In 1800, the widow Rebecca Rhino was listed on the Albany census as the head of a household and living in the third ward. The census return showed that she had been born between 1756 and 1774 and that four young people were living in her home along with two younger women.
Her name first was noted on the community landscape on the third ward assessment roll for 1799. At that time, her Market Street house was valued modestly and her personal property more substantially. In April 1800 and 1801, she paid seven dollars for a grocer's license.
The Albany census for 1810 return helped further fix her birth date at 1766 or after and noted that her household then included a male aged 16-24 and two females between the ages of 10 and 24.
We suspect that she was a widow in 1799. She married her neighbor, Samuel T. Penny, sometime thereafter. Their saga follows.
In April 1833, a note from the Albany newspaper revealed (p.264) that: "Samuel T. Penny* died. He was a native of England, had resided in this city about thirty years, and was noted for his biblical knowledge and eccentricities. A footnote elaborated that "Penny married a widow Rebecca Rhino (rather a curious conjunction of names), who had considerable property, some of which he soon squandered; in consequence of which and his vagaries besides, she obtained a divorce from him in the state of Vermont, whither she went to reside for a while with that purpose. On her return to Albany she opened quite a large dry good store in the building now No. 585 Broadway, where she transacted an extensive business, while Penny kept a store a few doors above in the same street. Both of their names appear, as merchants, in Fry's Directory of 1813. She resumed her former name, and many of our oldest citizens will remember Mrs. Rhino's Cheap Store, and the crowds of customers she attracted thither."
In 1833, Rebecca Rhino would have been at least fifty-nine years old. However, she probably was much older. We seek information on her origins, later life, and passing.
Sources: The life of Rebecca Rhino has not been assigned a CAP biography number. This outline sketch is derived chiefly from family and community-based resources. Some of her story has been told in a scholarly article on nineteenth century Albany women. We offer the above at this time in hope of stimulating interest in and learning more about a fascinating historical character.
first posted 11/30/08