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Amasa J. (Amasa Junius) Parker.

Landmarks of Albany County, New York online

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& E. J Sherman, who have continued the publication ever since.

Ravena, (formerly Coeymans Junction). вАФ The junction of the two
branches of the West Shore railroad was made about a mile west of




JOHN N. BRIGGS.



481

Coeymans Landing, on the stone road before described. The place of-
fered a beautiful site for a village and prompted energetic men who
foresaw the importance of the point, to invest money liberally in im-
provements Of these men one of the first and most active was
Peter Pulver. As soon as the railroad station and necessary build-
ings were erected in 1883, he built a hotel and restaurant and three
dwellings. This was the nucleus of the village. Other dwellings soon
followed and in 1884 he erected the large three story brick block for
stores and hotel, which is now called the Pulver House, the present pro-
prietor of which is C. E, Gage, who took it in December, 1895. Mr.
Pulver also built another brick block near the hotel, for a store, with a
public hall above. The village grew very rapidly within the succeed-
ing five years. Stephen Vincent built what was the Temperance Hotel
but which is now called the Vincent House, kept by E. Slater since
May, 1895. General stores have been established by Willis Bentley,
Elias Sweet, and Almeron Roberts. Truman Carhart deals in boots
and shoes; A. M Strevell, also Mr. Allen, in hardware, and William
Melton in fancy goods. A large amount of cider and vinegar are made
here by the Albany County Produce Company. An excellent school
is conducted in the village, which is included in district No. 3, and three
teachers are employed. The postmaster of the village is Elias Sweet.

The name of Coeymans Junction was never satisfactory to the inhab-
itants of the village, and in 1893, through the efiforts of C. M. Barlow
and the Rev. R G. Fenton, the name was changed by the post-office
department to Ravena. The village now contains about one thousand
inhabitants and is fast growing in population and improvements. A
franchise is about to be granted for a better supply of water for fire and
sanitary purposes.

Ache-que-tuck is a hamlet locally known as Peacock's Corners, hav-
ing a post uflice, situated about two miles west of the railroad station of
Ravena. Here is located the old stone house of the Ten Eyck family,
built long before the Revolutionary war, and the old brick residences of
the Verplancks and the Witbecks, all of which families settled at an
early date in this immediate vicinity. Other pioneers here were the
Van Derzee, Shear, Wiltsie and Schoonmaker families. In past years
there were grist and saw mills, a tannery and a flax mill, on the Haana-



482

krois Creek, which were the property of Isaac D. Verplanck. An ex-
cellent farming district extends from this point to the eastern extremity
of Coeymans Hollow described in old deeds as Hagh-a-tuck, which is
the Indian name, and far to the northward. A general store is now
kept here by Charles Corts, and a hotel by David Baumes.

Coeymans Hollow is a hamlet about in the center of the town, with
a post-ofifice of the same name opened in 1840 with John B. Shear as
postmaster. The Hollow extends a distance of about two miles along
the Haanakrois Creek, and was settled almost contemporaneously with
Coeymans settlement farther east. The Verplanck and Witbeck fam-
ilies, John Blodgett, Josiah Hinckley, Gerrit Witbeck, Jonas Shear,
Jedediah Davis, and John Colvin were among the pioneers in the Hollow.
There was in early years considerable manufacturing done here, the
power supplied by the creek being utilized. Francis DeLong, Gerrit
Witbeck and a Mr. Oberman manufactured hats here many years ago.
A grist mill and saw mill, and a cloth works were owned and operated
by John Blodgett and a Mr. Leslie. At the upper end of the village
Verplanck had a grist mill and saw mill, which were destroyed by a
freshet, after which the dam and raceway were utilized in recent years
by Andrew Carey to drive machinery for turning hubs and spokes, but
this industry has also dissapeared. About 1860-62 several flax mills
were established on the creek, but were soon abandoned. All manu-
facturing operations have disappeared, and little business of any kind is
carried on.

