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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Amos Tenney, John Tenney, Luke Bemis, Robert Curtis and Chas. A. Olmsted.
Capital $100,000, which was increased February, 1848, to $200,000 and in April,
1850, to $275,000. C. A. Olmsted was agent.
11



82 HISTORY OF COHOES. 1846.

the latter having possession of it in 1845. The Worsted
Company built for its operatives the wooden structure on
the upper end of Remsen street known as the Mouslin de
Laine, Block, which was destroyed in 1873. The agent
of the company was Wni. Cockroft, who continued in
business after its failure, which occurred a short time
later.

Two new concerns were located in the Wilkinson machine
shop. On the third floor was the sash and blind factory
of James Salisbury & Co.,- the first establishment of
the kind in the place ; in the fourth story or attic was
the sofa and cabinet ware manufactory of Jacob Dodge,
who employed as his superintendent R. T. Briggs. The
two lower stories of the building, were then occupied
by White, Olmsted & Co., the Wilkinson machinery
having been moved by Mr. Olmsted, part to his foundery,
and the balance to a machine shop which he started in the
basement of Ogden Mill No. 1. In these two establishments,
and in the shop of Baldwin and Baker, much of the ma
chinery for the Ogden Mill was constructed.

A new building was erected by Samuel N. Baldwin on
the corner of Ontario and Remsen streets (now Chadwick s
Mill), and occupied by him as a machine shop. It was
completed in the latter part of the year, and the first work
of importance was the manufacture of machinery for the
Ogden Mills. The wood work for the looms was made by
John Baker, who was established in an upper story of the
building.

The improvements of the past few years, and the conse
quent increase of population had fairly entitled Cohoes to



1 He subsequently entered into partnership with Richard Hurst and Ephraim
French. The partnership was dissolved in March, 1854, and the business succeeded
to Mr. Hurst, who continued it until the premises came into possession of the
Star Knitting Company. Mr. Cockroft was engaged for some time in the grocery
business in the store at the junction of Mohawk and Remsen streets, but disposed
of his interest in 1853, to Geo. Wood.

a Afterward Loveland and Palmer.



1847. HISTORY OF COHOES. 83

rank as a growing town, and as such one of her first requi
sites was a newspaper. This want was supplied by the
establishment of The Cohoes Advertiser, a weekly journal,
the first number of which was issued February 9th, 1847,
by Ayres & Co. 1 The firm was composed of Alexis
Ayres and Wm. H. S. Winans, two young printers from
Troy, the editorial department being under control of the
former. The paper was twenty by twenty-eight inches, and
contained twenty-four columns, about half of which were
occupied by advertisements. The first and fourth pages
contained miscellaneous literary matter ; the second page
was devoted to general news, editorial articles and local
items the latter being sadly in the minority. This arrange
ment was continued for a number of years, and until com
munication with Troy and Albany became easier, and the
newspapers of those places acquired a large circulation here,
general news occupied a great part of the local paper. The
supposition was, doubtless, that as the place was small,
everybody would know of home matters without being told,
and would prefer a paper which gave them information of
the outside world. This deficiency in the local columns,
though probably satisfactory to the subscribers, is not en
tirely so to one who is searching for facts in the early his
tory of the place.

After the establishment of this newspaper, however, the
growth and history of Cohoes can be much more easily
followed valuable information being often found in a mere
paragraph, or an advertisement ; and as the materials for
this sketch for ensuing years have been taken almost entirely
from its files, it would be ungrateful to make any com-



1 The office of the paper was first established in a building in the south part of
the Ogden mill yard, which has since been removed, and now stands near the rail
road bridge. In April it was removed to Factory street, " first door below the
old canal." In July it was again moved to the southwest corner of Factory and
Ilemsen streets, over the store now occupied by Geo. E. Thompson, and at that
time by E. G. Mussey. From there it was taken to the Wilkinson building occu
pied by White. Olmsted & Co.



84 HISTORY OF COIIOES. 1847.

plaints, especially since it is fair to presume that however
meager the local columns may have occasionally been, all
matters of particular importance were recorded.

