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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Mill, owned by Thos. Duncan. 2

Considerable discussion arose during the winter and spring
concerning one or two projects relating to the town of
Watervliet. In March, 1866, notice had been given in the
legislature of a bill " to create the city and county of Water
vliet, embracing the town of Watervliet, and constituting
the villages of Cohoes, West Troy and Green Island, a city
under the name of Watervliet." This plan was again re
vived and received some slight attention, but was soon for
gotten. In April, an act was passed providing for the
erection of a new town hall to cost $6,000. The commis
sioners named were W. J. Wheeler, supervisor, Henry D.
Fuller and Geo. H. Wager of Cohoes, Francis Phelps and L.



1 The business was sold to Wm . T. Horrobin, Nov. 1, 1872.
* Afterward by Clancy & Co.



1867. HISTORY OF COHOES. 193

D. Collins of West Troy, and T. E. Kirkpatrick of Green
Island. Several meetings of the board were held both in
Cohoes and in West Troy, to take preliminary action. A
proposition was made from Messrs. E. W. Fuller and Wm.
Manning to present the town with an acre of land on Lin
coln avenue in Cohoes, as a site for the hall, and a lot in
West Troy was offered by Hon. O. F. Potter. Little was
accomplished beyond the consideration of these proposals.
The commissioners from each village were naturally desir
ous of having the hall located in their village, and as no
amicable conclusion could be reached, the matter rested.

The first directory of Cohoes was published in this spring
by Wm. H. Young, of Troy, in connection with the directory
of that city, and has since been issued by him in the same
manner. 2

The question of purchasing a steamer, the agitation of
which in 1865 has been spoken of, had been of late vigor
ously renewed, and at the tax payers meeting held for the
purpose of voting upon the sums to be raised by tax during
the ensuing year the item of $5,000 for a steamer was in
cluded in the estimate. When in reading the list this was
reached, a letter was handed the clerk from Hon. C. H.
Adams, in which he proposed to present such an engine to
the village " as an expression of my personal interest in
the welfare of this community, where I have resided for
nearly a score of years." At the same time a statement
was made, on behalf of the Harmony Co., to the effect that
they had ordered a steamer, which, though it would of
course remain in possession of the company, would always



1 In the following year, the West Trojans, foreseeing that if the hall ever was
built it must be in Cohoes, introduced a bill to repeal the above act.

2 The following table shows the number of names in each years issue since
Cohoes became a city :

1870,.... 3120. 1873,.... 4766.

1871,.... 4146. 1875,.... 6124.

1872,.... 4630. 1876,.... 6376.

25



194 HISTORY OF COHOES. 1867.

be ready to protect all the property of the village. An appro
priation of $6,000 was at once voted for the erection of a
suitable house for the Adams steamer, and with this slight
expense to the citizens in general, the place was provided
by the liberality of private individuals with means of pro
tection against fire second to none in the state. The engine
made its first appearance on the afternoon of July 6th, and
was then formally presented by Mr. Adams to the trustees.
Murray Hubbard, president of the village, responded on
behalf of the board. Henry Brockway then presented the
captain and his assistants with silver trumpets of elaborate
workmanship. The speeches of acceptance were made by
H. B. Silliman, representing the company. The C. H.
Adams Steamer Co., which had effected an organization June
17th, contained 36 members, and elected the following as
its first officers : president, H. B. Silliman; vice pres t, Jno.
V. S. Lansing ; captain, Laban Yredenberg; ass t capt.,
Edwin Hitchcock; secretary, "W. Frank Jones; treasurer,
Geo. Campbell; chief engineer, S. G. Root; 1st ass t, John
Clute; 2d ass t, Samuel Nuttall; 3d ass t, Joseph Delehanty.

The steamer purchased by the Harmony Mills, named the
Robert Johnston, made its appearance here in December.
It is of the same size and power as the C. H. Adams and
finished like it, with the exception of the silver mountings.
The Steamer Company, composed of operatives of the Har
mony Mills, was organized Feb. 25th, 1868, and the follow
ing officers elected: president, Robert Johnston; vice pres t,
A. C. Spencer ; captain, Dan l Simpson; ass t, Jas. Johnson;
secretary, Ransom Stone; treasurer, Wm. S. Smith; chief
engineer, John A. Link; 1st ass t, A. S. Stebbins; 2d ass t,
John Ballard; 3d ass t, Edwd. McCready; board of trustees,
D. J. Johnston, Wm. E. Thorn, A. T. Becker, Edward Foley,
Duncan Munro.

