Thursday, December 26, 2019

Corky Quackenbush - Animated Short Films

Quackenbush is known for the dozens of animated short films he created for MADtv on Fox TV, as well as his parodies of the Rankin/Bass Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (TV special) for Christmas episodes of series such as That 70s Show and the George Lopez TV series. These earned him mention in the book The Enchanted World of Rankin/Bass by Rick Goldschmidt. Quakenbush's films are generally known for adult-oriented themes of comic violence, and they often find humor in the blending of the innocent with the "profane".

Quakenbush is a prolific short filmmaker who, through his company Space Bass Films, has produced more than 100 short films that have been included in broadcast and cable television shows, screened as individual entries or in their own programs at film festivals worldwide, included in theatrically distributed collections such as Mike Judge's The Animation Show, and featured on high visibility comedy websites. Among his film festival presence is a record number of films screened in competition at the Sundance Film Festival by a one director, including "A Pack of Gifts Now" which was awarded "honorable mention" in 1999. Notable screenings also include a retrospective program of work shown at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts and the inclusion of CLOPS and CLOPS II in a program exploring social satire in cinema called "Situating Comedy" at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in the year 2000.

Quakenbush's work in television also includes producing and directing numerous live-action and animated pilots including those for Gary and Mike and Drew Carey's Green Screen Show, although he did not participate in the subsequent series. In 2010, Quakenbush joined the directing roster of the commercial production company, ka-chew! He was also a director on the TBS television series The Chimp Channel.

Apart from his filmmaking, Quakenbush is also an instructor in the art of Aikido and founder of Kakushi Toride Aikido.

Source: Wikipedia

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Karyn Quackenbush - Actress, Film, Television

Karyn Quackenbush born in 1960 in New Jersey, USA. Karyn moved to Manhattan in 1983 from New Jersey when she was hired for her first Off-Broadway show. She has performed principle role and roles and an understudy on both Broadway and Off-Broadway during her career.

I haven't been able to find out much about about Karyn's personal life but she has a strong internet presence with over 28,000 hits on Google search. So, here is a history of some of the shows she has participated in.

Latest News on Karyn - Yellow Sound Label & Playwrights Horizons Release Original Cast Recording of Musical IOWA (Apr 28, 2017) featuring performances by original cast members Cindy Cheung, April Matthis, Annie McNamara, Karyn Quackenbush, Carolina Sanchez, Lee Sellars, Jill Shackner and Kolette Tetlow.


2012 - Louie (TV Series) Karyn portrayed Doris - Ikea/Piano Lesson)

2003 - Show (TV Series)

2003 - Trading Spouses Host - Episode #1.12

2000 - Isn't She Great -TV cook

1999 - Law & Order (TV Series) portrayed Mrs. Bowker in the episode Sideshow

Stage Performances

2017 - Iowa, Original Off-Broadway Production, (Mother of Becca)


2009 - Love, Loss, and What I Wore, Original Off-Broadway Production, Performer [Replacement]

2002 - Imaginary Friends, Original Broadway Production, Fizzy & Others

2001 - The Bikinis, Original Off-Broadway Production, Performer

1999 - Annie Get Your Gun, Broadway Revival, Annie Oakley (Standby)

[Replacement], Dolly Tate (Standby) [Replacement]

1996 - I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change, Original Off-Broadway Production, 1996

Woman #1 [Replacement], Performer (Standby) [Replacement]

1993 - Blood Brothers, Broadway Production, Ensemble [Replacement], Brenda [Replacement], Linda (Understudy) [Replacement], Mrs. Lyons (Understudy) [Replacement]

1983 – Preppies, Original Off-Broadway Production, Performer


1993 - Blood Brothers, Broadway, [Replacement], Assistant Stage Manager[Replacement]

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Peter Quackenbush, The Quackenbush & Company Store In Paterson, New Jersey

PETER QUACKENBUSH, son of Peter Quackenbush, born February 24, 1844 and married 1st, May 27, 1868 to Loretta Darby of Westield, New Jersey. Together they had the following children: Marie, born October 25, 1871. He married 2nd Sarah A. Quin on June 6, 1876. Together they had the following children: William Dixon, born December 16, 1877; Louis Estil, born March. 19, 1880; Sarah Amelia, born January 10, 1883; Edith, born December 3, 1885.

PETER QUACKENBUSH in his maternal (Demarest) line, comes from an original French Huguenot family, resident in the Colony of New Jersey at a period almost as early as when his paternal ancestor established himself in New York. He received his education in the public schools of Paterson and in Prof. Allen's Academy. In 1860 he engaged in employment as clerk in the dry goods store of John C. Van Dervoort. In 1878 he embarked in the dry goods business for himself at No. 180 Main Street. In 1882 the firm of Quackenbush & Company was organized, Mr. John B. Mason being admitted as a
partner, and in 1901 Mr. Quackenbush's son, William Dixon Quackenbush, was admitted as a third partner. The Quackenbush & Company store is the principal dry goods establishment in the city of Paterson, having developed into what is termed a Department Store in 1896. Its reputation is of a kind corresponding to that enjoyed by the popular shops of New York and other large cities. Its success has always been of the solid order—the result of intelligent enterprise and management; reliable service to the public and a reciprocal popular appreciation which has been constant in its development. Mr. Quackenbush, as the most successful merchant of Paterson in the line of trade which, probably more than any other, engages the interest of the general public, naturally occupies a personal position of especial prominence in the community. But the mere prominence which his character as a popular merchant confers upon him does not by any means represent his actual position as a citizen. This position is one of the greatest public spirit, the highest usefulness and the broadest activity. He has uniformly, however, preferred to exercise his influence in modest ways. He has frequently been offered opportunities for political preferment, but has declined them in every case. The only public office which he has held is that of member of the Board of Education, in which he served for two years, finally resigning on account of the pressure of his private affairs.

