The Sheridan Avenue steam plant, at somewhere north of 100 years in service, is one of the older bits of civil infrastructure around. @willwaldron from the Times-Union posted a photo of the original dynamos inside the plant, with the notation that they were DC, which led to conjecture that perhaps they were used solely to drive DC devices around the Capitol (elevators in particular), which made no sense to us. In addition, every reference we'd ever seen referred to it as a steam plant, with electrical generation as a nice byproduct but by no means the primary purpose of the original installation. Took a while, but we finally found some specs of sorts.

Back in the March 23, 1911 edition of Electrical World (and thank goodness for Google Books, because I'm not sure I could have found this in the garage), there was a notice that "Sealed proposals will be received by the Secretary of the Trustees of Public Buildings, Executive Chamber, Capitol, Albany, N.Y., until April as for equipment of the Capitol power house and conduits, located on the corner of Sheridan Avenue and North Hawk Street, Albany. Separate proposals will be required as follows: 1. For steam power equipment. 2. For electrical equipment." There were plans and specifications, which required a deposit of $25; they could still be buried somewhere in the offices of Franklin B. Ware, state architect.

The contracts for the building itself, which is really quite elegant in the style of electric generating houses of the day, had already been let, and the announcement in "Engineering Contracting" of Dec. 28, 1910 provides some detail as to what might have been in the plans in Franklin Ware's office:

"Bids were opened Dec. 21 at the State Capitol, Albany, by George A. Glynn, secretary Trustees Public Buildings [sic], for the construction of the new power house which is to supply the capitol and the new state education building with heat and light. For this building and its equipment the Legislature appropriated $500,000. The proposals received were for the plumbing work and for the construction of the concrete conduit, as well as the erection of the building. The bids received were as follows: R.T. Ford Co., Rochester, $346,287; Raymond A. Booth, Albany, $382,800; Feeney & Sheehan Building Co., Albany, $413,000; Morris Kantrowitz, Albany, $414,000; A. Pasquini, Albany, $366,888; Peter Keeler Building Co., Albany, $426,399; Hudson Valley Construction Co., Troy, $387,400; Conners Brothers Co., Lowell, Mass., $394,300; Luke A. Burke & Sons, New York, $439,750. The new power house will have a boiler room of sufficient size for 10 380-H.P. boilers, and an engine room of sufficient size to contain five engines and dynamos of 1,7000 K.W. capacity. Only eight boilers and four engines and dynamos will be installed at present. Coal will be contained in vaults on either side of the boiler room, having a capacity of 7,000 tons. The plans also call for an overhead coal pocket containing 1,000 tons. The building will be of face brick with stone base and terra cotta trim, the roof work being of tile and copper. The vaults will be of reinforced concrete, the top being paved for driveways. A concrete conduit approximately 8 ft. square on the inside will be carried under Hawk St., Albany, from the corner of Sheridan avenue to a point opposite the present power house where it will connect with the present conduit. The conduit will be carried under the roadway and between the abutments of the Hawk Street viaduct. The specifications require that the building shall be ready in all its parts for the installation of apparatus by Nov. 1, 1911. Contracts for equipment probably will be awarded early next year."

We later learn from "Domestic Engineering and the Journal of Mechanical Contracting," July 29, 1911, that:

The state trustees of public buildings have awarded the following contracts:

The contract for the steam equipment of the capitol power-house now in course of erection on Sheridan avenue, Hawk and Orange streets, in Albany, N.Y. Also the steam and return connection between the power-house and the capitol and education building on Washington avenue, to Gillis & Geoghegan, New York City, for $202,053.

The contract for the electrical equipment of the said power-house, and the electrical connections between the power-house and the education-building, was awarded to the Lord Electrical Co., New York City, for $95,700.

Dynamos certainly connote DC power, and what we're seeing in the picture are some lovely examples of DC dynamos. But the conclusion that the Capitol would then continue to draw on that as DC power, for which there were and are few ideal applications (super-heavy motors, electric trains, and steel production come to mind), runs afoul of the timeline. By this time conversion to AC (or the other way around) was a simple matter for a rotary converter (Steinmetz wrote on the topic at least as early as 1897), AC was the way the world was wired for the most part, and it's hard to imagine the dynamos were going directly to any DC load. It may have been more convenient to carry the current to the buildings as DC, and convert it there; it's possible the conversion then was part of the "electrical connections" at the State Education Building.

