Archive for June, 2010

The Mysterious Cherubs…

Cherub in the right hand corner of the painting of Ella and Charles

Staurring Family

In the dining room there are two paintings of Staurring family. The first painting is of Clarinda Dygert Staurring. The second painting is of her two children; Ella and Charles. In the second painting two small cherubs were painted below the portraits of Ella and Charles, this has always raised questions from visitors about whether the cherubs represented other childrenin the Staurring family that passed away or even if the painting was a memorial to Ella and Charles. Past guides thought that the cherubs indicated one of these scenarios. Ella and Charles both lived to be adults but there were other children in the family who either died young or there is no record of after their birth so there may be some truth to the cherubs depicting other family members.

Although no conclusive evidence could be found to link the cherubic paintings to a family tragedy the Staurrings do have an interesting past. Charles was born in 1817 and Clarinda was born in 1822. They lived; respectively; to past 1900 and to 1897. The couple had many children, although not uncommon for the mid 1800s. Charles first child was James but this was from a previous relationship and not from his marriage to Clarinda. James was born in 1834. Another son Joseph was born in 1840. Joseph only appears in one census account and may have died shortly after the 1855 census or he may have elected to move elsewhere when his family moved to Saratoga sometime between 1855 and 1860. After Joseph, Ella was born in 1844. Ellen’s birth was followed by Charles in 1846. The two painting subjects, Ella and Charles were followed by William. William was born in 1851 and only lived a few years. William’s death happened in May of 1857 when he was just seven years old. Two more children were born into the Dygert Starring family of Charles and Clarinda. Daniel was born in 1858 a year after William passed. Maud was born in 1864.

The Staurring family moved around frequently. Charles Staurring, was born in Little Falls, Herkimer, NY. Evidence also points to Clarinda being born within Herkimer County. The couple moved to Schenectady and lived there until sometime between 1855 and 1860 where Charles worked as a railroad conductor. By 1860 the family had moved to Saratoga where Charles was a hotel keeper. By 1865 the family relocated to New York City where Charles traded horses. Ella, still living at home, worked as a treasurer in the circus. Still in New York City in 1870 Charles stayed in the horse trading business. In 1880 the Staurrings were back in upstate New York, this time in Albany. Twenty years after his move back upstate, in 1900, Charles was a member of the Schenectady poor house.

After a year in Saratoga, the first son James moved back to Schenectady to board at the Fuller Hotel. James was a machinist who began boarding in 1862. From the Fuller Hotel James moved to 10 Quakenbush street in 1868. In 1871 James Staurring moved to 86 College Street where he appears to have stayed. James was married at 25 to Kate Schermerhorn in November of 1859. As was customary for the time Kate Schermerhorn’s name does not appear on any of the directory listings to clarify if she and James stayed together during his various moves.

Ella and Charles Stauring circa 1850, artist unknown

It is possible that the cherubic picture of Ella and Charles is a commemorative or memorial to the departed William but that means the artist would have been drawing Ella and Charles out of memory and not true to life. By the time William passed away in 1857 both Ella and Charles were more than 10 years old, while the painting suggests ages of no more than 2-5. Could the cherubs have been added later after William and possibly Joseph’s death? Without further research into the painting itself, it is purely speculation. The painting is a beautiful work and along with the paintings of Clarinda and Charles (whose painting is currently stored until it can be conserved) it is an amazing glimpse into one family’s life in Schenectady.

Charles born in 1817 and lived past 1900
Clarinda born 1822 and lived to 1897

Family locations
1850- Schenectady
1855- Schenectady
1860- Saratoga
1865- NYC
1870- NYC
1880- Albany
1900- Schenectady

1850
Charles 33
Clarinda 28
James 16
Ellen 6
Charles 4
1855
Charles 38 – railroad conductor
Clarinda 32
Joseph 15
Ellen 10
Charles 8
William 10
William died at 7 yrs old on May 24, 1857
1870
Charles 53
Clarinda 48
Ellen 25
Charles 22
Daniel 12
Maud 6

James marries Kate Schermerhorn on November 29, 1859 married by Rev Dr Backus

Typical family names
Staurring Dygert
Stauring Dygart
Storring Dagget (?)
Storing Diegert
Starring Diegart
Staring

Clarinda
Clarinda
Clorinda
Clarynda

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The USS Schenectady

Today I saw that the USS Schenectady has a facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=871615191#!/pages/USS-Schenectady/68478434203).