The leading article of the first Advertiser was a salutatory,
over a column in length, in which were stated the politics
of the proprietors (whig), their motives for establishing
the paper and their expectations in regard to it. Another
column was devoted to a comparison of the tariff of 1846
with that of 1842, with coments on an article which had
appeared in the Troy Budget in regard to the establishment
of the Ogden mills. There were only two local items, both
in reference to a fire on Mohawk street, which was thus
described :

" On Thursday night last our village was visited by a
fire which for a time threatened great destruction, but
through the indomitable exertions of our citizens its
onward progress was arrested. It originated in a two story
building, the lower part of which was occupied by Messrs.
Howe & Ross as a drug store, the upper part by S. H. Foster,
Esq., and Messrs. Miller & Van Santvoord, attorneys, and
Dr. Goss, as dentist. The building was owned by the
Cohoes Company, and not insured. Howe & Ross were
insured for about $900. S. H. Foster, Esq., loss about $200,
no insurance. Messrs. Miller & Van Santvoord s loss about
$1000, no insurance. Dr. Goss s loss $100, no insurance.
The fire soon communicated with the post office building
owned by D. W. Leland, Esq. The contents of the
office were saved building insured in the Saratoga Co.
Mutual for $300. Here the progress of the flames, which
for a time threatened destruction to a row of wooden build
ings south, was arrested by the persevering exertions of our
citizens, -who with ropes and axes succeeded in razing it to
the ground, preventing its further extension." The Cohoes
advertisers jn this number were as follows :

Lawyers : S. H. Foster, Miller & Van Santvoord.

Dealers in Dry Goods and Groceries : Wm. H. Hollister
& Co., Caw & Quackenbush, White, Olmsted & Co., Jones
& Southworth, Jno. P. Steenberg, P. Kendrick & Son, F.
W. Faraam, J. G. Burnap, W. D. Russell & Co., Patrick
Me Entee.



1847. HISTORY OF COHOES. 85

Clothing, etc. : E. C. Howe, Twining & Alden, Waring
& Robbins.

Stoves, etc. : John D. Luffman.

Drugs, etc. : Howe & Ross.

Cohoes Hotel : Robert Williams.

Dentist : O. P. Yates.

Axes, etc. : White, Olmsted & Co.

Cohoes Foundery : Chas. A. Olmsted.

Cabinet Ware : Jacob Dodge.

Of these business men only one, Isaac Quackenbush, is
now remaining in the place.

In the next issue, a number of new advertisers appeared,
among them Wm. Burton & Co., saw mill, John M. Coon,
boots and shoes, James G. Foster, leather, and A. L.
Phelps, hair dresser.

The editor announced his intention, in the issue of Feb.
23d, of publishing a series of articles on the "History and
Manufactures of Cohoes, from its earliest infancy," and
added " We shall have no objection to mix with it a bit of
the romantic, and for that purpose invite the ladies of our
village to exercise their imaginations in penning a tale of
1 love and daring by some Indian maid of the Valley of
the Mohawk." Several prizes were offered for contributions
of this kind, but none ever appeared. The articles on the
manufactures were published, however, and afford us an
interesting glimpse of the state of Cohoes industry at that
time. The first of the series, from which extracts are given
below, appeared March 9th.

" The oldest inhabitant informs us that when he came to
this place, sixteen years ago, the number and quality of the
buildings were neither worth computing or placing a value
upon. There were five tenements constructed of the most
rude material, and in the one story building now occupied
as the justice s office (the Richard Heamstreet tavern), he
obtained his board and lodging until he secured a home in
the suburbs. This was only sixteen years ago ; now, with its



86 HISTORY OF COHOES. 1847.

magnificent water power improved, extensive manufactories,
behold, how great the change. While its sister village of
Waterford has hardly held its own, Cohoes has been ex
tending its borders until it now boasts of a population of

4,000 The first cotton factory was built in 1837.

There are now 4 extensive cotton factories, 2 factories
for making cotton and woolen shirts and drawers, 1 factory
for making worsted yarn and mouselin delaine, 2 extensive
axe factories, 2 grist mills, 1 saw mill for making veneer
and looking glass backs, 1 paper mill, 1 iron foundry, 1
paint mill, 2 machine shops, 1 bedstead factory, 1 sofa
factory, 1 scythe and edge tool factory. Axes and edge
tools are also manufactured at the extensive manufactories

of Messrs. Simmons and White, Olmsted & Co The

increase in population during the last year is about 1000. . . .

" There are now in Cohoes 15 stores and groceries, two
stove and tin ware establishments, 2 drug stores, 3 clothing
stores, 1 leather store, 1 dentist, 4 physicians, 3 lawyers, 5
places of public worship, 1 large hotel, 2 shoe stores."

The figures given in descriptions of the different establish
ments, which were published during the next few weeks,
are quoted below. A comparison of them with the indus
trial statistics of the present day is interesting, as affording
one of the best means of judging the growth of the place.

"The Harmony Mill has nearly 8,000 mule and throstle
spindles and 220 looms in operation, producing over 1,500,000
yards of printing cloths annually. The annual consumption
of cotton is over 700 bales averaging 450 Ibs. each ; 250 to
260 operatives are employed in this factory, of whom about
60 or 70 are girls occupied in the weaving rooms. Up
wards of $3,000 are disbursed monthly to operatives alone.