The boilers that provided steam heat to the Capitol and the State Education building are not in evidence in this photo; I'd guess they were on the level below. At the right side of each machine you can see the engine, presumably driven by steam from the boilers, which in turn turned the dynamo wheel, which would have created AC power that commutators made into DC. (The problem of the commutator was the problem solved by Nikola Tesla. Pre-Tesla, they tended to be more than a bit sparky.) The steam was also used then, as now, to heat the buildings. It sounds like they would have had to replace the conduit at the time the Hawk Street Viaduct was torn down, or perhaps before.

All this was years and years before the boilers, by then apparently running primarily on oil, were adapted to burn shredded solid waste as part of the "solution" to the area's solid waste problem. (No one should confuse this arrangement with an actual solid waste incinerator; you may as well compare an ox-cart to a modern bus, in that they both kinda do the same thing.)

Woodwardwarehouse.pngSome time ago, Hoxsie came to the possibly supported conclusion (well, been wrong before) that the oldest remaining business in Albany is The Woodward Company, which currently sells fasteners way out in Colonie , but which began its lengthy life as a saddle and harness supplier. Originally founded by Nathaniel Wright in 1819, it later became Woodward & Hill.

In 1916, The Albany Evening Journal proclaimed that Walter Woodward would be building a new brick warehouse for his business on the southwest corner of Broadway and Hamilton (and local historians everywhere wish all newspaper articles would be so specific about location).

"Plans have been prepared by the Fuller & Robinson Co., Inc., architects, for a four story brick warehouse to be built by Walter M. Woodward, president of The Woodward Co., at the southwest corner of Broadway and Hamilton street. The building will have a frontage of 41 feet six inches on Broadway, a depth of 123 feet nine inches on Hamilton street, and a width of 58 [?] feet in the rear. Work will be started on construction about Oct. 1 and the building will be ready for occupancy next spring. The site is a vacant lot. On it stood a large brick building which was burned three or four years ago."

Hamilton doesn't really go through to Broadway anymore, but the building still stands, nearly one hundred years old, as Four Ecomm Square, from a late '90s branding attempt that almost worked. It had most recently been on the chopping block for the earlier convention center concept that was intended to level what was left of these venerable blocks. Now that the convention center has been downscaled and pushed up the hill, it's not clear what will become of it.

In the same story was the announcement that Fuller & Robinson would also be planning a large barn, wagon shed, toolhouse and blacksmith shop for the Albany Rural Cemetery, to replace one that was destroyed by lightning. It would include stalls for 23 horses, which seems like a lot of horses for a cemetery.

Munselllogo.pngSome time ago I said "It's not possible to be interested in Albany history and not to owe a debt of gratitude to Joel Munsell." He was a fine printer and one of the most important chroniclers of Albany's early history. Not a native Albanian, Munsell was born in 1808 in Northfield, Massachusetts. At 18, he moved to Troy, as one did in those days, and then came to Albany, working for book dealer John Denio and, while still a clerk, starting up a semi-weekly paper, The Minerva. Then he went to work as a compositor, and started his own printing business in 1834. He bought out Thomas Wait's print shop in 1836 and became established at 58 State Street, later moving up to No. 82.

Munsellbuilding.pngHe quickly ventured into historical printing, and his interest in the printing arts was also shown in his publication of The Typographical Miscellany and A Chronology of Papermaking. Between 1828 and 1870, he printed more than 2300 works. But, possibly most importantly for fans of Albany history, he wrote the ten-volume Annals of Albany, which began as the Albany Annual Register in 1849. It ranges from the earliest days of Albany, the voyage of Henry Hudson, to the minutiae of individual births and deaths and shipping news of the 1850s. It's hard to read it often enough.

Munsell had ten children from two wives. He was active in the Albany Institute, and appears to have kept shop up to his death on June 15, 1880.

A nice little tribute to Munsell, written in 1974 by Henry S. Bannister, is here.