Alcove (formerly called Stephensville) is a hamlet next to the west-
ward of Coeymans Hollow and practically a continuation of it though
having a post-office with the name of Alcove, and takes its name from
Archibald Stephens, a former owner of mills here. One of the
pioneers at this place was Casparus Ackerman who came in 1790 and
soon afterward erected the first mills, which in course of time passed
into possession of Mr. Stephens. The present mill is a large stone
structure and is owned by Bennett T. Briggs. The Valley Paper
Mills and the saw mill of Amos D. Briggs are situated here near the
stone road. These were burned about 1890 and not rebuilt. About
1844 Ephraim Andrews erected a carding and cloth mill here which
was enlarged a few years later by John E. Andrews and converted



483

into a wrapping paper mill. In 1854 Mr. Andrews and W. S. Briggs
introduced steam and other modern improvements and machinery. In
1 87 1 the firm of W. S. Briggs & Sons (Newton S., Ralph B., and Amos
D.) was formed and existed three years, when the property was trans-
ferred to Amos D. Briggs, who in 1883 made extensive improvements
and enlargements. Three-fourths of a mile south of these mills is the
post-office and the residence of W. S. Briggs, owner of the stone mill
before mentioned. Just above the Valley Mills, over eighty years ago,
was a saw mill and near by was the tannery of Daniel Tompkins. The
only mercantile business is a general store conducted by Green Brothers.

Indian Fields is a hamlet with a post-office of the same name in the
western part of the town. Among the early settlers here were John
and Thomas Witbeck, W. Searles, George Lamoreaux, Jedediah Davis,
Daniel Green, Daniel Wickham, Gideon Schofiel, Josiah Hinckley, and
the Huyck, Tompkins, and Robins families. In early years Isaac Ver-
planck built a saw mill and afterward carding mills were started. At a
later date Houck & Trenchard operated a cloth works and a saw mill.
These were converted into a foundry by Huyck & Norris, who sold out
to Caleb Snyder. A foundry and wood working shop is now con-
ducted by Norris Brothers. Stores are kept by Odelon Adriance and
Vincent Snyder, and a hotel by Frank Ingalls.

Keefer's Corners is a small cluster of dwellings in the northwest cor-
ner of the town, which received its name from Balthus Keefer, who set-
tled here in 1791, but two other families having preceded him to this
point. Other early settlers were Daniel Traver, Jacob Schermerhorn,
Dampa Mead, Stephen Hanes, George Lamoreaux, and the Lanson and
Hogan families. The post-office was established in 1842, with Peter
Keefer postmaster. The office was abandoned some years ago. There
is no business of any account here at the present time.

The early Dutch and Huguenot immigrants who constituted so large
a portion of the early settlers, not alone of this town, but of the whole
of Albany county, were eminently religious in their character and
habits. Indeed, this fact was one of the incentives that prompted them
to seek new homes in a far-off country ; they longed for a land where
religious intolerance and opposition could not reach them. It is clear
that these people worshipped their creator both in private and in public



484

when they had estabh'shed their homes, and long before any church
organization could be perfected, at least nearer than Albany. This
condition continued probably until after the close of the Revolutionary
war. With the advent of peace and its blessings, new elements were
added to the population from New England, whose religious beliefs and
habits, while perhaps not less ardent and active than those of their Dutch
predecessors, were widely different in other respects. Methodists, with
their intense religious zeal came in and stirred to their depths the more
lethargic temperaments of the Dutch and organized some of the earliest
churches of which records remain in this town.

The first Methodist Society, organized by Rev. John Crawford, be-
gan its existence in 1788 or 1789, there being twelve members in the
class with Freeborn Garretson as presiding elder. The first house of
worship, a stone structure, was built in 1791-92, two and a half miles
west of Coeymans village, and is believed by many to have been the
first Methodist church on the west side of the Hudson River. The
congregation during many years included members from Bethlehem,
Coeymans, New Baltimore, and adjoining towns. The first trustees
were James Waldron, Lewis Civil, WilhoUamas Row, Jacob Spring-
sted, Isaac C. Huyck, Ephraim Holbrook, Peter Hogan, Nathan Will-
iams and James Selkirk. Levi Blaisdell was the first clerk and Lewis
Civil the first sexton. Among the earliest members were Hugh Jolly,
Samuel Jolly, John Ten Eyck and his wife, Levi Blaisdell and his wife,
Hugh Crumb, James Selkirk, Dr. Clement, and Jacob Springsted.
These were among the pioneers of Revolutionary times and the men
and women who labored to lay the foundation of the community in
morality and good citizenship. From this early church others branched
off as more central situations were needed.

The Methodist Episcopal church at Coeymans Landing was founded
by the same society that worshipped in the old stone church. The edifice
in use at the present lime was built in 1835-36, but has been improved
since its erection. The property is valued at more than $15,000

The Methodist Episcopal church at Coeymans Hollow was founded
as early as 1794, when Bishop Asbury preached in a barn and formed
a society with John Blodgett and his wife, William Green and his wife,
Elizabeth Wickham, Charlotte Garritt, and a Mr. Gedney as members.



