To the Manor born

If you want to see the original walls and doors from the Van Rensselaer Manor house, the home of Stephen Van Rensselaer II, the eighth patroon of Rensselaerwyck, circa 1769, you’ll need to take a trip down to New Amsterdam (even old New York was once New Amsterdam) to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where …

What’s going on, 1670

Joel Munsell’s “Annals of Albany” was a ten-volume opus published during the 1850s that was a magnificent mixture of history, biography, and just plain copying of things that happened in Albany’s history. It’s the copying that’s of interest this week, as he took it upon himself to set down, verbatim, a number of records from …

Charter School, 1670

English: Francis Lovelace (1621-1675) (Photo credit: Wikipedia) In 1670, Albany’s Schoolmaster Jan Jurians Beecker was having a hard time. Despite the fact that Colonial Governor Richard Nicolls had granted him the right to keep the Dutch school “for ye teaching of youth to read and wryte,” there were some freelance teachers horning in on the …

Sifting the ashes

Ran across this 1923 Carl Company ad for dustless ash sifters, only $2.98 in Carl’s Busy Basement, and it occurred to me that even though I’ve heard the phrase “sifting through the ashes” all my life, I wasn’t 100% certain why one sifted through them. Having grown up with a gas furnace (albeit one converted …

Romantic Albany

The Northern Traveller, from 1844, relates an earlier, uncredited, positively gushing description of the capital city on the Hudson: “The younger race of fashionables and semi-fashionables know Albany, or affect to know it, merely as a big city-looking place, full of taverns and hotels, where they land from the steamboat, on their way to Saratoga, …