Arthur H. (Arthur Haynesworth) Masten.

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

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$80,000. The taxes were of course increased, but not so
largely as many supposed the rate being less than a
quarter of one per cent greater than that of the previous
year. The census of this year indicated the largest five
years growth in the history of the place, there being an in
crease of 6,578 over the official census of 1865. The male
inhabitants over the age of 21 were 2,574, divided as follows :
1st ward, 779; 2d ward, 717 ; 3d ward, 728 ; 4th ward,
350. The following statistics in regard to manufactures
were given :

Manufacturing establishments, 196

Capital invested, $4,030,641

Wages paid yearly, 1,839,572

Value material used, 5,084,940

" annual production, 7,889,331

In February, 1871, several amendments to the charter
were prepared by a committee from the common council,
which were presented to the legislature and passed in May.
Among the changes were the following: provision was made
for the election of two justices of the peace to serve until
1874 ; the common council was invested with power to pass
certain ordinances and regulations for the government of
the city, and to appoint commissioners of deeds ; the term
of office of the chamberlain was made two years; the power
of the recorder was increased, and his salary fixed at $2,000,
and the term of office of the overseer of the poor was ex
tended from one to three years. Considerable dissatisfaction
was expressed at the last two amendments, which it was
claimed were added after the bill had left the hands of the
committee in Cohoes.

On Sunday, June 10, the new St. John s church, at the
junction of Canvass and Mohawk streets, was formally
opened by Bishop Doane, who had laid the corner stone on



206 HISTORY OF COHOES. 1871.

June 1 1th of the previous year. The ceremonies of consecra
tion were postponed until a small debt yet remaining on the
building should be liquidated. The customary morning
service was read, Bishop Doane, Rev. Ferris Tripp, of
Brooklyn, Rev. Chas. Babcock of Greenwood Works, and
Rev. J. H. H. Brown, rector of the parish, officiating. The
sermon was preached by Bishop Doane. The building,
which will accommodate 1,000 persons, is built of Schenec-
tady stone faced with brick, in the modern gothic style,
with transept. The nave of the church is 1 00 feet long,
68 feet wide and 60 feet to the peak of the roof. The ceil
ing is in blue, and the upper part of the walls has a red
ground, diapered. The chancel, which is square, measures
20 by 30 feet, with a large window in the rear. The organ
and choir are placed in an alcove a few feet above the level
of the transept, on which it opens through an archway.
The chapel is 24 by 32 feet and opens on the church and
chancel in the same manner as the organ alcove, so that it
can be used if desired to make extra accommodations for
the church. The Sunday school room, which will seat 450
pupils, is located in the lower part of the building. The
rectory, connected with the chapel, is of the same material
as the church, and a model of convenience. Besides what
is now built, it is the design to have a tower on the south
side of the church, with a stone spire 160 feet high. The
cost of the structure as far as finished is $40,000, and the
completion of it will cost $20,000 more.

Among the additions this year to the business of the city
was the Cohoes Warp Mill and Thread Co., incorporated
July 23d, with Collins Arnold, president and treasurer, and
Stillman Ilsley, secretary. The manufactures of this com
pany are hosiery yarns and cops, seaming thread, chain
warps, etc., which are used principally by cotton and woolen
mills. The building which is on the site of the Miles White
forge shop, on Mohawk street, is of brick, 50 by 80 feet*



1871. HISTORY OF COHOES. 207

four stories high, and was completed in July. Another new
factory was erected by the Empire Pin Co., on Courtland
street, a brick building 40 by 100 feet, and five stories high.
With its increased facilities the company did an extensive
business, operating 40 machines and producing 46,800 papers
of pins per week. These papers average 280 pins each,
making a yearly production of 681,408,000.

The Waterford and Cohoes Bridge was burned on the
night of the 31st October, but little to the regret of the
citizens, if we may judge from the following, from the
Cataract:

"It was never considered a first class structure and
of late years has been a source of constant dread to
those who have been obliged to cross it, and a standing
insult to public enterprise. During the conflagration, the
general expression seemed to be that it were better thus
than that the lives of our citizens should be endangered by
its longer use."

A steam ferry was established for the accommodation of
passengers, and a tug was provided to tow the boats in the
Champlain Canal across the river. The new state dam just
below the bridge, which had been commenced in June, 1870,
was completed this fall, by Sherrill, Strong & Flood, con
tractors. Its length between the piers is 1,640 feet.

