Category Archives: Women’s Organizations

Creighton R. Storey and the Trinity Institution

If you’ve ever driven down Third Avenue on Albany’s South End you may have noticed a group of subsidized houses known as the Creighton Storey Homes. Who was Creighton Storey and how did he come to be honored in this way? The answer tells us something of the Albany Diocese’s history in social services, and (you shouldn’t be surprised to learn) touches significantly on the history of St. Paul’s Church.

Creighton Storey Homes

Creighton Storey Homes

Creighton Richard Storey was born in Ireland in 1864, and came to this country as a teenager. He attended Colgate College and then Hamilton Theological Seminary. Although as a boy he had been confirmed in the Church of Ireland (a member of the Anglican Communion), he chose to become a Baptist pastor, and served congregations in Syracuse, Kingston and Buffalo. Through these years, he came to understand his ministry as service to those both within and outside the church. In each city, he established social service programs. But there were objections to Storey’s concentration on outsiders: he resigned his positions in Baptist churches in Kingston and Buffalo when church leaders insisted that he stop these “outside” activities.

Creighton R. Storey

Creighton R. Storey

First Baptist Church, Albany (credit: Albany Group Archive)

First Baptist Church, Albany (credit: Albany Group Archive)

After resigning the position in Buffalo, Storey had trouble finding another post because of his reputation for concentrating on social work. He finally accepted a position at First Baptist in Albany, then very much down on its luck, with a handful members and unable to even promise him a salary. In response to the Panic of 1907, he started providing a free breakfast to the unemployed in the church basement.

Albany Industrial Brotherhood Flyer, page 1 (credit: NYS Manuscripts and Special Collections)

Albany Industrial Brotherhood Flyer, page 1 (credit: NYS Manuscripts and Special Collections)

A year later, Storey organized the Albany Industrial Brotherhood, housed in a building next door to the church and dedicated “to helping men help themselves.” Services included assistance in finding jobs, and a workshop making wire implements such as rug beaters and kettle forks. From the beginning, Storey seems to have been successful in attracting support from different churches, and involving influential young business men to serve on his board and committees. Over the next years, the Brotherhood’s services were extended to include night classes to teach trades, and providing employment in chair caning and upholstery workshops.

But the pattern in Kingston and Buffalo was repeated: when First Baptist decided to sell their building and move to a new building on Delaware Avenue, Storey was asked to come with them, but only if he was willing to abandon his social services programs. Storey resigned his post at First Baptist in early 1911, saying farewell to both that congregation and “to the pulpit altogether” in order, he said,“to devote his entire attention to brotherhood and settlement work”. He initially planned to expand the Brotherhood into a full social services agency, providing services for the entire family. To accomplish this, he had begun negotiations to purchase First Baptist’s building. Storey had an option on the building and (backed by “a number of influential men”) had until March 9 to raise funds.

For unknown reasons, these plans failed, and Storey looked for another way to support his programs. Knowing that Trinity Church in Albany was

William Croswell Doane, Bishop of Albany (courtesy Library of Congress)

William Croswell Doane, Bishop of Albany (courtesy Library of Congress)

in serious financial difficulties, he spoke with the Albany Episcopal diocesan bishop, William Croswell Doane (an early supporter of the Brotherhood), and volunteered to serve as Trinity’s rector, with the understanding that he would be able to continue the social service programs previously supported by First Baptist. Doane agreed, and convinced the city’s Episcopal churches to contribute $1,000 a year for his programs.

 

In April 1911, within a few months of his resignation from First Baptist, Storey’s entire family was confirmed at St. Paul’s, and that spring and summer Storey preached at St. Paul’s as well as St. Mark’s Chapel (St. Paul’s free chapel just off of Morton Avenue). In November of 1911, Creighton Storey was ordained to the deaconate, with the support of St. Paul’s vestry. By July of 1912, he had been named rector of Trinity Church, and had plans for hiring a full-time social worker and creating a full program of services.

Trinity Institution in 1937 (credit: Pruyn Collection, Albany Public Library)

Trinity Institution in 1937 (credit: Pruyn Collection, Albany Public Library)

Over the next 28 years, Creighton Storey offered a wide range of social services and a thriving summer camp. In 1928 these services included hot lunches for school children (charge: 3 cents for those able to pay), a boys club, scout troop, Jewish scout troop, girl scout troop, a mothers club, a sewing club, two kindergartens and an Americanization class. The Trinity Institution building also included space for neighborhood groups, an Albany Public Library branch and an employment bureau.

