Amasa J. (Amasa Junius) Parker.

Landmarks of Albany County, New York online

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and eventually a village was built up and called by the name of the
island itself This village was incorporated April 5, 1853, and on the
1 8th of June of that year the first election was held and the following
officers elected : Trustees, Stephen Viele, Jacob Yates, Robert Bo-
gardus, Warner Groat and Alexander Morrison, the latter being chosen
president of the board. Other officers elected were two assessors, a
collector, treasurer, clerk, street commissioner, poundmaster, and two
fire wardens. On May 12, 1869, a new village charter was granted by
the Legislature, which more fully met the needs of the people. Fol-
lowing is a list of the presidents of tiie village from its incorporation to
the present time :

18.53, Alexander Morrison; 1854, James Remington; 1855, Stephen Viele; 1856,
James Remington ; 1857, Charles M. Parker; 1858. James Torrance; 1859-61, Thomas
Stantial: 1862, Jonas Clute; 1863-4, William M Strong; 1865, John Miller; 186G-7,
James Glass; 1868, William E. Gilbert; 18U9-70, Henry S. Marcy; 1871-73, James
Glass; 1874, Edgar Gardner; 1875-77, Benjamin F. Manier; 1878, William M. Tor-




ranee; 1879, William E. Keating; 1880, William Bliss; 1881, Thomas H. Richardson;
1882, James Torrance; 1883-87, Joseph Hines; 1888, George A. Van Bergen ; 1889-90,
Joseph Hines; 1891-93, Thomas H. Richardson; 1893-6, Carroll Coon; 1897-8, E. J.

Green Island was originally school district No. 23 of the town of
Watervliet. On November 17, 1854, the inhabitants met and voted
that it be made a union free school district, and a board of education
was elected consisting of Joseph D. Eaton, Stephen Viele, James Glass,
William C. Rodgers, and Edmund J. Gilbert. As the population in-
creased new school buildings were erected, the first on Hudson avenue
in 1865, of brick, and the second at the corner of West and Arch
streets, built in 1879. In connection with the latter is a circulating
library containing 1,625 volumes.

The public peace of Green Island ^village was originally maintained
by the Capital Police before mentioned, and the village with Cohoes
constituted a precinct or division. The Green Island police was organ-
ized in June, 1871, the trustees having received legislative authority
therefor. The force now comprises a captain and two patrolmen.

A newspaper called the Green Island Review was started in January,
1879, by Henr)' L. Gilbert, and continued to September, 1884, when he
sold out to W. A. Cole and L. H Weeks ; they changed the name of
the paper to the Albany County Herald and continued it for a time,
but finally discontinued publication.

In early years the village depended on the Troy Fire Department to
extinguish its fires, the village paying a stipulated annual sum therefor.
After the establishment of the West Troy Water Works, that company
extended its system into this village and supplied water until the spring
of 1884. In the spring of 1878 the village fire department was organ-
ized, comprising the William E. Gilbert Hose Company (organized in
1873) and the John McGowan Hose Company. When the village
ceased using the West Troy water, as stated, a steam fire engine was
purchased and a company organized under the name of Gilbert Steamer
Company No. I. For the use of this engine several cisterns were con-
structed at convenient points, and docks and piers were built on the
river bank upon which the engine could be placed and take its supply
from the stream.

The Troy and Cohoes Horse Railroad Company was organized in

February, 1862, its line extending through George street in this village.
Cars began running from the eastern approach to the railroad bridge
to the Champlain Canal, on October 10, 1863. Like almost all other
street railways this road is now equipped with electric cars and the
island is thus connected with Troy, West Troy, Cohoes, and Albany.

After the opening of the first railroad and the gathering on the island
of a considerable population, it became a manufacturing point of im-
portance. The great car shops of Eaton & Gilbert, citizens of Troy,
were built here in 1853, for many years, and until recently, employing
a large number of hands. The works have been in the hands of a
receiver for some time past.

The Torrance Iron Company, George L. French, president ; C. A.
McLeod, vice-president, and N. H. Squires, secretary and treasurer, is
successor to the Green Island Malleable Iron Works, founded in 1852
by William Torrance. In the company later were associated John O.
Merriani, J. W. Lawrence, and William M. Torrance. Malleable and
grey iron castings of all kinds are made.

