Category Archives: Schenectady

Long Distance, Get Me Schenectady

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The Edison Hotel, State and Wall Streets. From the Schenectady County Historical Society.

The Edison Hotel, State and Wall Streets. You could make a phone call there! From the Schenectady County Historical Society.

Yesterday we listed a number of public places, businesses, and private citizens in 1895 Albany who had telephones on the American Telephone & Telegraph long distance service. Even though the national directory of such subscribers only ran to about 480 pages, Albany was well-represented, as one of the larger cities in the country (about 189,000 people) and also one of the most commercially important, and there were simply too many subscribers, easily more than 600, to begin to list them all.

In Schenectady, however, that was not the case. Once (in 1800) tied with Albany for population,  the not-yet-Electric City was growing quickly in the 1890s but was still probably about in the mid-20,000s range in 1895 (Albany was over 50,000), and its prosperity wasn’t yet to the point where the demand for telephones connected to the long distance system was high. In fact, including some suburban stations, there were only about 61 customers of the system in Schenectady.

There were four public telephone stations, listed as H. DeKeiter in the Myers Block (probably the hotel, now the site of the Wedgeway Building), Wm. Sauter (pharmacist) and A. Stock on State Street, and the Hotel Edison, also on State. The General Electric Company had one telephone listed (one!), whereas the Schenectady Railway Company had three (office, barn, and station). The Westinghouse Agricultural Works on Dock Street had service, as did the Empire State Knitting Co. on Brandywine. The Daily Gazette had a telephone, as did Ellis Hospital, but it doesn’t appear that City Hall did. Howe & Co., manufacturer of whiffletrees, had long distance phone service, as did the Schenectady Bank, the Schenectady Brewing Co., and the Schwartzchild & Sulzberger Beef Company. Frank H. Dettbarn, who was listed in the Blue Book for Albany, Troy and Schenectady, and at some point was the county coroner, had two telephones: one at his residence at 149 Nott Terrace and one at 31 South Centre (now Broadway).

Other than the Schenectady County Jail and perhaps, in a sense, the Schenectady County Superintendent of the Poor, only two of the businesses with telephones in Schenectady in 1895 are still businesses with telephones in Schenectady in 2016: The then one-year-old Daily Gazette (which has since changed its name to Schenectady and then changed it back), and the General Electric Company, which probably has more than one telephone these days.

Union College Alumni in the Civil War

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We ran across an interesting tome by the title of “Union College Alumni in the Civil War,” and thought we might try to give a little rundown of the alumni of the little Schenectady college, founded in 1795, who had served both the Union and the Confederacy. How much work could that be?

As it turns out, if we tried to even gloss the information in Thomas Fearey’s 1915 book, we’d be at it all week. Union College alumni were all over the Civil War, not just recent graduates or those who finished their studies during or shortly after the term of the war, but even those who had graduated 40 and more years before. That seems remarkable, but of course the Civil War was singular in a number of ways. Has there been another war in which active members of Congress served?

Two members of the class of 1813 were represented in the Union effort. The classes of 1821 to 1829 contributed 10 men to the Union, and three to the Confederacy. The class of 1860 was the most highly represented, with 50 in the Union and 2 in the Confederate service. In all, 522 Union college alumni served the Union, and 46 served the confederacy.

In the Union Army, they included in their numbers four major generals, 10 brigadier generals, 40 colonels, 22 lieutenant colonels, 28 major, and 104 captains. In the lower ranks, there were 59 1st lieutenants, 27 2nd lieutenants, 7 sergeant majors, 20 non-commissioned officers, 71 privates, 7 paymasters, 43 chaplains, 27 surgeons and 30 assistant surgeons. Another 23 served various positions in the Navy and Marine Corps.

In the Confederate Army, Union was represented by three brigadier generals, four colonels, a lieutenant colonel, nine majors, 16 captains, 3 1st lieutenants, 2 surgeons, 2 chaplains, and a sergeant.

