The History of New York State
Biographies, Part 6

Editor, Dr. James Sullivan

Online Edition by Holice, Deb & Pam



For more than two centuries the family of Allison has resided in Rockland County, New York, and the members have been dominant in the progress of a number of communities that are flourishing today. The progenitor of the family was Lawrence Allison, a Puritan who came from Watertown, Massachusetts, to Hempstead, Queens County, Long Islane and one of the company which purchased the North Moiety of the Kakiat patent in 1719, and founded the village of New Hempstead. Later, also, he became the owner of the larger part of the DeHarte patent, which now includes the villages of Haverstraw and Grassy Point. He died in 1754, leaving children: Joseph, John, Benjamin, William, Deborah, Elizabeth, Mary, Hannah, and Richard. Of these Joseph was born August 4, 1722, and died January 2, 1796. He married Elizabeth Benson in 1843, and had children: Matthew, who died in youth; Joseph, Peter, Cornelius, Hendrick, Matthew (2), and Elizabeth. Joseph's first wife died in 1767, and two years later he married Elsie Parcells, and they had children: Peter, Amos, Michael, Parcells, Richard, Elsie and Abraham Titus. Of these Peter Allison married Margaret Suffern, and their children were: George S., John, Caroline, Antoinette, Peter , and Joseph.

George S. Allison, of the sixth generation from Lawrence the founder of the family, was an officer in the War of 1812. He served valorously in the regiment of Colonel Washburn, and was stationed at Sandy Hook. At the close of the war he came to Haverstraw, and is remembered with affection by many who resides there at the present time. Judge Allison and his wife, Hannah (Brewster) Allison, were the parents of five children: Eugenia, Brewster J., Mary Margaret, George, who died in his youth, and Amanda, wife of Watson Tomkins. The surnames, Brewster and Tomkins, may well be added here, are and have been for generations important in Rockland County.

Brewster J. Allison, of the seventh generation from Lawrence Allison, was born July 5, 1821. He attended the Stony Point District School and the Peekskill Military Academy, where he took up the study of surveying. After graduating from Peekskill Academy, for the first few years he engaged solely in engineering, but later became interested in farming and the manufacture of brick, and owned extension property interests in the town of Stony Point. There was no incorporated villages in the town, but there were, however, several centers of population, called variously villages, "corners" or hamlets. Largest of these was Stony Point, which lies close to the southern boundary of the town. The large Allison homestead, built in 1821, is now occupied by Mr. Allison's son, Ralph D. Allison. Perhaps the oldest house in this village, known for many decades as the Alexander Waldron place, is owned and occupied by Mr. Allison's daughter, Mrs. Frances Bontecou. The construction of this home antedates the Revolution, and the house, like the town, figured in the history of that war. About 1850, twenty years before the place then known as Florus Falls became the village of Stony Point, one Theodore Smith caused his farm to be surveyed in village lots and blocks, and called it the village of Brewsterville, after his wife's family name. So is the name Brewster perpetuated; and the name Tomkins, likewise, in Tomkins Cove.

Brewster J. Allison was one of the outstanding men of his time in county and town. He held many town offices, served on State committees on roads and bridges and towns and villages, was a member of the town school board, town superintendent of schools from 1848 to 1853, and was member of the Legislature, in 1850. Brewster J. Allison was a communicant of the Presbyterian Church, and for a long period as elder. He was a generous, talented, friendly man, beloved of his associates in business and society; and his loss was widely and sincerely regretted. Mr. Allison was twice married. He married (first) Anna Elizabeth Housman, November 19, 1856; and they were the parents of three children: Cornelius H., George S., and William Brewster, who died in infancy. Mrs. Allison died in Haverstraw, April 27, 1862, and on May 2, 1868, Mr. Allison married (second) Anna Given Andrus, daughter of Nelson and Mary C. (Denniston) Andrus of Haverstraw. They were the parents of eleven children: Brewster J., Jr.: Samuel, who died in youth; Amanda Tomkins, Sarah Andrus: Calvin Tomkins, of whom hereafter; Anna Mary; Hannah Brewster; Eugenia Knight; Frances Gertrude; Ralph Denniston, and Edward Lane. Anna Given (Andrus) Allison died August 2, 1889.