The Franklin Iron Works were established in 1865 by Thomas S.
Sutherland, who successfully carried on the business and later took
his son into partnership. About 120 hands are employed in the
manufacture of almost everything in which boiler plate and sheet iron
is used.

The Pinkerton Iron Works were established by Robert Pinkerton in
1879, for the manufacture of steam boilers, bleachers, tanks, etc. The
company is now composed of Robert Pinkerton and Abram Mull.

The manufacture of blinds and doors was established on a large
scale by Crampton & Belden in 1867, and still continues, employing
upwards of 200 hands.

The Trojan Car Coupler Company was organized in 1891, with a
capital of $300,000. Howard H. Burden, president ; Palmer C. Rick-
etts, vice-president ; Alfred H. Renshaw, treasurer and general man-
ager ; Eugene Seitz, secretary. The company is successfully engaged
in the manufacture of a patent car coupler.

The Methodist Episcopal church of Green Island was organized in
1853, meetings being held for some time in the school house. The


present church edifice was completed in the spring of 1854. The first
pastor was Rev. J. L. Cook, and the first class leaders were Hinkley
Uavis and Josliua Coleburn. The parsonage was built in 1863. In
1875 the church was enlarged by increasing its length at the front. The
society still leads a prosperous existence.

The First Presbyterian church was organized April 18, 1853, follow-
ing the adoption of resolutions by the session of the Troy Presbyterian
church recommending such action. The site on the west side of Hud-
son avenue was purchased and a small wooden church erected, which
was dedicated February 28, 1 854. The society was organized on the
same day with seventeen members, and James Remington, George
Beach and Stephen Viele were elected elders. On March 16 following
James Torrance, William F. Adams, William H. Lansing, Fred Kean,
and Joseph D. Hardin were chosen trustees. The old church was
used until 1866, when it was removed and the present church edifice

St.. Joseph's Catholic church was organized in 1869, and a house of
worship was erected at a cost of ^5,000. A little later the parsonage
and grounds were provided at a further cost of $9,000. The first priest
in charge was Rev. J. McManemy, who was succeeded by Rev. Thomas
Connelly. Within the past five years a new church has been erected at
a cost of about $40,000.

St. Mark's Episcopal church was formed in November, 1865, chiefly
through the efforts of Rev. Edgar T. Chapman, then assistant rector of
St. Paul's church, Troy, who became rector of St. Mark's as soon as
organization was perfected. The erection of a church was at once be-
gun on the east side of Hudson avenue, the cost of the church and chapel
being $17,000. In 1880 the chapel was enlarged and in 1884 a rectory
was built for the society by Uri Gilbert at a cost of $6,000.

When the town of Colonie was erected June 7, 1895, as before de-
scribed. Green Island and West Troy were left in e.xistence as the town
of Watervliet. This was a condition of affairs that could not long con-
tinue. The inhabitants of Green Island, with their own village govern-
niert to support, and with a limited area, felt that they were unjustly
burdened with taxation for the benefit of those living in West Troy.

This led to the passage of an act of the Legislature, under date of May
21, 1896, creating the town of Green Island, embracing in its limits the
whole island, and leaving the former village corporation in existence.
An election was held on June 9, 1895. and the following town officers
cliosen :

Supervisor, Carroll Coon ; clerk, William F. Miller; assessors, William J. Morrison,
lohn Rouhow, Edward Heffern ; overseer of the poor, E. J. Gilbert; collector, George
W. Wilcox ; justices of the peace, John Conway, four years, Luther G. Philo, three
years, John P. Hayner, two years, William C. Harter, one year.


Many years before the turbulent waters of the Cohoes falls turned a
wheel, the locality finds historical mention. Rev. Johannes Megapo-
lensis, who settled in Albany in 1642, wrote as follows to his friends in
Holland :

Through this land runs an excellent river, about live hundred or six hundred paces
wide. This river comes out of the Mahakas country about four miles north of us.
There it flows between two high rocky banks, and falls, from a height equal to that
of a church, with such a noise that we can sometimes hear it with us.

