Rare Book Monthly

Articles - February - 2008 Issue

Home For The Holidays -- A Heartwarming Reunion Courtesy of eBay and AE

Rudd

William P. Rudd (right) and ?? possibly wife Aimee, maybe son Tracy?


By Michael Stillman

It is not often that I get to write a heartwarming story for a book site. It is even less often that I get to write a heartwarming one concerning eBay. Here is such a story. It concerns the reuniting of a family, five generations covering two centuries. Some fine people, lost in the wilderness longer than Moses, made their way home for the holidays.

The tale began almost three years ago when Bruce McKinney sent me a family album he had purchased on eBay for $50 to write a story. The family came from Albany, New York, where my own roots lie, and there is a small chance some of my ancestors' lives overlapped with those in the album. Both included employees of the long-gone New York Central Railroad. The protagonist in this tale was William Platt Rudd, a significant legal and political figure in turn of the century New York, though it begins with his father, William Tracy Rudd. The senior Rudd, born in 1816, was already approaching retirement when his daughter began keeping this scrapbook in 1883. She would continue to do so for the next 60 years, with most clippings following the career of her illustrious brother. William P. Rudd was an attorney, member of the local school board, a founder of the Albany public library system, a member of just about every imaginable civic organization, and eventually, a judge on the New York State Supreme Court. He was also modestly involved in politics, and a photo news clipping shows him seated at a table between President William Howard Taft and Governor and future Supreme Court Chief Justice/Republican Presidential nominee Charles Evans Hughes.

At this point, we invite you, if you have the time, to read the whole story about the Rudd family album as it appeared almost three years ago. It can be found here.

Judge Rudd died in 1929, a week before the stock market crash. His wife followed him a few weeks later. They were survived only by one son, Tracy Rudd. Very little is noted in the album about him, other than he would have been around 45 years old when his father died and there was no mention of a wife or children at the time. It seemed that this line of the family must have died out when Tracy passed on.

Meanwhile, the keeper of the scrapbook, the Judge's sister Adeline, lived a much less charmed life. Her husband, George Parker, died in 1907, after 20 years of marriage. She would live alone for almost another 40. Adeline had two daughters. One, also named Adeline, suffered the same fate as her mother, seeing her husband die while young. However, for the younger Adeline, her husband's death came only a year after her marriage. She had no children, never remarried, and died while her mother was still living. A second daughter, Marion, married Edward Bennett Rowe, an MIT graduate. They had two children, one of whom died at age 15 of appendicitis. Another, Edward Jr., also graduated MIT in 1936. If there were any survivors still living from this family, it seemed that they would most likely be children of Edward Jr. However, my searches of the internet could find no trace of any such heirs.

Rare Book Monthly

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