Memorial Day 2020

The brass plaque in St. Paul’s ambulatory lists the fifteen men from our congregation who gave their lives in military service during World War II. In past posts, I’ve been able to tell you something of two of them: Donald Shore Candlyn and Dirk Roor. Today, thanks to the Memory Books compiled by Grace McKinlay Kennedy, I can say something about two of the others.

Edgar MacLachlan Harding

Edgar MacLachlan Harding

Edgar M. Harding was born November 20, 1920 in Westchester County, New York, the son of Harry and Nellie Harding. He graduated from Milne High School in Albany in 1938, and enlisted in the New York National Guard in October 1940.

Milne High School Yearbook 1938

Harding’s tank battalion took part in the Luxembourg campaign, and he received a battlefield promotion to first lieutenant during the Normandy invasion. He was declared missing in action in November 1944, and his parents were notified of his death three months later. The snapshot (from Mrs. Kennedy’s scrapbook) is labeled “Seattle, Wash. 1943.”

William Richard Marvin

William Richard Marvin

William Richard Marvin, was born August 11, 1923 in Albany, the son of Harry Marvin and Margaret Fix Marvin. As an aviation radioman, Marvin flew 42 combat missions and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and New York’s Conspicuous Service Medal.

According to the citation for the Distinguished Flying Cross, it was awarded:

[f]or distinguishing himself by heroism and extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flight as radioman gunner of a dive bomber on a strike against the Japanese Battle Fleet at sea on 20 Jun 1944. Knowing that the flight was at extreme range which would probably end with a night water landing and that the attack was against the main enemy fleet, he showed great determination and confidence to the pilot. His devotion to duty under these trying circumstances was particularly outstanding. His conduct throughout the operation was in keeping with the highest traditions of the naval service.

After the war, in June 1946, Bill Marvin reenlisted. Two months later, while serving as a radar instructor on Naval Air Station Oceana, he was struck by lightning as he walked from his plane to the hangar. At a memorial service in September of that year, St. Paul’s rector George A. Taylor delivered a eulogy titled “Bill Marvin, a Fighter of Faith.”

 

 

Julia James Ridgway, Proprietess and Licensed Plumber

It’s Women’s History Month and I’ve been reading Susan Ingalls Lewis’s book on female proprietors in Albany between 1830 and 1885. We think of nineteenth century business as an entirely male affair. Unexceptional Women[i] shows us otherwise: many women throughout the country operated businesses in that period.

In fact, businesswomen abounded in the nineteenth-century United States. Rather than exceptional pioneers, these women were unexceptional contributors to their family economies and local communities. Neither notorious nor particularly notable, the vast majority were home-based micro-entrepreneurs who faced many of the challenges that today’s working women assume are unique to the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries.[ii]

Much of the book details the experiences of women seamstresses and milliners, and of others operating small shops in Albany. But Lewis devotes a chapter to female entrepreneurs, exceptional women who took risks to expand their businesses. Once of her examples in this chapter is Julia Ridgway, whom she describes as “a woman of exceptional drive and ambition.”[iii] Julia, you won’t be surprised to learn, was a communicant of St. Paul’s Church, and matriarch of a family with a deep connection to the parish.

Julia James was born in Manchester England about 1819. She married Frederick W. Ridgway, and by the early 1840s, the couple had emigrated, and they were living in New York City. Frederick and his brother Jonathan were the “& sons” of “J. Ridgway & Sons,” a plumbing firm in lower Manhattan that seems to have begun work there in connection with supplying water from the new Croton Aqueduct. By 1843 the sons had established a plumbing shop in Albany. Jonathan soon left Albany for Boston, but Frederick continued the business here, and prospered.[iv]

In 1851, F.W. Ridgway died suddenly at the age of 34. His young widow, the mother of two children under the age of 10, initially tried to sell the business[v]. But within a year she had decided to carry the business on by herself. In 1852 Julia advertised that as “proprietress and licensed plumber to the Albany Water Works” she would continue her late husband’s business, and boasted that the New York State Plumbing Establishment “is one of the largest in the State, and is well known throughout the country as one of the leading establishments in the Plumbing business.”[vi]