The necessity of securing an increased supply of water
had been felt for some time, and early in 1 868 a movement



1868. HISTORY OF COHOES. 195

was made towards the construction of a new reservoir. A
bill was introduced in the legislature directing the water
commissioners to make estimates of the cost of obtaining
water from the Spring creek at Crescent and also of pro
curing an increased supply from the Cohoes Co. A vote was
to be taken at the spring election ; if the result was in favor
of the Crescent project the bonds of the village were to be
issued for an amount not exceeding $200,000 to defray the
expense; and if for the other plan for an amount not ex
ceeding $70,000. A citizens meeting was held Feb. llth,
of which Murray Hubbard was chairman and Malachi
Ball secretary. A communication was read from the Cohoes
Co. offering to furnish such additional power as might be
necessary for enlarged works at the same rates as were then
being paid. A series of resolutions in regard to the matter
was read by H. B. Silliman, and adopted by the meeting,
to the effect that the citizens disapproved, as impracticable,
all plans of bringing water from Crescent, and were in favor
of immediately increasing the supply of water from the
source then used, and of the construction of a new reservoir
or the enlargement of the old one to the necessary size. A
committee was appointed to draft a bill in accordance with
the spirit of the resolutions, and the act providing for
the construction of the new reservoir was passed May 8.

The Harmony Mill No. 3, or Mastodon Mill, begun in
1866, commenced operations this year, the first cotton being
taken into the pickers February 1. The building, to which
an extension was afterward built, is 565 by 77 feet and five
stories high with a fire proof wing of the same height and
50 by 150 feet, in which the pickers are placed. The fol
lowing figures concerning this mill were published at the
time of its completion :

" In its erection the following material was used: 1,000
yards of stone, 3,000,000 brick, 4500 yards of sand, 30,000
bushels of lime, 1,000,000 Ibs. cast and wrought iron, 800,000
feet hemlock plank, 500,000 feet pine timber, 450,000 feet



196 HISTORY OF COHOES. 1868.

southern pine flooring, 400,000 feet pine ceiling, and 1,000
kegs nails. It is lighted by 1,000 gas lights supplied by four
miles of gas pipes. The machinery, which is of the most
approved kind that could be found in England and America,
includes 70,000 yarn spindles and 1,500 looms. When all
running it will produce 60,000 yards of cloth per day."

A new enterprise of the year was the cider and vinegar
factory of Messrs. Oliver Bros., for which they erected a
brick building 35 by 100 feet, and three stories high on the
corner of Remsen and Schuyler streets. A new knitting
factory was established by Messrs. Wm. Nuttall & Co. who
took the Empire Mill, once occupied by L. W. Mansfield,
and at a later date by Moore & Hiller.

The number of French Canadians in Cohoes had greatly
increased within the last few years, and as they are almost
without exception Catholics, they formed an important part
of St. Bernard s congregation. The constant growth of
their ranks at length compelled a separation of the congre
gations, and in June arrangements were accordingly made
for the establishment of a Canadian church. A census was
taken of the number of French Catholics then in the village,
under direction of Joseph LaBoeuf, chairman of the com
mittee, resulting as follows: "Heads of families, 387; com
municants, 1,470: total number of persons, 2,209." Applica
tion was made to Bishop Conroy for the appointment of a
French priest, and provision was made for a room in which
to hold service until a church could be erected. The pastor,
Rev. L. H. Saugon, arrived in Cohoes in August, and at
once commenced earnest efforts to raise the necessary build
ing fund. A lot was purchased on Congress street, between
White and Hart streets, and on Nov. 22d the corner stone
of St. Joseph s church was laid with appropriate ceremonies
by Bishop Conroy.