485

Tliese devoted people met in dwellings or barns, and later in the school
houses until 1832, when they erected the present church. The society
has always been active and progressive.

A Methodist Episcopal church was early organized at Reefer's Cor-
ners, an offshoot of the Manhattan Hook Society at Copeland Hill.
James Laird and Ebenezer Osborn were early preachers on this circuit.
A house of worship was erected which continued in use until 1845,
when it was taken down and the material used in erecting the present
edifice for which land was donated by Francis Osterhout.

The Reformed Protestant Dutch church of Coeymans was organized
M.iich 5, 1793, giving the believers in that faith in this town a religious
home of their own. The first church was erected in 1797, about a mile
west of Coeymans Landing proper, of which Rev. Jacob Sickles was
the first pastor, serving from 1797 to 1 80 1, when he was succeeded by
Peter Overbagh. Other pastors have been Revs. Ralph Westervelt,
Samuel Kissam, Staats Van Santvoord, Abram Fort, Thomas A. Amer-
man, Thomas Edwards, James Murphy. James A. H. Cornell, Philip
Peltz, William P. Davies, Hugh B. Gardiner, Isaac Collier, Louis H.
Bahler, Elias Mead and others of recent years. The first church was
demolished some twenty years ago and the present one erected on
Church street in Coeymans village.

The First Baptist Church of Indian Fields was organized in 1872
with the following trustees: Marcus R. Griffin, Albert Powell, Joslin
Nodine, Franklin Tompkins, Jared Griffin, Judson Lamoreaux, and Jas-
per Witbeck, jr., who were prominent citizens of that vicinity. The
church has languished in recent years and has had no regular pastor.

St. Patrick's Roman Catholic church is situated on Church street,
Coeymans Landing, the congregation having been organized in 1852
by Francis Hurley. The church property consists of the substantial
cluuch, a parsonage, and cemetery of about five acres. The congrega-
tion has been connected with the churches at Co.xsackie and Athens.

The Christian church of Ravena was organized and held services for
about a year previous to 1890-91, when they erected their present neat
church edifice. The Methodist Episcopal church of Ravena was or-
ganized in 1894, and erected its frame church building in the same
year. The German Lutheran church of Ravena was organized in 1895



and erected a house of woisliip at the same time. These three recently
formed societies are actively engaged in good and effective work in this
enterprising village.



CHAPTER XXI.

THE TOWN OF BETHLEHEM.

The reader has been made familiar with the history of the voyage of
Henry Hudson up the river that forms the eastern boundary of Albany
county in 1609. The history of this town begins with that event, for
the English navigator halted on the bank of the river within the borders
of the present Bethlehem. On an island off the bluffs of the stream now
called Normanskill (by the IndiansTawasentha) some of Hudson's crew
camped through a night, and were there visited by a number of the
natives on the following morning, whose friendly demeanor both sur-
prised and pleased the Europeans After interchanging some articles
of trade, and a little friendly intercourse, Hudson and his crew sailed
away homeward. The account of the early operations of the United
Netherlands Company, the building of Fort Nassau on Castle (now Van
Rensselaer) island ir 1614, its partial destruction by high water and the
erection of another on the mainland near the Normanskill, need not be
repeated here. Nearly or quite all of the temporary settlements made
by the Dutch traders prior to 1623, in which year Fort Orange was
built on the site of Albany, were made on Bethlehem territory. Per-
manent settlement began here in 1630, the year following the issue of
the charter to the Patroon, Kilian Van Rensselaer, when Albert Andri-
essen Bradt located at the mouth of Tawasentha. He was father of
eight children. Soon after his arrival he leased the mill privileges on
the Normanskill and built mills. His son, Albertsen, succeeded him
in possession of this lease, for which he paid an equivalent of about $150
a year. Later, in 1673, he was succeeded as lessee of the farm which
the father had occupied by his brother, Slingerlandt. To this family
must be accorded the honor of being the first settlers west of Albany.



487

Members of the family and their descendants soon penetrated the neigh-
boring wilderness, took up and improved farms, built houses, and have
ever since been well known among the residents of Albany county.

A few other permanent settlers located in what is now Bethlehem
prior to 1700. Among them were the families of Garret and Jan Van
Wie, William Van Allen, Adam Winne. the Ten Eycks, Slingerlands,
Francis Winne, Philip Schuyler, the Vroomans, and Van Derzees. These
and a (ew others settled along the Hudson River and the Normanskill.

