Amasa J. (Amasa Junius) Parker.

Landmarks of Albany County, New York online

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erty benefited. Since that time and under various acts and council
proceedings, the basin has been vastly improved by openings in the
pier, dredging, etc.

The period from 1826 to 1830 was one of general prosperity through-
out the country. The success of the canals that were actualy built led
to the formation of scores of companies, with capital stock ranging
from $3,500 to $550,000, and canals were projected in all directions; but
most of these were never even commenced. Meanwhile rumors of a
strange and mighty rival of the canal in the freight and passenger
traffic had come from the southward, and before the canals had reached
the height of their prosperity, a steam railroad, the first one in this
State, was in active operation between Albany and Schenectady.
Prominent Albany men were actively interested in the development of
the new mode of transportation. What was known as the Ouincy Rail-
road was built in Massachusetts in 18-2(i, for the transportation of gran-
ite from the celebrated quarries, but it was only four miles in length
and the motive power was horses. In April of the same year the New
York Legislature chartered the Mohawk and Hudson River Railroad
Company, to construct a railroad between Albany and Schenectady.
This was the first chartered company in the Union authorized to carry
on a general transportation business. This was the first season that
the Erie canal was used throughout its full course, yet the conviction
was, even then, becoming prevalent that at an early day a railroad
would extend along its course as a competitor for traffic. As business
in all its various channels rapidly increased, demanding greater activity
on the part of merchants and manufacturers, the element of time be-
came a more important factor in every man's business and had a distinct
effect upon his profits and losses. Shrewd men realized that this line
across the Empire vState was the natural course for through trade, as it
is now termed, and busy minds were speculating upon ways and means
and possible results of building railways that would, at least, divide the


traffic of the canal and the stages and prove a profitable investment.
The capital of the Mohavi-k and Hudson Company was $300,000, with
the privilege of increasing it to $500,000. In the mean time and before
work on this road was begun, railroads in other States were com-
menced, finished and brought into use, with locomotives propelled by
steam. The Auburn and Syracuse road, chartered in May, 1834, was
first operated by steam in 1839. In August, 1830, about twenty months
before the expiration of the six years in which the road was to be built,
the work of construction on the line from Albany to Schenectady be-
gan and was pushed forward with such energy that in October, 1831,
it was fully completed and was carrying on an average about -100 pass-
engers daily. This, the first railroad in the State, was crude in plan,
imperfect in construction and expensive in operation. The road bed
was mostly of solid stone, forming an unyielding foundation, that acted
as an anvil, upon which rolling stock pounded like hammers, battering
and wearing out the timbers, cross ties and rails. The cost of the road
was $68,000 per mile.

During the ten years subsetjuent to the date of the charter of this
first railroad, the Legislature granted charters for building other roads
in various parts of the State. The success of the road from Albany to
Schenectady, such as it was, served to inspire confidence in more ex-
tensive and better railroads and taught many lessons that later engi-
neers were not slow to adopt. The project of connecting Albany with
New York by a railroad along the Hudson was agitated at an early
date, and in 1832 a number of prominent men obtained a charter for a
railroad for this purpose authorizing a capital of $3,000,000. This ef-
fort was a little premature and sufficient stock was not subscribed for.
Regarding the probable profits of this line the railroad commissioners
of 1833 reported as follows:

That it would accommodate a large number of the population in the vicinity of the
route; that the amount of transportation charges which would be paid to the road
by this population, on produce, minerals, manufactures and merchandise would
amount to .$350,000, to which was added a larger sum to be received from travelers
and light freights between Albany' and New York, especially in winter; that the
annual income of the road would be $852,000. " This railroad will connect at Albany
with the grand chain of railroads now in progress or contemplated from Albany to
Buffalo, viz.; the Mohawk and Schenectady, completed; Utica and Schenectady in
progress ; Syracuse and Utica, coutenijilated ; Auburn and Syracuse, stock subscribed ;
Auburn and Rochester, contemplated ; Tonawauda, contemplated, from Rochester
through Batavia to Attica."