Calvin Tomkins, of the eighth generation from Lawrence, founder of the family, fourth child and second son of Brewster J. and Anna G. (Andrus) Allison, was born in Stony Point, June 3, 1876. He attended the public school of the place of his birth until he was eleven years of age. Then for two years (1889 and 1890) he was a student in the "Clinton Grammar School" of Clinton, New York. During the summer vacation of these years he helped his father make many farm and mountain surveys. It was at this time that he decided to enter the engineering profession, and after looking over the various engineering schools decided to prepare for Princeton. He entered Lawrenceville Preparatory School in the fall of 1890. Here his progress was rapid, and in his junior year, 1893, he passed the entrance examinations for Princeton. In 1897 he graduated from Princeton University with the degree of Civil Engineer. In the spring of the year following he accepted a position in the construction corps of the New York Central Railroad, and for four years excelled in the drafting of span diagrams of bridge construction. At this time the Central was preparing to change from lighter locomotives to the heavier type, and the corps in which he worked made the span diagrams for all the bridges between New York and Buffalo.

In 1900 when these bridges were being constructed, Mr. Allison started in the contracting business, and for two years built several bridges for the New York Central, the largest of which was on the Rome-Watertown-Ogdensburg division at Watertown, New York.

In 19-2 while at Tarrytown, New York, building stone and concrete walls on the property of William Rockefeller, Mr. Allison was offered, and accepted, the position of County engineer of Rockland County, which position he held for seven years. In 1909, at the expiration of his term, he again went into the engineering and contracting business.

In 1912, Mr. Allison became County superintendent of Highways for Rockland County, which position he has held ever since. When Mr. Allison was first appointed county engineer in 1902 there were only eight miles of improved highway in the county, and all the bridges were of the light wooden type. Since that time there have been constructed over four hundred miles of improved highways including brick, concrete, bituminous and water-bound macadam. All of the lighter type of wooden bridges have been replaced with bridges of steel and concrete to withstand the heavy traffic.

Mr. Allison built the stone Presbyterian Church at Stony Point, and the Memorial Arch for the Daughters of the Revolution at the entrance to Stony Point Park. He was the engineer for the Stony Point State Park and designed and built all of their roads and buildings, as well as the concrete dock on the Reservation. The soldiers Memorial Park in the village of Stony Point, was also designed and built by Mr. Allison, the money for the Park being raised by public subscription.

At the present time Mr. Allison is not only county Superintendent of Highways and County Engineer, but engineer for the village of Haverstraw and West Haverstraw, and for many local corporations.

Mr. Allison is a man of wide contacts. He is a member of the New York State Engineering Association, and the American society of Civil engineers, and highly regarded by his confreres in the profession. Politically of great influence, a member of the Republican party, and staunch in the support of its principle, he exerts his prestige for the good of his community. Since 1910 he has been president of the Stony Point School Board. He is a member of the Stony Point Lodge of the Free And Accepted Masons, Princeton engineering Association, and the Princeton Club of New York City. He is interested in business concerns in both Stony Point and Haverstraw, and in the latter is a director of the Peoples' Bank. Mr. Allison is a communicant of the Presbyterian church, as were his forefathers, and has been a member of the board of trustees for many years. toward charity Mr. Allison is unfailingly large of heart. He lives his creed of "the brotherhood of all mankind."

During the World War, although he was somewhat advanced in years for military duty, he served tirelessly for the various boards and committees in charge of the prosecution of the war, and was chairman of the Draft board for Rockland County. Moreover, he was active in the several Liberty Loan campaigns, securing a large total of subscriptions. Of Mr. Alison it is said by those who knew him well, that his family is honorable and himself no less honorable; that he is just in all his dealings, firm in his opinions but ready to alter them in the face of evidence; that he is kind and in all ways worthy--a valuable citizen to community, State and nation.

