16 Elmwood Street 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 newspapers, to identify former owners and occupants, dates of building, etc, for houses built in McKownville in the 1910-1940 interval.
16 Elmwood St
This house, originally a typical Craftsman-style bungalow, was listed by the Town until recently as built in 1900. Tracing of the ownership back through deeds available in the Albany County Hall of Records shows that it was built no earlier than the second half of 1914, although that still makes it the oldest house on Elmwood Street; construction of the next oldest (number 6) was started late in 1928.
The deed selling the two lots on which the house was built, found in Deed Book 630, page 174-5, is dated July 1914 (the deed recording date is 10 July 1914), from Arthur and Elise Pitkin and Benjamin and Caroline Witbeck; these people in various combinations and partnerships sold almost all the lots in the Country Club Highlands development north of Western Avenue in McKownville, between 1913 and 1937. The deed reveals that the buyer of the lots for this house was Ernest A. Moore. Here's the first part of the deed showing the typical format and information that they contain:
      clip for 16 Elmwood St
The names of the seller(s) and the buyer(s), termed Grantors and Grantees in the deed indexes, are always given. The house and the street address are almost never mentioned; instead in almost all deeds the lot numbers are given, along with a recitation of the lengths and directions of the property boundaries, given relative to local features, typically street boundaries (as here starting in the last line in the deed image shown above), in some instances with a geographic direction. To tie the lot numbers to a particular house, built before or after the sale given by the deed, you have to know the lot numbers, which can be found on maps which often, but not in every case, are referenced in the deed (as in the image above). Those maps too don't have the houses shown, nor any house numbers, so either you have to know beforehand from other information that the buyer, or seller in a deed was the owner of the house in which you are interested, or you have to locate the house on the lot map using measurements made on the ground by survey, or specified in the deed. It is in many cases possible to track the ownership back through successively older deeds, as they (should) always specify at least one former deed and owner.
Here's a part of the lot map mentioned in the deed above including those two lot numbers 322 and 323:
part of lot map Country Club Highlands 1912

These older maps can be, as here, not very cleanly drafted, and hard to read in places, especially in secondary photocopies.

The numbers repeated in each lot along one edge are the lot width (20' in this example)

Who was Ernest A Moore, and how long did he own the house? The Albany City directory has some information; for 1915 he was listed as h(ome) at Guilderland:
      city dir
Given that the canvass for the city directory was done in the 6 months prior to publication, this shows that the house was already built and he was living in it by early in 1915, because he is listed as living in Albany the year before in the 1914 edition.
The listing also indicates he was manager at 3 Central Avenue in Albany.

EAMoore city
      dir 1917
The 1917 edition of the Albany City directory shows 3 Central was the location of Lenox Lunch.
He is still listed living in Guilderland.

EAMoore 1918
      city directory
The 1918 edition however shows him with home at 3 Central Avenue, so he moved out, back to Albany. However, the next deed for the house and lots shows that the house was not sold until 1920.
It was probably rented out; the evidence is also contained in the next deed.

The 1915 NY Census contains Ernest A Moore and his wife Elizabeth E Moore, in the enumeration district for McKownville. However, all addresses for McKownville residents in this census are "Western Avenue, RD#1". So it is only possible to connect this census listing to 16 Elmwood St through the 1914 deed; without that deed information this could not even be suspected. But with the connection made, this shows they were living in the house on 1st June 1915, the census enumeration date. The adjacent entries, for the households of Frederick Trick, and of Alexander Greenwald were near neighbors, living in houses on Fuller Road.
EA Moore
      listing in 1915 NY census
The next deed (Book 679, page 410) is a sale in September 1920 by Ernest A Moore and his second wife Rose E, to David A Warner and Mary Grace Warner:
1920 deed to DA Warner
Ernest Moore had bought an additional lot in 1915 (#324), now listed along with the original two lots on which the house was built.
This deed contains (below the part shown above) the transfer to the buyers of payments on a substantial mortgage ($2275), clear evidence that this is sale of a house, not just the lots. The deed also contains evidence that the house was rented at the time of this sale, specified as subject to a lease expiring 1 May 1921. The Federal census of 1920 also lacks specific addresses for McKownville properties, but it does show which households were owners and which were renting. Based on the adjacent household listings (Fuller Road residents), 16 Elmwood St was probably occupied and rented in 1920 by Edison and Kathrine Carpenter and their 2 year old son Edison F, but there is no firm proof of this, especially because in this and other census listings, the households are not necessarily in a regular spatial order along any street.
For David A Warner, there are city directory listings for 1919 and 1921 that are consistent with his moving into 16 Elmwood Street in 1921:
1919 city
      dir DA Warner

The 1919 city directory shows him as machinist, living on Central Avenue near the city line.

The 1920 Federal census shows him living on Central Avenue with wife and one young son.
1921 city
      directory DA Warner
The 1921 city directory shows him moved to a home on "Country Club Road", a name used informally for Western Avenue at that time; with the 1920 deed information it can be reasonably inferred that this shows he had now moved into the house on Elmwood Street.

His place of employment as an "auto tester" is given as 388 Broadway. In the 1921 city directory, there is an advertisement for the business at that address:
1921 city directory advert 388 Broadway

revealing the brand of automobile that he was "testing"

The 1925 NY census (the last one New York undertook) shows Warner and his family,  the address in McKownville now a generic Fuller Road; Mr Fred Trick is again nearby.
      in 1925 NY census
The 1925 city directory entry:
1925 city
      directory DA Warner

now with home listed as "Western av RD"

The 1920 deed information (and there is another one in 1925 in which there were mortgage rearrangments) indicate that these city directory home addresses must be referring to 16 Elmwood Street.
In the 1930 Federal census Elmwood Street is listed for the first time in a census, although the enumerator failed to record the house number for the Warners, despite recording the house numbers for others on the street:
1930 US
      census DA Warner
The 1929 city directory
1929 city
      directory DA Warner

home is back to "Country Club Road"
he is now the manager of the service dept, but the business address is now 226 N Allen St

This is still the same business, now named Franklin Klett Co., as an advert from the 1930 city directory shows:
1930 Franklin Klett advert
The 1931 city directory entry, however, shows that his job there ended, and he was now running his own garage at 79 N Lake Ave.
1931 city
      directory DA Warner

And the home address is now 16 Elmwood RD1

1931 is the first year that there are street listings in the Albany City Directory for McKownville east of Fuller Road, and east of McKown Rd.
The listing for Elmwood Street 1931:                         and for 1932: (the double O symbol marks owners; renters are unmarked)
1931 city
      directory Elmwood St listing1932 city
      directory Elmwood St
From 1931 onwards these annual city directory street listings make finding the former occupants of any house in McKownville east of Fuller and McKown Roads much easier and more certain than before 1931. For streets west of Fuller and McKown, however, no street listings occur until the publication of the first Guilderland-Colonie directory in 1957.

The 1940 US Federal census is available, but the 1950 census is not (it will be released in 2022), nor are any of the more recent censuses, because the original enumeration data are not made public until 72 years after the date of a census. The 1940 enumeration shows that 16 Elmwood St was rented and that the Warner's had moved; they lost the house in 1937 to a foreclosure proceeding and it was sold at auction in January 1938:
      Warner bankruptcy notice 1937-12-24

The first part of the auction notice published in the Ravena News-Herald of 24 December 1937

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 history sources page