Superintendent of the New York State School for the Blind

seated: Charles Amos Hamilton & Gertrude Mabel Hubbard
standing: Karl Freeman Rodgers, Sr. & Allegra Estelle Hamilton
children: Karl Freeman Rodgers, Jr. and Delorma Hamilton Rodgers

Tim’s great-grandfather, Charles Amos Hamilton, the second son of Charles Munson and Eliza Ann (Devoe) Hamilton, was born 19 March 1866 in Hinsdale (Cattaraugus) New York, and died 28 October 1943 in Batavia (Genesee) New York. He married on 30 June 1897 at Albion (Orleans) New York, Gertrude Mabel Hubbard, who was born 9 December 1874 in Albion and died 31 May 1965 in Marlboro (Monmouth) New Jersey, the second daughter of Delorma Brown and Emma (Pridmore) Hubbard.

Charles’ mother was 47 years old when she gave birth to him, and so he was born into a family with an 18-year-old sister and a 26-year-old brother. He was named after his father, Charles Munson Hamilton and his uncle, Amos Gardner Hamilton. Sadly, his mother died when he was only three weeks old and his father remarried two years later. His stepmother died when he was 9 years old. However, Charles adored his older sister Addie, who was like a mother to him. In 1885 Charles graduated from Cuba [NY] High School, and from the University of Rochester first on 19 June 1889, and again in 1892 with a Master of Arts.

From 1889-1907 he worked as a teacher and then a principal at the Albion High School, where he may have met his future fiancée, Mamie Estelle Hubbard. Mamie was a grammar school teacher who died tragically of a serious illness at age 23 on 22 May 1892. Charles spent much time grieving with Mamie’s mother, Emma (Pridmore) Hubbard, and eventually fell in love with Mamie’s younger sister, Gertrude.

Charles & Gertrude’s marriage was performed by Charles’ old college friend, Rev. Christian A. Clausen, in the presence of a few friends and nearest relatives. Charles was baptized, at the age of 37, on 26 April 1903 at the Newark Baptist Church. In 1923 he joined the Sons of the American Revolution through his ancestor, William Hamilton. In 1924 he sold the family farm in Hinsdale to Guy W. King for $9000. And in December of 1936, Charles retired and bought a house at 26 Richmond Ave. in Batavia, New York.

He was honored on 28 October 1939, when Hamilton Hall was opened and dedicated at the New York State School for the Blind, where he had served as superintendent for many years.

October 1911
Emma Pridmore,
Gertrude Mabel Hubbard,
Allegra Estelle Hamilton

Gertrude graduated from Albion High School and Elmira College, where she had been a special music student. On 17 August 1900 she gave birth to her daughter, and only child, Allegra. It was a very difficult delivery, the baby weighed 11 lbs., and two subsequent perineal operations were required. Gertrude loved family history and gave her research notes to her daughter, Allegra, who passed them on to me, happy and relieved to find someone who cared about genealogy as much as her mother did. Gertrude & Charles did go to England and visited the graves of her Pridmore ancestors in Leicestershire. Gertrude was a member of the Deo-on-go-wa Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution and the First Baptist Church in Batavia. Charles & Gertrude are buried together, along with some of Gertrude’s Hubbard ancestors in Mt. Albion Cemetery, Albion, New York. She was named after her great-grandmother, Mabel (Sutleif) Hubbard.

The following is from: Charles Amos Hamilton, An Autobiography, “The Memory of the Just is Blessed”, (Batavia, New York: Privately printed, 1941):

After a month’s honeymoon trip through Albany, New York, Boston, White Mountains and Canada, we returned to Albion and completed preparations for our new, more responsible and fuller life. I am going to add right here, that, after nearly half a century of wedded life, I can truthfully say that I have never regretted either the step or my choice. As soon as we began housekeeping, we adopted a tentative budget. I left to Gertrude the running of the house, purchase of supplies, etc. For this, we set aside a certain amount, which usually proved sufficient. In addition, I gave Gertrude every month one sixth of my salary for her own personal use. This plan and this ratio I continued until my retirement from active work. I never called this her allowance, but called it her share. I could never have been elected to the Newark position had I not been married, and I considered her services as wife and helpmate worthy of some compensation beyond mere support. This as a business proposition, entirely outside of considerations of sentiment or duty. The plan has worked out very satisfactorily with us, and we recommend it to other married couples. It must be rather humiliating for a wife to beg a few dollars, or even a dollar, from her husband every time she needs it.

