Amasa J. (Amasa Junius) Parker.

Landmarks of Albany County, New York online

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Mr. Spalding has never been a candidate for office though always taking a keen
interest in politics. During President Cleveland's first administration he was
appointed to an office under the Treasury Department, but was unable to accept


it as it necessitated his removal from Albany and the abandonment of his profess-
ional interests, which were already growing large. He has devoted himself un-
tiringly to his profession and has gained a wide reputation in the department of
practice to which he has mainlj^ devoted his energies. Among the notable matters
with which he has been professionally identified was the claim of the United States
against the government of Venezuela, which came before the International Court
organized at Washington in 1894 by which an award of over half a million was ren-
ered the following year in favor of the American claimants.

In 1895 Mr. Spalding formed a partnership in the practice of law with Mr. S. J.
Daring, which has since continued under the firm name of Spalding & Daring.


Edward De L. Palmer, son of Amos P. and Hannah B. (Crafts) Palmer, was born
in Newtonville, Albany county, March 19, 1848. Amos P. Palmer, born m Otsego
county in 1820, came to Albany county about 1837, was for many years a fire brick
manufacturer and later a banker, and died in 1894.

Edward De L. Palmer received his education mainly at Newtonville under the
father of the late President Chester A. Arthur. For eight years he was associated with
his father's firm in the manufacture of fire biick; later he was for nine years chief
clerk and private secretary to James W. Eaton during Mr Eaton's incumbency as
superintendent of construction of the new Capitol ; and for two years thereafter he
was a member of the firm of J. W. Eaton & Co., contractors and real estate dealers.
When Mr. Eaton began to withdraw from active business, Mr. Palmer assumed the
real estate department and is now one of the leading real estate operators in the city.
He is a trustee of the Albany City Savings Institution, treasurer of St. Peter's Epis-
copal church and a member of the Fort Orange club.

In 1876 he married Sarah, daughter of Gad B. Worthington, of Batavia, N.Y., and
they have three children: Worthington, Florence and De Lancey.


Garret Adam Van Allen, fire underwriter and financier, was born in Albany,
N. Y., February 28, 1835, the oldest son of Adam Van Allen, a wholesale lumber
merchant and banker of that city. The Van Aliens are of Dutch descent, their an-
cestors having resided in Albany county for fully two centuries. Garret A. Van
Allen was educated in the Albany Academy. After some experience as bank clerk,
he, from 1857 to 1860, occupied the position of deputy county treasurer of Albany
county. In 1859 he became prominently identified with the organization of the Com-
merce Insurance Company, of which he was .secretary from 1859 to 1867, when he
became vice-president, which office he held until 1884, when he succeeded his father
as president. Fire underwriting may, therefore, be said to have been Mr. Van
Allen's life business, and in that profession he passed through various experiences.



such as the Chicago (1871) and Boston (1873) conflagrations, in which the Commerce
Insurance Company paid over $500,000 in losses. In that connection he has also
been prominently identified with the National Board of Fire Underwriters, holding
positions in its executive committee and being chairman of its Incendiarism and
Arson Committee for several years. In 1864, becoming impressed with the value
and importance of the national banking system, Mr. Van Allen so urged its advan-
tages apon the gentlemen with whom he was associated in the Commerce Insurance
Company, that, with four of them, he became one of the five incorporators and first
directors of the First National Bank of Albany. He has been a director of that in-
stitution since 1864; vice-president from 1876 to 1884; and in September of th,e latter
year succeeded his father as president. Mr. Van Allen has been a prominent mem
ber of the American Bankers' Association ; was vice-president for New York State in
1889-1891 ; and was elected a member of its executive council at New Orleans, La.,
in November, 1891, for three years. He is vice-president of the National Savings
Bank of Albany, treasurer of the Capital City Malleable Iron Company, and has also
been identified with a number of important business enterprises; and is a member
of the Holland Society, Fort Orange Club, and Albany Institute. Mr. Van Allen
was married on September 6, 1860, to Elizabeth Morgan Barker, of Newport, R. 1.
They have one daughter, Mrs. Anna V. A. Jenison, whose husband is secretary of
the "Commerce" and associated with Mr. Van Allen in other business enterprises.
In politics he has always been a Republican, and has held elective oflSces twice, be-
ing fire commissioner from 1874 to 1878, and alderman from 1888 to 1892.


