Ann Alexander Henry


Ann Alexander probably was born about 1760. She is said to have emigrated from Scotland.

By December 1785, she had found her way to Albany where she married newcomer William Henry at the Albany Dutch church. By 1798, the marriage had produced at least four children including the future scientist Joseph Henry who was born in Albany at the end of 1797.

These Henrys settled into a modest home on what became South Pearl Street from where, by that time, William (a day laborer) was only able to provide a marginal existence for his young family. Their marriage was not a long one as William Henry died in 1811 - shy of his forty-eighth birthday. Even before then, young Joseph was sent to live with his grandparents in rural Saratoga County.

Beginning with the first issue in 1813, "Widow Ann Henry" was listed in the city directory as the head of the household residing on what became 75 South Pearl Street. By 1827, she had moved in above the public square with her son on the grounds of the first Albany Academy where Joseph Henry was a faculty member.

She was a devoted member of the Albany Presbyterian church.

Joseph Henry's cousin and brother-in-law (probably Ann's kinsman), Stephen Alexander, is said to have been a noted astronomer and academician - quite a contrast from the working class Henrys.

A number of contemporaries noted her exceptional character. A miniature of her was painted by Ezra Ames.

Ann Alexander Henry died in April 1835 at the age of seventy-five.

biography in-progress


the people of colonial Albany Sources: The life of Ann Alexander Henry is CAP biography number 8409. This sketch is derived chiefly from family and community-based resources.

first posted: 2/20/09