In January, 1869, the project for incorporating Cohoes as
a city, which had been under consideration at intervals for
several years, assumed definite shape, and a charter was



1869. HISTORY OF COHOES. 197

drawn up for presentation to the legislature. Some discussion
on the subject arose, and the Cataract for several months
was occupied with letters on both sides of the question.
The principal grounds of opposition, as stated in these com
munications, was that under the city charter the government
would fall into the hands of a political rabble, and that
the better class of citizens would have little or no voice in
the management of affairs ; it was also held that greater
opportunity would be furnished for extravagant expenditure
and that taxation would be largely increased. The friends
of the bill of course denied that there was any more chance
of such calamities befalling Cohoes as a city than there was
if the village government continued, and claimed further
more that the rates of taxation would be in some particulars
reduced, since Cohoes would no longer have to contribute
to the support of a town government, in which it was
allowed to have little share. The Cataract was strongly
in favor of the bill, and contained a number of articles
stating the reasons for advocating its passage, among which
was the following :

" Thus far in the existence of Cohoes, there has seemed
to be a lack of local pride on the part of its inhabitants.
Our proximity to Troy and Albany has lead us, naturally,
to depend upon them in a large degree for mercantile facil
ities, and as a consequence, Cohoes has been looked upon
by the outside world more as a suburb of those two cities
than as a live, independent municipality of itself. But the
moment Cohoes assumes the proportions of a city, and fol
lows it up with a proper but not overweening sense of its
own importance, we shall feel the result favorably. Our citi
zens will be more self reliant, and pride in our growing city
will keep at home hundreds of thousands of dollars which
now go to enrich the mercantile trade of adjoining cities."

The bill, which had been considerably modified since the
first draft, passed the assembly April 15th, but did not
become a law until May 19th. This delay on the part of
the senate, and the insertion in the act of a provision by
which it was not to take effect until 1870, were due to the



198 HISTORY OF COHOES. 1869.

efforts of its opposers, as was stated at the time, and were
accounted for by political reasons.

The velocipede excitement, prevalent throughout the
country during this year, reached Cohoes in the winter, and
furnished material for a number of paragraphs in the local
paper. The appearance on the streets of the first velocipede
was thus described :

" Velocipedism is becoming a mania about these days.
On Thursday evening, Feb. 24, Mr. Chas. P. Craig showed
himself astride of one on Remsen street, to the great delight
of all the people. Shout after shout went up from the gaz
ing multitude, especially when the machine careened and
dumped the rider. On Saturday morning he gave us a free
exhibition, followed by scores of the gamins of Cohoes."

A rink was opened on Factory street, in the hall at the
rear of the hotel, which remained in successful operation for
some time. Comparatively few of the vehicles were seen
on the street, however, and the furore in regard to them
was much less than in adjoining cities, perhaps because
Cohoes streets at the time were not adapted for that sort
of travel.

There were during this year several important additions
to the manufacturing interests of the place. Two new knit
ting mills were established, one by Himes & Vail, who
leased the building on Mohawk street, which had formerly
been occupied by Parsons & Co., and put in operation six
sets of machinery ; the other by the Alaska Knitting Co.,
located in Fuller & Safely s new building. The officers
were : Simeon Holroyd, secretary ; Robt. Safely, treasurer ;
Horace Fisher, agent. On Courtland street, corner of Can
vass, a brick building, 50 by 100 feet and three stories high,
was erected by John Land & Sons, for a sawing and planing
mill. The foundery and machine shop on Van Rensselaer
street near Courtland, was established in the latter part of



1 This establishment was removed to Waterford in the latter part of 1871.



1869. HISTORY OF COHOES. 199

the year by Win. T. Horrobin. The foundery building is
one story high, 100 by 60 feet, and the machine shop is three
stories high, 100 by 50 feet. Extensive additions, embrac
ing blacksmith shop, pattern house, etc., were soon after
ward made. A number of residences and stores were also
erected. Prominent among these new buildings was the block
erected by C. H. Adams on Remsen street, below Ontario. It
is three stories in height, built of Philadelphia brick, with an
ornamental iron front. The plate glass windows in the stores
on the ground floor were the first ones introduced in Cohoes.
On the site of the old Heamstreet tavern, on Mohawk
street one door below Factory, a brick block three stories
high was erected by Mr. Witbeck of Troy. Among the
public improvements were the engine houses on Main street
and Johnston avenue and a new school house corner of
Cataract and School streets. Several additions and im
provements were also made on church property. An ex
tension was built on the Presbyterian church at a cost of
$7,000, by which its capacity was doubled; as enlarged the
building is 95 by 48 feet with transepts on the south 59 feet
in width, and contains 172 pews, capable of seating 700
people. It was rededicated Jan. 20, 1870. Adjoining St.
Bernard s church a parsonage was built 40 by 40 feet, three
stories high, at a cost of $15,000. The Baptist congregation
also commenced the erection of a parsonage on the lot south
of the church, which was completed in the following year,
at a cost of about $5,000. St. Joseph s church was dedicated
Dec. 12th, with the usual ceremonies. The first mass was
celebrated by Rev. Thos. Keveney the pastor, Father Sau-
gon, being on account of illness unable to attend.