He was one of the leading spirits in the movement which resulted in giving Paterson its fine system of public parks. He was also a member of the Park Commission, on which Board he served four years. He has held the position of Vice-President of Paterson Board of Trade, and in 1900 was elected President of the Paterson Business Men's Association, an office which he resigned in 1901. He was elected a member of the Board of Directors of the Second National Bank in 1890 and has served continuously until the present time (1909). He was active in organizing the Citizens' Trust Company and served as a director the first year of its existence. He is prominent and earnest in church work being a leading member and one of the officers of the Broadway Reformed Church and for many years has been a member of the Board of Education of that denomination. For many years he has been a member of the Board of Directors of the Paterson Young Men's Christian Association and also the Paterson Young Women's Christian Association and for ten years he was Director and President of the Paterson Rescue Mission. For the last few years he has been President of the Charity Organization Society in which he takes great interest. He was married June 6, 1876, to Sarah Amelia Quin, daughter of Mr. William D. Quin, a former prominent citizen of Paterson and at one time its postmaster, under President Buchanan.

About the store - The building at 192 Main St. in Paterson, N.J., was built for the Quackenbush Co., one of the city's two major department stores. Peter Quackenbush, of Dutch descent like so many early residents of Paterson, opened his own store for business in 1878. John Mason became a partner shortly thereafter and the business prospered until the Paterson fire of 1902. (Johnstown, Galveston, San Francisco, Chicago destroyed; Baltimore, Paterson and many other cities hit by major fires; people of that era would have seen Katrina as just another problem. Was it simply easier to rebuild back then, or was it that we were less taken aback, in that post-Civil War era, by disasters? In any event, many a department store operated from tents or neighborhood storefronts until it could rebuild its headquarters.) Quackenbush had only one child who lived to adulthood, and his health was not good; he went to Colorado Springs in pursuit of relief, and eventually Quackenbush and Mason sold the store to the Spitzes, who had been in business in Union City. Fittingly for this week, Peter Quackenbush was a delegate to the Republican National Convention of 1904, and his resume reads like the most solid of citizens': president of the rescue mission, founder of a home for nurses, builder of a chapel for his church, member of the school board and park commission. Such was the prominence of the local department store owner, particularly when the family that owned your only real competitor, Meyer Bros., lived in Newark and took the train up to run the store. During the Depression Quackenbush's became part of the Allied Stores chain and then in the 1960s it became part of Stern's, the Times Square department store. When Stern's was bought by Allied in 1951, the company chairman said: "Retailing is a very simple business." He announced plans to open suburban branches. The early 1950s, of course, was when discounters such as E.J. Korvette were beginning to eat department stores' for lunch, and New York was a bit less simple than Reading. Eventually Allied developed a two-prong strategy in New York; Stern's expanded into New Jersey, and the Gertz chain, which had grown out of a stationery store in Jamaica, Queens, would carry the flag on Long Island. That left Stern's main store as sort of an afterthought in a declining Times Square, and it was closed, making Stern's a New Jersey chain based at Bergen Mall in Paramus and with a downtown store in Paterson, which wasn't doing well either. Stern's soon moved away to become a nearly ubiquitous store in North Jersey and Meyer Bros. became an extremely low-end department store before burning down in 1991.

The greatest tragedy in history, in the Paterson Fire Department, occurred on March 11, 1938 at a 4 alarm fire at the Quackenbush warehouse. Station 474 was sounded at 1:58 PM. The flames gutted the building and long after the fire was well under control, Deputy Chief Sweeney and four men from Engine Company 5 Captain William Devenport and firemen Louis Rodesky, William Lynch, Matthew O'Neill) made the Supreme Sacrifice when the walls of the building collapsed on them. At the time the wall collapsed, the firemen were devising a means to to pull it down because they knew it was in danger of falling. The only survivors from Engine 5 were fireman Thomas Schofield who was in the alley picking up hose and driver and engineer Ralph Miller who was maintaining the pumps at the Ahrens Fox engine (#3401). A never to be forgotten scene took place when driver Miller had to return the apparatus to Headquarters alone. As he stepped from the Engine he was met by Chief Engineer Coyle. Miller stood at attention and announced "Number 5 returning back to quarters." The Chief bowed his head and wept. Miller cried, "I'm all alone, Chief."

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

David Quackenbos And His Indian Friend

He was enlisted in the Tryon County militia during the Revolution, and reached the rank of Lieutenant. During the Battle of Oriskany, fought in 1777, between the Indians and the frontier husbandmen, David Quackenbos, hearing his name called, looked up and beheld an Indian friend of his boyhood in the ranks of the enemy. The Indian endeavored to persuade him to desert, dwelling upon their intimacy in the past, and referring to the time when they had fought side by side in the French War. David, however, declined to listen to such a proposition, whereupon the Indian said he would be compelled to kill him. Several shots were exchanged, David finally killing his former Indian friend in self-defense.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

A Courtin' We Will Go!

David Quackenboss was born in Albany, New York on June 21, 1702. He was the son of Pieter Quackenboss and was married to Anna Scott, daughter of Captain Scott, of Scott's Patent. The following anecdote was relayed about David Quackenboss which brings to mind the Courtship of Miles Standish.

David, the eldest son of Pieter Quackenboss, after a somewhat romantic courtship, married Miss Ann, a daughter of Captain Scott, and settled on Scott's Patent, where the Montgomery County Poor House new stands.

A young officer, under the command of Captain Scott, request young Quackenboss, then in the employ of the Captain, to speak a good word for him to Miss Ann, which he readily promised to do. While extolling the good qualities of her admirer, he took occasion to suggest his partiality for her himself. The maiden, who had conceived an attachment for Quackenboss instead of the young subaltern, shrewdly asked him why he did not make advances on his own account. He had not presumed on so advantageous a match; but the hint was sufficient to secure his fortune and happiness.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Wouter Quackenboss, In Defense Of Liberty

Wouter (Walter) Quackenboss, son of Johannes was born in New York on August 29, 1732. He married in New York on October 27, 1757 to Sophia Roorbach. The couple had the following children: Johannes, born Oct. 27, 1758; Sophia born January. 6, 1760; Johannes, baptized October. 18, 1761; Garret, baptized September. 25, 1763; Margrietje baptized December 1 , 1765; Cornelia, baptized September 17, 1767; Maria baptized April 28, 1769; Anna baptized September. 29, 1771.

