Arthur H. (Arthur Haynesworth) Masten.

The history of Cohoes, New York [electronic resource] from its earliest settlement to the present time online

. (page 10 of 30)
Online LibraryArthur H. (Arthur Haynesworth) MastenThe history of Cohoes, New York [electronic resource] from its earliest settlement to the present time → online text (page 10 of 30)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

persons in District No. 15, against the passage of such a
law. It was subsequently modified in some particulars,
however, and the bill passed the legislature April 10th.

The Cataract during this year was frequently enlivened
by spicy paragraphs on local topics, many of which, though
affording an interesting glimpse of life in Cohoes at that
time, can scarcely be considered as historical material. One
matter, however, which was made the subject of much
humorous comment, was deemed of sufficient importance
to merit the attention of the trustees, which it received in
the following resolution passed February llth:

"Complaint having been made that Wm. H. Bortell has
a bear near his house which is not safely secured, therefore

" Resolved : That the police constable be, and he is hereby
ordered to direct the said Bortell in the name of the village
to secure the said bear or remove him so as children and
passengers shall not be exposed any longer."

Although a number of sidewalks had been constructed
during 1849, there was still enough ground for complaint
in this respect to justify the appearances of many editorial
squibs. A rough wood cut, of which an outline is given
below, was published in the issue of June 8th, under the
heading, " A Cut on our Sidewalks," and illustrates the
manner of grading which prevailed at that time.

Far n am


The erection of a structure to be used as a court room by
Justice Daw was chronicled as follows:

" THE NEW COURT HOUSE. This elegant structure, the


corner stone of which was laid on Tuesday of this week and
which is now nearly completed, stands upon the corner of
Remsen and Seneca streets and just on the other side of a
vacant lot commonly occupied by a large pile of hogs, in a
great state of discomfort, for the purpose of rubbing off
fleas against each other, in which they seem to do a large
business. We think this a circumstance highly favorable
to the rapid dispensation of justice and likely to give a new
impulse to the progressive march of law and order through
our village. This magnificent erection is about fifteen by
twenty and about eight or ten high ; it is built of the best
three by four joists and is, we understand, to be shingled
with shad scales, both because they are the best to shed
water and are also the most appropriate symbols of jus
tice. . . . But joking aside, we are glad that we have at last
got a convenient place for the administration of justice ex
clusively. Now who ll build a lock up ?"

Another subject which furnished abundant material for
the local columns, during the years 1849, and 50, and at
different times later, was the disagreement between the
Cohoes Company and the village authorities in regard to
the construction of railings, etc., and repairs of bridges on
the property belonging to the former. The trustees claimed
that those bridges within the village limits which were made
necessary in consequence of the existence of the company s
water courses, should be kept in repair by them, while the
company insisted that as the bridges were used as a part of
the public highways, all bills for repairing them should be
paid by the village. The bridges had been for a long time
in very bad condition, and complaints were so numerous
that the authorities made some repairs on them, presenting
the bill to the Cohoes Company with their assessment for
highway tax. Payment was refused, and a long dispute
ensued. In the trustees proceedings of June 12th, 1850,
" on motion of Mr. Caw, the president was authorized to
enter into an arrangement with the Cohoes Company to
have the bridge question decided by the Supreme Court,

1 On the Bite of Musgrove s store.


and to enter into an agreement with them that in the mean
time all necessary repairs to bridges and all necessary new
bridges, should be made by the village and the company
together, each paying half the expense, and that the losing
party in the decision of the court refund to the other all
such advances."

In July the bridge on Seneca street (which is now replaced
by a stone arch) fell not with a crash, said the editor, be
cause it was too rotten to the bottom of the ravine, while
the Troy omnibus, filled with passengers, was not more than
ten feet away. This occurrence, and the very bad condition
of the bridge over Basin A, furnished subjects for fresh
complaints. The matter was settled for the time being by
an agreement in the following year on the part of the com
pany to pay $1,225, in full of their taxes for 1848, each party
to settle its own costs.

The Fourth of July celebration of this year was the
largest Cohoes had yet seen, and was entered into with
great enthusiasm. The second page of the Cataract of
June 29 was almost entirely occupied by the programme,
printed in large type, from which the following extract may
be made :

" The Baptist, Presbyterian and Reformed Dutch Sunday
Schools, the Boght Sunday School, and the Sunday School
at Mr. I. D. F. Lansing s, together with the Roman Catholic
Sunday School, the Fire Company No. 3, and the citizens
at large will celebrate the 74th Anniversary of American
Independence at the Grove southerly from Prospect Hill.
The several societies and associations, and the citizens gene
rally, are cordially invited to participate in the festivities.

