Collection: Noted Living Albanians

Biography of James Shanahan

JAMES SHANAHAN Discover your family's story. Enter a grandparent's name to get started. choose a state: Any AL AK AZ AR CA CO CT DE DC FL GA HI ID IL IN IA KS KY LA ME MD MA MI MN MS MO MT NE NV NH NJ NM NY NC ND OH OK OR PA RI SC SD TN TX UT VT VA WA WV WI WY INTL Start Now A STATE official whose long, industrious, persevering career in mechanical pursuits, and whose works in different parts of the country evince his superior powers as a master of his art is the Hon. James Shanahan, superintendent of public works of the state of New York. He belongs to a class of men whose talents and energy have advanced and enriched the interests of the empire state by the construction of works intimately connected with the railroads and canals, trade and commerce. He is a native of Ireland, and was born on the 6th of February, 1829, having now reached a period in life in which high purposes, aims and achievements are usually unfolded in full power. His ancestors were useful and substantial citizens of their country and some of them held responsible positions. His father, having determined to seek his fortune in “the land of the free,” cast a last lingering look on the home of his childhood...

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Biography of Hiram E. Sickels

HIRAM E. SICKELS A REPRESENTATIVE Albanian, a lawyer by profession and widely known state reporter, that is, as the reporter of the New York state court of appeals, is the Hon. Hiram E. Sickels. In the beautiful village of Albion, Orleans county, N. Y., he first saw the light on the 24th of June, 1827. He belongs to the old Holland Dutch extraction – a race that took such a leading part in the rise and progress of free institutions in the early history of our country. He is a son of Hiram Sickels, who was born in 1796 and who died in Albany in 1872. His mother was Lana (Lasher) Sickels, who was of German origin and of unusual strength of mind. His grandfather was Zachariah Sickels of Hoosick; and his great great-grandfather was the Hon. Zachariah Sickels of Troy, N. Y., member of assembly, county judge and supervisor. His ancestor who first reached this country was Zachariah Sickels, who came to Albany as corporal in the service of the West India Company as early as 1648. The family originally came from Austria, where the name was Zikkel; after their removal to Holland it was Zickelson, and finally the son was dropped leaving the present name. Hiram E. Sickels, the subject of this sketch, was educated at the Albion academy and was there noted for his diligence in...

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Biography of Charles Rufus Skinner

CHARLES RUFUS SKINNER AMONG the younger men whose experience in matters pertaining to state, national and educational affairs has already been quite extensive and highly beneficial to his fellow-citizens, is the Hon. Charles R. Skinner, who, on account of his official relations, is now a resident of Albany. Born on the 4th of August, 1844, at Union Square, Oswego County, N. Y., he is a son of the late Hon. Avery Skinner, a worthy New England pioneer who left the granite hills of New Hampshire to seek a home in the richer northern regions of New York State. In October, 1816, when but twenty years old, he left the paternal roof in New Hampshire and rode on horseback all the way through the wilderness or thinly settled regions of the country until he reached Watertown, where he first made his home. The village at that time contained less than five hundred inhabitants, according to a census taken by Mr. Skinner soon after his arrival. Mr. Skinner had been engaged in teaching at Chesterfield, N. H,, and immediately upon reaching Watertown he was engaged to teach the village school. He spent eight years in Watertown teaching, keeping books for mercantile houses and recording deeds and mortgages in the county clerk’s office. About the year 1824, he set out again for the purpose of taking up a large tract of land...

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Biography of Elnathan Sweet

ELNATHAN SWEET IN THE profession of a surveyor and civil engineer, a name known far and near is that of Elnathan Sweet – a man who for the past fourteen years has claimed the city of Albany as his residence. He was born in Cheshire, Mass., on the 20th of November, 1837. He comes from a New England ancestry, noted for their enterprise, solidity and high character, and for the active part they took in pioneer work in this section of the country, and in the dissemination of moral and religious principles in their communities. His father, Rev. Elnathan Sweet, was an earnest, eloquent and pious minister of the Baptist church, who for many years preached in Cheshire and Adams, Mass., and who removed to Stephentown, Rensselaer County, N. Y., in 1842, and carried on a very successful pastorate there until his death, in 1879, at age of eighty-two. His mother, whose maiden name was Chloe Cole, was a daughter of a substantial farmer of Berkshire, Mass; she died in 1872, at the age of sixty-eight. Of this old couple it may truly be said that they were lovely and pleasant in their lives and in their deaths were not long divided. His great-grandfather, Elnathan Sweet, removed from Dutchess County, N. Y., to Stephentown about the year 1762, and was one of the first settlers of that fertile region....

