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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Bishop Welles of Wisconsin, and a number of other eminent
clergymen from different localities were present.



1 On Dec. 13, the name of the paper was changed to The Daily Eagle, J. B.
Luddy being editor, and D. Williams, proprietor. Its publication was discontinued
Aug. 12, 1876, and the Northern Herald, a Sunday morning paper, established by
Williams and Eagan.

a This was succeeded Feb. 16, 1876, by La Patrie Nouvelle, Authipr Bro?. editors
and proprietors.

Discontinued Aug. 11, 1876.



1875. HISTORY OF COHOES. 229

The dullness of business, continuing during the year, had
prevented the outlay of capital to any amount in private
improvements, and in municipal affairs the sentiments ex
pressed at the tax payers meeting in January evidently had
their effect. A few public works however, which were
greatly needed, received attention. Among them were the
grading of North Mohawk and Trull streets and McElwain
avenue, at a cost of $5,000, the construction of sewers on
McElwain and Johnston avenues and Mohawk street, costing
an equal amount, and the ravine sewer near McElwain
avenue the expense of which was $13,500. The latter, which
is 1,571 feet in length, was an improvement long demanded,
and one of great benefit to several portions of the city.

On December 31st, arrangements were made for publicly
celebrating the advent of the centennial year. The demon
stration, which began in the evening and was continued un
til about 3 A.M. of Jan. 1st, was thus described in the Neios :

" The celebration of the Centennial New Year in Cohoes
was begun by the parade of the Lafayette Guards shortly
before the ringing of the bells at midnight. Remsen street
was thronged with people, whose patriotism, added to the
spirit with which the new year is always welcomed, caused
a general turn out and demonstration. Huge bonfires were
lighted, red and blue fire burned, cannon thundered, rockets
and rornan candles were fired and numerous buildings along
the route illuminated. The bells of the city churches and
factories clanged forth a thousand welcomes in brazen tones
to the Centennial New Year, and even the steam whistles
on the mills and Adams Steamer did duty on the occasion."

A violent storm, which swept over this section of the
country on the morning of Feb. 5, did considerable damage
to property in this city. St. Bernard s church suffered the
severest injury, in the destruction of its spire, which was
over 200 feet high, and one of the handsomest in the neigh
borhood. It was constructed under direction of Nichols and
Brown of Albany in 1866, at a cost of $10,000. The spire
was broken off at its brick foundation, and crushing through



230 HISTORY OF COHOES. 1876.

a portion of the roof, fell upon the rail road track .east of
the building. The chime of bells, which had been placed in
the belfry four years previous at a cost of $5,000, was badly
damaged and the total loss to the church reached nearly
$20,000. It w r as expected that the steeples of the Baptist,
Presbyterian and French churches which were seen to sway
violently in the wind, would be also demolished, but they
fortunately were able to withstand the gale, and none of
the churches except the Baptist were injured to any extent.
A smaller spire on the north side of the latter building was
blown over, considerably damaging in its fall the roof, and
also the residence of Mrs. H. R. Grant, adjoining the church
on the north. A number of small buildings were quite
badly damaged, and numerous chimneys in all parts of the
city suffered demolition.

In March, bills were introduced in t*he legislature making
a number of important changes in the charter, over some of
which followed a long and animated discussion. The law
committee of the common council having been directed to
draw up needed amendments, reported several, of which
the most important were the following: Giving the cham
berlain power to collect by sale of property the arrears on
taxes since 1870, and allowing him an extra compensation
for his services in so doing; authorizing him to set apart
$3,000 annually for the use of the water board, instead of
allowing them a certain proportion of the moneys raised by
highway and other taxes as formerly; empowering the
common council to compel the construction and repair of
sidewalks, and to appropriate $1,500 for the celebration of
the Fourth of July. Two further amendments were pre
pared one providing for the appointment of a recorder and
fixing his salary at $2,000, and the other known as the
"omnibus bill" giving the mayor power to appoint the
city attorney, city clerk, and a number of other officials,
whose salaries were in several instances to be increased.
The bill in which these were incorporated was drawn up by