Mr. Pettis will be at the Dutch church with carriages to
carry the clergy, the surviving heroes of the Revolution,
teachers, and the younger scholars to Dickey s Grove. The
remainder of the scholars and teachers, the various societies,

1 The question was again opened in 1863, and occupied the attention of the trus
tees for some weeks. Propositions were made to refer the matter to an outside party
for decision, but nothing was accomplished in this way. Some of the 1 rustees were
strongly in favor of suing the company. This course was finally adopted, and the
village was beaten.


the gentlemen and ladies of the village, and all strangers
will follow the carriages in procession with martial music.
The other schools above named will reach the grove at the
same time. The business of the day will be wholly subject
to the marshal and his assistants.


Prayer, by Rev. Mr. Pitcher.

Music, Anniversary Hymn, by all the schools.
Reading of the Declaration, by Andrew Lansing, Esq.
Short Oration, by Henry D. Fuller, Esq.


Poem, by S. C. Miller, Esq.
Hymn, "The Golden Rule," by all the schools.
Short Oration, by Chas. H. Adams, Esq.


Short Oration, by Joseph M. Brown, Esq.


Short Address, by Rev. Mr. Round.
The Long Meter Doxology, by the audience.
Benediction, by Rev. Mr. Waldron."

The refreshments were contributed by the citizens, and
were collected under the direction of the Committee of Ar
rangements, which consisted of Wm. H. Hollister, John
Van Santvoord, Jacob I. Lansing, Wm. Leckie, Stephen H.
Adams and Miles White. In the evening a large display
of fireworks was made from Prospect Hill, after which, said
the Cataract, " the people were astonished and gratified at
the unusual sight of a balloon ascension by night," for
which they were indebted to Dr. C. F. Goss.

The question of extending Remsen street to Saratoga
street was agitated early in the year, and the heirs of Abram
G. Lansing offered to give the land necessary, if they could
be released from assessment. A meeting of the tax payers,
called June 20th, of which Egbert Egberts was chairman,


and H. L. Landon secretary, decided that " at present it
was inexpedient to open Remsen street below Newark."
So the matter rested, and at a meeting of the trustees, a
week or two later, Newark street (which had formerly been
called Lansing street) was declared opened as a public

A prominent addition to the manufacturing establish
ments of the place was the new knitting mill (now occupied
by Parsons & Co.), erected by Egbert Egberts on the
corner of Factory and Remsen streets. The building was
of brick, fifty by one hundred and fifty feet and five stories
high. The work was done mainly by Cohoes mechanics, as
follows : Joshua R. Clarke, architect and builder ; Wolf ord
& Stephenson, masons ; Jacob I. Lansing, wheelwright ;
Isaac F. Fletcher, marble cutter; and W. T. Palmer, painter.

The block of stores on the southeast corner of Remsen
and Oneida streets, built by Dr. Carter, was completed
about the same time.

An event destined to be of great importance to the inte
rests of Cohoes was the change during this year in the
proprietorship of the Harmony Mills. The career of the
old corporation had been anything but successful. No
dividends had ever been paid to the stockholders, and when
the company sold out they had floating debts to the
amount of their capital. The stock had changed owners
from time to time, until in the last years of its existence
the management of the company was in almost entirely
different hands. For some time the company had no resi
dent agent, but on the election of Mr Wm. N. Chadwick
as president in 1841, an effort was made to induce him to
make his residence here and supervise the business, which
he afterward decided to do. Under his administration in
1844 additional machinery was put into the mill, which had
previously been but partly occupied. In that and the fol
lowing year some $64,000 were cleared all the money


the company ever made and it was of course needed to
meet the deficiency of preceding years. In 1846 Mr.
Chadwick resigned, and his successor as president was Wm.
C. Haggerty, who continued to be the active man of the
concern until it was sold.

