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Hudson-Mohawk Genealogical and Family Memoirs:
Battershall

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[This information is from Vol. I, pp. 217-219 of Hudson-Mohawk Genealogical and Family Memoirs, edited by Cuyler Reynolds (New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Company, 1911). It is in the Reference collection of the Schenectady County Public Library at R 929.1 R45. Some of the formatting of the original, especially in lists of descendants, may have been altered slightly for ease of reading.]

The Battershall family (the name also being spelled Battishall and Battishill) came from Devonshire, the name being common both in that county and in the county of Cornwall. The coat-of-arms will be found under the name Battishill or Battishall, Burke's Heraldry. The first members of the family who came to this country were seamen, one of them captain of a merchant vessel. The other brother served as a privateer during the war of 1812. From Cape Cod the family moved to Canaan, Columbia county.

Rev. Dr. Walton Wesley Battershall, son of Ludlow A. and Eustatia (Ward) Battershall, was born in Troy, New York, January 8, 1840. His early education was received at the Kimball Union Academy in that city, where he completed the prescribed course in 1858, and then entered Yale College, graduating in the class of 1864. He was class poet and member of Scroll and Key Society. It was at this time that he developed a growing inclination to enter the ministry, so that shortly after his graduation he commenced his religious training under the auspices of the Rev. Henry Codman Potter, who later became the Episcopal bishop of New York diocese. He was ordained a deacon at Troy, June 16, 1865, and then entered the General Theological Seminary in New York City, from which he was graduated in 1866. He was ordained a priest by Bishop Potter, November 30, 1866, and through the next two years he was the assistant rector of Zion Church, in New York. In 1868 he was chosen rector of St. Thomas' Church, in Ravenswood, Long Island, which post he filled one year, when he accepted a call to the rectorship of Christ Church in Rochester. Here he remained for following five years, making a number of enduring friendships, and entering heartily into the work of a growing parish. He was at this time a member of the standing committee of the Diocese of Western New York.

By the consecration of the Rev. Dr. Benjamin H. Paddock as the Bishop of Massachusetts, on September 17, 1873, the important and influential parish of Grace Church in Brooklyn was left vacant. It was decided to secure the Rev. William Andrew Snively, rector of St. Peter's Church, Albany, and he presented his resignation on May 3, 1874, having officiated since May 24, 1870, with great and general satisfaction. For a time the parish then came under the care of Rev. Thaddeus A. Snively as minister-in-charge, by appointment as such on April 13, 1874. A committee of three vestrymen was named June 10, 1874, to select a new rector, and Christ Church in Rochester was visited, whereupon they were satisfied by the selection of the Rev. Walton W. Battershall, and having received official word from the vestry of St. Peter's Church, he wrote in August that he had accepted their invitation and would be ready shortly to enter upon his duties in the new field. He was instituted in that church on the Feast of St. Michael and All Angels, September 29, 1874, Bishop William Croswell Doane acting as institutor and preaching the memorable sermon in the presence of eighteen clergy seated in the chancel and a large congregation.

It was not long after this event before St. Peter's Church began to show marked advancement in several ways. This was partly through natural incidents, but mostly to be attributed to the efforts of the new rector. It can be stated without fear of exaggeration or of denial that at no time during the succeeding thirty-five years of his pastorate did this spirit, so highly commendable, lessen. The first improvement to be noted was the erection of a parish house for the Sunday school and allied purposes, meetings, fairs and the like, for the conduct of the church's work. It was built at a cost of more than $25,000 on the east side of Lodge street, and its cornerstone was laid by Bishop Doane on June 9, 1875. On March 9, 1875, the senior warden, Mr. John Tweddle, died. By his will he had bequeathed the sum of $5,000 to be used towards the completion of the tower. It was found that to erect it to the parapet would cost $27,000. Mr. Tweddle's widow and family thereupon made it possible to complete it, and the handsome tower, designed by Upjohn, was dedicated by Bishop Doane on September 29, 1876, and the dedication of the chime of eleven bells, made by Meneely, of West Troy, took place on December 25, 1876, and on the 28th the completed Parish House was dedicated.