Children enjoying the 3-cent lunch (Albany Evening News 25 Jan 1927)

Children enjoying the 3-cent lunch (Albany Evening News 25 Jan 1927)

 

As with the Industrial Brotherhood, Storey continued to include

Albany Evening News 15 Dec 1916

Albany Evening News 15 Dec 1916

prominent young business men on Trinity Institution board of directors. These “Albany Blue Bloods” provided financial backing for the enterprise, but as importantly, served to publicize the Institution’s work.

St. Paul’s involvement did not end with Storey’s ordination: St. Paul’s vestrymen served on the Trinity Institution’s board, the women of St. Paul’s St. Margaret’s Guild provided the hot lunch program on day each week, and the church regularly raised funds for the Institution’s summer camp. Among those “Blue Blood” board members was Randall J. LeBoeuf, Jr., whose father,  Randall J. LeBoeuf, was a St. Paul’s warden. And another of our own, Elsa Ridgway, was on the Trinity staff from 1920 until 1947, most of that time as Director of programs for girls and women. Miss Ridgway was a life-long member of St. Paul’s, and president of the Altar Guild and Women’s Auxiliary. Her father was Frederick W. Ridgway Sr., St. Paul’s vestryman from 1901 until 1915; she was the sister of Frederick W. Ridgway Jr., the sister-in-law of our organist and choirmaster, T.F.H. Candlyn and aunt of Donald Shore Candlyn.

Trinity Institution Annual Report for 1930 (credit: Pruyn Collection, Albany Public Library)

Trinity Institution Annual Report for 1930 (credit: Pruyn Collection, Albany Public Library)

Creighton Storey was to be Trinity’s rector from 1912 until his death in 1930, overseeing a revival of the congregation in that period. More importantly, he created the Trinity Institution (often referred to as the Trinity Institute, and now known as the Trinity Alliance), which for almost 100 years now has been helping the people of the South End. The Trinity Alliance and the Creighton Storey Homes serve as important reminders of our church’s and our diocese’s outreach to Albany’s South End.

 

Christmas Holiday Festival and Bazaar — December 1981

Today, we see another Christmas event conducted by the women of St. Paul’s Church, a Christmas Holiday Festival and Bazaar in December 1981. The photograph appeared in the Albany Times-Union for November 30, 1981. The festival was to open the next morning, December 1, in the the church parish house, with a luncheon at noon and a roast beef dinner that evening.

In the photograph, the women are working on items for the sale.

Christmas Holiday Festival, December 1981

Christmas Holiday Festival, December 1981

Seated are Mrs. Anna Heinrichs and Mrs. Harry Wild.  Standing, left to right, are Mrs. Kenneth Eells [Virginia]] (bazaar co-chairman), Mrs. Roger Aiken [Ruth E. Mitchell], (bazaar co-chairman), Mrs. John N. Grant [Ismena J. Frazer], gift booth chairman. Mrs. Aiken and Mrs. Grant were serving in the same capacities that they had in the Christmas Bazaar twenty years earlier.

 

Christmas Bazaar — December 1961

The women of St. Paul’s have conducted fairs, sales and festivals since the church’s earliest years, and these benefits have played an important part in the financial support of the church. The first recorded fair was in December 1836: a “Ladies Fair at Stanwix Hall for the benefit of St. Paul’s Church,” at a time when the struggling young parish desperately needed that support. Today, we see photographs of a St. Paul’s Christmas Bazaar published in the Society page of the Albany Times-Union for December 4, 1961.

The first photograph shows three women of the parish “as they prepared luncheon for guests at the church.” As was then the custom, the newspaper gives only their husbands’ names; their first names (in brackets) were obtain from other sources.

Christmas Bazaar, December 1961: in the kitchen

Christmas Bazaar, December 1961: in the kitchen

Left to right, they were:  Mrs. David Powers [Lucille], Mrs. Shelley Edmundson [Louise], co-chairman of the luncheon, and Mrs. Roger Aiken [Ruth], co-chairman of the Christmas Bazaar.

In the next photo, two women arrange the gifts in Santa’s pack.

Christmas Bazaar, December 1961: Santa's Pack

Christmas Bazaar, December 1961: Santa’s Pack

They were Mrs. Chas. H. House, Jr. [Merilyn] an Mrs. Harold Green [Maude]

Finally, here is a picture of the gift booth, with Mrs. John N. Grant [Ismena J. Frazer] on the right, assisting Mrs. D. Arthur Leahy [Grete].

Christmas Bazaar, December 1961: the gift booth

Christmas Bazaar, December 1961: the gift booth

January 29, 1947 — St. Paul’s Parish Aid Society

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).

Parish Aid Society January 1947

Parish Aid Society January 1947

 

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

Parish Aid Society Ladies January 1947

Parish Aid Society Ladies January 1947

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.