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Amasa J. (Amasa Junius) Parker.

Landmarks of Albany County, New York online

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due largely to early efforts by Mrs. Elizabeth McClure, Mrs. William B.
Gourley.and Mrs. CorneliusTen Broeck, with William Sawyer's co-opera-
tion. After interest in the matter was thoroughly awakened a meeting
was held in November, 1875, at which a sermon appropriate to the subject
was preached by Rev. Ebenezer Halley, D. D. , and the announcement was
made that at a previous meeting an organization had been effected and
officers elected. Subscriptions were persistently sought and by the
autumn of 1876 the sum of $18,000 had been accumulated. On Octo-
ber 6, 1876, the Home for Aged Men was incorporated, with the fol-
lowing trustees: John Taylor Cooper, Maurice E. Viele, William Saw-
yer, S. Visscher Talcott, Dudley Olcott, Ebenezer Halley, William Van
Antwerp, Benjamin W. Arnold, James H. McClure, James B. Jermain,
Jeremiah Waterman, and David A. Thompson. Of these John Taylor
Cooper was elected president; James B. Jermain and Jeremiah Water-
man, vice-presidents; Dudley Olcott, treasurer; David A. Thompson,



secretary. On the 1 6th of November, 1876, the trustees purchased the
present site of Mrs. Harriet Day Perry, paying $1 1,000 for the dwelling
and about four acres of land ; this amount was increased to $20,000 by
needed changes and improvements. The Home was dedicated March
28, 1878, and has accommodations for about thirty inmates.

At the time of the erection of the town of Watervliet there was no
school system in existence. Facilities for acquiring education were lim-
ited to scattering transient schools, usually miserably taught, with here
and there a so-called private school, where some young man, oftentimes
a preacher, who had received a little better education than his immediate
associates, endeavored to eke out a slender income by teaching.

In 1795, Albany county received from the State ;^i,590 for school
purposes, which was properly divided among the several towns. This
was the first efifective step towards founding the free school system and has
has been described in Chapter XVI. In September, 181 3, this town
was subdivided into twelve school districts. This number has been
repeatedly changed, gradually increasing, except as it may have been
decreased by reduction of the town area. In i860, for, example, there
weretwenty-ninedistricts, whileat the present time there are only twenty-
six having school houses. The towns of Watervliet, Knox, and Guilder-
land now constitute the third school commissioner district of the county.
The last report of the commissioner for the district states that many of
the school buildings of the district had undergone repairs in the pre-
ceding year, and he believed they compared favorably with those of
any district in the State.

WE.ST TROY— CITY OF WATERVLIET.

What has been for many years known as the village of West Troy,
but which has very recently been made the new city of Watervliet, is
situated opposite Troy city, on the west bank of the Hudson River and
extending northward to the southern " sprout " of the Mohawk, which
there empties into the Hudson forming Green Island. West Troy was
incorporated April 30, 1836, taking within its boundaries what had
previously been known as the villages of Gibbonsville, Port Schuyler,
and West Troy. Of these three only Gibbonsville was inco-porated.



412

Port Schuyler was that part of the present village (or city) lying south
of the arsenal property, the land being a part of the farm of John
Schuyler and Peter Schuyler, which was purchased in 1827 of them by
Willard Earl, Jabez Burrows, Abijah Wheeler, David Wheeler, Enoch
Burrows, Gilbert C. Bedell and Jonathan Hart. These purchasers
formed the Port Schuyler Company, who, after the purchase, laid out
the land in village lots. This settlement was known still earlier as the
village of Washington, the settlement of which began at an early period,
as the Reformed Dutch church was organized at a meeting held in the
village of Washington in 1814.

Gibbonsville was that part of West Troy lying between Port Schuyler
on the south and Bufifalo street on the north, the land having been
originally owned by James Gibbons, an Albany merchant, who laid it
out in lots and gave it his name. The settlement grew and in 1824
was incorporated. It was governed by the usual village officers until
1836, when the act incorporating it was repealed by the act creating
the village of West Troy.