Wouter or Walter Quackenboss, of New York City, was an ardent " Son of Liberty " and figured conspicuously in the defense of the Liberty Pole, which had been set up on the Common to commemorate the repeal of the Stamp Act. Many attempts on the part of the British troops to destroy this emblem of liberty had been thwarted by the " Sons," which so irritated the British that they caused a scurrilous placard to be printed and posted in public places, assailing the " Liberty Boys" individually and collectively. Referring to this incident the "New York Journal and Advertiser" of March 1, 1770, relates the following:

Mr. Isaac Sears and Mr. Walter Quackenboss, seeing five or six soldiers going toward the Fly Market, concluded they were going to put up some of the above papers. Upon the former's coming to the market, they made up to the soldiers and found them as they had conjectured, pasting up one of the papers. Mr. Sears seized the soldier that was fixing the paper, by the collar, and asked him what business he had to put up libels against the inhabitants, and that he would carry him before the Mayor. Mr. Quackenboss took hold of the one that had the papers on his arm. A soldier standing to the right of Mr. Sears drew his bayonet, upon which the latter took up a ram's horn and threw it at the former, which struck him on the head and then the soldiers, except the two that were seized, made off and alarmed others at the Barracks.

A fight between the soldiers and the inhabitants resulted which drew blood and lasted all that day (Jan. 19, 1770, and not Jan. 18, as appears on the tablets and in the various histories) and part of the next, during which one man was killed and several wounded. This fight is known to history as the " Battle of Golden Hill," and is commemorated by two bronze tablets, placed near the site of Golden Hill (John Street, near William) because it occasioned the first bloodshed of the Revolution. It thus appears that Walter Quackenboss and Isaac Sears struck the first blows in the first battle for Independence. Wouter Quackenboss resided in New York City, where he died August 5, 1785.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Lost And Found Town

This article is called Lost And Found Town because the items discussed have been hidden away, hoarded, kept safe, or stored and finally came out from wherever they were and were offered up for auction over the past few years. These are family items distinctly related to the Quackenbush Family. This sparked my interst, So, I did some research. I discovered that there is quite a bit of Quackenbush history out there that has been offered up for sale by various auction houses. Too bad we couldn't collect these things and loan them to Quackenbush Square or Quackenbush House to be put on display.

On June 17th 2006 Cowan's Auctions offered Lot No. 705 in their Spring Decorative Arts auction which consisted of Three Pieces of Quackenbush Family Armorial Export Porcelain. It was described as follows:

ca 1750-1800, of porcelain. A handleless footed tea bowl and saucer and a larger low bowl, Lowestoft-type, all hand painted and banded in cobalt blue and centered with the Quackenbush family arms with monogram MQ in the center for Margaret Quackenbush; unmarked. Tea bowl is 4.25" diameter x 2.25" high; saucer is 5.5" diameter; low bowl is 1.5" high x 8" diameter.

Provenance: Ex Quackenbush Family Collection

Condition: Nick to rim of larger bowl; slight wear to gilt decoration.

So these items are in pretty good condition at the time of the auction considering that they are about 250 years old! These same three items were sold as a set at this auction for $300.00

Also offered at this same auction was Lot No. 722 , Margaret Quackenbush Flame Stitched Firescreen Panel. It was described as follows:

likely Albany, New York and 18th century. A shield-shaped embroidered panel constructed of multicolor wool thread on canvas; bearing the name Margaret Quackenbush in marking stitch in the lower corners. Mounted (bound, not laid down) to paperboard with a linsey-woolsey back fabric (possibly original); 15" high x 11" wide.Margaret was the eldest daughter of Nicholas Quackenbush; this piece was purportedly worked in 1776.

Provenance: Ex: Quackenbush Family Collection

Condition: Areas of loss; colors remain bright.

Selling price for Margaret's Firescreen was $5,175.00

Also included in the 2006 Spring Decorative Arts auction at Cowan's was Lot No. 708. The

Nicholas Quackenbush (Assistant Quartermaster General of the Continental Army) Silver Cann, Jacob G. Lansing, Albany, New York. It was described as:

ca 1760, marked on either side of the handle IGL in an incuse rectangle with a rounded right side. A tapered, straight-sided cann with a spurred C-scroll handle and applied beading to the rim and foot.
Bearing engraved initials NQB (Nicholas Quackenbush) on the underside and a later-engraved cartouche with MQB, for Nicholas` eldest daughter, Margaret (Margrita, called "Aunt Peggy" in family documents). She was born in 1759. The neoclassical style of the engraved cartouche suggests that Margaret had the can engraved when she took possession upon her father's death in 1813. Although his will does not specifically mention the cann going to Margaret, it may be assumed she took it as part of the One full and equal third part of her fathers estate. The can is likely the tankard that appears in Nicholas` 1813 probate inventory: A Lot of plated ware including 2 large candle sticks and 4 small ones, 1 small teapot [crossed out], 1 tankard and 2 dishes valued at $16.00. Jacob G.
Lansing (1736-1803) was the grandson of another Albany silversmith of the same name. In the mid-1770s, he was working with Henry Van Veghten.

Provenance: Ex Quackenbush Family Collection

Condition: Minor dings. Great condition for what today would be called a beer mug. This mug by itself sold for $8,050.00.

