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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The wealthy New York Spanish house which owns this valuable property, is pre
pared to go ahead, the only obstacle is the lease which the present occupants
have." Daily News, Nov., 76.



1873. HISTORY OF COHOES. 217

Another improvement suggested during this year was a
fire alarm telegraph, concerning which there was considera
ble discussion in the common council. The expense of its
introduction $7,000 was decided to be more than the
city could then sustain, and the matter was dropped.

On April 1, a meeting of business men was held at the
Manufacturers Bank to take steps for the formation of a
board of trade in this city. Henry Brockway acted as
chairman, and N. W. Frost as secretary. A committee
was appointed to consider and investigate the matter, con
sisting of P. R. Chadwick, H. B. Silliman, J. W. Himes,
Wm. Acheson and Jno. V. S. Lansing. Subsequent meet
ings were held, but no permanent organization was ever
effected.

Progressive movements of this sort, though they accom
plished but little at the time, are worthy of record, for the
full development of the above and other similar projects
which have been mentioned, will surely come at no distant
day, and it will then be of interest to know the time at
which their necessity first became apparent and the details
of the earliest efforts made in regard to them.

The Mechanics Savings Bank, which had been incorpo
rated in March, commenced business in May, its office being
established in the Manufacturers Bank rooms on Oneida st.
The following were the first officers: president, Robert
Johnston; 1st vice pres t, John Clute; 2d vice pres t, Wm.
Stanton; secretary, Wm. S. Smith; treasurer, Abner J.
Griffin; assistant treasurer, Leonard J. Groesbeck.

On September 22d, was issued the first number of the
Cohoes Daily News, Edward Monk editor and proprietor,
and Clark & Foster printers. The paper was 18 by 13
inches, four columns to the page, and the arrangement of
the reading matter was the same as at present. The editors
salutatory was as follows:

" The Daily News will be published daily, at noon (Sun-
28



218 HISTORY OF COHOES. 1873.

days excepted), at No. 1, Granite Hall, Remsen street, Co-
hoes, N. Y., and can be procured at the news-rooms and at
this office or will be delivered to subscribers at one cent per
copy. The News is especially intended as a local paper and,
although a portion of its space may contain a brief summary
of general news and miscellaneous matter, its columns will
principally be devoted to the doings and transactions daily
occurring in our city. With this object in view, items of in
terest and news about town will be thankfully received at
the office of publication; also brief communications of a
local nature will be inserted in its columns. Although the
Daily News goes before the public to-day for the first time
unannounced, we hope it will not be entirely unwelcome.
With this much of introduction we respectfully present the
first number to the citizens of Cohoes with confident ex
pectation that, if deserving, our enterprise will meet with a
share of their patronage."

On account of its proximity to Troy and Albany, Co-
hoes had always been regarded as a poor field for a daily
newspaper, and it was prophesied by many that the News
could not exist more than six months. These predictions
have proved false, however, for the circulation of the paper
has steadily increased, it has twice been enlarged, and now
holds an important position among the newspapers of the
city.

During the early part of this season a remarkable busi
ness activity had prevailed. A number of buildings were
erected in all parts of the city among them several for
manufacturing purposes. Two knitting mills were put up
in place of those which were burned in February. Mr.
Moore rebuilt the Erie on the same site, and John Scott of
the firm of Scott & Stewart, erected the Enterprise Mill,
50 by 50 feet and four stories high, on Courtland street, west
of the pin factory, near the site of the old Stark Mill. On
Simmons avenue, south of the cemetery, a brick factory
200 by 40 feet and two stories high, was built by Trost &
Bezner to accommodate their business, which had increased
rapidly since its establishment. Among the blocks erected



1873. HISTORY OF COHOES. 219

for business purposes, was that of Campbell & Clute,
100 by 80 feet, four stones high, on Mohawk street south of
Courtland, in which they located their machine shop ; and
also that of Patrick Rogers, on Renisen street near its junc
tion with Mohawk. A new knitting mill, with six sets of
machinery, was established by Fuller & Hay in the f oundery
building on Courtland street. Another new enterprise was
the machine shop of Tubbs & Severson, located in the same
building. The station-house of the N. Y. C. & H. R. R. R.
at the west of the White street bridge, was completed dur
ing the summer, and the local trains to Troy, which were
a convenience much appreciated by our citizens, commenced
running October 6.

