1261 Western Avenue used as an example of information available from Federal, New York censuses, the Albany city directories, deed documents in the Albany County Clerk's office, and online historic newspaper clips, to identify former owners and occupants, dates of building, etc, for older houses in McKownville.
      Knowles' house (1898 photo) now 1261 Western Avenue
The house of William and Caroline Knowles c. 1898, now 1261 Western Avenue, at the eastern corner of Knowles Terrace.
The picture shows him, his second wife Caroline, their son William J Knowles jr about 4 years old, and his mother Hannah (age about 92) in the rocking chair next to the front door.
[photo from the archive of the Guilderland Historical Society]

Here is the 1900 Federal Census listing for these people in this house, the evidence for their identity and ages, and so (based on the child's size in the picture) the approximate date the photo was taken:

This house was probably built by Henry and Andrew Drumm c. 1879. We do know that Knowles bought it from Henry Drumm.
Here's a clip from the Altamont Enterprise of 5 April 1895 documenting the move of William and Caroline Knowles from their farmhouse (sold then to the Albany Country Club for its clubhouse) to this house, bought from Henry Drumm:
 Altamont Enterprise clip 5 April 1895
In the 1880 Federal Census, Andrew and Henry Drumm are shown (in the census enumeration district which included McKownville) living next to one another in separate houses, and both listed as carpenters:

But in 1875 NY Census, both are in Andrew's house, so Henry's was probably built between 1875 and 1880.
At the Albany County Hall of Records, the deed from the sale of this house in October 1894 by Henry Drumm to William J Knowles, is located in Deed Book 456, page 282. This deed also records that Henry Drumm bought it from his father Andrew in March 1882, so it is at least that old.

Albany City Directory information for McKownville residents is sparse and intermittent before 1931 and, in many cases, even if given, the home address is imprecise. Some examples:
Searching for William J Knowles, he can be found in the 1885 Albany listings, but not after this, and this listing does not contain any home address information:
WJ Knowles in Albany 1885 city directory
Henry Drumm can be found in the 1890 directory, but has already moved into Albany and he was not included in earlier directories:
Henry Drumm 1890 Albany city directory listing
A neighbor, Aaron Jennings, living for many years in a house at about the location of the present 1237 Western Ave (inferred from later census information) has this listing in 1884:
Aaron Jennings 1884 city directory listing
While this gives a home address (h. Western ave. ab. tollgate) it is imprecise as is typical for addresses outside the Albany city limits
in these old city directories.

William Knowles died in 1912, and his widow Caroline continued to live at Knowles Terrace until about 1926; she then moved with her son William J Knowles jr and his wife Margaret to the old McKown farmhouse on McKown Road. They bought that house and McKown's Grove from the daughters of William McKown, after he died in 1924.
sources of this information
New York State Historic Newspapers website (includes the Altamont Enterprise - Albany County holdings)
Albany City Directories; (online through subscription to ancestry.com) up to 1956; and printed books in some Public Libraries)
Guilderland-Colonie City Directories 1957- (printed books in the Guilderland Public Library)
US Federal Census: 1940 (free access);  1930  1920  1910  1900  1880 (for 1930 and older, free with account creation at FamilySearch.org
                                 Most of the 1890 US Federal census population schedules were badly damaged by a fire in 1921
New York Census: 1925  1915  1905  1892  1875  (online free with account creation at FamilySearch.org)
Deed books and indexes to the deed documents can be viewed at the Albany County Clerk's Office
For bound deed books prior to 1960, you have to visit the Albany County Hall of Records

return to McKownville houses information page
return to McKownville older buildings photo index page
return to McKownville Improvement Association index page