Sunday, January 30, 2011

QuiltBoxes - Hearts for Valentines!

Hand-crafted wooden boxes, made by a local artist, and filled with chocolate hearts from Lake Champlain Chocolates. You can buy one at Artique Co-op in Clifton Park, or online at QuiltBoxes' Bonanza shop. Like Quiltboxes on Facebook to learn about future give-aways.

Van Rensselaer Park - Circa 1905 [Part 1]

Forbes Manor, also known as Beverwyck, is one of Rensselaer's historic register sites, and has been under private ownership for decades. But in 1905, the manor enjoyed a brief career hosting excursions and picnics.

Reverend Robert H. Rollins, Pastor of Hope Baptist Church (on Clinton Ave. in Albany), leased the manor and lived there with his family. As Superintendent of Van Rensselaer Park, Rollins produced a beautiful advertising pamphlet to promote the opening season.

From the manuscript collection,

NYS Library, 974.741 (Forbes)

Van Rensselaer Park



Forbes Manor, "famed in history, verse and legend, peerless among the country seats of the Empire State," is located just north of the beautiful, busy little city of Rensselaer, nearly opposite Albany, and not more than four miles south of Troy.

Historic Ground.- This estate of five hundred acres, with more than a mile of river front, was once part of the famous Van Rensselaerwyck Manor... granted to Killian Van Rensselaer in 1630. It descended in succession to Gen. Stephen Van Rensselaer, the fifth patroon, who at the time of his death, divided the estate between his two sons, Stephen and William P. Van Rensselaer, the latter thus becoming heir to the property on the east side of the Hudson.

The Mansion.- Here upon a commanding eminence, overlooking the city of Albany, from which dim outlines of the Helderberg and Catskill mountains are visible, in 1841-1843 the beautiful mansion which still stands, familiarly known as "Forbes Manor House," was erected. In building this magnificent structure, grading and beautifying the lawns, terracing the deeply wooded slopes and ravines, which are still the pride of Rensselaer, Mr. Van Rensselaer dissipated his fortune to such an extent that he was compelled to sell the property in 1850.

The Forbes Family.- The estate was purchased by Mr. Paul Forbes, a gentleman of refined tastes and great wealth, engaged in the China trade, who with his family enjoyed the beauties and luxuries of this quiet, secluded natural park a part of each year until the time of his death. ...

Our Plan.- The present lessee recognizing the natural advantages of this rustic park, which is heavily wooded with large, white pine trees, which add sweetness and strength to the atmosphere, and traversed by walks and paths varied by stretches of well-kept lawn, which extend to the river, will, in the early spring, open for the benefit of Sunday Schools, Churches, Young People's Societies, Temperance Societies, ... Lodges, Singing Societies, Athletic Associations, Schools, Colleges, etc., one of the most convenient and accessible parks in this part of the State. In point of healthfulness and convenience the location of Van Rensselaer Park could not be improved.

This was advertising copy meant to sell the beauty of the site to a religious audience, so the history of the manor was strategically edited. For instance, the anti-rent wars and resulting legal reforms were entirely omitted as the main the reason for Van Rensselaer's sale of the estate. (See NYS Library: The Anti-Rent Wars and The End of Dutch Culture in New Netherland.)

This will be Part 1 of a two-part post. [Or rather, a three-part post! Read Part 2: Transportation and Amusement and Part 3: Religious and Educational].

Sunday, January 23, 2011

January 22, 1910: Newsboy Wanted

100 Years Ago: From The Rensselaer Eagle [NY 41 Rensselaer 93-32173].

SCHOOL BOY WANTED - We have a permanent position for a bright, energetic school boy. The right boy can make from 50c. to $2.00 or more a week, without interfering with his school duties. Hickey & Connolly, 854 Broadway.
Hickey & Connolly was a News Stand, according to the Rensselaer Business section of the 1907 Directory.

These images of young newsboys were taken in downtown Albany, NY on a Sunday morning in February, 1910 by photographer Lewis Hine (from the photo collection of the National Child Labor Committee at the Library of Congress).

Friday, January 21, 2011

January 21, 1911: New Church for Blooming Grove

100 Years Ago: From The Rensselaer Eagle [NY 41 Rensselaer 93-32173].
New Church in Place of Burned Structure

Blooming Grove is to have a new Reformed church to replace the old building which was destroyed by fire New Year's eve. The trustees will visit other churches before deciding the type of building needed by the congregation. The insurance on the church was $6,000, about $2,500 more than has been pledged.
The church's web site shows that they have some nice stained glass windows.

There was originally more architectural detail at the roofline (shown circa 1950).