On the map made for the Patroon appear the following names, most
or all of whom probably became settlers between 1700 and 1750;
Rensselaer Nicoll, Bett)^ Van Ostrand, Janes Taylor, Gerret Van Der
Berg, Cooper, William Van Bergen, Abram Slingerland, Pliilip Schuy-
ler, Wouter Slingerland, Koenrad Louck, John Van Dusen, Adrian
Bradt, Staats Seger, Jacob Louck, John Rosebooms, Gerret Van Allen,
Hans Slingerland, Tunis Slingerland, Lawrence Wormer, Gerret Seger,
jr , Jacob Coper, Jan, Storm, and David Bradt, Dirk Vanderwilliger,
Konradt Koen, Isaac, Omie, and Christian La Grange, Tunis Hough-
tali ngj

From 1750 to I Soo conditions of trade, agriculture and social sur-
roundings underwent great changes, gave a great impetus to settlement,
and brought in a more mixed class of immigrants. The accession to
power of the English, and later the tremendous changes wrought by
the Revolution all tended to bring into Albany county people of other and
very different nationalities. The names of settlers alone are sufficient
indication of this fact. Irish, Scotch and English elements became con-
spicuous in the populating of the region. Thus during the period just
mentioned came Hugh Waters, Archibald and William McCormick,
Andrew Cunning, Nicholas See, Christian Bender, I. Bussing, Jacob
Kimmey, Peter McHarg, John Soop, Patrick Callanan aud Solomon
Luke, with the families named Patterson, Ramsay, Becker, Haswell,
Babcock, Wiltsie, Mosher and Aarnout. It is possible a few of these
settled outside of the present boundaries of this town, and in what is
now New Scotland, but nearly all of them were resident in Bethlehem
after the close of the Revolutionary war.

Meanwhile, on March 12, 1763, the town of Bethlehem was erected

' The spelling of these names is according to the map.



488

from the original town of Watervliet, and included all of what is now
New Scotland, and a part of Albany, the latter having been set off in
1870, leaving this town with an area of 31,583 acres. The surface of
the town comprises a narrow fiat along the Hudson River, backed in
the main with steep blufifs rising from fifty to 150 feet, with here and
there an elevation rising from 200 to 400 feet. The declivities are
broken by deep and rugged channels, the most conspicuous of which
is that of the Normanskill, along which in places the series of under-
lying rocks are laid bare and nearly upright. In these rocks are seen
the sandstones, limestones and graywackes that are familiar in that lo-
cality. Back of the blufifs stretches a rolling upland, with sandy ridges
and rounded knolls. Near the mouth of the Normanskill was the Indian
burial place of Tawasentha. This curious natural mound is connected
with the diluvial formation by a narrow rock or peninsula, and, accord-
ing to excellent authority, was a spot sacred to sepulture from the
earliest time, and gave the natives their name of the stream.

Other principal streams besides the Normanskill are Coeyman's creek,
and the Vlamanskill, both of which have afforded considerable water
power, which in early years was utilized for mills and a few other in-
dustries.

The soil of Bethlehem is a sandy and clayey loam, mixed with gravel.
Along the river lowlands and on the islands it is a rich alluvium. The
mixed farming of earlier times has been superseded to a large extent in
parts of the town by gardening to supply the wants of residents of the
city. Fruit culture has also received attention, small fruits having been
made quite profitable on account of the nearness to a good market. A
large number of farmers have also become milk producers for the city
market. A few have given particular attention to improvement of stock
in recent years, some of whom have had fine herds. Erastus Corning was
a large breeder of Hereford and Jersey cattle, in which he is succeeded
by his son; the late John S. Perry bred Guernseys; Abraham Fitch,
C. C. La Grange, George H. Treadwell and others engaged successfully
in this business.

Castle Island took its name from the fact that the stockade fort was
built upon it in 1614, as a protection to the Dutch traders. The island
was leased to Martin Gerritsen in 1668. In more recent years it was



489

given the approjiriate name of Van Rensselaer, and upon it were located
the extensive plants of the Albany City Iron Works and the Jagger
Iron Works, both of which are now idle. Other parts of the island
have been cultivated in gardens.

Some of the roads that pass into or through the town of Bethlehem
bear a close relation to the early history of the region surrounding Al-
bany cit)-. What has always been known as the Albany and Bethle-
hem Turnpike Road, was incorporated April 9, 1804, under that title,
with a capital of $34,800, which was a large sum for such an under-
taking at that time. The road is a continuation of Pearl street, Albany,
passes through Kenwood and across the Normanskill ; thence south to
just below the Abbey hotel, and by a fork to Bethlehem Center, a dis-
tance in all of about five miles. It has one toll gate, and the modern
road bed is of broken stone. It constitutes a pleasant and picturesque
drive.

