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Biographical Review: Greene, Schoharie and Schenectady Counties, New York
William H. Albro

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[This information is from pp. 242-248 of Biographical Review Volume XXXIII: Containing Life Sketches of Leading Citizens of Greene, Schoharie and Schenectady Counties, New York (Boston: Biographical Review Publishing Company, 1899). It is in the collection of the Grems-Doolittle Library of the Schenectady County Historical Society at 920 BIO.]

Portrait of William H. Albro

Portrait: William H. Albro

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William H. Albro, of Middleburg, Schoharie County, N. Y., is of English, Welsh, and Holland ancestry. On the paternal side he is a descendant of John Albro, who was born in Aldhoro, England, in 1617, and who married in 1647 Doratha Potter, widow of Nathaniel Potter.

In 1634, at the age of seventeen years, John Albro embarked in the ship "Francis" from Ipswich, England, for Boston. In 1638 he went with William Freeborn to Portsmouth, R. I. In 1639 certain lands at Portsmouth, R. I., were granted to said John Albro and others, by the king of England, on condition that they build upon those lands within one year — which they did. And upon the lands thus acquired John Albro and his descendants lived for nearly two hundred years. In 1644 this John Albro was a Corporal in the Colonial militia, rising successively in after years to be Lieutenant, Captain, and Major. In 1649 he was chosen to view cattle, to be clerk of weights and measures, and member of Town Council. In 1660 and 1661 he was a commissioner, and member of a committee to receive contributions for agents in England. In 1666 he was appointed with two other persons to take areas of highways and driftways not set off. In 1670, with three other persons, he loaned the colony of Rhode Island seven pounds on account of the town of Portsmouth. From 1671 to 1686, with the exception of a few years in the seventies, he was an Assistant, a town officer. In 1676 he with three other persons was appointed a committee for the care and disposal of powder for the supply of Portsmouth. He was also a commissioner to order watch and ward of the island. This was during King Philip's War. He was also a member of the court-martial at Newport to try certain Indians. In 1677 he was a member of a committee in the matter of injurious and illegal acts of Connecticut. In 1679 he was one of the members of a committee to draw up a letter to the king of England, giving an account of the territory of Mount Hope and of their late war with the Indians. He was also appointed with one other person a committee to lay out the western boundary line of the colony. In 1685 he, Major John Albro, Assistant and Coroner, summoned a jury in the case of an Indian found dead on clay-pit lands. The verdict of the jury was "That the said Indian being much distempered with drink, was bewildered, and by the extremity of the cold he lost his life." In 1686 he was a member of Sir Edmund Andros's Council, and was present at their first meeting at Boston, December 30, 1686. In 1697 he was allowed twenty shillings for his expenses for going to Boston. He died December 14, 1712. His will, dated December 28, 1710, was proved in 1713. By it he divided a considerable amount of real and personal property among his sons and daughters and their children. He was buried in his own orchard. His children were: Samuel, Elizabeth, Mary, John, and Susannah.

John Albro, second, who is in the direct line of descent to the subject of this sketch, married Mary Stokes, April 27, 1693. In 1677 he and others granted five thousand acres of land to be called East Greenwich, upon which land so granted stands the present town of East Greenwich, R. I. He died December 4, 1724. His son, John Albro, third, who was born August 23, 1694, married Ruth Lawton, November 25, 1725. He had a son John, fourth, sometimes called Jonathan, who was born January 2, 1734, and married Sarah Taber, October 21, 1759. This fourth John Albro was a private in Captain Benjamin West's company, Colonel John Topham's regiment of Rhode Island troops, during the Revolutionary War, from March 16, 1778, to February 20, 1779. John, fourth (or, as he was more commonly called, Jonathan) Albro, had a son Isaac, who was born at Portsmouth, R. I., September 3, 1765. Isaac Albro married Sarah Bliss, whose ancestors were English and Welsh. She was a daughter of William Bliss, whose father, Josiah Bliss, was the son of John and Damaris (Arnold) Bliss, the latter a daughter of Benedict Arnold, who was one of Rhode Island's earliest and best governors. John Bliss was an Ensign in the Continental Army in 1667, also a Deputy. In 1696 he was a Major for Rhode Island. Governor Arnold, his wife's father, built as a wind-mill for grinding grain, it is now said, the Old Stone Tower, which for a great many years has been one of Newport's greatest curiosities to visitors, and which for a long time was supposed to have been built by the Northmen, or Norsemen, who landed on the coast of New England before the discovery of America by Columbus.

About the year 1800 Isaac Albro and family moved from Portsmouth, R. I., where for nearly two centuries his ancestors had lived, to the town of Berne, Albany County, N. Y. About the year 1785 John Bliss, who was a brother of Sarah Bliss, wife of Isaac Albro, removed from Portsmouth to Greenfield, Saratoga County, N. Y., seven miles from Saratoga Springs. In the month of February, 1801, John Bliss walked all the way from his home in Greenfield, Saratoga County, N. Y., to Newport, R. I., to submit to the ordinance of baptism. John Bliss had twelve sons and four daughters. One of the sons, Isaac Bliss, was the father of P. P. Bliss, the author of the Gospel Hymns [i.e., Gospel Hymns and Sacred Songs], and a singer and musical composer of world-wide reputation, who met a violent death December 29, 1876, by a railroad accident at Ashtabula, Ohio. Isaac Albro was a prosperous farmer. He died November 12, 1838, having survived his wife Sarah about thirty-three years.

