Last month marked the centennial of T. Frederick H. Candlyn‘s arrival at St. Paul’s. Among musicians at St. Paul’s Church during the twentieth century, Candlyn stands preeminent. Not only did he serve as our organist and choirmaster for an unprecedented 28 years (from 1915 until 1943), he was also an internationally respected composer of works for organ and for choir. I will have much else to say about Dr. Candlyn at another time, but didn’t want to let the anniversary pass without this brief reminder, and without sharing this portrait of him, taken at St. Paul’s organ.
In a recent post, I mentioned the difficulty of tracing women’s involvement in St. Paul’s church in the earliest period. By the mid-twentieth century, women’s organizations are more often recognized. We are lucky to have these two snapshots taken during World War II, showing the women of St. Paul’s Parish Aid Society sewing for the Red Cross. The photographs are unusual in including identification for each person. Do some of our current members remember any of these ladies?
Rector, assistant rector and two members of the Parish Aid Society. Note the parish photo gallery on the wall behind them, with portraits of some of the congregation’s wardens and vestrymen. George Taylor was our rector from 1932 until 1948; Rollin S. Polk was curate from 1945 until 1947. Pictured left to right are: Mrs. Wm. H. Verch (treasurer), the Rev. Rollin S. Polk (Assistant Minister), Mrs. George S. Jacobsen (worker), the Rev. George A. Taylor (Rector).
Women at work. Part of the photo gallery is also visible here; we can see the section with portraits of major donors and men who had entered the ministry from St. Paul’s. The large portrait at rear left is of Thomas A. Starkey, St. Paul’s rector from 1854 until 1858 and later bishop of Northern New Jersey. Gwenola Smith Jones (fourth from right) was the wife of Sydney T. Jones (senior warden from 1922 until 1943 or later) and mother-in-law of the rector. The women are (L-R): Mrs. Marion Larwood, Mrs. George Jacobsen, Mrs. Margaret Weaver, Mrs. Edward McCammon, Mrs. Fred Eckel, Jr., Mrs. William J. McKown, Mrs. W. Phinn, Mrs. Sydney T. Jones, Mrs. Augustus Bender, Mrs. W.J. Fernette, Mrs. W.S. McDowell
As mentioned in a previous post, the often-cited chronology in which George William Warren was organist and choirmaster at St. Peter’s Church, Albany from 1846 – 1858 and at St. Paul’s Church, Albany from 1858 – 1860 cannot be correct. In Warren’s 1860 letter of resignation to St. Paul’s vestry he wrote:
It has been my privilege to be a Church Organist in this, the City of my birth, seventeen years; and the best part of that time (nearly thirteen years) has been devoted to the musical interests of St. Paul’s.
In this post, we will discuss the likely cause of this error, and determine the date he actually left St. Peter’s, supported by primary sources.
The first reference work to give specific dates for Warren’s employment at St. Peter’s is Cyclopedia of Music and Musicians (John Denison Champlin, Jr., ed. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1890. Volume 3, page 566). Champlin gives the 1846 – 1858 period, and he may be the source of this information.
The first work to mention Warren being at St. Paul’s is Who’s Who in America 1899-1900 (John W. Leonard , ed. Chicago: A.N. Marquis & Company, 1899. page 768) which says Warren “became organist St Peter’s Ch., also St Paul’s Ch., Albany until 1860; organist Ch. of the Holy Trinity, Brooklyn, 1860-70.” As we will see, this is the correct sequence.
It is not until 1919 (seventeen years after Warren’s death) that we find the first reference to the mistaken chronology. Baker’s Biographical Dictionary of Musicians (Alfred Remy, ed. New York: G. Schirmer, 1919. page 1013) conflates Champlin’s erroneous 1846-58 time period with Leonard’s correct sequence and says that Warren held “positions at St. Peters (1846-58) and St. Paul’s (1858-60), Albany; 1860-70, at Holy Trinity, Brooklyn.”
What, then, is the cause of Champlin’s error in Warren’s term at St. Peter’s? While 1846 is the correct beginning date, 1858 is a typographical error (whether his own, or copied from another source) for 1848, as can be determined from St. Peter’s vestry minutes (New York State Library Manuscripts SC19680, Box 4, Volume 2) and St. Peter’s choir vouchers (New York State Library Manuscripts SC19680, Box 13, Folder 9).
Without question, George Warren became St. Peter’s organist in 1846. His letter offering his services without pay (dated 20 June 1846) is transcribed in the vestry minutes for 6 July 1846; on the same date, the vestry accepted his offer for a period of six months [St. Peter’s vestry minutes 8 July 1846].
