Amasa J. (Amasa Junius) Parker.

Landmarks of Albany County, New York online

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house on the corner of Jefferson and Swan streets. To complete the
equipment of the department, four substantial tenders were purchased.
On the 2d day of September, 1867, the board of commis.sioners decided
to locate a steamer in the house of Engine 13, and ordered another from
the Amoskeag works. A new organization was formed for it, known
as Steamer No. 0. The addition of this company increased the force
to one hundred and sixty-nine officers and men. Truck 1 was located
in the old house on Westerlo street; Truck 2 was located in the old
house on Clinton avenue, near Chapel street, the horses being kept
in the house of Hose 2 on Chapel street, which was temporarily fitted
up as a stable. A new building was erected on Clinton avenue, west
of Hawk street, for this truck, which was completed about January 1,
18G8. Subsequently the commissioners ordered one more Amoskeag
engine, which was received December 1, 1867, to take the place
of the McOuade steamer. The Common Council directed the com-
missioners to sell such apparatus, etc., not including real estate, be-
longing to the old department, as in their judgment was not required
for the uses and purposes of the new department. The commissioners
advertised the sale by auction, which took place on the 30th day of Au-
gust, 1867, and realized the sum of $5,358.55. vSome of the old appar-
atus was retained and afterwards disposed of when an opportunity
presented itself.


Duvin"- the 3-ear 1871 two more Amoskeag- engines were ordered to
take the place of the Putnam for Steamer Company 2, and the Kearney
for Steamer Company 3. The Putnam and Kearney were then held in

A destructive fire on June 20, 1873, prompted the commissioners to
add to the apparatus of the department, and two more steamers were
purchased and two companies organized, as noted further on. On the
29th day of January, 1883, the department was again reorganized, pur-
suant to chapter 383 laws of 1882. In the reorganization the commis-
sioners were compelled to drop from active service many faithful and
efficient men, the total number under the new law being fixed at 102,
which was seventy-six less than under the old law. With two or three
exceptions, the appointments were all made from the ranks of the old
department. The foremen, without exception were all reappointed, as
were the four assistant engineers.

The dates of organization of the various companies comprising the
present department are as follows: Steamer 4, July 1, 1867; Truck 2,
July 2, 1867; Steamers 1, 2, and 3, July 13, 1867; Steamer 6, Novem-
ber 8, 1867; Steamer 7, September 22, 1873; Steamer 8, November 1,
1873; Steamer 9, July 2, 1888; Steamer 10, November 1, 1802; Truck
1, July 13, 1867; Truck 3, July 2, 1888.

The Fire Alarm Telegraph was put in operation on the 3d of June,
1S6S. The officials in charge of this branch of the service are as fol-
lows: John M. Carroll, superintendent: George Stanwix and Terrance
F. Hagan, operators; William H. Martin, lineman: William J. Toomey,
battery man.

F^ollowing is the official list from the organization in 1807 to the
present time:

Engineers— James McQiiade. chief, from April 20, 1867, to July 35, 1886, when he
(lied. Joseph C. Griffin, assistant from June 7, 1867, to date. John C. Mull, assist-
ant from June, 1867, to June 1, 188!), when he retired. George E. Mink, assistant
from June 7, 1867, to April o, 1887, when he resigned. Arthur McShane, assistant
from June 29, 1870. D. A. Ronan, assistant from July 1, 1870, to June 11, 1S71,
when he resigned. Patrick M. Mulcahy, assistant from June 11, 1871, to March 12,
1873, when he resigned. William K. Clute, assistant from March 18, 1873, to May 1,
1887, when he resigned. M. E. Higgins, assistant from June 1, 1885, to August 3.

1886, when he was promoted to chief, which position he now occupies. Matthew C.
Clark, assistant from August 3, 1886, tu July, 1896, when he retired. Thomas S.
Jones, assistant from April 5, 1887, to date. John J. Hughes, assistant from May 3,

1887, to date.

On February 10, 1890, by act of the Common Council, the depart-



ment was again reorganized, and thirty-four call men were replaced by
permanent men as follows: vSteamer No. 1, four men; No. 3, four
men; No. 4, eight men; No. 5, four men; No, 6, four men; Truck 1,
five men; Truck 2, five men.

The present Board of Fire Commissioners is as follows: Hon. John
Boyd Thacher (mayor), president ex officio. , James McCredie, Rich-
ard \'. De Witt, Richard I^awrence, Henry Patton, and Lewis J. Miller,
clerk of the board.

/ 'aluation of Fire Department Property.