In the fall of 2006, during their Fall (November 16 & 17) Americana auction, Cowan's offfered Lot No. 233, RearAdmiral Stephen Platt Quackenbush Archive and described it as:

Lot of 30, including includes an outstanding 3/4-length seated quarter plate daguerreotype image of Mexican War era Midshipman S.P. Quackenbush, mounted in original leather covered wood cast, PLUS 3 autographed Presidential Military Appointments all on vellum, appointing S.P. Quackenbush to Captain, signed by U.S. Grant, 1871, PLUS appoint to rank of Commodore signed by R.B. Hayes, 1880, PLUS appointment to rank of Rear-Admiral, signed by Chester A. Arthur, 1884, all 15.75" x 19.5", PLUS a family cdv album with three military views, Quackenbush’s 1880s blue undress cap with hat insignia and single shoulder strap with silver star and two anchors denoting Commodore, an original unsigned pencil drawing with caption depicting the destruction of Quackenbush’s ship USS Patapsco in Charleston Harbor on January 15, 1865, four sequential Navy Department documents appointing Quackenbush to the rank of Commander (1866), Captain (1871), Commodore (1880), and Rear Admiral (1884), a 1884 biographical sketch with photograph from Quackenbush’s MOLLUS (Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States) installation in the District of Columbia Commandery (Insignia No. 3137), and a three page typed summary of Quackenbush’s “record of service” compiled by the navy “Chief of Bureau” shortly after the admiral’s death in 1890. The cdv album contains at least one pencil identified view of “Lt. Commander S.P. Quackenbush” in Civil War uniform with two military shots of another unidentified navy lieutenant commander that resembles Quackenbush, presumably his brother John N. Quackenbush, among 37 civilian portraits of family members. This lot also includes 16 other cased images from the Quackenbush family 6, including 9 daguerreotypes, 3 ambrotypes and 3 tintypes.

Stephen Platt Quackenbush was the proverbial “old salt” having joined the navy as acting midshipman in February 1840. The next twenty years were spent in routine service aboard a succession of mail packets and steam frigates interspersed with coast survey duties, extended leave, and “waiting orders.” The outbreak of Civil War found Lieutenant Quackenbush aboard the ill-fated USS Congress but the Navy’s rapid expansion soon put even junior officers into command billets. During the early part of the war Quackenbush commanded the Delaware, Unadilla, and Pequot in wide ranging littoral operations supporting McClellan’s army on the Peninsula to combat at Elizabeth City, New Berne, and Winton, North Carolina.

While in command of the Pequot on the James River, Quackenbush was severely wounded at Malvern Hill loosing his right leg. Aboard the steam gunboat Unadilla in 1863 his ship captured the blockade runner Princess Royal containing Confederate naval stores including English built machinery destined for a rebel ironclad then under construction.

Now a lieutenant commander, Quackenbush took command of the ironclad Patapsco in 1864 and while reconnoitering Charleston harbor for obstructions hit a Confederate torpedo which sank the warship “in twenty seconds.” The anonymous drawing kept by Quackenbush shows the bow section of Patapsco engulfed in the explosion that sank her. Quackenbush then commanded the Mingo until the end of the war.

With the cessation of hostilities the mighty US Navy was quickly sold-off and decommissioned beginning in 1865 and the return of mundane peacetime duties ushered in a sad era of technological decline and backward thinking. The aging Quackenbush held a series of minor sea-going commands spending considerably more time in obligatory shore billets on “equipment duty” and as “inspector of supplies.”

Promoted to Commodore in 1880, Quackenbush took charge of the Pensacola Navy Yard and was promoted to Rear Admiral in July 1884 after nearly 44 years of continuous service. He was placed on the retired list in January 1885 and died in Washington, D.C. in February 1890.

The Quackenbush archive spanning five decades of war and peace is a fine snapshot of a dedicated career afloat.

Condition: The dag of S.P. Quackenbush has a few small brown spot and slight solar ring, still VG, most of the other dags have some problems, such as spots and solar rings, and range from G to VG, ambros are all VG-; most of the components of the archive are uniformly VG with the important pencil sketch about Good due to tears and loss of upper right corner.

This archive sold for a whopping $6,325.00.

In January of 2007 Cowan's Auctions offered Lot No. 29, Four Quackenbush Family Snuffboxes in their Paintings, Furniture & Decorative Arts auction.

All 19th century, of either papier mâché or kidskin. Includes three snuffboxes, two oblong, hinged examples about 3" long; a round two-piece example, 3" diameter and an oval kidskin-covered monocle holder, 3.25" long x 2" across.

Provenance: Ex: Quackenbush Family Collection

Condition: Expected wear.

200 year old papier mâché? They sold for $57.50

I will keep my eyes open and as I find other family treasures I will set them aside so we can revisit this topic in another article.

Source: Cowan's Auction

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Gerrit Van Schaik Quackenbush and the GVS Quackenbush & Co. Dry Goods Store, Troy, New York

Gerrit Van Schaik Quackenbush
The earliest established retail dry goods house in the city of Troy, New York was that of G. V. S. Quackenbush & Co. Few of its first patrons are living to tell of its beginning on the east side or River Street, one door north of State Street, sixty-seven years ago. Then it was seated as it is now in the business center of the city. Its removal on October 1st, 1856, to the south-east corner of Third and Albany streets, was looked upon as a mistake of the circumspect proprietor, but the marked changes in the growth of the city which later followed confirmed his foresight and sagacity.

The large and finely-lighted four-story store was a creditable monument to his enterprise. The business being wholly that of the sale of dry goods, the stock of the different departments, both wholesale and retail, comprises silks, woolen, cotton, and other dress fabrics, prints, cloths, linens, muslins, underwear, hosiery, laces and embroideries, shawls, cloaks, haberdashery, carpets, curtains, and other products of the loom and needle. An elevator carried buyers from floor to floor. The spaciousness of the salesrooms was one of the striking features of the well-ordered establishment. Situated at the intersection of Third Street and Broadway, two of Troy's principal thoroughfares, it was of easy access both to city shoppers as well as country customers.

The founder of the store, Gerrit Van Schaick Quackenbush, engaged in the dry goods business in 1824 with William C. Miller, under the name of G. V. S. Quackenbush & Co., at No. 202 River Street, next door north of the dry goods store of Knox & Morgan, opened in May, 1827, in the building on the north-east corner of River and State streets. The site was originally occupied by a two-story frame dwelling first the residence of Zephaniah Anthony, who, on October 27th, 1792, sold it and lot 70 to Moses Bears for 350 pounds, who converted the building into a tavern, which was burned in the fire of 1820, when Amos Allen was the landlord of the house.