" The Strong Mill has 2,700 spindles which supply yarn for
80 looms. The annual production is estimated at 750,000
yards. The number of hands employed is 69. The con
sumption of cotton is nearly 300 bales per year."

" The Ogden Mill, No. 1, contains 7,000 spindles (self actor
mule), and 180 looms. Warp No. 30, filling No. 32, 70
ends warp and 78 picks filling to the inch. 20,000 yards of
41 and 36 inch goods are manufactured weekly. About
5,500 Ibs. cotton used weekly. No. 2 mill contains 8,500
mule and throstle spindles and 200 looms, and will when in



1847. HISTORY OF COHOES. 87

full operation turn out 3,500 yards weekly. 250 hands are
now employed in each mill. Pay roll about $3,000 monthly
for each mill.

" The Cohoes Iron Foundry. Mr. Olmsted now employs
in these works about 60 operatives.

" Dodge s Sofa Manufactory. This establishment is capable
of manufacturing from 15 to 20 sofas per week.

" Simmons s Axe and Edge Tool Manufactory. About 200
men are employed in this manufactory, and when on their
way to and from their work look like an army. 600 tons of
iron and 100 tons of cast steel are manufactured up yearly,
and 1,200 tons of coal are consumed. 50 doz. axes besides
tools, are manufactured daily.

" Messrs. White, Olmsted & Co. now employ about 60
men and are making from 250 to 300 axes per day.

Messrs. O. and D. Parkhurst s Bedstead Factory is capable
of manufacturing from 100 to 150 bedsteads per week,
from the common rope bedstead to the most finished article
in use.

" Sash and Blind Factory, by Jas. Salisbury & Co. They
enjoy facilities for making sash for 50 windows per day,
and a proportionate number of Venetian shutter blinds.
From 6 to 8 men are employed.

" The Cohoes Worsted Co. The number of spindles in
operation is 2,000. Combing machines 2. 30 men are em
ployed in combing by hand. The whole number of opera
tives employed is 130. Amount paid per month $1,000.
500 Ibs. of wool are manufactured up per day.

William Burton employs 8 or 9 hands.

" The Cohoes Knitting Factory, by Timothy Bailey. Mr.
B. employs about 50 operatives. In this factory are 18
knitting frames in operation, 800 spindles and 3 sets of
cards. About 1800 pairs shirts and drawers can be manu
factured per week by this machinery. About 1000 Ibs.
wool and the same amount of cotton are manufactured up
each week. Egberts & Bailey work up about 400 Ibs.
wool a day employing about 250 operatives."

A creditable feature of the early numbers of the Adver
tiser was the poetical column, sustained by local talent.
The chief contributors were S. H. Foster, for years a promi
nent lawyer of the place, and Wm. G. Caw, of the firm of
Caw & Quackenbush.



88 HISTORY OF COHOES. 1847.

In the issue of April 27th is first mentioned the Young
Men s Association, an organization which had been formed
a short time previous and afterwards became a prominent
institution of the place. Its objects were the formation of
a library, and the support of a lecture course, in which it
had a fair degree of success. The officers, as elected this
year, were : Luke Bernis, president; Henry D. Fuller, first
vice president; Geo. Abbott, second vice president; Jacob
W. Miller, corresponding secretary; Andrew Alexander,
recording secretary ; Joshua R. Clarke, treasurer. Managers :
J. M. Brown, H. En Earl Jr., Wm. Leckie, Daniel McEl-
wain, Charles O Brien, S. H. Foster, J. Van Santvoord, C.
A. Olmsted, C. A. Stevens, Darius Parkhurst, Wm. H.
S.Winans.

The first allusion in the columns of the paper to means
of communication between Cohoes and Troy was the follow
ing advertisement :

" COHOES AND TROY RAIL ROAD.

JVew arrangement.

On and after March 10th, the cars on this road will run
as follows :

Leave Cohoes Leave Troy

i 6 V 1

i 8 10J

i 11 1

i 2 5

5 t 6*

Perham and Pettis 1
Cohoes, March 7, 1847."

This Cohoes and Troy Rail Road was an institution estab
lished several years after the opening of the Troy and
Schenectady road. Perham and Pettis, who had succeeded
the Messrs. Fuller as proprietors of the stage line in 1843,
made an arrangement with the rail road officials by which
an extra car was attached to the westward bound trains.