Albany Evening Journal 1852_04_08 page 1

Albany Evening Journal 08 Apr 1852

An advertisement in the 1853 city directory gives more detail on the scope of Mrs. Ridgway’s business two years after her husband’s death, promising “[o]rders executed in any part of the United States by competent workmen.” She also lists a wide variety of household and industrial equipment for sale. An illustration of a household water closet, with toilet, sink and bath, is prominently displayed.[vii]

Munsell's Directory Albany 1853 page 445

Munsell’s Albany Directory And City Registry for 1853, page 445

Julia Ridgway did not merely keep the business going. She expanded and innovated, so that by 1865 the business was valued at triple the figure at her husband’s death a dozen years earlier. A Dun Mercantile Agency credit examiner in 1865 reported that Ridgway was “doing the best bus[iness] of any firm or man in the line in Albany,” and, he added, “clearly making money.”[viii]

I’ve been unable to find a photograph of Mrs. Ridgway. As you picture her, please don’t think of Josephine the Plumber in those 1970s Comet Cleanser advertisements. I doubt that Julia Ridgway ever donned a pair of coveralls and climbed under a sink. She was the business brains of the operation, providing capital, doing the accounting, and managing the business, but leaving the plumbing to her employees.[ix]

Part of Julia Ridgway’s success may have been due her relationships with her partners. For the first years, she relied on her husband’s foreman, Herman Henry Russ, who was also a St. Paul’s communicant.[x] As the business grew, she took on Russ and Edmond Nesbitt as partners, organizing as Ridgway & Co. When Nesbitt left the firm in 1871[xi], she reorganized the business again, as Ridgway & Russ. The business continued under that name until 1898, when her son Frederick W. Ridgway (who had been managing the firm since 1871) and Russ formed separate firms.[xii]

Grace Church from flickr group v001

Grace Church, Albany (credit: Albany Group Archive)

Like Elizabeth Maria Starr Hawley (about whom I wrote several years ago), Julia Ridgway was the head of a family that included several generations of active parishioners at St. Paul’s. Julia and her daughter Mary Elizabeth became communicants in 1868, transferring from Grace Church[xiii]. Mary Elizabeth married Charles Carmichael Gould at St. Paul’s in 1876.

Frederick W. Ridgway

Frederick W. Ridgway

Julia’s son Frederick W. Ridgway (1849 – 1915) was confirmed at St. Paul’s in 1867. He was a parishioner for the rest of his life and a vestryman from 1901 until his death. Three of this second F.W. Ridgway’s children were closely associated with the parish. Dorothy White Ridgway (1891 – 1979) married our organist, T. Frederick H. Candlyn and was an active member until the couple left Albany in 1943. And I’ve already written about his elder daughter Elsa Ridgway (1884 – 1956), the long-time director of girls’ activities at the Trinity Institution, and about his son Frederick W. Ridgway Jr. (1896 — 1916), an active volunteer with our Sunday School.

[i] Susan Ingalls Lewis, Unexceptional Women: Female Proprietors in Mid-Nineteenth Century Albany, New York, 1830—1885 (Columbus: The Ohio State University Press, 2009).

[ii] Lewis, 2.

[iii] Lewis, 131.

[iv] Amasa J. Parker (ed.), Landmarks of Albany County New York (Syracuse: D. Mason & Co, 1897), 142.

[v] “To Plumbers,” Albany Evening Journal, 31 May 1851, 3.

[vi] “New York State Plumbing Establishment,” Albany Evening Journal 30 Mar 1852, 3.

[vii] Munsell’s Albany Directory and City Registry for 1853 – 1854 (Albany: J. Munsell, 1853), 445.

[viii] Lewis, 131-133.

[ix] Lewis, 133.

