Finally, a site that’s all local history, all the time. Where my somewhat oddly named site “My Non-Urban Life” is about whatever crosses my mind, I’ve long felt that I needed to make a site devoted solely to local history, both the long, well-researched (well-Google researched, anyway) articles that used to appear at All Over Albany, and shorter, weirder little bits of advertising and ephemera that catch my eye as I scan through old city directories, institute publications, and old postcards. (Yes, that is what I do for fun).
When I knew I was going to create a site just about Capital District history, taking in the rich heritage of Albany, Schenectady and Troy, a region where my family’s roots go back to The Norman, I knew I needed a name that was distinctive, easy to remember and spell, and that was clearly associated with local history. But instead I fell in love with this picture of a rooster proclaiming “Hoxsie!” and suddenly no other name would do. (Internet lesson 1: Don’t check a domain until you’re ready to buy it. That’s why I’m Hoxsie.org, and Hoxsie.com is parked by one of the internet’s parking lot attendants. On the internet, exit fee is set by attendant.)
The ad above appeared in the 1862-3 Schenectady City Directory, published by Young and Graham of 111 State Street (now about where the scenic Kentucky Fried Chicken outlet is), and most likely actually printed by the venerable Joel Munsell of Albany. This is the entire advertisement. There is no further explanation anywhere in the directory, other than listing Hoxsie among Albany advertisers. In an age when verbosity was an absolute virtue in advertising, that alone makes this ad stand out sensationally. Plus, it must have meant that whoever Hoxsie was or what he sold, he was confident that readers of the directory would know what his product was; it needed no explanation. The Child’s directory of Albany and Schenectady for 1870 gives me a little more to go on, listing Geo. W. Hoxie [sic] & Co. of 25 Hamilton Street in Albany, right down near the old public market, as a maker of sarsaparilla, soda, lager beer and cider. It also lists George W. Hoxsie as “overseer of city poor, City Building,” and it’s intriguing to think that in the days before government cheese there may have been government sarsparilla. George also listed himself in the 1870 census as a mineral water manufacturer, so exactly what refreshing drink that rooster is crowing about is left to the imagination. More on George here.