Real estate -..- S163,-000 00

Apparatus 61,490 00

Furniture, fixtures, etc 33,000 00

Fire-alarm telegraph apparatus, fixtures and supplies 67,000 00

Horses, harness, etc 30,000 00

Hose, fixtures, tools, etc. 31,000 00

Repair shop and supply department.. 12,000 00

Total §387,490 00

Per III am- nt ami Call I'orces of t lie Fire Department with Compensation.

Salary per
Permanent. annum.

1 Chief .§3,000

1 Permanent Assistant Engineer 1,000

1 Clerk - 1,500

1 Supervising Engineer 1,500

1 Superintendent Fire Alarm Telegraph 1,.500

1 Assistant Superintendent Fire Alarm Telegraph ...1,340

3 Operators Fire Alarm Telegraph, each 1,000

1 Lineman Fire Alarm Telegraph 900

1 Battery-man and Janitor Fire Alarm Telegraph 720

1 Superintendent Hose and Supph- Depots 1,200

1 Assistant Superintendent Hose and Supply Depots 720

10 Engineers of Steamers, each 1,080

10 Fireman of Steamers, each 720

10 Drivers of Steamers, each 720

24 Permanent Hosemen _ 720

10 Permanent Laddermen 720

3 Tillermen of Trucks, each 720

3 Drivers of Trucks, each 720

3 Permanent Laddermen of Trucks, each 720

1 Relief Engineer 1 ,080

1 Relief Fireman 720

1 Relief Driver 720

1 Relief Truckman. 720



1 Secretary of Board .$1,000

1 Veterinar)' Surgeon (including medicines) 600

1 Department Physician 500

3 Assistant Engineers, each - 400

10 Foreman of Steamers, each 300

8 Foreman of Trucks, each 300

oH Hoseman of Steamers, each - _ - 200

23 Call Laddermen of Trucks, each -.. 300

187 Total
The Albany Fire Department is now one of the most efficient in the
State. This fact is shown by the very limited fire losses of the year
from November, 18!)o, to November, 1896, the amount of which was
only $40,000.


Prior to 1851 there was no police department, as the title is now un-
derstood in Albany. For more than a century and a half good order
was maintained by the constables appointed by the Common Council,
though they were sometimes termed police constables. The charter of
1()8() designated one high constable and three subordinates with the
title of constable, one from each ward, to be appointed annually. This
practice continued until 1737, when the number was increased to two
from each ward. These officers also collected taxes, kept the public
pound, and one or more were required to be on duty on Sundays. For
many years it was not a salaried office, the small pay consisting of
certain fees. Anthony Bries was high constable in 1696, the first one
named in the records. He was followed by William Hogan and Jtj-
hannes Harmesen. In the early part of the present century the title
police constables began to be used for these officers, although their
character had not been changed. In 1827 the constables asked the
council for increased pay, as their duties then occupied nearly or quite
their whole time.

Under certain legislative acts of IS.^1 a police force was organized
on substantially the same basis of the present organization. It then
consisted of a chief, four captains, four assistant captains, forty police-
men, four doormen, and six constables. John Morgan was the first
chief of police. The cost of maintaining the department for the year
1852 was $27,000. A reorganization of the force took place in 1856,
under which some needed changes were made. In 1872 .still another


reorganization took place, under chapter 378 of the laws of that year,
which provided that the mayor should be an ex officio member of the
Board of Police Commissioners. Other features of the act provided
for the removal of commissioners by the Common Council ; for filling-
vacancies in the board; that certain court attendants be appointed from
the patrolmen; and for the payment of traveling expenses in connec-
tion with the department. At the present time the department is entirely
under the control of a non-partisan board of police commissioners, four
in number, in addition to the mayor, who is ex officio president. The
city is divided into five precincts, and the police force has been grad-
ually increased as necessity demanded until it now numbers: the chief,
six captains, fifteen sergeants, 133 patrolmen, four detectives, five
station house keepers, four court officers, a property clerk, a surgeon
and a matron. The salary list of the force for 1894-5 amounted to
$137,316.82, and the other expenses increased this sum to $150,000.
The receipts were about $7,000, chiefly from the police office.

In 1820 a resolution was offered in the Common Council intended to
abolish the salary of the police justice, as it was claimed that the office
was a sinecure. The resolution was lost and the board then chose
Philip Phelps and Tennis Slingerland, police magistrates. Since then
John Cole (father of Charles W. Cole, present superintendent of

schools), Kane, Cicero Loveridge, Isaac N. Comstock, Sylvanus

H. H. Parsons, John W. McNamara, William K. Clute, Martin B.
Conway, now surrogate judge, John C. Nott, Myer Nusbaum, John
Gutman, Peter a vStevens since 1890, and Daniel Adler, who succeeded
John Gutman in the autumn (;f 1894, both now on the bench, have held
the office.