John C. S.ampi-mru is the owner and originator of the Fashion Knitting Mills of
Cohoes. He established that industry after having been burned out of the- dry
goods business, which he had conducted there for some years. He was educated in
the common schools of Passaic county, N. J. , where he was born in 1841. He acquired
the blacksmith's trade and came here in 1870, engagingin thecarriage-makingindustry
for seven years. Later he entered the insurance and real estate business, then the
paper box manufacture, operating box shops at Cohoes, Troy and Amsterdam. He
was at one time president of the Adams Steamer Company, also a member of the
Taxpayers' Committee. In 1884 Mr. Sandford declared allegiance to the Prohibi-
tion party, was boycotted by the Republicans, and being independent he advertised
boycotted goods for sale. He was a member of the M. E. church about forty years,
but withdrew from it after election in 1896, because the bishops voted a license ticket
and for a man for president that leased property for a saloon.


Thkiidokk Tou.NsKNii was born in Albany, October 9, 18'26. His father, John
rownsend, came here from Orange county, N. V., early in the present century and


became a business partner with his elder brother, Isaiah, who had previously ar-
rived. The partnership thus formed continued for more than thirty years, until the
death of the latter. During all of this time the brothers lived from a common purse,
supporting large families, acquinng a common fortune and both attaining high and
honorable positions in the community. John Townsend married a daughter of Am-
brose Spencer, long chief justice of the Supreme Court of New York. She was a
noble Christian woman, beloved by her family and all who knew her.

Theodore Townsend was educated at the Albany Academy, the Poughkeepsie
Collegiate School and Union College. In the spring of 1846 he engaged in the
foundry and iron business with his cousins, Franklin and Frederick Townsend, suc-
ceeding to the establishment which had been started and long carried on by their
fathers. Frederick withdrew the same year, but Franklin and Theodore continued
partners for ten years, when the latter retired to enter into partnership with Lewis
Rathbone and Joseph P. Sanford, in the manufacture of stoves. He remained in
this business until September, 1863, when he was appointed by President Lincoln
United States collector of internal revenue for the counties of Albany and Scho-
harie which office he held until December, 1869.

On several occasions he was invited by the authorities at Washington to consult
with them, and was complimented by them for the able and business-like manner
in which his duties were discharged, and which gave to his district the reputation of
being with one other the model one among 200 or more in the United States. As
Mr. Townsend was not a politician he finally resigned, an act which was greatly
regretted. He had collected and paid over §20,000,000. During a part of his
term he was also receiver of commutation money for drafted men and in this capacity
more than half a million dollars passed through his hands. Being the father of four
motherless children, he sent a substitute to the Union army.

In January, 1870, he became connected with the Albany Insurance Company, the
second in age in this State, being incorporated in 1811, the firm of I. & J. Townsend
having been the first subscribers to its stock, the former being president for over a
quarter of a century and the latter vice president and president many years. During
his active management he maintained the high reputation and integrity which the
company has always enjoyed. He resigned as manager in 1882 and is now vice-

In 1882 he was elected treasurer of the Albany Savings Bank, also the second
oldest of its kind m the State, having been chartered in 1820, his father being one
of the original incorporators as a vice-president. He still holds this responsible

December 18, 1851, he married Miss Louisa Mickle, daughter of Hon. Andrew H.
Mickle, formerly mayor of New York. She died August 3, 1862, and June 15, 1865, he
married Miss Mary Lathrop Sprague, daughter of the Rev. Dr. William B. Sprague,
for forty years the distinguished minister of the Second Presbyterian church of
Albany. Mr. Townsend has had four children, of whom the eldest married in 1889
Winthrop Scudder, of Brookline, Mass. She died in 1890. Two daughters still
reside with their father. His son, John Townsend, of St. Paul, Minn., married Miss
Mary Learned Cook, daughter of the late James C. Cook. Mr. Townsend was an
alderman in 1853 and 1854, was president of the Young Men's Association in 1852,
and is now a warden of St. Peter's church.