Withjthe advent of Mr. Robert Johnston, however, the
present superintendent, a new condition of affairs began,
and the career of the company since that time has been one
of steady and growing prosperity. Mr. Johnston was born
in Carlisle, England, in 1807, and in that country had his
first training in cotton manufacture. He came to the United
States in 1833, and was for a time connected with the
Providence Steam Mills at Providence, R. I., where he suc
ceeded in accomplishing what had previously been thought
impossible, ,the spinning of warps on mules. Soon after
he removed to Yalatie, N. Y., where he took charge of the
cotton mill of Nathan Wild, and it was at his suggestion
that Alfred Wild, the son of his employer, and Mr. Thomas
Garner of New York, purchased the Harmony Mill. With
the inauguration of the new management the mill was
greatly improved, and its capacity increased to 8,000

An amendment to the village charter passed early in
1851, provided for the election of a police justice, whose
term of office was to be four years, and increased the powers
of the trustees in several particulars. The amendment seems
to have given general satisfaction, and was thus commented
upon by the Cataract : " It will be seen that provision is
made for the establishment of a municipal government which
can effect everything desired in the way of law and order."
The first justice under this act was Alfred Phelps, elected
July 29. At the regular village election in March, the first
school trustees were chosen, according to the act passed in
1850. On the organization of the board, Wm. G. Caw was
elected president, and John Van Santvoord, clerk. The


following committees were appointed : Finance : Burton
and Parkhurst ; Library: Foster and Caw ; School houses:
Travis andMcGill; Text books: Caw and Travis; Teachers:
Foster, Burton and Caw ; Tuition of non residents: McGill
and Parkhurst; Select committee for organizing and grading
schools : Caw, Foster and McGill. At a meeting held
April 4th, arrangements were made to procure further
accommodations. The basement of the Reformed church
was hired at a rental of $40 per annum, and negotiations
were commenced with the Messrs. Fuller for the erection
of a two story school house in Remsen street, the yearly
rent to be $85. The teachers were assigned as follows :
District "No. 9 (Harmony Hill), Henry Dubois ; District
No. 5 (depot school house), E. H. Johnston and C. Allen,
Miss Van Schaick, assistant ; District No. 13 (state yard
school house), Mr. Landon. J. M. Brown s store on Remsen
street was selected as a proper place for keeping the libraries
of the district and it was engaged for $50 per annum, Mr.
Brown to act as librarian.

In April, an act was passed incorporating the Cohoes
Savings Institution, of which the corporators were: Chas.
A. Olmsted, Truman G. Younglove, Egbert Egberts, Hugh
White, Daniel Simmons, Isaac D. F. Lansing, Henry D.
Fuller, Wm. F. Carter, Abraham Lansing, Joshua Bailey,
Wm. 1ST. Chadwick, Teunis Van Vechten, Andrew D. Lan
sing, Harmon Pumpelly, Edward E. Kendrick, Wm. Burton,
Joshua R. Clarke, Jeremiah Clute, Miles White.

With the rapid growth of the place since its incorporation,
the fire department was soon found to be inadequate, and
it was accordingly voted at the annual meeting of this
year to purchase a new engine at a cost of $600.

At the trustees meeting held Sept. 23, a petition was
presented from "Jacob J. Lansing and others, mainly per
sons who were members of the Engine Company, known as
the Parmelee Company, asking to be organized into a fire


company under the authority of the board." The prayer
was granted, and the following persons were enrolled as.
the first members of Engine Company No. 2, afterwards
known as the Mohawk :

Jacob Lansing, foreman; John Fulton, 1st assistant;
Michael Larkins, 2d assistant ; John Doyle, treasurer; Win.
Shannon, Lewis Wells, J. Eastwood, Benjamin Hutching,
Malachi Ball, John Henry, John Larkins, Peter Moran,
Robert B. Moore, Edward Hitchcock, Louis Savoid, Isaac
Van Vliet, Isaac F. Ruukle, Elihu M. Stevenson, Jacob H.
Hallenbeck, Patrick Hines, Henry C. Rider, Joseph Gould,
Henry Shepard, Franklin Waring, Timothy McGray, Henry
Brown. In December the contract for building the new
engine house was let to Aaron Ferguson. This was a low
wooden structure, situated on Mohawk street south of the
present Miller House, and stood directly over the Cohoes
Company s canal.