1 The fare, as stated in a later advertisement, was 6^ cts. to Troy and 18& cts. to
Albany.



1847. HISTORY OF COHOES. 89

This car was dropped at Cohoes, and as the grade was heavy
between here and Troy, could be started on the downward
trip by simply loosening the brakes, and would acquire
sufficient momentum to carry it to the Troy bridge ; it was
then drawn to the station by horses. This method of travel
proved popular, and the investment doubtless paid. In the
Advertiser of July 6, it was stated that "1700 passengers
were carried over the Cohoes and Troy Rail Road yester
day." Beside the above route Messrs. Perharn and Pettis
kept possession of the stage line, and for some time enjoyed
a monopoly of the business. On June 8th, the following
advertisement appeared :

" COHOES AND ALBANY, SUMMER ARRANGEMENT."

Mail Stages.

The subscribers have placed upon the route a new and
commodious stage with four horses and will run for the
accommodation of passengers as follows : Leave Cohoes post
office at 1* P. M. Leave Albany Museum at 4 p. M. Fare
25 cents.

PERHAM and PETTIS."

However restricted in former years, Cohoes people appear
now to have had abundant facilities for travel. Another
stage line was announced soon after as follows :

" CLEAR THE TRACK !

NEW MAIL LINE.

Waterf ord, Cohoes, "West Troy and Albany

The undersigned having fitted up a neat coach for the
accommodation of the traveling public, and also for carrying
the mail, respectfully gives notice that he will, on and after
the 5th of October, run as follows:
Leave Cohoes for West Troy at 8 A. M., returning at 9 A. M.

" Waterf ord at 10 A. M., returning at 12.
" at li P. M., passing through West Troy at
2 P. M.

Returning, will leave Albany at 4 p. M.
12



90 HISTORY OF COHOES. 1847.

Fare from "Waterford to Albany, 25 cts.

" " Cohoes " " 25

" " " " Troy 12 Jets.

" Troy " Albany, 12 Jets.

The undersigned trusts that by punctuality and a fervent
desire to please, to merit a share of public patronage.

JAMES HUBBARD.
Cohoes, Sept. 29, 1847."

The project of connecting Van Schaick s Island with Co
hoes, which has been but recently carried out, has been
under discussion for many years. One of the earliest sug
gestions on record in regard to it is the following from the
Advertiser Nov. 14 :

" Some time since we called the attention of the people
to a proposed route for a railway between here and Troy
which would cost comparatively a small sum. The route
was to connect Van Schaick s Island to the main land at a
point east of the Dutch church by means of an open bridge,
and thus reach the line of the Saratoga and Troy rail road. . . .
The cheapness of this route and the fact of its decreasing
the present traveled distance between our village and Troy,
with which city our business relations are so extensive, are
conclusive in its favor."

The citizens of Cohoes have always responded liberally
to any call for aid to those in need, and the sufferings of the
Irish people from the famine of this year, for the relief of
which so much was done in this country, did not pass un
noticed here. An Irish Relief Association was formed,
which raised money sufficient for the purchase of fifty bar
rels of meal, which were sent to the sufferers. The follow
ing report, from G. J. Slocum, who furnished the meal,
shows the amounts contributed by different individuals as
chairmen of committees, etc.

D. P. McDonald, $33 00

Michael Donovan, 14 00

J. M. Brownson, 3 50

H. D. Fuller, 21 75

G. J. Slocum, 8 00



1847. HISTORY OF COHOES. 91

H. En Earl, 3 00

C. A. Olmsted, 37 50

Miles White, 23 50

Geo. Abbott, 2 50

Mr. Connaughty, 1 00

Luke Bemis, 62 50

Egberts & Bailey, 8 00

Egbert Egberts, 20 00

$238 25

A fire on the morning of Nov. 28th, destroyed the paint
mill belonging to Jeremiah Clute, situated near Courtland
street east of Mohawk, at a loss of $2,000. The Advertiser
took occasion to again urge the necessity of the organization
of a fire department, saying that if it had not been for
several inches of snow which fell during the previous night
severe damage would have been done to adjacent property.
An important addition to the religious bodies of Cohoes,
was St. Bernard s Catholic church, organized in the early
part of the year, by Rev. Bernard Van Reeth, a Belgian.
Mass was first said in an old shop, located on what was
then known as the Flats , and later, the services were held
in a carpenter s shop on the east side of Remsen street, just
below Howard. This building has since been moved to the
rear of the block now owned by Win. Healey, and is now
used as a dwelling. The Catholics in Cohoes, of all nation
alities, numbered at that time 300.