A number of important public improvements were made
during the year. Considerable money was expended in
grading and opening streets on the hill in the lower part of
the city, among them Central ave., Western ave., and Co
lumbia street. The latter street was extended at a width of
sixty feet, to the extreme western bounds of the city, at a cost
of over $21,000. White, Oneida, and Sargent streets were
paved, at the following expense : White street, $13,346 ;
Oneida street, $10,709 ; Sargent street, $6,498. The pave
ment on Mohawk street, which had been commenced in
1872, was also completed. The hill in the southern part of
the city, west of the Erie Canal, a locality hitherto unde
veloped, was greatly improved and beautified by its owners,
Messrs. Crawford & Hubbard. The property was carefully
mapped, a number of streets were opened, shade trees were
planted, and Grand View Park, on the brow of the hill, was
laid out. A camera obscura, put in operation during the
autumn, afforded an extensive view of the surrounding
country, which was enjoyed by a number of visitors.

The degree of growth and prosperity manifested in Cohoes
during the early part of this year was greater than any
which has since been attained. The financial panic which



220 HISTORY OF COHOES. 1873

swept over the country in the fall, paralyzing every branch
of business, had the same results here as elsewhere, and the
condition of affairs has not since been such as to warrant a
general freedom of expenditure. The effects of the panic
were first felt here in November, and though they were not,
during the following winter, as severe as had been feared,
all the manufacturing interests of the city then began to
suffer from a continued depression, from which, until the
present season, there have been no signs of recovery. During
October the various establishments in the city continued
running, many of them having reduced the wages and
working time of their employe s. On the 25th the Harmony
Mills were shut down, and the woolen mills ceased opera
tions a few days later, the water being drawn from the
Cohoes Go s Canals. For some time there was great anx~
iety throughout the place. Rumors were afloat that none
of the mills would be started until spring, causing appre"
hensions of the most disastrous effects among all classes of
the inhabitants. The local papers were, however, inclined
to take a hopeful view of matters. The Cataract said :

"There is as yet nothing very discouraging in the prospects
before us, and if all will take courage and push ahead as
far as their circumstances will allow, everything will come
out right, and we shall see a far more favorable winter s
business than has been predicted."

Accounts of the condition of business here, most of them
favorable, were also published in the New York papers, some
of which sent correspondents to the place. The following
were some of the views expressed :

" The stoppage of work at the Harmony Mills, Cohoes, is
not the unmixed misfortune which the first news led the
public to expect. It is a step not unusual at this season and
amounts at the very worst, to a few weeks rest from work. . . .
If other cotton mills adopt the same remedy the proper rela
tions between demand and supply may become all the more
quickly reestablished, though some little distress must,
almost necessarily, be its immediate result." New York
Daily Times.



1873. HISTORY OP COHOES. 221

"At Cohoes, which claims a population of 20,000, the
reports are more favorable up to the present time, than was
to be anticipated. ...Under the present circumstances Cohoes
is in as good if not better condition to stand the hard times
than any manufacturing town in the United States. The
chief hardships and loss are likely to come on the manufac
turers and capitalists, who are puzzled to account for the
present panic in commercial circles, and like their brethren
in New York can see no further reason for it, than a lack
of confidence. New York Daily Tribune.

" Altogether little apprehension exists just now that mu ch
suffering is likely to be encountered. By those best in
formed it is thought that the new year is likely to bring in
much increased demand for labor. None of the workers
have left, or have even thought of doing so. All are hope
ful. But oft has hope told its flattering tale, and why
should it alter its habit ?" New York Daily Herald.

After a stoppage of two weeks all but two of the woolen
mills commenced running, seven of them on full time and
the remainder on half or three quarter time. The Harmony
Mills were started Nov. 24, an average reduction of 12^ per
cent in wages being made. The news of their resumption
was gladly received. The Cataract published a very hope
ful article in regard to it, in which it was stated that the
worst of the panic was passed, and that the condition of
business would continue to improve during the winter, and
be in the following spring as prosperous as ever a pre
diction unfortunately not fulfilled. There was no general
stoppage of the mills during the season, but the stagnation
of the markets, destined to be of long duration, afforded
but little encouragement to the efforts of those manufac
turers who continued.

