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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forward, and the mill, containing three sets of machinery,
was in operation in July of the same year. Another mill
was established by Messrs. L. W. Mansfield, John Maxwell


and Chas. Hay, who took possession of the building on
Courtland street which had previously been occupied by
Hollister & Co., as a tobacco factory, and put in operation
two sets of machinery. 1 Messrs. Maxwell > Hay did not
remain long in the firm, and the business was subsequently
carried on by Mr. Mansfield alone.

In 1857 still further additions to this branch of business
were made. The building on Erie street, now occupied by
the Ranken Knitting Company, was erected by Wm. Burton
and taken possession of by the Halcyon Knitting Company,
C. P. Barber, agent, which ran four sets of machinery. The
building, 60 by 60 feet, and five stories high, was de
scribed by the Cataract as one of the finest mills in the
place. Another large mill, 46 by 80 feet, and four stories
high, was erected by Smith, Gregory & Co., who put in
operation three sets of machinery. The parties interested
were Wm. Smith, Wm. M. and Alex. M. Gregory, of Albany,
and J. R. Bullock, of Cohoes. 2 Knitting machinery was
also introduced by R. Hurst, in his mill at the junction of
Remsen and Mohawk streets.

Concerning inventions made in knitting machinery by
Cohoes~ mechanics, the Cataract of August 16, contained
the following :

" We notice by the last number of the Scientific Ame
rican, that Augustus J. and Demas Goffe of this village
have obtained a patent for a new rotary knitting machine.
This makes the sixth invention of the kind by citizens of
Cohoes. The first was the old " reciprocating frame," by
Timothy Bailey, which is still used in the Adams and
Mohawk River Mills. This was the first power knitting
machine ever invented, but it was never patented. The next

1 The subsequent occupants of this mill were Alden, Frink & Weston, 1862-66;
Ward & Robinson, 1866-67 ; Scott & Stewart, 1867-73. It was destroyed by fire in

Mr. Bullock remained a partner for about two years. Mr. Smith died in 1869,
and his interest was bought by Jonathan Hiller, the firm name being Gregorys &
Hiller. After the death of Alex. Gregory, in 1875, the remaining partners became
sole proprietors.


is that of John Maxwell, which is somewhat similar in con
struction and operation to that of Bailey. Then came the
" warp " machine of S. D. Fairbank, which was followed
by John Jackson s, also a " warp " machine. These were
succeeded by a new rotary knitter by Mr. Bailey (the in
ventor above spoken of), which has been in operation only
a few months. The last is that of the Messrs. Goffe."

A department of industry connected with the knitting
business was the manufacture of knitting needles, com
menced by Henry Dawson, who located in the latter part
of the year, in the foundery building on Mohawk street.

The importance of the cotton interest here was increased
during the year by the erection of part of the Harmony
Mill No. 2, having a capacity of 20,000 spindles, and giving
employment to nearly 500 operatives. It was about this
time, too, that the hill began to share in the general growth
of the village. In 1856 the Harmony Company had pur
chased from Hugh White his farm of seventy acres on Pros
pect Hill, and laid it out into building lots. The erection
of tenements and private residences followed rapidly. The
Cataract of Jan. 31st noted the awarding of a contract to
John Blair and E. Wolford " for twenty-two brick buildings
on Harmony Hill which will require 1,300,000 bricks."

In August the Cohoes and Troy telegraph, built by W. C.
Enos and J. C. Elmore, went into operation. It was managed
by a stock company, with a capital of $1000, the officers of
which were : president, Daniel Simmons ; secretary and trea
surer, E. W. Fuller ; directors, Dr. H. L. Landon, Ira Terry
and Joseph Chadwick. The telegraph office, Henry E. Lasell
operator, was established in the rail road depot. The first
despatch passed over the wires August 31st. In October
H. R. Grant became operator and the office was located in
his store on Remsen street.

Besides the factories already spoken of, a number of new
buildings were erected, many of them residences. Several
new stores appeared on Remsen street, among them one


owned by Joshua Bailey (now by C. H. Adams), adjoining
Hay-ward s building, and one owned by Patrick Gugerty
(now by Thos. Cartwright), north of the Van Renssclaer
Block. The latter was noticed in the Cataract as " the first
marble front in the village." The following statistics of build
ings in Cohoes are from the town assessment roll of 1857:

" The whole number of dwellings is 733, of which 567
are wood and 166 of brick.