Sixty-one who served the Union, including a professor, were killed in battle or died in hospital; six in the confederacy suffered the same fate. Six alumni were awarded the Medal of Honor by congress for conspicuous valor in battle. They were Major General Daniel Butterfield, 1844; Chaplain Francis B. Hall, 1852; Brigadier General John F. Hartranft, 1853; Brigadier General Philip Sidney Post, 1855; Captain George Newman Bliss, 1860; Private Warren Gilman Sanborn, 1867.

William H. SewardFearey featured five alumni who “rendered distinguished services to their country during the civil war,” which included:

  • William H. Seward, ΦBK, LL.D., Class of 1820 – “He was United States Secretary of State through the war period. The evening that Lincoln was shot Seward was savagely attacked at his home, and his son, Frederick W. Seward, ΦBK, LL.D., of the Class of 1849, who was Assistant Secretary of State, was seriously hurt when trying to prevent the assassins entering his father’s room.
  • John Bigelow, ΦBK, LL.D., Class of 1835 – He was Consul General of the United States in Paris, and United States Minister to France during the war period. He rendered conspicuous services in preventing the recognition of the Confederate State.
  • Austin Blair, ΦBK, LL.D., Class of 1839 – He was War Governor of Michigan and an ardent supporter and helper of President Lincoln.
  • Preston King, LL.D., Class of 1827 – United States Senator from New York State.
  • Ira Harris, ΦBK, LL.D., Class of 1824 – United States Senator from New York State.

Only a single faculty member was featured in this listing, Elias Peissner, a native of Munich who served as a professor of German and Political Economy. “At the age of 35 he was mustered in as Lieut. Colonel 119th N.Y. Vols. To serve three years, August 9, 1862. Promoted to Colonel Sept. 1, 1862. Killed in action at Chancellorsville, Va., May 2, 1863. A Grand Army Post in Rochester, N.Y. is named for him.”

The two members of the class of 1813 were both in service of the United States Navy. Samuel Livingston Breese was a lieutenant in comment of the Crusader when the Civil War began; he was promoted to Lieut. Commander July 16, 1862, commanded the Quaker City of the South Atlantic blockading squadron in 1862-3 and the gunboat Ottawa in 1863-4. He remained in the service after the war. John J. Young was a captain in the Navy when the war began, and became a commodore on July 16, 1862.

Robert Toombs, Class of 1828, left the U.S. Senate and led the secession movement in Georgia after Lincoln’s election. “He was one of the Chief organizers of the Confederate Government, and was a prominent candidate for President. He was Secretary of State for a few months and then resigned to become Brigadier General C.S.A. in Lee’s Army. He fought with distinction at Manassas and Sharpsburg, but was too insubordinate to make a successful commander, so in 1864 he resigned and returned to Georgia. He disliked President Davis and opposed his policies. After the war he would not take the oath of allegiance so he was debarred from Congress.”

Edward Martindale, Class of 1836, served as a captain and then a lt. colonel with the 26th New Jersey Volunteers, then in 1864 served as a colonel with first the 83rd and then the 81st U.S. Colored Infantry.

Henry Wager Halleck, Class of 1837, had served as an officer in the U.S. Engineer Corps from 1839 to 1854. He became Secretary of State in California “and in 1861 offered his services to the Government and was made Major General U.S.A., Aug. 19, 1861. He was Commander in Chief of the Army from July 23, 1862 to March 9, 1864, and continued in the service after the War.” Fearey doesn’t mention that Halleck, who replaced McClellan, was known by the derogatory nickname of “Old Brains.”

James C. Duane, Class of 1844, went to West Point after graduating Union College, and went into the Engineers. He rose to the rank of Major and then became Brevet Lieut. Colonel and Brevet Colonel. “He commanded the Engineer Battalion in the siege of Yorktown, April 12 to May 4, 1862. He built the bridge over the Chickahominy, 2,000 feet long, August 12-14, 1862. He was Chief Engineer of the Army of the Potomac, Sept. 8 to Nov. 5, 1862, during the Maryland Campaign. Chief Engineer of the Department of the South, Nov. 19, 1862, to June 13, 1863, in the attacks on Fort Mcllister, Ga., and in operations against Charleston, S.C., and again Chief Engineer of the Army of the Potomac from July 15, 1863 to June 8, 1865. Brevet Brigadier General U.S.A. from March 13, 1865, for gallant and Meritorious services during the siege of Petersburg and the defeat of Lee . . . He was one of the joint commission to supervise the construction of the Washington National Monument, Oct. 11, 1886-June 30, 1888.”