A matter which excited much local interest in the early
part of 1874, was a dispute which arose in regard to the
office of city chamberlain. Mr. C. F. North was appointed
to the position at an early meeting of the new common
council, and the resolution by which he was appointed was
subsequently vetoed as illegal by the mayor, on the ground
that the alderman moving it was interested in a city contract.



222 HISTORY OF COHOES. 1874.

At a subsequent meeting, Mr. North presented his official
bonds for approval and they were signed by Alderman Le
Roy acting as mayor pro tern. Mr. Cary, however, the in
cumbent of the chamberlain s office, refused to deliver his
books and papers to Mr. North, on the grounds that his ap
pointment was not legal, having been vetoed by the mayor,
and that his bonds were not properly signed. A manda
mus was accordingly served on him by Mr. North, and the
case was argued before Judge Ingalls of Troy. His decision
was that the appointment was legal, but that the bonds
must be signed by the mayor to be valid. After a delay of
some weeks, the mayor on April 2Yth, signed the bonds, and
the matter was thus settled satisfactorily, having furnished
material for much animated discussion among our citizens,
and numerous articles in the local papers.

As in 1873, two serious fires were among the important
events of the early part of the year. The premises of the
Ten Eyck Axe M f g Co., consisting of three wooden build
ings on Courtland street were burned on Jan. 18th. The
loss of the owner, John L. Thompson of Troy, was $20,000,
of which $9,000 were insured. The buildings were occupied
at the time by Sheehan, Jones & Ryan, who lost from $6,000
to $8,000 in manufactured goods besides several thousand
dollars worth of tools and fixtures. The fire was of incen
diary origin. Another disastrous fire occurred in Root s
Mill on the afternoon of April 2d. The building, which
was one of the best appointed of our knitting mills, was,
with its contents, completely destroyed, at a loss to the
owners of nearly $200,000, which was insured to the amount
of $125,000. The bat factory of Edward Walker, situated
in the rear, was also destroyed involving a loss of about
$5,000. The fire originated in the picking room of the mill
and spread with remarkable rapidity. An elevator near the
middle of the building was the means of communicating
the flames to the upper stories and so quickly that smoke



1874. HISTORY OF COHOES. 223

was seen issuing from the cupola within five minutes after
the discovery of the fire in the basement. Great excitement
prevailed when the conflagration broke out, as it was feared
that many of the operatives would be unable to escape from
the building, but the fire escapes, which had been provided
soon after the terrible fire at Hurst s Mill, proved adequate
to the occasion and no injury was suffered by any of the
employes. There was great danger at times that the ad
joining buildings would be destroyed the mill of Gregory
& Hiller, on the north, being several times on fire but the
exertions of the fire department, assisted by the Knicker
bocker Engine Co. of Waterford and the operatives of the
mill, prevented its spreading further. These fires caused but
a slight interruption of business. Messrs. Sheehan, Jones &
Ryan moved their establishment to the pipe factory build
ing on Saratoga street which they now occupy, and the
Messrs. Root immediately commenced the erection of their
present mill which was finished in the fall. The main part
of the building is 150 by 50 feet and five stories high ; on
the north side of this is a wing 96 by 20 feet, four stories
high, connected with it by arches in every story. On the
river bank, entirely disconnected from the principal structure,
is a fire proof building 53 by 35 feet, three stories high, con
taining the pickers, cotton cards, and lappers. The risk of
fire is thus greatly diminished. The main building is also
provided with every safeguard and means of escape in case
of fire, and is in all its appointments one of the most per
fectly arranged knitting mills in the place. Its cost, in
cluding machinery, was about $150,000. Another large mill
just south of Root s was built by Messrs. Bilbrough and
Dubuque the old Mohawk Mill formerly occupied by Mr.
Bilbrough having been destroyed by its owners, the Harmony
Co., to make room for improvements to the Ogden Mills.
The main building is of brick, 120 by 50 feet, and five stories
high besides a basement. There are also two wings con
taining office, store room, etc.