TrumansburghViaductPhoenixvilleBridgeWorks.pngIn a non-regular feature that we will not be calling "Phoenixville Phriday," Hoxsie is going to step away from chronicling historical trivia of its ancestral lands and momentarily turn its attention to the history of its new hometown, Phoenixville, PA.  Phoenixville was a small steel town that also cranked out finished bridges; if you chance to drive across the Troy-Menands Bridge, you're being kept out of the Hudson by one of the company's works. The Manhattan Bridge is probably their grandest work, but hundreds of their graceful structures spanned rivers and ravines all over the place. In 1873, "The Manufacturer and Builder" wrote effusively of The Phoenixville Bridge Works:

One of the most encouraging signs of progress, as well in artistic taste as in ingenious application of scientific principles, are the beautifully illustrated catalogues or albums from prominent manufacturing establishments from time to time issued and distributed among those interested. We have one of these before, published by Clarke, Reeves & Co., of the Phoenix Iron Company, at Phoenixville, office 410 Walnut street, Philadelphia, Pa., which company can concentrate all their resources upon bridge building to such a degree as to turn out one hundred feet of finished iron bridge for each working day of the year.

In these works everything is done upon the premises, and the next to worthless iron ore from the mine is, by a succession of operations, changed into the most elegant structures for conveying passengers and merchandise across rivers and over valleys. It is something marvelous to see a single company which does so much on their premises, from the manufacture of pig-iron to the final machine labor that completes the most elaborate structures ready for erection . . .

Messrs. Clarke, Reeves & Co., who make iron bridge-building a specialty, are prepared to construct any style of wrought-iron bridges according to any specified dimensions and weight, but at the same time call the attention of engineers and railway men to that style of bridge which they have been building for the last five years, which has stood the test of use, with the marked approbation of experts in these matters, and in which the material is judiciously distributed, containing nowhere any of it that does not directly contribute to its strength, a feature which cannot be claimed for the majority of bridges in existence.

[In general, in the late 19th century, there was no such thing as praise too florid. But read on, and see if you can spot the Schenectady connection.]

This special style referred to is that kind of truss which was originally developed in wood by Pratt, and in iron by Whipple, and being proved by experience especially adapted for railroads, it is now more in use here than any other . . .

Messrs. Clarke, Reeves & Co. have built some 70 or 80 railroad bridges, of a total length of nearly 40,000 feet, or over 7 miles, which, notwithstanding being much stronger and more reliable than other styles, were cheaper for reason of their facilities on account of reduplication of parts, and lessening as well the cost of erection as of manufacture.

We give on the opposite page an engraving taken from a photograph of the Trumansburgh [sic - it's Trumansburg, N.Y.] viaduct on the Geneva & Ithaca Railroad. This road runs along the west shore of Cayuga Lake, is about 42 miles long, and connects these two flourishing inland cities, and will eventually become a great coal feeder to central New York and Canada . . . The road crosses several streams flowing into Seneca Lake, over one of which is built this structure, which is 300 feet long, about 40 feet high. It is made of Phoenix posts and rolled beams well braced together, so that trains cross it at full speed without vibration. This firm also furnished the other bridges and viaducts, and have recently finished on the Geneva, Ithaca & Elmira Railroad tow much larger viaducts; one at a place called Deep Gorge, 500 feet long, and 125 feet deep; another over Block House Hollow, 600 feet long, and 80 feet deep. These viaducts cost about $60 per lineal foot, and are altogether the most economical mode of crossing deep hollows with a permanent structure. The rapidity with which they can be constructed is also a matter of great importance to railway companies.

These two viaducts, 1,100 feet long and averaging 100 feet high, were completed and passed trains over in little over three months after the order was given for their construction. They could have been done in two months if the railroad company had been ready for them. All this will give a clear idea of the simplicity, strength, economy, and adaptability of this system for all kinds of localities.

We will say in conclusion that the Phoenixville Iron Works, where these bridges are built, are among the oldest in the United States, being erected in 1790, and passing, in 1827, into the possession of the late Daniel Reeves, who by his energy increased their capacity, till they now employ constantly over 1,500 hands, being now one of the largest manufactures of iron bridges in the country. They ship their bridges to Canada and South America, and are now in negotiation for large orders in British India.

PirieMacDonald.pngWell, we just had to find out a little bit more about Pirie MacDonald, the celebrated photographer of men who was raised in Troy, apprenticed in Hudson, and got his professional start in Albany.  These are the excerpts from a sketch in The Photographic Journal of America, Vol. 31, from October, 1894, which in turn took its information from a Times-Union article, at a time when he was starting to win prizes as a photographer.

