The Lansingburgh Historical Society
PO Box 219
Lansingburgh, NY 12182-0219

Our Website:
www.lansingburghhistoricalsociety.org

Our email:
LHSsecretary@gmail.com

Our Facebook: 
https://www.facebook.com/LansingburghHistorical

Headquarters of the Lansingburgh Historical Society is located in the Herman Melville house on the south west corner of 114th Street & 1st Avenue in Lansingburgh. The society initiates various cultural and educational events to highlight Lansingburgh's unique history (see events page). The headquarters is open to groups and individuals by appointment. Please call (518) 235-3501 or email us at LHSsecretary@gmail.com to set up an appointment. Please allow us one week of advanced notice from the time you'd like to schedule a tour of the Melville House. We have no paid staff and receive no regular public funding. We welcome additional members (see membership page) and encourage participation and donations.

 

THE FOLLOWING STORY BY WARREN BRODERICK BEGINS WITH THIS EDITION OF THE NEWSLETTER AND WILL CONTINUE AS A SERIES THROUGH FUTURE EDITIONS

Truth Stranger Than Fiction: The Tragedy and Triumph of

Lany Wager Rose (Part 1)

WARREN F. BRODERICK

The vast majority of sex crimes that occurred in 19th Century America probably went unrecorded, with the exception of a few high-profile murders of prostitutes and deaths that resulted from botched abortions.  Domestic abuse and incest were never documented because of the shame involved and divorces (mostly kept from the public by confidentiality restrictions) were generally granted only on the grounds of adultery and abandonment.  Sex crimes that occurred in isolated rural areas were rarely made known to the residents of urban communities where newspapers were published.  In this context it is truly remarkable that the abuse of Lany Catherine Wager, a young woman living on a dead-end road in rural Pittstown, achieved such notoriety in the Lansingburgh area in 1851. 

Magdalena Catherine Wager, known as “Lany” or “Laney,” of Palatine German descent, was a daughter of William Coonradt Wager and Catherine (Bailey) Wager, and was born on December 17, 1831 on their farm on Piser Hill Road in western Pittstown.  The family belonged to the Lutheran Church in Melrose and moved to Johnnycake Hollow Road, near the current Tomhannock Reservoir, in 1836.  William purchased 22.8 acres of land there which included a modest wooden farmhouse; this dirt surfaced road, which now runs between Ford Road and LeLoup Road, dead-ended at that time. Lany’s mother, Catherine died on February 20, 1847 and her father remarried Sarah, the widow of Silas Stark, in August of 1848.  William Wager, who could neither, read nor write, lived on his farm until his death on February 8, 1877; Sarah died there on October 5, 1878.  Both are interred in Elmwood Cemetery, Schaghticoke.

In June of 1851 a pair of self-styled “Indian doctors” named William Avery (alias William May) and Lewis Livingston, who claimed to hail from Arkansas, visited the area professing to treat any malady for a price.  The so-called doctors were well dressed and traveled in a fine carriage.  Avery was very well spoken and Livingston was or pretended to be a deaf mute, communicating by sign language, cards and a chalk board.   They boasted to have learned many secret remedies from living with western Indian tribes, a common claim in an era when medicine in America remained largely unscientific and often practiced by traveling confidence men who duped poorly educated residents with various forms of quackery.  Sarah Wager sought advice from the doctors for a minor undisclosed ailment and brought along Lany who had been sickly for some time.  The doctors had visited the households of John G. Clickner and “Squire” Charles Fake in the same general neighborhood.

Lany Wager supposedly suffered from small lesions or ulcers on her womb, clearly not malignant nor as large as the Indian doctors pretended, if any existed at all.  As one might imagine gynecological problems were treated poorly, if at all, in America at this time, and the subject of much folklore and superstition.  The supposed doctors diagnosed the serious nature of her illness merely by feeling her pulse.  Avery and Livingston told the Wagers that Lany’s ulcers could be removed using metal instruments they possessed and that they had performed this operation before; Dr. Alson Hull later testified that such a procedure was medically impossible at that time “consistent with the life of the patient.”   But these “wolves in sheep’s clothing” had other plans for Lany.   Because they claimed Lany’s situation was too serous to use the metal instruments the doctors determined a “natural insertive method” was preferable, and both men raped her a number of times on June 25th and 26th, 1851, under the pretence of administering her medical treatment.  They even demanded another dollar from her parents for an additional vial of oil needed to massage and lubricate Lany in preparation.  The “treatments” took place on a bed and chair in a locked and shrouded bedroom.  Sarah Wager listened from outside the room for fear Lany might be in pain but rather than crying heard “strange noises” from the bed which she did not like.  Following the treatments Lany could scarcely rise or walk from her chair.  Her suspicion now aroused, Sarah sent Lany’s younger sister (probably Mary, aged 17 and unmarried) into the room to inquire as to what had transpired.

