Saturday, August 27, 2011

Sorting Saturday: Albert Ward Cobb of Sing Sing, NY

My father, Harold Burk, held onto a motley assortment of stuff from his time working as a travel agent and then a checkroom concession owner at two fancy Manhattan hotels, the Savoy Plaza (earlier, the Hotel Savoy; later, the Savoy Hilton and, later still, torn down to make way for the GM building) and the Hampshire House Hotel. Some of these things have been passed down to me and my sisters.

In one of the boxes of genealogy stuff I'm sorting today, I found two pocket notebooks and a few letters and documents pertaining to Mr. A. Ward Cobb. I assumed that these were some of "treasures" my father acquired during his years in travel and hotels. (The next generation wouldn't have any idea where the items came from, not knowing about what my father brought home from the hotels in his time!)

And that's correct!

Albert Ward Cobb (born 27 March 1870) and his sister Emmie (Emily) were children of Marcius L. Cobb, a lawyer and banker. M.L. Cobb was Vice-President of the First National Bank in Sing Sing, New York (see document at left).

Looking at the documents I'm sorting, I learned that:

1. Albert Ward Cobb applied to the Supreme Court of New York to be admitted to the bar in 1894, after clerking for Smith Lent in Sing Sing (Ossining), Westchester, New York. I have his official request for admission to the bar.
2. Albert graduated from the College of New Jersey at Princeton in 1890 with an A.B. degree, later an A.M. degree.
3. M.L. Cobb, Albert's father, had accounts (shown in brown notebooks) with Mrs. Jane M. Vail, showing receipts from transactions such as interest on bank mortgages and payments from mortgages. At one point, the balance is over $18,000. This appears to be a legal situation such as investing her husband's estate in trust, for instance, but again, I'm guessing.
4. The note above, dated Dec 3, 1877, shows that M.L. Cobb paid $404.23 which was received by C. F. Maurice, President, if I read the handwriting correctly. Here, M.L. Cobb is the VP of the bank, on the letterhead.

Now the genealogist in me had to do a bit of Census research. Albert Ward Cobb was 10 years old in 1880, according to the Census, living with his father, M. L. Cobb, a lawyer of 58 yrs old, and mother, Annie G. Cobb, 50 years old. He had other siblings besides Emily (who was then 12). They lived in Sing Sing in Westchester, NY (the village, NOT the famous prison).

Cobb grew up and married Fannie McCan (born in New Orleans) and they traveled a lot, judging by their passport application and other documents found via Ancestry. Cobb became a lawyer, I know from his Census details.

I skipped down to the 1930 Census, and there was Albert W. Cobb and his wife, Fannie, living at the Hotel Plaza, 1 West 58th Street, Manhattan. A.W. was 60 and Fannie was 47. NO children are listed. This was a very prestigious address, actually on the corner of Fifth Avenue, across the plaza from the Savoy Plaza.

So somehow, sometime, Albert W. Cobb's notebooks and some papers came into the possession of my father, and I'd like to repatriate them to some member of the Cobb family. I've posted notes in the Cobb surname boards on Ancestry and GenForum, looking for Cobb descendants.

And I confirmed something I've long suspected: Just as not all of the photos in a genealogy box are of MY family, not all of the artifacts have to relate to MY family. The Cobbs never rubbed elbows with the Burks, but a bit of their history is in my hands, waiting to go to the right person.


  1. Oh, how I do hope some Cobbs reply to your inquiries!

    Let us know, please.

  2. Hi Dee, Just to get the word out, I posted on the Cobb surname boards on both GenForum and Ancestry. I'll be sure to blog if and when a Cobb claims the documents! Thanks for reading.