Amasa J. (Amasa Junius) Parker.

Landmarks of Albany County, New York online

. (page 8 of 138)
Online LibraryAmasa J. (Amasa Junius) ParkerLandmarks of Albany County, New York → online text (page 8 of 138)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

Albany and either remaining temporarily before their assignment, or
marching on westward towards the frontiers.

Early in 1814 it was evident that the British intended a more vigor-
ous prosecution of the war. The victory of the allies over Napoleon
had relieved from European service thousands of English soldiers
and early in the summer 15,000 of Wellington's bronzed veterans were
sent ov^er to Canada. The inhabitants of this State received this news
with deep concern. During the winter and spring the military com-
manders on both sides of the St. Lawrence and the lakes made prepara-
tions for a determined struggle, with Lake Ontario as the prize, while
on the Niagara frontier measures were in active progress which led to
the bloody conflicts in that region. The principal events of the year
were the capture of Oswego by the British Ma/0; the battle at Fort
Erie, opposite Buffalo August .13-15 ; the fight at Lundy's Lane July
"25, where young Gen. Winfield Scott won his first renown; the engage-
ments on Lake Champlain and at Plattsburg in September; at Chip-
pewa on October 15, and the victories of Decatur and others at sea.
This series of military events, in most of which the Americans demon-
strated their ability to successfully defend their country against foreign
foes, concluded with the final victory of General Jackson at New
Orleans on January 8, 1815, a battle which was in reality fought after
])eace was declared, but before the news reached that far away locality.
A treaty of peace was agreed to between the commissioners of the
United States and those of Great Britain, at Ghent, on December 24, 1814,
and ratifications were exchanged at Washington February 17, 1815. The
reception of the news in-this country spread joy throughout the land,
the tidings being greeted with banquets and illuminations in many
cities and villages.'

Among the local incidents of this conflict was the appointment of
Stephen Van Rensselaer, "the old Patroon," as major-general of the
volunteer militia, by Governor Tompkins. He was stationed on the
Niagara frontier, and there took part in the battle of Queenston, in
which Col. Solomon Van Rensselaer, also, shared and made the first
attack with 225 men. Colonel Van Rensselaer was severely wounded
at the outset. Disgusted with the refusal of many of the troops to
cross the river under the pretense that it was not a war of invasion,
General Van Rensselaer resigned in October, 1812, and returned to

Albany, where he was honorably received by a large concourse of citi-

The dashing young naval commander, Commodore Perry, paid Al-
bany a visit on November 8, 1813, after his great victory, and was
escorted to the Capitol by a large procession. There he was presented
with the freedom of the city in a gold box, and a handsome sword.
He held a reception at the Eagle Tavern, and attended a grand ball in
the evening.

Captain Bulkley raised a company of volunteer infantry here and
Captain Walker a company of artillery. They were stationed early in
the war on Staten Island, whence they returned to the city on Novem-
ber 28, 1813. About the same time Capt. C. R. Skinner had a recruit-
ing office in Ladd's Coffee House, corner of Green and Beaver streets,
where he was endeavoring to complete five companies of infantry, two
of riflemen, and one of artillery. In his public announcements he
states that the city had raised a fund of several thousand dollars for the
benefit of the volunteers.

Col. John Mills, of Albany, in command of artillery at Sackett's
Harbor, fell in battle there May 29, 1813, his bravery on that field
being commended by Gen Jacob Brown. His remains were brought to
the city and interred in Capitol Park May 29, 1844, and later were re-
moved to Rural Cemetery.

Among the honored names of men who performed active service in
that war and at some period lived in Albany county, are those of Stephen
and Solomon Van Rensselaer, John Lovett, John E. Wool, John Mills,
Colonel Forsyth, William L. Marcy, William J. Worth, John O. Cole,
Thurlow Weed, Lieutenant Gansevoort, Lieutenant Rathbone, and
Ambrose Spencer, jr.

