James H. (James Hadden) Smith.

History of Duchess county, New York : with illustrations and biographical sketches of some of its prominent men and pioneers online

. (page 78 of 125)
Online LibraryJames H. (James Hadden) SmithHistory of Duchess county, New York : with illustrations and biographical sketches of some of its prominent men and pioneers → online text (page 78 of 125)
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The first package that passed through this office
was for Col. Wright, who was then engaged in the
dry goods business at 314 Main street, and the
second was delivered to W. W. White, a dry goods
merchant at 308 Main street. At the end of the
first year the business of the office had increased
sufficiently to require an assistant. It has continued
to increase to the present time, and the business
men of Poughkeepsie, at first so reluctant to avail
themselves of its benefits, would now be more loth
to forego them.

During this long period of service, only three
articles expressed by Mr. Ver Valen have gone
astray, and those were lost through the negligence
of other agents. The company has sustained a
loss of only $300, and that was abstracted by
burglars from the safe in the office in its first
location.* ^_

* Letter from Mr. A. A. Ver Valen, the agent, June i6, 1881 ; The
Sunday Courier, Feb. l5, 1875 ; and the Poughkeepsie DaUy Eagle,
July 14, '880.


Poughkeepsie's Manufactures.

THE manufactures of Poughkeepsie, if never
very extensive, have always been respecta-
ble, both as regards the number of establishments
and the quantity and value of manufactured pro-
ducts. The excellent, but limited water power
furnished by the dashing Fallkill, with its numer-
ous cascades, formerly of much greater volume
than at present, was early utilized ; but steam has
superseded water power as a motor, and notwith-
standing this natural force has been vastly dimin-
ished, the manufacturing interests of the city have

The manufacturing interests of the city are va-
ried and important as to value and magnitude.
They furnish one of the staples of its commerce
and give life and activity to its other industries.
They give direct employment to more than twenty-
two hundred persons,* and require a capital of per-
haps fully three millions of dollars, — thus demand-
ing the labor of more than one-tenth of the popu-
lation of the city, or, taking the statistical average
as a basis of calculation, of more than one from
every second family. With these facts before us,
it is not difficult to understand how vitally is the
prosperity of Poughkeepsie affected by the activity
or depression of its manufactures, which, from its
position with respect to the great highways of travel
and commerce, must continue to be its chief de-

The Establishment of Wm. Whitehouse &> Co.
— This is among the largest and most complete es-
tablishments for the manufacture of boots and shoes
in the country. No individual proprietor, at all
events, has conducted one upon a more extensive

It was originally constructed and put in opera-
tion by the Hon. John O. Whitehouse in 1870. It
was located upon the main street in the city of
Poaghkeepsie at the corner of Cherry street, and
upon the line of the City Railroad with rear upon the
Fallkill. This structure was two hundred and ten
feet in length, ninety feet in width on Main street,
and five stories high, with a French roof, and was
capable of giving employment to a thousand hands
and of turning out from three to four thousand
pairs of shoes daily.

The first factory was completely destroyed, with
all its valuable machinery and stock, in July, 1879,

* This number does not include the large number of females — from 200
to 50c — who find employment in caning chairs at their homes.



the result of a stroke of lightning. In consequence
of a strong appeal on the part of his fellow citizens
who were anxious for a continuance of an industry
so valuable to the city, Mr. Whitehouse was in-
duced to rebuild. The new structure was com-
pleted and occupied by him the same year upon an
enlarged scale and upon the same plot. The new
factory building is two hundred and fifty feet long;
forty feet wide and four stories high. Partly in
front is a building containing offices, store rooms,
and the steam engine. This is one hundred and
fifty feet long by forty feet wide, three stories high,
and is finished with a handsome tower. Across
the rear of the lot extends the box factory, one
hundred and ten feet long.

During the lifetime of Mr. Whitehouse he con-
tinued the production of shoes, and supplied them
to his wholesale warehouse in the city of New York.
All the modern inventions applicable to this work
were supplied by him with a liberal and enterprising
hand, and exhibit in a high degree the best results
of inventive and mechanical skill. Soon after the
death of Mr. Whitehouse the works were reopened
by his son-in-law, Mr. Eugene N. Howell, of Phil-
adelphia, who continues its operations under the
superintendence of Mr. G. M. Hine, who acted in
that capacity under the former principal. The
value of such an enterprise to the city where it is
located can scarcely be over-estimated, and it is
properly regarded as a great beneficence, and bet-
ter than charity.