No. of stores 56. No. of furnaces 1.

" " factories 21. " " forges 1.

" " saw-mills 2. " " coal and wood yards 5.

" " grist-mills 2. " " lumber yards 1."

In the latter part of the year the great financial panic
which passed over the country commenced to be felt in
Cohoes, and had for a time a paralyzing effect on the in
dustries of the place. In the Cataract of October 10th,
an account of the condition of the different manufacturing
concerns was given. The three cotton mills were running
on part time, the wages remaining the same except in the
Harmony Mills, where a reduction of ten per cent had been
made ; of the knitting mills, four were stopped entirely and
the remainder were running on reduced time, with the in
tention of closing as soon as the stock on hand was finished ;
S. Bilbrough was running on half time and D. Simmons &
Co. had discharged one-third of their men. The article
concluded as follows :

"It is unnecessary to add that with 2000 of our citizens
almost entirely out of employment, and the gloomy prospect
before us, Cohoes presents anything but an agreeable
picture." The following paragraph appeared Nov. 28th.
" At present there is no definite prospect that the various
mills of this village will run full time before spring. With
the exception of Messrs. Alden, Frink & Bingham s es
tablishment, the knitting mills are either finishing up their
old stock or are stopped entirely. Their mill is running
two-thirds of the time. In the cotton mills no material


change has taken place. They are running about two-thirds
of the time." Elsewhere it was said: "Notwithstanding
the tightness of the times, the Harmony Company are finish
ing up the extensive buildings connected with their mills.
When they are completed and the plans connected therewith
executed, their mills will be the most extensive and the
most perfectly arranged of any in the state." It was feared
that the embarrassments of Garner & Co., of New York,
might have a disastrous effect on the Harmony Company,
but such was not the case. The honorable reputation of
the house made it an easy matter to secure the necessary
extensions, and in the early part of 1858 arrangements were
made with the creditors of the firm by which all their mills
could be started on full time. Concerning Mr. Garner the
following appeared in the New York Mirror in October
of that year: "The splendid carriage and horses which
were seen in Broadway a few days since with a ticket on
their backs For sale, belonged to Mr. Garner, who recently
failed for millions. He has moved from his splendid resi
dence in the Avenue to a small two story house in the sev
enth ward. This is an example of the right sort."

The stringency of the times was especially felt by the
laboring classes, who found it impossible to obtain work.
The announcement in the early part of November that the
junction locks were to be rebuilt was hailed with satisfaction,
as it promised to give employment to a number of men.

But in spite of this and the other enterprises which were
in progress here, hundreds of laborers were idle during the
winter, and the suffering was very great. A meeting was
called February 1st, 1858, to take measures for the relief of
the poor. The sum of $125 was raised at once, and com
mittees were appointed to disburse the same and make
further arrangements. The following gentlemen were de
signated to receive contributions: D. J. Johnston, E. W.
Fuller, Jacob Travis, H. B. Sillirnan, Jenks Brown, Francis


Henderson, T. G. Younglove, II. "R. Grant, James Hem-
street, J. R. Clarke, Wm. Acheson, Joseph Chadwick, S.
Hay ward, G. L. Witbcck. Among the measures taken by
the committee for the aid of the poor, was the establishment
of a soup-house at the engine rooms in Cataract alley which
remained in operation some time, and afforded relief during
the months of February and March to five hundred sufferers.

In the spring the prospect began to improve. The new
mills, into which machinery had been placed during the
latter part of 1857, commenced operations, and several of
the factories which had been for some months closed were
started up on full time. During March strikes occurred
among the operatives in the Harmony and Ogden Mills and
D. Simmons & Co. s axe factory, the cause being that the
reduction in wages made the previous autumn had not been
completely restored. The differences were settled without
much difficulty however, and work was resumed in a few

On March 5th an act introduced by Hon. C. IT. Adams, as
semblyman from this district, was passed by the legislature,
" enabling the electors of the town of Watervliet to vote
by districts for the election of town officers." The third
district constituted by this law embraced Cohoes, and the
citizens were no longer compelled to go out to Van Vran-
ken s Corners to vote a change which gave great satis
faction, for the country roads were generally in an almost
impassable condition at the time of holding town elections.

