Wednesday, April 4, 2018

More About the Misses Skinner

My apologies to everyone not obsessed with Hudson history. I found the obituary for Cornelia Skinner today and feel compelled to share it. It reveals much about her life and gives a lovely sense of life in Hudson more than a century ago. Cornelia, the younger of the two sisters, was 81 at the time of her death. Her obituary appeared in the Columbia Republican on May 15, 1917. It is transcribed below because the reproduction of the newspaper available is smudged and somewhat blurred.

Miss Cornelia Skinner, of this city whose death was recorded in the last issue of the Columbia Republican, was born in Hudson October 22nd, 1835, the daughter of the late H. P. Skinner and Phoebe Bailey Hathaway, her childhood home being the residence on Warren street now occupied by Dr. George E. Swift. Her father was one of Hudson's leading merchants, conducting a dry goods store where Condit Boice Snyder now has his music store. Miss Skinner received her education in the Hudson Female Academy under the management of Prof. William Hague in the present home of the Orphan Asylum, after graduation she went to Fox Lane, Wis., where she taught for two years, going from there to Chicago and finally returning to Hudson where with her sister, Miss Sarah Skinner, she opened a boarding and day girls school in the homestead on Warren street, where she was born. This was in the early sixties and so successful was the school that it soon outgrew its quarters and the Misses Skinner built a brick house on Union street at 521, the present site of the property of John T. Guinan. Here were graduated many pupils, some going to college and others to take up the duties of home or business life but all well equipped as the result of the conscientious efforts and strong personalities of their preceptresses.
The school ranged in attendance from thirty on Warren street to seventy-five in the Union street building where boarding pupils as well as day scholars were accommodated and where many a woman who is today a mother is handing down to another generation the solid lessons of good living and close application taught them by these two remarkable women.
Miss Skinner was an active member of the Baptist church and was interested in all the departments of the church as well as of the Sunday school; she was a teacher in the latter and a regular attendant at every service as long as her health permitted.
In the early nineties she gave up active work and nine years ago she and her sister moved to the Home for the Aged, where loving friends and relatives called frequently to see her and to enjoy the charming personality which had made this retiring woman such a power for uplift in this community. 
Miss Skinner is survived by her sister Miss Sarah R. Skinner and by a number of nephews and nieces. The funeral will be held Thursday afternoon from The Home at 3:30 o'clock and later the interment will take place in the family plot in the old cemetery.
Again I need to admit I was wrong. I miscalculated the house number conversion. Based on the information provided in the obituary and a check of the 1917 city directory, the Skinner sisters' childhood home, where they started their school, was 314 Warren Street not 322, as I reported yesterday. The building occupied by Dr. George E. Swift in 1917 is now occupied by Source Adage.

Their father's dry goods store, where Condit Boice Snyder had his music store in 1917, was right next door at 316 Warren Street, where Rural Residence is now.

The obituary does contain a couple of things that are inconsistent with other sources. First, it says that Cornelia and Sarah opened their school in the "early sixties," but both Franklin Ellis, in his History of Columbia County, and Anna Bradbury, in her History of the City of Hudson, indicate the year was 1867. Also, the obituary says the school was at 521 Union Street, "the present site of the property of John T. Guinan." The city directory for 1917, however, gives the address of John T. Guinan as 523 Union Street.

Erratum: Even in the 20th century, house numbering seemed to be a little fluid. Evidence has surfaced that Henry Skinner's dry goods store was actually at 314 Warren Street not 316: "Flummoxed by House Numbers." 

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