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Albany County Clerk. Chattel Mortgages, 1833-1904

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Chattel Mortgages
16-01260. Stephen Myers (Mortgagor) to T F Bancroft (Mortgagee). 1836.


Albany County Hall of Records (ACHOR)
Office of the Albany County Clerk
95 Tivoli Street, Albany, NY 12207

Title: Chattel Mortgages

Dates: 1833 – 1904 (gaps: October 1893 – April 1896)

Summary: This record series contains handwritten and/or typed Chattel Mortgages, 1833-1904 generated primarily in Albany's County Court and filed and maintained in the County Clerk's Office. A chattel mortgage is a term used to describe a loan arrangement in which an item of movable personal property ("chattel") is used as security for the loan. The bulk of these records provide rich and detailed information regarding 30,000+ business and personal transactions that took place throughout the 19th century within Albany and surrounding environs. Examples of business and personal properties that the Chattel Mortgages reference include but are not limited to breweries, steam boats, barges, pharmacies, blacksmith shops, railroad companies, and hotels.

Quantity: 51 cubic feet

Series Number: 16-01258 - 16-01308

Arrangement: Chronological by year.

Administrative History:

The Albany County Clerk is clerk of the County and State Supreme Courts, and general registrar of deeds, mortgages, oaths and other legal documents pertaining to real property. The clerk issues licenses and permits and is de facto county archivist (since older records of the county and even other municipalities are stored with him/her.) As an elected official, the County Clerk is responsible for receiving, indexing, storing and retrieving documents, including legal records pertaining to ownership of real property and all court records of the County and State Supreme Courts. The clerk keeps court documents including affidavits, judgments and indictments, and older records of census, elections, military discharges and naturalizations, as well as commercial records such as Assumed Business Names ("Doing Business As", i.e. "DBA's" ) and Uniform Commercial Code ("UCC") filings.

New York Civil Practice Law Section 8021 states "whenever a County Clerk renders a service other than in his capacity as clerk of the state supreme or county courts," he is also entitled to certain fees. These services may include the filing of maps, federal tax liens, notices of pendency of action or notice of attachment against real property, notice of mechanics liens, assignment of order for the payment of salary or wages, notice of hospital liens, transcripts of judgment, certificates of appointment or official character of notary public; recording, entering, indexing and endorsing a certificate on any instrument; and examining the record of each assignment of mortgage or other instrument recited in certificate of discharge of mortgage.

In 1833, a new statute (Laws of 1833, Chap. 279. Sections 1 and 2) required mortgages of personal property to be filed in the clerks' offices. The instruments "shall be filed in the several towns and cities of this State where the mortgagor therein, if a resident of this State, shall reside at the time of the execution thereof; and if not a resident, then in the city or town where the property so mortgaged shall be at the time of the execution of such instrument." In addition, "the clerk of the city and county of Albany, shall respectively number every such instrument or copy which shall be filed in their offices, and shall enter, in books to be provided by them, alphabetically, the names of all the parties to such instrument…"

As commercial trade and industry practices changed, several statutes relative to mortgages and conditional sales of personal property were added. In April 1858, an "act to provide for the registry of liens and encumbrances upon boats and crafts (Laws of 1858, Chap. 247) navigating the canals of this State" was passed. After 1868, it no longer was "…necessary to file as a chattel mortgage any mortgage which has been or shall hereafter be executed by any ra1lroad company upon real and personal property (Laws of 1868, Chap. 779) and which has been or shall be recorded as a mortgage of real estate. In 1879, an act to provide for discharging chattel mortgages (Laws of 1879, Chap. 171) was passed mandating clerks to record and to file a certificate discharging the mortgage i.e. "satisfaction of mortgage."

Scope and Content Note:

This record series contains fifty-one boxes of chattel mortgages, 1833-1904, generated primarily in Albany County Court and filed and maintained in the County Clerk's Office. A chattel mortgage is a term used to describe a loan arrangement in which an item of movable personal property ("chattel") is used as security for the loan. In a traditional mortgage, the loan is secured by the property itself. With a chattel mortgage, the lender holds a lien against the movable property until the loan has been satisfied, at which point the borrower resumes full control of the chattel. Today, Uniform Commercial Code ("UCC") filings, commonly called financing statements, have replaced chattel mortgages.