On the dissolution of the partnership, on April 28th, 1826, G. V. S. Quackenbush and Edwin Smith formed the firm of Quackenbush & Smith. On the withdrawal of Edwin Smith, on March 7th, 1828, G. V. S. Quackenbush continued the business until 1837, when he and William Lee as G. V. S. Quackenbush & Co. became associated in it. The firm, from 1839 to 1841 had a branch store at No. 3 Franklin Square, which was conducted under the name of William Lee & Co. In 1841, the store at No. 202 River Street was conducted under the name of Quackenbush & Lee. From 1842 to 1865, G. V. S. Quackenbush had the management of the business. On February 1st, 1865, he, his son Gerrit, and Samuel Lasell, who had held a clerkship under G. V. S. Quackenbush for a number of years, and William H. Sherman, who had likewise held a similar position in his store from 1848, entered into partnership under the name of G. V. S. Quackenbush & Co. In 1868, Frederick Bullis became a co-partner.

On the death of Gerrit Quackenbush, on May 8th, 1869, the four surviving members of the firm continued the business under the same name. Gerrit V. S. Quackenbush died on June 10th, 1872, aged 71 years. On February 1st, 1873, Samuel H. Lasell and William H. Sherman succeeded to the business, which they have since conducted under the name of G. V. S. Quackenbush & Co.

The doors finally closed for good on August 3, 1937.

However, the historic Quackenbush building survives to this day, and is under renovation. The long-vacant, Victorian-era structure, will soon serve as the new, larger home for the Tech Valley Center of Gravity.

According to its website, The Center, initially founded in early 2013, "is a federation of makers, hackers, crafters', and artists who share camaraderie, space, and resources to do out tinkering."
In two years, the science business incubator has already outgrown its current 5,000 square foot space in the former Off-Track Betting parlor in the Uncle Sam Atrium.

According to the building's owner and local real estate developer David Bruce, the project is receiving financial support from Rensselaer County, the city of Troy, private developers and a $550,000 grant from the Empire State Development Corporation.

When complete, the building will also house offices for Gov. Andrew Cuomo's START-Up New York program, which offers new companies incentives for establishing their businesses in the Empire State.



Saturday, November 9, 2019

Mary Grace Quackenbos Humiston, The $1 Lawyer

While doing some research on the web I ran across this story about Mary Grace Quackenbos Humiston who was regarded as the woman Sherlock Holmes of her day.

She participated and helped solve many mysteries of her day. Mary was also the first female United States Attorney. I am sure that we will be covering other aspects of her life down the road. This story is about how she battled debt slavery (peonage) in Florida. Enjoy! --Will

Peonage, Part 2 - Mary Grace Quackenbos Humiston
By Joanna Grey Talbot

At the turn of the 20th century debt peonage preyed on African Americans and immigrants alike. Frederick Cubberley, U.S. Commissioner for the northern district of Florida, lived in Cedar Key and worked to prosecute cases and the majority of his clients were African Americans. At the same time, a female lawyer from New York City, Mary Grace Quackenbos (Humiston), began hearing tales from immigrant families that their husbands, sons, and fathers were being prevented from leaving jobs in the south because they supposedly owed money and were being treated inhumanely.

Ms. Quackenbos graduated from the New York University Law School and after working with the Legal Aid Society opened her own practice. The People’s Law Firm, located in Manhattan, worked to help immigrants adjust to living in the United States. She quickly won their trust and was widely known among immigrants of all backgrounds. According to

a Boston Evening Transcript article from December 13, 1905, the firm “takes the cases of all clients. But those who can afford to pay liberally are charged accordingly, and the fees accepted from the poor are often but one dollar, and that is returned if nothing is accomplished.” The reporter talks of sitting in the firm’s waiting room and seeing clients ranging from a poor Italian immigrant to the second secretary of the Spanish legation at Washington, D.C.

Ms. Quackenbos was a rarity and is described by Jerrell H. Shofner as a “militant, middle-class reformer whose legal training and personal economic independence enabled her to undertake a crusade against corrupt New York labor agents and their southern employers.” After hearing from the family members and a few men who had been able to escape she decided to investigate herself. She traveled to Florida under her maiden name, Grace Winterton, and posed as a reporter for McClure’s Magazine (a magazine famous for its muckraking articles). Funded by McClure’s and the Jewish Aid Society she investigated peonage throughout Florida and was horrified by what she saw.

She found that New York labor agents were paid $3 a head by Southern firms to find labor for their lumber, turpentine, and railroad operations. The labor agents lured the workers to the South with promises of high wages and good accommodations. Yet, they would arrive to find backbreaking work at a grueling pace in desolate conditions. The workers would arrive in debt because they were charged more for their travel and paid less for their work than they agreed. Other workers would owe more at the company commissary than their first paycheck totaled thus beginning a cycle of debt. Some businesses would even charge their workers for water during the work hours.

She reported her findings to the U.S. Department of Justice in July of 1906 and President Theodore Roosevelt in August. Assistant Attorney General Charles Wells Russell headed the DOJ’s peonage investigations and after reading through Ms. Quackenbos preliminary findings he appointed her a Special Assistant U.S. Attorney. She was the first woman to be given such a title.

Ms. Quackenbos was involved with three major cases, the first being US vs. Harlan. The case was against the manager and overseers of the Jackson Lumber Company, which operated on the border between Alabama and Florida. Not only were the men not allowed to leave because of trumped up debts but “hardly a day passed without someone being run down by the bosses or the bloodhounds and returned and whipped.” The trial began on November 14, 1906, and the defendants were found guilty on November 23. William S. Harlan, the manager, was sentenced to 18 months in jail and a $5,000 fine. The overseers were sentenced to less. The decision was of course appealed and on February 24, 1909, it was upheld by the Circuit Court of Appeals. An appeal was again placed and on November 28, 1910, the Supreme Court upheld the ruling. Harlan would end up serving only four months.