There is so much more. If you want the rest of the extensive history of those who served, you can find it at the Internet Archive.

William Bolles Has Something for Country Merchants

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W.F. Bolles ad Schdy Cabinet 1855While we’re stuck in 1855, let’s take a look at this ad from the Schenectady Cabinet for the shop of William F. Bolles.

“Country merchants will find at 81 State-street, a large assortment of Paper Hangings, School Books, and Letter and Cap Paper, at New-York prices.”

We can only presume that by advertising to country merchants, Bolles was at least re-selling, if not actually wholesaling, the stock of items he was offering, presumably to general stores that dotted the region. Paper hangings are wallpaper; “cap paper” probably refers to foolscap (so named for its original watermark), or perhaps flat cap or legal cap. All were varieties of coarse paper.

His shop was at 81 State Street, but his residence, at least in 1860 (when he was listed as supplying books and stationery), was at 77 State Street; not clear whether that could have been the same or just an immediately adjacent building. Later, in 1864, he was boarding at 10 Liberty Street. Bolles was born March 23, 1819, in Connecticut. He was the son of a printer in Hartford.

Possibly Painless Dentistry

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B. Stickles DentistFrom an 1855 edition of the Schenectady Cabinet, an advertisement for B. Stickles, surgical and mechanical dentist. Let’s take “mechanical” to mean that he could create things like false teeth and bridges, not that he was a wind-up automaton. All branches of the profession carried on, and all work warranted. Chloroform or Ether administered when advisable. With our limited knowledge of mid-19th century dentistry, we’d venture it was usually advisable.

We can find nothing further about B. Stickles; he doesn’t appear in the city directory just five years later.

The Rota-Ray Map and a Blinger of a Campaign

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rota_ray_system_map_albany_schenectady_troySome time ago, the folks at All Over Albany stumbled on this great little scrolling map device, posted at the David Rumsey Map Collection. Not only is it possibly the coolest motoring map device we’ve ever seen, but it appears to have generated quite a bit of excitement in those early days of motoring in the Capital District. Well, at least it excited P.J. Kehoe, secretary of the Schenectady Club of the New York State Automobile Association. In the organization’s “Motordom,” there was clearly anticipation of the club’s membership drive, which was going to be aided by the press corps of the Rota-Ray corporation, makers of this ingenious little navigation device that allowed motorists to scroll from map to map as they traversed the state.

As MOTORDOM goes to press there is impending at Schenectady, scene of the annual meeting in October, a membership campaign that will be well worth watching from the standpoint of new methods involved and co-operative action on the part of a live wire membership.

With the slogan, “Make It Three Thousand,” the Schenectady Automobile Club, using the organization and press team of the Rota-Ray Map Systems, is putting on a blinger of a campaign. The thing has been in preparation for two weeks and with the heartiest support of the newspapers of Schenectady and vicinity the campaign is almost certain to come through with a great deal of glory for all concerned.

Noting that a “live” campaign would show the optimism of business men regardless of what business conditions may seem like, Kehoe’s report said that the auto industry was on the edge of another boom that would herald the “resumption of normalcy.” Enrollment in the auto club was 1200, and they were seeking a 200 percent increase from the 9000 car owners in the district.

Of course there are always certain people in a community that join the automobile club annually as a matter of course, but on the other hand there are more who have to be shown and led to righteousness by means of personal and individual effort.