A little later, in 1656, Adrian Van Der Donck was here, and the
account of his visit thus alludes to these falls :

The other arm of the North river runs by four sprouts, as we have related, to the
great falls of the Magnas Kill (Mohawk river), which the Indians name the Chahoos,
and our nation the Great Falls, above which the river is again several hundred yards
wide, and the falls we estimate to be one hundred and fifty or two hundred feet
high. The precipice of firm blue rock. . . The Indians, when they travel by
water and come to trade, usually come in canoes made of the bark of trees, which
they know how to construct. When they come near the falls, they land, and carry
their boats and lading some distance below the falls, and proceed on their voyage;
otherwise they would proceed over the falls and be destroyed.

The Irish poet, Thomas Moore, visited this spot in 1804, and followed
his usual course by celebrating the event in a poem. It closes as

Oh, may ray falls be bright as thine!

May heaven's forgiving rainbow shine

Upon the mist that circles me,

As soft as now it hangs o'er thee !

'"" ' вЦ† 'US ways, such as Chahoos, Cahoos, Cahlirxis, KahcH.s,

n name of unknown significance, and speculation upon

1 Th

is na

me 1

lias been spelled


, Coh<


and Cohos.



its real



is useless.



The territory now covered by the city of Cohoes formed part of the
Van Rensselaer Manor and part of the lands belonging to Mrs. Illetie
Van Slyck Van Olinde, a half-breed, and wife of Pieter Danielse Van
Olinde. Her land was given to her by the Mohawks in 1667, the
southern line of her possession being the Manor avenue road of the pres-
ent time, which extends west from the falls to the Boght.i To the
south of this road were the lands of the Patroon. It will be seen that
most of the original village was on the Van Rensselaer land. On the
north side of the Mohawk was the Halve Maan (Half Moon) patent.
The islands at the mouth of the Mohawk came early into possession of
Capt. Goosen Gerritse Van Schaick, who died in 1676. Subsequent
occupants of that part of the present city were Guert Hendrickse Van
Schoonhoven, Harmon Lieverse, and Roeloff Gerritse Van Der Werken.
Beginning at the north line of the Van Rensselaer Manor (Manor
avenue), the colonists under the Patroon were the Heamstreet, Onder-
kirk, Lansing, Fonda, and Clute families, some of whom have already
been alluded to. The Patroon prudently reserved from settlement a
strip of land below the falls on the west side of the river, which subse-
quently became of great value as a site for factories.

A part of the Van Olinde estate, north of Manor avenue, has been
sold in city lots, a considerable part passed into the possession of
James Morrison in recent years, and part went into the estate of the
late Isaac D. F. Lansing. In the deed of the lands next north of Manor
avenue from Daniel Van Olinde, who was next in succession to the
original owner, to Walran Clute, there was granted a privilege to build
one or more saw mills and "a grind mill." This was the inception of
the great manufacturing interests of Cohoes.

As a village Cohoes was of little importance until after 1S30. In
that year it contained only about twenty houses. In 1740 the Lansing
family owned a saw mill near the site of the Cohoes Company's dam.
A grist mill was built just south of the saw mill at a later date and the
two were operated for some years by Gerret Clute and Rutger Lansing
as partners. A grist mill was at an early period erected on the Clute farm,
a short distance above the falls. Another grist mill, subsequently trans-
formed into a carding mill, was situated on the Heamstreet farm, opposite

I BuLjlit is the Dutch fur "bend," referring here to the bend in the Mohawk River.


