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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indicated a fair degree of prosperity.

There were three knitting mills, run respectively by the
Bailey Manufacturing Company, C. H. Adams, and G. Steer,
agent for Thomas Fowler. They employed 750 hands, and
produced 45,000 dozen goods annually. The production of
the cotton mills was as follows:

Harmony Mills, 2,652,000 yards per annum.
Ogden Mills, 4,090,000 " " "

Strong " 800,000 " " "

The total number of hands employed was about 800.

In October a new mill was completed by the Harmony
Company, adjoining their first building. It was 274 by 75



1 These works, which were on Sargent street, continued in use until 1869, when
the company needed more room, and erected the buildings occupied by them at
present on the east side of the Champlain Canal, the producing capacity of which is
250,000 cubic feet per day, five times that of the old works.



120 HISTORY OF COHOES. 1853.

feet and five stories high, with an L, 50 by 75 feet, which
made the dimensions of the whole building 493 by 75 feet.

Other establishments described were Simmons s axe fac
tory, Hurst s worsted mill, the Cohoes Iron Foundery (then
superintended by Joshua R. Clarke), the bedstead factory
of Parkhursts & Fullers (formerly O. & D. Parkhurst),
Wightman & Youraan s wheel factory, Burton s veneering
mill, Peck s sash and blind factory, and John Baker s bob
bin factory, situated in the same building. There were also
several new firms. The Mohawk Mill, Samuel Bilbrough
proprietor, and Win. Baxter superintendent, which had been
established the previous year, was located in the building
formerly used as Farnam s thread factory, and employed
one hundred hands, producing 500,000 pounds of carpet
warp and fine yarns per year. The Novelty Works,
Joseph Haskins proprietor, were in the same building and
employed twenty-five hands in the manufacture of twine.
This concern soon afterward failed and Mr. Bilbrough took
possession of the entire building. On Courtland street,
east of Mohawk, a tobacco and cigar factory employing
fifty hands was established by D. Cady Hollister & Co.,
and in the Miles White axe factory building on Mohawk

street, a woolen mill commenced operations, Hartness

proprietor, and Jonathan Hiller superintendent.

A cotton flax mill on Ontario street, near the site of
Brockway s Mill had been erected in the Spring by Bailey,
Payson and Younglove. It was burned in October, however,
at a loss of $6000, before operations had been fairly com
menced.

The flourishing state of business was commented upon as
follows by the Cataract :

11 In proportion to its size, there is probably no place in
the state of greater enterprise or business capacity than the



1 After remaining in operation a short time this establishment had been removed
to Mechanicsville.



1853. HISTORY OF COHOES. 121

village of Cohoes. To strangers, the statistics, if they could
be obtained, would seem incredible, and would undoubtedly
be thought exaggerated even by citizens. When we con
sider that it is scarcely more than ten years since this place
was little better than a wilderness, the wonder becomes still
greater, and forces upon the mind the conviction that in
half, perhaps a quarter of a century, Cork Hill and Codfish
Flats will be near the centre of a large and wealthy city."

The changes of time were thus spoken of in the issue of
Oct. 1:

" Our village is not old enough to have an extended history
but we must confess our surprise in looking over a copy of
the Advertiser, published in 1847, to note the changes which
time has wrought in this village even in so short time. Of
all the persons and firms advertising their business in the
place there are but six who are now residing here and con
tinuing the same business. Many have moved away, some
have changed their avocations, and many have gone to that
bourne whence no traveler returns. And this is only six
years, but yesterday !"

The Young Men s Association, before referred to, was in
flourishing condition this year. The lecture committee,
consisting of Wm. Manning, T. C. Carter, and Win. G.
Caw, provided an excellent course, which was well supported.
Among the speakers of the season were Profs. John Foster,
Lowell Mason, and L. N. Fowler, Hon. Ira Harris, Isaac
Edwards Esq., and Mrs. E. Oakes Smith.

Among the chief topics of public interest was the Free
Bridge question, which occupied a large share of the local
columns of the Cataract for some months. The Waterford
bridge, together with the residence of the gate keeper, Mr.
Bonce, was entirely destroyed by fire March 13th. A meet
ing was soon afterward called, of which T. G. Younglove
was president and John Fulton secretary, to take measures
for the construction of a free bridge, and a committee was
appointed to confer with the legislature on the subject.
Considerable difficulty was experienced in procuring the
passage of a suitable bill, as it was held by some parties
16



122 HISTORY OF COHOES. 1854.

that the state should construct nothing but a towing path
bridge. Arrangements were finally concluded, however, by
which the state was to build the main body of the bridge,
and be entitled to the right of a towing path, while the piers
and abutments were to be paid for by subscriptions from
the citizens of Cohoes and vicinity. The contract was let
in January, 1854, to Messrs. Smith and Bogue.