The big feature of the campaign was to be a “transcontinental race” with cars entered by “practically every dealer in Schenectady – nearly 40 all told.” The race was to start in Schenectady’s public market, with Mayor Lunn firing the starter pistol. It turns out it wasn’t a race at all, but a competition in which dealers and others racked up “miles” and passed certain cities as checkpoints according to the number of new automobile club members they signed up – and the Gazette routinely reported this “race” in ways that made it appear it wasn’t out of the ordinary. “Running parallel with this are all sorts of stunts to put the jazz into the ten big days when the automobile and the Automobile Club of Schenectady will occupy the center of attention in that immediate vicinity.”

The president of the club, E.D. Manson, and his “live” board of directors, with the assistance of the Rota-Ray organization, were able to add “uncorkable pep” to the campaign, which was to mobilize city officials, organizations, theaters, and Boy Scouts “into a big mobile driving force that is going to move things.”

The Schenectady Gazette of Sept. 16, 1921, headlined one story “Arrows Point Out Motorists’ Duty”:

This morning Schenectady awakens to the slogan “Follow the Arrow” After the city went to bed at midnight, cars with bundles of cardboard arrows departed from the club headquarters at the Mohawk hotel for the various through-routes leading into Schenectady and from the outskirts of the city brought long lines of the markers into the business section with the club headquarters at the Mohawk hotel as the focal point. All motor car owners of Schenectady who have not yet become members of the club are asked to “Follow the Arrow” and “sign up.”

Barringer & Co., The New York Store!

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Barringer's adBack in 1855, one of the finest stores in Schenectady, New York, was Barringer & Co. (“The New-York Store!”), at 87 State Street. In this ad, they proclaimed that they were now receiving, and offering for sale (a good move, business-model-wise), a complete assortment of British, French and German staple and fancy dry goods, including rich black and colored silks, new mousselin (similar to muslin) delaines, brocha long shawls, cloths and cassimers, linen shirting and sheeting, and carpeting, oil cloth, matting and more. “The extent and variety of our stock, and low prices, are unequalled by any other house in the trade.”

1855 happens to be the year that an ambitious gentleman by the name of Howland S. Barney bought into the Barringer Company; it would only be three years before he would buy out his partners and establish H.S. Barney Co. He built a landmark department store further up State Street in 1872; the building stands to this day, and Barney’s still stands strong in the memories of Schenectadians despite having closed in 1973.

Barringer small ad 11-13-1855William Barringer may have gone on to other ventures; he was only 45 years old when Barney bought him out. In 1870, he was listed as a retired merchant with real estate worth $10,000 and personal property valued at $40,000, so the rag trade seems to have treated him pretty well. Born in Columbia County around 1810, he moved to Schenectady somewhere around 1837. He married a younger woman (13 years younger), and had sons late in life, when he was 43 and 45. In 1865, he was living with his sons (but no wife) at 2 Union Street, at the corner of Washington Avenue, a building of odd personal meaning to Hoxsie – in the 1970s, it was the home of the Schenectady County Council of the Boy Scouts of America, and much time was wasted there in important activities of the teen years. Decades later, it had been returned to use as a private home and, in one of those coincidences life throws at you, was owned by a friend and colleague.

 

Look for the Name “Joe”

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Joe Green's Ad 1922While digging up the dirt on Spiro Agnew’s father’s Hygienic Lunches, we ran across many, many ads by this character, Joe Green, whose menswear store was at 412 State Street in Schenectady, over the Hygienic Lunch (some years after Agnew had decamped for Baltimore). Many of the ads exhort the reader to

Look for the Name, “Joe,” and the Real Joe’s Picture Over the Door – If You Don’t See the Name, “Joe,” and His Picture, You’re Not in the Right Place.

Very specific instructions. Is it possible there was a non-real Joe Green somewhere nearby? Was there someone posting a picture of a Joe Green look-alike inside their walk-up menswear store, hoping to confuse those who weren’t sure of just where they were? It’s a mystery.

Joe Green's Ad 2

The Woolworth’s That Wasn’t A Woolworth’s

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W.H. Moore and Son, Schenectady, State and FerryEverybody remembers the old Woolworth’s in Schenectady. But what they don’t remember is that it wasn’t a Woolworth’s, at least not originally – it was a W.H. Moore’s.

