Amasa J. (Amasa Junius) Parker.

Landmarks of Albany County, New York online

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to the amount of $60,000. A reservoir was constructed on Prospect
Hill with capacity of 3,000,000 gallons, into which water was pumped
from the Cohoes Company's Canal No. i. Five miles of sheet iron and
cement pipe were laid in the streets. This supply suflSced until 1869,
when an enlargement of the system was made by building a new reser-
voir with a capacity of 8,000,000 gallons. This reservoir is 190 feet
above the central part of the city, giving ample pressure. New pumps
were provided and the pipe system extended. In 1883, feet of
iron pipe was laid in Mohawk, Remsen, and Main streets, and new and
more powerful pumps were placed in the pump house, the cost of these
and the other improvements then made being $60,000. The works are
under control of a board of water commissioners

In July, 1865. the Capital Police Law, before referred to, went into



effect, creating two police districts called the Albany and the Troy dis-
tricts. Cohoes was included in the latter district. Previous to that
time the peace of the village had been maintained by constables. Under
tile new arrangement a station house was established in Hayward's
building and William Buchanan and John McDermott were chosen the
first sergeants. On the 6th of May, 1870, a law was passed providing
for a separate police force for the city. A larger force was appointed
and has since been controlled by a chief and a board of police commis-

On February 21, 1894, an act passed the Legislature providing for
the erection of a new city hall in Cohoes. Under this act the mayor
was authorized to appoint six persons as a board of commissioners, with
power to purchase a site and build and furnish a city hall, in which
should be located all the public offices, a station house and jail. The
bonds of the city were to be issued to the amount of $100,000,
payable within forty years, beginning fifteen years from date of issue ;
not less than $4,000 to be paid annually on the principal after 1909.
The commissioners appointed were B. F. Clarke, George Campbell,
James H. Mitchell, H. C. Fruchting, Murray Hubbard, and Hugh
Graham. The board organized May i, 1894, H. C. Fruchting being
elected chairman. A site was purchased in September of the Suarez
estate, .for which $24,700 was paid. Contracts were let to different
persons for parts of the structure, aggregating $63,744 54, and the work-
was promptly begun. The building was finished in 1896, and is an
honor to the city.

The extensive manufacturing establishments of Cohoes are due
largely to the splendid water power and to the Cohoes Company for
their great work in making the power available. This association
was incorporated as a hydraulic manufacturing company March 28,
1826. The original capital was $250,000, and the trustees were Peter
Remsen, Charles E. Dudley, Stephen Van Rensselaer, jr., Francis Olm-
stead, Canvass White, Henry J. Wyckoff, and David Wilkinson. It is
probable that Mr. White was the originator of the idea of forming tliis
company; he had served as engineer in the construction of the Erie
Canal and must have appreciated the value of the falls for manufactur-
ing purposes. He was chosen the first president of the company ; Mr.

Van Rensselaer, vice-president, and Mr. Wyckoff, secretary. The com-
pany purchased a tract of land of I. D. F. Lansing, for $12,495,
Mr. Lansing reserving sufficient water from the mill privilege for four
run of stone. Other lands also were purchased below the falls on
the south side of the river, and both above and below on the Water-
ford side. The company now owns the entire water power of the river
from half a mile above the falls to a mile below, with a total fall of
120 feet. The first dam built by the company was of wood and sit-
uated above the falls; it was erected in 1831, but was carried away by
ice on January 10, 1832. Another was immediately built below the
site of the first, but was also partially destroyed by ice in 1839 and re-
built in the same year. The existing stone dam was built in 1865 and
is one of the most costly and most substantial structures of its kind.
The gate house was finished in the following year ; it is of brick,
218 feet long, with front tower thirty-one feet high and a main
tower forty-three feet high. The dam is 1,443 feet in length and was
build directly below and connected with the old dam, thus giving it
additional strength. The cost of the dam and appurtenances was
$180,000. The engineer of this great work was William E. Worthen,
of New York city, assisted by D. H. Van Auken. engineer for the com-
pany. John Bridgford, of Albany, had the contract for its construc-
tion. By means of this dam the entire flow of the Mohawk can be
diverted from its channel to do the bidding of the manufacturers. The
water passes through, and is used from, five different canals, the first of
which was constructed in 1834, is three-quarters of a mile long and
has a fall of eighteen feet. The second canal, finished in 1843, is one-
third of a mile long, with a fall of twenty-five feet. The third is half
a mile long, with a fall of twenty-three feet and was partly constructed
in 1843, the remainder being taken from the old Erie Canal and brought
into use in the same year. The fourth and fifth canals are each half a
mile long, with twenty feet fall, and were finished in 1880. It will be seen
that these canals, each having a different level and all being connected,
make it practicable to use the water six different times. The available
power thus created is estimated at 10,000 horse power, and it is sold to
manufacturers at $20 per horse power per annum, including a quantity
of land proportioned to the amount of power taken. The officers of


the Colioes Company are Charles C. Birdseye, president ; William E.
Thorn, treasurer ; David H. Van Auken, secretary.