In the Cataract of May 20, at which time the bridge was
nearly completed it was stated that " a large meeting of the
friends of a free bridge across the Mohawk at this place
was held this week, pursuant to a call of the citizens of
Cohoes and Waterford, at the house of David Lamb of the
latter place. Moses Bedell was appointed to solicit sub
scriptions in Saratoga County, and Adam Van Der Werken
to perform the same duties in the county of Albany. John
Fulton, Esq., of Waterford was appointed treasurer." The
bridge was completed so that wagons passed over on the
4th of July. It cost originally about $25,000 and $15,000
more were afterward expended in repairs.

Another matter frequently discussed in the newspaper at
that time (and in fact at intervals ever since) was the bad con
dition of the cemetery. This first received public attention
at the annual meeting in 1852, when on motion of Mr. H.
D. Fuller $400 were voted for purchasing and improving
the grounds. No action was taken until the following year,
when at the citizen s meeting held March 3d, it was re
solved, " that a committee be appointed for the purpose of
making a selection of grounds suitable for a village ceme
tery, said committee to consist of one person from each of
the religious congregations of the village, and two from
the village at large." The report of this committee was
published in the Cataract, from which the following extract
is taken : " They report that the wooded land south of Mr.
Gage s, and belonging to Douw A. Fonda, can be purchased
with right of way included for $200 per acre and is a very



1854. HISTORY OF COHOES. 123

desirable location ; that the present grounds can be ob
tained of the Cohoes Company for $100, and about eight
acres north of and adjoining them can be purchased for
$150 per acre. The committee recommend the purchase of
the former in case the village wishes to expend five or six
thousand dollars in clearing and beautifying the grounds,
but if not, then they recommend the latter and say that the
judicious expenditure of $400, in improving the old ceme
tery, will make it a very good place." Nothing was done
after this report until 1854, when the condition of the
cemetery became so bad as to call forth the severest com
ments. At the annual meeting a further appropriation of
$300 was voted, and the following resolutions passed :

" Resolved, That the village accept the offer of T. G.
Younglove in behalf of the Cohoes Company, of the ceme
tery grounds as a gift to the village by said Cohoes Com
pany for a merely nominal sum.

" Resolved, That the thanks of this village be tendered
to the Cohoes Company for their liberality in bestowing the
cemetery grounds to the village of Cohoes."

A committee was appointed to superintend the improve
ments, consisting of Egbert Egberts, H. D. Fuller, H. B.
Silliman, Jacob Travis and Matthew Fitzpatrick.

During the winter of 1853-54 the foundation was laid
for the establishment of the Harmony Hill Union Sabbath
School, an institution which has since been the means of
doing great good in the place. It was organized originally as
a branch of the Baptist Sunday School with Jas. Lansing as
superintendent. The first regular election was held May 7,
1854, and resulted in the choice of Stephen Slocum as superin
tendent. At this meeting the total attendance was eighteen,
as follows four officers, three teachers, eleven scholars.

On July 8, the Strong Mill was burned. The original
building, together with an addition of about the same size
which was nearly completed, was almost entirely destroyed^
Some of the machinery and most of the stock was saved,



124 HISTORY OF COHOES. 1854.

the entire loss not exceeding $16,000. One person was
killed and several seriously injured by the falling of a wall
during the progress of the fire.

The growth of the village continued to be rapid, and
preparations were made for a number of new business enter
prises. Among the buildings erected for manufacturing
purposes were the bedstead factory of Jeremiah Clute on
Mohawk street (on the site of Campbell & Clute s block) ;
the flouring mill of J. M. Hayward, corner of Remsen and
Ontario streets, into which Mr. H. moved from the Baldwin
machine shop, and the rolling mill (now Morrison, Colwell &
Page s), built by Mr. Simmons. The Cataract commented
as follows on the improvements of the year:

" IN THREE YEARS Colioes may apply for a city charter.
The present population cannot be far from 6,000, and when
the factories now in progress get into operation it will pro
bably go up to 10,000. About 100 dwellings will be erected
during the season, and rumor is busy about several other
large manufacturing establishments. Hundreds of thou
sands of dollars are being invested here which cannot but
prove profitable to the owners and give our village an im
pulse such as she has never before received."