Fkeukrick James Hamilton Merrill was born in New York city, April 30, 1861.
His early education was received at Charlier Institute and other schools. In Octo-
ber, 1880, he entered the School of Arts at Columbia College and in October, 1882,
he entered the School of Mines at the same college. In June, 1885, he was grad-
uated with the degree of Ph. B. From 1885 to 1887 Mr. Merrill was assistant
on the geological survey of New Jersey, and from 1886 to 1890 he was fellow in
geology at Columbia College. In June, 1890, he received the degree of Doctor of
Philosophy, and the summer of that year was spent in visiting the principal natural
history museums of Europe. He was assistant state geologist of New York from
October, 1890, to June. 1893. In December, 1890, he was appointed assistant director
of the New York State Museum during 1892 and 1893, and was director of the Scien-
tific Exhibit of the State of New York at the World's Columbian Exposition. In
June, 1894, Dr. Merrill was appointed director of the New York State Museum. He
is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a fellow
of the Geological Society of America, a fellow of the New York Academy of Sciences,
and IS a member of the American Institute of Mining Engineers, the American
Society of Naturalists, the National Geographic Society, and of the Brooklyn Institute.
Dr. Merrill has published many important articles in leading scientific journals in
connection with his profession, and several bulletins of the New York State Museum
on the subject of the Mineral Resources of this State. In 1887 he married Miss
Winifred Edgerton, of New York city, and they have two children: Louise Edgerton
and Hamilton.


Thomas Si.avin, though a native of Waterford, N. Y., where he was born Octo-
ber 20, 1833, has been a lifelong resident of Cohoes. His reminiscences of the
place in its infancy are very interesting, and he is regarded as a personal land-
mark and a compendium of data concerning the early times. His testimony is re-
garded as unimpeachable in cases involving boundaries and conditions of half a cen-
tury ago. Here has been the scene of his early struggles in business life, for Mr.
Slavin is a self-made man ; being one of seventeen children he early assumed the
responsibility of earning a livelihood.

He was the eldest son of Michael Slavin, a man well known in both counties, and
whose home was ever a haven to the hungry or weary traveler — of whom there were
many in those early days. Father and son did teaming for the large flour mills
which then flourished in this vicinity. In 1865 he established a coal business, and
in 1869 removed to No. 135 Saratoga street, where he still conducts, together with
his son, Thomas Slavin, jr., the most succes.sfu! coal and grain business in the city.
His eldest son, Charles J. Slavin, he established in the coal business on Lansing
street some ten years ago.

In 1859 Mr. Slavin married Elizabeth Brennan, of Troy. Of this union five chil-
dren survive: Charles J., Thomas, jr., Mary, Helen and Sara. Mr. Slavin's aim

has been not to amass a fortune, but to aid his fellow-men in and beyond Cohoes,
where his name is associated with every movement for the welfare of the people,
city and dear old Albany county.


Lolls Stkkn was born in Germany on the 22d of February, 1847. and came to
America with his parents, M. A. and S. Stern, in 1854. The family iirst located in
New York city, but in 1855 removed to Albany, where the father was engaged in
the jewelry business until his death in 1866. Mr. Stern received a thorough educa-
tion in the public schools of the capital city and at the Albany State Normal School,
and when fourteen became a clerk in a large dry goods store in Petersburg, Va.,
where he remained until 1863. He then went to Memphis, Tenn., and later to Mobile,
Ala., being engaged in the dry goods trade in those cities.