The Harmony Mills Company is only second in importance to the
Cohoes Company itself. This company was incorporated in 1836 under
the name of the Harmony Manufacturing Company, the name being
given in honor of Peter Harmony, the first president and the founder
of the company. Associated with him were Henry Plunkett, Peter
Remsen, Francis Olmstead, H. J. Wyckoff, P. H. Schenck & Co., James
Stevenson, Joseph D. Constant, William Sinclair, Van Wyck Wickes,
Eliphalet Wickes, Le Bron & Ives, Teunis Van Vechten, John Hough-
ton, Charles O. Handy, Francis Griffin, Jacob H. Ten Eyck, Ellis
Winne, jr., Hugh White, Henry Dudley, Stephen Van Rensselaer, jr.,
and Benjamin Knower. Many of these were among the leading busi-
ness men of that time. The company purchased a tract of land a
quarter of a mile south of the falls and in 1837 erected a brick build-
ing 165 by 50 feet, four stories high, equipped with water wheels, etc.,
at a cost of $72,000 ; three brick blocks of tenements were built at the
same time. The mill was supplied with cotton machinery and the
manufacture of cotton cloth began. For causes that cannot be ex-
plained here the business was not profitable for a number of years
after its establishment. Changes took place in the ownership and at in-
tervals determined efforts were made to change the condition of affairs.
Finally in 1850 a compulsory sale of the mills was made and the prop-
erty was purchased by Garner & Co., of New York, and Alfred Wild,
of Kinderhook. At that time the annual product of the mill was
1,500,000 yards of print cloth and 2i;o hands were employed. The
new proprietors placed the entire management of the mill in the hands
of Robert Johnston, a man of thorough practical knowledge of the
business, executive ability of a high order, great industry, and entire
devotion to the interests of his employers.' He very soon inaugurated
an era of prosperity and eventually made the Harmony Mills the
largest and most complete cotton factory in America. He early as-

' Robert Johnston was born in Dalston, England, February 1, ISO". He began working in L-ot-
ton mills when a mere child and became an expert spinner. He came to this country in 1830 and
worked in Providence mills until 18:i4, when he went to Valatie, Columbia county, N. Y., and for
si.xteen years had charge of a mill. He there made the first muslin-de-laine produced in this
country. In 1858 he removed to Cohoes.

sociated with himself his son, D. J. Johnston, who entered the com-
pany's office at the age of sixteen years and became one of the pro-
prietors in 1866.

In 1853 an addition was buih on the old mill 340 feet long, 70 wide
and four stories high, with a capacity of 30,000 spindles. This, with the
old mill is designated as Mill No. i. In 1857 Mill No. 2 was erected about
half the size of the original plan; it ran for five years with 20,000 spindles,
and was then extended to 48,000 and employed 800 hands In 1844
the Cohoes Company built a cotton mill near the south end of their
canal 200 feet long, four stories high, and in 1846 they erected another
similar structure sixty feet north and parallel with the first; these
two mills were afterwards connected by a central tower 60 by 70 feet,
six stories in height, making a building 500 feet long with capacity of
32,000 spindles. This mill, now known as the Ogden, or No. 4, passed
through various hands and in i860 was purchased by the Harmony
Company, who overhauled it and increased its capacity. The Strong Mill,
or No. 5, was built at the intersection of Mohawk street and Canal No. 3 ;
the original structure was erected in 1849 by William N. Chadwick, who
operated it for about ten years. The Harmony Company purchased it in
1865, remodeled and enlarged it until eventually it had a capacity of
13,000 spindles. The north wing of the Mastodon, or No. 3, mill was
built in 1866-67. The name "Mastodon " was given it from the find-
ing of an almost perfect skeleton of a mastodon in a deep pot hole
opened while excavating for the foundations of the mill, sixty feet be-
low the surface. The bones were presented to the State. The south
wing of this mill was built in 1872, and the whole comprises a continu-
ous building 1,185 feet long, 76 wide, with five stories and a mansard
roof. The central tower is eight stories high and terminates in four
smaller towers 128 feet high ; four smaller towers also stand equidistant
on the wings. The machinery is driven by five turbine wheels aggre-
gating 2,106 horse power. The mill is supplied with the latest and best
cotton machinery in the world, comprising 2,700 looms, 351 warp spin-
ning frames, and other requisite machinery. It has 130,000 spindles,
produces 100,000 yards of cloth every sixty hours and is in every way
the most complete cotton mill in the world.