The following is from Buffalo Courier Express, Sunday, July 31, 1932:

Men You Ought to Know by H. Katherine Smith: Charles A. Hamilton, superintendent of the New York State School for the Blind at Batavia, was elected in June to the presidency of the American Association of Instructors of the Blind. This honor was conferred upon him in recognition of his work in preparing young people without sight to cope with the problems of daily life and, in many cases, of earning a living.

For 25 years Mr. Hamilton has served in his present position; and during the entire period his aim for the school has been to achieve the mental, physical, social and spiritual development of its pupils, and to fit them to become useful and contented men and women.

Native of Cattaraugus County: Mr. Hamilton was born at Hinsdale, Cattaraugus County, in 1866. Following his graduation from the high school of Cuba, NY, where his boyhood was passed, he entered the University of Rochester. He earned all of the expenses of his college education, turning his hand to whatever job came his way. For a time he lighted and extinguished street lamps in Rochester, rising every morning at 4:30 o’clock to turn out the gas before the sun was up. Later he found work more congenial to his tastes on the college newspaper. He worked on farms of the vicinity during his summer vacations with one exception. That was the summer he toured the Middle West as a book agent, deciding, once for all, that salesmanship was not his forte.

After his graduation from the University in 1889, Mr. Hamilton became identified with the Albion High School. During the eight years of that connection, the subjects he taught ranged from classic Greek to bookkeeping, and included Latin, physical geography, geometry, ancient history and civics.

At Albion he met Gertrude M Hubbard, who became Mrs. Hamilton. Mr. and Mrs. Hamilton are the parents of a daughter, Mrs. Karl Rodgers of New York City, a graduate of Vassar College. Her two-year-old son is the chief delight of his proud grandfather, who finds the number of miles between Batavia and New York no small trial. In 1897, Mr. Hamilton became principal of the high school of Newark, NY, in which capacity he continued for ten years. Twenty-five years ago, he assumed the superintendency of the State School for the Blind at Batavia. Two of his most prized possessions are the portable typewriter and loving cup presented to him in June by graduates of the school in gratitude for his years of service to the blind.

“I thoroughly enjoy the work because I realize the great benefit of a school of this kind to its pupils,” Mr. Hamilton declared. “Our educational standards are identical with those of high schools throughout the state; for our pupils are required to pass regents examinations. Physical exercise, so essential to growing children, is included in our curriculum. Some form of it is obligatory twice daily, and our students attend gymnasium classes nearly every day. Every boy above the third grade is taught to swim, and the girls most of whom swim and dive, clamor for their turn at the pool. There are weekly dances and parties at the school, for the faculty and I deem the social development of the blind an important factor in their education. Nor is their religious training neglected: Every Sunday, they receive instruction in accordance with their respective religious denominations, and the Christian Endeavor Society, which they themselves conduct, is well attended.”

On Obtaining Positions: Mr. Hamilton’s answer to the present difficult situation regarding the obtaining of positions for his graduates is, “Teach them to be useful in their own homes.” For this purpose, greater attention has been given recently to the girls’ instruction in home economics. They become proficient in such domestic arts as cooking, sewing, and cleaning. At Mr. Hamilton’s suggestion, a suite of rooms has been fitted up as a housekeeping apartment, in which two blind girls live alone for as long as two weeks. Although a teacher is always within calling distance, she is rarely summoned; and the students take pride in the fact that they can prepare their meals and keep their apartment in order entirely unassisted.

With regret, Mr. Hamilton mentioned that the scope of economic activities for his boys is not broadening rapidly. At present, an effort is being made to introduce poultry-raising into his school. Chair caning and mattress making are, in Mr. Hamilton’s opinion, the industrial occupations best adapted to the boys without sight.