The practical consummation of all these grand projects was not, how-
ever, realized until May 12, 1846, when a new charter was granted to
the Hudson River Company with the result that, on October 3, 1851,
the road was opened from New York to East Albany. On November
1, 18G9, this company and the New York Central Company were con-
solidated, the latter company having been organized April 3, 1853, for
the consolidation of the following companies : Albany and Schenectady,
Schenectady and Troy, Utica and Schenectady, The Mohawk Valley,
The Syracuse and Utica, the Syracuse and Utica direct, Rochester and
.Syracuse, Buffalo and Rochester, the Rochester, Lockport and Niagara
Falls, and the Buffalo and Lockport. This entire combination passed
to the new company August 1, 1853. Previous to this consolidation
the Troy and Greenbush road, which was chartered in 1845, was leased
to the Hudson River Company, June 1, 1851, for seven per cent, on
$276,000 stock, and passed under control of the consolidated company
above described.

The New York and Harlem Railroad was chartered in April, 1831,
and work on it was begun in February of the next year. This com-
pany was authorized in May, 1840, to extend the road north of the
Harlem River to meet the New York and Albany road at such point
as might be agreed upon, and to continue to Albany in May, 1845. It
was leased to the New York Central in 1873.

The construction of these railroads involved the building of costly
bridges across the Hudson at Albany. The first bridge in this vicinity
was completed in December, 1804, at Waterford. In January, 1814,
the project of building another bridge at Albany was discussed, but
received intense opposition at Troy, the claim being put forward that
it would obstruct navigation. The contest was carried into the Assem-
bly, where a heated controversy was held. On March 11, 1814, Har-
manus Bleecker, from the special bridge committee, reported adversely
on the project, and the subject was not brought up again unlil 1831, when
it met a similar fate. On February 4, 1835, a meeting was held at the
Eagle Tavern to consider the subject, and a committee of thirty was
appointed to prepare a petition, but nothing further was then done.
On February 11, 1836, another meeting was held in the city hall at
which Erastus Corning presided, but against all the influence that was
brought to bear in favor of a bridge, the Assembly committee reported
adversely in March. The subject was a fruitful source of public and
private discussion until January 30, 1841, when another meeting was


held in the Young Men's Association rooms, the mayor presiding and
addresses being made by John V. L. Pruyn and vSamuel Stevens, but at-
tempts to secure favorable action in the Legislature met the usual
opposition from Troy and Albany ferry companies. The Assembly
again reported adversely March 36, 1841, so that, though it was in the
face of great necessity and the powerful influences working in favor of
the undertaking, a bridge was not built until 1856, when, on April '.),
the Hudson River Bridge Company was incorporated. The site of the
bridge was to be determined by commissioners, among whom were
Moses H. Grinnell, of New York, J. D. Monell, of Hudson, Palmer V.
Kellogg, of Utica, Jacob Gould, of Rochester, James W. Wadsworth,
of Geneseo and Albert H. Tracy, of Buffalo. It is worthy of notice
that on February 2, about two months before the passage of the in- '
corporating act, a remonstrance against the proposed bridge was sent
to the Legislature which was signed by more than 1,000 citizens of
Albany. The capital stock of the company was $500,000. The act
ordered the bridge to be erected at least twenty-five feet above common
tide water and to be supplied with a draw of sufficient width to admit
the passage of the largest vessels navigating the river. The New York
Central Railroad Company, the Hudson River Railroad Company, and
the Boston and Albany Railroad Company were stockholders in the
bridge company. This first bridge was superseded by the present
middle bridge under an act passed April 28, 1868, authorizing the dem-
olition of the old one as soon as the new one was finished ; and that be-
fore the commencement of the new bridge, the railroad companies
above mentioned and the bridge company should "jointly and .severally
execute and deliver a bond to the Mayor, Aldermen and Commonalty
of the City of Troy, and the same Board of the city of Albany, in the
penalty of at least $600,000," for the proper fulfillment of their obliga-
tions under the act. Work on the new bridge began in May, 1S70, and
it was opened in 1872, and it is little more than half a mile in length.

Brief mention of the other existing bridges may be made here, al-
though it is out of the chronological order. The upper bridge was
opened February 23, 1866, and is now used exclusively for freight and
foot passage. Its cost together with the necessary purchases of real
estate was $1,100,000. The lower bridge, at South Ferry street, was
built by the Albany and Greenbush Bridge Company, incorporated
April 18, 1872. The site was selected by Commissioners Thomas W.
Alcott, Charles Van Benthuy.sen, Volkert P. Douw, of Albany; James


M. King, of Greenbush ; Alexander Morris, J. T. Davis, and John H.
Pratt, of East Greenbush. Work on this bridge was commenced in
187G, but progressed very slowly, so that it was not opened for teams
and foot passengers until January 24, 1882.