William H. Moore was a native of Saratoga Springs, born in 1841; his family moved to Watertown as his father found work with the Rome, Watertown and Ogdensburg Railroad. Willliam went into dry goods, and was a partner in the Augsbury and Moore Dry Goods Store in Watertown, New York, when he gave a young Frank Woolworth, from Rodman, NY, his first job. Although Augsbury and Moore was a fine store catering to the carriage trade, and young Frank showed up for his interview without suit or tie, William Moore took a chance on the young man, who offered to work unpaid for three months in exchange for board and lodging. Moore (this according to the Woolworths Museum site) proposed an apprenticeship of six months, with pay starting in the fourth month. Woolworth began work in March, 1873. Later denied a raise, Woolworth went elsewhere, but came back to work for Moore and a new partner. In the midst of continued depression in 1877, Moore hit on the idea of clearing surplus stock, pricing it all at five cents, and brought in additional merchandise that could sell at that price. Woolworth, essentially a window dresser, gussied up the display and put up a sign that said “Any article on this table 5 cents.” This kinda gave him an idea, and he went off to try it in Utica (where it didn’t go very well) and Lancaster, PA, where it was a hit. Woolworth’s Great Five Cent Store was soon expanding, with branches in Harrisburg and Scranton run by his brothers. The Woolworth brothers expanded by engaging family and former co-workers to open their five and dime stores.

While Woolworth was expanding, Moore and his subsequent partners did not do well, and he closed out his business. Eventually he went to Woolworth, who offered to back him in any business enterprise, sold him goods at cost, and helped him establish a new store in Watertown. With this backing, in 1896, he started another five and ten cent store in Schenectady with his son, L.W. Moore, as partner – W.H. Moore and Son, at State and Ferry streets.

In 1911, Woolworth created a “big combine,” as the Utica Herald-Dispatch put it, announcing a world-wide combination of five and ten-cent stores capitalized at $65 million, embracing 600 stores in the U.S., Great Britain and Canada. Two of those stores were Moore’s in Watertown and Schenectady. In discussing the new enterprise, Woolworth gave full credit to William Moore:

“I worked under Mr. Moore as an employe in those days. He taught me the business,” said Mr. Woolworth. “One day he decided on a little counter, three by five feet, in a corner of his store, to put in a line of five-cent goods and sell them only on that counter. There is where the five and ten-cent business started.”

W.H. Moore & Son SchenectadyAt some point W.H. Moore & Son moved to the familiar location of State and Broadway. When it stopped being called W.H. Moore is not clear, but Moore himself died in May of 1916, aged 74, after a trip to the dentist – which is reported to have put Woolworth off dentistry for the rest of his life.

 

 

True crime, 1914: Armed robbery, carjacking, murder

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While digging up info on Schenectady’s Hygienic Lunch, we ran across this charming tale of armed robbery, carjacking, and the death of a dentist. Here’s the story from the Schenectady Gazette of August 18, 1914:

Cashier Swears Conway Robbed Electric Lunch

George Volk and Hygienic Lunch Man, However, Say Prisoner Is Not the Man – Arrest Made in Albany by Detectives Van Deusen and Rooney on Warrant Sworn Out by James Stathes, Night Cashier – Conway, Police Say, Bears Excellent Reputation

John Conway, 28 years old, a core-maker, was arrested yesterday afternoon by Detectives Van Deusen and Rooney in Albany, charged with being the party who held up and robbed the cashier of the Electric Lunch in State street early Saturday morning. The two officers, accompanied by James Stathes, the night cashier, who was on duty in the lunch room when the robber secured $134.70 from the cash register at the point of a gun, were on their way to Albany in an endeavor to locate the robber. While on the car Stathes suddenly pointed out Conway, who was on the car [streetcar], as the man who did the job.