Lany later testified that following a couple of these “natural treatments” she became aware that the doctors had intentions beyond merely “applying” their medicines to her womb.  She stated that she had never before had “connection” with any man and once the doctors forbade her to tell anyone about how they had cured her of the ulcers she realized their nefarious intentions and informed her parents.  Lany Wager was no simpleton.  She was merely a naïve, trusting country girl who had never dated a man.  She could read and write and clearly attended the local one-room school for a number of grades.  Her testimony at the “trial” of the so-called doctors was very forceful and articulate.

A warrant was secured for their arrest but they had already left Montgomery Hall in Saratoga Springs where they were staying and (Avery in the company of a “young lady” he claimed to be his wife) but they were apprehended soon thereafter in Troy and brought before Justice Isaac Ransom in Lansingburgh for a “criminal examination,” the equivalent of a modern grand jury.  Marcus L. Filley conducted the examination for the court and both Sarah and Lany Wager gave detailed and consistent testimony.  The defendants made no statements before the Justice’s Court.  They were committed to Rensselaer County Jail for trail on charges of rape and conspiracy.  But no such trial would ever take place.

Copyright 2013 by Warren F. Broderick.  Reproduction of all or part of this article requires the author’s written permission.

End of Part 1. To be continued.........

Truth Stranger Than Fiction: The Tragedy and Triumph of

Lany Wager Rose (Part 2)

WARREN F. BRODERICK

It seems that her father, William Wager, had filed a civil suit against the perpetrators to recover the $11 he had paid them.  Once his money had been repaid by the doctors they were granted bail of $250 each by Judge Ira Harris of Albany, apparently unaware that they had been remanded without bail for the criminal trial as being flight risks.  The so-called “Indian doctors” fled, never to return.  In the interim Justice Ransom had received a number of communications from other parts of the state concerning their dastardly activities.  A gentleman in Bainbridge, Chenango County, claimed they absconded with his teen-age daughter, May/Avery professing she wished to become his bride.  Complaints from other victims locally who received their unique treatments for female medical issues abounded, but the doctors were nowhere to be found.  No one has yet determined if the doctors were really from Arkansas or if they even used their real names.  The veracity of any of their claims is highly unlikely.

The local press condemned the actions of Judge Harris and their attorney, Samuel Stover, and branded the doctors as fiends incarnate.  But in a few weeks news about this notorious case had disappeared from their newspapers.  William J. Lamb, Editor of the Lansingburgh Democrat, determined to memorialize the crimes by publishing a small 15-page pamphlet entitled Truth Stranger than Fiction . . .  The pamphlet sold for 12 ½ cents and the Lansingburgh Historical Society owns a copy.  The only other known copies are held by the New York Historical Society and the American Antiquarian Society. 

Editor Lamb published the “horrid details” with “considerable reluctance” in order that “their perusal will place the public upon their guard against all traveling [sic] pretenders and prevent their successful practicing of such horrid impositions in the future.”  He added that the case “was without parallel in the criminal history of this country.”  Research conducted to date has revealed any additional information on the Indian doctors and their activity.  Of course no one knows what other names they used in their felonious masquerade.

On their way to jail following the initial committal May/Avery remarked that they had accomplished their intended purpose, and that “the girl was a d—m fool to tell, for who would marry her now?”  But Lany Wager would survive and prove the perpetrators so very wrong.

Most have assumed that Lany Wager did not live much longer and remained a “spinster” because of her health problems and the stigma held by many rape victims in America in this era.  She remained at home until the late 1850s when she moved to Troy to board with her cousin, Francis Wager, and his family on North Fourth Street.   By 1868 she had returned to Pittstown and was now the wife of Mynard (or Minard) Rose.  They resided on Brundage Road in the same house as the family of a cousin, Charles F. Wager, in 1870.  Mynard Rose, born in 1807, appears to not have been previously married before meeting Lany.  Lany’s younger sister, Nancy, born in 1842, had previously married Mynard Rose, Jr., a son of Edward Rose, a nephew of Lany’s husband.

Mynard Rose Sr. and Lany had a daughter, Minnie, born in 1868.  Minnie Rose married Merritt Haviland (1863-1951) and died on February 24, 1900; Merritt afterwards remarried Harriet Roberts.  Merritt and Minnie Haviland had a son, Walter, born February 25, 1895, and a two daughters, Colista May, born in 1893 and Emma, born in 1896.   Colista May married Frank H. Reed and Emma married Frederick Wier.  It is not known with absolute certainty if any descendants survive today but I have spoken with a possible great-great-great granddaughter.

Lany Wager Rose died March 16, 1901 in Pittstown.  She and her husband, Mynard, who had predeceased her in 1874, are interred in the Methodist Episcopal Cemetery in Tomhannock.  The Pittstown Town Clerk, Jessie A. Pruyn, recorded her occupation as a “lady” possibly suggestive of her laudatory character, since she certainly was not a wealthy woman.  One wonders, 50 years after suffering an unspeakable crime, if local residents remembered her ordeal and how she triumphed over it.  Her father, William Wager, died in 1877, and his estate reveals that in 1863 he had set aside a legacy of $300 for Lany “if not paid before his decease.”  Had he finally regretted paying the “Indian doctors” the $11 to unwittingly allow her to be subjected to a sexual assault under the pretences of giving her medical treatment?