A series of articles appeared in the Albany Express during
the year on the growth and manufactures of Cohoes. These
were revised and expanded by Mr. Edward Fitzgerald, and
published in a pamphlet of 55 pages entitled The City of
Cohoes. Its History, Growth and Prospects, Its Great



200 HISTORY OF COHOES. 1869.

Manufactories. The contents were chiefly descriptions of
the manufacturing establishments then in operation and
statistics of their production. At the close of the publica
tion appeared the following summary:

"At present the city numbers over 16,000 inhabitants.
Its manufactories comprise six extensive cotton mills,
running 203,000 spindles, eighteen large knitting mills, two
foundries, three machine shops, a rolling mill, two axe
factories, a planing mill, a sawing and veneering establish
ment, and many other large and flourishing industrial con
cerns. The aggregate capital invested in manufacturing
operations is estimated at $20,000,000. The mercantile in
terests of the city are represented by over 300 large and
prosperous retail establishments. The religious wants of
the community are supplied by six large and magnificent
churches. Two splendid steam fire engines of great power
are at the service of the fire department."



1870. HISTORY OF COHOES. 201



XL

1870 TO 1876.

Jr ROM the time that Cohoes assumed the dignity of a
city, a marked change was apparent in its general character.
A certain degree of local pride became developed, which it
must be confessed had previously been wanting, and the
results were a wonderful improvement in the appearance of
the place, arid the provision of many conveniences which had
long been needed for the comfort and w 7 ell-being of its
citizens. The gradual accomplishment of these changes,
and the evidences of substantial growth which they afford,
form a notable feature of the history of Cohoes for the next
few years.

The first election under the city charter was held April
12, 1870. It passed off very quietly, and the number of
votes polled (1,850), was much larger than at any previous
election. The city government was formally organized on
the evening of Tuesday, April 19th. After the meeting was
called to order and the mayor had administered the necessary
oaths of office, the aldermen proceeded to act as a board of
canvassers, and the result of the election was officially
announced. The privilege of the floor was then obtained
by Augustus Ellmaker, late president of the village, who,
in behalf of the late trustees, presented an elegant watch to
Malachi Ball, who for six years previous had been the effi
cient clerk of the village and board of education. After
this agreeable incident, the mayor delivered his inaugural
a short but comprehensive address, in which were stated
the financial condition of the city, and the improvements
most needed. The appointments were then made, and the
standing committees announced. The meeting was spoken
of in the Cataract as follows :
26



202 HISTORY OF COHOES. 1870.

"After the transaction of a few minor items of business
the board adjourned, having had a session that was remark
able for its unanimity and the good order that prevailed.
The new officers seemed to slip into the routine of their
positions as easily as if they had been to the manner born;
and those who expected a hitch in the proceedings were
disappointed in their expectations. The mayor presided
with a dignity becoming his high official position, and in
the cast of his committees evinced a thorough knowledge
of the needs of the several departments and a just estimate
of the peculiar qualifications of the gentlemen for the
various positions to be filled. We congratulate our citizens
upon the auspicious commencement of our career as a city
and trust that the most sanguine expectations of the friends
of the new system may be realized, and the fears and appre
hensions of its opponents prove unfounded."

The capital police law of 1805, though excellent in many
of its features, had for some time been made the subject of
complaint, and during the winter of 1870, steps were taken
by several of the cities and villages which were under its
provisions to procure laws creating a different system.
Cohoes was one of the last so to do, and it was not until
May 6, that the bill under which our present police system
is organized was passed. Under this act the government of
police affairs was vested in a board of police commissioners,
consisting of the mayor and two others, the term of office
of the latter being four years. The police force appointed
by the board was made to consist of a captain, sergeant,
not more than seven patrolmen, a station-house keeper
and a surgeon. The first commissioners under this act were
chosen at the general election in November.