Both the officers knew Conway, who bears an excellent reputation and who has roomed in Jay street, near the city hall, for the past three years and were loath to believe the cashier. Conway left the car at Pearl street, Albany, and went into Sauter’s dru store. Van Deusen and Rooney, with Stathes, secured a point of vantage and, after again looking minutely at Conway, Stathes declared he was the man.

Conway was therefore placed under arrest and brought to this city, where a charge of robbery, first degree, was lodged against him, Stathes swearing out a warrant. George Volk, the Gazette pressman, whose automobile the robber used to make his get-away, intimidating Volk with his gun, was sent for and he denied that Conway was the man. The cashier in the Hygienic Lunch, which had also been visited by the robber just prior to his doing the job at the Electric Lunch, was also called and he was positive that Conway was not the man.

Stathes, however, insisted that Conway was the man and swore to the information upon which the warrant was issued. Conway was released under bail bond and will have an examination on August 24 at 2 o’clock.

Another story was rumored about the streets last night to the effect that the man, Charles Thompson, who had such a terrific fight in the dental office of Dr. Myers in Troy late Saturday night, both men falling from the window to the pavement, which fall resulted in the death of Dr. Myers and the serious injury of Thompson, was the man who committed the hold-up in this city early Saturday morning.

Word was received by the local police last night to this effect and an effort will be made today to identify Thompson as the man who robbed the Electric Lunch. Officers with Stathes, Volk and others will visit the Troy Hospital, where Thompson is suffering from a fractured skull, and see if he answers the description of the robber.

If it was Thompson, then he had a hell of a day: robbed two lunch joints at gunpoint, stole a car and drove to Troy, where he got into a fight with a dentist that ended in fatal defenestration. Apparently that’s just what happened, and a little more. The Troy Times of August 14, 1914, told more about the death of the dentist:

Dentist’s Tragic Death – Locked in Desperate Struggle With Supposed Burglar Dr. Charles G. Myers Plunges From Roof to Brick Pavement in Yard forty Feet Below – Dies in Hospital – Intruder Survives But Badly Injured – Conceals His Identity.

Dr. Charles G. Myers, dentist, with offices over The Troy Trust Company, died at the Troy Hospital shortly before midnight Saturday night from injuries received in a fall from the roof in the rear of his office on the upper floor of the building while grappling with an intruder, supposedly a burglar intent on stealing gold leaf from the dental offices. The latter, known only as Charles Thompson, a name he gave, was also taken to the hospital, having sustained injuries to his head, face and left arm which at first were supposed to be fatal, but which the physicians later decided were not necessarily so.

Thompson told police here wasn’t there to steal, but was looking for the bathroom, and was just attacked by Dr. Myers. The police didn’t believe him, and probably believed him less when they found out his name was Raymond J. Sampson, who also went by the name of Edward Farley and had come from Elizabeth, New Jersey. In his murder trial the next year, it came out that he had run into an ex-con acquaintance from Elizabeth who was working as a motion-picture operator up in Cohoes, by the name of William Rixon. They met on the afternoon of the Schenectady robberies.

“I said ‘Hello, Ed,’ and he said ‘Hello, Will, what are you doing here?’ I said I lived there. He said, ‘How’s pickings?’ and I said ‘Pretty poor.’ He said, ‘Show me a prominent man or house, and I will go fifty-fifty with you, and you can go home.’ I had a beer and he took a ginger ale. He showed me a roll of money, and said it was Schenectady money. Then he showed me an automatic gun.”

Not suspicious at all. They didn’t get him on murder, but did send him to prison on manslaughter. The Troy Trust Building, at the southwest corner of Broadway and Third Street, was demolished in 1952, replaced by what was then the Manufacturers’ National Bank. And, as far as we know, Conway continued to enjoy an excellent reputation.

 

The Hygienic Lunch, and the Father of the Veep

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Hygienic Lunch menuFile this under: How did we not know this? Hoxsie grew up hard by Schenectady in the 1970s and was perhaps more tuned than your average teenager to both politics and local history. And yet, until this week, we had no idea that the father of Vice President Spiro Agnew, one Theodore Agnew (originally Theofraste Anagnostopolous), was once the proprietor of a couple of lunch joints in Schenectady and Troy. That seems like the kind of information that would have been floating around the zeitgeist, particularly given that Spiro (whose middle name was Theodore) was a controversial, polarizing figure who ended up resigning from the Nixon administration in a bit of a scandal.