The position is confirmed by an 1847 St. Peter’s choir list which includes G.W. Warren as “Organist and Conductor” [St. Peter’s choir vouchers, sheet reverse dated 1847 without month or day].
Then on 26 April 1848, St. Peter’s vestry authorized its Music Committee to negotiate a salary no greater than $200 with Mr. George Warren to serve as organist “for the year ending in May next,” implying May 1849. [St. Peter’s vestry minutes 26 Apr 1848 ]
If Warren accepted this offer, he changed his mind within six months. On 17 October 1848, his resignation was presented to St. Peter’s vestry, and accepted. [St. Peter’s vestry minutes 17 Oct 1848] The last reference to Warren in St. Peter’s records is the listing of a payment due to him in January 1849 as “late organist.” [Joseph Hooper. A History of St. Peter’s Church in the City of Albany. Albany: Fort Orange Press, 1900. page 294]
As confirmation that George William Warren could not have remained as St. Peter’s organist for much of the 1850’s, an apparently complete set of choir vouchers in that period contains no reference to him after 1847. Between 1852 and 1856, all payments to an organist are made to Albert H. Wood. [St. Peter’s choir vouchers]
By the third quarter of 1849, Warren was organist and choirmaster at St. Paul’s Church. In our next post, we will follow the course of his first term as our organist.
St. Paul’s archives are rich source for the early history of our congregation: vestry minutes, portraits, financial documents, correspondence. But particularly in the early years, they give a view that is largely male. All the rectors were men of course, as were all of the vestry until the mid-twentieth century. Most of the pew holders are men.
It is only when we turn to the list of communicants that we see women’s names. And not just a few women: of communicants in our first three years (1827-1830), slightly more than two-thirds (67.6%) are women. Extending the range from 1827 to 1832, the percentage is just a bit lower, 64%. Even odder, many of the men we know were active in the period (pew holders and vestrymen) are not listed among communicants. The women listed are mostly married women, but, on the whole, they are not the spouses of vestrymen or of pew holders.
This sex distribution was not atypical in the first half of the nineteenth century. Women were the majority of communicants (and likely of regular attenders) in Episcopal churches. A study of church membership in Albany in the period shows that the same was true of Presbyterian and Methodist congregations. As one example, of new members in one Albany Presbyterian congregations in 1831, two-thirds were women entering alone or with another woman.
In a period when women’s activities outside the home were circumscribed, church membership was an important activity for the women of St. Paul’s. And we know that women were not only sitting in the pews; through the congregation’s difficult early years, the women of the church frequently held fairs or soirees to raise funds.
These early members of our congregation were an important part of our founding, and a history of St. Paul’s Church must tell their story. But they are not easy to describe. Most are listed only with their first name and husband’s last name. As women, they do not appear in city directories, they are not listed in Federal censuses before 1850, they are rarely mentioned in newspaper articles. Sometimes, even a woman’s first name is missing; we may, for example, never be able to identify “Mrs. Brown,” who became a member in February 1831.
Occasionally, however, we can put together clues and gather enough information to draw a clear picture of one of these early members. Such a person is Elizabeth Maria Starr Hawley. She is certainly not typical. As you will see in a series of posts, she was the matriarch of a family of broad accomplishments. But she can stand in place for the many women central to our history whom we will never be able to honor.
Elizabeth Maria Starr was born in Connecticut in 1794, and married Joseph Hawley in 1812. We do not know when they moved to Albany, as part of what has been called the “New England Invasion”, but it was probably between 1814 and 1817. The couple had four children: three daughters, Lydia, Julia and Mary Ann (who may have been twins) and one son, Shaw. We first meet Betsy in St. Paul’s records when the young congregation was only three years old: she became a communicant in June of 1830, listed only as “Mrs. Betsy Hawley”. Her youngest child, Shaw, was baptized at St. Paul’s two years later; Julia and Mary Ann were confirmed on the same day in 1837. By February 1840, all the female family members are listed in our records: “Mrs Betsy Hawley with Mrs. Montgomery” (Lydia had recently married Jesse H. Montgomery), Mary Ann and Julia were all members.
The extended family sat in pew 81 on Ferry Street; an early pew map shows “Montgom” in the fourth row, center, of the church and Jesse H. Montgomery paid a pew rent in 1839. The family then made the transition to the church’s new home on South Pearl Street: Julia and Mary Ann were both married there (in 1841 and 1843, respectively), and Shaw became a communicant in 1847.
While there are many other families with participation over two generations, it is difficult to identify them in this early period. By chance, we have been able to trace these relationships this far. But this is only the beginning of the story of Betsy Hawley’s legacy. In the next post, we will discuss Betsy’s grandchildren, their connection to St. Paul’s and their accomplishments.