Soon after the charter went into operation, movements
were made towards securing some of the substantial im
provements which it was expected would follow as a natural
result of the new form of municipal government. The
streets, which had so long been a discredit to the place,
and had for over twenty years been made the subject for a
paragraph in almost every issue of the village newspaper,



1870. HISTORY OF COHOES. 203

were among the first objects to which attention was directed.
In the early part of June a petition for the pavement of
Remsen street from Mohawk to White street was presented
to the common council. The committee was unable to de
cide at once upon the style of pavement which would be
most suitable and give greatest satisfaction to the property
owners on the street. A long and animated discussion fol
lowed, on the merits of the respective pavements and a
number of communications on the subject were published
in the Cataract. The decision was finally made in favor
of a wooden pavement, the Brocklebank and Trainor, and
the work of laying it was commenced in October.

The new reservoir, work on which had been commenced
in the preceding year, was completed in July, and the water
was pumped into it on the 25th of that month. It occupies
three and a quarter acres of land, situated at the west of
the first reservoir, which were bought in 1869 from Mrs.
Jane A. Lansing, for $1,800. It has a capacity of 8,000,000
gallons, and is at an elevation of 28 feet above the old one,
and 190 feet above the central portion of the town. The
first pump which was constructed for this reservoir did not
operate satisfactorily and another was afterward substituted,
built under direction of D. H. Van Auken, engineer of the
Cohoes Co. This pump is double acting, 16 inch diameter
and 6 feet stroke, working 10 strokes to the minute, moving
a column of water 16 inches in diameter 120 feet per minute,
and elevating it into the new reservoir 118 feet above the
pump bed. It is driven by a Jonval turbine water wheel of
100 horse power, made by Fuller & Safely.

On Sept. 17th, the first number of the Cohoes Weekly
Democrat, a paper about the size of the Advertiser of 1847,
was issued. It was an outgrowth of a smaller sheet called
the Watchman and Chronicle which had been published
during a few months previous by D. Cady. Mr. Oady s as
sistant in the editorship of the Democrat was John H. At
kinson.



204 HISTORY OF COHOES. 1870.

Among the new manufacturing firms which commenced
operations this year was the Cohoes Lime, Cement & Plaster
Co., which located its works near the Cohoes Co. s dain.
The proprietors were T. G. Younglove, David T. Lamb,
Henry I. Dunsbach, G. H. Stewart and L. Dodge. The
first kiln, a Page s Patent Flame Kiln was put in opera
tion during the summer.

Another establishment, Trost & Bezner proprietors, was
located in Land & Son s building on Conrtland street ; the
articles of manufacture being furniture, and fancy articles
in wood.-

The general improvement of the place during the year
was marked. The completion of the new water works, and
the addition of two hose companies to the fire department
rendered the protection against fire very complete ; several
important changes were made by the board of education
in the method of conducting the schools, and arrangements
were made for the erection of the White street school house,
a building which had long been needed ; many of the streets
were graded and repaired, and several sections of country
roads, which under the provisions of the charter were in
cluded in the city limits, were improved ; the construction
of sewers, a matter which had formerly been too much
neglected, owing to the limited power granted to the village
trustees, received the attention of the authorities, and sewers
were laid in portions of Kemsen, Mohawk, Oriskany, Main



1 A. mill for grinding cement and plaster was built in the following year. In 1873
the capacity of the works was increased by the erection oi another mill, and two
additional kilns. The second mill is located near the Erie Canal, 250 feet from the
first, from which the power is obtained by means of a wire cable. The cost of the
works was about $50,000. In 1875 this firm was succeeded by the Cohoes Lime &
Cement Co., incorporated Aug. 18th with a capital of $70,000. The following were
the first officers : president, D. T. Lamb ; secretary, T. G. Youuglove ; treasurer, D.
H. Van Auken. D. T. Lamb, H. I. Dunsbach, M. O. Cauldwell, T. G. Younglove,
G. H. Stewart, L. Dodge, trustees.

i The style of this firm was changed July 21, 1876, to the Trost & Bezner Mfg. Co.
John T. Saxe, proprietor.



1871. HISTORY OF COHOES. 205

and Cedar streets. The cost of these various improvements,
as shown in the mayor s report, was in the neighborhood of



Online LibraryArthur H. (Arthur Haynesworth) MastenThe history of Cohoes, New York [electronic resource] from its earliest settlement to the present time → online text (page 17 of 30)