Mrs. Sally McKinstry, deceased,
wife of the late Hon. Robert McKinstry, was the daughter of Abner Hammond,
a successful merchant of Hudson, N. Y., in which city she was born in the
year 1798. She was known nearly all her life as a devoted patron of
charity, especially in connection with the Hudson Orphan Asylum, an
institution which she founded, and with which she was connected as chief
directress from its establishment up to the time of her death.
Although this institution was the great work of her life, and that which
will longest commemorate her devotion to the welfare of the poor helpless
whom she sought to [p. 217] benefit, yet she was from a much earlier
period eminently devoted to charity, and was constantly meditating or
carrying out some scheme of active benevolence by which she endeavored to
ameliorate the conditions of the needy and suffering around her. She
was prompted to this by the natural benevolence of her character, as well
as from the fact that she had no children of her own to occupy her time
and attention. Her thoughts naturally turned to the poor and
neglected children on the streets and in the by-ways of the city, and to
systematize her methods for benefiting this class, she conceived the idea
of an orphan and relief asylum.
sooner had the idea taken shape in her mind than it absorbed and
controlled her entire energies, becoming her one paramount idea and ruling
passion till the work was completed. She had not the means of her
own to establish such an institution, but she possessed in a remarkable
degree the power of earnestness and persuasion by which she could enlist
the co-operation of wealthy and influential parties, and thus secure the
success of her undertaking.
foresight and sagacity superior to most women of her day, and with a
perseverance which insured success where others would have failed, she
went to work to realize her cherished object. Securing rooms, she
gathered a number of poor children and took care of them herself
personally for some time. She then secured the co-operation of her
father, Mr. Hammond, who gave a suitable site for an asylum building.
She solicited men of means to aid in the enterprise; she canvassed from
house to house, from office to office, in the city; she sought out
information, wrote articles on the subject, brought reports before public
meetings and committees; in short, she never alter in her endeavors until
her efforts were crowned with success, and the asylum was erected and its
permanent continuance provided for.
this she had been the head and manager of the enterprise, and when the
asylum was fairly established she became by general consent the chief
directress of the institution, an office which she held, and the duties of
which she discharged, with singular capacity and devotion during the rest
of her life.
had great foresight, perseverance, and executive ability, and these
qualities, united with the earnest benevolence of her nature and her power
to enlist the sympathies of others in her work, made her as eminently
fitted for the difficult and responsible duties of her station as any
woman of her age. The name of "Aunt Sally McKinstry," as she was
popularly called by those who met or saw her everywhere, as a sort of
ubiquitous presence or incarnation of the spirit of charity, as she went
about the city seeking out the poor and needy, and soliciting means for
their relief, will long be remembered as a household word by the citizens
of Hudson; and by how many who have gone out from the institution
benefited by her labors of love will it be repeated with reverence and
McKinstry died very suddenly, on Sunday Morning, June 22, 1862, at the age
of sixty-four years. We copy the following obituary from the Hudson
Register of a day or two subsequent to that date:
McKinstry probably enjoyed a larger circle of friends and acquaintances
than any other lady in the county. The wide range of her
benevolence, the avidity with which she sought out the needy in every walk
of life, and her activity in every good cause, rendered her name almost a
[p. 218] household word throughout the county, and wide is the circle who
mourn her loss.
were too poor to receive her care,--none too high to do her homage.
generous spirits cannot well be spared from a selfish world. But she
has gone to receive her great reward. We trust there are many left
behind who will emulate her noble example."