On September 12, 1900, Mr. Allison was untied in marriage with Edith Elizabeth Snedecker, daughter of Edward and Adelaide Snedecker of Haverstraw, and to this union was born, August 7, 1902, a daughter, Elizabeth Snedecker Allison, who, on October 25, 1924, married Howard Hutchins Parsons. Mrs. Parsons died July 6, 1927. In 1922, Mr. and Mrs. Allison adopted Elinor Durham Jordon, only child of Mrs. Allison's brother-in-law and sister, the late Mr. and Mrs. Clifford Lewis Jordon, formerly of Bangor, Maine. The residence of Mr. Allison, it is interesting to note, is on the site of and a part of the old Stony Point Grammar School, where he first attended school.


Numbered among the leaders of the medical fraternity of the Capitol District of New York State is Dr. Marcus Dennis Cronin, who since 1909 has been established in practice in Albany, and is devoting himself in large measure to surgery. The years which have intervened have brought him unbounded success, which is proof of his ability to carry on in what is without doubt the most difficult of the professions.

(1) Cornelius Cronin, grandfather of Dr. Cronin, was born in 1800, and in 1846 he moved his family to the Untied States, settling in Wilton, Saratoga County, New York. He married Helen O'Reilly, who was born in 1810, and died in 1862. From this union was born Marcus, of whom further. Mr. Cronin passed away September 29, 1879.

(2) Marcus Cronin, son of Cornelius and Helen (O'Reilly) Cronin, and father of Dr. Cronin, was born in Killarney, Kerry County, Ireland, august 1, 1839. Coming with his parents to this country at the age of seven years. He became a farmer and so carried on until his death, June 8, 1921. Marcus Cronin married Mary O'Sullivan, a native of Listowel, Kerry County, Ireland, who was born November 1, 1849, and died November 27, 1911. They were the parents of two children: Cornelius, a resident of Wilton and a Saratoga County supervisor; Marcus Dennis, of whom further.

(3) Marcus Dennis Cronin was born in Wilton, Saratoga County, New York, March 14, 1880. He was educated in the public schools of his native place and, after graduating from the local high school in the class of 1897, taught school in Saratoga County for five years, subsequently entering Albany Medical College, from which institution he received the degree of Doctor of Medicine, in 1907. The following year he served as interne at St. Peter's Hospital and the next six months was first assistant in Bender's Laboratory, following which he took full charge there for the remainder of the year. Dr. Cronin then established himself in the active practice of his chosen profession in 1909, specializing in surgery, in which he has secured a large and ever-increasing clientele. He is attending surgeon at St. Peter's Hospital, consulting surgeon of the Anthony Brady Maternity Hospital, and holds membership in the American Medical Association, the New York State Medical Association and the Albany County Medical Society. During the World War he served on the Advisory Board at Albany. His fraternal affiliation is with Lodge No. 49,. Benevolent and protective Order of Elks, of Albany; Council No. 173, Knights of Columbus, fourth degree; Order of Alhambra. His religious affiliation is with St. Mary's Roman Catholic Church of Albany, and he holds membership in Wolfert's Roost Country Club.

At Watervliet, New York, February 1, 1913, Dr. Marcus Dennis Cronin married Helen M. Doyle, daughter of Michael and Margaret (Cahill) Doyle. Dr. and Mrs. Cronin are the parents of three children: 1. Mary, born November 24, 1913, now attending Miss Quinn's Private School. 2. Marcus J., born October 28, 1915. 3. Helen D., born February 25, 1917. Dr. Cronin is a great lover of his home and his entire time is devoted to his fireside and his profession. His office and residence are at No. 182 Washington Avenue, Albany.


Among the leading executives of Albany, New York, is Charles M. Winchester, president of the J. B. Lyon company, printers. He is identified with many other leading enterprises, and can always be counted upon to give his earnest support to further the welfare of the community.

Charles M. Winchester was born in Providence, Rhode Island, April 2, 1867, the son of Rev. Charles Mirak and Mary Augusta Winchester. His education was obtained in the public schools of his native place and at Walkill Academy, Middletown, New York. Following his school days he entered the printing trade in Ohio, and advanced rapidly to his present position as president of the J. B. Lyon Company, of which he is the major stockholder. He is also a trustee of the Home Savings Bank of Albany; president of the Albany Crushed Stone Corporation; served as a member of the New York State Sheridan Monument Committee; is now a member of the Industrial Council of the New York State Labor Department; former president of the Albany Chamber of Commerce; and chairman of the Advisory Board of the Salvation Army.