1876. HISTORY OF COHOES. 231

private parties and was introduced in the legislature with
out having been submitted to the common council, and it
was to these amendments that the greatest opposition was
raised. When it was found that the bill had been favorably
reported by the assembly committee, a citizens meeting
was called to take action on the matter. This was held at
Egberts Hall on the evening of March 28, Henry Brockway
presiding. Fifty vice presidents and eighteen secretaries
were appointed. Short addresses against the amendments
were made by H. D. Fuller, Justice Redmond, Jas. F.
Kelly, aldermen Nolan and Ryan, and Chas. Kolb. Re
solutions were then adopted protesting against the passage
of the bill without further hearing from the citizens, and
requesting Senator Harris to use his influence against it.
The opposition, especially to the clause appointing a recorder,
grew less however, as the people became better acquainted
with the provisions of the bill, and the Cataract of April
8th, said:

" The signatures of owners of over $2,500,000, of the
taxable property in the city have been received to the peti
tion favoring the passage of the charter amendments, and
what is the best joke of all, more than two-thirds of the
officers of the citizens meeting, called to protest against
them, were among the signers."

None of the amendments were passed, however, except
those providing the appointment of a recorder and assigning
a fund for the water commissioners, both of which were
somewhat changed since their first draft the sum named
in the latter having been raised from $3,000 to $5,000. No
general opposition to the passage of several of the others
was manifested among citizens but they were "killed"
through the influence of a few interested parties. The first
recorder appointed by the mayor under the new act was
Chas. F. Doyle, who entered upon the duties of his office
June 26, holding court in the common council chamber.

Though the bill authorizing an appropriation had failed



232 HISTORY OF COHOES. 1876.

to pass, the general feeling throughout the city was, that the
centennial year demanded more than an ordinary celebration,
and that it would not be to the credit of the place, to be
behind other cities in the neighborhood, in such manifesta
tions of patriotism. A special election of the tax payers
was accordingly held on May 22, to decide in regard to the
matter, which resulted in voting an appropriation of $1,000.
A joint committee of members of the common council and
Grand Army of the Republic was appointed to make the
necessary arrangements, and under its direction, the pro
gramme of the exercises was agreed upon. The citizens in
general took hold of the matter with earnestness, and the
result was a celebration which did credit to the patriotic
spirit of Cohoes. At midnight the principal streets were
illuminated, and the usual discharge of fire arms, lasting
during the day and into the next night, commenced the
celebration. The main procession was formed on Remsen
street at 9 A.M., and commenced its march soon after in the
following order :

FIRST DIVISION.

Marshal and Chief of Column.
Washingtonians.

Green s Band.
Third Separate Company.

Post Lyon, G. A. R.
Hook and Ladder Co. and Truck.

Adams Steamer and Wagon.

M Intosh Hose Co. and Carriage.

Johnston Steamer Co.

Howarth Hose Co.

Harmony Co s Wagon.

Cannon.

SECOND DIVISION.

Marshals.

Green s Band.

C. H. Adams Zouaves.



1876. HISTORY OF COHOES. 233

St. Bernard s Society.

St. Bernard s T. A. B. Society.

St. Jean Baptiste Society.

St. Joseph s Society.

THIRD DIVISION.

Marshal s Aids.

Drum Corps.

Knights of Pythias.

Delegation of Daniel O Connell Society.

Ancient Order of Hibernians.

Carriages containing Mayor, Orator, Reader, Common

Council, and School Board.

Butchers Mounted.

Merchants, &c.

The houses along the line of march were almost without
exception decorated with flags, or appropriate emblems.
After the parade, the literary exercises were held on the
balcony of the Bret Harte House, on Remsen street, Mayor
Johnston presiding. They were as follows :

1. Music by the Glee Club, consisting of Messrs. Targett,
Green, Hastings and Taylor.

2. Reading of the Declaration of Independence, by P. D.
Niver, Esq.

3. Music.

4. Oration by E. G. Wager.

The features of the afternoon were the parade of the
Philibusters, who made some very apt local hits, and the
Field Day and Picnic of Post Lyon, held on Simmons s
Island. A display of fire works in the evening on the vacant
lots east of St. Bernard s church, concluded the public cele
bration of the day.