[x] “Herman Henry Russ,” The Plumber’s Trade Journal Steam and Hot Water Fitters Review, volume 43 (Feb 1908), 160. Russ’s wife Catherine was confirmed at St. Paul’s in 1863, and their daughter was baptized here the same year. Herman and Catherine became communicants in 1875 and 1880, respectively. Their children were confirmed here, and Herman’s funeral was held at St. Paul’s in 1908.

[xi] “Dissolution,” Albany Evening Journal 25 May 1871, 3.

[xii] Parker, 142. See also The Metal Worker, volume 1, number 9 (17 Sep 1898), 52.

[xiii] Grace Church had been founded in 1846, with financial support from St. Paul’s. In 1865, the church (then located at the corner of Washington Avenue and Lark Street) was unable to support itself financially, and St. Paul’s provided our assistant minister, Edwin B. Russell, to serve as their rector. That relationship lasted until 1866.

Donald Shore Candlyn

Donald Shore Candlyn

Last Sunday, I shared some of the treasures of Christmases past that were preserved in the four folio volumes of Grace McKinlay Kennedy’s Memory Book. Today marks a more solemn occasion, one that Mrs. Kennedy has also preserved. Today is the 75th anniversary of the death of Donald Shore Candlyn.

I’ve written about Donald Shore Candlyn, who died heroically in the Battle of the Bulge. But reading through Mrs. Kennedy’s scrapbooks, I’ve found some more details. First, an original photograph of the 19-year-old sergeant. And also the citation for Candlyn’s posthumous Silver Star, contained in a letter to T.F.H. Candlyn from Major General Edward F. Witsell of the Adjutant General’s Office, dated 20 Aug 1945. Military censors have replaced both the precise location of the events and Candlyn’s regiment number with asterisks.

Silver Star

For gallantry in action near ****, on December 26th, 1944.

On the evening of 26 December 1944, Company E, ** Infantry Regiment, completed a successful attack and entered the town of ****. Communication lines between the company and the Battalion Command Post had been disrupted by enemy fire and as the company failed to establish contact by radio, it was necessary to send a runner to the Command Post for further orders. The man assigned this mission was held up by heavy enemy fire, and did not get through. Sergeant Candlyn, assistant mortar section sergeant, volunteered. He ran forward through intense fire, and before reaching the Battalion Command Post was killed by a sniper’s bullet. His unusual courage under enemy fire and his aggressiveness in action reflect the highest credit upon Sergeant Candlyn and the armed forces of the United States.

 

Christmas Ephemera from St. Paul’s Memory Book

On this last Sunday of Advent 2019, with Christmas Day just three days off, I’d like to share a few items from Christmases past, found in St. Paul’s Memory Book, a series of four large scrapbooks lovingly compiled by Mrs. Grace McKinlay Kennedy in the 1940s.

Starting with the most recent, here is the cover for the 1945 Christmas bulletin

Christmas Service Bulletin 1945

And a snapshot from the same year of the Christmas morning service in the Lancaster Street chapel. That’s the rector, George A. Taylor, reading the gospel. The two servers are his sons, Tucker Taylor and Frank Webb “Webbie” Taylor.

Christmas Morning Service 1945

Taylor was rector from 1932 until 1948.

George A. Taylor

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next, two Christmas cards from the family of Arthur R. McKinstry, rector from 1927 until 1931.

Arthur R. McKinstry

 

McKinstry Christmas Card 1927

McKinstry Christmas Card 1930

 

 

 

 

 

 

The cards, from 1927 and 1930, show the four children, ready for Christmas morning.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And finally, a ticket from the Sunday School Christmas festival of 1880.

Sunday School Christmas Festival 1880

I’ve been unable to find any information about the event, but we know a bit about the location. Tweddle Hall (built by former St. Paul’s senior warden John Tweddle), was on the northwest corner of State and Pearl Streets in downtown Albany. Three years after the Christmas Festival, the structure burned, and was replaced by the Tweddle Building.