On the 19th of April, a fire broke out in the picking room
of the Harmony Mills which for a time threatened the de
struction of the entire establishment, but was fortunately
kept under control by the exertions of the firemen, who
were assisted by Nos. 4 and 5 of Lansingburg. The
damage to machinery and building amounted to $10,000.
The Lansiugburg firemen were hospitably entertained by
the village department, and their services were handsomely
rewarded by the Harmony Company.


Another fire, on the night of May 8th, destroyed the
" Wilkinson machine shop" with several small outbuildings
which had been used in connection with the axe factory.
The building had played an important part in the early his
tory of Cohoes manufactures, having been the location at
different times, of a dozen business enterprises. The occu
pants at this date were: Charles M. Carleton, silk weaver,
John Baker, bobbin turner, G. R. Archer, picker manufac
turer, Mr. O Hare, wagon maker and Porter & Hall, file
cutters. The total loss was $7,000, of which $4,000 were in
sured. The property was owned by Mrs. C. A. Olmsted of
New York. The Cataract in describing the fire said: " Our
firemen were promptly on hand and did most efficient service
in subduing and preventing the flames from communicating
to the adjoining buildings. They are a body of men of
whom we may be justly proud. Although many excellent
companies were here from abroad, our noble firemen proved
themselves equal to any on the ground."

Another loser by this fire was A. J. Griffin, who had ma
chinery and stock stored in the building to the value of
$500 or $600, and intended soon to commence the manu
facture of sashes and blinds. After the fire his establish
ment was located in the mill on Ontario street (now
Brockway s) which had been recently vacated by Barber
& Leckie. Another concern occupying the same building
at this time was the bedstead factory established by Scott
& Miner, the firm soon afterward being changed to Scott
& Hildreth. 1

The Cataract for June 5th, contained the following :
" Our Sprinkler. Any one who contemplates writing up
the rise and progress of Cohoes, will please bear in mind
that on Monday, May 31st, 1858, Thos. Van Dercar, an

1 Soon after the death of Mr. Scott in 1863, the business was sold by Mr. Hil
dreth to L. Greenman. The latter had for some time as his superintendent, Wm.
Foote, who had been connected formerly with the bedstead factory established by
Jeremiah Clute. In 1865, P. S. Holsapple, the present proprietor, became interested
in the business and assumed sole control February 1869.


enterprising citizen, introduced the first street sprinkler, to
the infinite delight and satisfaction of the citizens, who
could hardly be restrained from manifesting their gratifica
tion by forming a procession and marching in the rear of
the perambulating shower."

The block on the corner of Remsen and White streets,
which had been commenced by Mr. Egberts in April of the
previous year, was completed this spring. The hall in the
third story was formally opened on the evening of July
8th, by a concert given by " the choir of St. Paul s church,
Troy, and other eminent artists," under the direction of the
ladies of St. John s church of this place. The programme of
the evening, which was described as the most attractive ever
presented to a Cohoes audience, was prefaced by the reading
of some dedicatory verses, by Mr. Dunham of West Troy.
The erection of the building, which was then one of the
finest in the place, was a source of great satisfaction to the
community, who had long suffered from the lack of a proper
hall for entertainments. The room in the second story, now
occupied by the common council chamber, was leased in
May by the trustees for village purposes, according to a
recommendation made by President Landon in his annual
report, in which he stated that, "the trustees will be under
the necessity of asking at the annual meeting for an appro
priation to rent a suitable room in some convenient locality
for the purpose of meeting, the present room being entirely
too small for the ordinary transaction of business, it being
used as a trustees room, and a room for the board of edu
cation, as also for a village library room, and as a place for
the board of health to meet. Adding the tables, desks and
book cases of these several departments, renders it totally
inadequate for the necessities required. The room adjoin
ing, occupied by engine company No. 1, is altogether too
contracted for the use of that company."

On the evening of Sept. 10th, a meeting was called at the
Methodist church for the purpose of organizing a Young


Men s Christian Association, of which H. B. Silliman was
chosen chairman and W. T. Dodge, secretary. The follow
ing were appointed as a committee to draft a constitution:
Herbert Hastings, Peter LeBoeuf, II. B. Silliman, A. Peck,
D. II. Van Auken, D. J. Johnston, Jas. II. Hasten, Wm. Nut-
tall, Wm. Williams, Joseph Chadwick. The first officers
of the association, who were elected Sept. 27, were as follows:
president, H. B. Silliman; vice presidents, Jno. V. S. Lan
sing, I. Quackenbush, C. N. Gregory, H. Hastings and Wm.
Nuttall; corresponding secretary, C. F. Ingraham; recording
secretary, W. T. Dodge ; treasurer, D. J. Johnston; mana
gers, Wm. Benedict, F. Thompson, Silas Whitney, J. H.