Copyright 2013 by Warren F. Broderick.  Reproduction of all or part of this article requires the author’s written permission.




 

 
The Tragic Life and Death of
Charles W. Hasbrouck
 

Warren F. Broderick

Lansingburgh, N.Y.

February 2012 

Charles William Hasbrouck seemed to have a promising future when he was born to Peter Hasbrouck and Ann Montgomery in Albany on March 23, 1815.  His father, descended from an early Huguenot family from New Paltz, was a highly-regarded Albany accountant.  Charles moved to Lansingburgh in 1822 to apprentice under his uncle, William Montgomery, owner of a successful apothecary store on State Street (Second Avenue).  He entered the Lansingburgh Academy in 1826 where he excelled in chemistry and pharmacopoeia, graduating in 1832.  He entered Union College in Schenectady, graduating in 1835.  At Union he was said to possess “no small share of brilliant talents” including oratory, wit, and poetics, but at the same time was described as “one of the ‘hard cases.’”  He was admitted to the bar but never pursued a career as a practicing attorney.  Charles remained in the apothecary business with his uncle until the death of William Montgomery on April 11, 1850. 

William Montgomery’s estate totaled more than $42,000 and Charles Hasbrouck, as Executor and principal heir, received circa $30,000, including the apothecary store on the corner of State and Elizabeth Streets (Second Avenue and 116th Street) and its contents.  A detailed listing of the medicines and other contents of the apothecary store was conducted as needed for probate for the Rensselaer County Surrogate’s Court---the original has been preserved by the Rensselaer County Historical Society.  Tall and handsome, Charles was surely one of Lansingburgh’s most eligible bachelors.  On the first of June, 1852, he was married by Rev. C.W. Hewes of the Baptist Church to Lucinda J. Hannings, at 27 years of age considered by many to be the most beautiful woman in Lansingburgh.  Lucinda appears to have come from rural northern Saratoga County to work as a seamstress in the tailoring business of Charles Clark as she was rooming with them in the 1850 census. 

On July 22nd of the previous year Charles Hasbrouck purchased lots 235 and 236 on the west side of John Street (Fourth Avenue) in the Third Division of the Village of Lansingburgh from Miriam, the widow of Alexander Walsh, for $2,500.  He constructed an impressive late Greek revival temple-form house with Italianate details as a present for his bride, and it was numbered 170 John Street (street numbering was updated in Lansingburgh to the present system in the late 1860s); their house was assessed at $1,700.  In March of 1857 their only child, a daughter named Jane Ann, nicknamed Jennie, was born there.  That year Charles served as Lansingburgh Town Clerk.  A prosperous businessman, a loving couple, a lovely young daughter, and a handsome new home would seem to be the ingredients for happiness.  No one in Lansingburgh could have imagined the series of tragic events that would soon follow over the succeeding thirty years. 

The Hasbrouck world was shattered when their lovely little daughter, Jennie, passed away on the first of February, 1859.  Two days later she was interred in the Trinity Episcopal Churchyard cemetery located on the same street where the family resided.  Her grave was marked with a small marble marker with a tiny lamb on top.  The exact cause of Jennie’s death was not recorded and did not have to be determined at that date.  The state of medicine at the time remained very primitive and child mortality was high by today’s standards.  For some reason or reasons Jennie’s death devastated her parents more so than most.  She was their only child and possibly her mother could not bear another.  Or did the administration of some medicine from her father’s apothecary store hasten her demise?  Or did Charles feel responsible for failing to give his daughter medication? 

The Hasbroucks never recovered from their little girl’s death.  They could no longer live in their beautiful new home.  By 1860 they had moved to a modest apartment in the apothecary store.  In 1862 they sold their former home to George Dauchy.  Lucinda was said to never appear in public again except in her mourning dress and shrouded her face from view behind a black veil.  She wandered the streets of Lansingburgh so attired and often visited the grave of her little girl.  She wasted away and departed this world on May 9th, 1867, still only 41 years of age.  “Humbly and lovingly” her husband committed “the faultless woman and faithful wife who lingered long at Marah’s bitter well” to a place in Trinity churchyard alongside her daughter.  Charles wrote in Lucinda’s obituary in the Lansingburgh Gazette: 

“Even when the opening rose was bursting into beauty in her cheerful home, the sunshine of that home departed and a shadow has fallen there which the light of long life will never prevail to overcome. . . . The remaining years allotted to her survivor will be alternately sad and rejoicing to know that there was one on earth of late, so gentle, so lovely, so beloved as she had go e to the company which is gathered of the beloved of all nations and at all times in that beautiful country, that far away country where there is no night . . . “ 

He concluded in praying that a reunion would be near “under a sky where trouble and temptation never come and where clouds of sorrow never roll.” 