So active was Dr. Battershall in a diversity of church work for the parish in which he took so great a pride that his report, made September 28, 1879, preached as a fifth anniversary sermon, may be read as a praiseworthy reflection on what he had accomplished, although his true intention was to bestow congratulation and praise upon his congregation, and it shows what he had achieved in his way as would read the record of a military officer or judge in his court. "You have contributed during the last five years for parochial purposes, including the income from the pews and gifts for the building of the Parish House, and the memorial tower and chimes, $143,874.15; for diocesan purposes (including $3,567.21 for diocesan missions) $5,927.33; for general objects, including foreign and domestic missions, $4,983.17, making a total of $154,684.66. During the last five years there have been 145 baptisms and 140 have been presented to the Bishop for confirmation. I have solemnized 25 marriages and 109 burials. The last annual report to the Diocesan Convention gave 434 communicants, 38 Sunday school officers and teachers, and 282 pupils. * * * A venerable history has been granted to this parish. Illustrious names are found upon its records. Holy men have stood in this place, upon whose foundations what little I can rear will seem a meagre and an unworthy structure; but it is idle to say that the parish has discharged, in the sight of God, the full measure of its duty to this community. I love this church. Its very stones, with their sculptured beauty, have become dear to me. Year by year I have been drawn to you more closely by the ties which are woven in brotherly intercourse, and in the performance of my sacred offices; but I can do little, except you make me strong with your prayers and your sympathies, and stand beside me in my work."

Another important step was the erection of the rectory. When Dr. Battershall first came to Albany he occupied the old rectory on the northwest corner of Maiden Lane and Lodge street, on ground leased by the Masons; but this land was desired by them as a site for the proposed Temple. The property adjoining the church on the west was offered for sale for $19,000, and it was decided to build thereon. The land was acquired by transfer of the deed on December 31, 1894. Through the unexpected and most generous offer of Mr. Jesse W. Potts and his sister, Miss Sarah B. Potts, the building of a new rectory was provided, and on February 12, 1896, it was opened by a service of benediction. Its cost was $20,000, and was given in memory of Jesse Charles and Eunice Walker Potts, the parents of the donors. The residence of the late Justice Rufus W. Peckham of the United States supreme court, next to the west of the rectory, was acquired a little later and converted to the needs of the parish, and besides all this spreading out, considerable land was purchased along Maiden Lane on which to build a choir room. A costly new organ was intalled in the chancel end, instead of in the gallery over the main entrance; choir stalls were built in the chancel, a beautiful memorial altar and its reredos were given by Mr. Charles L. Pruyn, a carved stone pulpit was presented in 1886 as a Tibbits memorial, an artistic lectern and marble font were added, and under the further solicitation of Dr. Battershall practically every window throughout the handsome edifice was transformed into an example of most skilled workmanship, and it was in these manifold ways that the indefatigable parochial labors of Dr. Battershall will endure in visual form as a memorial of his earnestness in his work. On Sunday, November 5, 1899, the vestry honored its pastor with a special service of song and praise in recognition of the completion of his rectorship of a quarter-century, and in the fall of 1909 his thirty-fifth anniversary was fittingly celebrated.

Union University conferred on him the degree of D.D. in June, 1877, and he was made archdeacon of the Episcopal diocese of Albany. He is the author of a number of published works, notably Interpretation of Life and Religion, issued in 1897 by A. S. Barnes, and a leading section of Historic Towns of the Middle States,, G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1899. The casual listener to his preaching soon discovers that he is a clergyman of deep erudition, whose delivery is forceful, convincing in its trend of philosophic argument, and displaying, as by the sense of instinct, a most familiar acquaintance with the great writers of the ages by reason of the charm of his diction and poetry phrasing. His presence as a speaker has been requested upon many important occasions in his own and other cities, at the dedication of buildings and notable anniversaries.