Their son, Benjamin Albro, who was born December 25, 1802, married Mary E. Bassler, of Middleburg, Schoharie County, N. Y., January 17, 1838. She was born July 25, 1818, and died February 7, 1884. Her ancestors originally came from Holland, and previous to the Revolutionary War settled in the towns of Berne and Knox, Albany County, N. Y. In early life Benjamin Albro taught school in Albany and Schoharie Counties, and afterwards in Wayne and Cayuga Counties, New York. He was engaged in mercantile business for some years, was Town Superintendent of common schools of the town of Middleburg, and for the last forty-five years of his life he lived upon a farm near the village of Middleburg. He was an honored member of the Middleburg Methodist Episcopal church for seventy-three years, and was noted for his integrity and character. He died February 10, 1895, aged ninety-two years.

Benjamin Albro and Mary E. Albro, his wife, had a son, William Henry Albro, the subject of this sketch, who was born in the town of Middleburg, Schoharie County, N. Y., on September 8, 1840. He obtained his elementary education in the district and select schools of the town, was fitted for college, at Charlotteville Seminary and Fort Edward Institute, and he attended and was graduated from Union College at, Schenectady, N. Y. He taught several terms in the district schools of the town. Afterward he read law in the office of W. H. Engle, Esq., of Middleburg, during the years 1864 and 1865, and was admitted to practice as an attorney and counsellor-at-law of this State at a general term of the Supreme Court held at the capitol in the city of Albany, N. Y., on December 8, 1865. On January 1, 1866, he formed a partnership for the practice of law with the said W. H. Engle, which continued until February, 1874, when it was dissolved by mutual consent. He then opened an office in the village of Middleburg, where he has been engaged in the practice of law up to the present time.

On October 31, 1867, William Henry Albro married Elizabeth Dodge, daughter of the late Daniel D. Dodge, of Middleburg, N. Y., now deceased. Three children were the fruit of this union, namely: Willie D. Albro, who was born January 29, 1870, and who died of scarlet fever April 14, 1872; Arthur D. Albro, who was born October 29, 1871, and who died November 28, 1893; and Grace D. Albro, who was born May 5, 1874.

Mrs. Elizabeth Dodge Albro was born in the town of Middleburg, Schoharie County, N. Y., on September 7, 1837, and died February 8, 1892. She was a most excellent wife and mother, and was held in high esteem by all who knew her. Her death caused as much genuine sorrow as that of any other person ever did in the community in which she was known and had lived. In every true sense of the term she was of the noblest and best type of women. Her husband, the subject of this sketch, and their daughter, Grace D., are all of the family who now survive her. The son, Arthur Dodge Albro, a bright and promising young man, who had just entered upon business life, survived his mother only about two years. Since the death of mother and son, the father and daughter live together in the old home and constitute the remnant of what was once a prosperous and happy family.

Upon Arthur's death his business came into the hands of his father; and since then, in addition to his general law practice, the subject of this sketch has been conducting a large and successful mercantile business. His store is one of the largest in the county, carrying a large stock of drugs, groceries, and miscellaneous goods. His law office contains one of the largest and best-selected law libraries in the county. He has been fairly successful as a lawyer, and also as a business man. He has held some official positions, among them that of School Commissioner of First Commissioner District of Schoharie County, during the years 1879, 1880, and 1881. He was elected to that office by a majority of two hundred and eighteen votes at a time when there was a natural political majority of about five hundred against him. He points with pride to the record which he made while holding that office. No paper sent by him to the office of the State Superintendent of Public Instruction was rejected or sent back to him for correction, and no request was ever made by him to the superintendent that was not cheerfully and promptly granted.

The subject of this sketch is a member of the Masonic fraternity; also of the Methodist Episcopal church, of which he has been a trustee for many years, and in which he has held other positions of trust. He was virtually the founder of the Union Free School and Academy at Middleburg, N. Y., and was the first president of the Board of Education of that institution. His daughter Grace was one of the first graduates of this institution.

The Albro family, of Aldboro, England, of which the original John Albro was a member, had a coat-of-arms, a record of which may be found in the public offices of London at the present day. From the facts aforesaid, it clearly appears that Mr. Albro is a lineal descendant in the seventh degree of John Albro, of Aldboro, England, born 1617; that he is also a lineal descendant in the sixth degree of Benedict Arnold, Governor of Rhode Island for three terms, beginning in 1663, and who built Newport's Old Stone Tower; and that he is related in the sixth degree to P. P. Bliss, author of Gospel Hymns [i.e., Gospel Hymns and Sacred Songs] and a celebrated musical composer. He takes pride in tracing his ancestry back through the centuries and to and through families in whose veins flowed some of the purest and best of English, Welsh, and Holland blood.

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