. Jonas
was active m public affairs, was for many years a justice of the peace, settled as ad-
ministrator a large number of estates, and was especially noted for his great physical
endurance and strength. With his brother John H. he was arrested for debt in re-
fusing to pay the town tax for the support of the State church, as was customary in
those days. He successfully defended his positio i in the courts, and since then no
tax has been levied for church purposes in the towns of Massachusetts. At this time
he belonged to the Congregational Society. Afterward he and his brother and two
other men organized and built the M. E. church there and continued in its support
until his death. He married, first, October 30, 1794, Lydia, daughter of Aaron
Temple of Boylston, who was born February 6, 1775, and died October 29, 1819. In
May, 1822, he married second, Nancy, daughter of Samuel Davis of Oakham, Mass.,


who died September 14, 1868, aged eighty-six. Of his ten children (7) Moses Brooke,
the seventh, was born in Princeton, Mass., July 19, 1808, and married, January 19,
1832, Sophronia, daughter of Ethan Greenwood, of Hubbardston, Mass., who was
born June 18, 1810. In the southern part of Princeton, the town of his birth, is a
station called Brooks (named after the family) on the Boston. Barre and Gardner
railroad, now a part of the Boston and Maine system, the depot being the old home-
stead built by Jonas Brooks in 1810 or '11. In 1835 Moses Brooks moved to Rutland,
Mass., but in 1851 returned to the parental home in Princeton, and in 1856 came to
O.xford, Chenango county, N. Y. In 1863 he settled in the town of Unadilla, near
Rockdale, N.Y., where his wife died December 7, 1889, and where his death occurred
November 12, 1893. Their children were Charles Aaron, born March 11, 1833, died
August 18, 1835; Jonas, born March 9, 1835, died January 10, 1843; Edward, born
May 19. 1837, was graduated from the Jefferson Medical College of Philadelphia in
1862, entered the U. S. army as assistant surgeon the same year, and died in the
service April 19, 1866; Sarah Sophronia, born November 4, 1839, married December
30, 1867, Edwin R. Barnes of Norwich, N. Y., and died February 1, 1877, leaving
two children, Lenora Sarah, since deceased, and Charles Edward, of Norwich;
Moses Walter, a practicing physician of Sidney, N. Y., born November 4, 1841,
married Abigail Peet. of Hunter, N. Y. , and was graduated from the medical de-
partment of the University of Vermont at Burlington in 1879; Jonas Hapgood, the
subject of this sketch; and Charles Greenwood, of Mount Upton, N. Y., born De-
cember 23, 1849.

Jonas Hapgood Brooks, the eighth in lineal descent from the pioneer, Capt.
Thomas Brooke, was born in Rutland, Worcester county, Mass., January 5, 1848,
and came with his parents to this State in 1856. Here he spent his early life on the
farm and attending the district schools and Oxford Academy, where he developed
those native talents which distinguish the scholar. He gave special attention to
medicine, which he expected to adopt as a profession and practice with his eldest
brother, Edward, who was then a surgeon in the army. But the death of the latter
in 1866 changed his plans, though he has never forgotten his love for medical science.
In the winter of 1866-67 he taught school at Guilford, N. Y.. and in the fall of 1867
resumed his studies at Norwich Academy, where he obtained a teacher's certificate,
as he also had the preceding year at Oxford. The following winter, 1867-68, he
taught the school at Rockwell's Mills in the town of Guilford, and in the spring of
1868 became a clerk in the First National Bank of New Berlin, N. Y., where in Jan-
uary, 1869, he was chosen teller, a position he filled with credit and satisfaction until
he resigned in December, 1873. He was also a director in this bank during his last
year there. In December, 1873, he accepted the appointm'ent of teller of the National
Albany Exchange Bank, of Albany, and on the death of its cashier, Theodore L.
Scott, on February 22, 1881, succeeded him in that position, which he held until the
bank was closed on the expiration of its charter in January, 1885. On the formation
of the new National Exchange Bank of Albany (which succeeded the old institution),
in which he with Chauncey P. Williams, the president, took the active part, Mr.
Brooks was elected the cashier, and discharged with fidelity the arduous duties of
that ofhce until November 6, 1889, when he was chosen a director and cashier of the
Albany City National Bank, which positions he still holds. In December, 1889, he
was also elected a trustee and treasurer of the Albany City Savings Institution, but


subsequently resigned the treasurership. While cashier of the National Exchange
Hank he was also a trustee in the Albany Exchange Savings Bank, but resigned this
post November 6. 1889, to give his whole attention to the affairs of the two institu-
tions with which he is now connected,

Mr. Brooks has always been a staunch Republican, has taken a deep interest in
political affairs, and in 1886 was a delegate to the Republican State Convention at
Saratoga. He was for two years treasurer of St. Peter's church and in January,
1890, was elected trustee and treasurer of the Corning Foundation for Christian
Work in the Diocese of Albany, which positions he still holds. This organization, in
which he has manifested deep interest, and of which Bishop Doane is the head, em-
braces the supervision and care of St. Agnes School, the Child's Hospital, St. Mar-
garet's House, and the Sisters' House, and is one of the most worthy benevolent in-
stitutions in the State. Mr. Brooks was a foundation member of the Fort Orange
Club in 1880, and has been a member of the Unconditional Republican Club of
Albany since about 1875, being its treasurer during the Garfield campaign. He is
fond of athletic sports and outdoor exercise, has won several prizes at the Rensse
laerwyck Rifle Range, is an extensive reader on historical and scientific subjects,
and is a close observer and student of human nature and natural scenery. He has
devoted much tmie to genealogical research, and has in his possession copies of wills
and settlements of e.states of seven generations of his family in America.