Since 1847, there had been a number of changes in the
proprietorship of the public conveyances. The Accommo
dation Stage to Troy was run in 1848 by J. A. Simons,
in 1849 by S. C. Moore and in 1850 by J. A. Simons until
September when the partnership of Simons & Ives was
formed. The Cohoes and Troy Rail Road was con
ducted by C. O. Perham in 1849, and by John Dearborn
in the following year, which was the last of its existence
as a separate institution. After Nov. 1, 1850, the stages
and cars were combined, under proprietorship of Dearborn
and Ives, and made hourly trips to Troy. The Albany Mail
Stage was conducted by H. N. Pettis. It made in 1849
three trips, and in 1850 two trips, daily each way. In the
spring of 1851, both the Albany and Troy lines changed
hands, and were run by Dearborn, Simons & Co., who con
tinued in business until the stage lines were abandoned,
Mr. Simons being in later years sole proprietor.


Several manufacturing establishments were started in
this year. In March Thomas Fowler rented the building
formerly occupied by Timothy Bailey, repaired the damage
done by the fire, and put in knitting machinery. In the
building in rear of the Van Rensselaer block which was
afterwards known as the Mohawk Mill, Messrs. F. W.
Farnam & Co. established a factory for making linen
thread from American flax, G. K. White being manager.
The Cataract of Aug. 16th said : " The establishment will
when in full operation be the largest flax manufactory in
the United States and the only one where the finer branches
of the work are executed. It will employ 300 hands and
consume 600 tons of flax per annum."

Another new enterprise was the wheel factory of Messrs.
Wightraan & Youmans, established in a building erected
for them on Basin A, just south of where Brockway s mill
now stands. They manufactured omnibus wheels for the
New York and Philadelphia markets. The works of D.
Simmons & Co., (which had been enlarged in 1845), were
still further improved by the erection of new buildings.
Additions were also made to Miles White s axe factory.
In January, 1852, the partnership between Egberts & Bailey
was dissolved, Mr. Egberts taking the new or Watervliet
Mill, and Mr. Bailey the mill on Ontario street. The
latter gentleman organized the Bailey Manufacturing
Company, with a capital of $100,000, and Mr. Egberts
transferred his mill to Chas. H. Adams. 1 These establish
ments and Fowler s were until some years later the only
knitting mills in the place.

The Baptist church, which had stood on the site of the
Watervliet mill, was demolished when that structure was
built in 1850. The society at once commenced the erection

J The Bailey Manufacturing Company, of which the capital was reduced in 1856 to
$50,000, continued in business till 1863, when the mill and machinery were sold to
the Troy Manufacturing Company. Mr. Adams remained proprietor of the Water
vliet mill until 1862.


of their present edilice on Mohawk street, foot of White,
which was finished in 1851, at a cost of about $6,000. It
was dedicated April 28th, 1852, the sermon being preached
by Rev. Dr. Warren, of Troy. Addresses were also de
livered in the afternoon and evening by Revs. G. C. Bald
win, of Troy, and II. G. Day, of Schenectady. The music
was under direction of Lester Allen.

A number of public improvements had been made of late
in the village, and newspaper complaints about sidewalks
and railings became less frequent. New grades were estab
lished for Remsen, Oneida and other important streets, and
Canal (now Main), Canvass White (now Canvass), and
Howard streets, were opened as public highways. Street
lamps, which had long been needed, were placed by several
citizens in front of their dwellings, the example having been
set by Miles White. Sidewalks were laid in many parts of
the village and the Cohoes Company s water course on
Ontario street, which had previously been crossed by a
wooden bridge at Remsen street, was covered at that point
by a substantial stone arch.

In October, the block known as the Van Rensselaer House
was torn down by its owners, the Cohoes Company. The
existence of quicksands under the foundation of the struc
ture rendered it unsafe, and as tenants were with difficulty
induced to occupy it, the investment had never been pro
fitable. The first proprietor was J. H. Crane, of Schenec
tady, who sold in 1849 to John Parker, who continued in
business little more than a year, and was then sold out by
the sheriff. The arrangement of the ground floor of the
building was similar to that of the present Johnston
block ; the bar-room was in the corner corresponding to
that now occupied by A. M. Harmon s store ; next to that
was the main entrance, north of which were three stores.
A brick block three stories high was built on the site.
Cohoes during this year was rather quiet, if we may judge


by the local columns of the paper. In December con
siderable excitement was caused by the failure of Miles
White, with liabilities of nearly $200,000, which threw one
hundred and fifty men out of employment. This was the
first failure which had seriously affected the place, and
afforded material for discussion for some time.