224 HISTORY OF COHOES. 1874.

The number of residences erected during the season was
notably smaller than in the previous year. Several important
buildings for other purposes were, however, constructed.

St. Joseph s French church, built in 1869, had never been
considered safe. In the following year its steeple was re
moved because it threatened to crush the body of the church,
and the condition of the edifice became in 1873 so dilapi
dated that its demolition was resolved upon. The work
was commenced in June, 1874, and the corner-stone of the
new building, on the site of the first, was laid Aug. 23,
under direction of Bishop M Xieruey. The sermon was
preached by Rev. Francis Van Campenhouldt of Troy, and
the ceremonies were participated in by a number of other
clergymen from different localities. The building, which
has not yet been completed, was ready for occupancy on
Easter Sunday, 1875. Its proportions are : length, 128
feet ; width 70 feet ; height of nave 60 feet ; of tower and
spire 206 feet. The cost of the building was $40,000, and
it is estimated that as much more will be required to properly
finish the interior. Much credit is due to the congregation,
for their enterprise and liberality, in thus constructing, within
a period of five years, two expensive church edifices, and to
Father La Salle whose efforts in behalf of the new enter
prise have been indefatigable.

A new church, the German Baptist, was organized dur
ing this year, the members being principally employes of
Trost & Bezner. Services were for some time held in the
First Baptist church, and a small building was afterwards
secured on Simmons avenue which the congregation has since
occupied. In the certificate of incorporation, tiled Feb.
4, 1875, the following were named as first trustees : Herman
Bezner, one year ; Henry Trost, two years ; Conrad Muller,
three years.

A noticeable addition to the buildings on Remsen street
was the Music Hall Block, 75 by 62 feet and four stories
high, built by Acheson <fc Masten, at a cost of $60,000.



1874. HISTORY OF COHOES. 225

The two upper stories are occupied by a handsome and con
veniently arranged theatre capable of seating 1,000 persons,
which was formally opened on the evening of Nov. 23d,
by J. W. Albaugh s company from Albany. The entertain
ment opened with a dedicatory address, delivered by Miss
Florence Chase, and the singing of the national anthem by
the company. The play of the evening was London
Assurance, the leading parts being taken by Mr. and Mrs.
Albaugh. The post office was moved into the north end of
this building as soon as it was completed, and the city library
has since last summer occupied rooms in the second story.

Of the entertainments held in the hall during the ensuing
season, those of chief local interest, were eight evenings of
social singing, which were well attended. The course, or
ganized through the efforts of L. W. Mansfield, was some
what similar in plan to that which was held in Mr. M. s mill,
during 1865, and met with such success that it was repeated
in the following year.

Several times since its incorporation, the proposition had
been made to bond the city for different amounts to defray
the expenses of certain public improvements. A project of
the sort was submitted to the tax payers in 1872, but some
features of the bill which it was proposed to introduce, were
distasteful, and it was voted down. In April of this year,
another bill was prepared and presented to the legislature
which seemed to meet with general approval. The common
council was, in this act, directed to issue the bonds of the
city whenever it might be requested by the commissioners
of construction, for the purpose of opening, extending and
improving the following streets : Columbia, from Mohawk
to Lancaster; Rernsen, from Newark to Saratoga; Saratoga
its entire length; Ontario and Oneida streets, the Boght
road, and the road leading to Crescent. Of the proceeds of
the sale of the bonds, $75,000 were to be expended for the
above purposes, and the remainder was to be devoted to the



226 HISTORY OF COHOES. 1874.

purchase of a site, and the erection of a suitable city build
ing. The commissioners of construction named, were H. S.
Bogue, Alfred Le Roy, David J. Johnston, Jas. B. McKee
and Malachi Weidman. Unfortunately the bill was not
introduced until late in the session, and no action was taken
upon it. Several important municipal improvements were,
however, completed during the season. Among them were
the opening and grading of James street, at a cost of
$17,000 ; grading of Central avenue from Columbia street,
south to the city line, costing $5,000; grading portions of
Saratoga and Howard street at a cost of $3,500, and con
struction of sewers on Remsen, Lancaster and Orchard
streets. The alteration by the state of the course of the
Champlain Canal at the junction, and the building of new
and improved locks at that point was completed in the
early part of the year.