The town of Watervliet (changed to the town of Colonic in 1896) is
the mother of towns in Albany county. The Manor of Rensselaerwyck
was divided into the east and west districts on March 5, 1779, the Hud-
son River separating the two districts. The west district was defined as
all that part of the manor lying north of an east and west line from
Beeren (Baeren) Island north to Cumberland county, excepting the city
of Albany.

The town of Watervliet 2 was erected March 7, 178S, and included the
territory of the west district of Rensselaerwyck, with certain govern-
ment lands in its northeastern part which were transferred to purchasers
direct from the English crown by deed. One of these old deeds is in
possession of the Van Denbergh family, to one of whom it was given,
as noticed further on ; it is written on parchment, bears the great wax
seal of the crown, and is dated October 21, 1697.

From this great town of Watervliet, with its somewhat indefinite
boundaries, was set off Rensselaerville in 1790 (then embracing what is
now Berne and a part of Westerlo) ; Coeymans in 1791 (then including
a part of what is now Westerlo); Bethlehem in 1793 (then including
what is now New Scotland) ; Guilderland in 1803, and Niskayuna in
1809. Besides these territorial changes, the original town has under-
gone several others of importance. That part of the city of Albany
lying north of Patroon and Quackenbush streets was incorporated as

' It will be observed that the town histories in this volume succeed each other as nearly as
possible in chronological order as to the dates of the formation of the towns. This arrangement
is believed to be preferable to placing them in alphabetical order for reasons that are apparent,
and chiefly that historical continuity is thus preserved.

» The name. Watervliet, is Dutch and derived from water and vlatke, the latter meaning level
plains or flats; it was applied to the level lands along the river which are subject to overflow;
hence "overflowed flats," or water-vlakte. The last syllable has been corrupted into "vliet."


the town of Colonic March 31, 1791, and reincorporated March 30,
iSoi. On the 9th of April. 1804, this territory was incorporated as a
village,' and on April 11, 1808, it was erected into a town by act of
Legislature. Colonic existed as a town until F"ebruary 25, 18 15, when
it was divided and a part annexed to Albany, and the remainder to the
town of Watervliet. In 1870 a part of the town of Watervliet, which
had been included in the old boundaries of Colonic, was annexed to
Albany. The city of Cohoes was set off from the town of Watervliet
in 1869. The other territorial changes which have been made within
the past two years will be noticed further on.

The surface of this town is chiefly upland and rises to a height of from
200 to 300 feet above the Hudson River. The declivities of the uplands
are broken by many gullies which have been worn out by the streams.
The intervale extending along the river with a width of about half a
mile, has a rich and fertile alluvial soil and is frequently overflowed by
freshets. The soil of the uplands is a light and sandy loam. Quarries
of the graywacke stone furnish excellent building and flagging material.
Bog iron ore has been found in a few localities, and there are several mild
sulphur and chalybeate springs within the town, the waters of which
have been used to some extent. The principal streams in the town,
aside from the Hudson and Mohawk Rivers, are Patroon's Creek and its
tributaries in the southern part, the Sandy Kill, Lisha's Kill, Town
Branch, Schauline Creek, Donker Kill, Dry Branch, Ralger Kill, and
Red Creek.

At Cohoes the Mohawk flows over a rocky declivity seventy eight
feet high, about half of which distance is nearly perpendicular. The
banks above and below the falls are high and precipitous. Here an
immense water power has been developed and applied to extensive
manufacturing industries.

' In reference to the village incorporation the following is quoted from the session laws of
1.S04: "An act to vest certain powers in the freeholders and inhabitants of that part of the
Town of Water Vliet, in the County of Albany, commonly called the Colonie, which was incorpo-
rated, April 9. 1804, as follows: 'Lying on the west bank of Hudson's River, in the northeast
bounds of the City of Albany, extending north about three-fourths of a mile to Mill Creek;
thence west one mile up along said creek; thence southerly with a line parallel to the said river
till it strikes the north bounds of said city; thence east to the place of beginning." " The village
was to elect five persons as trustees, who were empowered to make by-laws, levy ta.Kes and per-
form other duties; a treasurer, collector and five assessors were also to be elected by the free-
holders. The first town meeting was held at the house of William Kane, in April, 1809, no records
of which can be found.