In 1867 he removed to New York city, and with his brother Isaac, under the firm
name of Stern Brothers, established a dry goods business on Sixth avenue, between
22d and 23d streets. This enterprise, founded in a modest way and being confined
strictly to the dry goods trade, formed the nucleus to the firm's present establish-
ment, which was moved to the site it now occupies on 23d street, between Fifth and
Sixth avenues, in 1878. The firm now consists of three brothers, Louis, Isaac, and
Benjamin, the latter being admitted in 1886. Another brother, Bernhard, was also
a partner for several years prior to his death in 1888.

Mr. Stern, in co-operation with his brothers, has built up one of the largest and most
successful dry goods establishments in New York, and from the first has confined it
strictly to the retail dry goods and upholstery trade. The name of Stern Brothers
has a wide reputation throughout the United States. They employ nearly 2,000
people, and carry an extensive line of high class imported and domestic goods, and are
noted for fairness and reliability in all business transactions. Mr. Stern is an active
Republican in politics, taking a keen interest in the welfare of his party, and is a
member and the third vice-president of the Republican Club of New York. He is a
director of the Bank of New Amsterdam of New Yorkcity, a member of the Chamber
of Commerce, New York Geographical Society, and first vice-president of the Albanv
Society of New York, an organization to which many former Albanians belong, and
which ably fosters their interest in the capital city though engaged in business in the
metropolis. Besides these he is prominently identified with several other social, civil
and commercial in.stitutions, and as a citizen is public spirited, liberal, and enter-


Wim.i.amC. \'.-\n Alsjvne, son of Thomas W. and Sarah E. (Pease) Van Alstyne,
was born in Albany, N. Y., December 7, 1846. He is a lineal descendant of Henry
Van Alstyne who was knighted by Otho II, emperor of Germany, and who assisted


;il the coronation of Otho III, by Pope Gregory V, in A. D. fl8:5, and whom he
served in the wars against Henry III of France. Henry remained in Flanders and
his descendants have lived in Belgium and Holland to the present time. A branch
became Protestants, represented in this country first by John Martense Van Alstyne,
who left Gand (Ghent), Belgium, in 1030 and finally settled the village of Ghent, near
Kinderhook, Columbia county. One of Mr. Van Alstyne's ancestors was the first
president of the Board of Trustees of the village of Kinderhook, and atousin of his
now (1896) occupies the same position. The original grant in heraldry was by Otho
II, and a regrant was published by Marie Therese, empress of Austria, January 17,
1771. The father of the subject of this sketch, Thomas W. Van Alstyne. wasamer-
ohant and sheriiT of Albany county from 1858 to 1861.

William C. Van Alstyne was educated at the State Normal School at Albany and
graduated from the Albany Academy in 1864. He was assistant treasurer of the
Albany and Susquehanna Railroad, and was for a time iu the employ in a similar
capacity of the Delaware & Hudson Canal Company's Railroad. In 1872 he moved
to Chicago to accept an official position with the Michigan Central Railroad ; in 1880
he was obliged to return east on account of illness, and he accepted the position of
general manager of the Lebanon Springs Railroad, which position he resigned in
1880. Since then he has been engaged in the manufacturing business as secretary
and manager of the Standard Emery Wheel Company. Mr. Van Alstyne is also a
dealer in emery and kindred supplies.

He is a member of the Holland Society of New York, the Camera Club of Albany,
Masters Lodge No. 5, F. & A. M., Beaverwyck Lodge No. 361, I. O. O. F., the Albany
Institute, and of the Emmanuel Baptist church of Albany. In 18C9 he married Mary
Warren Carter, of Albany.