It has been before mentioned that a futile movement to
extend Remsen street through to Saratoga street, was made
as early as 1850. Eiforts to carry out this improvement
have been made several times subsequent, but with no better
result. In 1870, the project came before the common council,
who appointed a committee to ascertain its cost, which was
30



234 HISTORY OF COHOES. 1876.

reported as $5,000. The question was again agitated in the
spring of this year, and received then a larger share of
public attention than at any previous time. The following
in regard to the matter is from the Cataract of June 10th :

" Remsen street is now only open to Newark street, but
the city owns the land for 145 feet further south. It is
proposed to extend the street through this land and thence
at nearly right angles to Saratoga street, intersecting the
latter at a point where the state yard bridge crosses the
canal. If this is accomplished, a street will be opened
across the Van Rensselaer property to the Mohawk river,
at which point it is proposed to locate the western end of
the Adams Island bridge. It is claimed that the cost of
the proposed extension will be less than $4,000. About one-
half the property owners on Remsen street have already
signed the petition."

The matter was under consideration some time by the
common council, and the final conclusion was that it be
dropped, owing to the strong opposition made by interested
parties and property owners on the street. Mr. W. L.
Adams, who, in despair of ever getting the cooperation of
the authorities, had decided to build the bridge from his
island to this city at his own expense, was only waiting for
some definite action on the part of the common council
before commencing operations. As soon, therefore, as it
was known that Remsen street would not be extended, work
was begun. The bridge was completed during the past
autumn at a cost of about $25,000. It rests upon five stone
piers, and the superstructure, which is of iron, is 450 feet in
length, and fifteen feet above the ordinary level of the
water. The approach to the bridge on this side of the
river, is by Ship street, south of Travis s lumber yard, which
will be opened from Saratoga street east, and a bridge built
across the Champlain Canal. The numerous advantages
resulting from this improvement render it one of the most
important of the year. Our citizens have been afforded the
opportunity of purchasing at reasonable figures, pleasant
and healthful building sites, located at a short distance from



1876. HISTORY OF COHOES. 235

the business centre, and an easy access is offered to a mile
frontage on the Hudson river, whenever the growth of the
city may make it needed. Fifty acres on this side of the
island have been mapped and laid out into city lots, 498 in
number, many of which have already been disposed of at
good prices, at the auction sales which have been held
during the autumn. Mr. Adams owns all the island except
100 acres at the northern end, and intends to dispose of it
in lots, as occasion may require. The streets laid out parallel
with the river are over a mile long, and are to be crossed
by streets running from the Hudson to the Mohawk, a dis.
tance of one-half mile. It is expected that the company
which was granted a charter to build a bridge from Lansing-
burg to the island, will commence operations in the spring,
and a short and direct road will thus be opened to Lansing-
burg and the upper part of Troy. The route has already
proved popular, though the only means of crossing the
Hudson has been a skiff ferry, and will doubtless draw a
large share of travel when the bridge is completed.

During the past year, the signs of general activity in the
city have been comparatively few. Almost the only addi
tion of importance to the manufacturing interests of the place,
is the Ten Eyck Axe M f g Co., established Feb. 23, with
a capital of $30,000, by the following partners : Abram,
Albert and Jonas Ten Eyck and D. H. Clute, Cohoes ; Geo.
Carrigan, Bayonne, N. J. A change in the firm will soon be
made, and the capital increased. The works, on Saratoga
street in the lower part of the city, consist of a building
100 by 32 feet, containing forge shop and polishing shop,
and two wings each 60 feet long, containing tempering shop,
blacksmith shop, etc. The works are run by a steam engine
of 60 horse power. A new factory has been erected by
Albert Smith & Co., pipe manufacturers, near the rolling
mill, north of Courtland street. The building is of wood,
1 20 by 95 feet, and cost $20,000. The capacity of the works



236 HISTORY OF COHOES. 1876.

has been doubled by the construction of a new furnace, just
completed.

Among the most important improvements completed by
the city authorities, are the paving of Remsen street, from
White street south, and the construction of an iron bridge
on Johnson avenue, built bythe Canton (Ohio) Bridge Co., at
a cost of $2,650.

The material growth of the city is, of course, dependent
on the fortunes of its leading branches of industry, and as
these have been among the interests most severely affected
by the panic, it is not to be wondered at that during the
past year, and in fact since 1873, there have been so few
striking evidences of progress. The panic has not had the
result, however, of causing a general retrograde movement
in the place. Fortunately for Cohoes, most of its manufac
turing concerns have had sufficient capital to enable them
to continue operations, though at a loss, during this long
period of depression. Much suffering has thus been pre
vented among the working classes and the mercantile inte
rests of the city. Wages have, of course, been generally
reduced, and a number of persons have been, at different
periods, without employment ; but the condition of affairs
has at no time been so bad as might reasonably have been
anticipated. We have had none of those long continued
strikes which have caused so much distress elsewhere, and
the degree of suffering among the poorer classes has thus
far been much less than in neighboring cities.