The life of Charles Hasbrouck continued to spiral downward.  The loss of his wonderful wife and child, whom he idolized, “seemed to strangely dishearten him,” recalled a local newspaper editor, “and intemperance, that rock on which many a fair barque has been stranded and wrecked proved to be his ruin.”  After losing his property and his apothecary business and squandering what remained of his inheritance, Charles boarded at the tavern of his Uncle and Aunt, George and Sally McAuley at 630 State Street (Second Avenue).  He was given a part-time job as a street inspector by the Village of Lansingburgh, likely out of sympathy for his many misfortunes.  In 1876 or 1877 Charles admitted himself to the celebrated New York State Inebriate Asylum in Binghamton.  He returned to Lansingburgh in the summer of 1878, “a reformed man and with a strong desire in his hearth to lead a Godly, upright life.”  In spite of his life filled with tragedy, he had not given up all hope and composed this brief poem:

 "Now deemed the irrevocable past

As wholly wasted, wholly vain.

If rising on its wrecks at last

To something nobler we attain.” 

But the world of Charles Hasbrouck suddenly came to an end.  On September 26th, 1878 he traveled to Albany to visit his brother-in-law, James S, Wood.  Shortly after breakfast he took a seat in Mr. Wood’s parlor and suddenly fell to the floor, expiring in a few minutes.  Physicians pronounced it a case of apoplexy but there had been no obvious signs that a major stroke was about to strike him down. 

The news of his death both saddened and stunned his friends in Lansingburgh as he had seemed to be in perfect health the previous day.  The Editor of the Lansingburgh Gazette commented that Hasbrouck 

‘Was a man of great ability, and with his endowments ought to have stood high in the estimation and respect of his fellow men.  He was quite gifted as a poet, and some verses which he has written are very pathetic and beautiful.  Now that he has gone, not a few will shed a tear over the grave of a man who had a tender heart for all mankind.’ 

The Editor of the Lansingburgh Courier, remarked that

‘Residents will recollect Mr. Hasbrouck as a genial, courteous gentleman who was always ready to lend a helping hand to a fellow creature in distress.  His faults will be blotted out by the good deeds he has done, and none will remember him with aught but the kindest feelings.’ 

The funeral of Charles W. Hasbrouck took place at Trinity churchyard on Saturday morning, September 28th, 1878 at 10 AM.  Few attended the burial and his open casket was viewed in the churchyard.  His appearance was strikingly lifelike, having every semblance of a person in calm repose.  He had requested only that a poem of his be read at his funeral.  The poem, “Trinity Cemetery---the Old Church and the New,” had been composed in 1875.  The “old” church was a wooden structure constructed in 1804-1805 which had burned on December 23, 1868, and replaced the following year by the current Gothic Revival stone structure.  The Hasbroucks belonged to the Trinity congregation and Charles had served on the Vestry between 1844 and 1846.  The second half of the poem dealt with Charles Hasbrouck’s sorrow over the loss of his dear wife and daughter: 

The Tragic Life and Death of Charles W. Hasbrouck (continued)

 

Warren F. Broderick

Lansingburgh, N.Y.

February 2012

 

‘By the little brown chapel, O ere I go hence,

How I still love to linger and lean on the fence,

And call back the tears I so gushingly shed

O’er the half-hidden graves with the branches o’erspread;

O, keeper of jewels, O love undefiled

When I turned broken-hearted from mother and child.

 

The child was so fair, was an Eden to me

To toss it high up in its innocent glee;

It seemed like a cherub so lovingly lent,

And it was!  And I knew when the message was sent

O’ I hated to give up this jewel of mine,

For I know not my God, ‘twas a plaything of Thine.

 

Seven long years I have stood alone,

And heard the red robin o the burial stone;

Seven long years by the half-opened gate,

Have I turned back and looked for my beautiful mate;

And my home!  Oh, I have none, but the door is ajar,

And I listed and think she’s not gone far.

 

My sun is declining, my years nearly told,

The air is so bleak, and my hands are so cold

I can scarcely untie this white little box,

With the marriage ring hid in the dark raven locks;

And this far-away letter I hold on my knee,

“T’was sealed with pure kisses and written to me;

O’ sometimes I’m childish, and then again wild,

Since the mother went out to look for her child!

 

Come when thy gay heart is bounding the lightest,

Secure the high prize, the dearest, the brightest;

Ere the flowers thy hands are exultingly holding,

Shall fade with the years that thy life is unfolding

And pleasure had taken her flight, and a spell

Shall have broken the vase at Marah’s deep well.

 

O’ God of my youth, I am fast growing old;

The day is dreary; I am lonely and cold;

In humility’s garb, in this beautiful spot,

With all my sins forgiven, my follies forgot,

When darkness and trouble are thick overhead,

I would hide away softly with Trinity’s dead.

 

‘Tis Twilight!  Night’s shadows are stealing along,

Faintly the elm bows echo my burial song;

By the two little headstones, O, cover my rest

Though so humble and lowly, and so wintry drest;

They will change their white garments when spring comes around,

And the dear little violets will start from the ground.’