Mr. Winchester's fraternal affiliations are with the Masons, and he is a Past Potentate of Cyprus Temple, ancient Arabic Order Nobles of the Mystic Shrine;

The Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks; and the Sons of Veterans. His clubs are: Aurania, of which he is past president; Albany Automobile; Schuyler Meadows Country Club; Albany Rotary, of which he was a charter member and second president; Wolfert's Roost County, of which he was president; Albany, of which he was president; Fort Orange; Glens Falls County; and the New York City.

On July 16, 1891, Charles M. Winchester married Lydia Ellen Stair, of Akron, Ohio. Mr. and Mrs. Winchester are the parents of six sons, Harold, Earle, Charles M., Jr., Dan, Luther and John, four of the number being with the J. b. Lyon Company, and the remaining two are attending Carnegie Institute at Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The family home is at No. 51 S. Allen Street, Albany, New York.


The protection and development of the best natural resources of the State of New York are most fortunately intrusted to the wisdom and foresight of one of the commonwealth's most important officials, Alexander Macdonald, the commissioner of conservation, who with his aides constitutes a powerful ally of the people in their efforts to conserve the public lands and forests, to protest the fish and game and to have the custody and control of all mineral springs, wells, waters and natural carbonic acid gas, with especial reference to the Saratoga spring Reservation. The magnitude of the work which commissioner Macdonald is doing cannot be comprehended off-hand; it requires more than a passing thought or cursory study. It will suffice to say, at this point, that, thanks to the splendid educational campaigns that have been successively promoted throughout the State, the public has been brought to the place of a great cooperative agency, which, commissioner Macdonald asserts, is the factor, above all others, which is required to insure the success of the conservation movement. Their intelligent participation has for its objective the enforcement of the laws for the protection and development of the natural resources with which New York State is so generously blessed. Incidentally, it is freely acknowledged that Mr. Macdonald, an ardent lover of nature and its gifts to mankind, is by desire and experience peculiarly well suited to the berth he occupies.

Alexander Macdonald was born in Nova Scotia, September 13, 1867, son of Alexander and Catherine (MacAulay) Macdonald, and received his education in Boston, Massachusetts, and at Middlebury College, Vermont, the latter institution having conferred upon him the degree of Master of Arts. He was appointed principal of the high school at St. Regis Falls, Franklin County, New York, retaining that position for seven years, and he was school commissioner of Franklin County for nine years. While filling the latter position, he became interest in lumbering projects and the manufacture of wood products, thus gaining at first hand an insight into the needs of the State for the conservation of its forests. With the heading up of the great conservation movement under the driving force of President Roosevelt, and the taking on of a practical form, Mr. Macdonald was electrode as a representative from his home county of Franklin in the New York Assembly, thus giving him a far wider field in which to work in his chosen line, conservation. For an uninterrupted period of service of six years in the Assembly, he labored consistently and with increasing faith for the achievement of the goal nearest his heart. His profound knowledge of and intense interest in the subject brought him membership in the committee on Conservation, of which he later was made chairman. As a further tribute to his ability he was appointed a member of the Ways and Means Committee, the most important in the House, and during the last two years of his service in the House he was chairman of that committee, where he became familiar with the entire business program of the State. His thorough knowledge of the whole subject of conservation supported his conviction that the time had arrived when the State must adopt a policy for the intelligent utilization of its natural resources, and he logically assumed a commanding position in the shaping of legislation to that goal. While in the Legislature he used his influence and worked indefatigably for adding to the statutes a number of important acts, including the law for the establishment of the conservation Commission as now constituted.