The following list of names is copied from the "Index of Awards
on Claims of Soldiers of the War of 1812, as audited and allowed,"
pursuant to State law of 1859, Chapter 170, and is believed to contain
the names of most of the militia who enlisted in that war from this
county :

Orrin Abbott,
Michael Artcher.
Chester Atherton,
Ammiel Barnard,
Asabel S. Beans,


John J. Fulton,
Thomas S. Gillet,
Jonathan Goldwaite,
Isaac T. Groesbeck,
Abraham Hagaman,

Aaron Palmer,
Robert Patten,
Jacob- Place,
Jonas D. Piatt,
John Pruyn,


Harmamis Bleecker, jr.,
Nicholas Bleecker, jr.,
Garritt H. Bloomingdale,
Matthew Boom,
Cornelius Bounds,
Adrian Bradt,
John C. Bradt,
Salvo Brintnall,
John Bussy,
Abraham Balson,
Calvin Butler,
Daniel P. Clark,
Jeremiah Clute,
Peter Colburn,
Philip De Forest,
Martin Easterly,
Ebenezer S. Edgerton,
C. Ertzberger,
Ralph Farnham,
Thomas h ish,
William Forby,
Luther Frisbie.
William Fuhr,

Orange Beeman.
Michael Belle,
Joseph Bradley,
Richard Brownel
Henry Carroll,
Richard Filkins,
Je.sse Helligus,

George Hawley,
John D. Houghtaliug.
Moses Jay,
John Johnson,
Sylvanus Kelley,
John Lamoreux.
Nicholas I. Lampman,
Daniel D. Lawyer,
Jacob Lewis,
Aaron Livingston,
Jacob Loatwall,
Charles Low,
Jeremiah Luther,
Daniel Mcintosh,
John McMicken,
Abraham Martin,
Henry T. Mesick,
Thomas Mitchel,
William Muir,
John Myers,
Benjamin Northro]5,
Peter Osterhout,
Henry Paddock,

Reuben Hungerford,
Elisha Ingraham,
Daniel Joslin,
Derrick Martin,
Nicholas Osterhout,
David D. Palmer,
Stephenson Palmer,

Simon Relyea,
James Robinson,
Courtland Schuyler,
Jacob Scott,
Abraham Severson,
William Seymour,
Jacob Sharp,
John Shouts,
John Shinkle,
William J. Smith,
Peter H. Snyder,
John Spoor,
John Stenkle,
John Stone,
Peter Ten Eyck,
Francis E. Thompson,
Henry Turner,
John Van Antwerp,
Garret L Vandenberg,
Peter Van Olinda,
Cornelius W. Vedder,
Ebenezer C. Warren,
Jacob White.

John Pier, 2d.
William Rhinehart,
John L Schermerhorn,
James Sloan,
William Truax,
John Wilda,
Christian Willmon.

Joseph Arkles,
Aaron Hawley,
Anthony Pangb

John Parker,

Henry I. Schoonmaker,

William ScraiTord,

Lewis Stiman,
Garret ^'anderpool,
Hezukiah Wilks.

Stewart Hull,
Henry Cacknard,
Daniel Carhart,

John Carr,
Daniel Green,
Elias Holmes,

John F. Shafer,
John Turk.


James Cole,

Adam Blessing.
Ehsha Cheesebro,
Frederick J. Crounse,

Christopher Frede
Henry Ostrander,
Adam Relyea,

John N. Severson,
Peter Shafer,
Cornelius Van Derzee.

Daniel J. Beyea,
Asa Brown,

Charles Hazelton,
Moses Mowers,

Henry Bunzer,
William Bunzey,

Edward P. Crary,
Joseph Gallup,

New ScoTLANri.

Benjamin Williams,
Henry Williams.

Henry P. Bradt,
Peter V. B. Elmendorf,

William Latta,
Robert McGill,


Jacob Martin.
Samuel Warner.