 

Charles Hasbrouck was interred next to his wife and child along the north boundary of the churchyard but his grave was never marked until now.  While Charles and Lucinda Hasbrouck were clearly devastated by the loss of their little daughter, the extent of their grief appears striking given they lived in an era when doctoring and medicine were still rather unsophisticated and unscientific and many persons suffered premature death from cholera, consumption, and other diseases.  Likewise deaths of children rarely merited press coverage beyond simple obituaries.  Death certificates were not required by law until 1881 and causes of death were not investigated unless foul play seemed blatantly evident.

 Copyright 2012 by Warren F. Broderick. This cannot be reproduced without the author’s explicit written permission

..

The following article by David Marsh will continue in future editions of the Newsletter.

THE TRACYS: WEALTH, PHILANTHROPY AND SCANDAL

DAVID MARSH

You will recall an earlier article in our Newsletter about Keating Rawson, the Irish immigrant who established a malt house and tannery in Lansingburgh, was instrumental in bringing the Roman Catholic Church to this region, and purchased the land at 107th Street for the Old Catholic Burying Ground. Rawson had a business partnership with John Tracy, another Irish immigrant. In 1820 Tracy married Sara Rawson, Keating Rawson’s daughter. The couple lived briefly in Manhattan, but established themselves in Lansingburgh where John Tracy expanded the malt house business. He continued to have business connections in NYC, selling malt to a number of brewers in the Hudson Valley region.

Sara and John Tracy had five children. Edward was the oldest. It is important to note that Keating Rawson’s will had named an Edwin as a grandchild, not an Edward. It may have been that this first child of the Tracy’s born in 1824 was named Edwin at birth, but became known as Edward later in life. He is known as Edward throughout his adult life and in all of his business affairs.

In 1827 Sara Catherine Tracy was born. She was followed by Eustace Rawson Tracy in 1831 (named for Annie Eustace Rawson, her grandmother). Anna Eustace Tracy, also named for her grandmother, came along in 1832. John Keating Tracy was the last born in 1833. He died less than six months after his birth. Sara, with no “h”, is the translated Irish spelling but this same lady’s name is found in many places with a final “h”.

Sara Tracy was a student at a Sacred Heart Convent School. These were schools for young women started by an order of French nuns; the Sisters of the Sacred Heart. The first school in the eastern US was started in New York City in 1840. French language was a major part of the core of instruction. Later a school was established in Albany around 1859. The Albany school in later times became the Kenwood Academy of the Sacred Heart. It merged with an Episcopal school to become the Doane Stuart School and has separated from that merger just recently. It is unclear whether Sara attended the school in Albany or in New York City where she had Tracy relatives.

An 1839 Catalogue of the Lansingburgh Academy names Sara Tracy as a student. Miss Harriet White would have been her teacher and the Rev. Ebeneezer Maltbie, Principal of the Lansingburgh Academy. The Trustees and officers of the Academy in 1839 include many well known Lansingburgh business and professional men. Among them were the Rev. Phineas Whipple, Frederick Leonard M.D., Jacob Lansing, the Rev. P. F. Phelps, Elias Parmelee, and John Taylor M.D. Many of Sara’s fellow students were children of the officers and other prominent Burghers. The names include Blatchford, two Filley boys, a Knickerbacker, several Lansings, a Powers, a Treadwell, several Hawkins, and a few Yates children. Twelve year old Sara was in the company of children not only from Lansingburgh but as far away as Wisconsin, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Georgia and communities in the Hudson and Mohawk Valley area. The Lansingburgh Academy, which building we know as the Lansingburgh Branch of the Troy Public Library, had become well know as a place to educate young Americans. Sara would later become a teacher in the Lansingburgh Academy.

Sara C. and Anna Tracy were educated at the Albany Female Academy. It began in 1819 and was the first American female preparatory school. That institution was located near the present Academy Park, north of the present NYS Capitol and west of the present Albany City Hall. While attending the Academy, Sara lived in the home of a French professor and his wife. Sara was part of what we would call today a language immersion program. All of the instruction as well as the non-curricular activities were done in the French language. It was meant to produce fluency in the language, and also with learning European French culture, while studying the philosophy, science, mathematics, geography and literature of the time. Anna was part of a different program which emphasized the same subjects but taught them in English. Albany Female Academy was a boarding school and drew students from eastern New York State and adjacent New England. The Albany Female Academy became the Albany Academy for Girls, now part of The Albany Academies.

Anna Eustace Tracy met and married William Cagger. He was the brother of Peter Cagger, a prominent lawyer and Democrat politician in New York State.  William Cagger had been a business man in Albany and later was employed at the New York Customs House. The Caggers made their home in a very fashionable part of Brooklyn. He died in 1880 while working at the Customs House.

Anna and William had one son who lived to adulthood. Their son, William, began his working life as a clerk for a glass manufacturer that produced containers for the pharmaceutical industry. He stayed with the company and eventually became the owner.

He was an avid sportsman and member of several yachting clubs. He never married.  By 1895 he became ill with cirrhosis and retired from the glass business. He had income from a number of investments, some of which he acquired when his uncle Edward Tracy died in 1898, leaving him $50 000.                                       

To be continued……….