The trustees of Gibbonsville, elected each succeeding year, were as
follows, the first named in each instance being chosen as president at
the first meeting of the board:

1827, Elijah Ranny, Edward Learned, Isaac Chapman, James T. Morrison, Moses
Tyler; 1828, Amos Larcom, Moses Tyler, William G. Groesbeck, David Morrison,
Isaac H. Williams; 1829, Daniel T. Wandell, Isaac Chapman, David Wheeler, Moses
Tyler, Charles Learned; 1830, Jonathan H. Dyer, Hiram M. Hopkins, Levi Lincoln,
Moses Tyler, James T. Morrison; ISiil, Isaac Chapman, Ephraim Baldwin, Hiram
M. Hopkins. William P. Hall, David Wheeler; 1832, William G. Groesbeck, Moses
Tyler, Smith Ballou. Jonathan H. Dyer, Zachariah Craver; 1833, Isaac Chapman,
Henry Thalhimer, Zachariah Craver, John Tisdall, Leonard Hannum; 1834. Isaac
Chapman, Charles Learned, John B. Chollar, Eben Jones Benjamin Brown; 183.').
Edward Learned. Martin Witbeck, John C. Green. Jonathan H. Dyer.

Previous to its incorporation West Troy was that part of the present
village lying north of Buffalo street and south of the northern boundary
line established by the act of incorporation. This was the old line
dividing the farms of John Bleeker ^ and Volkert Oothout. The West
Troy site was originally the farm of John Bleeker and was purchased of
him in 1823 by a number of capitalists associated as the West Troy
Company. The deed transferred about 400 acres of land, with some

1 In the old ix-cords Uiib name is spelled as here; in later times it has been spelled " Bleecker."




MERLIN J. ZEH, M. D.



413

small reservations, to George Tibbetts, Nathan Warren and Richard
Hart, of Troy, and Philip Schuyler, of Saratoga, as trustees; their
associates were Esaias Warren, Stephen Warren, Jacob Merritt, George
Vail, Samuel Gale, Ebenezer Wiswall, Elias Patlison, Philip Hart, jr.,
John D. Dickinson, John P. Cushman, John Paine, Theodore F. French,
and William Hart. The consideration was $45,000. That part of the
tract lying east of West street was laid out in village lots and streets,
while the remainder was laid out in so-called farm lots of ten to twent)'-
five acres each ; most of the latter lots have since been subdivided and
built upon. At the date of the purchase there was no building on the
tract of any account excepting a small two-story tavern ; this stood
on the site of the Rath block of recent times, and may have been
erected before the Revolution. The act incorporating West Troy di-
vided the village into fi)ur wards and the first village election was or-
dered to be held on the first Tuesday in May, 1836. It was so held
and the following persons were elected president and trustees : Presi-
dent, Edward Learned ; trustees, Thomas Evans, Jonathan Hart, First
ward ; Isaac Chapman, Hiram M. Hopkins, Second ward ; Samuel II.
Ford, Henry Kimberly, Third ward ; Abram Van Arnam, jr., Joseph
Twist, Fourth ward. The number of votes polled at this election was
476. The inspectors of election were Alva W. Rockwell, David D.
Abrams, and Albert S. Blackman, First ward ; Isaac Chapman, Martin
Witbeck and John C. Green, Second ward ; Samuel E. Ford, John T.
Van Alstyne and Andrew Meneely, Third ward ; Abel W. Richardson,
Abraham Van Arnam, jr., and Alexander S. Lobdell, Fourth ward.
All of these early officials were then leading men in the community.