The next case, which ran almost concurrently with the previous case, was US vs. O’Hara. F.J. O’Hara was the superintendent of a sawmill in Buffalo Bluff and a naval stores operation in Maytown. Not only were the conditions similar to the Jackson Lumber Company but here the men were charged $0.15 for a drink of water. If they took a water break not only were they charged but they also were docked an hour of time. As a result of this, one immigrant said that by the end of the week of backbreaking work he had earned $6.30 but owed the commissary $7.90.

The trial began on December 10, 1906, in Jacksonville. O’Hara and his overseers were charged with conspiracy to commit peonage. After 14 days of evidence by the prosecutors the jury returned a not guilty verdict after deliberating for 17 minutes. Charles W. Russell decided to try O’Hara alone and his trial began on January 2, 1907. Testimony by more than 50 witnesses lasted for 22 days but it took the jury only 12 minutes to return a not guilty verdict. A large factor in both decisions was the Florida press and the acceptance of

peonage by many Floridians. The press had vilified Quackenbos and Russell. For example, the March 4, 1908, issue of The Pensacola Journal, described Ms. Quackenbos as “a smooth female who imagines she is a great reformer, but who would be better employed in raising babies, attending to household affairs and otherwise making a legitimate woman of herself, than in nosing around among the negroes of the South and smelling out all sorts of imaginary evils.”

The most highly publicized case that Quackenbos and Russell collected affidavits for was one against Henry Flagler’s Florida East Coast Railroad extension to Key West. Flagler had decided in 1904 to extend his railroad to Key West and his company began contracting with labor agents in New York City to bring workers south. After arriving the workers found that their only means of transportation was company boats and the gates were locked behind them when they reached the dock. The living conditions were horrible and the workers were forced to work by fear of death. They couldn’t leave until they had paid their transportation and commissary bills, as in the other peonage cases. Local fishermen were warned that they would be shot if they tried to help any of the men escape.

Escaped workers had contacted the government on many occasions and the Department of Commerce and Labor finally sent an agent to investigate. He was accompanied by a railroad agent and found no peonage. Another federal investigator never left his Miami hotel to view the work site. In a preemptive strike the Florida East Coast Railroad submitted a 199-page report stating that peonage was not being practiced in the building of the extension. Within the report, though, they did describe horrible sleeping quarters and stated that they did hold men to pay debts but they never harmed them.

Not surprisingly, Russell and Quackenbos were the only ones to prove peonage. All other investigations were poorly done or purposely misleading. In 1907 the Florida Board of

Trade asked for an investigation of the “greatest menace to increased immigration to this state, namely, the unceasing agitation of the peonage question.” Meaning, they were tired of the federal government sticking its nose into their business. A month later a muckraking article, “Slavery in the South To-Day,” was published in the March 1907 Cosmopolitan Magazine. Writer Richard Barry wrote that “The Standard Oil Clique, H.M. Flagler’s Florida East Coast Railway Co., the turpentine trust, the lumber trust, and other trusts have put in force a system of peonage which is actual slavery […] and it is done under the legal sanction of state laws – not by direct laws, but by subterfuges and circumventions which nevertheless attain the end in view.” The Florida legislature passed a resolution to condemn Barry and publisher William Randolph Hearts, calling the article “infamous, false, and libelous.”

Yet, in spite of all this, Russell and Quackenbos continued to work tirelessly on behalf of the men who were being held in peonage. The case finally started when on March 27, 1907, a New York grand jury indicted Francesco Sabbia, a labor agent, Edward J. Triay, a Florida East Coast Railroad agent, and two other men under the 1866 slave-kidnapping law. The trial began a year and a half later on November 10, 1908. The men could not be found guilty of peonage, though, since they were being tried for slavery. Their defense attorneys, therefore, said their clients were guilty of peonage not slavery. The trial got stuck on definitions and Judge Charles Hough continually sided with the defense. The case was dropped.

As a result of these cases, less and less immigrants traveled south for work and immigrant peonage became less typical. African Americans would continue to bear the brunt of debt peonage. Ms. Quackenbos would continue in her legal career in New York City and passed away in 1948.


“Lawyers vs. Shysters: An Institution Doing Excellent Work in New York” by Kellogg Durland, Boston Evening Transcript, December 13, 1905

“Mary Grace Quackenbos: A Visitor Florida Did Not Want” by Jerrell H. Shofner, Florida Historical Quarterly, January 1980, Vol. 58, No. 3, pp 273-290

“The Shadow of Slavery: Peonage in the South, 1901-1969” by Pete Daniel, Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1972

Thursday, November 7, 2019

The Naming Of Otsego Lake, New York

Pieter Quackenboss, Son of Pieter Quackenboss and married to Sarah Wimple. The following anecdote is related of Pieter Quackenboss, in Mrs. Ellet's "Women Of The Revolution".

Pieter Quackenboss was amoung the early settlers of Montgomery County, New York, and did not escape the difficulties. He was a trader with the Indians, who placed great confidence in him, frequently consulting him. They were disposed to bestow on him some particular mark of regard, and after meeting for consultation, they decided on giving him the name "Otsego" and christening the lake for him. The ceremony of naming both him and the lake was performed by pouring liquor upon his head as he knelt on the ground, a portion being afterwards poured into the water. It is probable that few are acquainted with this origin of the name of Otsego Lake; but that family tradition has been confirmed by the recollection of some who witnessed the occurrence.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

The Mysterious Death Of William Garrett Howard

William Garrett Howard was a local photographer who, by 1915, had been living in Sag Harbor for 34 years. Mr. Howard lived with his daughter, Florence Nelson, and was sometimes visited by his wife, Anna, who no longer lived in the village. Ms. Nelson, Mr. Howard’s daughter, is by far the most fascinating character in the curious sequence of events that ended in her father’s death.

At 30 years old, Ms. Nelson had been living with her father since the death of her second husband, William F. Holtz. Indeed, she was twice widowed and both her first second husbands had died under very suspicious circumstances. This fact created a swirl of gossip around Ms. Nelson amongst the villagers of Sag Harbor.

She was described as a “tall woman of erect carriage” and often referred to as “robust.” She was active in church and had several intimate friends amongst the women of the village. Some people referred to her as a “man-hater.”