1855. HISTORY OF COIIOES. 125



VII.

1855 TO 1860.

J_HE census of 1855 showed that the population of
Oohoes had been trebled within the past decade. The re
sults of this began now to be shown in a demand for further
improvements, for a different organization of the local go
vernment, and numerous other changes made necessary by
the increased size of the village. For the next few years
the steady growth of the place was manifested not so much
by a large influx of new inhabitants, but by constant addi
tions to its wealth, business importance and material im
provements.

An act was passed May 1 2th which amended the charter
in several important particulars. The village was divided
into three wards; provision was made for the election of
the presidents of the village and board of education, from
the village at large; two trustees from each ward were to
be voted for at the first election, one for the term of one,
and the other for two years, and at each annual election
thereafter one was to be elected to hold two years ; in the
same manner two school commissioners from each ward
were to be chosen; the school law of 1850 was repealed
and a new one enacted, similar in its provisions ; the levy
ing of a poll tax for school purposes was directed, new
powers and duties were assigned to the trustees, and several
minor changes in regard to the duties of village officials
were made. The first election under the act was to be held
on the third Tuesday of April, in the following year.

Since the passage of the act of 1850, the schools of the
village had been greatly improved. At times there was
discussion or complaint about some objectionable feature,
but the system on the whole was better than those in vogue



126 HISTORY OF COHOES. 1855.

elsewhere. The following, published in the Albany Knicker
bocker in January, shows how its workings were regarded
in neighboring cities:

" The advantage of having our public schools entirely
free is shown by the experience of Cohoes. Under the part
pay system the number of pupils who attended school was
less than four hundred. At present it is over eight hundred.
This fact should not be lost on the legislature. It shows
that what is done in Cohoes, should be done in every town
in the state."

Besides the schools under control of the village there
were also in operation the parish school connected with St.
John s church, and a private school under the direction of
Rev. Stephen Bush, who erected a building for the purpose
on Mohawk street near the foot of Seneca street. 1

The following list of the village schools and teachers for
this year, compared with that of 1851, shows the extent of
the improvements in educational facilities :

" Brick School House (Oneida street). Mr. H. B. Thayer,
Miss M. Hildreth, Miss A. Caldwell, Miss Van Der Werken.

Catholic Church. Mr. J. Eccles, Miss L. Goffe, Miss E.
Brooks.

Dutch Church. Miss M. Henderson.

Egberts House (Columbia street.-) Mr. R. Thompson,
Miss L. Benedict, Miss L. Van Schaick, Miss Moe.

Red School Housed Miss M. Jefferson.

East Harmony Hill* Miss Caroline Brown.

West Harmony Hill. Miss S. H. Bannard."



1 It afterward came under control of the board of education. It was in 1861 re
moved to a lot just north of the Reformed church, and was destroyed in 1873.

2 This was a building belonging to Mr. Egberts on the corner of Columbia and

Main streets, which had been erected some years before by Craudell. It stood

near the site of the present brick school house which was erected soon afterward.
The original building was for some time rented as a tenement.

3 These buildings were erected during 1854 and 55. The first was on School
street, near the site of the present school house, for which it was exchanged with
the Harmony Company. The second was on Vliet street near Willow. Previous
to its erection the only school house on the Harmony Hill was an old wooden
building nearly opposite, on the site now occupied by the boarding houses. The
West Harmony School House remained in use until 1863, when it was sold, the
building on Mangam street now in use having been completed.



1855. HISTORY OF COHOES. 127

The erection during the year of a large number of dwell
ings and several buildings for manufacturing purposes, gave
further evidence of the growth of the place. The Cataract
said : " There has not been a season for several years when
business was as promising in Cohoes as this spring." Promi
nent among the new business concerns were The Mohawk
River Mills on Remsen street. The company, of which
Joshua Bailey was president, had been organized in March
of the previous year, with a capital of $150,000. Their
building, 350 by 75 feet and four stories high, was described
as the largest knitting mill in the world, and cost with
the machinery $120,000. The company employed 600 hands
and operated eleven sets of machinery. l