For some years after its incorporation the village grew quite rapidly.
The establishment in Gibbonsville of the United States Arsenal in 1813,
the opening of the Erie Canal through the place and its enlargement,
wliich was in progress in 1836, contributed to the prosperity of the new
village. The first purchase of the United States from Mr. Gibbons
comprised twelve acres; to this was added thirty acres more in 1828;
the price of the first tract was $2,585, and of the second, $9,622. The
deed of I 8 13 mentions Beaver street and Albany street, showing that
some part of that village was laid out prior to that year ; but most of
the survey of lots and streets was made in 1828. In what was the vil-



414

lage of Washington (afterwards Port Schuyler) a canal, known as the
lower side cut, was constructed from the river to the Erie Canal. Later
the proprietors of West Troy constructed a canal, beginning at tiie
south side of the side-cut at Union street between Broadway and the
F.rie Canal, and extending south to the north side of Genesee street,
where it turned and ran into the Erie ; there a dry dock was built. This
canal was ultimately filled up. The West Troy people also contem-
plated another canal to begin at the west side of the Erie at Union street,
extending through that street to West street, through West to the South
side of Genesee, where it was to turn east and extend into Burlington
street, thence through Burlington to Canal street (now Central avenue),
and thence east through Canal street to the Erie. It was never built,
but the intention is commemorated in the extra width of Union, Bur-
lington and Canal streets. The first weigh lock for the Erie Canal was
built in 1825 on the south side of Union street a little west of Broad-
way, and the weighing was done by the measurement of water drawn
from one reservoir to another, in one of which the boat was stationed.
It did not prove reliable and was soon superseded by scales of a crude
pattern; these were followed in 1853 by the present improved weigh-
lock. The canal was so far completed in October, 1823, as to allow
boats to run from Gibbonsville to Rochester. This is shown by the
following from the Troy Sentinel of October 10, 1823 :

The opening of the Erie Canal on Wednesday, October 8, 1823, was celebrated by
the people of Troy in the following practical manner. When the procession of boats
from the junction of the northern and western canals had passed on to Albany,
according to the order of arrangements previously made, the Trojan Trader, a west-
ern freight boat, came down to the bridge near the Gibbonsville basin, opposite this
city, and took on board the first load of merchandise sent from the Hudson west on
the Erie Canal. ... As the side cut into the river opposite to Troy was not yet
done, and as the junction canal, though completed and filled with water, could not
yet be opened, so as to permit the Trojan Trader to come around by Waterford,
down the Hudson, to be loaded at the wharf, it became necessary to transport the
goods on wheels across the river to the place of embarkation on the main trunk of
the canal. Accordingly, in the morning, this necessity being intimated to the car-
men of Troy, with an alacrity highly honorable to their public spirit, they volun-
teered their services with one accord, to take the goods over. After loading their
teams, they proceeded in two divisions to the two ferries, and being, through the
liberality of Mr. Vanderheyden, the proprietor of the two ferries, taken across in his
horse boats, toll free, they had the goods all on the bank of the canal by five o'clock.
Several of our citizens lent their assistance to load the boat, and at two o'clock the



415

Trader, having on board upwards of twenty-five tons of merchandise, with her Hag
flying, and amid the cheers of assembled Trojans, started for the west. The Trojan
Trader is commanded by Captain Brace; she is bound for Rochester, and on her flag
are painted the following words: "From Troy; the first western boat loaded at
Hudson River."

These three villages which formed West Troy in 1836 would have
doubtless been more active through the influence of the canal, had it
not been for the fact that as a rule all first- class passengers going to or
from Albany did not pass through the village ; they took or left the
boats, as the case might be, at Schenectady, between which place and
Albany ran a regular line of coaches, which shortened the time required
to make the trip on the canal.

The side cut opposite to Troy, mentioned in the foregoing extract,
was finished on Saturday, November 15, 1823. In the afternoon the
locks were ready, the water was let in, and the packet Superior, with a
large party of citizens on board, passed through and crossed the river
to Troy ; two freight boats followed, one loaded with staves and the
other with wheat.

