Dorothy Avery

April 2, 2013

Hudson Area Library History Room, Hudson, NY


Melinda Braathen

Melinda Braathen
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Dorothy was born in Albany, New York at Brady Maternity Hospital on Jan 17, 1927. Her father was Henry William Croteau, Sr. He was from New Hampshire, son of Françoise Xavier Croteau and Josephine Nadeau, both born in Canada. Dorothy’s great grandfather, William Jackson Breedlove, fought in the Civil War and another great grandfather was George Shepherd Hamm, who rode with General Nathan Bedford Forrest. Dorothy’s father was born in Berlin, New Hampshire of French Canadian parents. His grandfather walked over the Canadian border at 14 years old.  

Her mother is Nanny Laura Breedlove. Nanny came to Albany in her early 1920s to see her two brothers, soldiers, in WWI. She was introduced to her husband and married in 1925. Her father was a butcher in the Army during WWI and continued in that trade in Hudson. Her father’s employer, the Grand Union, moved the family frequently. But in 1938 they settled and bought property in Claverack. Dorothy’s younger brother, Sonny Henry William Croteau, Jr. attended a one room schoolhouse for a year in Hollowville with 15 other children before being transferred to Roeliff Janssen in Hillsdale. Dorothy graduated in 1945, and after graduation, started a job at a lab in Rensselaer. 

Dorothy and Ralph first met at the Ferns on 7th Street Park next to the St. Charles Hotel. She married Ralph in 1945 and they lived in Hudson for a year before moving to her parent’s home in Claverack. They had two girls, Judy and Nancy, who went to Ockawamick Central. Their son, Keith Michael, graduated from Ockawamick before the name of the school changed to Taconic Hills. Dorothy and Ralph were married for 67 years in June 2015. 

Central Supply of Columbia Memorial Hospital hired Dorothy for 1967 – 69. She asked for a job in the lab and worked there until the winter of 1972 when she slipped on ice.

Ralph worked at Lone Star Cement for 25 years, until it closed in 1967. After that, Ralph worked in the maintenance department at CMH. 

After Dorothy’s injury, she became interested in genealogy and research, which led her to become a member of the Daughters of American Revolution. To become a member, one must prove by direct blood line to be related to a person who took part in the Revolution. Dorothy was able to become a member based on her genealogic research in 1975-76. She also did research from two books in Hudson on the Groton/Avery clan, providing credentials for Ralph to join SAR; Sons of the American Revolution. 

In 1886 the Hendrik Hudson DAR Chapter was founded after breaking off from the Wiltwick chapter of Kingston. Frances Chester White Hartley, along with help of Dr. Henry Lyle Smith, bought The Jenkins House located at 113 Warren St. for the Hudson DAR. In May 1900 Mrs. Hartley presented to the DAR the restored house, with theater, including a trust fund that is still active today for care of property. Previously it was the home of Robert Jenkins, the third and fifth mayor of Hudson. 

A highlight of Dorothy’s tenure as DAR Regent was when the Bible George Washington used when he took Oath of Office as President was given for display to the Hudson Chapter House. 

The Hudson DAR museum is for local artifacts. The chapter also has a library that was given by Francis Hartley. The library was open to the public during the 1900s, before there was a Hudson library. 

In 1980, Dorothy Avery was involved in a project called Jenkins’ Journey. She researched the history of the six original members of the Jenkins family who settled in Hudson from Nantucket and Providence Rhode Island. She describes how the town of Hudson came to be built. Dorothy helped copy all of the original proprietor’s minutes from committee meetings. Jenkins’ Journey was presented at the St. Charles Hotel in Hudson. All of the direct descendents of the Jenkins family were invited. The event was recorded and a copy is currently at the DAR Chapter House. 

Sources she used for research were Ellis’s History of Columbia County and Munsell’s American Ancestry. Dorothy has used the City of Hudson Directories. They are found in the History Room at The Hudson Area Library. She has gone back to the 1600s for her genealogy research

Dorothy related the story of John McKinstry of Hudson and The Chief of The Indian tribe Thayendanegea, who was raised by Brant Family and was given the name Joseph Brant. 

Dorothy and Patricia Fenoff, the City Historian of Hudson and a DAR member, worked on a cemetery project in an effort to update the Gertrude Barber and Minnie Cohen Records that were done in the 1930s. Dorothy and Pat went around with chalk and paper and copied every stone in the Hudson and surrounding cemeteries. They typed and indexed all the gravestones. It took two years to complete the Hudson cemetery and eight years to complete the whole project.   

Dorothy has decided she will give her Columbia county genealogy books to the Claverack Library. She also has microfilm of 1850, ‘55, ‘60 census records. 1850 was the first year since 1790 that the whole family is recorded with ages, place of birth, by townships. Original census books were located on the 2nd floor of the DMV building. Dorothy has Church records too. 

She is a member of the Hudson Fortnightly Club. She is also Historian for the Auxiliary VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars). And she is in charge of Veteran affairs for the DAR.  

Dorothy has seen many changes in Hudson; once there were all kinds of stores, several drug stores, and Richman’s, but today there is no place to shop because there are just antique stores.

Interviewer Bio:

Melinda Braathen

Melinda Braathen is a resident of Hudson, NY. She graduated from Bard College in 2007. She worked in publishing and the arts for three and a half years in Berlin, Germany and Oslo, Norway. She conducted a series of interviews with her own Norwegian grandmother, who worked underground in the resistance while Norway was occupied by Germany during WWII. She previously worked at Time & Space Limited in Hudson. She completed Suzanne Snider’s Oral History Summer School in 2012 and currently co-hosts the Monday Afternoon Show with Sara Kendall on WGXC Community Radio. The show is interview-based and focuses on people, politics, and cultural events.

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