In 1872 the company purchased the paper mill just south of No. 2


which liad been operated by the Van Benthuysens for many years. It
was enlarged, a mansard roof put on, and a tower built at the south end,
making a building 250 feet long, 60 feet wide, and four stories high.
This mill was supplied with machinery and used in the manufacture of
seamless cotton bags. The company also operated for a number of years
and up to 1872 a small mill at the head of Remsen street, on Canal No. 4,
which was called the Egberts mill. In 1872 the machinery was removed
to the Strong mill. The mills of this company are supplied with auto-
matic fire extinguishers at a cost of over $30,000. Repair shops for
machinery, carpenter shops, etc., give employment to a large number
of hands. Two large storehouses with a capacity of 6,000 bales of cot-
ton stand near the railroads, and the cotton used annually by the si.x
mills aggregates 25,000 bales, from which are made 8,000,000 yards of

Thomas Garner, the real founder of these mills, died in October,
1867. He was born in England in 1805; his son, William T. Garner,
succeeded him in the presidency of the company. William T. Garner's
career was brought to an untimely end on June 20, 1876, by the cap-
sizing of his yacht. In 1867 Alfred Wild retired from the company and
was succeeded as agent by William E. Thorn, of New York, who be-
came also one of the proprietors and removed to Cohoes. After the
death of William T. Garner, his brother in-law, Samuel W. Johnson,
then one of the firm, was elected to the presidency. While he was
hunting on December 9, 1881, on Long Island, his gun was prema-
turely discharged, wounding him so severely that he died four days
later. In May, 1882, John Lawrence, of New York, was elected presi-
dent. Upon the death of Mr. Lawrence William E. Thorn was elected
president and treasurer of tlie company. John E. Priest is superin-

This great company has ever shown an appreciative wisdom in the
treatment accorded their employees. During 1866-68 nearly $300,000
were expended in building tenement houses, grading streets, planting
trees, making sidewalks, etc., which transformed the locality from open
fields to thickly settled streets. There are more than 700 tenements
with from four to ten rooms each, which are rented at a much lower
rate than they would command in other hands ; they are rented to none


but employees of the company. Over the company's office is a com-
modious hall, 40 by lOO feet, where the Harmony Union Sunday school
meets every Sabbath ; this school was established nearly forty years
acTO and has always been numerously attended. As a consequence of
its beneficent policy with its employees the company has had little of
the often prevalent labor trouble. In April, 1882, in consequence of
trade conditions then existing, two weeks notice was given of a ten per
cent, reduction in wages. On April 26, when the bells were rung no
one appeared to go to work. For the next eighteen weeks the great
mills were idle, with little exception, at the end of which time hands re-
sumed work on the company's terms. Six months later every loom
and spindle was in operation, many of the old hands who had sought to
better themselves elsewhere having returned ready to work. In Feb-
ruary, 1891, in consequence of the refusal of the company to grant ten
per cent, advance in pay and one hour for dinner, a strike was inaug-
urated ; it ended ten days later, the company granting fifty minutes for
dinner and the advance asked.

The manufacture of knit goods is one of the most important industries
of Cohoes though conducted under depressing trade conditions at the
present time. Egbert Egberts is given credit for the founding of this
line of manufactures in this country. He began experimenting on a
power machine for making knit goods at Albany in 1831, and called to
his aid Tmiothy Bailey, a young mechanic. The knitting machine had
already been invented, and one was purchased in Philadelphia by Mr.
Bailey and brought to Albany; his contrivance was applied to it and a
fabric made by turning a crank. Removing now to Cohoes, Joshua
Bailey became interested in the invention and water power was applied
to the machine, eight of which were built by Timothy Baiky and put
in operation. Carding and spinning yarn soon followed and thus the
foundation of the great industry was laid. Secresy was maintained for
some time, the doors being fastened with spring locks. liven Gen.
George S. Bradford, who operated the factory on contract, was com-
pelled to bind himself not to enter the knitting room. This first mill
stood on the ditch just north of the site of the later Erie mill ; it was
afterwards removed to a building near the site of the Troy Manufactur-
ing Company. The second mill was built by Mr. Egberts in 1850, on