It has been incidentally stated that there were two ferries across the
river when the canal was opened. One of these was at the foot of
Ferry street, and was called the Gibbonsville ferry ; the other was at
the foot of Canal street (now Central avenue), which was called the
West Troy ferry. Both of these were undoubtedly owned at one
period by Derrick Y. Van Derheyden. The West Troy Ferry was sub-
sequently purchased by the West Troy Company. The date at which
it was established is unknown, but Van Derheyden purchased the land
on which the city of Troy stands in 1707, and the ferry may have been
established soon afterward. In 1794 it was being operated by his son,
Jacob D. Van Derheyden. It was over this ferry that the American
troops crossed in 1777 to take part in the battle at Stillwater.

In 1807 Daniel T. Wandell, of Troy, established what is known as
the Middle Ferry, from a point near Buffalo street, to a point on the
Troy side a little south of Division street. This ferry was sold in 18 10
to Derrick Y. Van Derheyden, who thereupon discontinued it. For
some time prior to 1834 Mr. Wandell was superintendent of the Gib-
bonsville and the West Troy ferries. Some of the early ferry boats
were operated by horse power, the horse being stationed on the boat



410

and supplying tlie power that turned the paddles. This kind of boat
was the invention of a Mr. Langdon and was first used in 1819. The
first steam ferry boat was run over the West Troy ferry by Mr Wandell
about 1833 ; but it did not prove successful and was abandoned. Soon
after the purchase of the Van Derheyden ferry by the West Troy Com-
pany, they purchased also the Gibbonsville ferry and discontinued it,
their intention being to force the line of travel farther up town.

The three ferries now running are, the oldest at the foot of Cen-
tral avenue, commonly known as the Mark Ferry; another from the
southerly point of Green Island near the foot of Union street, owned
by Thomas Rath, John Reiley and Joseph McLean ; and the third from
a point a little north of North street, near the Arsenal ; this one is
owned and operated by Clark W. Delano and Frederick T. Hathaway.

The iron highway bridge at the foot of Genesee street to the foot of
Congress street in Troy was built by the Troy and West Troy Bridge
Company, incorporated April 23, 1872; the bridge was completed Oc-
tober I, 1874, the entire cost being $350,000.

West Troy was in early years a center of a large river business in
both passenger and freight traffic on sailing vessels called either sloops,
schooners or scows, according to their stj le of construction. Passenger
traffic by sailing vessel was abandoned before the village incorporation
in 1836; but from about 1830 to 1845 an immense trade was carried
on in lumber, which came down the canal, was unloaded here and re-
loaded on the sailing vessels for points further down the river. About
130 of these vessels were engaged in this business at one time at this
village. The docks were situated north of Genesee street and south of
Buffalo street. Between those streets at that time the river front was
not filled in. The following is a list of vessels of West Troy, with the
names of their masters :

.S/i'ii/>s.— American Banner, Capt. Thomas Rafferty ; Active, Capt. Butler Hubbard ;
Burlington, Capt. Silas Betts; Samuel Brewster, Capt. Andrew Hitchcock; Belve-
dere, Capt. Peter Hicks; Commodore Rogers, Capt. James Warford ; Clarissa, Capt.
(ieorge Collins; Clinton, Capt. Robert Robinson; Currier, Capt. Thomas Anderson;
Conveyance, Capt. Stephen Wa.shburn, sr. ; David U. Crane, Capt. Asahel W. Gil-
bert; Don Ramone, Capt. Harlow Rhodes; Fox, Capt. Stephen Washburn, sr. ;
Henry Gage, Capt. William Lobdell ; Highlander, Capt. William Crawford; James
North, Capt. William Foot; Juno. Capt. John Silliman ; Kinderhook, Capt. James
Warford; Leader, Capt. William Wood; Jane McCoy, Capt. Andrew Foster ; Martha



417

Ann, Capt. James Hardy; Minerva, Capt. John King; William Mayo, Capt. Meueely
Hitchcoclc; Mecliauic, Capt. Isaac Hubbard; North America, Capt. Daniel Curtis;
Miriam, Capt. Isaac R. Getty; Pilot, Capt. John Kmg; Ranger, Capt. David King;
Peter Ritter, Capt. Charles Mead; Superior, Capt. I.saac R. Getty; Shepherdess,
Capt. Patrick Lamb; Senator, Capt. Isaac Hitchcock; Pierre Van Cortlandt, Capt.
Jacob Young; Robert Wiltsey, Capt. William Harvey; John Ward, Capt. Alfred
Mosher.