© COPYRIGHT   2014  by David Marsh. Not to be reproduced in whole or part except with the author’s written permission.

       

NEWSLETTER

LANSINGBURGH HISTORICAL SOCIETY
P.O. BOX 219, Lansingburgh, NY 12182-0219

www.lansingburghhistoricalsociety.org our web address

lhssecretary@gmail.com our email address

www.facebook.com/LansingburghHistorical our Facebook page

1
The
Courier
Bi-monthly newsletter
of the
Lansingburgh Historical Society
June, 2014
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
The winds of change are blowing
Beginning with this issue our newsletter will take on a new look, upgrade the scope of the reporting and attempt to include everyone’s ideas. This will only be accomplished with input and direction from the entire membership. Therefore, I am asking everyone for suggestions relative to the content and format of this communication.
For this issue I am using “The Courier” as the name of the newsletter only because three different Lansingburgh newspapers were published under that name. I am soliciting your thoughts on a permanent name. That and all your suggestions can be sent to me at jijo1944@comcast.net.
I am using a two column format for this issue. Do you like this or the traditional single column? A new feature will be “Then and now” where images of historic Burgh buildings are shown side by side as they were and how they are. Each issue will also feature Burgh trivia, reports from LHS officers, photos and upcoming events.
One additional feature I would like to incorporate is a mailbag. Members could write in and ask questions, offer suggestions, discuss the Burgh of their youth and offer constructive ideas for the future
More next issue

From the President
Our newsletter has a new look! We now call it The Courier, following the name of an early Lansingburgh newspaper. The Lansingburgh Courier began publishing on Christmas Eve in 1875. Isaac Lansing VanVoast and William H. Engel published it. Look for a story about these men in a future edition of The Courier.
It is not too late to buy your tickets for the Clam Steam, Steak and Chicken Roast on August 16. See details in Events & Programs below. Look forward to seeing many of you.
The Audit Committee consisting of Peg Parnell, Byron Moak and Michael Barrett is in the process of selecting an accounting firm to do the first audit of the Historical Society in many years. Rules of the NYS Board of Regents require periodic audit of historical societies that it charters. LHS was first chartered in 1965.
We are in the process of repairing and upgrading the porch at Melville House.
Last August Keith Austin and Erv Stevens called me about volunteering to do a landscape design for the yard/garden area behind Melville House. They are Master Gardeners here in Troy and have been working on three designs which will vary in cost to build and maintain. This is a real benefit and cost saving for LHS. These services can be very expensive. Keith will present his work to the trustees at their June meeting and make recommendations on how to preserve the perennial material already in the yard. We may be able to get some volunteers from Lansingburgh Rotary to help with our garden plans.

The annual Earth Day cleanup took place recently at the Lansingburgh Village Burying Ground. Leslie Tash began with cleanup of the sidewalk along Third Avenue. We have surveyed the slate flags along both 107th Street cemeteries. Some require resetting while others are broken and require replacement. We may be able to acquire recycled slate flagstones for the replacements. On May 20 John Ward and David Marsh will met with Chris Connell from the Troy Irish Genealogical Society to discuss their assistance with our cemetery work. We are planning to obtain signs for both cemeteries. The old sign at LVBG is no longer readable and the sign at the Old Catholic Burying Ground has been missing for several years. John Ward heads up the Committee on Cemeteries.
On May 14 four people were elected to the Lansingburgh Historical Society Board of Trustees. Gail Beckett and Liz VanBuren are returning to the board and Mary Ellen Kelleher and Leslie Tash are newly elected. They begin serving July 1st for 3 yrs.
LHS recently became a member of the Museum Association of New York. MANY is an organization that brings together museums, historical societies and related organizations of all kinds and sizes to help preserve our heritage. It provides training and guidance to those who either work or volunteer their time to their organizations.
David Marsh

Then & Now
Lansingburgh Academy
The Lansingburgh Academy was incorporated in 1795 and the charter signed by John Jay and DeWitt Clinton. A wooden building was constructed in 1796 on two lots on the west side of the Village Green between 112th and 113th Street.
The Academy bought two lots in 1820 on the NW corner of 4th Avenue and 114th Street from the Baptist Society for $100, the same amount the Society had paid when it purchased the land from Levinus and Catherine Lansing. Here they built the 194 year old brick building that still stands today. It was a private school and two well-known attendees were Chester Arthur and Herman Melville. In 1901 the building was leased to the Lansingburgh Free School District No. 1 to be used as a high school until a new one could be built. Building was sold to the School District in 1911, nine years after the addition was added to the north side of the building.
The building has continually housed education functions over the years. It was an elementary school while two new ones were being built and has also served as the Lansingburgh Branch of the Troy Public Library for many years.