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Biography of Alden Chester

ALDEN CHESTER A WELL-KNOWN, industrious, painstaking lawyer of this city, whose early struggles in life and well-directed efforts to secure an education have been crowned with success in his chosen profession, is Alden Chester. Born at Westford, a small village in Otsego County, N. Y., September 4, 1848, he is the youngest of four sons of Alden Chester. His father was born at New London, Conn., in 1803, and died at Westford on the 4th of March, 1857. He was a public-spirited man, of a noble nature, and a true friend of education. At first a cabinet-maker, he afterward carried on the business of manufacturing sash, blinds and doors. The original ancestor of this branch of the Chester family in this country was Capt. Samuel Chester, who came from England to Boston and removed to New London in 1633. He was a prominent and well educated man, a commander and owner of ships in the West Lidia trade, and was also a merchant and land surveyor. He finally removed to Groton, where he owned ground on which stands Fort Griswold and the Groton monument, which his son John conveyed to the government in 1777. He was also one of the commissioners of the general court in 1693 to settle the boundary between Connecticut and Massachusetts. The mother of the present Mr. Chester was Susan G. Draper, She was married...

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Biography of Norton Chase

NORTON CHASE AMONG the rising young men of Albany who have reflected no little credit upon their native city by their earnest efforts for the advancement of worthy causes, is the Hon. Norton Chase. Born in this city on the 3d of September, 1861, he is a son of Nelson H. Chase, a useful and respected citizen of Albany. From his earliest youth he was inclined to study, and when a mere child he became a pupil in the Albany academy, where he devoted himself with great ardor to study, and made rapid progress in ascending the hill of science. Seldom, indeed, has that excellent institution been favored with a more diligent and successful student. His schoolboy days were those of pleasantness and of increasing attractions for intellectual culture. Learning was no drudgery to him; and with an ease and quickness unusual in most students of his years, he was fully prepared when the hours of recitation came; consequently he always stood among the best scholars in his classes, and when he graduated in 1878, he went forth from the academy with the highest honors, having taken five gold medals. In the same year he entered Yale College and carried on his studies there with a view principally to selecting the law as a profession, towards which his natural taste led him. On leaving Yale College he returned home...

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Biography of Edwin K. Burnham

EDWIN K. BURNHAM A BUSY, representative man, who has faithfully served his country both in a military and civil capacity, is the Hon. Edwin K. Burnham, the present careful, efficient superintendent of public buildings of the state of New York, whose official residence is now in Albany. In his veins flow the blood of the loyal, patriotic, enterprising race of New Englanders. Vermont is his native state, and in the rural town of Randolph – named, we believe, in honor of the famous Virginian orator and statesman John Randolph – he was born on the 8th of September, 1839. His father at one time was a member of the Vermont legislature. After first attending the common schools of his native place, when a mere child he was sent to the academy at Royalton, VT., where he spent several terms closely pursuing his studies and showing more than ordinary progress among youthful students in the attainment of knowledge. His classical course was afterward completed in the Orange County, VT., grammar school. He first established himself at Newark, a flourishing village in Wayne County, N. Y., where his reputation as a young man of high and honorable principles and of a public-spirited nature soon brought him into favorable notice and gained for him the full confidence of his townsmen. Naturally of a judicial turn of mind, it was easy for him...

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Biography of John M. Bailey

John M. Bailey IN THE conflict of arms, in the arena of the law, in the struggle of politics, and in the principles of diplomacy, an Albanian who has been an active participant, gaining distinction at home and abroad is the Hon. John M. Bailey, the present surveyor of customs in Albany. His career, thus far, is illustrative of that success which usually attends a line of action clearly marked out and steadfastly followed amidst the phases of public life. He is of New England origin. His father, Henry Bailey, owned and cultivated a farm in Bethlehem, Albany County, N. Y., where, on the 24th of August, 1838, his son John, the subject of this sketch, first saw the light. Remaining at home during his early youth, he attended the district school and assisted his father in working the farm. Reared amidst the healthful scenes and occupations of country life, his constitution became vigorous, while at the same time he manifested more than ordinary interest in his school books. It soon became apparent that farming was not to be his chosen occupation – that his taste ran wholly in the line of educational and some kind of professional work; and to foster his passion for study his father took great pains to have him carefully prepared at home, under the care of competent instructors, for a collegiate course. He...