The Champlain Canal was opened southward to the village of Water-
ford in November, 1822, and fully completed in September of the fol-
lowing year. It extends from Lake Champlain to the Erie Canal at a
point a little north of West Troy. The Erie Canal, finished in 1825,
crosses the eastern part of this town in a northerly and southerly direc-
tion, passing through Cohoes and West Troy. It rises from the Hudson
through Cohoes by a series of eighteen locks to the most northerly
portion of the town, 188 feet above tide. There it crosses the river
into Saratoga county in a stone aqueduct 1, 137/4 ^e^t long, twenty-
six feet high, which rests on twenty-six piers.

The first settlements in the territory now included in the town of
Watervliet, as well as in other parts of the great Manor of Rensselaer-
wyck, the trading operations carried on by the pioneers in early years,
and their relations with the Indians, have been quite fully treated in
earlier chapters. The richness and beauty of the lands along the Hudson
and Mohawk Rivers.and their proximity to Fort Orange, which gave them
protection, early attracted settlers to this immediate region. The first
of these located north of Albany along the river as far as the site of
Fort Schuyler, which became a part of West Troy. A map of the Van
Rensselaer Manor, made in 1767, shows that at that date there were
only 148 families located west of the Hudson River. Within the terri-
tory now embraced in the town of Watervliet the following names ap-
pear on that map : Those along the Hudson from Albany to the mouth
of the Mohawk were Jeremiah Schuyler, Peter Schuyler, Col. Philip
Schuyler, Peter Cluet (to the westward of the Schuylers), Jonas Sharp,
Guy Young, Hans Van Arnum, Jan Outhout, Henry BuUsing, Cornel-
ius Van Denbergh, and Wirt Van Denbergh. Those along the Mohawk
from its mouth northward were Jonas Outhout, Abram Van Denbergh,

Cornelius Van Denbergh. Lansing, Henry Lansing, Cornelius On-

derkerk, Douw Fonda, Franz Lansing, Dirk Hemstraet. At the Boght
were Hans Lansing, William Liverse, Jan Douwve Fonda (with Fred-
erick Clute and Wynans on colonial lands). Along the Mohawk

west of the Boght were Daniel Van Olinda, Jacob Clute, Bastian Visher,
Jacob Freltie, Diederick Scheffer, Martys Bovee, Fransway Bovie, Hans

Heemstraet, Bastian Cregier, Duyvepagh, Simon Groet, Hans*

Cluet, Robert Canier. In the northwest corner were Consaloe,


Hans Consaloe, Isaac Truax, The following lived over the Manor line:

Cluet, John Schuyler, Nicholas Hallenbeck, and Glen Braat. On

the sand road to Schenectady were John Richies, at the Knil ; Christie
at the Sandbergh, and one family at the Verfbergh.i This list gives a
clear idea of the early comers who leased lands of the Patroon and laid
the foundation of homes.

The old Schuyler mansion is still standing on the west bank of the
Hudson River, near the southern boundary of West Troy. It was erected
about 1768, and replaced and stands on the old foundation of the still
earlier building that was burned. The first structure was erected
probably before 1700. In 1672 Philip Schuyler, father of Col. Peter
Schuyler, purchased a large tract of land of the Patroou, which included
territory within the southern limits of what became West Troy and ex-
tended over part of the flats still farther south. These flat lands were used
for agricultural purposes as early as 1642, and were occupied from that
date to 1660 by Arent Van Curler, and after him by Richard Van Reus-
selaer. On September 14, 1691, Peter Schuyler, son of Philip, married
Maria Van Rensselaer, sister of Killian Van Rensselaer, the Patroon,
and in April, 1711, took up his residence in the mansion. At that
time the main road from Albany ran between the residence and the
river. For a time during Col. Schuyler's occupancy of the mansion
public safety was greatly endangered by French and Indian hos-
tility, but through Colonel Schuyler's friendship and influence with
the latter, serious outbreak was averted or mitigated. This fact gave
him a commanding position in the colony. Hence, when it was decided
to send a delegation of Indian chiefs to England, to see the sovereign
of that nation and thus gain their further alliance. Col. Schuyler was
selected to accompany them. After considerable difficulty the chiefs
consented to go, provided their friend, in whom they implicitly trusted,
would be their escort. The expedition was in every way successful
and the chiefs were much gratified with their reception by Queen Anne
and her court. The English sovereign desired to confer knighthood
upon Colonel Schuyler, an honor which he respectfully declined as out
of keeping with his present habits and surroundings. In 1719 Philip

'The reader will nntiee the spelling of many of these names, wliieh has materially ehanxed in

Schuyler, eldest son of Colonel Peter, married Catalina Schuyler, his
cousin, whose father had been for a number of years mayor of Albany.
Upon the death of his father Philip Schuyler became owner of the lands
and the mansion, and rose to prominence in public affairs; was a mem-
ber of the Colonial Assembly, a colonel in the army and the first per-
son to raise a body of soldiers in the interior of the province to join in
the French and Indian war. Colonel Philip Schuyler died in February,
1758, leaving a widow, but no children. The property was devised to
the widow during her lifetime and thereafter to go to his nephew, Peter
Schuyler, who was an orphan and who had lived with the Colonel. The
old mansion has always remained in the Schuyler family and is still a
landmark of great interest.