John Tweddle

Tweddle Hall, northwest corner of State and Pearl Streets (image credit: Albany Institute of History and Art)

This ticket was given to Mrs. Kennedy by Mrs. Mary A. Halse, aunt of St. Paul’s organist Raymond Sherwood Halse.

Veterans Day 2019: Dirk Roor

Memorial plaque for World War II Dead

In a previous post, I wrote about  the 255 men and women from St. Paul’s church who served in the Second World War and about the plaque bearing the names of those who died in that service. That post concentrated on one of those names, Donald Shore Candlyn. On this Veterans Day, I’d like to tell you about another of the fifteen named.

Dirk Roor (Knickerbocker News 17 May 1934)

Dirk Roor was born in Albany in 1925. Both of his parents were recent immigrants from the Netherlands, and the first time we find Dirk mentioned in the newspapers is this picture of him, age 9, dressed in a traditional Dutch costume, including wooden clogs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dirk had been baptized in Albany’s First Reformed Church, but his mother (who had beem widowed in 1934) enrolled him in T. Frederick H. Candlyn’s choir of men and boys at St. Paul’s. The next time we find him mentioned in the newspapers, he is again in costume, but this time for Halloween, posing with other trebles from St. Paul’s choir and the choirmaster’s wife, Dorothy Ridgeway Candlyn.

Choirboys’ Halloween. Dirk Roor is at left.  (Knickerbocker News 28 Oct 1938)

Dirk is probably also in this formal picture of the 1937 St. Paul’s choir, but I have been unable to identify him.

St. Paul’s Choir, with T.F.H. Candlyn, 1937

After graduating from Albany High School, Roor enlisted in the Army Air Forces in March 1944. He was a turret gunner on a B-24 Liberator that was declared missing in a combat mission over Hungary in March 1945, and his mother received confirmation of his death five months later. At the time of his death, three months before the German surrender, Sergeant Roor was 19 years old.

Sgt. Dirk Roor (Knickerbocker News 24 Aug 1945)

Dirk Roor is buried in his parents’ native country, in the American cemetery in Margraten, the Netherlands.

 

 

 

An unusual offer from School #9

Offer to St. Paul’s Vestry from the Trustees of School #9 11 Oct 1838

Among the miscellaneous papers in St. Paul’s old records (now safely housed at the New York State Library) is an inconspicuous half-sheet that gives us an interesting window onto public education in Albany 180 years ago.

It reads:

It is hereby agreed that if the Vestry of St. Paul’s Church will cause to be placed in the large room of the School Building No. 9 corner of Dallius & Ferry Streets the necessary desks & benches for said room, under the direction of Mr. Hughes[1] the Teacher of the District School No. 9, then the Trustees of the said District No. 9 will give to the said Vestry or their successors, the free use of said room for the purpose of a Sabbath School for the term of five years from the 1st day November 1838.

Oct 11/38

H.S. Van Ingen[2] for himself & for Stephen B. Gregory[3], (as authorized by him), Trustees of School Dist. No. 9 Albany

In 1838, the city of Albany had provided public education for less than a decade. As described in an excellent blog post by Fr. Kevin McGrath, O.P., it was only in 1830 that Albany organized public school districts. The effort was expanded in 1838 (the year this offer was made) with the construction of eight new schools, among them School #9, on the northeast corner of South Ferry and Dallius Street (now known as Dongan Street).

School #9, a three-story brick building with room for 210 students[4], was directly across Dallius Street from St. Paul’s church on South Ferry Street. While the city had been able to erect the new schools, it appears that it was not able to furnish them all. So the school trustees then turned to St. Paul’s, hoping to be able to obtain the necessary furniture at minimal cost.

Such an offer could certainly not be made today, when public institutions steer well clear of any financial arrangements with places of worship. But in a different time, with a looser interpretation of the Establishment Clause, the offer made sense for a fledgling school system that was short on funds.