This old turnpike connects at Bethlehem Center with the South Beth-
lehem Plank Road, which extends tlirough Becker's Corners and thence
southwest to South Bethlehem, six miles. The road was incorporated in
July, 185 I, with a capital of $12,000, with John B. Vanderzee, Barent S.
Winne, Phillip Kimmey, James Schoonmaker, and John A. Sickles,
directors: John Soop, secretary and treasurer. On February 28, 1881,
the board of supervisors renewed the charter of the company for thirty
years. The plank of which this road was constructed during the plank
road era that prevailed throughout the State have been superseded by
broken stone.

The Albany and Delaware Turnpike Company was chartered March
2, 1805, to construct a road from Albany to Otego, in Otsego county.
The road crossed the town of Bethlehem, passing through the Upper
Hollow, and thence to Adamsville (now Delmar), and on across the
town of New Scotland, the southeast corner of Berne and the northwest
corner of Westerlo. The first directors were Samuel Lansing, Abraham
Hun, Isaac Needer, Hollis More, Asa Starkweather, Hugh Orr, and
Stephen Judd. This road was extensively traveled many years, but
was abandoned as a turnpike in 1863.

The Albany, Rensselaerville and Schoharie Plank Road Company
was granted a charter March 25, 1859, with a capital of $100,000. The



original directors were Franklin Frisbee, Lansing Pruyn, David H.
Casey, Bradford R. Wood, Jacob Settle, John I. Slingerland, Joseph
Hilton, Reuben Wyngar, Charles B. Gordon. The use of plank on a
large part of this road was abandoned some years ago. The road
passed from Albany northwest to Hurstville, thence southwest to Sling-
erlands, and on across this town and New Scotland.

The Albany and Susquehanna railroad extends across the northern
part of this town, commencing at the Kenwood bridge, with stations at
Adams Station (now Delmar), and Slingerlands, and thence into the
town of New Scotland. It was opened for travel in 1863. The West
Shore railroad passes across the western part of Bethlehem by two
tracks. The Athens and Saratoga road, which passed across the south-
west corner and was opened in 1865, now constitutes in part the main
line of the West shore road, a branch track of which extends from
Coeymans Junction (Ravena) along the river to Albany.

The proximity of the territory of this town to Albany and its lack of
water power, prevented the development of extensive manufacturing
interests; but a few industries of importance were established some
years ago on Van Rensselaer Island. Of these the Corning Iron Com-
pany was incorporated May 12, 1870, with the following officers: Ira
Jagger, president; Albion Ransom, vice-president and treasurer;
Charles E. Sackett, superintendent ; Erastus Corning, jr., A. P. Palmer,
Charles B. Lansing, Charles Van Benthuysen. A very extensive and
costlyplant was erected and the first iron produced in 1871. In July,
1873, the name of the organization was changed to the Jagger Iron
Company. Ore was brought mostly from Essex and Oneida counties,
and Connecticut, and about 40,000 tons were used annually.

Near the above described works and on the northern end of the
island were established the works of the Albany City Iron Company,
which was organized in 1878. Two blast furnaces were erected with
a capacity of 30,000 tons of pig iron annually. This plant was operated
only a few years.

Some minor manufactures liave existed in the past at Kenwood,
which are noticed further on.

At about the time of the closing of the late war, and on November
3, 1865. the Bethlehem Cemetery Association was organized with the



491

following officers: John Van Allen. M. D., president; Jacob Hotaling,
vice-president; Rev. J, Lansing Pearse, secretary; John H. Booth,
treasurer; George C Adams, superintendent; Robert Frasier, A.
Crocker, George M. Bender, John M. Hotaling, directors. The grounds
of this cemetery comprise about thirty acres situated four miles west
from Albany, and have been tastefully laid out and improved for its
purpose.

Elm wood Cemetery is controlled by an association which was organ-
ized in September, i86r ; the grounds contain ten acres and are situat-
ed on the Bethlehem plank road near the First Reformed church.
Mount Pleasant Cemetery is situated at South Bethlehem, and was es-
tablished in connection with the Methodist church in 1863. The land
was a gift from John Callanan and comprises nine acres. The first offi-
cers were Jehoichim Spaun, president ; L. C. Tuttle, treasurer ; Fred-
erick Schaupp, secretary. Besides these cemeteries, the cemetery of
the congregation Bethel is situated a mile south of the city on the river



Online LibraryAmasa J. (Amasa Junius) ParkerLandmarks of Albany County, New York → online text (page 49 of 138)