At present the prospects are by no means gloomy. Nearly
all the manufacturing establishments are in operation, and
there are no indications as yet that a general stoppage is
intended.

The state of affairs on the whole, since 1873, has thus
shown the truth of the prediction made at that time, that
" Cohoes is in as good, if not better, condition to stand the
hard times, than any manufacturing town in the United



1876. HISTORY OF COHOES. 237

States." Its growth has been steady, though less rapid,
than heretofore. Although the number of new buildings is
small, and little additional capital has been invested in busi
ness enterprises, other signs of advancement are apparent.
The population has evidently increased, needed public works
have been completed, and various important institutions
established, all attesting the fact that the business depres
sion of the past three years, though of course retarding, has
not seriously interrupted the progress of that substantial
development, which became especially noticeable soon after
the incorporation of Cohoes as a city ; and which marks the
succeeding period as one of the most important in the history
of the place.



238 HISTORY OF COHOES. 1876.



xn.

MANUFACTURES AND VARIOUS INSTITUTIONS.

jc:LS a conclusion to the history of Cohoes, now brought
down to the close of the present year, a brief account is
appended of the manufacturing establishments and various
public institutions of the city, showing their condition at
present, and stating such facts of importance concerning
them as have not been elsewhere mentioned.

THE COHOES COMPANY. This company has necessarily
the most prominent connection with the history of Cohoes.
By developing the water power and offering inducements
for the settlement here of capitalists, it has been the founda
tion of all the varied industries of the place ; and has,
moreover, by the construction of creditable works and im
provements, by liberal donations of land for public purposes,
and in many other ways, contributed constantly to its growth
and prosperity.

The early operations of the company, and the more im
portant improvements made from time to time, have been
previously described. No expense or labor has been spared
in the development of the material resources of the place,
and the facilities now offered for manufacturing are second
to none in the state.

The mill privilege which was originally reserved by Mr.
I. D. F. Lansing in the sale of his land, was purchased from
him in 1859 for $20,000, thus affording the company com
plete control of the water power of the river from half a
mile above, to a mile below the Falls. The supply is always
ample, and during the past few years, while other water
powers have failed at times, the Cohoes mills have suffered
no stoppage. By the construction in 1865 of the present
dam and gate house, and the extension, at different times, of



1876. HISTORY OF COHOES. 239

other canals besides those already mentioned, the facilities
of the company have been greatly increased, and they now
have a complete system, in which the same water can be
used six different times, and which, when entirely perfected,
will be one of the finest in the country. The following is
the present arrangement of the canals, as classified by the
company.

No. 1. The upper level (canal of 1834), extending from
the dam to rear of the Harmony Mills.

No. 2. Mohawk street in front of Harmony Mills.

" 3. From Strong Mill to Clifton Mill.

" 4. Remsen street, formerly known as Basin B.

" 5. Ontario street.

" 6. Courtland street.

" 7. Van Rensselaer street.

" 8. Saratoga street.

" 9. Grove street.

" 10. Remsen street continued.
Nos. 7, 8 and 10 of the above are unfinished.
The total fall is 120 feet, and the available power is estab
lished at 10,000 horse power, but little more than half of
which is now utilized. The water, together with the neces
sary quantity of land, is leased to manufacturing firms at
much lower rates than prevail elsewhere the expense of
some of the largest mills for water and ground rent scarcely
exceeding $1,000 yearly. The company charges $200 for a
"mill power," which is 6 cubic feet of water per second, with a
20 feet head and fall or its equivalent making an annual
rental of about $20 per horse power. The exact quantity
of power used by each manufacturer is determined by an
accurate system of measurement, the details of which were
perfected by officers of the company. Among the most
important of the recent improvements of the company, is a
tunnel, completed in December, 1876, which adds greatly to
the availability of the water power. It extends from the