James B. Nelson, a large industrious man with an athletic build, was Ms. Nelson’s first husband. It was approximately seven months after their marriage that Mr. Nelson was stricken with severe stomach pains that became progressively worse. He died nine months after marrying his bride.

Three years later, Ms. Nelson married William Holtz. Only 58 days after marrying, Mr. Holtz was dead. He inexplicably began to experience violent stomach pains before suddenly passing away.

Enter one Isabelle Quackenbush. She was a resident of Sag Harbor and a widow as well. According to reports, Ms. Quackenbush spent virtually all of her time in the Howard home with Ms. Nelson. She would become a permanent fixture there, and the air of mystery that surrounded their relationship in 1915 would continue for years.

There is scant information available on Ms. Quackenbush, her first marriage or the manner in which her husband died, but suffice to say, the two widows virtually ran the Howard household.

In April of 1915, Mr. Howard developed violent stomach cramps and his condition deteriorated quickly. He was taken to what was called “The Southampton Sanitarium,” otherwise known as the hospital.

It was at this time that one of Mr. Howard’s attending physicians received a mysterious anonymous letter. The letter was written in pencil and the writing described as a “feminine hand.”

It was well composed, sent from out of state and signed with the initial “M.”

In part, the letter stated:

“I had information yesterday that compelled me to write you. If you want to cure him or save him a slow death, then you better have him taken away from home immediately. If necessary show him this. Do anything to save his life. This is no idle gossip or talk. That is all I can say.”

Alarmed, to say the least, the doctor immediately sent the letter to District Attorney Ralph C. Greene, who acted promptly. Mr. Greene had already been warned of the situation in the Howard home by yet another person: Mr. Howard’s own father and Ms. Nelson’s grandfather, Garrett Howard Sr. of Greenport. Mr. Howard Sr. had made the request that should his son die, an autopsy be preformed immediately.

While in the hospital, Mr. Howard thrived. His stomach troubles went away and he rapidly regained his strength. He was sent home with a recommendation to retain a private nurse.

The district attorney, by all accounts a thoughtful and noble prosecutor, took some extraordinary measures. After learning that Mr. Howard was looking for an attendant upon his release from the hospital, Mr. Greene hired a Brooklyn nurse to masquerade as “Miss Mattie Clark.” Unknown to any of the family members, she was placed in the home to watch over Mr. Howard and take note of any suspicious activity she saw.

As soon as Mr. Howard arrived home, his stomach troubles returned with a vengeance. He died on June 7, 1915.

The undercover nurse had much to tell the DA. But Mr. Greene refused to reveal what was in her report. However, the newspapers reported that the death of Mr. Howard was now being investigated as a poisoning.

There was much attention paid in the press to an empty box of Rough on Rats, a popular, turn-of-the-century rat poison, which was found in the house. Interestingly, Rough on Rats pops up in many news stories between the years 1800 and 1920. It was almost entirely composed of arsenic and was a popular product for those with both suicide and murder on their minds.

The fact that death seemed to follow Ms. Nelson was well known amongst the villagers of Sag Harbor. The fact that Ms. Quackenbush seemed to have the same problem did not escape anyone’s attention. That they were both in the house when Mr. Howard passed away was a fact that caused a storm of activity amongst the people of the village.

Upon further investigation, it came to light that at one time Ms. Nelson had a sibling. Although the cause of death is not known and it is not even known if that child was male or female, it is of interest that yet another person living with her had died before their time.

The investigation ended on a flat note. The district attorney could find no financial motive for murder, as Mr. Howard was not a wealthy man and his daughter did not benefit financially from his death, or from the death of either of her husbands.

It was suggested that there was a motive contained in the report that Ms. Clark had submitted, however, it was not enough for Mr. Greene to press charges.

The medical examiner did not find arsenic in Mr. Howard’s stomach. He tested for 26 other poisons as well and all tests were negative. Since there were virtually hundreds of poisons in existence, it could be argued that the medical report proved only that the Rough on Rats was not the cause of Mr. Howard’s death. It’s certainly possible that all three men were poisoned by a substance that was not detectable in 1915.

According to the newspapers, Ms. Nelson left town after the investigation and moved to Bridgeport, Connecticut to live with her mother.

But upon further investigation, it seemed that five years after the death of her father, Ms. Nelson was calling herself “Florence Holtz” and living in Brooklyn with Ms. Quackenbush and her two teenage sons. Their relationship is described as “partners” on the 1920 census.

The 1930 census report shows the women still living together, however some curious changes had taken place in the 10 years that had passed. The two women were then described as sisters and Ms. Quackenbush had a new last name—Nischwihup.

But a Mr. Nischwihup was conspicuously absent from the report. Ms. Nischwihup, née Quackenbush, was listed as “widowed” in the marital status box.

To this day, the story leaves many unanswered questions in its wake. Who wrote the mysterious letter and what did they know that compelled them to do so? Why did Mr. Howard Sr. suspect his own granddaughter of poisoning his son? What was in the report that Ms. Clark submitted to the district attorney?

Did Ms. Nelson get away with multiple murders? Did she meet in Ms. Quackenbush a partner in crime? The two widows took their secrets with them to their graves.

Source:The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press, Aug 26, 2011. Story by Linda Pari

Saturday, November 2, 2019

Scandal And Resignation - Chuck Quackenbush

Charles "Chuck" Quackenbush (born 1954) is a Florida law enforcement officer and former California Republican politician. He served as Insurance Commissioner of California from 1995–2000 and as a California State Assemblyman representing the 22nd District, from 1986–1994.

As a child, he grew up in a military family and after graduating University of Notre Dame on a full ROTC scholarship, he joined the United States Army and rose to the rank of Captain and helicopter pilot. In 1982, he left the military to join the family business in Silicon Valley. He was elected as a Republican to the California Assembly in 1986.

In 1994 he was elected insurance commissioner, effectively applying considerable campaign contributions from various insurance companies and won re-election in 1998. At this point, Quackenbush was considered the most promising Republican elected official in the state of California.

