Category Archives: Hawley, Montgomery and Mosher Families

Mrs. Hawley’s Legacy — the Deaconess and the Bishop

As the last of our posts about the legacy of Elizabeth Starr Hawley, we come to two more of her great-grandchildren, Gertrude Boucher Mosher, and Gouverneur Frank Mosher, younger siblings of J. Montgomery Mosher. They are unusual, because both brother and sister were ordained ministers of the church, and both served as missionaries. Gouverneur Frank is unique as the only person raised at St. Paul’s who became a bishop.

Gertrude Mosher was born in 1866; she was only 13 when her mother died, and 17 at her father’s death, when she assumed primary responsibilities for housekeeping and care of her two younger brothers. Gertrude was baptized at St. Paul’s in 1867 and confirmed here in 1881. “Gouv” was four years younger than Gertrude, and we are told that she was a parent figure to him. Gouv was also strongly influenced by his mother’s cousin, Sister Julia (born Julia Maria Janes, a granddaughter of Elizabeth Starr Hawley), a member of the Sisterhood of the Holy Child Jesus, who taught in St. Paul’s Sunday School.

Gouverneur attended school in Albany; after graduating from Union College, he decided to enter the ministry. Gertrude’s course through these years is harder to trace. We don’t know what schools she attended, but she must have been an enthusiastic reader. In 1888, she published a small pamphlet, “Spare Moments with Milton,” containing her favorite quotations from “Paradise Lost.”

"Spare Moments with Milton", Selected and Arranged by Gertrude B. Mosher

“Spare Moments with Milton”, Selected and
Arranged by Gertrude B. Mosher

In 1889, Gertrude sailed to Germany, “to continue her musical education.” She was in Germany until July 1891, when she returned to Albany. The next year, she was working as a governess.

Gouverneur, meanwhile, had entered Berkeley Divinity School, and while there decided that he was called to be a foreign missionary. Gertrude seems to have decided to join him, because she began study at the New York School for Deaconesses. In June 1896 Gouverneur was ordained a deacon, with the backing of St. Paul’s vestry. Later the same year, Gertrude was “set apart” as a deaconess.

On October 6, 1896, at a  service in the chapel of Church Missions House, in New York City, the congregation bade farewell to Gouverneur and Gertrude, “deacon and deaconess and brother and sister”. The next day they sailed for England, on their way to an assignment in China.

Gouverneur Frank Mosher

Gouverneur Frank Mosher

Gertrude worked in China from 1896 until 1900, when she returned to the United States and married the Rev. Franklin Knight in a ceremony conducted by St. Paul’s rector, William Prall. She and her husband had four children, and spent the rest of their lives in Massachusetts, Franklin’s home state. We have no further record of Gertrude’s activities, although it seems likely that she continued to contribute in other ways as well.

Gouverneur worked in China until 1919, when he was elect missionary bishop of the Philippines. He was consecrated in Shanghai on February 25, 1920.

Gouverneur Frank Mosher

Gouverneur Frank Mosher

The bishops who participated in Gouverneur Frank Mosher’s consecration as missionary bishop of the Philippines February 25, 1920 are listed below. Unless otherwise noted, they were bishops of the Episcopal Church in the United States. There is no record of a Church of England bishop named Morris in China, so we assume that the label on the man to the far right of the picture is an error.

Bishops at the consecration of Gouverneur Frank Mosher as Bishop of the Philippines

Bishops at the consecration of Gouverneur Frank Mosher as Bishop of the Philippines

Gouverneur Frank Mosher resigned as bishop in 1940 because of ill health,  and returned to the United States. He died in 1941.


Mrs. Hawley’s Legacy — J. Montgomery Mosher

In our account of the legacy of Elizabeth Maria Starr Hawley, we come now to her great-grandson, J. Montgomery Mosher.

J. Montgomery Mosher

J. Montgomery Mosher

Jesse Montgomery Mosher was born 12 Oct 1864, the son of Jacob Simmons Mosher and Emma Starr Montgomery Mosher, and named for his maternal grandfather. The Moshers were from Coeymans; Jacob and two of his brothers, Cornelius Duel Mosher and Francis Gillette Mosher, were all doctors. Cornelius’s daughter (and little Montie’s childhood playmate) Clelia Duel Mosher, also became a physician, and as a professor of medicine at Stanford was an influential advocate for women’s health.

Mosher spent a peripatetic early childhood with frequent moves caused by his father’s career. Both of his parents died when he was in his teens: his mother in 1879 (when he was 15) and his father in 1883 (when he was 19), leaving the family in “straitened circumstances,” and with much of the parenting of younger siblings devolving on his younger sister, Gertrude.

Jesse Montgomery Mosher was baptized at St. Paul’s 19 Nov 1865, and confirmed here on Easter 1882. He attended Albany Academy, and graduated from Union College in 1886 and from Albany Medical School in 1889. During summers while in medical school, he worked in the pharmacy of a mental hospital. Mosher wrote his thesis on a psychiatric topic and upon graduation worked in mental hospitals until 1895; he took a European tour that year to update his training in other medical specialties, returning to Albany in June 1896.

While conducting a private practice, Mosher also edited the Albany Medical Annals. He was named an instructor in neurology in the Albany Medical College in 1896 and began clinical teaching at Albany Hospital in 1898. During this period, he conceived a novel idea for improvement in the care of the mentally ill:

“This idea was: that it having been definitely established that insanity was not merely an aberration of the mind, but rather a symptom of disease of the brain, whether functional, toxic or organic; therefore, these unfortunate victims of disease should be so considered and so treated. They should be sent neither to the “Poor House,” as was the custom in Albany in those days, nor to an Insane Asylum, which was so overcrowded and its medical staff so small that the individual patient could receive but little personal attention and treatment; but rather to a well-equipped, general hospital, where they could obtain treatment by the most modern methods.” [Albany Medical Annals, Volume XLIII, Number 1 (January 1922), page 526]

Mosher had to fight many years for a psychiatric ward in the hospital, facing opposition from physicians, administrators, and politicians. He succeeded in 1901, with the establishment of Albany Hospital’s Pavilion F, the first psychiatric ward placed within a general hospital in the world. It was to become a model for psychiatric wards in other cities in the United States, and later around the globe.

J. Montgomery Mosher

J. Montgomery Mosher

Like his father, J. Montgomery Mosher was elected a vestryman at St. Paul’s, and served from 1906 until his death in 1922. St. Paul’s Year Book for that year contains an unusually warm tribute to Mosher, praising both his professional dedication and his commitment to community organizations, including St. Paul’s, which his great-grandmother had joined more than ninety years earlier.

In Memoriam J. Montgomery Mosher, from 1922 St. Paul's Year Book

In Memoriam J. Montgomery Mosher, from 1922 St. Paul’s Year Book

We have now reached the fourth generation of the legacy of our Mrs. Betsy Hawley. The next post will primarily concern J. Montgomery Mosher’s younger siblings, Gertrude Mosher Knight and  Gouverneur Frank Mosher, with an appearance by another of Betsy’s descendants.

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.


The Legacy of Elizabeth Maria Starr Hawley

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.

St. Paul's Ferry Street Building as it looked in the early 20th century

St. Paul’s Ferry Street Building as it looked in the early 20th century

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.

Announcement of St. Paul's Ladies Fair at Stanwix Hall; Albany Evening Journal 14 Dec 1836

Announcement of St. Paul’s Ladies Fair at Stanwix Hall; Albany Evening Journal 14 Dec 1836

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.

Section of 1830's Ferry Street Pew Map -- Front Center Section

Section of 1830’s Ferry Street Pew Map — Front Center Section

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.