Monday, June 18, 2012

The Fate of Malcolm, Sr.

Sometimes the process of historical sleuthing is more satisfying than the outcome, especially when the outcome is not what you thought it would be. One of the advantages of having a blog is that you can share your discoveries even when they don't support your assumptions. 

On Saturday, while milling about, waiting for the parade to begin, I ran into Jack Connor, who told me that my posts about the Malcolm Giffords had reminded him of something from his own family history. His grandparents lived at 345 Allen Street, the same house where the Malcolm Giffords lived when Malcolm, Jr., then in prep school, was tried twice for murder and where they were still living when, three years later, he was killed in World War I. Connor told me that there was a part of the attic where his grandmother refused to go because someone had hanged himself there. 

My immediate thought was that the man who had hanged himself was Malcolm Gifford, Sr. When I visited his grave not long ago, I was struck by the fact Malcolm, Sr., didn't survive his son by very long. Malcolm, Jr., was killed in the Second Battle of Passchendaele on November 8, 1917; sixteen months later, on March 5, 1919, Malcolm, Sr., died. Could it be that, after standing by his son and namesake through the scandal of being tried twice for murder only to have him volunteer for the Canadian Army two years later and die on the battlefield and be buried in faraway Belgium, Malcolm, Sr., finally succumbed to grief and despair and took his own life?

An obituary published in the Albany Evening Journal on March 6, 1919, disabused me of that notion. Malcolm, Sr., died, at the age of 62, after undergoing stomach surgery.

Well Known Hudson Manufacturer was 
Operated on for Stomach Trouble 
in New York Hospital
Malcolm Gifford, one of Hudson's best known manufacturers and a member of one of the oldest families of that city, died in New York city yesterday afternoon after an operation for stomach trouble and for the removal[?] of his appendix, the operation being performed at Ellis[?] Austin hospital on West 61st street, New York.
Mr. Gifford was president of the Gifford-Wood Co. of Hudson, manufacturers of ice harvesting machinery and elevator conveyances which was established in 1814 by Elihu Gifford, who assumed sole charge until 1851, and was succeeded by his sons, William and James. The firm of Gifford Bros. was then formed, and this was continued after their deaths by Arthur and Malcolm Gifford, sons of James, who purchased the business. Some years ago this firm combined with the Wood plant, of Arlington, Mass., and a new manufactory was erected in Hudson. 
Malcolm Gifford was born in Hudson on Nov. 9, 1856. He spent six years in the West. In 1883, he returned and had been associated with the business ever since. He was married in Paris, France, in 1885, to Marion F., daughter of John Howard Welles of New York. He leaves his wife and two children, Lieutenant Benedict Gifford and Miss Flora Gifford. 
Mr. Gifford served as an alderman from the fifth ward in 1888-9. He was an energetic public official, a progressive business man, and a man of great force of character.
So, the question remains: If it wasn't Malcolm Gifford who hanged himself in the attic of 345 Allen Street, who was it?


  1. Did all the family strife give the man ulcers?

  2. Well it wasn't Dudley. He died after being hit by a train.