the corner of Remsen and Factory streets. In 1852 Thomas Fowler
placed knitting machinery in a building previously occupied by Timothy
]?ailey, and in the same year Mr. Egberts transferred his mill to Charles
H. Adams. About this time Mr. Bailey organized a knitting company,
making three separate establishments in 1853, which were employing
750 hands and producing 45,000 dozen goods annually. Mr. Adams
occupied the Watervliet Mill until 1862, when he leased the building to
Alden, Frink & Weston and built on Ontario street. This industry in-
creased in magnitude and importance at a rapid rate, and while some
few did not not meet with anticipated success, the majority prospered.
An account of the mills in operation at the present time will necessarily
embrace a history of the business of the past to a great extent. The
Egberts mill was operated by Charles H. Adams until 1870, from which
time it was conducted by John Wakeman until 1881, Mr. Adams still
owning the property. Wakeman was succeeded by Neil & McDowell
for a short time. It is now operated by a company of whom J. D.
Lawrence is president, and John Donahue, secretary. The company
was organized in 1893, with $50,000 capital, and now employs 150

What is now the Victor Knitting Mill Company operates a mill which
was conducted from i860 to 1880 by Henry Brockway. The present
company succeeded, with J. A. Brooks, president and treasurer ; George
P. Gray, secretary ; P. H. Kane, superintendent.

The Tivoli Hosiery Mills were established in 1855 by Josiah G. Root.
In 1863 the firm became J. G. Root & Sons, and from 186910 1874 the
style was J. G. Root's Sons, when the present organization, the Root
Manufacturing Company, began its existence. Andrew J. Root is pres-
ident and trustee; Charles Douglas, secretary; Thomas Kennedy, sup-
erintendent. About 500 hands are employed.

The Globe Mill began operations, with Le Roy & Lamb, proprietors,
in 1872, and has continued to the present time. Mr. Lamb died in
Jan-uary, 1885, and in 1890 a partnership was formed by Amelia White,
W. B. Le Roy, M. A. Becker, and R. N. Vandervoort. A second mill
was built soon afterwards; 325 employees.

The Star Knitting Company has been in existence many years. On
January 14, 1895, the capital was increased from $50,000 to $2CO,ooo.


Andrew M. Church, president ; A. I. Whitehouse, secretary ; George
H. Morrison, treasurer; David M. Ranken, superintendent; 175 em-

The Ontario Mill, before mentioned as having been established by
Chadwick & Co., was operated until 1888, when the Cohoes Knitting
Company was organized, with a capital of $25,000. M. T. O'Brien,
president and treasurer; Thomas Kilduft' secretary. About 125

The Kensington Mills, formerly operated by Root & Waterman, were
taken by the Hope Knitting Company, which was organized in Janu-
ary, 1S91, with a capital of $100,000. James O'Neil, president; J. H.
Shine, treasurer; Peter McCarty, treasurer; 175 hands.

The Ranken Knitting Company, established by Henry S. Ranken,
was one of those that were not successful. After its failure the plant
was purchased by the Halcyon Knitting Mill Company, which was
organized in 1895 by William Nuttall. About 150 hands are em-

J, H. Parsons & Co., were among the large manufacturers of many
years ago. In December, 1884, the Parsons Manufacturing Company
was organized, with J. H. Parsons, president, who still holds the office.
In January, 1895, William A. Nuttall, then vice-president, retired from
the company, as also did Charles H. Disbrow, then secretary. Samuel
Parsons, son of J. H. Parsons, succeeded to the office of secretary.
About 200 hands are employed.

The Erie Mill was operated for many years under M. E. Moore &
Co., the original proprietors. They were succeeded by William Moore,
and he by Moore & Tierney on September i, 1895 ; 140 employees.

What is known as the Granite Mill is now operated by the William
Moore Knitting Company, and employs about 150 hands

What is now the Mohawk River Mill was formerly operated by W.
H. & D. Aiken and by W. H. Aiken & Co. The firm of Aiken
& Davitt was organized in January, 1896, and employs about 125

The Riverside Mill, operated some years after 1867 by H. S. Bogue,
is now in possession of H. Bochlowitz, wlio took it in 1886, and employs
more than 200 hands.