The Tracys:
Wealth, Philanthropy & Scandal
David Marsh
(Continuing from April Newsletter)
In January 1901, William Cagger sets off from New York with his friend Steven Golding to Ashville, North Carolina. The purpose of the trip was to be rest and recuperation from William’s cirrhosis. The two get as far as Richmond, VA when Cagger suddenly has an acute attack and decides he must stop for a few days at the famous Jefferson Hotel in Richmond, VA. Cagger’s condition worsens and he asks Golding to summon his attorney and bookkeeper so he can make a will. Attorney John Foley is called to come from Saratoga Springs and Charles E. Dusenberry from Troy. The two arrive in Richmond, but too late for William Cagger to sign his will. No earlier will having been made, Cagger is intestate.
Fortunately or unfortunately Foley and Dusenberry have been serving the Tracy family for many years and it does not take long for the news of Caggers death to get to the legal heirs. They include the four living children of William Cagger’s brother Peter. They are Mary C. Cagger who resides at the Convent of the Sacred Heart in Albany; Peter Cagger II, William C. Cagger and Susanna Cagger, all of whom were in Europe. Each of the four was entitled to one-eighth of the estate. The other legal heir, who had asked the court to appoint her administratrix along with Dusenberry (who knew what assets there were and what debts were owed) was Sara C Tracy, aunt of the deceased, whose share would be half of the estate. Sara had been living in Paris for a year when the death occurred. It’s important to point out here that Sara C. Tracy received little or nothing when Edward died, but Edward left to William Cagger $50,000 cash. Sara and Edward had not spoken to one another for twenty-five years before his death. Sara felt she had not gotten her share of the family fortune when Edward died. She wanted to recover what she felt she was owed by the Tracy family.
Edward appears to have learned the skills of entrepreneurship on the job from his father’s malting business. He was eighteen years old when his father died. Lansingburgh was close to grain production sources and was a river terminal for shipping. Edward eventually expanded from one malt house to four by 1860. Tracy malt was supplying brewers not just locally but along the Hudson River.
By 1870, because of its location on the Hudson River, Lansingburgh had become a grain marketing center. Grain arriving in Lansingburgh that was not processed there was shipped downstream to Albany. The 1870 Census of Industry showed that in that year alone Tracy was processing 200,000 bushels of barley (valued at $180,000) and 10,000 bushels of rye (valued at $12,000) giving a total production of 210,000 bushels of malt worth $315,000. That amounts to about $5.6 MILLION in current US dollars. Tracy had a capital investment of $300,000 ($5.3 million today) in 1870. He employed 60 people whose average income wa $233/year/person. This serves to illustrate the significance of the Tracy malt business in Lansingburgh in 1870.
Tracy was also involved in several other businesses, some related to malting, others not. Samuel Bolton, an immigrant from England, got into brewing at home in Lansingburgh. After 1865 he had turned it into a business, Samuel Bolton and Sons. They sold their product under the Eagle Brewery label and it was one of the largest ale and porter brands north of New York City. Edwin Tracy’s malt was used in the brewing and Tracy owned a share of Samuel Bolton and Sons.
The New York City Directory for 1859 lists Edward Tracy as a brewer doing business at 130 Cedar Street (west side of Lower Manhattan just north of Wall Street). He also partnered with James Russell in his brewing business in New York City. Tracy was the senior partner in two breweries, 95 Greenwich Ave. and 3-5 Bank Street in Manhattan.

1873 marked the beginning of the first worldwide economic recession and depression. In the US this lasted until 1879 but went on until 1896 in much of Europe. The second industrial revolution had brought North American and European economies closer together than they had ever been. The crash began with the collapse of stock markets in Vienna and Paris. It was fueled in the US by the post-Civil War restructuring of the US economy and tight money policy. After the Civil War, the US was trying to return to the gold based currency that it had gotten away from when the war was being financed. In practical terms, the value of many types of assets decreased. Most important in New York was the value of real property. This was a time for anyone with cash to buy up real property and hold on to it until the economy recovered.
Together Tracy and Russell invested some of their beer and ale profit speculating on Manhattan property in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s streets, close to Fifth and Madison Avenues. These blocks were later bought and developed with apartment buildings and single family mansions. Such notables as Andrew Carnegie, Henry Phipps and other American industrial giants owned homes on lots in these blocks. Tracy also invested in real estate on his own in NYC and elsewhere.
Banking became another venture of Edward Tracy. In 1859 he is listed in the NYS Business Directory as President of the Rensselaer County Bank in Lansingburgh. It had capital of $200,000 (a little less than $6 million by 2013 standard). In 1852 Edward Tracy was a member of the Board of Directors of the Rensselaer Insurance Co. in Lansingburgh. The company was said to hold capital of $200,000 with several other prominent locals on the Board including J.E. Whipple, C.C. Parmalee, Wm. Bradshaw, Edwin Filley and others.
Bottom line of all this is that Edward Tracy did very well in business, much of which was held by Edward Tracy personally, not by the Tracy family. Other businesses he held jointly with partners locally and in New York City. He continued to live in the family home at 669 Second Avenue with his spinster sisters Eustace and Sara from 1850 until the early 1890’s when he and Eustace left to live in New York. For twenty-five years prior to his death he did not speak to his sister Sara Tracy. She remained in the family home on Second Avenue during this time, tutoring and teaching young men and women in French language.
While he still lived and worked in Lansingburgh, he had in his employ a carpenter named Edward Pine. Mr. Pine was best known as a mast carpenter (one who produces masts for sailing ships) but the actual work for Tracy involved general carpentry and building around the malt houses and brewery. Pine had his lunch brought to the job by his then teenage daughter Hortense. Hortense Pine was said to have visited Edward Tracy at his office in the worksite when she would deliver her father’s lunch. Mr. Tracy and Miss Pine became friends. She was physically mature for fifteen and he found her fascinating. She in turn basked in the attention of this much older man.
(To be continued)
Copyright 2014 by David Marsh, not to be reproduced in whole or part
Except with the authors written permission.
David Marsh