Sc/i00Hf>s. — Thomas H. Benton, Capt. John Garrahan; Ballston, Capt. William
Wood; Cadmus, Capt. Andrew Hitchcock; Eleanor, Capt. John Evertsen; Isaac
Merritt, Capt. James Wood; Mary Anna, Capt. Asahel W. Gilbert; Meridan, Capt.
Henry Evertsen; Miller, Capt. Medad Wood; Commodore Porter, Capt. Richard
JlcLaughlin; Regulator, Capt. Henry Finch; Andrew Stewart, Capt. Asahel W.
Gilbert; David Smith, Capt. James Farrell; Stranger, Capt. Edward Lane; Ann S.
Salter, Capt. Asahel W. Gilbert; Caleb Wright, Capt. Jonathan Patridge.

Siows. — Grampus, Capt. Washington Mowry ; Hercules, Capt. James Hitchcock;
Ohio, Capt. Hiram Tin.slar; United States, Capt. Stephen Washburn, jr.; Globe,
Capt. James Hillis.

Of the captains above mentioned only a few now remain residents of
this viUage, the greater number having died, while a few have removed.
Among those now living and residing here may be mentioned Isaac
R. Getty and Asahel W. Gilbert.

Captain Getty was born at Lansingburgh, Rensselaer county, N Y ,
November 24, 1 807, and began his life upon the river when seventeen
years of age, and came to West Troy to reside in 1838. He followed
the river for fifty-five years, and is now the oldest river captain residing
in this village. At ditlerent times during the period of fifty-five years
during which he was upon the river he was master of seven different
sailmg vessels and of eleven different steam vessels

C;iptain Gilbert was born in Troy in 18 19, and followed the river
from 1829 to 1870, coming to West Troy to reside in 1845. During
the time he followed the river he was at different periods captain of ten
different sailing vessels and five steam vessels. He also built and sold
a number of sailing crafts.

The village of West Troy was divided into four school districts, each
ward constituting a district, the First ward being district No I ; the Sec-
ond ward district No. 2 ; the Third ward district No. 20, and the Fourth
ward district No. 9. This system was established in 18 13. The first school
house in district No. i was in what became Port Schuyler ; that for district
No. 2 in Gibbonsville ; that for district No. 9 was out in the countrj'.
No. 20 was created some years later from No. 2. With the growth of



418

the village additional school buildings were erected and the West Troy
Union School district was formed. There are now two school buildings
at Port Schuyler; two in the Second ward ; one each in the Third and
Fourth wards, and one leased at Port Schuyler and one in the First
ward.

The first fire department in West Troy consisted some thirty years
ago of three hand engines and two hook and ladder companies, with
names as follows : Rip Van Winkle Engine Company No. i, Protection
Engine Company No. 2, and Conqueror Engine Company No. 3 ;
Hercules Hook and Ladder Company No. i, and Spartan Hook and
Ladder Company No. 2. The old hand engines long ago went out of
service. From the date of the incorporation of the village down to 1881
the fire department was under control of the trustees of the village. In
that year a board of fire commissioners was created by act of the Leg-
islature. There are at present in existence the Oswold Hose Company
No. I, organized in 1859; the Michael Kelly Hose Company No. 2,
organized in 1870; Thomas Mclntyre Hose Company No. 3, organized
in 1873; Protection Hose Company No. 4, organized in 1878; S J.
Gleason Hook and Ladder Company No. i, organized in 1872. The
first steam fire engine was purchased by the village in 1864 and the
company organized to take charge of it was called James Roy No. i.
In 1867 a second steamer was purchased and James Duffy Company
No. 2 organized to take charge of it. In 1873 the third and last steamer
was purchased and Martin Tierney Company No. 3 organized.