Besides speaking on his work with the blind before many organizations of Western New York, Mr. Hamilton has written on it for magazines of national circulation. A born teacher, he never misses an opportunity to conduct a class. He readily assumes the duties of any absent teacher, whether of a primary or high school grade, and through the contact of the classroom gains an insight into the thoughts and hopes of his pupils.

Mr. Hamilton has traveled from the Atlantic to the Pacific Coast and has made two trips abroad. His knowledge of the French and German language is sufficient to make him understood in any foreign city. He reads the periodicals and newspapers that keep him abreast of current issues and problems and the numerous modern discoveries and inventions, and is familiar with the best of contemporary fiction.

Mr. Hamilton, who has been active in the Batavia Rotary for thirteen years, was the third president of the organization. He is also affiliated with the Masonic fraternity and the Holland Club of Batavia. He is a past chairman of the Batavia Boy Scout organization, and a former chairman of the board of trustees of the Baptist Church of that city.

Helen Keller

On 21 June 2008, this undated, signed photograph of Helen Keller was found in the Webster house at 180 Bradford St. in Provincetown, Massachusetts. It was originally given to Gertrude & Charles. Their daughter Allegra must have brought it to the Provincetown house where a lot of family treasures were found. The inscription reads: “To Mr. and Mrs. Hamilton, With happy thoughts of their kindness and helpfulness in my work for the blind of America. Very sincerely, Helen Keller”

Charles & Gertrude were the parents of a daughter:

i. Allegra Estelle Hamilton (Tim’s grandmother), born 17 August 1900 in Newark (Wayne) New York, died 16 January 1992 in Keene (Cheshire) New Hampshire. She married (as her first husband) 18 September 1928 in Batavia (Genesee) New York, Karl Freeman Rodgers, who was born 22 October 1895 in Provincetown (Barnstable) Massachusetts, and died 27 March 1971 in Boston (Suffolk) Massachusetts, son of George Lincoln and Mary Jane (Rodgers) Rodgers. Allegra & Karl were the parents of two children. Allegra married (as her second husband and as his second wife) 26 July 1975 in San Antonio (Bexar) Texas, Lester Dean Lloyd, who was born 5 October 1903 in Red Oak (Montgomery) Iowa, and died 23 September 1988 in Schertz (Guadalupe) Texas, son of Noah R. and Mary Alma (McGimpsey) Lloyd.

The Farm on Keller Hill

Charles Munson Hamilton (1815-1891)

Charles & Eliza are Tim’s 2nd-great-grandparents. Years ago we made a research trip to western New York with Tim’s aunt Delorma and were able to see the farm on Keller Hill Road in Hinsdale, and perhaps the cheese factory where their milk was brought. My memory has gotten pretty hazy, we saw so much too fast. We met the Hinsdale town historian and some distant cousins. I’ve never been able to find parents for Eliza, but after this trip was taken I learned that Charles & Eliza buried their 6 year old daughter, Lucy, in Prattsburg, about 75 miles to the east. Lucy died there in 1850 and after that her parents bought the farm in Hinsdale in 1857. So I’m hoping to make a trip to Prattsburg one of these days – perhaps Charles & Eliza were married there and perhaps I can find evidence of Eliza’s parents there.

Charles Munson Hamilton, son of Benjamin J. and Rachel (Gardner) Hamilton, was born 16 August 1815 in New Jersey, and died 12 June 1891. He married (as his first wife) 31 December 1840, Eliza Ann Devoe, who was born 26 January 1819, and died 6 April 1866 in Hinsdale (Cattaraugus) New York.

Charles bought the farm on Keller Hill in Hinsdale, New York on 16 April 1857, when he was 41 years old. Before then Charles & Eliza and their oldest three children lived in Prattsburgh (Steuben) New York. Eliza’s parents remain unknown, but her son was told that she was descended from a French nobleman, a cousin to Louis XVI, and that her ancestry was French, Dutch and Pennsylvania Quaker. I have found many French and Dutch Devoes (with many spelling variations) in New York and Pennsylvania, but cannot thus far establish any connections. [Curiously, Charles’ niece, Eliza Ann VanDeventer married one Elias DeVoe Bryant, who is a great-grandson of a Dutch woman named Lucy Davoe, and Charles and Eliza did name a daughter Lucy.]

