Monthly Archives: July 2015

George William Warren at St. Paul’s — Part 1, 1848-1851

As we have seen, George William Warren resigned as organist and choirmaster of St. Peter’s Church in October 1848. We know that he was to spend most of the period until August 1860 at St. Paul’s Church, Albany. But when did Warren first come to St. Paul’s Church?

George William Warren

George William Warren

Warren’s obituary in the New York Times (17 Mar 1902) specifically says that he came to St. Paul’s in 1848. And Warren himself implies that year as well in an 1856 classified advertisement (Albany Evening Journal 7 Apr 1856); in which he identifies himself as “Organist and Musical Director at St. Paul’s Church (for eight years).” Articles in Dwight’s Journal (15 Nov 1856) and Albany Morning Express (30 May 1857) confirm that as of October 1856 Warren had been at St. Paul’s for eight years.

Additionally, Warren twice wrote that when he left Albany in 1860 he had been at St. Paul’s since 1848: “nearly thirteen years” according to his letter of resignation to the St. Paul’s vestry (“nearly” because of his ten months at Second Presbyterian), and precisely “thirteen years”  (writing as “Jem Bags” in Dwight’s Journal 1 Dec 1860).

St. Paul’s vestry minutes are silent on musical activities in this period, and we may never know the precise date or month in which he started. The first evidence comes almost a year later, when we read that “George W. Warren Organist of St. Paul’s Church” is offering piano and organ lessons (Albany Evening Journal, four insertions in mid-August 1849). Warren also advertised his music lessons the next year, describing himself as “Organist and Director of Music of St. Paul’s Church.” (Albany Evening Journal, 2 Sep 1850)

George William Warren must have begun composing early in the period. We have two compositions specifically mentioning performance at St. Paul’s. The first is “Rock of Ages,” which Warren (in his Hymns and Tunes as Sung at St. Thomas’s Church, New York (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1889) dates to 1849. It was first published in 1851, dedicated to St. Paul’s rector, William Ingraham Kip, and with the notation “as sung in St. Paul’s Church Albany by Mrs. Eastcott, Mrs. Gourley, Mr. Squires and Mr. Whitney in 1850.”

Rock of Ages by George William Warren

Rock of Ages by George William Warren

We also have Warren’s composition “Come Holy Spirit,” first published in 1850 with the notation “as sung by the choir of St. Paul’s Church (Albany)”.

Come Holy Spirit, by George William Warren

Come Holy Spirit, by George William Warren

And finally, we have Warren’s “Love’s Twilight Star,” published in 1849. While this is a secular work, it is dedicated to the popular Albany soprano Miss Electa Cone, who received payment (probably as soprano soloist) from St. Paul’s in 1850.

Love's Twilight Star, by George William Warren

Love’s Twilight Star, by George William Warren

In addition to proving that Warren was at St. Paul’s in 1849, “Rock of Ages” is important for giving us the first list of the St. Paul’s choir. At this time, and into the early twentieth century, St. Paul’s had a quartet choir, composed of four paid soloists. Most of Warren’s early compositions were written for such a group. The names of the choir members are also of interest. Mrs. Gourlay and Mr. Whitney were local talent. Margaret Campbell Gourlay was an Albany voice teacher, a member of St. Peter’s Church and a member of St. Peter’s choir with Warren in 1847. We will meet her talented son Willie as member of the boy choir that Warren formed in 1855. Stephen W. Whitney was a local businessman with a long  career as a church and concert soloist. The stars were Lucy Grant Eastcott and Henry Squires. Both were recent arrivals in Albany (in 1850, the Albany Evening Journal  praised St. Paul’s hiring of Lucy as a sign of “stirring up of the dry bones” ), and both were to leave the city within two years. They went on to distinguished opera careers in the United States, Europe and Australia, about which we will have much to say in a future post.

In April and May 1852, George William Warren advertised in the Albany Evening Journal for “a soprano and tenor, to fill vacancies in the choir of St. Paul’s Church.” Lucy Eastcott (who would soon begin styling herself Madame Escott) had already left the city; Henry Squires would leave by that October, bringing this first chapter of Warren’s years at St. Paul’s Church to a close. We will pick up the story in a later post, beginning with the events of autumn 1852 and continuing through 1856.