Henry Benn,
George Benn,

William Crandall,
William Holdridge,

South Jekisai.em.
Peter Cole.

Thomas Tibits,
Cornelius \'an Aiken

William Campbell,
Henry Chadwick,
David Cole,
Peter M. Conger,
Ethel Enos,

Oliver Hastings,
Ezra Haynes,
James Johnson,
Henry Lasee,
Jesse E. Roberts,


John Scovell,
Stephen Simpson,
David Turner,
Joseph Werden. Fraligh,
Abiel Gardner,

Josiah Hinckley, jr.,
Walter Huyck,

Cyrus Stune,
George W. Swartwoi

John Newbury,

James W. Dubois,
Nathan B. Gleasoti
Isaac Hitchcock.

Israel Shadbolt,
James Sloan,
lacob Turner,

Following the war of 1SI"2 a long period
Albany county and the country at large,

John Uran.
George Wilsuu.

jf peace settled down upon
growth and progress in all


directions being rapid. The population increased from 34,669 in 1810
to 38,150 in 1820, and to 53,520 in 1830. Travel to and from Albany
began to assume large proportions early in the century and with the
close of the war and the establishment of industries and opening new
settlements, it greatly increased. \'arious turnpike companies were or-
ganized in addition to those already mentioned, among them the Leba-
non and Albany Turnpike in 1 798 ; the first company of the Great Western
Turnpike in 1799; in 1804 the Bethlehem Turnpike, and in 1805 the
Albany and Delaware Turnpike. A charter for a turnpike on the west
side of the river to Catskill was granted about this time, and the Troy
and Schenectady Turnpike was incorporated in 1806. All of these
roads were to facilitate the concentration of trade in Albany.

Among the most prominent of the early stage proprietors was Jason
Parker, whose place of residence was Utica. He obtained concessions
from the Legislature about the beginning of the century to run stages
west from Utica to Canandaigua for ten years. The fare at that time
was four cents a mile, and the proprietors were prohibited from carry-
ing more than seven passengers in any one stage. Mr. Parker had
been instrumental in running the first stages from Albany to Lansing-
burgh in the latter years of the preceding century, and also had a line
in operation between Albany and Whitestown before 1797. In part or
all of these early enterprises he was associated with Moses Beal. It is
on record, in 1810, that a greater degree of expedition was attained on
the route from Albany westward, when a daily line was established to
Utica. On the 20th of September, 1810, Joshua Ostrom and his asso-
ciates, who were in opposition to Parker & Co., announced a new
" steamboat line of stages " which left Albany on Mondays and Fri-
days. On the 21st of January, 1811, appeared the following announce-
ment from Parker & Powell :

Eight changes of horses. The mail stage nnw leaves Bagg's, Utica, every morning
at 4 o'clock. Passengers will breakfast at Maynard's, Herkimer, dine at Josiah Shep-
ard's Palatine and sup (on oysters) at Thomas Powell's Tontine Coffee House, Sche-
nectady. Those ladies and gentlemen who will favor this line with their patronage
may be assured of having good horses, attentive drivers, warm carriages, and that
there shall not be any running or racing of horses on the line.

This line was within a few tnonths extended through to Niagara

The year 1807 saw a marked change in travel northward and south-
ward, when the first steamboat was launched on the great river. The

first of Fulton's boats, the Clermont, left New York September 5 of
that year, with twenty-seven passengers, which number was increased
to one himdred on the trip of October ?. From twenty-four to thirty-
six hours were required for the trip. In 181] there were two steam-
boats carrying passengers to New York ; they were named the Hope
and the North River. This number was increased by 1836 to twelve
steamboats and seven towing boats. The fare on the first steamers to
New York was $7. In 1820 the Chancellor Livingston was launched;
she was 175 feet long, had beds for 160 passengers and settees for forty ;
fare $8. The reader can draw his own comparison between this pioneer
boat and the Adirondack of to-day. In 1823 the Constitution, the Con-
stellation, the Swiftsure, and the Saratoga began running. In 182S
the North America was put on the river, a boat which was character-
ized by Dr. Charles Stuart as "the most beautiful and swift of the
floating palaces on the Hudson; or, as I believe, I may add with truth,
in the world." '

