Friday, July 10, 2015

Spencer Stafford

When the Hallenbake Burial Ground, the last family cemetery in Albany, was removed from the corner of South Pearl and Hamilton Street in 1860, the remains of Spencer Stafford and his family were among those transferred to the Rural Cemetery's North Ridge.

A native of Rhode Island, fifteen year old Stafford came to Albany in 1787..  His brother, Thomas, and other relatives had already settled in the city and young Stafford became an apprentice in Thomas' Market Street store.  At the age of nineteen, he married into the Hallenbake family when he wed Dorothea.  The couple built a home on the Hallenbake land, but in 1790, relocated to Deerfield, Oneida County where Stafford was briefly engaged in the manufacture of potash.  A year later, however, the Staffords returned to Albany permanently. 

Stafford was described as "self-reliant, industrious, and enterprising" and as possessing "qualities essential to mercantile success."  A silversmith as well as a merchant, he also entered into the stovemaking business and  held various civic positions, including service as a city alderman.

Spencer Stafford would eventually build a mansion on Lydius Street;  the house still stands as 100 Madison Avenue.

Dorothea Stafford died in 1806, two years before Spencer built the Lydiys Street house.  The couple had five children.  A year later, Spencer Stafford married Harriet Romeyn by whom he had four more children.  Portraits of both Spencer and Harriet are now in the collections of the Alban Institute of History and Art and appear in their digital collections:

Portrait of Spencer Stafford by Ezra Ames
Portrait of Harriet Romeyn Stafford by Ezra Ames

Spencer Stafford died on February 10, 1844.  He laid to rest in the Hallenbake family's burial grounds where his first wife was already buried.  Harriet Romeyn Stafford survived her husband by five years and, after her death on July 5, 1849, was also buried in the Hallenbake cemetery.  In June 1860, all remains from this family burial ground were removed to the Rural Cemetery.  A sandstone monument marks the Staffords portion of the large Hallenbake plot.  Footstones with their initials mark the graves of Spencer, Dorothea, and Harriet while inscriptions on the sandstone monument memorialize

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