Another new firm was the Albany Pin Company, also
incorporated in 1854, with a capital of $35,000. The
officers were L. S. Parsons, president ; Louis Spanier,
treasurer ; C. W. Bender, secretary. The company manu
factured solid headed pins, using twenty-seven machines. 2

In March the knitting mill of Thomas Fowler was bought
by J. G. Root of Albany, who, with L. S. Parsons established
the Tivoli Hosiery Mill, under the firm name of J. G. Root
& Co. Mr. Egberts erected the buildings on Remsen
street now known as the Diamond and Globe Mills,



1 In July, 1859, the name of the establishment was changed to Clifton Mills
and a new company was formed, of which A. E. Stimson of Albany was the princi
pal stockholder, and Winsor Stone ;agent. In Oct., 1861, the Clifton Company
was organized with a capital of $100,000, the officers being as follows : president,
T. G. Younglove ; treasurer and general manager, A. E. Stimson ; secretary, E.
L. Stimson. The company suffered reverses in the late panic, and the busines
was discontinued in Oct. 1875.

2 This establishment was in June, 1862, sold to T. G. Younglove, having been
idle over a year. In August, he sold to Arthur T . Becker, who commenced opera
tions at once, Robert Johnston becoming a partner soon after. Mr. Johnston sold
his interest in Nov., 1863, to Heber T. Lyon. This firm was succeeded June, 1865,
by the American Pin Company, and Cohoes Pin Company, followed later by the
Empire Pin Company of which E. S. & W. H. Harris of Albany, were principal
proprietors, and G. M. Morris, superintendent. The business was in 1874 removed
to Winsted, Conn., and the new building of the company on Courtland street sold
to Tubbs & Severson in May 1876.



128 HISTORY OF COIIOES. 1855.

the middle one of which was occupied by the Pin Company,
and also by Root & Co. who still retained possession
however, of the old Fowler Mill.

Another knitting mill, the Halcyon, was established by
Barber and Leckie in a building on Ontario street which
has since become part of Brockway s Mill. This building
was erected at the same time as the Mohawk River Mills
and had been used among other purposes as a shop for the
construction of some of the machinery of the mill. 1

The census of this year gave the following statement of
Cohoes industries :

6 Knitting mills, value of product, $647 100

2 a Cotton factories, C18 000

1 Axe and edge tool factory, 210 000

2 Bedstead factories, 45 000

1 Veneering factory, 42 000

2 Mills, 28 000

1 Machine shop and foundry, 34 200

1 Tobacco factory, 21 450

1 Shoddy mill, 21 840

1 Wheel factory, 9 000

1 Straw paper factory, 9 000

1 Bobbin factory, 6 000

Among the improvements made necessary by the growth
of the place was a new system of water works. On April
10th a bill was passed incorporating the Cohoes Water
Works Company, of which Alfred Wild was president. The
following were named as commissioners : Chas. M. Jenkins,
Hugh White, Alfred Wild, Egbert Egberts, Jas. Brown,
Joshua Bailey, Wm. N. Chadwick, Wm. Burton, Henry D.
Fuller, Andrew D. Lansing, Jenks Brown and Truman G.



1 In 1857, this firm was succeeded by the Halcyon Knitting Company, and the
business removed to the new factory on Erie street.

2 The Strong mill was rebuilt during the year, but did not commence operations
till 1857.



1855. HISTORY OF COHOES. 129

Younglove. By the terms of the charter the capital stock
was $50,000, which might be increased to $250,000. The
company was authorized to make agreements with the
Cohoes Company for the use of water or the purchase of
its works, and the latter corporation was authorized to take
stock in the water works company to an amount not exceed
ing $20,000.

The subscription books were opened in August. Mr.
James Slade was employed as engineer to make estimates
on the cost of a new reservoir and reported as follows :
"A reservoir on Prospect Hill, of a size to contain 1,000,000
gallons of water, will cost $12,507, exclusive of the land and
earth of which the banks may be built. The hill belonging
to Mr. Lansing (Abraham), near lock No. 17, Erie Canal,
contains 8 acres. A reservoir on this hill to contain
3,000,000 gallons of water will cost $12,727, exclusive of
the land."