With few exceptions the early settlers were Dutch, and in the fore-
going list are found many of the names of families that have ever since
been prominent in this vicinity and many whose descendants are still
among the foremost men of Albany and Rensselaer counties. Of some
of these it is proper to speak more in detail.

The Lansing family is descended from Hendrick Lansing, of the town
of Hasselt, Province of Overyssel. He had a son, Gerret,' who was an
early settler at Beverwyck and died before October, 1679. This Gerret
was father of Hendrick, Gerrit, and Johannes (sons), and Hilletie, who
married Storm Van Derzee, son of Albert Andriesen Bradt ; Alltie,
who married Gerrit Van Slichtenhorst ; Gysbertie, who married Hen-
drick Janse Roseboom. From these children have originated the vari-
ous Lansing families of the country. Hendrick Lansing, son of the
first Gerret, was in Albany as early as 1666, and died in July, 1709.
He had a son Jacob who married Hellina Piuyn ; Jacob died in 1792
and his wife in 1827. Their son Hendrick J. married Lena Wynne in
1769, and their other son, Benjamin, married Mary Tymerson. The
children of the last named couple were Peter, who married Catharine
Norris ; Helen, who married Lewis Morris; Henry B., who married
Eliza Putnam and afterward Sarah Knight ; Cornelius T., who married
Catharine Gillson and afterward Caroline Steers. This family settled
at Lisha's Kill and constitute one branch of the Lansing family.

Col. John V. A. Lansing came here in 1791 or 1792, married Harriet
Verplank and settled on the farm occupied in recent years by his grand-
son, Vischer Lansing. He had four sons and four daughters. The sons
married four daughters of Cornelius Groat, and the daughters married
respectively Richard J. Pearse (second, Garret L. Winne), Sebastian
Pearse, Jacob Weaver, and Jacob C. Lansing.

Gerret and Ryckert-CIaas Van Vranken, sons of Claas Van Vranken,
early took up lands in Niskayuna and from them descended many fami-
lies of that name. Pctrus Van Vranken, a great-grandson of Gerret
Van Vranken, married a daughter of Dirk Groat, from which family
came the Watervhet descendants of that name.

Jacob Lansing, who had previously married Hellena Huyck, came from
Holland about 1700. He had a son John who settled in the vicinity of
the Boght, on the farm owned in recent years by Egbert Lansing.
Gerret, son of Rutger Lansing, settled on the Mohawk River above the
falls. There, in 1795, near the site of the Cohoes dam, Isaac D. F.
Lansing, a descendant, erected a large two-story brick house, and made
other improvements

Isaac Fonda, born in Holland in 1715, came early to this country
and in 1749 married Cornelia De Friest. He became the owner of
landed interests, portions of which still remain in possession of his de-
scendants. These are traced through his son, Isaac I., and his descend-
ants, Isaac I., jr., Cornelius I., James V. V., Daniel D., and Charles
Fonda. A part of the old Fonda house, built before the Revolution, is
still attached to a dwelling on the homestead farm. In that small room
Richard Kloet kept a tavern in Revolutionary times, and there is a
tradition that General Washington was once a guest in the old house.
Gerardus Kloet, Hendrick Rider, Jocob Lansing, and Dirk Bradt, occu-
pied lands adjoining those of the pioneer, Isaac P'onda. Other Fonda
families were those of Henry I , Isaac H., and Douw. The latter came
with his wife from Holland, and the family is now represented by de-
scendants of his sons, Abram and Douw.

Daniel Van Olinda was another early resident of the town and ob-
tained a tract of land from John De Puyster, which is described in a deed
given to Isaac Fonda.

The government lands alluded to on a preceding page, came into


possession of Peter P. and Garret Van Denbergh, sons of Peter Van
IJenbergh. In 1805 Peter P. gave a partition deed to his sons, Douw,
Peter G., Isaac G., and Cornelius G. Portions of this property have
remained in possession of descendants of these families to the present

Jacob Ciuet and his sons, Johannes J. and Jacob, were early settlers

Online LibraryAmasa J. (Amasa Junius) ParkerLandmarks of Albany County, New York → online text (page 40 of 138)