The West Troy Water Works Company was incorporated in 1876,
the supply being taken from the Mohawk in the extreme northeast part
of the town, whence it is pumped into a reservoir on the hill about a
mile west of the Arsenal ; from that it flows by gravity through the vil-
lage mains. The cost of the system was about $275,000, and the water
is largely used. The first board of directors of the company were
George R. Meneely, Alfred Riosher, George M. Wiswall, Jesse C. Day-
ton, Lorenzo D. Collins, John Reiley, George Tweddle, William B.
Williams, Richard S. Lobdell, and George B. Mosher. The company
has recently been reorganized, with new officers, and is planning for
large extension of the system. With the introduction of this water



419

supply the steam fire engines of the village were largely disused, though
two of them are at the present time kept in commission on account of
the weak pressure of the water in the mains.

West Troy was without a regular organized police force until 1865,
when the Capitol Police District was organized under legislative act,
embracing Albany, Troy, Schenectady, West Troy, Green Island, Lans-
ingburgh, Cohoes and Greenbush with certain parts of the towns of
Watervliet and North Greenbush. This district was divided into the
Troy Division and the Albany Division ; West Troy was included in
the Troy Division, over which John M. Landon was the first deputy
superintendent. The first officers and patrolmen were as follows:
Captain, Lansing Clute ; sergeant, Abram E. Lansing; patrolmen, C.
Spencer Loomis, Richard Crooks, Martin V. B. Jones, James Smith,
Charles H. Cary, John W. Decker, and Patrick Rogers. By a legisla-
tive act of 1S70 the Capitol Police District act was repealed as far it
applied to this village and the West Troy police force was establislied.
The village electors were authorized to elect four police commissioners,
the first board being Ebenezer Scoville, John I. Winne, William C.
Durant, and Isaac R. Getty. This board organized the force with James
O. Wood, captain, and Sylvanus K. Jefferson, sergeant. The force now
comprises twelve men.

The building known as Corporation Hall was erected in 1864 at a
cost of $20,000. It contains apartments for the fire department, the
meeting room of the trustees, etc.

The West Troy Gas Light Company was incorporated in January,
1853, by Richard S. Lobdell, A. V. Barringer, IVIorgan L. Taylor, Al-
bert Richards, and E, H, St. John, the capital stock being $100,000. In
the previous year John Lockwood and A. V. Barringer, under the firm
name of John Lockwod & Co , obtained from the village an exclusive
franchise to lay gas mains in the streets and build gas works. In No-
vember, 1853, this company assigned its rights to the West Troy Gas
Light Company. In the same year the company obtained a franchise
to lay gas mains in the streets of Green Island. In February, 1853,
Albert Richards was elected president of the company; Morgan L.
Taylor, secretary, and Richard S. Lobdell, treasurer. On April I, 1854,
William L. Oswald was appointed superintendent of the company. The



420

company manufactured gas until 1876, when it discontinued and began
buying its gas of the People's Gas Light Company of Albany. In De-
cember, 1887, the Municipal Gas Company of Albany purchased the
property of the West Troy Company, the People's Gas Light Com-
pany having meanwhile become merged in the Municipal Company.

The first newspaper printed in the village of which there is any rec-
ord was the West Troy Advocate, founded in September, 1837, by
William Hollands. He died in 1853, when his son, William Hollands,
jr , continued the paper until July, 1864, when it was discontinued. In
January, i860, Allen Corey began the publication of the Albany
County Democrat, and continued it until July, 1884 In May, 1880, James



Online LibraryAmasa J. (Amasa Junius) ParkerLandmarks of Albany County, New York → online text (page 42 of 138)