In the early projects for improving transportation facilities to the
westward Albany men showed an active interest. They clearly saw
that from that direction would soon pour down towards tidewater
a flood of produce and manufactured articles, while the rapidly in-
creasing population of that region would demand the return of an im-
mense volume of merchandise. In the first directorate of the Western
Inland Lock Navigation Company, which was noticed in the preceding
chapter, were a number of prominent Albany county men, as follows:
Philip Schuyler, Leonard Gansevoort, Jeremiah Van Rensselaer, El-
kanah Watson, John Tayler, Jelles A. Fonda, William North, and Golds-
boro Banyar. The Albany commissioners to receive subscriptions to
stock were Abraham Ten Broeck, John Tayler, Philip S. A'an Rensse-
laer, Cornelius Glen and John Ten Broeck.

It was not long before it became apparent that still further improve-
ments in this direction were an imperative necessity. The subject of

time. Fulton did not comprehend 1 1 ipacit\ of his invention. He regarded the

Richmond (the finest steamboat it 1 1 ] tth) as the perfection of that class of archi-

tecture. She was a little mort th in i hmi'i I t. Lt m length, with a low, ding-y cabin, partly
below the water line, diml\ lighted b\ i dl >u l indies in which passengers ate and slept in stifling
air, and her highest rate of speed \\ as ninL miles in hour Lould Fulton revisit the earth and be
placed on one of the great rn ei ste imbo if, nt our time, he would imagine himself to be in some
magical structure of fairyland, oi ot toiming a part of a strange romance; for it is a magnificent
floating hotel over four hundred feet in length, and capable of carrying a thousand guests by
night or day at the rate of twent% miles an houi — LObSING

canal navigation directly from the Hudson River to the great lakes was
discussed very early in the century, but the name of the originator of
the project is lost in the past. The honor has been claimed by several,
each of whom has found his advocates. The journals and other writ-
ings of Elkanah Watson, who was a man of great enterprise and pro-
gressiveness, contain ample proof that he had conceived the plan about
ten years before the opening of the present century. He made a tour
across the State in 1791, during which he kept a voluminous journal,
which is still in existence and contains at least inferential proof that he
was then giving much thought to the subject. However this feature
of the matter may be viewed, it is certain that he was a strong advo-
cate of the canal long before it was actually begun, and by his argu-
ments awakened a lively interest in the enterprise in Albany. Among
those who looked upon the project with favor were the Van Rensse-
laers, the Schuylers, and John and Isaiah Townsend. A call for a
meeting to be held at the Tontine Coffee House on February 7, 1816,
was signed by Archibald Mclntyre, James Kane, John Woodworth,
William James, Charles E. Dudley, Dudley Walsh, Barent Bleecker,
John Van Schaick, Rensselaer Westerlo, and Harmanus Bleecker. At
this meeting a committee was named for each ward to secure signa-
tures to a memorial to the Legislature, asking for legislation to forward
the scheme. Similar action was taken in other ]3arts of the State. In
April following an act was passed to " provide for the improvement of
of the internal navigation of this State." Under this act, Stephen Van
Rensselaer, De Witt Clinton, Samuel Young, Joseph Ellicott, and
Myron Holley were appointed commissioners to "consider, devise and
adopt such measures as might be requisite to facilitate and effect
the communication, by means of canals and locks, between the naviga-
able waters of the Hudson River and Lake Erie, and the said navigable
waters and Lake Champlain." This commission made their report,
and then the struggle began. The canal question divided parties and
shaped the politics of the State. The question of the course to be fol-
lowed was prolific in argument, while a large part of the inhabitants of
the State looked upon the whole project as visionary and foolhardy.
But nothing could permanently stop the progress of the canal and on
April 15, 1817, the last day of the session, the act authorizing the great
water-way was passed.