The corner stone of the church was laid Nov. 18th by
Bishop McCloskey, assisted by Rev. Father Van Reeth and
several other clergymen. The Advertiser, after describing
the ceremony, said : " We congratulate our citizens in the
prospect of having another handsome building to adorn our



1 This mill had not been long established. Another was soon afterward built by
Mr. Clute on the bank of a ravine about half way between the Cataract House and
the present East Harmony school-house. This was burned Feb. 21, 1850, and then
rebuilt, and then again burned March 3, 1852.



02 HISTORY OF COHOES. 1847.

village. We understand that the new church is to be a
gothic structure forty-five by eighty feet, with a tower and
spire. For ourselves, we wish the projectors every success."
During the year about forty buildings stores and dwell
ings were erected ; many of them being on Remsen street?
which within a short time had considerably increased in
importance. During 1846, the residence of Luke Beniis
(now S. A. Becker s) on the corner of Seneca and Remsen
streets, and the store and dwelling of W. H. Hollister, on
the northeast corner of Remsen and Oneida streets, had
been built ; the principal additions in the following year
were the Granite Hall Block, built by Mr. Baker, corner of
Ontario and Remsen streets ; the block of Caw & Quack-
enbush, southwest corner of Oneida and Remsen streets,
and the building adjoining it owned by Miller & Van
Santvoord, the two last named now forming Silliman s Block.
Another important structure, was a four story building,
forty by one hundred feet, erected by H. C. Billings of
Schenectady, just north of Seneca street, on the site of
Johnston s Block. This was used as a hotel, the ground
floor being occupied by stores, and the upper story as a
public hall. It was to be called the Claxton House, after
Col. F. S. Claxton, agent of the Cohoes Company, but the
name finally adopted was the Van JRensselaer House. It
was described in the Advertiser, as " similar totheDelavan
House, nr Albany." " This," said the editor, " in addition
to the buildings of Mr. Baker, Miller & Van Santvoord
and Caw & Quackenbush, the new Presbyterian and
Methodist churches, will render Remsen street the Broad
way of Cohoes."

In the rear of the hotel Mr. Billings commenced the erec
tion of a factory, in later years known as the Mohawk Mill,
the first story of which was completed in the latter part of
the year, but for some reason the building was not finished
until some time after.



1847. HISTORY OF COHOES. 93

Other new structures were the bedstead factory of Messrs.
Parkhurst, a brick building thirty-five by seventy feet, and
three stories high, which stood near the north end of the
present jute mill ; a brick store on the opposite side of the
street owned by Wm. N. Chadwick, which the editor de
scribed as the "handsomest store in the village," and a brick
school house on the corner of Canvass and Oneida streets,
which was built by A. L. Ferguson. Its erection was pro
cured mainly through the efforts of Messrs. J. W. Miller and
C. A. Olmsted, then school trustees. 1 Preparations were
also made by F. W. Farnam for the erection of the three
story brick store on Mohawk street, foot of Factory, which
now forms part of North s Block. A small wooden store on
its site, which had been occupied by the Messrs. Fuller, was
moved to the south corner of Remsen street and St. John s
alley, and used by J. M. Brown as a shoe store. It is now
owned and occupied by Mrs. Ira Terry. These improve
ments, indicating a good degree of prosperity, were made
the subject of frequent congratulations by the editor of the
Advertiser. One article, entitled " CANT HELP CROWING,"
after stating that " Cohoes and improvement are synony
mous " and enumerating the buildings then in progress,
concluded as follows :

" Now for a village charter for the water works three
or four good engines clean streets and a law limiting the
number of dogs in each family to two, a law also prohibit
ing swine running at large, and we are a made community."

1 This building remained in use until March, 1871, when it was sold to A. J.
Griffin, who converted it into a dwelling house.



94 HISTORY OF COHOES. 1848.

VI.

1848 TO 1854.

I^INCE 1840, there had been a wonderful increase in
the activity of Cohoes. The establishment of two large
cotton factories, a new knitting mill, and a number of mis
cellaneous concerns added greatly to the population and
business importance of the place. The hamlet of fifteen
years before, containing a score of houses, had now become
a thriving village, with every prospect of rapid growth ;
its development, after a long struggle, was well under way,
and the time had come for the inhabitants to take measures
for its systematic organization and improvement.

The necessity of incorporating the village had been for
some time felt by many citizens, but the project was
agitated for a year or more before the general feeling in its
favor was strong enough to carry it into effect.

In April 1847, the six weeks notice for application to the
legislature for a charter was filed, but nothing further was
accomplished. Agitation of the matter continued during
the year, and it was made the subject of numerous articles
in the Advertiser setting forth the benefits which would



Online LibraryArthur H. (Arthur Haynesworth) MastenThe history of Cohoes, New York [electronic resource] from its earliest settlement to the present time → online text (page 8 of 30)