The era of prosperity during which many of these public improve-
ments took their inception, received a disastrous check in the financial
crisis of 1836-38, which followed closely upon the ravages of the
Asiatic cholera which are described in Chapter XIII. The causes of
that panic had their beginning in the very foundation of the govern-
ment finances as laid down by the policy of General Jackson, which
was in antagonism to the policy of the United States Bank and its con-
'nections. While the tide was rising banks multiplied in various parts
of the country and their managers, who had become able to control
large resources in depreciated currency, engaged in real estate and
other speculations, indulged extravagantly in the purchase of luxuries
and aided in turning the heads of their more conservative neighbors.
Prices of lands and of all merchandise were greatly inflated, money was
plenty, easily obtained and readily spent. Usurious rates of interest
prevailed, money frequently commanding from three to five per cent.
a month, with an active demand even at those rates. This apparent
anomaly is explained by the fact that many persons were led into bor-
rowing at enormous rates of interest, in the hope that by the tempo-
rary use of money they could realize the same large profits that were
being made by their neighbors, so that almost all communities, particu-
larly the cities and villages of later growth than Albany, were drawn
into the whirlpool and an era of speculation followed such as the country
has never since experienced. All classes became involved, and thus,
when the disaster drew near, though some persons foresaw it and
escaped, yet large numbers became bereft of ordinary judgment and
clung to the last to the impossible belief that money could be actually
created by such operations, and were finally overwhelmed in the final
crash. This was precipitated by Jackson's " specie circular," and the
withdrawal of deposits from the United States Bank.

The Mexican war, as it is generally termed, was caused by conflicting
claims about the territory of Texas. The American government claimed
it as a part of the Louisiana purchase of 1803, but did not press the
claim until later, so that when ^lexico became a republic in 1824, Texas


was made one of the States. Meanwhile the territory had been considera-
bly settled by Americans. Finally Texas rebelled against the govern-
ment of Santa Anna and on March 2, 1836, declared itself an inde-
pendent State, though this independence was not admitted by Mexico.
On the 4th of July, 1845, Texas was, with its own consent, admitted into
the Union. Here was the immediate cause of the war that was promptly
declared. General Zachary Taylor was sent into Texas with an army
of occupation, and on the 24th of April, 1846, the first blood was shed.
The contest was not long continued, but was fought with valor and de-
termination, under such American leaders as Taylor, Scott, Wool,
Worth, and others. Its principal events have long been overshadowed
by the great struggle of 1861-65 between the North and the South.

Under the act of Congress authorizing the raising of fifty regiments
for the Mexican war, seven were assigned to the State of New York,
but only two of these were furnished. The first was raised by Colonel
Stevenson in 1846 and contained one company of eighty men recruited
in Albany, which was commanded by Capt. John B. Frisbie and Lieut.
Edward Gilbert. The regiment was sent to Mexico by a sailing vessel
around Cape Horn and joined General Scotfs forces, participating in
his arduous campaign. The second regiment, raised in the fall of 1846,
was commanded by Col. Ward B. Burnett, and contained an Albany
company of which the cajJtain was Abraham Van O'Linda, and the
lieutenant, Addison Farnsworth. This regiment also constituted a
part of Scott's army and served with honor until the close of the war.
The act of Congress of 1847 calling for ten regiments of infantry from
this State, was promptly responded to. The tenth regiment raised un-
der this call is credited to Albany and contained many volunteers from
this county. It was commanded by Col. Robert E. Temple and Lieut. -
Col. James McGown. The regiment joined General Taylor's forces
and shared his campai.gns until the war ended, (icn. John E. Wool
and (len. William J. Worth, were former residents of Albany county,
and were prominent in the struggle that gave Texas to the Union.
The war ended September 13, 1847.

The middle of the present century found Albanj- county with a popu-
lation of '.)3,2'i'9, of whom 50,763 were resident in Albany city. The
growth from 1830 (when the population was 53,520) to 1840 carried the
figures to 68,634, and during the succeeding ten years they reached the
number above stated. Later chapters of this work show that the ad-


vancement and growth in other directions corresponded with the in-
crease in population.