"He was born in Chicago, January 27, 1867. Life in the metropolis of the unsalted seas did not attract him, and at an early age he was glad to remove with his parents, Dr. George and Margaret MacDonald, to Troy, N.Y. ... Having shown a marked talent for portraiture, he was sent in 1883 to the studio of Frank Forshew, of Hudson, N.Y., then the most accomplished photographer in that section of the State, acquiring a proficiency in the art which could only be attained through natural aptitude supplemented by determined effort.

"In selecting as he did, in 1889, what is perhaps the most conservative city in the United States in which to go into business for himself,  Mr. MacDonald did not do so without some idea of the time and patience it would require to give him the position he desired; but a firm believer in his art as he interpreted it, fully convince that although Albany might be slow, she would be sure to appreciate merit if time enough were given, and that such appreciation would, in the end, be worth all it cost, he went deliberately and conscientiously to work."

 Apparently his later disdain for portraits of women (he proudly proclaimed late in life that he hadn't "taken one picture of a woman" for 50 or 60 years) was not in play early in his career: "The artist was not long in demonstrating to delighted mothers that he could do anything he wanted to with children, from whom he won poses, and caught expressions with a facility and success that seemed like magic. The ladies too, as one by one they found him out, appreciated the all-conquering deference he appeared to pay their slightest suggestion, and went away satisfied with their pictures and not wholly out of conceit with themselves."

He received a notable early commission in 1892 for photographs of Phelps & Kellogg's "The Albany Rural Cemetery; its Beauties, its Memories," (which is SO here) "which in the originals did him great credit, and which were fairly well reproduced by the gelatin process in one of the handsomest volumes ever printed in Albany."

The preface to that book declared that, "Only twenty-seven years of age, life and the world are still all before him where to choose. It may be that he will elect to remain in Albany many years, for the field of his tilling is ripe with the harvest, it is already yielding - or he may go elsewhere; the great cities are constantly bidding higher and higher for the brightest men in photography, as in everything else; but wherever Pirie MacDonald is located it will not be very far from the head of the profession."

Photographer of Society Belles

As is known, he didn't stay much longer in Albany, and soon left behind women, children and headstones to become a photographer of men. The New Photo Miniature, in 1900, reprinted a write-up of MacDonald by Fra Elbertus, originally published in The Philistine.

"Mr. Pirie MacDonald, formerly of Albany, but now of New York city, is a photographer. He calls himself a Photographic Artist - and he is. He has more medals and gets higher prices than any photographer in America. His prices are as high as a church steeple. Pirie is the only man I ever knew, or heard of, who made a fortune taking photographs. He has his limit in every savings bank in Albany, owns a block of flats, and sports an automobile in the park with a bull-dog sitting beside him.

"Pirie of the Medals does not take everybody's picture - he picks his customers. As you enter his place he sizes you up thru a peep-hole from behind the aras, and if your contenance lacks a trace of the classic, Pirie signals his assistant, and you are informed that Mr. MacDonald is in Europe and will not return for a year and a half.

"Mr. MacDonald's specialty until recently has been Society Belles - tall, lissome beauties, proud and haughty, with a wondrous length of limb; these are the kind he liked best. And so famous is MacDonald that sitters have come to him from Rochester, Potsdam, Chambersburg, Rahway, and all the country round and gladly paid the price of one hundred simoleons for one portrait, done with that wonderful Rembrandtesque effect, & signed by the artist. Often Pirie would send the fair one home to change her dress, but if her hair needed rearranging he always attended to that himself ... Women want to look pretty, and that wasn't what Pirie cared for: he desired chicity-chic, go, biff and éclat. To this end he often had to resort to a scheme to bring the siter out of her affected self-consciousness. 'Look into my eyes,' he would sometimes command; and when all else failed, Pirie would assume wrath, and declare, 'Here you - why in tarnation can't you do as I want you to!' and he would clap one hand on the beauty's head and the other under her chin and give her a few sharp turns to win'ard, and end by administering a sharp slap athwart her glutei maximus, to straighten her spine.

"By this time the woman would be simply furious and speechless with rage. Then she would sit bolt upright, ready to explode, but she was not given time to go off, for Pirie would step back three steps and shout exultantly, 'Splendid! Hold that - hold that!' and then he would rush forward, kiss her on the cheek and back again he would spring, crying, 'Hold that! Hold that!' and the bulb was pressed.