Information on this is scant, and the timeline isn’t entirely clear. One Agnew biography says that Theodore arrived from Greece in 1902, settled in Schenectady, spent six years here and then moved to Baltimore. That timeline doesn’t quite work, as we know he was in Schenectady and Troy in 1911 and 1912.

His restaurant was called Hygienic Lunch, at a time when many restaurants, diners, and cafeterias were anything but. We first find it mentioned in Schenectady in 1911, located at 412 State Street, just below the (trolley) waiting room. (This was the old trolley waiting room at 420 State, east of the Witbeck Building. The Hygienic, we believe, was in the Hough Block, torn down to make room for the Bowtie Cinemas.)

In the Troy Times Record of March 25, 1911, we find this notice with regard to the Troy location of the Hygienic Lunch:

“The Hygienic Lunch to-day became one of the convenient eating places for shoppers and business people. Located at 319 River Street, the new lunch room is in the centre of the business district. In its equipment the Hygienic is thoroughly modern, having tiled floors and marble walls, with a kitchen equipment on which no expense or care has been spared. Small marble tables take the place of the usual wide arm chairs. The Hygienic will cater particularly to busy people, and is prepared to serve quickly a lunch or dinner, simple or elaborate. In addition to the usual sandwiches and short-order courses, patrons of the Hygienic can order a steak or portion of roast. The place is managed by the President of the company himself, Mr. Theodore S. Agnew of Schenectady, and James W. Donnan of this city. Mr. Agnew is an experienced restaurant manager, and is one of the founders of the Hygienic Lunch system, which was inaugurated in this state a few years ago.”

At the time, Agnew is found in the Troy City Directory, listed as president and manager of 319 River Street (the business was not named), and boarding at The Rensselaer (later called The Troy House).

A notice in the Schenectady Gazette from June 15, 1911, promises improvements at the Schenectady location:

“Theodore Agnew, president of the Hygienic Lunch Company is in this city after having spent some time in Troy launching a new business in that city. Mr. Agnew stated yesterday that it was his intention to as soon as possible to remodel the place of business in Schenectady and enlarge it to a certain extent. This lunch room is now capable of accommodating a large number of people, several tables have recently been installed which will seat four persons each, these replace the chairs along one entire side and a portion of the other.”

Not much else is said of the Hygienic in either location (and it’s not clear that a contemporaneous Ballston Spa operation by the same name was necessarily connected). A very brief article in the Troy Times on January 5, 1912, says that the proprietors of the Waldorf lunch system, a cafeteria style lunch joint that then had branches in eight cities from Boston to Buffalo, “to-day purchased the Hygienic Lunch from The Hygienic Lunch Company, Incorporated. George R. Donnan of Schenectady was proprietor. The new establishment will be called the Waldorf Lunch.”

That may have been the end of Theodore Agnew’s association with the Hygienic Lunch, and perhaps it was at this time that he lit out for the Charm City. It was not, however, the end of the Hygienic Lunch, for in 1914, Mr. Andrew Kansas announced the new Hygienic Lunch would be opening:

The New Hygienic Lunch

We know from the advertisements of a menswear salesman named Joe Green (and we’ll get to old Joe) that this Hygienic Lunch was also at 412 State Street, and that it continued by that name at least through 1922.

The only mention of the Spiro Agnew connection we find, other than in some biographies and birther sites (apparently there was some controversy), was an article in the Troy Times Record from October 11, 1973, after Agnew had already resigned. It was headlined “Agnew’s Father Ran Restaurant in Troy, and was filled out with just a little less information than we’ve provided above. “Agnew’s father also owned a restaurant in Schenectady but both failed to support him and his brothers. A check of the city directory of 1912 reveals Theodore Agnew moved to New York City. He eventually ended up in Baltimore, Md.”