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Biography of Lewis Balch, M. D., PH. D.

LEWIS BALCH, M. D., PH. D. ONE of the physicians and surgeons of Albany, whose professional assistance has been sought often in consultation through the state, is Dr. Lewis Balch. He was born in the city of New York, corner of Great Jones street and Second Avenue, on the 7th day of July, 1847. Ancestry on both sides is a notable one. It is of English and French origin. Several of his ancestors have rendered no small service in this country in civil and ecclesiastical matters. He is the oldest son of the Rev. Lewis P. W. Balch, D. D., and Anna Jay. His father was born in Leesburg, Va., in 1810, and died in Detroit, Mich., in 1874, where he was rector of Grace Episcopal church. Before the Rev. Dr. Balch moved to Detroit, where he resided but a year, he had filled many and important offices in the church, both in this country and Canada, having been for fifteen years secretary of the house of bishops of the United States. He was especially distinguished for his eloquence as a preacher. When a young man he was appointed a cadet at West Point, and served there three years, resigning to enter Princeton college preparatory to studying for the ministry. His mother, a lady of rare beauty and accomplishments, the daughter of the Hon. William Jay, died when the...

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Biography of John Battersby

JOHN BATTERSBY. AMONG the noted men of Albany, whose usefulness and whose generosity will always be held in high esteem by our citizens irrespective of party, is John Battersby, the present republican county treasurer of Albany. Born on the 19th of January 1834, in the town of Dromore, Ireland, he passed his earliest youth with his parents on the shores of the Emerald Isle, playing and working on the green fields, breathing the invigorating air of that healthful climate, and laying the foundation of a sound, vigorous constitution. John was the pride of his parents, who took the greatest delight in instructing him in right paths, so that in after years he might rise up and call them blessed. The father of John Battersby was in many respects a remarkable man; his chief characteristics being a provident, industrious nature, strict integrity, with a soul sensibly touched with the struggles of humanity and the sufferings of the poor. With a view to bettering his own condition and that of his young family he emigrated to America in the year 1847. On reaching New York and looking over the map of the country, to select a suitable location for carrying on his business – that of conducting a fine meat market – he decided on Albany, and sailing up the Hudson he landed at this city where he was to make...

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Biography of Edwin C. Baxter

EDWIN C. BAXTER THE subject of our sketch, Dr. Edwin C. Baxter, is of A New England ancestry, born at Kenduskeag, ME., February 1, 1845. He is a son of Dr. Hiram C. Baxter, of Kenduskeag, a prominent physician, who, for nearly sixty years, has devoted himself to the practice of his profession. His grandfather, Dr. Elihu Baxter, also an eminent physician of Maine, was born in Norwich, VT., in 1781. He practiced his profession over sixty years, a considerable portion of the time in the city of Portland, where his character as a citizen and skill as a physician were unexcelled. His great-grand-father, Elihu Baxter, was born at Norwich, Conn., in 1749, and it may here be stated that the Baxters of this family line came to this country from Norwich, England, and with others probably from the same locality, settled the towns of Norwich, Conn., and Norwich, VT., naming the settlements in honor of their former home. Dr. Edwin C. Baxter passed his earlier days amid rural scenes, enjoying out-of-door sports, fishing and hunting, which, with the healthful, invigorating surroundings, laid the foundation of a vigorous constitution, with which he is still blessed. At a proper age, however, he began to turn his attention more closely to his studies, and after graduating from the high school, he began a course of medical instruction, which he abandoned for...