Considering the times and the means available in those days for
heavy engineering work, the canal was constructed rapidly and on the


Sth of October, 1823, the first boat passed through the completed por-
tion east of the Genesee River into the Hudson. This event was cele-
brated in Albany with enthusiastic public demonstration. The Com-
mon Council appointed a committee consisting of Aldermen Gibbons,
Baldwin, Humphrey, Cassidy, Ten Eyck, and the chamberlain, while
Solomon Van Rensselaer acted as marshal of the day. A salute was
fired at sunrise, bells were rung, there was a civic and military parade
and business was suspended generally. The first boat that entered the
lock was the De Witt Clinton, having on board Governor Yates, the
mayor and other corporation officers of the city, the canal commission-
ers, engineers and citizens. The cap stone of the lock was laid with
Masonic ceremonies and the waters of the lakes and those of the ocean
were then mingled by Dr. Mitchell. After this impressive ceremony
the lock gates were opened and the boat settled down upon the waters
of the Hudson.

The whole canal was not completed until October •iC, 1S35, but Al-
bany had begun to feel its benefits previous to that date. The final
opening of the canal was also celebrated along its entire line. On Octo-
ber 17 the Common Council appointed a committee to make proper
arrangements for the Albany celebration, who held a public meeting
in the Capitol, and another at a little later date, which contributed to
the perfection of arrangements for the celebration. The passage of
the first boat from Buffalo into the Albany basin was announced from
point to point along the entire distance by the firing of cannon. The
Seneca Chief was fitted up at Buffalo to carry the dignitaries of the
State, and left that city on October 26, arriving in Albany November
■I. At 11 o'clock the procession was formed and marched through the
])rincipal streets of the city under direction of Welcome Esleeck, John
Tayler, James Gibbons, and Francis I. Bradt. When the procession
reached the Capitol, impressive services were held, consisting in part
of the -singing of an ode written by John Augustus Stone, of the Al-
bany Theatre, addresses by Philip Howe, of New York, William James,
of Albany, and Lieut.-Governor Tallmadge, a splendid collation at the
Columbia street bridge, and a ball in the evening.

The completion of the Erie Canal changed the whole aspect of com-
mercial affairs in the lake region. Coincident with that event the first
steam vessel, the Ontario, was launched on Lake Ontario at Oswego,
giving birth to the immense traffic that soon covered those waters with
busy fleets. With the construction of packet boats on the canal, travel


eastward and westward became immense, and very much of it passed
through Albany. Tolls collected in this city increased from $126,652
in 1825, to $212,045 in 1830, while more than a hundred thousand dol-
lars was added to this amount in the succeeding five years. Rivalry
between the canal packet boats and the stages on the main lines was
very active; but the new mode of travel attracted the greater number
of passengers for a considerable period. Meanwhile the Champlain
Canal had been finished and opened its entire length on September 10,
1823, extending from near Cohoes to Lake Champlain, and further
contributed to the growth of Albany.

As an evidence of the rapidity with which the Erie Canal was
brought into use, and of the very great change which it made in the
mode of transportation, particularly as regards freight, it may be
stated that the number of canal boats which arrived in Albany during
the season of 1823 was 1,329; during that of 1824 it was 2,687; during
that of 1835 it was 3,336; and in 1826, the year after the canal was in
full operation, it was about 7,000. The rate for transportation on the
turnpike in 1826 was one and a half cents a mile; the rate by the canal
was five mills. But it should not, therefore, be inferred that all the
passengers deserted the stages for the packet boats. The canal passage
was still tedious compared to land travel, and was chosen chiefly by
those who desired to lessen the fatigue of the journey, but was avoided
where time was of account.