The completion of the water works received the follow
ing comment in the Cataract of Dec. 4. " On Wednesday
last, December 1st, the water from the new reservoir was,
for the first time, let into the pipes, and with the most grati
fying results. A trial being had for the purpose of deter
mining the pressure of the water in the pipes, a stream
was thrown completely over Root s knitting mill without
difficulty, and a stream was also thrown in a horizontal di
rection one hundred feet. There was but one break in the
whole length of the pipes laid down and that was not a
serious one. We consider this an event of local importance
second to none in the history of our village, and its citizens
may justly pride themselves on so valuable an acquisition
as the Cohoes Water Works." The reservoir, which has a
capacity of 3,000,000 gallons, covers two acres of ground.
Under the arrangements then made the water was raised
one hundred feet from the upper level of the Cohoes Com
pany s Canal to the reservoir at the rate of 35,000 gallons
per hour, passing through 1200 feet of ten inch pipe. A
large number of pipes were laid, so that including those
which had belonged to the Cohoes Company, there were
then five miles of pipes of sheet-iron and cement, from two to


ten inches in diameter laid throughout the village ; additional
fire hydrants were also placed at various points at an aver
age distance of four hundred feet apart. The pump house,
containing accommodations for a hose company, was built
by P. B. Ferguson and John Me Enemy, under direction of
Joshua R. Clarke. Wm. Dickey had the contract for street
excavations, and Robert Safely that for hydrants and gates.
The pump was driven by a forty-five horse power wheel,
designed by E. Geyelin of Philadelphia, and constructed
by Fuller & Safely of Cohoes who were builders of all the
pumping machinery. It was put in place under superin
tendence of D. H. Van Auken, engineer. The entire cost
of the works was $60,000.

In February, 1859, measures were taken for the establish
ment of a bank, an institution much needed, and one which
had been talked of ever since the incorporation of the village.
The stock, $100,000, was taken almost entirely by citizens
of the place. The first officers, who were elected in March,
were as follows: president, Egbert Egberts ; cashier, James
M. Sill, of Albany; directors, Egbert Egberts, Daniel
Simmons, T. G. Younglove, Wm. Orelup, Jr., "Wm. G. Caw,
W. F. Carter, J. G. Root, John Sill and C. H. Adams.

The death of Dr. Henry L. Landon, March llth, made
vacant the office of president of the village. An election
was accordingly held by the trustees, which resulted in the
choice of Jenks Brown to fill the vacancy.

In April the Reformed Dutch church was torn down to
give place to the one now standing on the site. In demol
ishing the building, the tin box was found which had been
placed there at the laying of the corner stone in Sept. 1838.
Among the documents it was found to contain was a copy
of the Bible, of the constitution of the United States and of
the different states in the union, the catechisms, constitution
and articles of faith of the Reformed Dutch church, a list
of those who formed the first consistory and the first build-


ing committee a copy of the Albany Aryus and the
Christian Intelligencer , and a record of the exercises which
took place at the time.

The corner stone of the new church was laid on June 22d,
with the following ceremonies: "The stone was laid by
Rev. O. H. Gregory, D.D., of West Troy. The script
ures were read by Rev. Dr. Pohlman of Albany, and ad
dresses were made by Rev. R. Van Brunt of Waterford,
Rev. Dr. Gregory, and by the pastor Rev. C. N. Waldron.
The choir of the church, under the direction of Mr. Alden,
sang several appropriate hymns, and the sabbath school
children of the church sang one of their favorite pieces."

The corner stone of the present Methodist church was
laid June 21st, with appropriate ceremonies.

