Thursday, December 29, 2016

Some Hints About Life in Hudson in the 1850s

Recently, I discovered this item in the Hudson Daily Star for June 12, 1851.

It's not often you can discover with any certainty when a building was constructed, so this bit of news piqued my curiosity. I set out to discover exactly which building this was. It turns out that the building hailed as an icon of Hudson's vitality in 1851 no longer exists. It stood on Seventh Street, between Prison Alley and what was then Diamond Street (now Columbia Street), on the site now occupied by Proprietors Hall. The building--a three-story brick structure--appears in this photograph from the 1930s.

The location of the building was discovered in the city directory for 1862 and a Beers Atlas map, but the search in old newspapers for a clue to its location uncovered some interesting information about its owner, John Stewart Anable, and provides insight into life in Hudson in the 1850s. 

Anable was a dealer in leather and wool, but he was also for a time the postmaster of Hudson. He was appointed on May 4, 1853. Although on August 5, 1854, the Troy Daily Times reported that J. S. Analbe had been rejected as postmaster for Hudson, he seems to have continued in that position until he resigned in May 1856.

During his tenure, the post office was located in his Leather Store and Wool Depot, on the Public Square. Also during his tenure as postmaster, long lists of names regularly appeared in the Daily Star. These were the names of recipients of letters waiting to be picked up at the post office. This is such a list, which was published on on February 15, 1856.

Why these letters were not or could not be delivered is not known, but the article in the Daily Star announcing Anable's resignation as postmaster intimates that all was not well in the Hudson post office during his years in that position. After reporting that Henry Miller had been appointed Anable's successor and has "returned from Washington on Saturday with all the necessary papers," the article continues: "We believe this change will be hailed by the public with great satisfaction. . . . There are few post-offices in the country that have given the Department at Washington more trouble than ours, or begotten more strife and censure at home."

In spite of the optimism about a new postmaster, there seems not to have been an orderly transition of power. In June, the Daily Star reported that there would be not only a new postmaster but also a new post office.

The announcement was followed by a bit of editorial comment. 

Despite what seems to have been a less than stellar career as postmaster, Anable appears to have been both charitable and civic minded. His name appears among those being acknowledged in the Daily Star on December 5, 1854, for their gifts to the Hudson Orphan Asylum on Thanksgiving. His gift to the orphans was "a fine roasting piece of Beef."

John S. Anable often petitioned the Common Council for various things he felt needed improvement in the City of Hudson. In March 1855, it was street lamps and sufficient gas, no doubt from the gasification works on the waterfront, to keep them burning.

The Lamp Committee reported that there was not sufficient money in the budget to light the streets and "respectfully recommended that the Common Council order an election in accordance with Title VIII, Sec. 88, of the new Charter, submitting to the qualified electors, the question of raising the sum of $1,200 to be exclusively applied to defray the expenses of lighting the streets of the city until the 31st day of December of the present year."

In June 1857, the issue Anable brought before the Council was the state of the railroad tracks through the Public Square.

In April 1864, Anable was one of the signatories on a petition presented to the Common Council complaining about a building, "situated on the easterly corner of Warren street and the Public Square," the walls of which were in "a ruinous and unsafe condition."   

This petition raises a couple of questions. What is the "easterly corner of Warren street and the Public Square"? Was the building "rendered safe" and preserved for us today, or was it demolished and replaced by one of the buildings that line the south side of the park today or the building at the corner of Warren and Park Place? Gossips will try to find the answers to these questions in the next few days.

1 comment:

  1. Both the three story building, Anable's, and the Socony station were raised.
    The Anable's became a single story A&P supermarket.
    The service station was renovated to include gas pumps. The new building was set back from the street so that autos could drive up to the pumps.