Mrs. Hawley’s Legacy — Emma Starr Montgomery Mosher

In a previous post, we began looking at the legacy of Elizabeth Maria Starr Hawley, who became a member of St. Paul’s Church in 1831. She and and all four of her children were active members of the young congregation.

This time, we follow her descendants to the next generation: the children of her daughters Lydia Amelia Hawley and Mary Ann Hawley , both of whom, as we have seen, were communicants of St. Paul’s.

Mary Ann Hawley (1817 — 1911) married William Janes (born 1906) in St. Paul’s Church on April 5, 1843. Of their three children, Julia Maria Janes (1848 — 1933), who joined the Sisterhood of the Holy Child Jesus as Sister Julia  will became important to our story in relation to one of her younger cousins.

Our main story, however, follows the descendants of Lydia Amelia Hawley (1814 — 1880), who married Jesse H. Montgomery (1810 — 1840).  The couple  had two children, Emma Starr and Lydia Amelia. Both daughter were communicants of St. Paul’s by 1858 and both were married at St. Paul’s in the mid-1860’s.

Emma married a young physician from Coeymans, Jacob Simmons Mosher, and it is their descendants who will fill much of the rest of our story. When the young couple was married at St. Paul’s in December 1863, Emma might have hoped for the quiet life of a physician’s and academic’s wife in Albany, but, with the Civil War still raging, this was not to be. The next year, Jack was appointed volunteer surgeon in the Army of the Potomac and sent to Virginia. In June 1865, Emma and their first child were living with her mother.

Jacob Simmons Mosher

Jacob Simmons Mosher

Even the end of the war did not make things easier. Jack was appointed Assistant Medical Director of New York, and assigned to Washington, D.C. The family’s longest stay in Albany was from 1869 until 1873, when Jack served as Superintendent of a hospital for disabled soldiers here. During this period, Mosher was also a vestryman of St. Paul’s Church. This respite ended when he was named Deputy Health and Executive Officer for the Port of New York. The family lived in New York City from 1873 until they returned to Albany for good in 1876.

Through all these moves, Emma retained her connection to St. Paul’s: three of her four children were baptized at St. Paul’s . But the constant moves and child-bearing took their toll; the next entry in our records is that of the death of Emma Starr Montgomery Mosher on June 28, 1879, when she and her newborn infant were buried from St. Paul’s.

Jacob Simmons Mosher finished a distinguished career as physician, teacher and administrator in Albany. He was among the earliest faculty of the Albany Medical College and  one of the founders of the Albany School of Pharmacy, where he was also professor. He died in 1883 and was buried from St. Paul’s.

Albany Medical College 1897 (credit: Albany Group Archive)

In the next posts, we will follow the lives of three of Emma and Jack’s children, each of whom made important contributions locally, nationally and internationally, extending the legacy of our Mrs. Betsy Hawley.


St. Paul’s Lancaster Building On Postcards!

In the early twentieth century, postcards were a popular way for families and friends to keep in touch. The variety of subjects is immense; cards show not just natural sights, or impressive buildings, but more humble streets scenes, and even churches.

Today we share three postcards printed in the first decade of the last century, all showing St. Paul’s Church on Lancaster Street. The first image should be familiar, because we use it here frequently. It appears on a card mailed from Albany to Brooklyn, New York in December 1911. During this period, the card reverse could be used only for the address, so you see the message on the face of card below the photograph.

Postcard of St. Paul's Church (1911)

Postcard of St. Paul’s Church (1911)

The next card is slightly earlier, but uses the same image, along with pictures of other Albany church and public buildings. It was mailed in December 1906, also to Brooklyn, New York.

St. Paul's Postcard (1906)

St. Paul’s Postcard (1906)

Finally, with many thanks to the good people at the Albany Postcard Project, we are able to share another card, mailed to Schenectady in August 1906. Can you find St. Paul’s? It peeking out from behind the beautiful young woman in the last letter of “Albany.”

Greetings from Albany (1906),  by permission of the Albany Postcard Project

Greetings from Albany (1906), by permission of the Albany Postcard Project