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Hudson-Mohawk Genealogical and Family Memoirs:
Reavy

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[This information is from Vol. III, pp. 1127-1129 of Hudson-Mohawk Genealogical and Family Memoirs, edited by Cuyler Reynolds (New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Company, 1911). It is in the Reference collection of the Schenectady County Public Library at R 929.1 R45. Some of the formatting of the original, especially in lists of descendants, may have been altered slightly for ease of reading.]

The ancestry of the family in Troy bearing the above name were natives, on the paternal side, of Ireland, and on the maternal, of Scotland. The first of the line to settle in the United States, John Reavy, was born in county Armagh, Ireland, 1797, died in Cohoes, New York, November, 1856. On his emigration to America he settled in Montreal, Canada, where he became a merchant of wealth and importance. He was the owner and proprietor of a general store with a large trade with the Indians. He had a large grain business and owned flouring mills. His business was concentrated in one locality and in 1844 was swept out of existence by fire. He then came to the United States and worked in the mills at Westport; then became paymaster of the woolen mills at Chicopee Falls. He fell a victim to the brutal attack of thieves and robbers, who, supposing he carried a large sum of money, waylaid and beat him into unconsciousness. He never recovered from the injuries they inflicted and died at Cohoes a few months later. He married, in Guilford, county Armagh, Ireland, about 1835, Jemima Campbell, born in that town in 1820, died in Cohoes, March 17, 1880. She was a woman of education and refinement, well informed in general and especially in medicine, a science in which she was greatly interested. Her father, John Campbell, was a teacher in Guilford, Ireland, where he conducted a private school.

(II) Frank Campbell, son of John and Jemima (Campbell) Reavy, was born in Montreal, Canada, July 1, 1843, died January 30, 1905, at Syracuse, New York. The family came to the United States in 1844, locating first at Westport, Essex county, New York, next at Chicopee Falls, where they remained ten years, finally settling in Cohoes about 1855. He was educated in the public schools of Chicopee Falls and Cohoes, finishing his education in a private school of the latter city. He learned the trade of carpenter and also became an expert cabinetmaker. For several years he was a contractor of buildings and had an established successful business to which, in 1869, he added an undertaking establishment. He carried on both lines of business until 1880 when he abandoned contracting and devoted himself exclusively to the undertaking business. He had thoroughly prepared himself for this special line by attending the best schools for instruction in embalming; had studied the history of the art of embalming from the time of the ancient Egyptians; had experimented, tested, and investigated with chemicals until he was thoroughly master of the art, and was so regarded among his fellows in the business. He was a student under Professors Renouard, Myers and Cassidy, all eminent specialists and instructors. He became one of the best known funeral directors in the country; visited and spoke before national conventions of the Undertakers' Association to which he was a delegate, and stood equally high among the manufacturers of undertakers' supplies, who submitted to him their catalogues, samples, etc., before printing and placing upon the market. He passed upon the woods used, styles and finishings prepared for manufacture by the National Casket Manufacturers, who solicited his opinions and abided by his decisions. His private business was an extensive one and was conducted in a most efficient manner. He was always a deep student and voluminous reader, had a large, carefully selected library, historical works predominating. He was well versed in local history and a collector of pictures. He was an ardent admirer of the great Napoleon and in his extensive travels gathered a fine collection of pictures and engravings of his hero.

Mr. Reavy was an active, public-spirited citizen and rendered his city valuable service. He was a director of the Cohoes Savings Institution for many years. When the City Hall commission was formed to erect a new municipal building, he was appointed one of its six members. A noteworthy fact connected with this commission is that they erected, completed and turned over to the city the building as planned, with an unexpended balance of the original appropriation remaining to their credit. He was one of the organizers and founders of the Cohoes Hospital Association and served on the official board until his death. He was chairman of the city board of school commissioners which he served as chairman until his death. He was appointed to the board by three different mayors of the city, each in turn recognizing the value of his service and continuing him in office. He was the candidate of the Democratic party for mayor at one time, and ran far ahead of his ticket, being defeated by William E. Thorn, head of the great Harmony Mills Corporation. He was a faithful member of St. Bernard's Roman Catholic Church, and of the Knights of Columbus, Ancient Order of Hibernians, Holy Name Society, Exempt Firemen's Association (served from youth until death), and was an active member of the Cohoes Business Men's Association. In business, public and private life he was highly regarded and left behind him an unstained record.

He married, in Cohoes, November 16, 1874, Agnes Brewster, of St. Albans, Vermont, born there October 24, 1856, died at Cohoes, November 13, 1894. Her ancestry carries back to early days and crosses the seas to Scotland. Her father, Alexander Brewster, was born in St. Albans, Vermont, August 10, 1813, died at Bennington, Vermont, May 1, 1903. He was of an exceedingly daring and venturesome disposition. He served as both soldier and sailor in the army and navy of the United States during the Mexican war; sailed on a whaler to northern seas; enlisted from Bennington, Vermont, in 1861, and served all through the civil war in the Union army, He was in many engagements and was several times wounded. He served at various times in the English army and wherever there was a prospect of a fight he was usually found. He married Agnes Wright, born in Glasgow, Scotland, January 30, 1835, died November 22, 1895, daughter of John Wright, born in Scotland, came to the United States in 1841, died in St. Albans, Vermont, 1880. He was an educated man and taught in the public schools of St. Albans and at St. Albans Academy. He was a grain merchant also, both in Scotland and Vermont, owning a flour mill at St. Albans. Children of Frank Camp and Agnes (Brewster) Reavy:

  1. John Francis, see forward.
  2. Grace Agnes, graduated from St. Bernard's Academy, Cohoes, class of 1893, and won from the regents the state of New York the "Purple Seal" diploma; she enrolled at the New England Conservatory of Music, but was prevented from finishing her musical education by the death of her mother. She is a member of the Frank C. Reavy Estate corporation, with her brother, with whom she resides. She is a member of St. Bernard's Roman church and of the Alumni Association of St. Bernard's Academy.

(III) John Francis, only son of Frank Campbell and Agnes (Brewster) Reavy, was born in Cohoes, New York, August 16, 1875. He was educated at St. Bernard's Academy, Cohoes, and the Lansingburg (now Troy) Academy. He adopted the calling of his father and attended the professional schools: Renouard's School of Embalming, New York, and the Oriental School of Boston. In 1894 he became associated in the business with his father, continuing until the death of the latter in 1905, when the heirs, John Francis and sister, incorporated under the name of The Frank C. Reavy Estate. The standard established by the father is fully maintained and the business has extended to cover Albany, Schenectady, Troy and surrounding towns. Besides conducting a very large private business. he is director of the Mechanics' Savings Institution and of the Cohoes Hospital Association. He holds membership in the National and New York State Undertakers, the New York Embalmers and the Cohoes Business Men's associations. He is a member of St. Bernard's Roman Catholic Church, Knights of Columbus, Modern Woodmen, and Troy Lodge, Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks. Politically he is a Democrat. He married, November 18, 1907, Margaret A. Carter, born February 12, 1875, died August 29, 1908, leaving a daughter, Margaret Carter Reavy.

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