The construction of what is known as the Albany Basin was inti-
mately connected with the two canals that terminate here. The sub-
ject of this basin was discussed about 1820, when river navigation had
become active and the docks in front of the city were constantly lined
with hundreds of sloops and schooners. After a few years of agitation
the matter was referred to the Canal Commissioners, who reported on
February 11, 1823, as follows:

la obedience to the resolution of the Assembly passed the 14th ult., instructing the
Commissioners to report a place for the construction of a basin at the termination of
the Erie and Champlain canal at the city of Albany, reported that Benjamin Wright,
one of their engineers, who was instructed to examine the matter, had proposed a
plan and made a communication on the subject, together with a map of the contem-
plated basin. The Commissioners believe that a basin may be constructed on the
said plan for about $100,000, and that such a basin would be extremely beneficial to
the trade of Albany. They have declined to make basins along the line of canals,
believing that mercantile capital and enterprise would find sufficient inducements
and interests to furnish these local accommodations to trade, and that to expend the


puVjlic moneys would not be just. They think, however, that it would be pi-oper to
construct a sloop lock at the southern termination of the basin, as the connection of
boat and sloop navigation at the arsenal dock will cost nearly as much as the said
lock; and, in case of the construction of said lock, it would be reasonable f(ir the
State to receive tolls on the length of the basin as part of the canal.

In accordance with this report the Legislature passed an act April
5, 1823, authorizing the construction of the basin and naming the fol-
lowing persons commissioners: William James, John R. Bleecker,
John Townsend, Elisha Jenkins, Benjamin Knower, Allen Brown,
Israel Smith, Tennis Van Vechten, John Trotter, John vSpencer, Asa
H. Spencer, William Durant, Peter Boyd, Joseph Alexander, Charles
R. Webster, John H. Webb, John Shotwell, Joseph Russell, William
Caldwell, Ralph Pratt, Russell Forsythe, William Marvin, William
McHarg, Jellis Winne, jr., Abraham Van Vechten, and Gideon Haw-
ley. These men were authorized to receive subscriptions for the work
which was, briefly, to construct a pier opposite the docks fronting the
harbor, so as to comprise a basin extending from the arsenal dock to a
point opposite Hodges's dock, in the line of Hamilton street, with a
sloop lock at the Hamilton street end; the work was to be c(.)mpleted
within two years. The act authorized the building of bridges from the
dock to the pier, and the Pier Company were to receive title to the
necessary land under water. The act also regulated wharfage to be
paid by vessels, authorized the canal commissioners to charge toll on
all canal boats entering the basin, and directed that the pier be divided
into lots and thus sold at auction. Under this act the pier was finished
May 27, 1825, inclosing a basin capable of harboring one thousand canal
boats and about fifty vessels of larger dimensions. The pier was di-
vided into 123 lots which, excepting lots 1 and 2, reserved for an open-
ing into the river, were sold on July 17, 1825. The aggregate sum
realized was $188,510. The pier was made 4,323 feet long and eighty-
five feet broad. The area of the basin is thirty-two acres. Bridges
with draws were erected across the basin at the foot of State and Co-
lumbia streets, and the slooj) lock alluded to was built by the State.
The passage of the first canal boat through the lock and into the basin
look place October 26, 1825.

The basin having no free outlet to the current of the river, soon be-
came encumbered with silt, creating a nuisance, and in June, 1834, the city
corporation was indicted by the grand jury for not abating the nuisance.
The case was fought on the ground that the bulkhead at the lower end


of the basin was built under authority of an act of the Legislature. The
Court of Sessions decided against the cit}-, but the decision was re-
versed by the Supreme Court. In response to an application made by
citizens in February, 1835, the Legislatui-e passed an act on the 37th
of April directing the partial removal of the bulkhead, the removal of
the sloop lock, and the erection of a bridge frOni the abutment at Ham-
ilton street to the pier. The Common Council was also authorized to
clean out the offensive accumulation and assess the cost on all prop-

Online LibraryAmasa J. (Amasa Junius) ParkerLandmarks of Albany County, New York → online text (page 8 of 138)