Continued from June 23, 2012
When traveler James Stuart is informed by the New York State secretary of state's office in Albany in September, 1829, that all copies of the annual Auburn Prison report have been given away, he's also told that the nearby state printer's office may have a copy. Off he heads down the hill and enters the print shop. "The printer doubted whether he had more than one copy to keep, and he rummaged everywhere without success. I told him this was very provoking for me, who had got the previous reports, and wished to have the last report put up with them, that I might carry them together to Britain. My last remark put things at once to rights. The printer could not think of allowing me to go home without the paper; and he absolutely deprived himself of the only copy he had, in order to complete my set. I stupidly neglected to mark the name of this very obliging person."
His quest fulfilled, the Stuarts prepared to set out down the west bank of the Hudson on their way back to their temporary New Rochelle home. We'll dispense with their guide services at this point to explore the northern, central and western parts of the state on our own. The couple, along with their hack driver Hugh Duffie, will stop for meals and/or lodging at New Baltimore, Catskill, Saugerties (on October 1), Kingston, and Newburgh, then crossing the river back into New York at New Jersey. The entire ten-day journey had cost them $98.00 including Duffie's services.
Their boarding house was closing for the winter so they move to another nearby, staying until December and making a visit to the cottage of the late (1809) Thomas Paine. Then they're off again, really long-distance, traveling through New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Kentucky, Missouri, Illinois, and Indiana, returning to New York the following summer, where we'll have a reunion with them at some future date. But now we're on our own.
Back at the beginning of the year Albany's mayor Charles Edward Dudley had been elected to the United States Senate, to take the place of Martin Van Buren, who was now governor. Banker John Townsend was chosen by the voters to serve in Dudley's office and a short time later had laid the cornerstone for the new City Hall (a fire would destroy it 61 years later). This year also saw the election of a new Albany County sheriff. His name is tucked away somewhere in the county archives but it's the name (and nationality) of the person he defeated that's of most interest. War of 1812 veteran James Maher lost the election by an extremely narrow margin. One of the first Irish candidates for any local office (there would be many more to come) his near-miss was another signal of the slowly weakening influence of the Dutch patrician families in the state's capital region.
New political-geographical landscapes were forming as well. Part of the funding for the new city hall had been secured in May, when the state government paid $175,000 to the city of Albany to relinquish rights to the land where the state capital building stands and to the park surrounding it. Of greater importance is the growing feeling that the state's capital should be moved out of Albany to some city closer to the geographical center of the state. Hasn't happened yet, of course.
© 2012 David Minor / Eagles Byte