The building of this dam enabled Messrs. Weed, Becker
& Co. to obtain an additional head of five feet of water,
and add largely to the capacity of their establishment. The
improvements connected with these increased facilities were
completed during the year at a cost of $20,000.

In October, when the news was received here of the great
fires which devastated Chicago, and different places in
Michigan and Wisconsin, the citizens were prompt to come
forward with substantial expressions of sympathy. A public
meeting was at once held in Egberts Hall to take measures
for the relief of the sufferers, at which Mayor Adams pre
sided. Committees of five gentlemen from each ward were
appointed to receive subscriptions, who were to report to the



208 HISTORY OF COHOES. 1872.

following general committee : Hon. C. H. Adams, Murray
Hubbard, D. J. Johnston, H. B. Silliman, Win. Nuttall.
The response to the call was general and liberal. About
$4,000 in cash were raised, of which $2,500 were sent to
Chicago and the balance to the sufferers by the fires in
Wisconsin and Michigan. Knit goods and other articles of
clothing to the value of $5,000 were also forwarded.

A matter which occasioned considerable discussion in Co-
hoes during the early part of 1872, was what was known
as the Boulevard bill, introduced in January. It pro
vided for the construction of a broad avenue, the line of
which was to extend along the Hudson river terrace, begin
ning at the Newtonville road in Albany and running north,
passing a little to the west of the Rural Cemetery and ter
minating in Cohoes at or near Johnston avenue, affording
a straight and level street nine miles in length. The work
was to be supervised by seven commissioners, of whom three
were from Albany, two from Watervliet, and two from
Cohoes, the gentlemen named from this place being David
J. Johnston and H. S. Bogue. The expense, estimated at
$100,000, was to be defrayed by the localities to be benefited ;
bonds were to be issued by the city of Albany to the amount
of $50,000 and by the town of Watervliet and the city of
Cohoes, each for $25,000. The newspapers in the neighbor
hood were almost without exception in favor of the project,
and it had a number of strong supporters among the citizens
of Albany and Cohoes. There was, however, from the be
ginning a strong feeling against it in West Troy, and con
siderable opposition was soon developed here. Many
persons claimed that the bill was a private measure intro
duced merely to advance the interests of individuals who
owned property along the route of the proposed road; and
also that in case the latter should be constructed, it would
be used merely as a pleasure drive, and, not being suitable
for the passage of heavy vehicles, would be of no business



1872. HISTORY OF COHOES. 209

advantage. The principal objection, however, which was
urged by Cohoes people, was that if the city were to be
bonded at all, the money should be expended in making
improvements for which there was more pressing necessity.
These objections were answered by the friends of the bill,
but they failed to entirely overcome the prejudice against
it, and it did not go into effect.

A bill introduced during the same month made several

O

changes in the charter of tlie city, the principal one being
in regard to the recorder and overseer of the poor. The
former office was abolished, and provision was made that
the latter be filled annually by appointment of the common
council.

In February, the Cohoes Hospital was established, an
institution which for lack of proper support has not had
the permanence it deserved. Its officers were : president,
Robert Johnston ; vice president, Earl L. Stimson ; secre
tary, Win. E. Thorn ; treasurer, Wm. Burton ; committee,
T. G. Younglove, H. B. Silliman, W. S. Gilbert. A build
ing was hired on Harmony Hill, in which a free dispensary
was established, and Drs. Robertson, of Albany, and J. W.
Moore and Jas. Featherstonhaugh of this city, gave their
services to those in need of them.

With the rapid growth in the business interests of Cohoes,
it had for some time been apparent that there was a favor
able opportunity for the establishment of a second banking
institution, and a movement to this effect was made in
January by a number of prominent business men, which
resulted in the organization, on March 21st, of the Manu
facturers Bank of Cohoes, with a capital of $100,000. The
first officers were as follows : president, Wm. E. Thorn ; vice



1 This laudable enterprise was supported for a time almost entirely by the contri
butions of private citizens. A bill was passed in May, 1873, authorizing the
common council to appropriate $1,000 annually for its maintenance. This did not
go into effect, however, and, not receiving any encouragement, the gentlemen in
charge of the institution were forced to abandon it, not being willing to defray all
its expenses from their own pockets.