The general history of this county during the past forty-five years,
as far as it is not included in later distinctive chapters of this volume,
may be briefly written. While it has been a period of prosperity and
growth, it has at the same time been devoid of events of great histor-
ical importance. The population of the county rose from 93,279 in 1850,
to 113,917 in 1860, and to 133,052 in 1870, while that of the city of
Albany increased from 50,763 in 1850, to 62,367 in 1860, and to 69,422
in 1870. Transportation facilities were improved by large railroad ex-
tensions and consolidations, and many institutions of a public character
were founded. The Albany and Susquehanna Railroad Company was
incorporated April 9, 1851, and was opened for traffic from Albany to
Central Bridge (35 miles), September 16, 1863. Its construction con-
tinued and it was opened throughout its entire length to Binghamton
on January 14, 1869. The property was leased in February, 1870, to
the Delaware and Hudson Canal Company for the term of its charter,
at a rental of six per cent, on the Albany city bonds; seven per cent,
on the first, second and third mortgage bonds and first consolidated
mortgage bonds, and the capital stock, and $1,000 for maintaining the
organization. A payment of $5,000 semi-annually is made by the
lessees to the trustees of the sinking fund of the city of Albany, and is
invested in certain ways for the ultimate payment of the Albany city
bonds. The amount of these city bonds was originally $1,000,000.
While this road has been a costly one to the county, it at the same time
opened a section of the country for trade with the city that has been of
great benefit.

The Albany and \^ermont Railroad was chartered October 17, 1857,
and was permanently leased to the Rensselaer and Saratoga Rail-
road Company in June, I860, and is now operated by the Delaware and
Hudson Company. The main line from Albany to Waterford junction
extends for twelve miles in this State, and has been of considerable
benefit to the city.

The New York, West Shore and Buffahi Railroad was chartered
June U, 1881, to extend from New York city up the west bank of the
Hudson River to Athens, in Greene county, and thence diverjiin.u,- to
the westward and continuing directly across Albany county to Rotterdam.
From there it passed on westward to Buffalo. It was built as a com-
peting line to the New York Central. The work of construction was
pressed with such energy that the road was opened from Weehawken
to Syracuse October 1, I880. and to Buffalo January 1, 1884. On the
2d of October, 1885, judgment and foreclosure of sale of the road was
entered in the-Supreme Court of this State, and on the 8th of Decem-
ber it was sold at auction and transferred to the purchasers, J. Pier-
pont Morgan, Chauncey M. Depew, and Ashbel Green, as joint tenants.
The road was then leased to the New York Central.

The country at large was now upon the eve of momentous events.
The sectional antagonism between the North and the South which had
been growing through many years; jealousy in the South of the rapid
material progress and prosperity of the North ; the determined efforts
of Southerners to farther extend slavery and of the Northerners to
prevent it; in short, the "in-epressible conflict" reached a crisis in the
election of Abraham Lincoln to the presidency of the United States in
1860, and led to the opening of the guns of Charleston upon Fort Sum-
ter on the 11th of April, 1801. Four days later, on the 15th, the presi-
dent issued a call for 75,000 volunteer militia to suppress the rebellion.
The response was astonishingly prompt throughout the Empire State
and no where more so than in Albany county. On the 18th of April
the Legislature passed an act authorizing the enrollment and equip-
ment of a State militia and providing for the public defense. Within
one week 155 companies were recruited in this State and ready for
.service. Public meetings were held, relief associations organized, and
funds liberally provided for the families of volunteers, and Albany
again and for the last time became the centre of a scene of military

The first regiment to respond to the call for militia in Albany county
was the •25th New York State militia, which left the city for Washing-
ton on the 22d of April, 1861, officered as follows: Michael K. Bryan,
colonel; James Swift, lieutenant-colonel; David Friedlander, major;
John M. Kimball, adjutant; Cornelius B. O'Leary, surgeon; captains,
Co. A, Jacob Fredendall; B, Timothy McDermott; C, John (Jray; I),


Frank Marshall; E, J.J. Huber; F, M. H. Kenneally; G, H. Mulhol-

land; H, Godfrey; K, Hale Kingsley; L. F. Newdorf. With 479

men the regiment reached Washington on the 29th, served its term of
three months on Arlington Heights, where it built Fort Albany; re-
turned home, and on May 41, 1803, was again mustered into service for
three months and was ordered to Suffolk, Va. At the expiration of its
term, Colonel Bryan and many of his men entered the army again as
volunteers. Colonel Bryan at a later date raised the 175th Regiment
of Volunteers and died at the head of his command on June l-t, 1863.
He was a brave and capable officer.

