The Famous Swan Boat,
contributed by Gordon Cornell.
Written and contributed by Gordon Cornell, Broadalbin Historian.
Slightly more than two years ago, Pauline Anderson
suggested it might be appropriate to "clear the air" as to what is
fact and what might be fiction in regards to the Husted family of Brooklyn and
Broadalbin. This has been a much bigger task than one might suspect and is
In the meantime, I have been fortunate enough to
make contact with Jocelyn Pannett, the great-granddaughter of Colonel
William Husted. This Husted descendant has supplied me with a wealth
of information and it is my intent to use both my information and that from
In copies of the Broadalbin Herald, we note that
the Colonel Husted and F. S. Littlejohn families were occupying the S. B.
Thompson residence on Maple Street by June of 1883. We also note that
a triangular park will be constructed around the liberty pole in the center
of town. It further states "by common accord, perhaps it will
hereafter be known as Husted Park, in view of the liberality of Mrs. Colonel
Husted and relatives in making contribution toward its construction."
The July 20, 1883, issue of the Broadalbin Herald informs us that the residence
and grounds occupied by the Husted and Littlejohn families "are being
ornamented and improved in accordance with the taste of their occupants."
By August of 1885, "Colonel William Husted with his usual and well-known
spirit of public enterprise, has attempted to secure a portion of the old island
with a view of making a public park. " The June 25, 1886 issue states
that "improvements continue on Maple Street. The latest is a very
handsome stone wall in front of Colonel Husted's west-side property."
The June 16, 1887 Broadalbin Herald informs us of the death of Seymour LeGrand
Husted, on the 14th in Brooklyn at age 77. He was the father of Colonel
Husted, Kitty Husted and others. As best I can determine, Seymour never
resided in Broadalbin. However, his widow spent many visits there with her
Then in the August 5, 1887 issue, we
read that "Colonel Husted has erected a large windmill on his premises for
When the April 20, 1888 Herald "hit the streets", it carried the following news:
"work is progressing rapidly on the new Episcopal Chapel on Maple Street. From the present appearances it
will be a small but highly attractive place of worship...."
While not proven, it is believed that it was in 1889 Miss M. K. (Kitty) Husted had her
"summer cottage" built, having it designed by the noted architect
Stanford White. This was the same man who became involved in a love
triangle with Harry Thaw and received world wide publicity.
The July 31, 1890, Herald brought the citizens the sad news that Colonel William
Husted, while here at his summer residence in Broadalbin, accidentally shot
himself on Thursday last and died almost instantly. Mr. Husted was very
wealthy, being largely interested in street railroads in Brooklyn. Colonel
Husted had not been too well of late, and there were those who thought he might
have fired the fatal shot with intent.
The funeral services for Colonel Husted were celebrated in the Church of the Holy Trinity on
Clinton Street, Brooklyn, by Bishop Littlejohn. Colonel Husted was buried
in the prestigious Green Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn beside other family members.
Mr. Husted's will lists his son, Herbert Seymour Husted, and his wife, L. Jennie
Husted (1). It further mentions that if Mrs. Husted should die without
a will, her money was to be divided among her sisters, Alida L. Littlejohn
and Florence L. Littlejohn; her brother Fitzhugh Littlejohn and her father
Frederick I. Littlejohn.
The mother of Colonel Husted died February 23, 1901, and was laid to rest next to her
husband in Green Wood Cemetery.
Going back to an earlier comment, we do know
that the Husted family did buy Chambers Island and had the area developed into a
beautiful man-made lake surrounded by a path and many weeping willow
trees. A wonderful array of boats and canoes was placed on the lake and
they added to the beauty of the area. Of greatest significance was the
Swan Boat, which was often photographed due to its uniqueness.
About 1890 the Husted family installed the swinging bridge (suspension bridge)
to cross the Kennyetto Creek at the dam for the mill pond. This was not
only a thing of beauty and interest, but it shortened significantly the distance
from Maple, Thompson and Union Streets to the knitting mill, the railroad depot
and other businesses and homes in that area.