27



210 HISTORY OF COHOES. 1872.

president, Jno. Y. S. Lansing ; cashier, N. W. Frost; di
rectors, Wm. E. Thorn, Jno. V. S. Lansing, D. H. Van
Auken, Geo. Campbell, J. W. Himes, Jacob Travis, D. J.
Johnston, Nicholas J. Clute, Wm. Moore, Alfred Le Roy,
P. R. Chadwick. Rooms were fitted up at No. 70 Oneida
street, and the institution was opened for the transaction of
business, July 8th.

The project of uniting Lansingburg and Cohoes by bridges
across the Hudson and Mohawk rivers, which had been
agitated in the papers of the vicinity at different times pre
vious, assumed definite shape by the incorporation of the
Lansingburg and Cohoes Bridge Co. in March. The bill
provided for the construction of "a bridge and the ap
proaches thereto, over the Hudson from some point on Yan
Schaick s Island, in the city of Cohoes to some point in the
village of Lansingburg, south of said ferry."

It was expected that the erection of a bridge across the
Mohawk from the island to Cohoes, concerning which Mr.
Adams, owner of the island, had made some generous offers ?
would soon follow, as arrangements had been made the pre
vious autumn. The scheme seemed to meet with approval
from all parties concerned. The papers of Troy were
earnest in its favor, on the ground that the road distance
between that place and Cohoes would be diminished by
nearly a mile and communication between the two cities be
greatly facilitated ; while the Cohoes papers hailed with
satisfaction the prospect of beautiful building sites and
pleasant drives which was offered to our citizens. As in
the case of the Boulevard bill, however, while the value
which such an improvement would have was acknowledged
on all sides, something occurred to kill the project, and there
has been no definite movement towards developing that
part of our city until the present year.

The new bridge across the Mohawk above the state dam
was completed in September at a cost of about $25,000.
It is 704 feet long and consists of four spans of 140 feet and



1872. HISTORY OF COHOES. 211

one of 135 feet. The side walks and tow path are each t-ix
feet wide, and the trusses twenty-one feet high. It is known
as the Combination Bridge, the top chord and posts being
of wood, and the lower chord, main and center braces of
iron. Belden and Gale of Syracuse were the contractors.

An event of importance in the history of Cohoes man
ufactures was the completion in this year of the extension
to the Harmony Mill No. 3, making the largest complete
cotton mill in the country. The extension is five stories
high, and 510 feet long by 76 feet wide, making the entire
structure 1,185 by 70-76 feet. The junction of the exten
sion with the main building is marked by the central tower,
a handsome fire proof structure eight stories in height. A
niche in this contains a bronze statue of the late Thos.
Garner, for years one of the principal proprietors of the
mills, which was cast by the Ames Mfg. Co. of Chicopee,
Mass., after a model by Millman. Underneath this tower
is the main entrance, substantially built of granite. There
are four other entrances to the building, each surmounted
by a lofty tower. The building is constructed throughout
of the best and most durable materials, and its front is
handsomely trimmed with brown-stone. Besides its great
importance to the place in a business point of view, the fine
architecture of this mill and its complete finish in every
detail render it a principal ornament of the city, and it is
among the first objects of interest to strangers who visit us.

The Harmony Co. made a further addition to their estab
lishment by the purchase in the early part of the year of
the paper mill building on Mohawk street, south of the No.
2 mill, in which the manufacture of jute was afterwards
commenced. Messrs. Van Benthuysen & Sons, the pro
prietors of the paper mill, moved their machinery to Castle-
ton, where they had a similar establishment.



1 The water of the Mohawk was too muddy in the spring and fall for use in their
business, and the proprietors had several years "before commenced the boring of an
artesian well, which was carried down over 2,300 feet before it was abandoned.



212 HISTORY OF COHOES. 1872.

An addition to the knitting interests of the place was
the establishment of the Globe Mill by Le Roy, Lamb & Co.,
Wm. Moore being the third partner. The firm took pos
session of the building on Remsen street between the
Diamond and Star Mills, which had been occupied since
1857 by the Harmony Co., and put in operation four sets
of machinery. The second mill south of this, a building
30 by 96 feet, and four stories high, was fitted up for knitting
purposes early in this year by George Warhurst, of the
Atlantic Mill on Mohawk street, who sold both establish
ments to Thompson & Horrocks, in the fall. Two new
knitting mills, the Peerless, and the Sunnyside, were
located respectively in the first and second stories of the
Empire Pin Co. s building on Courtland street. The former,
Joseph Bullock and Bro. proprietors, ran two sets, and
the latter, of the same capacity, was owned by Fisher and
Melinda, Neither remained in permanent operation.