"And when all was over the artist was so penitent, so humble and beseeching in his manner, so profuse in his explanations that it was all in the interest of Art, that all was forgiven; for base ineed is that woman who is not willing to sacrifice her feelings on the altar of Divine Art. And thus did Pirie get that most wonderful 'Salome,' which was the wonder of the Paris Exposition, and was declared by the judges to be the strongest and most effective study in photography ever exhibited. In every line it showed such a fine feminine rage - such pride and smothered passion - that people looked at it in amazement. No one knew that Pirie had tumbled the woman's hair in one fell grab, and had thus aroused her wrath, and then offered her insult by kissing her and so brought that fine look of burning shame and mingled rage to her proud face.

"It's a great picture and will pay you to stop off at Albany the next time you are down that way and go to the State House and see it.

Photographer of Men

"But the Ideal continually recedes, and Pirie having the true instinct of an artist was fired with an ambition to do still better. The opportunity came, and Pirie, looking out thru the peep-hole, beheld a woman, say of twenty-eight, five feet eleven, weight one hundred and sixty. Her beautiful and abundant hair was bleached, and she had the proud and self-reliant look of one who had conquests that lay behind, and others, greater still, within her grasp. Her neat-fitting jacket and tailor-made gown showed off her fine form to advantage. The strong features were pure Greek.

"Pirie almost screamed with delight, and hastily he ordered his assistant to be gone and leave the customer to him. 'Oh! Now we shall have a real Herodias - that Paris picture shall only be a tin-type to this. My! What a splendid tiger she is!'

"That is really all we know about the matter. The attendant improved the opportunity to go out on an errand, and when the neighbors in the law office across the hall heard the commotion and rushed out they caught the swish of skirts and got a glimpse of a tailor-made gown going down the stairway. Pirie was found, panting and helpless, in a corner of the studio, with the black cloth viciously knotted around his neck, and the tripod, camera and sitter's throne on top of him. There was a bad scalp wound extending from one ear to the crown of his head, and it looked as though he had been struck with the lens.

"Pirie never made any statements about the matter, but now his card reads:



"Portraits of Men Only."

Have to wonder if he used the same approach with Teddy Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson.





PirieMcDonald.pngPirie MacDonald may have been the most famous photographer Albany ever produced. He was born in Chicago in 1867, but his parents moved to Troy. In 1883 he apprenticed in Hudson with Frank Forshew for six years,  and then opened a studio in Albany in 1890.

This ad was in the 1894 guide to Albany schools. MacDonald became well-known during his years in Albany, exhibiting in New York City, Paris, and beyond, and eventually moved to New York, where his fame grew, and he photographed many of the leading men of the day, including Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson, four governors, university presidents, automobile tycoons. He adopted the moniker "Pirie MacDonald, Photographer of Men," and claimed to have photographed 70,000 of them through his career. On his 75th birthday, he said, "For the past 50 or 60 years I've been at this game, I haven't taken one picture of a woman - not even of my wife or my daughter. Why? You just can't make superlative pictures of men and then get yourself into the mood for women. You can't do it, I say."

His photographic collection is held by the New York Historical Society. In an odd feature of his will, all of his negatives were destroyed after his death. Fortunately, the prints that survived were largely contact prints, from large format negatives. The collection also contains a small amount of Albany-related material:

"There is a small selection of letterhead, envelopes, stickers, seals and various forms used in the New York studio, as well as several pieces of original calligraphy and graphic designs for MacDonald's Albany operation. The latter includes drawings by Albany artist Charles Selkirk (1855-1923) for corporate identifications; Selkirk created the Japonisme-inspired logogram used by MacDonald for stickers, and may have also designed his stylish and distinctive letterhead."

It's Mayell's for Rubber!

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HenryMayell.pngHenry Mayell & Son was established sometime in the 1850s, and by 1894 proclaimed itself Albany's headquarters for rubber goods, located at the corner of State and Broadway, its curved building shown here at Douw's Corner. Mayell not only sold rubber goods, but had at least one patent "for use in the making of soling for boots and shoes, or for any purchase in which leather protected over its whole surface by india-rubber covering may be needed in arts or manufactures."

Mayell1891directory.pngAs shown in this ad in 1891, if you wanted rubber boots, shoes, cement, clothing, goods, hose or packing, Henry Mayell and Son was your place. But furniture castors? Apparently beneath him.

Henry Mayell was born in 1824 in New York City. He was living at 161 Hamilton St., in Albany when he died, August 18, 1890 (aged 66 years, 3 months and 6 days) from "fatty degeneration of the heart." He's buried in Albany Rural Cemetery.