The Buckeye Mower and Reaper Works rank
next in the number of employes. They were es-
tablished in Worcester, Mass., in 1855, by John P.
Adriance. The first experience of Mr. Adriance
in this line dates back to 1852. His father, John
Adriance, who had a large experience in the iron
and foundry business, sold during that year a few
" Ketcham " machines, and arranged during the
same fall to manufacture the " Forbush " machine,
which many remember as a serviceable one-wheel
machine. In the fall of 1854, John P. Adriance
purchased the '• Manny patents," of New England,
and manufactured that machine at Worcester,
Mass. At the great national trial of mowers and
reapers at Syracuse, in 1857, the " Aultman & Miller
Mower," now known as the " Buckeye," was in-
troduced, and in an exciting contest, continuing
through several days, was awarded the grand gold
medal. Messrs. Adriance & Co., convinced that
a two-wheel, flexible floating-bar machine was an
improvement on any hitherto introduced, purchas-
ed the patents for the States and other territory,

and commenced its manufacture also at Worcester.
The first year they built less than three hundred
machines. From the first the "Buckeye" was a
success, and the careful manner with which it has
been constructed has kept it in the front rank.
The "Buckeye" of to-day bears but httle resem-
blance to that of 1857. For its improvements
Messrs. Adriance, Piatt & Co., the present propri-
etors, are greatly indebted to their able superin-
tendent, Thomas S. Brown, who is a thoroughly
educated mechanician.

In the fall of 1859, Messrs. Adriance, Piatt &
Co., removed their works to Poughkeepsie, locating
at the Red Mills, at the junction of Main and Mill
streets. In the spring of 1865, they removed to
their present location, on the bank of the Hudson,
on South Water street, in the south-west of the
city. The works occupy a dock and water front-
age of five hundred feet. They comprise; three
large buildings, viz: a machine and work shop, of
four stories, fifty by three hundred feet ; a foundry,
fifty by two hundred feet ; and a two-story black-
smith shop, knife-shop and store-house, fifty by
two hundred and twenty-five feet ; besides lumber
and other sheds, occupying altogether nearly four
acres of ground. These buildings were erected in
1864, but an additional story was built on the first,
in 1873.

The materials annually worked up in this estab-
lishment are as follows : pig iron 1,300 tons j bar
iron, 200 tons; cold and rolled iron, 100 tons; bar,
sheet and spring steel, 100 tons ; malleable iron, 200
tons ; coal, 800 tons ; ash and oak lumber, 300,000
feet ; pine lumber 400,000 feet ; spruce boards,
50,000 feet.

The annual product of this mass of materials is
about six thousand mowers and reapers, which, in
addition to the home demand, find their way to
nearly all parts of the globe. Reside those
manufactured by Adriance, Piatt & Co., there are
several large establishments in the West engaged
in building the Buckeye mowers and reapers. The
works in Poughkeepsie give employment to about
two hundred men. The pay roll foots up $10,000
per month. The motive power is furnished by a
hundred horse-power engine.

The local office is in the main building, but the
general sales-office is at 165 Greenwich street, New
York city. The firm is composed of John P. Ad-
riance, of Poughkeepsie, and Samuel R. and Isaac
S. Piatt, of New York.

The Poughkeepsie Iron Co., represents one of
Poughkeepsie's most important industries. The





company was incorporated March 26, 1875, for
" the manufacture of pig iron and the products
thereof," with a capital of $150,000, by J. B. Brins-
made, A. Tower and Henrie M. Bryem, who were
the first trustees. It is the successor of the Pough-
keepsie Iron Works Co., which was organized in
1848, and in that year erected the furnace now de-
signated No. I, at the Union Dock, at the foot of
Union street. That furnace was constructed for
the purpose of smelting ores by the use of char-
coal, but owing to the difficulty in procuring that
fuel, was adapted to the use of anthracite coal.
Joseph Tuckerraan and Wm. Bushnell were the
parties interested. Mr. Tuckerman retained his
interest but a short time, though, after a few years,
the property passed into his hands, and he asso-
ciated with himself Edward Bech, with whom he
continued till the close of 1854, when he sold his
interest to Mr. Bech and others from Hamburgh
and Copenhagen, who, with some changes in indi-
vidual ownerships, continued operations until the
present stock company was formed in 1875. A.
Tower was made President of the latter company,
Henrie M. Braera, Treasurer, and J. B. Brinsmade,
Secretary. There has been no change in the offi-
cers. The second stack in this locahty was built
in 1854, and operated by Edward Bech. The
works have been under the supervision of A. Tow-
er since 1850. The capacity of the first stack is
25 tons, and of the second, 30 tons per day — their
capacity having been doubled as compared with
former years by improvements in the method of
treating ores.