Some dissatisfaction arose among the citizens in regard
to the organization of this company. The opinion of many
was that the water works should be the property of the
village, and not of any private corporation. Out of respect
for this feeling against a monopoly, the project was aban
doned, no active steps having as yet been taken. The
pressing necessity of having a more adequate water supply
still remained, however, and demanded immediate action.
A new plan was accordingly set on foot, which resulted in
the preparation, early in 1856, of the first draft of the " Act
to provide for a supply of water in the village of Cohoes,"
still in force. The commissioners named in the bill were Alfred
Wild, Chas. H. Adams, Henry D. Fuller, Wm. F. Carter,



1 It is worthy of notice that one of the projects for supplying Albany with water,
which were submitted by F. S. Claxton, engineer, to the authorities of that city in
1849, embraced the idea of a reservoir on Prospect Hill. The water was to be
raised from the Cohoes Company s canals to a reservoir on the hill which was to
cover two acres of ground, and to be thence conveyed to the distributing reservoir
in Albany, by means of an indestructible pipe three feet in diameter.

17



130 HISTORY OF COHOES. 1857.

Joshua Bailey and Truman G. Younglove. They were
authorized to take all necessary steps for securing an abund
ant and reliable supply of water, and to meet their expen
ditures the trustees were authorized to issue the bonds of
the village to an amount not exceeding $60,000 ; the com
missioners were directed to purchase the pipes and hydrants
belonging to the Cohoes Company, and then in use, and
were authorized if they found best, to enter into arrange
ments for a supply of water from the company s canals.
The bill at first met with some opposition and a meeting was
called March 13 to remonstrate against its introduction. The
chief objections urged were in regard to the term of office
of the commissioners, the appraisal of lands, and the manner
of letting contracts. Chas. H. Adams addressed the meet
ing in favor of the measure, and satisfactorily explained
some of the obnoxious passages, and after the appointment
of a committee to hear arguments for and against it, an
adjournment was moved. The committee reported the
following week in favor of the passage of the bill, which
had been amended in several particulars, and a resolution
was passed urging its presentation. It was passed April
12th, but new difficulties arose, which prevented the com
mencement of any work until the following year.

The chief obstacle was a disagreement between the com
missioners and the Cohoes Company, which asked $6,000
for its works, as established, while the commissioners pro
posed to pay but $3,000. The company s reason for asking
$6,000, was that under the new arrangement it would be
obliged to pay for the use of water in its works which it
was then drawing from its own canals, a sum equal to the
interest on that amount. An understanding was reached
in May, 1857, and the agreement between the parties was
drawn up and signed by the representative of the company.
A number of citizens objected, however, claiming that the
village could be supplied with water at cheaper rates, and



1857. HISTORY OF COHOES. 131

another series of public meetings followed. A committee,
consisting of I. F. Fletcher, J. F. Crawford, D. J. Johnston,
I. Quackenbush, Wm. Burton, H. B. Silliman and G. L.
Witbeck, was appointed to investigate the subject. Upon
the presentation of their report June 27th, which stated that
the best course was to fall back on the proposal of the Co-
hoes Company, the matter was arranged without further
controversy. The other plans which the committee had
considered were : 1st, to purchase a water privilege in
Crescent, and distribute directly from thence ; 2d, to pur
chase the mill privilege owned by L D. F. Lansing near
the Cohoes Company s dam ; both of which would entail an
expense far exceeding the price asked by the Cohoes Com
pany for its works, and water rent. Work was accordingly
commenced on the new reservoir at once, and the contract
was let in July. The ceremony of breaking ground took
place August 13, and was thus spoken of in the Cataract:
"The water commissioners and village trustees together
with a large number of citizens were present, each trying
his hand at the plow. After the ceremonies on the grounds,
the company was invited by Mr. L. Van Dercar, the con
tractor, to partake of a collation served up at the Hotel in
Mr. Wilkins s best style ; after which appropriate speeches
were made and sentiments offered, making it altogether an
occasion of unusual interest."

The most noticeable fact in the history of Cohoes manu
factures since 1854, was the sudden increase of knitting
mills. The only accessions of importance to the business
interests of the place during 1856 were of this character.
In February of that year Messrs. Willard Bingham and
Alden & Frink purchased " the vacant lot south of G. L.
Witbeck s store," on Mohawk street, and erected thereon
the knitting mill now standing between Campbell & Clute s
and North s Block. The building was pushed rapidly



Online LibraryArthur H. (Arthur Haynesworth) MastenThe history of Cohoes, New York [electronic resource] from its earliest settlement to the present time → online text (page 11 of 30)