Eliza’s obituary in The Cuba True Patriot, Vol IV, No 41, 13, April 1866, was sad and brief:

Sudden death. – A lady named Hamilton, who resided a short distance south of this village, died very suddenly on Friday morning last. She was taken by a fainting fit while sitting at the tea table and died in a short time. She leaves a child three weeks old.

After Eliza died, Charles married (as his second wife) a school teacher, Rachel A. Ferris, 11 March 1868 in Cuba (Allegany) New York, daughter of Cyrus and Miriam (—) Ferris. Rev. William O. Learned performed the ceremony, at the residence of the bride’s father. Rachel was born January 1836 and died 1 April 1875 in Hinsdale.

According to the Cuba Evening Review, twice a widower, Charles and his daughter, Addie, made a trip by train to Chicago in June, 1882. Since 1879 he had been living with Addie and her husband, Joseph D. Witter, who died shortly thereafter. His time spent with Addie must have been a great comfort to him after so many losses in a row. (His 6-year-old daughter Lucy died in 1850, wife Eliza died in 1866, 28-year-old son Elmer died in 1870, newborn daughter Myra died in 1871, wife Rachel died in 1875, and his mother in 1877 and father in 1880.) Charles was a Baptist and a Republican. He died of cystitis and catarrh of the bladder. He and both his wives are buried in Lot #11, Cuba Cemetery, Cuba, New York.

According to his son, Charles A. Hamilton:

My father [Charles Munson] was always kind to me, gave me spending money, took me to the circus, etc., but he was of the stern type, quite hard of hearing, and so much older than I that we were never pals. My memories of father are, on the whole, pleasant. He was stern, puritanical in faith and honest to the half cent. He hated anything low or crooked. I never heard him tell a risqué story, and he never used profanity. His cuss words were limited to “I swanny,” and “By George,” with, on extreme provocation, the expletive reported to have been used by General Cambronne at the Battle of Waterloo. He was hard-working, thrifty and a good manager. While not painfully pious, he was regular in church attendance, always asking the blessing at meals, and conducting family worship during the winter season. Sister Addie and I had a memorial window installed in his memory in the rebuilt Baptist Church at Cuba, which bears this quotation, “The Memory of the Just is Blessed.” His justice and honesty seemed to us his outstanding characteristic. He was afflicted with partial deafness, an affliction which seems hereditary among the descendants of Benjamin Hamilton. We were never close to each other until I became a college student, when he evidently considered me a man, and we discussed at length all sorts of questions. I deeply revere his memory.

The following is from The Patriot, Cuba New York, Thursday, June 18, 1891:

Death of Chas. M. Hamilton

On Friday, June 12, Mr. Charles M. Hamilton, residing south west of the village, departed this life, aged 75 years and 10 months. Mr. Hamilton had been ill for nearly three years, but death, when it came, seemed sudden, as it does under any circumstances.

Deceased was born in New Jersey and came to New York state when a boy, his home being in Chemung county. All his life he followed farming, his highest ambition when young, being to possess a farm of his own. Thirty-eight years ago he located on the place where he died, living there a happy and contented life and bringing into cultivation as fine a farm as can be found in this vicinity. He was twice married, both his companions in life crossing the river before him. Two children mourn the loss of a loved parent, Mrs. C. B. Conklin and Mr. Chas. A. Hamilton. Mr. Hamilton possessed the entire confidence of his neighbors and friends, and his life was one of honest work, uprightness and integrity. The funeral services were held Sunday at the home of his daughter, Rev. Cherryman of Scott’s Corners officiating.