While the passing of Colonel Husted was a great
loss to the family as well as community, it did
not deter the remaining family members from providing improvements within our
community. In June 1891 a free reading room was established for use by
all. Due to lack of proper respect for the books and equipment, the
library was closed after a few years.
It was during the 1890's that the Husteds purchased the old American Hotel (American House) and
had it razed so as to widen the intersection and also remove an old unkempt
The Husted family, and in particular, Miss Kitty, were strong supporters of bringing the
railroad to Broadalbin and assisting with it financially, And why not, they were a well known
Brooklyn rapid transit and street railroad family! The beautiful and
ornate railroad station that graced our village from about 1895 to about 1912
was provided by Miss Kitty. Miss Kitty was honored for her support by the
privilege of driving the last spike, after which she, some of her friends, Dr.
H. C. Finch and Mr. Wallace Cleveland, received a ride to Gloversville on the
A newspaper clipping dated October 22,
1896, gives extensive information and detail relative to a political
demonstration held in Broadalbin and attended by more than 1,000 voters from
Gloversville and Johnstown. A special train for the occasion left
Johnstown shortly after 7 o'clock with 400 persons aboard. It stopped in Gloversville where a crowd
of over 600 people were waiting. Cars were provided for all, and with
only a slight delay, the long train of 16 heavily loaded coaches hauled by 2
locomotives sped its way toward Broadalbin. A long and lengthy parade
made its way throughout the village streets where homes were decorated with
lanterns, flags and bunting. At the summer home of the Husted family,
the decorations surpassed all the others in beauty and fanciful
design. The effect of Chinese lanterns hung in great profusion about
the residence and spacious lawn, together with bright bunting and flags, was
greatly augmented, as the companies marched and counter-marched, by the
continuous burning of red and green fire. The companies also gave
exhibition drills in front of the residence, and the members of the Husted
family were heartily cheered for their patriotic display. The parade
then made its way to the front of the Earl Hotel where speakers were waiting
to deliver their addresses.
The Italian Gardens was another beautification
project of the Husteds with Miss Kitty taking a major role. While it
was their formal garden, it was open to the public for several years, but in
time was closed to the populace due to the abuse and disregard shown.
For many years the Husted family maintained their
own greenhouse. This provided plants for their gardens and a warm
winter place to store the palms that graced their driveway in the summer
months. The coming of World War I created a coal shortage, and the
greenhouse was shut down, never to be run again. The contents of the
greenhouse were donated to Cornell University as it contained a valuable
collection of rare plants from all parts of the world.
Miss Kitty maintained a "Tallyho" in
Broadalbin. It was drawn by four horses, had a uniformed driver in
front, a footman in the rear, and a bugler to sound their approach at
intersections. It is said that the bugle could be heard for quite some
distance, and that the residents would run out to the street to see Miss
Kitty pass by.
She continued to spend summers at her Broadalbin
"cottage" on Husted Terrace through the 1921 season. Maple
Street was known as Husted Terrace at that time. In Manhattan, she
resided at 930 Park Avenue and was the youngest daughter of Seymour L. and
Mary J. Husted. Born March 21, 1848, she died May 6, 1922, of heart
disease. She was interred on the family burial plot in Green Wood
Miss Kitty seems to be
the family member who is remembered most frequently by the Broadalbin
citizens. One might suspect that this is due to her high profile
lifestyle as well as the fact that she spent 32 more summers in Broadalbin than
did the Colonel.
Her obituary, as found in the Morning
Herald, May 11, 1922, lists several items of interest. Mention was made
that she contributed generously to the local churches as well as to other
The grief felt by the citizens of
Broadalbin was demonstrated, according to the Morning Herald for Wednesday, May
10, 1922, by the ringing of the church bells throughout the village, starting at
2:30 o'clock and continuing for 10 minutes. Her death brought to a close a
period of about 40 years in which the Husted family played a vital role in our
community. Colonel Husted was a prominent figure in the earlier
"Husted Days" in Broadalbin, and Margaret Katherine (Miss Kitty) saw
to it that the tradition continued for decades.
indeed sad to note so little remains of all the wonderful things that the Husted
family did for our village.
(1) She later called herself Lillias Jane.
recognition is given to Joycelyn Pannett for her critique of this article.