The od Regiment New York State \'olunteers was organized in Al-
bany May 7, 18(il, and five of its ten companies were recruited from
Albany county, as follows: C, captain, E. G. Floyd; E, captain, J. W.
Blanchard; F, captain, H. S. Hulbert; G, captain, J. H. Ten Eyck, jr.;
I, captain, E. S. Jenney. On 'Slay S I'redcrick Tuwnsend was elected
colonel of the regiment; S. M. Alfuid, lientL-iiant-colonel ; George D.
Bayard, major; Alexander II. Holf, surgeon; Jonathan O. Moore, ad-
jutant. The regiment left Albany May 18 with 79() men, participated
in the battle of Big Bethel, and during the remainder of its term of
nine months was stationed at Fortress Monroe. On May 8, 1863, it
entered service as a veteran organization and later was consolidated
with the 112th. It took part in engagements at Fort Wagner, Charles-
ton, Bermuda Hundred, Petersburg, Fort Gilmer, Fort Fisher, Wil-
mington and others of minor character. Colonel Townsend resigned
July 2, 1861, taking up his residence in Albany, and the regiment
passed under command of Colonel Alford and was mustered out in Au-
gust, 1865.

The president issued another call for troops on May 3, 1861, under
which, and acts approved July 22 and 25, 500, OoO men were required,
and under this call New York State furnished 120, •i.",! volunteers. The
Jr3d Regiment was organized at Albany and mustered into the service
between August 25 and September 21, 1801. The following were the
commissioned officers:

Francis L. Vinton, colonel; Charles H. Pierson, lieutenant-colonel; Benjamin F.
Baker, major; James H. Thompson, surgeon; James H. Bogart, adjutant. Captains:
Co. A, John Wilson; Co. B, I. R. Van Slyke; Co. E, E. Cass Griffin; Co. D, Charles
H. Clark ; Co. E, Jacob Wilson ; Co. F, James C. Rogers ; Co. G, William H. Mathews ;

Co. H (Yates Rifles), Edwin C. Drake; Co. I, George W. Reed; Co. K, Harvey S.
Chatfield; Captain Charles B. Mitchell, 1862; Captain John L. Newman, 1863; Cap-
tain David Burhans, 1862 ; Captain James D. Visscher, ' 862.

The regiment left Albany on the 16th of September with TOC men.
It received durmg its service 1,621 recruits and returned in July. 1865,
with 290 men and thirteen officers. It was distinguished for brilliant
deeds in battle and participated in actions at Lee's Mills, Warwick
Creek, Siege of Yorktown, Golding's Farm, The Seven Days battles,
Antietam, Fredericksburg, Marye's Heights Salem Church, Banks's
Ford, Gettysburg, Rappahannock Station, Locust Grove, Mine Run,
Wilderness, Spottsylvania, North Anna, Cold Harbor, Petersburg,
Fort Stevens, Charleston, Fisher's Hill, Cedar Creek, and others.
Among those in this regiment who lost their lives, were the following:
Major (afterwards Colonel) James Henry Bogart, killed while advanc-
ing with his regiment at Port Hudson, June 14, 1803. Captain (after-
wards Colonel) John Wilson, a native of Albany, died May 8, 1864, from
amputation of leg for bullet wound. Captain (afterwards Major) Will-
iam Wallace, native of Albany, was confined at one time in Libby
prison, was exchanged, and was shot while leading a charge in the bat-
tle of the Wilderness. In the same engagement, Lieutenant-Colonel*
Fryer was mortally wounded. Captain David Burhans, a native of the
town of Bethlehem, fell at the front in the engagement at Po river May
10, 1864. Captain (afterwards Colonel) James D. Visscher, born in Al-
bany, served three months with the militia at the beginning of the Re-
bellion, killed at Fort Stevens, July 12, 1864. Capt. Douglass Lodge,
born in Albany, rose from the ranks to captain, planted the colors of
his regiment on Marye's Heights May 3, 1863, and received a mortal
wound on the following day.

The Tenth Regiment, National Guards, was organized in Albany
in the early months of the war and performed guard and other duty
at the call of the governor. For the third time it tendered its services
for nine months and took the field November 21, 1862, with 864 men,
and the following officers: Ira W. Ainsworth, colonel; Frank Cham-
berlain, lieutenant-colonel; David M. Woodhall, major; Richard M.

Online LibraryAmasa J. (Amasa Junius) ParkerLandmarks of Albany County, New York → online text (page 9 of 138)