A new establishment of the year was a gas and steam pipe
factory erected near Courtland street between Saratoga and
Van Rensselaer streets, by the Empire Tube Co. The com
pany was incorporated with a capital of $5 0,000, the follow
ing being trustees : Jas. Morrison, Thos. Colwell, Buckley
T. Benton, Jas. M. Morehead, W. H. Atwater.-

A series of articles, afterward issued in pamphlet form,
was published in the Cataract during the year, giving a
complete and careful account of the manufacturing estab
lishments of the place. The statistics of production may be
summarized as follows : The Harmony Mills had in opera
tion 251,000 spindles, and employed 5,170 operatives. The
knitting mills, 20 in number, operated 129 sets of machinery,
employing 2,503 operatives, at a monthly pay roll of $58,900.



1 Mr. Moore afterward withdrew, Belling bis interest to the other partners.

The company never commenced active operations, but leased the factory to
Albert Smith and Jas. M. Morehead, who ran it a few months. On May 1st, 1874,
the present firm, consisting of Albert Smith and A. G. Curtis, was formed.



1872. HISTORY OF COHOES. 213

The annual production was 453,000 doz. goods valued at
$3,620,000. The establishments in the iron manufacture, 4
in number, employed 685 men at a monthly pay roll of
$35,800. The value of the annual production, consisting of
axes, iron and machinery, was $1,680,000. Miscellaneous
establishments employed 394 hands at a monthly pay roll
of $14,010, and produced goods annually to the amount of
$479,000. The annual production stated of other concerns
of which no further statistics were given, amounted in the
aggregate to $451,000. The total yearly value of manu
factured products thus shown was $6,230,000, exclusive of
those of the Harmony Mills. A summary of the mercantile
establishments, professions, etc., was also given, as follows :

" Groceries, 56 ; dry goods stores, 9 ; clothing stores, 7 ;
millinery and fancy goods stores, 25 ; drugs and medicines,
7 ; boot and shoe stores, 15 ; hat and cap stores, 3 ; job
printing offices, 1 ; news rooms, 2 ; cigar manufacturers,
5 ; flour and feed stores, 1 ; lumber yards, 3 ; coal dealers,
5 ; junk dealers, 2 ; liquor dealers, 79 ; meat markets, 22 ;
jewelers, 3 ; sewing machine agencies, 4 ; insurance agen
cies, 7 ; fruit and confectionery stores, 6 ; oyster dealers,
4 ; music stores, 1 ; piano rooms, 1 ; marble yards, 1. Of
other trades and occupations, we enumerate as follows :
dress making establishments, 8 ; attorneys, 12 ; physicians,
11 ; teachers, 34 ; clergymen, 8 ; dentists, 2 ; photograph
ers, 3 ; surveyors, 2 ; architects, 1 ; barbers, 9 ; auction
eers, 2."

Among the improvements of the year was the enlargement
of the Baptist church, at a cost of $15,000. The front was
extended to the side-walk, a distance of some 20 feet, thus
greatly enlarging the seating capacity of the building, and
a spire and towers were constructed which much improved
its appearance. The interior of the edifice was entirely
renovated and its walls and ceiling handsomely frescoed.
The church was formally opened on the evening of Jan.
1 5th, 1873, the dedication services being postponed, until
the debt incurred in making the improvements should be
liquidated. An historical sermon, giving a detailed account



214 HISTORY OF COHOES. 1873.

of the organization and progress of the church, was preached
by the pastor, Rev. L. S. Johnson, which was followed by
the singing of a hymn composed for the occasion, and con
gratulatory addresses by Revs. 0. A. Johnson of Whitehall,
Mr. Hanna of West Troy, and C. P. Sheldon, D.D., of Troy.
Other clergymen present and participating in the exercises
were Rev. Mr. Kenley of Lansingburg, and Rev. Wm. M.
Johnson of the First Presbyterian church, Cohoes.