When George D. Pratt received his appointment as conservation commissioners, his first official act was to name Mr. Macdonald for the position of deputy commissioners, appreciating his complete understanding of the whole subject of conservation. Mr. Macdonald moved from the legislature to the administrative branch of the State Government, thus completing a valued addition to the Conservative Commission, to which he brought the results of his long service and intimate knowledge of legislative procedure. By reason of these qualifications he was enabled to obtain the enactment of measures needed for the further development of the State's conservation policy.

For a number of years Mr. Macdonald had been persistent in his advocacy of the taking over by the State of large additional areas of forest lands, holding this to be conservation measure of the very first importance. In 1916, he was a prominent participant in securing the passage of the law providing for a bond issue for $10,000,000, $7,500,000 of which was for the enlargement of the forest Preserve. This, it is acknowledged on all sides, was one of ht most important conservation measures ever enacted in the State of New York. Mr. Macdonald has also consistently urged better protection of the forests against fire, and the high efficiency of the State's forest fire protective system is a result in no small measure of his intelligently active interest in this branch of the work. The whole system of conservation, Mr. Macdonald firmly believes, rests upon the foundation of the enlargement and preservation of the forests.

Mr. Macdonald, during his first year as conservation commissioner, began the reforestation of idle land throughout the State on a scale broader then had ever before been undertaken. He called a conference of representatives of all agencies that had been working independently, and plans were formulated for coordinating the work, an important part of the movement being an intensive campaign of education instituted throughout the State. The fruit of this campaign was borne in the work of tree planting. Every county having land suitable for the purpose, sent in orders for trees for planting demonstration forests, the number of orders for the spring planting season of 1926 far exceeding those of any previous year. The total number of trees supplied from the State nurseries for reforesting in 1925 was 10, 380,570, which was the largest number ever distributed up to that time. In 1926, there were distributed from the conservation commissioner's nurseries 20,481,112 trees which number was more than the total for the two preceding years.

The most powerful of all the agencies as an ally of the State in encompassing the success of the conservation movement, commissioner Macdonald believes, are the people themselves with their intelligent cooperation with the commission in the enforcement of the laws relating to this department.

One of the most valuable pieces of work undertaken by the Conservation Commission has to do with the prevention of the invasion of New York State by the gypsy moth, which has done millions of dollars worth of damage in New England, and which is menacing the eastern border of this State. Commissioner Macdonald has established a barrier zone in the counties east of the Hudson River from Long Island to the Canadian border for the control of this most destructive farm and forest pest. The new York Legislature made an appropriation of $150,000, and the commission entered upon its active field work in cooperation with the United Stated Department of Agriculture. For these years the westward advance of the gypsy moth has been checked for the first time since the control of this pest was undertaken. Commissioner Macdonald was reappointed to the head of the Conservation Department by governor Alfred E. Smith, January 17, 1927.

Alexander Macdonald is a trustee of the State college of Forestry; member of the Chi Psi Fraternity and of the Albany and Wolfert's Roost County clubs. His religious affiliation is with the Presbyterian church.

Mr. Macdonald married, June 15, 1900, Edith O'Neil of St. Regis Falls, New York, where they have their residence.


For more than two decades Kingston has been the scene of Mr. Brooks' successful professional activities as a lawyer. At various periods of his career he also has been prominent in public affairs. Both as a lawyer and as a public official Mr. Brooks has proved himself very able and he enjoys to an unusual degree the respect and confidence of his fellow-citizens.

Mr. Brooks was born at Shokan, June 6, 1879, a son of Walter and Mary (Ackert) Brooks.

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His father for many years was successfully engaged in agricultural pursuits in Ulster County and was honored at various times by election to different local offices. One of Mr. Brooks' paternal uncles, Thaddeus K. Brooks, served as a lieutenant in the Union Army during the Civil War.