Among the subjects which received frequent attention in
the local columns of the Cataract was base-ball, a game
then just coming into favor, and one which awakened
considerable interest among the young men here. The
Vanguard Base Ball Club, followed in later years by the
Joe Leggett Club, was for some time a flourishing insti
tution of Cohoes. Among the most prominent members of
the Vanguard were A. T. Becker, Dr. G. H. Billings, P.
D. Niver, John McDermott, Isaac V. Fletcher, Joseph
Almy, Jr., Daniel McElwain, Joseph Chadwick, Wm.
Arthur, Jr., and Joseph Damond. A number of match
games were played with neighboring clubs, in which the
Vanguards had their share of victory. The ground for a
number of years was on the hill north of Columbia street
beyond the Central Rail Road.

During the summer D. Simmons & Co. commenced the
building of the dyke across the sprout of the river from their
lower forge to Simmons s (formerly called Demilt s) Island.
It was constructed for the purpose of relieving their wheel
from backwater and also with a view to opening the island
to the public. The Cataract said, " Mr. Simmons could


not have engaged in an enterprise that promises better, as
it only needs the improvement contemplated to make the
island lots eagerly sought after, and greatly increase the
value of his water lots in that vicinity." Other improve
ments during this year were thus spoken of in the Cataract
of July 30 : " Good walks are now laid nearly all the way
on both sides of Remsen street from Factory to Columbia
streets ; on Mohawk street, from its junction with Remsen
near Hurst s Mill to A. Ferguson s residence in the lower
ward (corner of Howard street) and also on White street
from its intersection with Mohawk to the Erie Canal, to
gether with many others on the less important thorough
fares. The most of these improvements have been made
during the past year, and are a commendable evidence of
local pride and thrift. Besides the above, many places of
business have been changed, enlarged and greatly improved,
and many new ones erected."

The principal new factories of the year were those built
by T. G. Younglove, on the site of Miles White s axe fac
tory. The larger one, which has since been remodelled
and is now known as the Empire Mill, was commenced early
in the season. It was of brick, 100 by 40 feet and five
stories high, and was built by Henry Howarth. It was
occupied soon after its completion by the Albany Pin Com
pany. The building near the river now occupied by A.
J. Griffin was completed in July. The first story was occu
pied by Griffin & Co. (B. A. Glines having been admitted
as partner), the second story by Scott & Hildreth s bed
stead factory, and the third story by North s and Ten
Eyck s bobbin shop, which had been moved from Park-
hurst s bedstead factory. 1 In the building vacated by
Scott & Hildreth, and Griffin & Co., a knitting mill was

1 This firm had bought of John Baker. It was succeeded by North & Chesebro,
January, 1860 ; North & Bogue, July, 1860 ; Bogue & Clark, 1866, and Asa Clark &
Son, the last proprietors.


established by Henry Brockway, who has since made large
additions to the original structure. 1

Among the new firms of the year was Wild & Young-
love, who bought the mill belonging to Isaac D. F. Lansing
near the Cohoes Company s dam, and established the straw
board manufactory with which Mr. Younglove has ever
since been connected. The mill had been for some time
occupied for a similar purpose. In 1830 coarse wrapping
paper was manufactured there by a man named Bryce, and
some years later Gerret R. Lansing (who was succeeded by
I. D. F. Lansing) commenced making straw board, but
neither of these establish irents were on an extensive scale.-

The proper line of Mohawk street had from the earliest
days of the village been a subject of controversy, and as in
the case of Saratoga street, encroachments by various par
ties were numerous. Before 1833 the Cohoes Company
owned only the land on the west of the old highway, but
when in that year they purchased the Demilt tract or
Factory lot, they proceeded to straighten the line of the street
in several places. Near Cataract alley the old road ran so far
to the west that it passed close by the front of the present
residence of H. S. Bogue, and between Seneca and Oneida
streets it made a deep bend toward the east. Mr. Olmsted,
who occupied at one time the present residence of M. S.
Younglove, extended his wooden sidewalk to the corrected
line of the Cohoes Company, and it made such a prominent
object in the street that it was known as Olmsted s dock,
and Olmsted s raft. The efforts of the company were of
little avail, however, and nearly all the houses on the west

1 Mr. Brockway sold out in 1863, but rebought the property in the fall of 64, com
mencing operations the following spring.

2 A new mill was built in 1863, and in 1866 Mr. Wild retired. The present com
pany, with a capital of $85,000, was incorporated June 23, 1875, with the following

Online LibraryArthur H. (Arthur Haynesworth) MastenThe history of Cohoes, New York [electronic resource] from its earliest settlement to the present time → online text (page 12 of 30)