John Skinner, bookseller.

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JohnSkinner.pngJohn Skinner was an Albany bookseller active around the turn of those other centuries (this is from the 1894 guide to Albany's public schools). Beyond that, all we know is the fact that he wrote up a catalogue of the library of Mr. and Mrs. John V.L Pruyn, that he dealt in books published by Joel Munsell, and that he was, according to Whish's "Albany Tourist's Handy Guide," a fairly serious stamp collector. And that he bought used school-books. He was still selling books in 1927, from 15 Steuben St., and at that time he lived at 453 Western Ave., a house that likely still exists right near the College of St. Rose.

Another interestingly sparse and stylized advertisement for its time.

Albany Teachers' Agency

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AlbanyTeachersAgency.pngWe've been reviewing Albany's numerous schools from 1894. Each of those schools had anywhere from seven to 18 teachers. To fill teaching slots today, we have strict educational requirements, civil service and hiring lists. But before all that, there was the Albany Teachers' Agency, which "provides schools of all grades with competent teachers" and "assists teachers with good records in obtaining situations." One of their ads from 1899 indicated the agency had done placements as far away as Alabama. Its manager, Harlan P. French, was a Vermont native born in 1843, who came to Albany in 1873, and seems to have been engaged in the business for many years before founding the Albany Teachers' Agency in 1890. He died in 1921, aged 77, living at 1090 Madison Avenue and still apparently heading the agency. He also served on the Board of Public Instruction of the City of Albany. He's buried at Albany Rural Cemetery.

Van Gaasbeek Carpets, Rugs & Curtains

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VanGasbeekRugs.pngThis lovely ad from 1894 is for Van Gaasbeek's carpet store on North Pearl Street, opposite the Kenmore Hotel.

Cuyler Reynolds, in the 1911 "Hudson-Mohawk Genealogical and Family Memoirs," told us this about Alexander Van Gaasbeek:

"Alexander Boyd [Gaasbeek], son of Dr. Jacobus and Helen (Boyd) Van Gaasbeek, was born in Middleburg, New York, April 11, 1816. He was educated in his native town in a private school. At an early age he began what proved to be a long and successful business career. His first work was in a lawyer's office in Middleburg, and for a short period he was engaged in a general store in that town. He then went to Lawyersville, where he was employed as a clerk for Peter Osterhout. He remained in that position for a year, and in 1832 went to Albany and clerked for John Garnsey in the dry goods business for the following two years. He then secured a position with a Mr. Bagley, with whom he remained until 1836, and in that year started in for himself. In connection with Frank Moseley he established a dry goods business under the firm title of Mosley and Van Gaasbeek. This partnership continued four years, when it was dissolved and Mr. Van Gaasbeek continued the business himself for the following nine years. About this time gold was discovered in California. Like many another of his day, he caught the gold fever, sold out his business and started for Panama. He got as far as New York City, where he was induced to associate himself with a man by the name of Reynolds, to start a commission business in Panama. On arriving at the Isthmus, however, he, becoming dissatisfied with his relations with Reynolds, decided to dissolve the partnership. This accomplished, he formed a partnership with Amos Corwin, at that time United States consul to Panama. They carried on a successful business until December, 1850, when he returned to Albany to be married. Mr. Van Gaasbeek after his marriage went back to Panama to continue the business there, but owing to an illness brought on by the climatic conditions of the tropics he was obliged to give up his work and return North. Once more he established himself in Albany, this time going into the carpet business, opening a store on the corner of Broadway and Columbia street. The business growing rapidly, he moved, in the early sixties, to larger quarters on Pearl street, where he acquired the property which he held at his death. He became the leading carpet man in Albany, and continued to conduct a large and successful business until he retired, in 1901, from an active participation in commercial life. Mr. Van Gaasbeek was a member of the First Reformed Church, of Albany, and for many years was one of the most active elders. In politics he was first a Whig and later a Republican, and, though urged many times to hold office, always declined. For nine years he was a volunteer fireman in Albany in the days of the old hand-engine. Though Mr. Van Gaasbeek had attained the ripe old age of more than ninety-four years, he was in possession of all his faculties, attended to all the business connected with a considerable estate personally, and gave no visible signs of the approaching end until shortly before his death, January 15, 1911."

Presumably this Van Gaasbeek was some relation to the W. Van Gaasbeek who produced "the bazaar shirt," acros from the Delavan Hotel.

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