240 HISTORY OF COHOES. 1876.

end of Canal No. 1, to a point on the bank of the river,
about twenty feet from its bed, opposite the south tower of
Harmony Mill, No. 2. Its opening is 6 by 7 feet, its length
360 feet, and the fall from the surface of the canal to the
outlet is about 70 feet, affording a pressure capable of
moving the entire body of water at least 7 feet per second.
By means of this tunnel the necessity of stopping the mills
to remove the accumulations of ice and debris in the upper
canal was entirely obviated. The ice would frequently
form to such an extent that the flow of water in the canal
was materially obstructed, and the company were compelled
to cut it out and remove it by hand, a tedious and expensive
process. Under the new arrangement the ice can be floated
down to the tunnel gates and then discharged, without in
terrupting the running of the mills. The work was designed
and superintended by D. H. Van Auken, engineer of the
company, and was done by Houlihan & Stanton, about six
months being required for its excavation.

The officers of the company since its incorporation have
been as follows:
President. Canvass White, 1826-1834.

Stephen Van Rensselaer Jr., 1834-1841.

Wm. N. Chadwick, 1841-1847.

Stephen Van Rensselaer Jr., 1847-1849.

Teunis Van Vechten, 1849-1853.

Robert Christie Jr., 1853-1854.

Chas. M. Jenkins, 1854-1859.

Alfred Wild, 1859-1868.

Wm. T. Garner, 1868 .

Secretary. Henry J. Wyckoff, 1827-1828.

Francis Olmsted, 1828-1829.

Henry J. Wyckoff, 1829-1 834. l
Agent. Hugh White, 1833-1834.

Chas. A. Olmsted, 1834-1835.

Joab Houghton, 1835-1840.

Clarkson F. Crosby, 1840-1841.



1 After this year the agent acted as secretary.



1876. HISTORY OF COHOES. 241

Hugh White, 1841-1847.
Francis S. Claxton, 1847-1850.
T. G. Younglove, 1850-1875.
Wm. E. Thorn, 1875.

The officers elected for the present year were: Wra. T.
Garner, president; Wm. E. Thorn, sec y and treas. ; Wra.
T. Garner, Wm. W. Xiles, Samuel W. Johnson, Jno. Crosby
Brown, David J. Johnston, Wm. E. Thorn, Chas. C. Birds-
eye, directors.

THE HAEMONY MILLS. Proprietors: Garner & Co., New
York, D. J. Johnston, Cohoes, Wm. E. Thorn, Cohoes.
Chief in importance among the manufacturing concerns of
Cohoes is the above, devoted to the production of cotton
cloth. The mill erected by the Harmony M fg Co., in
1837, was for some years among the most prominent in the
place, and after the building of the Ogden and Strong Mills
in 1846, this branch of manufacture assumed the leading
position here which it has since retained.

The change of proprietorship in the Harmony Mill in
1850 was the beginning of a course of steady prosperity,
and its owners, besides erecting several large factories at
different times have come into possession of the other two
mills, thus founding a mammoth establishment, the most
important of the kind in the United States. The existence
of a manufacturing concern of such magnitude has of course
been of the utmost benefit to Cohoes in a business point of
view, and contributed largely to its prosperity. Through
its means large accessions have been made to the population,
and the constant expenditures made by the corporation in
wages, in the erection of buildings and in various improve
ments have been of marked advantage to the commercial
interests of the place. But aside from this Cohoes is under
great obligations to the proprietors of the Harmony Mills
for the work they have done towards its material improve
ment. Their factory buildings are all handsomely con
structed, and the grounds connected with them tastefully
laid out; the streets and sidewalks adjacent to their pro-
31



242 HlSTOEY OF COHOES. , 1876.

perty are kept in the best condition, and the well built
blocks of tenements which have been erected in different
localities more particularly on the West Harmony are
creditable additions to the buildings of the city. Of these
tenements, which are nearly 1000 in number, over half have
been erected since 1860. Those more recently constructed,
at the northwest of Prospect Hill, occupy ground which ten
years ago was used as farm land, but is now regularly laid
out in well graded and macadamized streets provided with
asphalt sidewalks. The tenements are let to the operatives
at a merely nominal price, and in this, as in all other respects,
the company has manifested a laudable regard for the com



Online LibraryArthur H. (Arthur Haynesworth) MastenThe history of Cohoes, New York [electronic resource] from its earliest settlement to the present time → online text (page 20 of 30)