Inspiration for USS Schenectady

The USS Schenectady was a Newport Class Tank Landing Ship named after Schenectady, New York. As part of a class-wide writing assignment, a letter, written by Franklin School fourth-grader Kimberly Duto in 1968 asked “Would it be possible to name one of the ships – Schenectady” after the students learned that a new series of ships were being constructed for the NAVY. This letter began a 34-year connection between the ship and the community it was named after.

Schenectady’s Industries Help to Build Ships

According to “On the Line with MAC Motors (v2,n15 May 1, 1970),” a newsletter for employees in the Medium AC Motor Department of General Electric, the name of the ship was not the only thing Schenectady contributed, “…the locomotive and engine products division of Alco Products, with headquarters in Schenectady, was manufacturing 153 engines for LST’s (Landing Ship-Tanks) in their Auburn Plant and General Electric was manufacturing part of the mechanism to propel the crafts.” GE’s SAC (small AC motor department) made motors for deck machinery and the MAC (medium AC motor department) manufactured 51 750 kw service generators according to “Schenectady GE News, v53, n18, 1790”. Also constructed by General Electric for the LSTs were:
* winch controllers and motors
* electrical pump controllers
* a bow thruster motor
* propeller pitch control hydraulic pump
* reduction gear standing lube oil pump
* main reduction gears
* a reduction gear-shaft turning gear
* a reduction gear-salt water circulating pump

The USS Schenectady Launched 1969

The USS Schenectady was built by National Steel and Shipbuilding Company in San Diego, California. The keel was laid on August 2, 1968, and launched May 24, 1969. Schenectady Mayor Malcolm E. Ellis was the principal speaker at the commissioning ceremonies of the USS Schenectady on June 13, 1970, in San Diego. He recounted the 300 year history of our city. He alongside commanding officer Cdr. David Sigsworth, offered a proclamation to the crew. Many gifts from the citizens of this area were presented to the ship and her crew. Recreation equipment, books, flags, a bronze plaque, a silver tea service and other presents were donated to the USS Schenectady.

LST’s (Landing Ship-Tanks)

LST’s, Landing Ship-Tanks, were ocean-going ships which could be beached to discharge heavy equipment and troops. They were first used in the Solomon Islands during World War II. There were 1052 built during the war. The USS Schenectady was an entirely revolutionary design in amphibious landing ships. A 35 ton bow ramp supported by two derrick arms replaced the traditional bow doors of WWII LSTs. A stern gate permitted back loading, and the new destroyer type bow allowed speeds over 20 knots. Seventeen of these newly designed ships were built in San Diego in the early 1970s.

USS Schenectady’s Career of Service

The USS Schenectady had an active career of service. Early in its career it escorted NAVY ships to the Panama Canal. During the Vietnam War, the USS Schenectady served in the following campaigns:

Vietnamese Counter offensive – Phase VII
23 to 26 May 1971

Consolidation II
12 to 9 December 1971
5 to 7 January 1972
6 to 10 February 1972
15 to 17 February 1972
21 March 1972
24 to 26 March 1972

Vietnam Ceasefire
1 April to 7 May 1972
22 May to 11 June 1972
23 June to 15 July 1972

Earning three campaign stars for its efforts during the war.

(http://www.navsource.org/archives/10/16/161185.htm)

T-shirt from the decommissioning of the USS Schenectady

USS Schenectady’s Final Mission

The USS Schenectady was decommissioned on December 15, 1993. Struck from the Naval Register on July 13, 2001, the USS Schenectady’s final mission was its sinking as a target by by B-52’s, B-1’s, F-15’s along with FA-18’s during SINEX – Exercise Resultant Fury 19, 21-22 November 2004.

