HONORABLE ALBERT J. AKIN
Biographical Sketch From
HISTORY OF DUTCHESS COUNTY, NEW YORK
By James H. Smith, pages 560-561.
The Akin family of which Honorable Albert J. is now (1882) the oldest representative member, has always been one of the most important in Dutchess County. Of Scotch origin and Quaker lineage, the second American representative, left new England for its persecutions and settled upon Quaker Hill in the town of Pawling, and there his descendants have made a continued stand for several generations. Sectarian persecutions, from which the New England Quakers were sufferers, added largely to the independent and intelligent population of Dutchess County, but it received no more conspicuous advantage from any source than from the arrival of this Akin refugee.
John Akin, from whom the American branch of the family descended, originally came from Aberdeen, Scotland, in the year 1680, and settled at Dartmouth, Bristol County, Mass. He remained there until June 1746, when he died at the age of eighty-three years. His first wife was Hannah Briggs. After her death he married again and by the two wives became the father of fifteen children.
David, the oldest of these children, was born September 9, 1689, and married Sarah Allen, by whom he had ten children. He was the first of the family to settle at Quaker Hill. David Akin's eldest son, John, married in 1742, Margaret Hicks, and had four children. One of these, John, Jr., was born November 11, 1753, and in 1775 was united in marriage with Mollie Ferriss. Six children were the fruits of this marriage, of whom the oldest was Albro, born March 6, 1778. On the 18th of November 1801, Albro was married to Pauline Vanderburgh, daughter of Col. James Vanderburgh, of Beekman, and one of a family of eighteen children. By this and subsequent marriages, Albro became the father of ten children, the eldest of whom by his first wife was Albert John, born August 14, 1803, and the subject of this sketch.
Honorable Albro Akin, the father of Albert John, was a leading merchant, farmer and Democrat of the County all his life; representing the County in the General Assembly, and was for a considerable period one of the County Judges. When he resigned the latter office his brother, Honorable Daniel D. Akin succeeded him. Abler died in 1854, at the ripe age of seventy-six.
At an early age Albert J. attended school in New York City, southeast Centre, Putnam county and Red Hook Academy in the successive winters, and assisted in his father's business summers. After leaving school he was wholly occupied by his father's pursuits until 1823, when the mercantile part of the business passed into the hands of his uncle Daniel, and he left for a clerkship in a leading dry goods house in New York City, being then unwilling to confine himself to a farming life. This clerkship continued until the firm he was with dissolved, and he embarked for himself in a mercantile career in that city. This occupation continued for a few years, until by his application his health entirely failed and obliged him to give up and return to open air life upon his native hills. For several years he remained incapacitated for active pursuits of any kind, but later, about 1834, he was barely able to take up farming once more, which he did upon an extensive scale, and continued it with broken health but with great success down to the date of this sketch, (1882).
In 1836, he was married to Jane Williams of the City of New York.
Mr. Akin became interested in the extension of the Harlem Railroad from Croton Falls, northerly through his native town to Dover Plains. He was at that time one of two gentlemen who raised $100,000, which was the condition of the extension, and was so successful that before the close of 1848 that portion of the railroad was complete. The next year he was elected a director of this railroad, holding the office for fifteen years.
In 1849, he organized the Pawling Bank which immediately elected him its president, and has continued him in that office ever since. The Bank has been one of the most successful institutions in the State.
In 1880, he resolved to erect a hall upon Quaker Hill, for the religious and literary use of the neighborhood. This was completed and endowed by him the following year and was opened as "Akin Hall" in July 1881. This uncommonly tasteful structure and its accompaniments must have involved an expense of not less than $25,000. About the same period he originated the project of a large and elegant summer hotel in the same locality. This has since been completed at a cost of about $100,000 most of which was contributed by Mr. Akin. In this year (1880) he was chosen as one of the presidential electors to his native State on the Republican ticket and was thus entitled to a vote for the martyred President. To these important duties have been super-added directorship in several prominent incorporated companies in the City of New York, to the success of which his rare judgment has largely contributed.
If it be considered that Mr. Akin has been during all these years a confirmed invalid, his activities, as well as his later conspicuous philanthropy combine to make him a marked man. His clear uprightness of character, his wealth, his success, his enterprise and generosity, will leave him an unusually honored memory.
During his entire life his summers have been spent in the attractive high land country where he was born and his winters at his residence in the City of New York. Being without children his home has never been without the attraction of nieces who have brightened hearth and heart and made a marriage which was happy in itself almost independent of the vicissitudes of health and circumstance. If such men are not rare then manhood is in itself more creditable. If they are rare, the more credit to him who has given his fellowmen the attractive force of such an example.
Typed and submitted by
Lynn Airheart Brandvold
My Genealogy Pages
Back to Town History and Biography Index Page