Events & Programs
Saturday, Aug. 2 9am-2pm, we will be hosting our 2nd Annual Herman Melville Birthday Party at the Melville House, corner of 114th St. and 1st Ave. in Lansingburgh. John Bryant, professor of English at Hofstra & secretary of the Melville Society will speak on Herman Melville. He has published many books including “Melville and Repose” (oxford), “The Fluid Text” (Michigan) and “Melville Unfolding” (Michigan). Melville House and attic museum will be open all day and books on or related to the author will be on sale. Festival is free and open to the public. Sandwiches and birthday cake will be served. Bring a birthday card for Herman and we’ll display it. Attendees are encouraged to dress in period clothing with prizes for best Victorian outfit. Coloring contest for children.

Saturday, Aug. 16 1PM 2nd Annual Clam Steam, Steak and Chicken Roast at the Lansingburgh Vets Club Pavilion. Jointly sponsored by We Were Burghers and LHS. All proceeds benefit LHS. Raw and steamed clams, hot dogs, hamburgers, sausage & peppers, chowder beer and soda all day. Complete steak or BBQ’d chicken dinner. There will be a 50/50 raffle. Cost is $45 per person. Reservation with payment to: Marcia Chalifoux at 1108 O Street, Troy, NY 12182. State steak or chicken preference and only reservations with payment are accepted. This is a fantastic event. Hope to see a big turn out!

Thursday, September 25th @ 7pm Steve Muller, local historian and author, will speak on his book “Troy, New York and the building of the USS Monitor”. The USS Monitor was the first ironclad warship commissioned by the US Navy during the American Civil War. Mr. Muller was a US Foreign Service Officer for 26 years specializing in int’l economic issues. After retirement he worked for 12 years as a reporter for a group of electronic newsletters covering the electric utility industry. He lives in Troy and is interested in Troy’s industrial heritage. Steve grew up in the Chicago area and holds a BA in Economics from Dartmouth College.

Thursday, Oct. 2nd @ 7pm Don Rittner will speak about famous inventors of the Capital District. Mr. Rittner is a historian, archeologist, environmental activist, educator and author residing in Schenectady. In December 2004 he was named official Schenectady County Historian, responsible for providing guidance and support to municipal historians. He has since been named Schenectady County Historian. He has published 30 books in history, science and technology, including a book on Lansingburgh which is available for purchase at the Melville House.

Thursday, Oct. 16th @6pm Tom Martin, author and blogger, will read his fiction novel “Murder in the Burgh”. November 22 was a sad day for many Americans there was another November 22 in 1886 & it takes the combined efforts of Chester A. Arthur, Herman Melville & Theodore Roosevelt to solve a 50 year old murder mystery. Melville is a 195 year old boy who wants to go to sea and write about it but is stuck in Lansingburgh, NY. He must solve the mystery of stolen rifles and the murder of an abolitionist so his family can keep their home. Tom Martin was born and raised in Lansingburgh and lived in the house where many of the scenes in the book took place.

Friday, Oct. 31st @ 6pm Annual Halloween party. Door prize for best costume.
Thursday, Nov. 13 @ 6pm Melville House will host our annual Holiday party. We will auction a number of items suitable for holiday gift giving: small antiques, collectables, Christmas books and holiday ornaments. Proceeds to Melville House restoration fund.

Thursday, Nov. 20th @ 7pm at the Melville House. Gary Robusto, founder of Tri-City NY Paranormal Society will speak on paranormal research.

Additional info on all events can be obtained by calling the Society @ 235-3501.

Join the Lansingburgh Historical Society
Our membership year begins on April 1st. Those joining in January, February or March extend their membership through the next membership year. Consider upgrading your regular membership to a sustaining membership or either of those to a life membership. Encourage friends to join! Regular Membership is $5/yr. [$15/yr.], Sustaining Membership is $25/yr. [$40/yr.], Life Membership is $100yr. [$150/yr.], Senior/Student Membership is [$5/yr]. after July 1 and Professional/Corporate Membership is [$200/yr.] after 1 July. Donations always welcomed!
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Lansingburgh Historical Society
PO Box 219
Troy, New York 12182-0219

The Lansingburgh Historical Society