The ACHA is proud to share the stories of our richly diverse community. Below, we feature some of the people who passed through the doors of the Ten Broeck Mansion, whose contributions were essential in building our nation, and people who lived in our richly historic Arbor Hill neighborhood.
Through These Doors
Roseanna Vosburgh (1800-1884)
Roseanna Vosburgh was born in the Town of Kinderhook, Columbia County, NY on June 17, 1800. She was most likely born into enslavement by the Vosburgh Family, descendants of Dirk Vosburgh, whose family had been in northwestern Columbia County since the 1720s. She achieved freedom at age 21, at which time she joined the African Baptist Church and began paid employment with Thomas Worth Olcott (1795-1880), President of the Mechanics’ and Farmers’ Bank of Albany, and his family, who were from Hudson NY. Olcott’s father and other family members were Quaker, a religious group which became associated for opposing slavery. As the paid household manager for the Olcotts, Vosburgh trained and supervised a staff of Irish servants, managing the Ten Broeck Mansion in Albany’s Arbor Hill neighborhood, the expansive home and gardens of Revolutionary War General Abraham Ten Broeck. Vosburgh worked for the Olcott family for 63 years, until her death on September 25, 1884.
On June 19, 1833, Vosburgh helped found the Female Lundy Society of Albany, named in honor of Benjamin Lundy, a Quaker abolitionist. Serving to fund education for Black children, the Lundy Society also supported abolition efforts and assistance to its members. Prior to her death, Vosburgh set up a philanthropic trust for African American women in Albany. She was buried in the Olcott Family Plot in the Albany Rural Cemetery, her gravestone marked “63 years a […] faithful servant of the family.”
While her epitaph limits her story, Vosburgh was a leader. An abolitionist, philanthropist, and manager, Roseanna Vosburgh’s story is shared during all tours at the Ten Broeck Mansion. Historic spaces where Vosburgh worked daily, such as the 1850 Butler’s Pantry, remain largely intact, and help illuminate the lives of those who transformed African American’s experience in the Hudson Valley from a place of enslavement into a place of possibilities, growing freedom, and opportunity.
Thomas Murray (1860-1929)
One of twelve children of Irish immigrant parents, Thomas’s father died when he was nine. Thomas left school to support his family and knocked on the front door of the Ten Broeck Mansion to ask for employment. Thomas Worth Olcott hired him to assist in the gardens; his job was to keep the walkways and driveways in the extensive gardens in order. Noticing the garden pathways frequently iced over in winter, 11-year-old Thomas Murray built an underground heating system, drawing off the steam heating pipes servicing the Mansion and greenhouse, thus keeping the walkways clear throughout the winter. Thomas Murray became the Chief Engineer of the Albany Waterworks at age 21, and family tradition holds that his good reference from Thomas Worth Olcott helped him secure this position. Murray continued to be a prolific inventor, second only to Thomas Edison in total number of inventions.
In our Neighborhood:
Arbor Hill Community Members: the Ten Broeck Mansion is located in Arbor Hill, Albany’s second oldest neighborhood. Learn about some of the families who lived in our community.
- Jeffress and Springsteen Families, Arbor Hill, Albany NY
Learn more about the Jeffress and Springsteen Families of Arbor Hill in Albany NY through our digitized collections.
- Peter Erwin Papers, Arbor Hill, Albany NY
Peter Erwin was a WWII Gold Star Veteran and served in the Seabees. Digitized papers available June 2023.