Simmons Island. In iSii the Cohoes Manufacturing Company pur-
chased sixty acres of land extending from the bridge south to a point
below the site of the Episcopal church and between Mohawk street
and the river. A wing dam was built to supply water power and a
screw factory was established. Most of the employees came from New
York, and several tenetnents were built for them. Regarding these
early operations SpafTord's Gazetteer of this State has the following:

About three miles north of Gibbonsville [West TroyJ there is a bridge across the
Mohawk, a short distance below the Cohoes falls. Since the above was written ;i
manufactory of screws of iron for wood work, erected on the lower sprout of tlic-
Mohawk near the Cohoes bridge, has got into successful operation. Works arc-
about to be added for drawing the wire from which the screws are formed, when the
iron will be taken in the bar and manufactured into screws, now- made of foreign
wire. The machinery is all driven by water, and is said to be very ingenious, the
invention of a self-taught artist, Mr. William C. Penniman. Some samples of the
screws which I have seen appear to be well formed, and they are cut with great dis-
patch. These works arc owned by an incorporated company with a sufficient capi-
tal, and are situated directly opposite Lansingburgh, and about ten miles below

This screw factory was burned in 1827, the corporation failed in 1829,
and the property passed to the Cohoes Company by sale. While this
screw factory was in operation the manufacture of writing paper was
begun here in Gerret Clute's mill. That building had previously been
used as a grist mill and afterwards for the manufacture of flannel. The
proprietor of the paper mill was Elisha Sheldon. A small cotton fac-
tory was also established previous to the organization of the Cohoes
Company, by the De Milt Brothers, of New York ; they also made
shovels and other implements, the establishment being managed by
Collins & Jones.

The real prosperity of Cohoes began with the existence of the Cohoes
Company, described a little further on, and was greatly enhanced by
the organization of the Harmony Manufacturing Company in 1836.
So rapid was the growth of the place between that year and 1848, that
in the latter year measures were adopted for incorporation. At a pub-
lic meeting a resolution was adopted favoring such action, and a com-
mittee of five was appointed to carry out the plans. The committee
was composed of Egbert Egberts, William N. Chadwick, John Van
Santvoord, Jeremiah Clute, and Henry D. Fuller. Charles A. Olmsted


was afterwards added to the committee. The vote of the electors for
and against the measure resulted in 346 in favor of incorporation and
26 against. The first election was held June 12, 1848, and the follow-
ing officers elected :

Trustees, Alfred Phelps Joshua R. Clarke, George Abbott, Henry D. Fuller,
William Burton, 1 Joshua R. Clarke being chosen president of the board; asses-
sors, Henry En Earl, John P. Steenberg, William H. Hollister; treasurer,
Charles A. Olmsted ; collector, John B. Harrison ; clerk, John Van Santvoord ; pound-
master, Isaac F. Fletcher; fire wardens, Jacob Upham, Henry Van Auken, John
McGill, William Osterhout, and Abram Ostrom.

The successive presidents of the village were Henry D. Fuller, W^illiam F. Carter.
N. W. En Earl. William N. Chadvvick, Henry L. Landon, .Sidney Alden, George H.
Wager, Murray Hubbard, Augustus Ellmaker.

At this time the population of the village was about 4.000 and there
were evidences of future growth on every hand. The post office was
established in 1832. Schools were in successful operation, the first one
in this locality having been opened at the Roght in 1 8 1 3 ; while the first
in the city limits was opened later on the corner of Oneida and Mohawk-
streets and taught by one O'Neil. A second was soon built on the site
of the school afterwards known as the slate-yard school house. In 1828
a new school was located in a building in which a boarding house had
beenkept, on Oneida street, near the site of the old freight house. The
next one was a brick building built in 1847 on the corner of Canvass
and Oneida streets.

A fire department had been established through the purchase of a
hand engine by subscription in 1835, wli'ch was named Excelsior No. i.
A larger hand engine was bought of the Albany department in 1847,
and in 1848, the year of incorporation, the village purchased a good
hand engine, hose cart and hose at a cost of $675. Two fire companies
were formed named respectively Parmelee Engine Company and Cat-
aract Engine Company, and Luke Bemis was made chief engineer. The
first engine house was also built in 1848, and has been occupied in
recent years by the Campbell Hose Company. Mohawk Engine Com-

' William Burton was born in Schenectady March 29, 1809, learned the carpenter's trade, and
after various iiLcupations, settled in Cohoes in ItMO, when its population was only about 1,800. He
became c

Online LibraryAmasa J. (Amasa Junius) ParkerLandmarks of Albany County, New York → online text (page 44 of 138)