The former Navy landing ship (tank) USS Schenectady is seen in the waters of the Pacific Ocean just west of Hawaii Tuesday just prior to her sinking by B-52 bombers, including one that flew directly from Barksdale Air Force Base, in Operation Resultant Fury.

“The USS Schenectady has been shot at, bombed, been beached a thousand times, and she’s been there on time ready for work. Schenectady is a dependable, trustworthy work horse of the fleet. She’s hauled thousands of Marines hundreds of thousands of miles, with hundreds of thousands of tons of equipment aboard, and she’s done so admirably…many countries have special memories of Schenectady, sailors coming to orphanages and working hard to bring happiness to homeless crippled children. Our men have told the story of your area more times then we can count to people from around the world…we have been proud to represent your city”

Ltgj L.M. Barney, Public Affairs Officer, USS Schenectady
1984

USS Schenectady’s Awards

Combat Action Ribbon, NAVY “E” ribbon, NAVY Expeditionary Ribbon
National Defense Service Medal (2)
Vietnam Service Medal (2)
Southwest Asia Service Medal (2)
Humanitarian Service Medal
Sea Service Deployment Ribbon
(Gold Star)
Republic of Viet Nam Campaign Medal

For more information on the ship and its history check out:
http://www.ussschenectadylst1185.org/4-Epilog.htm
http://www.ussschenectadylst1185.org/History%20of%20the%20USS%20Schenectady.pdf

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What is it – More information on Thomas Brower Banker’s 18th century cloth rule

This season at the Mabee Farm Historic Site Pat Barrot and the volunteers and staff have created a new exhibit “Whatsit?” of intriguing and curious artifacts and what their actual purpose was. One of the highlight artifacts is the 18th century cloth rule made by Thomas Brower Banker, a blacksmith in Schenectady during the 18th century. One of our many talented staff, John Ackner wrote an article based on his research (https://schenectadyhist.wordpress.com/2009/10/21/18th-century-cloth-rule/). Although John has done some of the most extensive research into the cloth rule, he was not the first. Today, a volunteer brought in an article by Larry Hart published in the Daily Gazette in 1961.

Larry Hart interviewed respected historian and SCHS trustee John J. Birch about some of the unusual artifacts found in the collections of the SCHS and particularly the cloth rule. The article stated that before Birch’s research the rule was unidentified but still kept because the society recognized its historical importance. According to Birch the “rod was standard equipment in general stores and drygoods houses years ago.” Birch’s interpretation stressed that in such a mixed community as Schenectady (considered very Dutch by many 18th and early 19th century travel accounts) the inclusion of the Dutch “ell” as well as the standard “yard” helped patrons convert measurements back and forth.

Birch’s research does diverge from our recent discoveries concerning the identity of the “TTB” mark on the cloth rule. In Ackner’s research, Thomas Brower Banker was discovered to be the maker of the rule and therefore the explanation for his mark on the rule. Birch also states that the year on the rule “1768 Mart” “meant that the device belonged to a store that had been incorporated in that year.” while Ackner describes it as the year it was made.

Although further research is needed to establish who used the cloth rule, there is the belief that it could have been made for a store in Schenectady or even possibly for a store owned by Banker. There is a strong connection between this cloth rule and a ladle in the Mabee Farm’s collection which is marked 1767. Similar styles in the markings helped connect the two to possibly the same maker.

Although many believe that history is a solid unchanging thing, it is a fluid and ever-changing discovery of facts, resource materials, and previously unknown connections. As researchers and historians uncover each layer more of our communal history can be exposed and explored. The Thomas Brower Banker cloth rule is a perfect example of an artifact finding its voice through the continued research of historians. To learn more about Thomas Brower Banker and his work, read the above article by John Ackner. To see this insightful piece of Schenectady’s Dutch/English history, visit the Mabee Farm Historic Site’s newest exhibit “Whatsit.” For more information on John J. Birch, or to read the article on your own, visit the Grems-Doolittle Library at the Schenectady County Historical Society. The cloth rule will return home to the Schenectady County Historical Society in late fall, 2010.

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