Rev. Dr. Walton W. Battershall married, October 13, 1864, at St. Mark's Church, in Newark, Wayne county, New York, Anna Davidson, daughter of Fletcher Williams and his second wife, Ann Eliza (Ford) Williams. She was born in Newark, New York, March 27, 1843, died at Christ Church Rectory, in Rochester, September 25, 1872. Children:

  1. Walton Ford, born in Troy, New York, July 12, 1865, died at Troy, September 27, 1865.
  2. Fletcher Williams, born at Ravenswood, Long Island, September 29, 1866, see forward.
  3. Cornelia Smith, born in Rochester, New York, July 21, 1869; married, in St. Peter's Church, Albany, June 10, 1896, Dr. Harry Seymour Pearse, of Elmira, New York, son of Charles Pearse; children:
    1. Ludlow Pearse, born Albany, June 1, 1898, died same day;
    2. Anna Williams Pearse, born Albany, April 26, 1900;
    3. Walton Battershall Pearse, born Albany, November 4, 1905.
  4. Anna Davidson, born in Rochester, New York, September 20, 1872; married, in Albany, April 27, 1900, Russell Agnew Griffin, of Orange, New Jersey, son of Charles Russell and Lucy (Agnew) Griffin; children:
    1. Anne Griffin, born July 15, 1903;
    2. Charles Russell Griffin, born at Orange, December 29, 1908.

Fletcher Williams, son of the Rev. Dr. Walton Wesley and Anna Davidson (Williams) Battershall, was born in Ravenswood, Long Island, the home of his maternal grandparents, September 29, 1866, and when seven years of age was taken to Albany by his father upon his acceptance of the rectorship of St. Peter's Church. When not many years older, he entered the Albany Academy, where he was one of the charter members of the Gates Literary Society and one of the first board of editors of the school publication, The Cue. He was graduated from there in the class of 1884, and the next fall entered Cornell University. He affiliated there with the Kappa Alpha fraternity. He remained at Cornell two years, subsequently serving in the State Engineer's office. He then entered the Albany Law School, was a member of the class of 1896, and was admitted to the bar the same year. He opened a law office at No. 100 State street, and was associated with Hon. J. Newton Fiero. He was appointed a lecturer at the Albany Law School of Union University, where he still lectures, and later was made deputy supreme court reporter. He is the author of A Daughter of this World, published in 1893 by Dodd, Mead & Company, and by Heineman in England; Mists, published by Dodd, Mead & Company in 1894, and of Bookbinding for Bibliophiles. In 1909 he wrote a memoir of his friends, Henry Arnold Peckham and Rufus W. Peckham, Jr. In 1910 he issued a book on Domestic Relations, published by Bender & Company. In his youth he had leaned strongly towards the sciences and displayed decided aptitude, but this gave way to some extent for the delights of reading, which developed his literary bent, and his works have met with considerable criticism strongly in their favor. His love for books created a deep fondness for the rare and beautifully bound, developing in him a pronounced interest which led him to devote much of his leisure to binding certain books for his library in an artistic manner. He takes pleasure in automobiling, and is a lover of dogs. His close friends are those of intellectual attainments. He is fond of travel, and has made several trips abroad, visiting art centers especially.

He married, in St. Peter's Church, Albany, November 9, 1897, his father officiating, Maude Goodrich, daughter of Hon. James Newton Fiero, dean of the Albany Law School since 1895, author of Special Actions, Torts, and Special Proceedings; president of the New York State Bar Association, 1892-93; vice-president of the American Bar Association, 1895-1902. James N. Fiero was born in Saugerties, New York, May 23, 1847, son of Christopher and Janet Sands (McCall) Fiero, of Delhi, New York.

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