James Newton Fiero, dean of the Albany Law School, was born May 'iS, 1847, in
Saugerties-on-the Hudson, Ulster county. He is the son of the late Christopher
Fiero, who in 1853 organized the 30th N. Y. Militia, which was known during the
Rebellion as the 18th N. Y. Vols., and under Col. George W Pratt achieved a most
honorable career at the front. Christopher Fiero was colonel of this regiment from
its organization until his retirement in 1858. J. Newton Fiero's paternal grandfather
was Ur. Abraham Fiero, a noted physician. His paternal grandmother, Elizabeth
Gillespy. was of Scotch descent. His maternal grandparents were of Holland stock,
descendants of the Van Schaicks and Van Slykes. The name Fiero is probably of
Spanish origin, from settlers in Holland at the time of the Spanish conquest. The
first record of the name in Ulster county is attached to an old document during the
early days of the Revolution, protesting against the arbitrary action of the British
toward our people for the maintenance of their rights as American citizens. J. New-
ton Fiero after attending the district school, entered the Delaware Academy at
Delhi, then under Prof. John L. Sawyer. He subsequently became a student in the
Cherry Valley Academy and for a brief period was a member of Rutgers College,
but in January, 1865, entered the so])hmore class of Union College at Schenectady.


from which he graduated with honors in 1867. Mr. Fiero studied law with Hon.
William Murray, of Delhi, a distinguished justice of the Supreme Court. In May,
18T9, he was admitted to the bar at the General Term of the Supreme Court at
Binghamton. After remaining in the office of his preceptor a few months he re-
turned to his native village and began a successful legal practice. In January, 1872,
he went to Kingston and formed a partnership with Reuben Bund, remaining at
Kingston ui5til 1891, when he removed to Albany and entered into partnership with
Gen. Amasa J. Parker taking the place of the late Judge Amasa J. Parker in the
firm. In 1887 Mr. Fiero published his first law book, treating of " Special Proceed-
ings in the State of New York" and followed it in 1888 by "Special Actions." These
books are now standard works upon the subjects treated, a new edition of the
latter having been published early in 1897. He was chairman of a committee to
draft an act to facilitate the business of the courts of this State. At a recent meeting
of the American Bar Association he was appointed chairman of a committee to
investigate into the e.xpediency of a scheme for uniformity in legal reporting and to
recommend a remedy for existing difficulties. He is now chairman of a special
committee of that association on Uniformity of Procedure. Mr. Fiero has won a
wide and enviable reputation in his persistent efforts in the law reforms in our courts
of justice. In January, 1891, he was retained by Messrs. Knevals, Co.\ and Basselin,
forest commissioners, as leading counsel in the investigation ordered by the Assem-
bly as to the management of the forests, which resulted in the complete exoneration
of the commissioners; he was also counsel for the commission in matters relating to
the Catskills. Mr. Fiero has been a member of the faculty of the Albany Law
School for several years, lecturing upon practice and pleading, and in 1895 was
elected dean of the institution. In 1892 he was elected president of the New York
State Bar Association and was re-elected in 1893. He was chairman of the commit-
tee on law reform, succeeding David Dudley Field. In politics he has always been
a pronounced Republican. He began stump speaking in the Grant-Seymour canvass
in 1868 and has been in every important campaign since. He was for many years
a leading member of the Ulster County Republican Committee, and for a considera-
ble period its chairman. He is a member of the Fort Oiange Club and the Univer-
sity Club of New York city. In 1870 he married Miss Jennie Sands McCall of Delhi,
and they have three children: Maude Goodrich, Cliflford B., and Harriette A.


Hon. WiLLL-iM James Wallace, judge of the United States Circuit Court for the
Second Judicial District since April, 1882, is a .son of E. Fuller and Lydia (Wheel-
wright) Wallace, early settlers of Syracuse, N. Y., and was born there April 14, 1838.
He was prepared for college with the view of entering Dartmouth, from which his
father was graduated, but having decided up

Online LibraryAmasa J. (Amasa Junius) ParkerLandmarks of Albany County, New York → online text (page 68 of 138)