Frank W. Brooks received his preliminary education in the public schools of his native town, taking a collegiate course later under private tutors. He then took up the study of law in the offices of Judge A. T. Clearwater. Admitted to the new York bar in 1906, he established himself in the practice of law in Kingston, in which he has continued since with notable success, maintaining offices in recent years at No. 44 Main Street. During 1903-07 he served as special deputy county clerk of Ulster county and during 1903-07 as assistant district attorney of Ulster County, which latter position he also occupied again during 1919-22. In 1908 he had the honor of being appointed a special deputy attorney-general of New York State, continuing in this office until 1910, and from 1911 until 1918 he served as commissioner for elections fro Ulster County. In these various official positions Mr. Brooks has shown not only great efficiency and integrity, but also a very high sense of duty towards the public welfare. He is a member of the Ulster County Bar Association and of the New York State Bar Association, as well as the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, and the Kingston Club. His religious affiliations are with the Protestant Episcopal Church.

Mr. Brooks was married, in New York City, April 7, 1906, to Anna L. Hyatt, a daughter of William and Rose (Burgewin) Hyatt. Mr. and Mrs. Brooks are the parents of one daughter, Dorothy L., Brooks, born November 5, 1909.


A guardsman with a fine record of active service, a lawyer whose activities have been largely directed to upbuilding the commercial and industrial enterprises of his home town, active, in fact, whenever church or civic or fraternal movements have had demands upon his time, and energy, Peter Cantline, of New burgh, belongs to the type to whom a profession means opportunity for service rather then mere personal advancement.

Born in Newburgh, November 8, 1882, he was the son of John and Sarah (Smyth) Cantline. The family on the paternal side was originally from the Palatinate, but settled for a time in Limerick, Ireland, they were of the Lutheran faith. Two branches came from the Palatinate, one settling in Ireland, the other in Orange and Ulster counties, New York. Born in Orange County, John Cantline became a livery stable keeper and later a garage owner. Mr. Cantline's mother's parents William and Dorcas (Morrow) Smyth. Both came from Ireland, and settled in Newburgh, although for a time Mr. Smyth was a farmer at Pleasant Valley, Dutchess County.

Educated at the Newburgh Academy, where he was graduated in 1900, Peter Cantline studied law in the office of Judge Albert H. F. Seeger, of Newburgh, then in private practice, and was admitted to the bar in Brooklyn, new York, in May 1904. He was associated with Mr. Seeger until his elevation tot he bench in 1918. He is local counsel for the Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corporation, counsel for the Newburgh Building & Loan Association, counsel for the towns of New Windsor and Newburgh, and also for the commissioners of the Home of the City and Town of Newburgh. He is a director of the Columbus Trust Company, of the Hudson county Title & Mortgage company, and of the Newburgh Building & Loan Association. In politics he is a Republican and he has been a member of the Board of Education, and has served for two terms as recorder of the town of Newburgh. In 1907 he enlisted as a private in Company E, 1st Infantry, New York National Guard, and rose to the rank of captain in 1915, when he resigned. In 1917 he reentered the service, was commissioned as major and assisted in guarding the New York aqueduct system. He is now a major in the National Guard Reserves.

Mr. Cantline is Past Master and present treasurer of Newburgh Lodge, No. 309, Free and Accepted Masons; a trustee of the Masonic Hall; a member of Highland Chapter, Royal Arch Masons, and of Hudson river Commandery, Knight Templar; he is also a member of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, and of the Knights of the Maccabees. He is one of the board of governors of the Adirondack Mountain Club of New York, a member of the Newburgh City Club, the Powelton Club, the Association of the Bar of the City of New York, the State Bar Association, the American Bar Association, past president of the Newburgh Wheelmen, and president of the Newburgh Young Men's Christian Association. He is a communicant of the Protestant Episcopal

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Church, and has been vestryman and senior warden of his parish.

Mr. Cantline married Edith Bryson Whitehill, of Philadelphia, May 27, 1914. She was a graduate of the Columbia School of Nursing at Milwaukee, and a daughter of Robert and Mary (Evans) Whitehill, of Newburgh. Mr. Whitehill, who died in November, 1903, was treasurer of the Newburgh Ice Machine & Engine Company. He was a native of Glasgow, Scotland. Mr. and Mrs. Cantline have two children: 1. Peter, born May 25, 1915. 2. Mary, born July 8, 1921.


The History of New York State, Lewis Historical Publishing Company, Inc., 1927

This book is owned by Pam Rietsch and is a part of the Mardos Memorial Library

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