In i860, the two stacks at the foot of Hoffman
street were erected by the Poughkeepsie Iron Works
Co., and before the expiration of the year a stock
company was formed under the name of the Fall-
kill Iron Co., which was composed of the same
parties as constituted the Poughkeepsie Iron Works
Co., with the addition of Judge James Emott.
The capital was $200,000; but in May, 1867, it
was increased to $700,000, and other partners ad-
mitted, among whom were George A. Parker, of
New Vork, and J. B. Brinsmade. The two stacks
owned by this company are of equal capacity, and
have a joint capacity of eighty tons per day. The
first directors and officers of the Fallkill Iron Co.,
were James Emott, President ; Edward Bech,
Treasurer; and A. Tower, who is also the Super-
intendent. Mr. Emott still holds the office of
President. The present Treasurer is Henrie M.
Braem ; the Secretary, J. B. Brinsmade.

Both companies manufacture pig iron, the Fall-

kill Iron Co., producing 25,215 tons per annum,
and the Poughkeepsie Iron Co., 19,463 tons. They
unitedly employ 160 men, to whom between $6,000
and $7,000 is paid on monthly wages.

The Fallkill Iron Co., own a hematite mme in
■ Union Vale, and an interest in a magnetic ore bed
on Lake Champlain. The principal towns in this
County in which ore is obtained are Fishkill, Beek-
man and Union Vale, the production in 1880, ex-
ceeding that of any previous year. Limestone, for
a flux, is obtained from Duchess, Ulster and
Greene counties.

J. Silberman dv Co's. manufactory of silk thread
for weaving, though a recent enterprise, is among
the more important manufacturing estabUshments
in Poughkeepsie. It is located on the corner of
Main and Smith streets, and is a branch of this
company's manufactory in New York city, the
thread for the warp and fiUing being prepared for
the weaving, which is done in New York. The
business here gives employment to about 150 per-
sons, about two-thirds of whom are females. That
branch of it conducted in New York gives employ-
ment to between 700 and 800.

G. D. Eighmie is doing an extensive business in
the manufacture of the Eighmie Imported Patent
Bosom Shirts and the Eighmie Patent Elastic
Seamless Drawers, both of which are his own in-
vention. He commenced this business in 1876.
In 1878 he erected a building at his present loca-
tion, Nos. 15, 17, 19, 21 and 23 Crannell street,
commencing operations therein on Monday,
August 26, 1878. But the increase in his business
has necesitated four additions to that within the
last two years, thus trebUng his facilities in his
present location, and giving the works a present
capacity of fifteen hundred shirts per day. He
now employs some one hundred and fifty persons,
all of whom, except about twelve are females. The
value of the manufactured products is about $300,-
000 per annum. The monthly pay roll averages
about $2,600.

The works of the Dutchess Manufacturing Co.,
were estabUshed in the fall of 1875, by Lasher,
Haight & Kelly, (Warren P. Lasher, Louis Haight
and Timothy G. Kelly,) for the manufacture of
ladies' cotton and woolen skirts, and was conduct-
ed by them till January, 1878, when they closed
out the business and were succeeded by Forby &
Lasher, (Wm. F. Forby and Warren P. Lasher,)
who continued it till the death of Mr. Forby in
the early part of 1879, when J. Frank Hull, Jr.,
acquired Mr. Forby's interest, and the business



has since been conducted under the name of
Lasher & Hull.

Gifford, Sherman &• Innis, manufacturers of
dye woods and logwood extracts, represent one
of the oldest as well as one of the most important
industries in Poughkeepsie. The .business was
established in 1813, by Nathan Gifford, who, in
1838, associated with himself H. R. Sherman, un-
der the firm name of Gifford & Sherman. In
1842, George Innis became a member of the firm,
and the business has since been conducted under
the name of Gifford, Sherman & Innis, though
Mr. Gifford severed his connection with it in 1852,
and Mr. Sherman died in 1858, having maintained
his connection till his death, while Aaron Innis,
brother of George, acquired an interest in 1849.
The business is now conducted by George and
Aaron Innis.