Charles & Eliza were the parents of five children:

1. Elmer Alonzo Hamilton, a farmer, born 12 October 1841, died 20 July 1870 in Hinsdale, when struck by lightning. He is buried in Lot #11 in Cuba Cemetery. The following account of Elmer’s death was written many years later by his little brother, Charles, who was 4 years old at the time:

One of my most vivid recollections of this period is the death by a stroke of lightning on July 20th, 1870, of my only brother, Elmer Alonzo. He was my father’s first born, and had grown up into a strong, lusty farmer. He and father were more like brothers than like father and son. He was very fond of his little brother, and used to romp with me and at times good naturedly teased me. To me, there was no one in the world like Elmer. After dinner, on the day of his death, as he was starting for the hay field, I begged him to take me with him, but, as a thunder storm was looming in the west, he told me I couldn’t go. He went alone to the hay field, cocked hay until the storm came up, and a bolt of lightning ended his activities forever. His body was not discovered until the next forenoon, all covered with hay. His untimely death was a terrible blow to the entire family.

And from the Cuba True Patriot, 22 July 1870, Vol 9, No 4:

Killed by Lightning. On Wednesday last, Mr. Elmer Hamilton, son of Charles Hamilton, residing on Keller Hill, in this town was killed by lightning. The particulars as near as we have been able to learn them, are as follows. Just before the terrible thunder-storm of Wednesday Mr. Hamilton went over to his father’s farm, adjoining his own, and just across the Hinsdale town line, to grind his machine knives and repair his mower. Towards night as he did not return his relatives began to wonder at his long absence, and a search was instituted. They looked in every place where it might be possible he might be found, but failed to find him. A large number of neighbors were informed, who searched diligently for the missing man till about 2 o’clock A. M., when the hunt was given up till morning. Thursday morning the body of Mr. Hamilton was found, partly screened by a haycock. By his side, and protruding from the cock of hay was his pitchfork, with the tine end sticking out. Close by was his hat, which led to his discovery. One side of the head was scorched almost to a crisp, plainly indicating the cause of his death. It is supposed that Mr. Hamilton crept under the hay-cock to protect himself from the severe storm, and that the lightning struck the fork which he held in his hand. Mr. Hamilton was about 21 years of age, and a young man generally esteemed by all who knew him.

2. Lucy D. Hamilton, born 20 January 1844, died 11 November 1850, age 6. Lucy lies buried in the Prattsburgh Old Cemetery, Prattsburgh, New York.

3. Freelove Adelaide “Addie” Hamilton, born 1848, died 9 April 1912. She married (as her first husband) 16 September 1868 in Hinsdale, Joseph D. Witter, who died 6 June 1879. Addie & Joseph were the parents of four children. Addie married (as her second husband) 7 February 1883, Clarence B. Conklin, who was born 1850 and died 30 November 1925. Addie & Clarence had one daughter. Addie died of cancer when she was about 64. She had played quite an important part in her younger brother Charles’ childhood and adolescent period, being both sister and mother to him. Following are Charles’ thoughts about her two husbands:

Joseph Witter was one of the finest men I ever knew. Honest, industrious, a devout Christian, a fine husband and father. He had a wonderful sense of humor, and saw something funny in nearly all situations. My sister told me that, in their eleven years of married life, he never spoke crossly to her but once. He treated me as I had never been treated before. Joe, treated me as a man, made me drive the team, draw the milk to the cheese-factory, and work alone in the fields dragging. He gave me kindly advice and correction when needed.

Clarence was honest and upright, but painfully ‘close’ in money matters. Two months after their marriage, he lost his mind, and was incarcerated for several months in the Buffalo asylum for the insane. His mind was not very clear during his last years.

4. Elizabeth Hamilton, born 28 March 1864, died 1 August 1864, age 4 months.

5. Charles Amos Hamilton (Tim’s great-grandfather), born 19 March 1866 in Hinsdale, died 28 October 1943 in Batavia (Genesee) New York. He married 30 June 1897 in Albion (Orleans) New York, Gertrude Mabel Hubbard, who was born 9 December 1874 in Albion, and died 31 May 1965 in Marlboro (Monmouth) New Jersey, daughter of Delorma Brown and Emma (Pridmore) Hubbard. Charles & Gertrude were the parents of one daughter.

Charles Munson & Rachel were the parents of a daughter:

1. Myra Eliza Hamilton, who lived for only three days in March 1871.

Last Revised:  21 September 2020