When they made this offer, were Mr. Van Ingen and Mr. Gregory aware that St. Paul’s was overwhelmed with debt, and was being pressured by its creditors to sell the Ferry Street building? They may well have been, because there had been rumors about the sale of the building as early as 1836[5]. In fact, St. Paul’s vestry decided to sell the building at a meeting on January 14, 1839, three months after the trustees’ offer. By July 1839, St. Paul’s had left the South Ferry Street building, and was worshipping with St. Peter’s Church on State Street.

Although the offer was never acted upon, we have a hint that St. Paul’s intended to accept it. A cryptic penciled note[6] also in our archive reports a meeting immediately after the January 14, 1839 vestry decision that mentions “contributors for fitting up the Sunday School Room.”

[1] William H. Hughes was a teacher in School #9 for thirty-seven years, starting in 1834. No wonder that, a few years before his retirement in 1871, The Albany Evening Journal reported that neighborhood children knew the South Ferry Street school as “Hughes’ school.”

[2] Harmanus S. van Ingen was one of Albany’s earliest fire chiefs, the Chief Engineer of the Tivoli Hose Company, Albany’s only hose company as late as the Great Fire of 1848. On his retirement, the company was renamed the Van Ingen Company.

[3] Stephen B. Gregory was a businessman, a partner in the firm of Gregory, Bain & Co., merchants in china, glass and earthenware.

[4] George Rogers Howell and Jonathan Tenney, Bi-centennial history of Albany: History of the county of Albany, N.Y., from 1609 to 1886 (New York: W.W. Munsell & Co., 1886), 696.

[5] Albany Argus 02 Feb 1836.

[6] The full text, also on a half sheet of paper reads: “Minutes read. An amendment to the resolution of the vestry that it was expedient to sell St. Paul’s Church was moved, viz,. after the words to sell St. Paul’s church provided $4000 was not raised by a com. appointed by the members of the congregation at a meeting held in the church Monday 14 Jany. On motion of S. DeWitt Bloodgood the following resolutions were passed. Resolved that the names of the contributors for fitting up the Sunday School Room be entered on the minutes together with the expense of the same.”

St. Paul’s First Cemetery Plot

Deed for St. Paul’s plot in the State Street Burying Grounds

In a previous post, I described St. Paul’s cemetery plot, given to the congregation in 1878 and still in use today. But that section of the Albany Rural Cemetery was not our first cemetery plot. Forty years earlier, in March 1838, the City of Albany granted St. Paul’s “[a]ll that certain piece or parcel of land, bounded on the south by Lancaster street, on the east by the Presbyterian burying ground, on the north by lot number Eleven and by No. 27, and west by Snipe Street” for use as a cemetery.

Diagram of St. Paul’s plot in the State Street Burying Grounds

Can’t quite picture where that would have been? For the past 150 years, Snipe Street has been known as Lexington Avenue. If you extend the line of Lexington and Lancaster Streets (both now much shorter than they were then), you will find that the plot’s southwest corner would have been at a point on the north side of what is now Washington Park.

This was in the State Street Burying Grounds, Albany’s public cemetery from 1800 until 1866. Each Christian denomination had a section, and there were also a Potter’s Field, a section for African-Americans and a small number of graves of persons not associated with a church.

Location of State Street Burying Grounds (credit: @AlbanyArchives)

This image overlays a current photograph of the Washington Park area with a map of the State Street Burying Grounds. In 1838, there were only two Episcopal churches in Albany, and you might expect that St. Paul’s shared the Episcopal lot with St. Peter’s. But it appears that St. Peter’s had sole use of the Episcopal section because the legal description makes it certain that St. Paul’s plot was at the south end of the section marked “Private Cemeteries” on this map. To confirm the location, notice that in the diagram of St. Paul’s section, the north end is marked as the vault of Archibald Campbell. His vault would have been the first of these Private Cemeteries to the north of our plot.

When the State Street Burying Grounds was closed and the land taken to build Washington Park, the burials were moved to the then-new Albany Rural Cemetery, in a section known as the Church Grounds. Our next research effort will be to try to determine who from St. Paul’s was buried in this plot, and where in the Albany Rural Cemetery they now rest.