In 1910, editor Frederick Hills put out a tome through the Argus Press titled “New York State Men: Biographic Studies and Character Portraits.” It opens with a slightly pompous foreword by Bishop Doane (“One reads the life story, often, in a face….”) and goes on to list any number of men of accomplishment, those still known and those forgotten, in absolutely no apparent order at all. It begins with a brief paragraph on Theodore Roosevelt and then moves on to a slightly longer paragraph revealing that our 22nd and 24th president was, in fact, Stephen Cleveland; “Grover” was but his middle name. It moves on to former Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court Rufus William Peckham, and then gets a bit obscure. Let’s pick through a few Albany-related names that Hills found worthy of note a century and five ago.
One name still notable to those familiar with the history of the State Normal School was William James Milne. “Educator, since 1889 president of the State Normal College at Albany, was born in Scotland in 1843, the son of Charles and Jean (Black) Milne . . . [In 1889] he removed to Albany and became the president of the State Normal College in the Capital City, which position he now holds. Some of the most successful business and professional men of the Empire State have had Dr. Milne as their professor. He is the author of a series of twenty-five volumes of mathematical text-books, the first of which was issued in 1876, and which are considered standard works on mathematics. He has frequently contributed to educational journals, principally on subjects of interest to educators, and his articles have been widely read and commented upon. In 187 Dr. Milne married Miss Eliza J. Gates, or Warsaw. His address is 5 Elk Street, Albany.”
Marcus Tullius Hun, whose name I don’t believe I’ve ever run across before, appears to have done all the things a proper 19th-century Albanian should have done:
“Lawyer, was born at Albany, N.Y., May 22, 1845, son of the late Dr. Thomas Hun. After studying at private schools in Massachusetts and at the Albany Boys Academy he entered Union College and was graduated in 1865. He attended the Albany law School, and upon graduation was admitted to the bar and commenced the practice of law at Albany as a partner of Orlando Meads. He afterwards entered into partnership with his brother, Leonard G. Hun, under the firm name of M.T. & L.G. Hun. After the death of his brother he was associated with Russell Johnston and Learned Hand until 1902, when Mr. Hand removed to New York and Mr. Hun formed a new firm with his son-in-law, Lewis R. Parker, and the firm name was changed to Hun & Parker. In 1874 Mr. Hun was appointed Supreme Court Reporter, which position he held until the fall of 1905. On November 16, 1909, Mr. Hun was elected president of the Albany Savings Bank, in accepting which position he resigned as a director of the New York State National Bank, having a short time previously thereto resigned as a director of the Albany Trust Company. Mr. Hun is a trustee of the Albany Law School, one of the chapter of All Saints’ Cathedral and a charter member of the Fort Orange Club. On June 13, 1905, the board of trustees of Union College conferred upon him the honorary degree of LL. D. In 1875 he married Miss Mary K. Van Der Poel, a daughter of the late Isaac Van Der Poel, at one time Adjutant-General of the State. Mr. Hun’s home is at 31 Elk Street, Albany.”
Any positions in banking or society that weren’t held by Marcus Hun were held by Robert Clarence Pruyn.
“Banker and business man, was born at Albany, N.Y., October 23, 1847. He attended the Albany Boys Academy and was graduated from Rutgers’ College in 1869. He was for a time an attache to the American legation at Tokio [sic], then presided over by his father, the Hon. Robert H. Pruyn, for many years American minister to Japan. He served not he staff of Governor Dix, of New York, and on February 13, 1901, was elected by the Legislature a Regent of the University of the State of New York, and served until 1903. He was for several years a Park Commissioner of Albany. Mr. Pruyn is president of the National Commercial Bank of Albany, vice-president of the Municipal Gas Company and a director of the Union Trust Company. He is a member of the Philip Livingston Chapter, Sons of the Revolution; Albany Institute and Historical and Art Society; Holland Society, of New York; Century Association, and the University and the Metropolitan Clubs, of New York City; the Fort Orange, the Albany, the Albany Country and the University Clubs, of Albany, and is a vestryman at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church. On October 22, 1873, he married Miss Anna M. Williams, daughter of the late Chauncey P. Williams, a prominent banker, of Albany. Mr. Pruyn resides at 7 Englewood Place, Albany.”