During 1853, however, there was no lack of subjects for
local comment. Early in the year the rail road from Albany,
work on which had been for some time in progress, was com
pleted. As before mentioned, several companies which had
been organized were unable to make any progress with the
enterprise, and the people began to believe it was never to
be carried out, but when, under the auspices of the Albany
Northern Rail Road Company, the contracts were actually
let, the prospect was more reassuring, and the satisfaction
was general. The last rail was laid March 24th, and busi
ness could have been then commenced but the bridge was
not completed. The Cataract commented as follows : " The
rails having fairly been laid as far as the station house it
may be safely affirmed that this old-new road is completed
from Albany to Cohoes. Having struggled on under a
hundred unfortunate accidents and been a laughing stock
for years, it seems almost incredible that it has at last
accomplished the original task."

The station-house, which was described as " one of the
finest in the state," had been completed in the previous De
cember. A trial trip was made as far as Cohoes, April 9.
Two days afterward the road was formally opened. The
afternoon train from Albany brought the president and di
rectors of the road, and several prominent citizens, and was
received here with ringing of bells and firing of cannon.
The party was met by the board of trustees and a large
number of citizens. T. G. Younglove, on behalf of the
trustees, made the following address:

" Gentlemen : In behalf of the citizens of Cohoes, we


welcome you and congratulate you, that by patience, per
severance and energy a long desired object has been ac
complished. The snorting and puffing of the iron horse in
our streets, mingling as it does with the roar of our cataract,
the sound of our hammers, the ring of our anvils, and the
hum of our spindles, is an era in our history which we too,
gladly receive congratulation for, and we say to you that
we not only congratulate you, but we congratulate ourselves,
and rejoice in the increased facilities you have given us for
sending to market more than one and a half millions of dol
lars the annual product of our labor and our capital. We
rejoice, then, in the establishment of this new connecting
link between our embryo, and your venerable city. I think
I may say without exaggeration that our water power when
its locality and extent are taken into account is the most
valuable in the United States. We have the power to drive
all your manufacturing establishments, even to your print
ing presses, and we will do it provided you give us the
chance. Who can say that in the progress of the arts and
manufactures, Cohoes may not be a great center of in
dustrial pursuits, annually sending forth her products, to
enrich and comfort thousands nay, even millions of the in
habitants of the earth ? But I have digressed. Do not mis
take the roar and din you hear around you for any other
than that of friendly and cordial greeting. Even the waters
of the Mohawk join in our greetings to you. Again I say,
we welcome y ou."

Robert H. Pruyn, one of the directors, replied on behalf
of the company. Speeches were also made by Judge
Cheever, Mr. Wasson, and Col. J. W. Miller. After the
excursionists had visited the Falls, the factories and other
objects of interest, they assembled at the Cohoes Hotel,
where, said the Cataract, " an ample and handsome colla
tion was prepared which was thoroughly taken care of, and
which prompted a pleasant interchange of sentiment on the
part of those present."

The regular trains commenced running at once, eight
daily between here and Albany, and were well patronized.
An Albany paper of the 16 inst. said : "The Cohoes fac
tories were to-day closed, in order to afford the female


operatives an opportunity to visit Albany by the new rail
road, which they availed themselves of in great numbers."
The first ticket agent at this station was Chas. T. Carter.

The Cohoes Gas Light Company was organized in January
under the general law, and had its buildings ready to com
mence operations in July. 1 The capital of the company
was $50,000 and the first officers were T. G. Younglove,
president, R. Merrifield, secretary. The other trustees
were Egbert Egberts, H. D. Fuller, W. F. Carter, J. Bailey,
H. Pumpelly and J. Battin.

On August 15th, the Cohoes Savings Institution, which
had been incorporated some time before, commenced to re
ceive deposits at the office, which was on Remsen street
near Oneida, in the store at present occupied by Win. Bell,
dry goods dealer. The officers were, Egbert Egberts^ presi
dent ; W. F. Carter, vice president ; Truman G. Younglove,
tseasurer ; Edward W. Fuller, assistant treasurer.

Several articles were published in the local paper during
the year on the manufacturing interests of the place, which

Online LibraryArthur H. (Arthur Haynesworth) MastenThe history of Cohoes, New York [electronic resource] from its earliest settlement to the present time → online text (page 10 of 30)