Mr. Brooks was married on January 22, 1889, to Miss Frances S., daughter of the
late Samuel Patten, of Albany, and Julia, daughter of William Newton. At
the wedding were Mr. Brooks's parents, who three days before had celebrated
their fifty-seventh marriage anniversary. They have had two children: Edward,
who died in infancy, and Julia Newton Brooks, born July 10, 1893. Mr. and Mrs.
Hrooks have traveled quite extensively, both m this country and in Europe. In the
winter of 1895 they were among the passengers who had a thrilling experience on
board the ill-fated steamer Cienfuegos, which on February 4 was wrecked and lost
olf Harbor Island, one of the group of the West Indies.


Hon. Matthew Hale, born in Chelsea, Vt., June 20, 1829, is a descendant of
Thomas Hale (married Joan Kirby), a yeoman of Watton at-Stone, Hertfordshire,
England, who died in October, 1630. Thomas Hale, jr., born at Watton-at-Stone in
1605, came to America in 1637 and settled in Newbury, Mass., where he died De-
cember 31, 1682. His son Thomas was born in England, November 18, 1633, died
in Newbury, October 22, 1688, leaving a son. Dr. Thomas Hale, a physician of Hav-
erill. Mass, who died in 1732. Moses Hale, son of Thomas, was born in 1703, settled
in New Hampshire and died in 1762. His son Nathan, born in 1743, served in the
Revolution as colonel of a New Hampshire regiment and died on Long Island, a
prisoner of war, in 1780. Harry Hale, a son of Col. Nathan, was born in 1780,
settled in Chelsea, Vt., was many years clerk of Orange county, member of the
Legislature, state bank commis.sioner, captain of militia, a merchant, mill owner
and farmer and died in 1861. He married, first, Phoebe Adams, who bore him


eleven children. By his second wife, Luciuda Eddy, he had seven children, the
youngest being Matthew. She was a direct descendant of Miles Standish and John
Alden of the Mayflower, through a son of Standish, who married a daughter of John
and Pri-scilla (Mullens) Alden.

Matthew Hale attended the Bradford (Vt.) Academy, was graduated from the
University of Vermont in 1851, and read law in Elizabethtown, N. Y., with Kellogg
& Hale (the latter being Hon. Robert S. Hale, a member of Congress and Regent of
the University, and Matthew's elder brother). Admitted to the bar at Salem, N. Y.,
in 1853, he began the practice of his profession in Poughkeepsie with his brother
Henry, and continued with Gen. A. B. Smith. In 1859 he removed to New York
city and became a partner of Lot C. Clark. Returning to Elizabethtown, N. Y.,
in December, 1863, he formed a partnership with Judge A. C. Hand (his father-in-
law and one of the first justices of the Supreme Court elected under the constitution
of 1846) and Richard L. Hand, under the firm name of Hand & Hale.

Mr. Hale was elected a delegate to. the State Constitutional Convention of 1867
and served on the judiciary committee of that body. In 1867 he was elected State
senator. In 1868 he removed to Albany and with the late Samnel Hand and the
late Nathan Swartz, formed the law firm of Hand, Hale & Swartz which, on the
admission of Charles S. Fairchild, became Hand, Hale, Swartz & Fairchild. This
was dissolved in 1875. Afterwards Alpheus T. Bulkeley and Hon. Esek Cowen were
his partners. The present firm of Hale, Bulkeley & Tennant consists of Mr. Hale,
Alpheus T. Bulkeley and Albert C. Tennant.

In 1883 Mr. Hale was the Republican candidate for justice of the Supreme Court
and in that year the University of Vermont conferred upon him the honorary de-
gree of LL. D. He is a distinguished writer and speaker and eminent lawyer, and
was one of the organizers of the New York State Bar Association, of which he has
been president.

He has been counsel in many important cases, and within the last year has sue
cessfully argued in the Court of Appeals a case involving the effect of the civil serv
ice provision in the Constitution of 1894, in which he obtained a decision givin;;
full force and effect to such provision as against an attack made by the superintend-
ent of Public Works; also a case in favor of the Adelphi Club of Albany, in which
it was held that the license law of 1892 did not apply to social clubs; also the Albany
Police, in which an act, passed by the Legislature in 1895 making a total change
of the Albany police force, was held to be unconstitutional and void.

He was a charter member and trustee of the Fort Orange Club, is a trustee and
vice-president of the Albany Savings Bank, member of the Reform Club of New
York city, and at one time was vice-president of the Commonwealth Club of New
York and president of the United Chapters of the Phi Beta Kappa. In poHtics he is
Independent and has been for many years. He is one of the executive committee
of the National Municipal League, is president of the Citizens' Association of Al-
bany : president of the Albany Vigilance League ; president of the New York State
Civil Service Reform League and of the Albany Association on the same subject.

In 1856 he married Ellen S., daughter of Hon. A. C. Hand. She died in 1867, and
in 1877 he married, second, Mary, daughter of Col. Francis L. Lee, of Boston, Mass.,
by whom he has three daughters and two sons,



High Hastlngs, State Historian, third son of Col. John Hastings was born in Al-

Online LibraryAmasa J. (Amasa Junius) ParkerLandmarks of Albany County, New York → online text (page 65 of 138)