The Paris Mill was formerly the Clifton, operated by George E.
Brockway. It was taken by John H. Murphy in the fall of 1891, and on
January i, 1896, the firm of John H. Murphy & Co. was formed. They
employ 135 hands.

The Pearl Knitting Mill has been operated for about ten years by
John ¥. Ouhin, but did not take its present name uiUil five years ago.
About 175 hands are employed.

The Pacific Hosiery Mills are operated by Clark & Molsapple, in the
manufacture of merino shirts and drawers.

J. A, Nuttall conducts the Empire Mill, employing 125 hands, and
Horrocks & Van Benthuysen are proprietors of the Atlantic Mill, which
employs 120 hands.

Among the large number of mills that have from one or another cause
been closed are the Standard Hosiery Mill, by Newman & Adams ; the
Elk Mill, by A. Paul ; the American Hosiery Mill, by Gregory &
Hiller ; the Crown Ivnitting Mill, by Thompson & Lefferts; the Anchor
Hosiery Mill, by C F. North & Doyle; the Eclipse Mill, by Wood,
Pierce & Co ; the Enterprise Mill, by John Scott & Son, which is now
being closed up.

Besides the two leading industries which have just been described,
Cohoes has not been deficient in other lines of manufacture. It is only
a comparatively few years since the manufacture of axes and other edged
tools was an important industry. Daniel Simmons was the pioneer in
this business, beginning it about sixty years ago; he had been a black-
smith in Albany, where he made a few axes by crude methods. When
the discovery was made in 1825 that cast steel could be used for such
purposes with refined borax as a flux he promptly adopted the dis-
covery in making axes and soon acquired an extended reputation. In
1826 he removed to Berne, Albany county, obtained water power and
erected a small plant, with trip hammers and other machinery. When
these facilities became inadequate he removed to Cohoes, where he
founded the early establishment that became known throughout the
world for the excellence of its product. In 1843 White, Olmsted & Co.
started a second edged tool factory, which continued to 1857. A third
factory was established in 1863 by Alden, Frink & Weston, under the
firm name of W. J. Ten Eyck & Co.; this was on the site of the rolling


mill. The business failed in 1866 and a new company, the Ten Eyck
Manufacturing Company was organized, with David Cowee, president;
George R. Seymour, treasurer ; R. H. Thompson, secretary, and W. J.
Ten Eyck, superintendent. This firm closed up their business in 1872,
and the factory, after being taken and operated for a short time by Will-
iams, Ryan & Jones, and then by Sheehan, Jones & Ryan, was burned
in January, 1873. Sheehan, Jones & Ryan moved into the pipe factory
building on Saratoga street, and continued several years longer, with
various changes in the constitution of the firm. The business was finally
closed up. A new Ten Eyck Manufacturing Company was formed in
February, 1876, by Abram, Albert, and Jonas Ten Eyck, D. H. Clute,
and George Carrigan. Their works were near the south bounds of the
city and continued in operation until October, 1877. ^" March, 1880,
the Cohoes Axe Manufacturing Company was formed by George Camp-
bell, John Clute, J. H. Parsons, William S. Gilbert, and Ethan Rogers.
This was a successful establishment for a number of years, when the
business was closed up. No edged tools are now made in Cohoes.

In 1856 the Cohoes rolling mill was built, originally to produce steel
and iron for the Simmons axe factory. In 1863 Jonas Simmons and
E. N. Page in partnership built a puddling furnace and a heating
furnace. The capacity was soon doubled to twelve tons of iron in
twenty-four hours. On March 1 1 James Morrison purchased the Sim-
mons interest and the firm of Morrison, Colwell & Page was formed.
Under this management the business rapidly increased, and at the time
of the fire of January 5, 1883, they had ten double puddling furnaces,
one scrap furnace and four heating furnaces in operation ; also six axe
poll machines the cost of which with the royalty was $65,000. The
entire works were rebuilt in substantially their present form immediately
after the fire, and with a capacity of 25,000 to 30,000 tons of finished
iron annually, of a very superior quality. Mr. Page, the superintendent,
is eminently qualified for his position and much of the success of the
mill must be attributed to him. The present firm consists of the Mor-
rison estate, Thomas Colwell, and E. Page.

The copartnership existing under the name of the Empire Tube
Works was formed in January, 1872, by B. T. Benton and James More-
head, of Brooklyn, A. B. Wood, of New York, and James Morrison and


Thomas Colwell, of Troy. In that year they built the mill on North

Online LibraryAmasa J. (Amasa Junius) ParkerLandmarks of Albany County, New York → online text (page 45 of 138)