Saturday, January 15, 2011

January 14, 1911: A Well-Traveled Policeman

100 Years Ago: From The Rensselaer Eagle [NY 41 Rensselaer 93-32173].

Has studied conditions in New Orleans, Tacoma, Wash., and Then Went Down to Maine - Is Fond Of Finding Out Things For Himself
Rensselaer has a man who has visited every state in the union and who has seen every point of interest in the entire country which is worth a visit. So it is quite natural that policeman George Selley, the latest addition to the staff, should make a good officer. Roving around the streets in the dead of the night protecting the houses and citizens is a pleasure to the new bluecoat, inasmuch as he never tired of roaming through the great United States.

There are few men in the entire country today who can tell of such wide experiences as can Selley. He is not a man of wealth, but a man interested in the development of his country and his periodical vacations have been spent sometimes in the sunny south, other times in the wooly west and once in the frigid atmosphere of Maine during the winter.


When in a reminiscent mood Policeman Selley can tell more about his country's development in the last ten years than any other man in the city. He can also tell of the customs of the people.

He has been in New Orleans when that southern city was in its gayest attire for the Great Mardi Gras Carnival; in Tacoma, Washington and Portland, Oregon when the apples were being picked bigger than your head and journeyed to Portland, Me. from Boston via boat when the huge waves of the turbulent winter sea almost rose over the boat.

Originally a railroad man Selley took especial interest in the customs of the railroad men all through the country. He traveled many miles on freight trains through his brotherhood pass, just to see the country and learn the ways of its people.

The Railroad Trainman, Volume 19, 1902, shows Geo. Selley of 106 B'way was Secretary of Rensselaer's Horseshoe Lodge of the Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen.

The Directory for the Year 1905 of the Cities of Albany and Rensselaer shows George, John, and William Selley, living at 248 Broadway, all held the position of "expressman" - packing, managing, and ensuring delivery of railroad cargo.

Learn more about the history of the Rensselaer police force at

Friday, January 7, 2011

January 7, 1911: Rush of Railroad Freight

100 Years Ago: From The Rensselaer Eagle [NY 41 Rensselaer 93-32173].



Advancements are Made Very Quickly These Days - Firemen Promoted to Enginemen and Brakemen Soon Become Conductors

Not in many years have Rensselaer railroad men experienced such a rush of freight in all directions as taht which now prevails and which has prevailed for the past months. At the railroad offices firemen and brakemen are in demand, the order being sent out that any one applying will be given a job.

At present on the list of the B. & A. offices there are over 60 regular belt crews. This is an unusually large number, when it is considered that six years ago the regular belt crews numbered but 25. Every Rensselaer fireman qualified to run an engine has been sent over to the right side of the cab and many young Rensselaer brakemen in the service of the company for but a few years have been advanced to conductors.

The rush of freight and work for the men is received in Rensselaer with no regret. The past summer and fall were bad seasons and the railroad men will have an opportunity of making respectable week's wages. Speek of wages, one young Rensselaer brakeman employed in the yard service drew $73 for two weeks work, after enjoying a two days' rest.


In the railroad yards the rush is the same as on the road. Gen'l Yard Master Wood has more engine and train crews at work than have been on the lists for 15 years. His extra list now contains 15 members and all are working. He is making an effort to keep the yards clear so that no B. & A. trains will be forced to lay on the sidings outside of the city awaiting an opening to crawl into this city.

The Rensselaer yards have never been as busy as they are at the present time. The rush has been so great that many times during the past month many of the B. & A. crew were sent direct to West Albany with their trains to relieve congestion.

The rush cannot become too heavy for Rensselaer and its people. The officials are well equipped in the art of handling such an immense amount of business and the city will receive the many strangers with open arms.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

CDTA Bus Routes for Rensselaer

Bus Service to the Rensselaer Rail Station (Amtrak)

ROUTE 232: Hampton Manor
Empire State Plaza; Hudson & Broadway; Columbia Tpke & Aiken Ave / Hampton & Columbia Tpke; Eastern & Hudson Ave.; Route 4 Park & Ride

ROUTE 233: Albany - Schodack

Empire State Plaza; Hudson & Broadway; Columbia Tpke & Sherwood; Columbia Tpke & Rt. 4; Schodack Park & Ride

ROUTE 214: Rensselaer Third Street - Amtrak
Various locations in Albany including Empire State Plaza and the Greyhound Terminal; Amtrak Rail Station; 3rd St. & Washington; Van Rensselaer Heights; Franciscan Heights; Defreestville Park & Ride; Walmart County Plaza

ROUTE 224: Albany - Troy - Rensselaer
Various locations in Albany including Empire State Plaza and the Greyhound Terminal; Route 4 Park & Ride; Winter St. & Route 4; Hudson Valley C.C.; Fulton & 4th; River & Front,Troy;

ROUTE 620: Flex Service - Route 4 - The Flex Service BEE serves all points within the service area. Please inform the operator of your destination.
Hudson Valley C.C.; Route 4 Park & Ride; Walmart Rt. 4; Hannaford Rt. 4;

This is current as of Feb. 2011.