The information is recorded in a standardized format and typically includes date, name and address of mortgagor (borrower), name and address of mortgagee (lender), amount requested, description of merchandise or other personal property to be used as collateral, terms, interest rate, date due, witnesses, and filing date. Early records are handwritten; later documents are typed and assigned filing numbers which are sequential within each year. In addition, there are a variety of legal instruments which supplement some of the mortgages including; assignments of mortgages, bills of sale, leases, renewals of mortgages and mortgage satisfactions.

The bulk of these records provide rich and detailed information regarding 30,000+ business and personal transactions that took place throughout the 19th century. Records run the gamut from the purchase of a single canal boat to larger transactions involving prominent businesses within Albany and surrounding environs. These documents reference breweries, steam boats, barges, pharmacies, blacksmith shops, railroad companies and hotels – to name a few. There are a few gaps in the dates 1893-1896 which may be due to changes in filing practices and/or the unique history of the collection as a whole – see provenance note. Documents in boxes 25-29 require supervision of an archivist since they have suffered burn damage.

A chattel mortgage from 1869 provides a seventy page inventory of the Delavan House. Detailed information includes items in the private office, reading room, bar, barber shop, billiard room, kitchen and over 200 guest rooms. Located on the east side of Broadway between Steuben and Montgomery streets, the Delavan House was one of Albany's finest hotels during the second half of the 19th century. A chattel mortgage inventory for Dobler Brewing Company in 1904 includes a front bar with mahogany top, work board and cooler, 3 enamel iron cuspidors, and 1 deer head. Yet another record shows a mortgage between the Hudson River Railroad Company and three individuals. The four page inventory lists 57 locomotive steam engines, tools, machinery, and fixtures in various shops and ticket offices. In 1856, 1,901 bonds of $1000 each were issued (over $1.9 million dollars).

In addition, these inventories or "chattel," provide a glimpse into the daily life of the times, illuminating people from all social strata and the world in which they lived. Feather beds, linen sheets, blankets and candles appear on most inventories, while other items reflect a person's trade or interest. Among the more interesting documents in the series are the individuals who directly, and indirectly, played a significant role in Albany's abolitionist cause and Underground Railroad movement. Listed in the inventory are items relating to their profession or, personal possessions within their homes and businesses: theology books for Rev. Nathaniel Paul; a painting and several maps for Stephen Myers; barber shop furniture for William H. Johnson; a "sloop or vessel" for John and Abram Johnson and "good brass kettles" for Abigail Mott. In the absence of photographs, these records give us insight into their world.


These records are part of a larger collection of Albany County and city records originally stored in City Hall. The New York State Library received these records in 1914 for proper preservation and security until a proper facility could be found. After the creation of the New York State Archives in 1971, the records were transferred from the State Library to the State Archives. In 1982, the Albany County Hall of Records opened and custody of the records was transferred from the State Archives to the Hall of Records.

Container List:

Inventory Control Box No. Contents
Box 1
Chattel Mortgages. 1833-1835: Nos. 1-449, first file date is May 5 1833
Box 2
Chattel Mortgages. 1835-1836: Nos. 450-805
Box 3
Chattel Mortgages. 1836-1837: Nos. 806-1176
Box 4
Chattel Mortgages. 1837-1841: Nos. 1177-1499
Box 5
Chattel Mortgages. 1841-1843: Nos. 1500-1799
Box 6
Chattel Mortgages. 1843-1845: Nos. 1800-2199, Missing at time of transfer - 2101-2111
Box 7
Chattel Mortgages. 1845-1847: Nos. 2200-2799
Box 8
Chattel Mortgages. 1847-1849: Nos. 2800-4399, 'missing' 3100-3999, appears numbers went from 3099 to 4000, file dates are #3099 May 5 1848, #4000 May 8 1848
Box 9
Chattel Mortgages. 1849-1851: Nos. 4400-4599, Nos. 1-509
Box 10
Chattel Mortgages. 1851-1853: Nos. 510-1329
Box 11
Chattel Mortgages. 1853-1855: Nos. 1330-2185
Box 12
Chattel Mortgages. 1856-1857: Nos. 2186-3047
Box 13
Chattel Mortgages. 1858-1860: Nos. 3048-3999
Box 14
Chattel Mortgages. 1860-1861: Nos. 4000-4699
Box 15
Chattel Mortgages. 1861-1862: Nos. 4700-5256, missing' 5033-5039
Box 16
Chattel Mortgages. 1863-1864: Nos. 5257-5816
Box 17
Chattel Mortgages. 1865-1867: Nos. 5817-6673, 'missing' 6400-6499, all years non-inclusive
Box 18
Chattel Mortgages. 1868-1869: Nos. 6674-7277
Box 19
Chattel Mortgages. 1870-1871: Nos. 7278-8038
Box 20
Chattel Mortgages. 1872-1873: Nos. 8039-8897
Box 21
Chattel Mortgages. 1874: Nos. 8898-9434
Box 22
Chattel Mortgages. 1875: Nos. 9435-10095
Box 23
Chattel Mortgages. 1876: Nos. 10096-10723
Box 24
Chattel Mortgages. 1877: Nos. 10724-11199
Box 25
Chattel Mortgages. 1877-1878: Nos. 11202-11530, * burn damage
Box 26
Chattel Mortgages. 1878: Nos. 11531-11997, * burn damage
Box 27
Chattel Mortgages. 1878-1879: Nos. 12101-13298, * burn damage, 'missing' 12000-12100, 12195-12999, #12194 date is November 1878 #13000 date is December 1878
Box 28
Chattel Mortgages. 1879: Nos. 13302-13595, *burn damage
Box 29
Chattel Mortgages. 1879-1880: Nos. 13600-13998, *burn damage
Box 30
Chattel Mortgages. 1880: Nos. 14018-14599, 'missing' 14000-14017, 14300-14335
Box 31
Chattel Mortgages. 1880-1881: Nos. 14600-15206
Box 32
Chattel Mortgages. 1882: Nos. 15207-15750, 'missing' 15440-15449- intentional?
Box 33
Chattel Mortgages. 1883: Nos. 15751-16259
Box 34
Chattel Mortgages. 1884: Nos. 16260-16822
Box 35
Chattel Mortgages. 1885: Nos. 16823-17520
Box 36
Chattel Mortgages. 1886: Nos. 17522-18166
Box 37
Chattel Mortgages. 1887: Nos. 18167-18785
Box 38
Chattel Mortgages. 1888: Nos. 18786-19412
Box 39
Chattel Mortgages. 1889: Nos. 19413-20071
Box 40
Chattel Mortgages. 1890: Nos. 20072-20653
Box 41
Chattel Mortgages. 1891: Nos. 20654-21251
Box 42
Chattel Mortgages. 1892: Nos. 21252-21920
Box 43
Chattel Mortgages. 1893: Nos. 21921-22499, last file date is October 7 1893.  *No documents 22499 – 24500 (gap).
Box 44
Chattel Mortgages. 1896: Nos. 24500-25119, first file date is  April 16 1896
Box 45
Chattel Mortgages. 1897: Nos. 25120-25944
Box 46
Chattel Mortgages. 1898: Nos. 25945-26747
Box 47
Chattel Mortgages. 1899-1900: Nos. 26748-27599
Box 48
Chattel Mortgages. 1900: Nos. 27600-28578
Box 49
Chattel Mortgages. 1901-1902: Nos. 28579-29399
Box 50
Chattel Mortgages. 1902-1903: Nos. 29400-30099
Box 51
Chattel Mortgages. 1903-1904: Nos. 30100-30799, last file date is September 20 1904

Finding Aids:

An all-inclusive name index to this series is available through the Albany County Hall of Record’s internal inventory system. Each entry lists the names of the Mortgagor (Borrower), Mortgagee (Lender), Business or Property and Address (if available) and File Date. In addition, a handwritten index to Chattel Mortgages 1849-1858 A-Z (99-00359) exists. Entries include Mortgagor, Mortgagee, Amount, Date of Mortgage, When Due, When Filed, When Renewed and Remarks.

Use of Records:

Access Restrictions. Records may be reproduced only by permission of ACHOR. The collection is open for research although boxes 25-29 will require permission from the archivist due to their condition.

Administrative Information:

Preferred Citation. From the archival collection at the Albany County Hall of Records, Courtesy of the Albany County Hall of Records, 95 Tivoli Street, Albany, NY 12207.

Access Terms:

Corporate Names:

Albany County N.Y.
Albany County (N.Y.) Office of the County Clerk

Geographic Names:

Albany County (N.Y.)
Albany (N.Y.)
New York (State)

Personal Names:

Paul, Nathaniel, 1792 or 1793-1839
Myers, Stephen, 1800-
Johnson, William Henry, 1833-1918
Mott, Abigail, 1803-1850
Delavan House (Albany, N.Y.)
Hudson River Railroad Company


Chattel Mortgages - New York (State)
Court Records - New York (State) - Albany County
Personal Property - New York (State) 
Underground Railroad - New York (State)
Abolitionists - History - 19th Century


Court Records
Local Government Records