The long period of exemption from serious loss by fire
which Cohoes manufacturers had enjoyed was interrupted
in February, 1873, by the occurrence of two destructive
conflagrations. On the afternoon of the 1st, a fire was
discovered in the card room of the Stark Mill, on Courtland
street. Efforts were made to extinguish it without giving an
alarm, but the whole room was soon in flames, which com
menced to spread to adjoining parts of the building, and
the operatives throughout the mill were at once informed
of their danger. Most of them escaped through the doors
but some who were in the upper stories, finding the staircase
impassable, were forced to jump from the windows upon
the sheds and ground beneath. It is a matter of surprise
that only a few persons were injured, and those but slightly
had the building been higher, or the circumstances less
favorable, a catastrophe like that at Hurst s Mill might have
occurred. The structure was a mass of flames when the
firemen reached it, and their efforts were principally directed
towards preventing the destruction of the Miller House and
other adjoining buildings. The loss of the proprietors,
Scott & Stewart, upon machinery and stock, was between
$35,000 and $40,000, which was covered by insurance for
$22,000. The loss on the building was $3,000.

On the morning of the 14th, a fire broke out in the third
story of the Erie Mill, on Erie street, caused by the falling
of a small bit of waste, ignited by the gas, into a pile of
laps upon the floor. It was some fifteen minutes before



1873. HISTORY OF COHOES. 215

an alarm could be sounded and when the firemen arrived
the two upper stories of the mill were in flames. The de
partment could accomplish but little, for the water was
shut off from the reservoir and there was not enough head
upon that in the pipes to throw a stream into the second
story of the building, and some of the nearest hydrants
were besides found to be frozen. Fortunately there was
no wind at the time, and the danger to the adjoining mills,
Parsons s and Thompson & Horrocks s, was comparatively
slight. The loss on the building, which belonged to Wm.
Burton, was $12,000 ; Mr. Moore, proprietor of the mill, lost
on machinery, etc., between $40,000 and $50,000 of which
$25,000 were insured.

The necessity of procuring horses for the Adams steamer
had been for some time urged in the city papers, but no
action was taken on it by the common council. As it was
evident, however, at these two fires, that much valuable pro
perty could have been saved if the department had been
promptly on hand, steps were taken to avoid in future such
disastrous delays ; and accordingly a few months later a team
of horses was purchased for the steamer and the services of
a paid engineer and driver secured.

Among the evidences of the prosperity of the place at
this time at its height were several movements which were
set on foot early in the year, for important public improve
ments. One of the enterprises proposed was the erection of
a new hotel, with all modern conveniences an institution
talked of and desired since the earliest days of the place.
The Cohoes Co. were in former years in the habit of hold
ing their annual dinners at the Cohoes Hotel, and in 1840,
when the house was managed by the Messrs. Fuller, elabo
rate plans were made, while the guests were under the
warming influence of a generous repast, for the erection of
an elegant hotel. It was to be built in the pine grove which
was then standing between Courtland street and the river,



216 HISTORY OF COHOES. 1873.

on the ground now occupied by Fuller s building. The estab
lishment was to be fitted up in the most complete manner,
and to have among other attractions, floating baths in the
river below, connected with the hotel by a covered passage
and a flight of stairs. The nearest this enterprise ever
came to completion was the preparation of the plans, which
were drawn up by Joshua R. Clarke for in the next year
commenced a period of business depression, the effects of
which were severely felt here. Since that time the project
had been considered by several different parties, and the
columns of the Cataract, from almost its first number, con
tained frequent appeals to the citizens to take some action
in the matter.

The first movement of any importance was made in April
of this year, when a bill was introduced in the legislature
incorporating the Cohoes Hotel Co., of which the following
gentlemen (who were to be the first directors), were named
as incorporators : T. G. Younglove, Andrew J. Root, John
Y. S. Lansing, D. J. Johnston, Wm. S. Gilbert, Murray
Hubbard, S. E. Stimson, Wm. T. Horrobin, Henry S. Bogue,
Thos. Col well, Otis G. Clark, John Wakeman and Jacob
Travis. The capital stock was fixed at $150,000 with liberty
to increase to $200,000, to be divided into shares of $100
each. The company had several plans under discussion,
but before any definite arrangements were concluded the
panic came on, which, as in 1 840, put a stop to further proceed
ings, and at present the long desired hotel is still unbuilt. ]



1 " The owners of the city hotel property are contemplating the erection of a
first-class hotel building on the site of the old building. An Albany firm of archi
tects already have the plans under way. It is to be of brick of modern style in con
struction, at a cost of from between fifty and sixty thousand dollars. It will front
on Mohawk street, and extend back a distance of one hundred and fifty feet, a
sufficient depth to be reserved to allow stores being built fronting on Remsen street.



Online LibraryArthur H. (Arthur Haynesworth) MastenThe history of Cohoes, New York [electronic resource] from its earliest settlement to the present time → online text (page 18 of 30)