Cindy Ossias came forward to reveal California State Department of Insurance (CDI) corruption. According to testimony by CDI employees, including Ossias, and staff attorney Robert Hagedorn, the commissioner and his top aides abused their positions for personal gain and acted against consumers’ interests for many years.

Initially, Cindy Ossias blew the whistle as an anonymous source. When her identity was revealed, Quackenbush put her on an administrative leave.

On June 28, 2000, he announced his resignation (to become effective on July 10), rather than face impeachment and subsequent removal from office.

In February 2002, an 18-month investigation conducted by federal, state and Sacramento County prosecutors ended with prosecutors declining to press charges against Quackenbush, as they felt the evidence was not strong enough.

After resigning as California's insurance commissioner, Quackenbush moved to Hawaii, where he claimed to be "doing political and military intelligence consulting". In 2005, Quackenbush became a sheriff's deputy in Lee County, Florida. While working as a sheriff's deputy in February 2008, Quackenbush shot and critically wounded a suspect who was reported as resisting arrest.

After the 1994 Northridge earthquake, it was alleged that Quackenbush allowed insurance companies to compensate their clients much less than the actual damages. In exchange, the insurance companies set up special "educational funds". Those funds were used to create television commercials in which Quackenbush appeared as a basketball referee with Shaquille O'Neal in a Los Angeles Lakers uniform. The commercials were couched as public service announcements, but the suspicions rose that main idea behind the commercials was to increase Quackenbush's name identification, which is critical for electoral success in California statewide races.

In addition to the educational funds, those same insurance companies contributed to his wife's unsuccessful 1998 assembly campaign, as well as his children's football camps.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

They Love The Colonel - Colonel M. W. Quackenbush

This story is taken from the Freemasons in Michigan and was found deep within the pages of a book entitled: The American Tyler-keystone: Devoted to Freemasonry and its Concerdant Others, Volume 5, Issue 15, published in 1891.

The senate chamber has been the scene of many happy events, but not one has ever taken place that gave more pleasure to those that participated than that of the evening of October 1st, when the employees of the capitol building showed their love and esteem for one of their co-workers, Col. M. W. Quackenbush, who looks after the comforts of the employees of the adjutant generals and insurance commissioner's offices. From early morning the Colonel was reminded that he had reached his 76th birthday by the many congratulations he received from his friends, and at the close of work in the afternoon he was called into General Farrar's room, who, on behalf of the military department, presented him with a handsome pair of gold-bowed spectacles. He was then informed that a number of his friends wished to see him in the senate chamber, and thither he hurried, escorted by Insurance Commissioner Magill and his deputy Mr. McKnigh.

Arrived there the Colonel was given the seat of honor when R. H. Wood, in a well-prepared speech, presented him with a properly-inscribed, gold-headed cane in behalf of his capitol friends. The Colonel was about to tender his thanks when H. D. Pugh, with some appropriate remarks, presented him with a very fine meerschaum pipe. Once more the Colonel arose to express his thanks, but again he was asked to take a seat, and Fred A. Bush of the auditor generals office stepped forward and in reading an appropriate and well-sounding poem asked the colonel to rest himself in a handsome and costly plush-covered easy chair that was brought forward. If ever surprise and gratitude were depicted in a man's face, it was on that of Colonel Quackenbush as he slowly arose, wiped the tears from his eyes and with trembling voice thanked the donors for their kind expressions and handsome gifts. At the close of his remarks the boys gave three rousing cheers to the old commander and adjourned to his home on Michigan Avenue West, where a pleasant hour or two was spent in social session.

Colonel M. W, Quackenbush was one of the bravest soldiers that ever went out of Michigan, and his war record is one any man may well feel proud of. He enlisted from Owosso in the fourtheenth Michigan Infantry, in 1861, as major, but through illness of superior officers, he had command of the regiment in all its important engagements during the first two years of the war. Many boys from Lansing and vicinity were members of his regiment, several of whom joined with the capitol employees in extending congratulations and words of good cheer to their old commander.

The Colonel has his orders to report for duty signed by Gov. Blair, and a petition signed by Generals Morgan, Palmer, and Rosecrans to Gov. Blair speaking in the highest terms of his services and asking for his promotion. The language of General Rosecrans is particularly expressive of his bravery and ability. It read:

"Colonel Quackenbush is a brave, indefatigable, honest, and capable officer, worthy to command his regiment, and I sincerely hope you will promote him."

With such excellent testimony there was nothing else for the Governor to do, and the promotion was promptly forthcoming. Although he saw much hard service and bears several wounds as mementoes of that great struggle, in which so many brave Michigan boys fell victims to rebel bullets, Colonel Quackenbush is still a vigorous, sprightly man, and will no doubt live to see many more happy returns of his birthday. He says the cane will be laid away for four years, as he does not expect to need such an aid to navigation until he has passed the four-score mark of life.

M. W. Quackenbush was made in Oriental No. 15, at Ann Arbor (now defunct) in 1846 or 1847; was one of the original members of the Lansing Lodge No. 33, in 1848. He

circulated the petition dated October 10, 1848, for a dispensation for Lansing Lodge, No. 33, and was its first Senior Deacon, 1848 and 1849; S. W. in 1850; W. M. in 1851; dimmed about 1855. He represented the Lodge in the Grand Lodge in 1850, at which time the charter was granted. In 1855 he with B. O. and A. I.. Williams organized Owosso Lodge, No. 81, he becoming its first Master. On February 25, 1864, Salina, Lodge, No. 155, was organized, and here too, became its first Master, being named in the Dispensation, and which he held several years. At Chesaning he assisted in organizing Chesaning Chapter No. 63, R. A. M., and became its first High Priest and later became the first High Priest of Owosso Chapter, No. 89, R. A. M.. At East Saginaw he was at one time Principal Sojourner of Saginaw Valley Chapter, No. 31, and was an officer in St. Bernard Commandery, No. 16. He is now a member of Balwin Lodge, No. 274, at East Tawas and was made an honorary member of Lansing Lodge, No. 33, in 1890. Taking his record as it stands he probably ranks higher as an organizer and earnest, energetic worker than any other Mason in Michigan