The Cataract published at the close of the year a review
of the condition of the knitting business, giving the results
of interviews with each manufacturer. Most of the estab
lishments were running on full time and expected so to con
tinue during the winter. The conclusions of the Cataract
were as follows :

"It will be seen that the outlook is anything but dis
couraging to the operatives at least ... they have thus far
known but practically little of the effects arising from the
general depression which has existed during the year in all
parts of the country. There has been little or no apparent
reduction in the production of fabrics, and old prices which
have ruled in years past in almost all the mills, have been
paid. It is a noticeable fact that Cohoes thus far has never
suffered from the strikes that have brought untold misery
and want in many portions of the country."

A recapitulation of the figures given in the article com
pared with those published in 1872, showed a falling off only
in the number of operatives employed which was 2,405 as
against 2,503 in the former year, while the aggregate of the
annual production and monthly wages was even greater.



1875. HISTORY OF COHOES. 227

The discussion of several proposed amendments to the
city charter occupied a large share of local attention during
the first few months of 1875. The principal changes were
in regard to the powers of the common council concerning
assessments authorizing them by a two-thirds vote to raise
money for special taxes ; the powers, duties and salaries
of the city engineer arid city attorney the compensation
fixed for the former being $500, and for the latter $1,000;
the duties and salaries of constables, who were to receive
$100 per annum, in addition to their fees ; and the organi
zation of a board of fire commissioners who were to have
control of a paid department. A meeting of the common
council was called Jan. 30, to hear the report of a committee
on these amendments, at which a number of citizens were
present. After some discussion they were allowed the pri
vilege of the floor, and the following resolution offered by
D. H. Van Auken was put to the audience and almost
unanimously adopted :

" Resolved, That it is the sense of the tax payers at this
meeting, in view of the pressure of the times, affecting both
business and labor in all departments, it is inexpedient that
there should be any amendments to our city charter which
shall increase the rate of taxation."

After the passage of a motion requesting the legislature
to take no action upon any such amendments that might be
presented, the meeting adjourned, but another was imme
diately organized to consider an amendment creating a fifth
ward, concerning which a bill had been introduced during
the previous week. The sentiment of the meeting was in
favor of such an amendment, and a committee was appointed
to attend to its passage. The bill, which also made slight
changes in the boundaries of the third and fourth wards,
became a law May 1.

On the 20th of May, occurred the most destructive fire
that had visited the city since the burning of the Tivoli
Mill. The polishing, finishing and handle shops, of the



228 HISTORY OF COHOES. 1875.

Weed <fe Becker M f g Co., were destroyed, at a loss of
$50,000, throwing nearly 200 men out of employment. One
of the buildings destroyed was the original factory of Daniel
Simmons, which had been in use since 1835. The company
proceeded at once to the erection of a fine brick building on
the site, which was completed in the following season. It
is of brick, 140 by 50 feet, and four stories high.

The publication of a second daily paper, TJie Cohoes Daily
Bulletin, was commenced June 1st. It was a 28 column
sheet, democratic in politics, and was conducted by J. H.
Atkinson, formerly of the Democrat, and J. Barlow Luddy.
The office was located in Hay ward s building, Ontario street.
A further addition to the newspapers of the city, was the
Journal des Dames, a weekly paper, published in the in
terests of French Canadian ladies, and edited by Mme.
Virginie Authier. The first number appeared Sept. 24. 2
Another French paper, ISAvenir National, the publication
office of which had formerly been in Troy, was removed
here Oct. 15, and located in Silliman s building on Kemsen
street. The paper, which was a weekly, was conducted by
L. G. Leboeuf."

An event of general interest was the consecration of Rev.
Dr. J. H. Hobart Brown of St. John s church, who had
been called to preside as bishop over the new diocese of
Fond du Lac, Wis. The ceremonies, which took place in
the church on Wednesday Dec. 15, were attended by a large
number of citizens. The presiding bishop was Rt. Rev.
Horatio Potter of New York; the sermon was preached by



Online LibraryArthur H. (Arthur Haynesworth) MastenThe history of Cohoes, New York [electronic resource] from its earliest settlement to the present time → online text (page 19 of 30)