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
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
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:
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:
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:
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
The 1917 edition of the Albany City directory shows 3 Central was
the location of Lenox Lunch.
He is still listed living in Guilderland.
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
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.
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:
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
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.
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:
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.
The 1925 city directory entry:
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:
The 1929 city directory
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:
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.
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
The listing for Elmwood Street
and for 1932: (the double O symbol marks owners; renters are
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:
The first part of the auction notice published in the Ravena
News-Herald of 24 December 1937
sources of this information
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
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