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Biography of John Bogart

JOHN BOGART AN Albanian by birth, who holds an important position as a state officer, and whose abilities have brought him into wide notice, is the Hon. John Bogart, the accomplished state engineer and surveyor. He was born in Albany, on the 8th of February, 1836. His ancestors came from Holland to this city as early as 1640, and owned lands in Beverwyck, now Albany, in 1641; they were consequently among its very earliest settlers. And here their descendants lived in characteristically simple, honest, industrious ways, until they established comfortable and substantial homes for themselves and competencies for their children. The family also owned property in Ulster County purchased from the Indians, and Mr. Bogart has the original parchment patent for these lands from Governor Benjamin Fletcher in the reign of King William and Queen Mary, dated March 28, 1694. The old Dutch element of Albany, though quiet in its progress, nevertheless succeeded in laying the foundation of our municipal fabric on solid ground which the political convulsions of more than two centuries have not been able to undermine. When still very young, John Bogart, the subject of this memoir, was sent to the Albany academy. That institution, then as now, was noted for the thorough educational training given to its students. Under the direction of Dr. T. Romeyn Beck, Dr. William H; Campbell, the Rev. William C. Miller,...

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Biography of Jonas H. Brooks

JONAS H. BROOKS A LEADING, representative young man of Albany – a banker by profession – who is identified with the commercial interests of the city, is Jonas H. Brooks. He was born at Rutland, Worcester County, Mass., on the 5th of January, 1848. He comes from a long line of New England ancestry, which dates back to the formation of the Massachusetts colony in 1630-1. He is of the eighth generation of this strong and sterling old race in this country. The parents of Jonas H. Brooks are Moses Brooks and Sophronia Greenwood. His grandfather was Jonas Brooks of Princeton, Mass., who lived to the great age of ninety-five. When Jones H. Brooks was three years old his parents moved from Rutland to Princeton, their former home, where they remained five years. After this, in the spring of 1856, they removed to the town of Oxford, Chenango county, N. Y., locating, at first, for two years on a farm, and then taking up their residence in the village of Oxford. Young Brooks attended the country district school, and the village academy, leaving it temporarily, when he had reached his fourteenth year. In 1862, his parents chose as their permanent home the attractive town of Unadilla, Otsego county, N. Y., where they still reside. Two years later, in order to carry on his academical studies under the most favorable...

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Biography of Charles J. Buchanan

CHARLES J. BUCHANAN AN industrious and accomplished Albany lawyer, who has already gained no little distinction in the legal profession, and whose record in our civil war was most honorable, is Charles J. Buchanan, now of the well-known firm of Moak & Buchanan. Of Scotch-Irish ancestry – an ancestry noted for its strong mental and physical powers – he was born at New Berlin, Chenango County, N. Y., on the 27th of December, 1843. In the common schools of his native town, and in the New Berlin academy, amidst the richness and quietude of rural life, his school-boy days were pleasantly and profitably passed. A studious youth, he was ambitious to lay a substantial foundation on which he might build some useful intellectual superstructure. But when he left the academy in the hope of continuing his studies at college the civil war had broken out and the young student was fired with patriotic zeal in a loyal cause. In the fall of 1861 he enlisted in the First regiment of United States sharpshooters (Berdan’s) and went immediately to the front, his regiment being at once assigned to the army of the Potomac. He was then about eighteen years of age, vigorous in body, unfailing in courage and eager to engage in the deadly conflicts for loyalty whenever they should come. He served three years in Col. Berdan’s regiment, rising...

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Biography of Joel Wakeman Burdick

JOEL WAKEMAN BURDICK AN Albanian well known in railroad circles and by the traveling public is J. W. Burdick, the genial general passenger agent of the Delaware and Hudson Canal Company railroad. He comes from the sturdy, enterprising race of New Englanders who have done so much to advance the material interests of our country in the development of its vast resources. Born on the 20th of June, 1853, in the rural village of Almond, Allegany County, N. Y., he is a son of R. M. Burdick and Sarah E, Farnsworth, his wife. His father, now retired from the more active duties of life, is still living on the old homestead at Almond, while a few years ago the grave closed over his mother. One of his original ancestors was Samuel Hubbard Burdick, a follower of Roger Williams, and who, with the daring old pioneer and founder of the first Baptist church in America, left the shores of England – driven away by the storm of persecution – and came to this country in 1631, settling a few years later in the new but hospitable region of Providence, R. I. There Mr. Burdick purchased six hundred acres of land, on a portion of which now stands the beautiful city of Providence. He was perfectly willing to endure the hardships incident to pioneer life in the wilds of America for...

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