The business was established on the present
site, in a building which had been previously used
as a grist and plaster-mill. That building was de-
stroyed by fire in 1849; and in that year the build-
ing now known as "the old mill" was erected.
Since then four additional buildings have been
erected from time to time, as the demands of an in-
creasing business required, the last in 1880.
Employment is given to about one hundred and
twenty-five persons. Connected with the estab-
lishment, also, is a machine shop, in which five
men are employed. This is the oldest establish-
ment of its kind in this country, and with the ex-
ception of one at Green Point, and another at
Bull's Ferry, near New York, is the only one in the
State. There are only seven other establishments
of the kind in the country. The dye wood is
manufactured for the use of the dyers, and is im-
ported — the logwood from the West Indies, and
the other woods from the East Indies, South and
Central America, Africa and Europe.

C. M. &' G. P. Pelton are engaged in the
manufacture of two-ply and three-ply ingrain car-
pets and pins, at the lower end of Mill street.
This business was established in 1837, by Charles
M. Pelton, who remained the senior partner till
his death, Jan. 14, 1878. He was born Oct. 15,
1805, and spent his early life in Monticello, SuUi-
van county, removing to Poughkeepsie in 1837.
His brother, G. P. Pelton, became associated with
him as partner about 1848, and the business has
since been conducted under the above name.

The business was established on the present
site, in a building which was partially destroyed
by fire July i, 1854. A portion of the front part

of the present building is that portion which sur-
vived the fire. The manufacture of carpets alone
was commenced in 1837. The manufacture of
pins was added about 1848. The carpet business
has more than doubled. It is conducted on the
lower floor, and pins on the upper. About one
hundred persons are employed in both depart-
ments, more than one-half of whom are females.
Two turbine water-wheels and two steam engines,
with a united capacity of one hundred horse-
power, constitute the motor. Steam was first in-
troduced about 1848, previous to which time water
alone was relied on.

The Poughkeepsie Glass Works are one of
Poughkeepsie's more recent, but most valuable in-
dustries. They were established some eighteen
months since by a stock company, with a capital
of $85,000, for the manufacture of hollow glass-
ware. They are located on the river bank, in the
north part of the city, near the upper furnace, and
give employment to about one hundred persons.
The following are the trustees named in the articles
of association, which are dated Poughkeepsie,
Nov. 19, 1880, viz: Wm. P. and Charles D. Ely,
Charles W. Reed, George O. Baker and George
H. Hoyt, all of Clyde, N. Y., and Henry C. Wis-
ner and Evan R. Williams, of Rochester.

Arnold &= Go's Chair Factory is an old estab-
lished industry and one of considerable magnitude.
The business was commenced in 1844, by S.
Chichester, who conducted it for two or three
years, and was succeeded by Strong & West, and
later by West & Frost. About 1852, David Ar-
nold succeeded West & Frost, and continued the
business till his death in 1864, ,when Wm. C.
Arnold, his son, C. N. Arnold his grandson, and
C. S. Andrus succeeded to the business, which
has since been conducted under the n^e of Ar-
nold & Co. The factory is located on the west
side of North Water street, near Mill street. Fif-
ty persons are employed in the factory, while from
two hundred to five hundred women and children
are employed in caning chairs. In i88o, 60,000
chairs were made, with either cane or perforated
veneer seats.

M. Vassar 6- Go's Brewery is one of the old-
est, and, from the noble benefaction it has virtu-
ally evolved— Vassar College— the most remarka-
ble of Poughkeepsie's business enterprises. In
1805, James Vassar began the brewing business in
Poughkeepsie. He purchased of the heirs of
Baltus Van Kleeck a lot of land lying between
Main and Mill streets, the former of which, west of



Washington street, was then recently opened. On
that lot, says Mr. Lossing, he built a brewery, in a
part of which his family dwelt while he was erect-
ing the house which became their future residence.
The first Vassar brewery, says a contemporary
writer,* was built in 1806. It was a very small
building, situated on the Fallkill, and contained a
small tub and kettle, the capacity of which was
"the traditional two barrels." The brewing was
"repeated as often as the population, which at
that time was 1,500 all told, required it."

In 1809, Mr. Vassar built a larger and more
commodious brewery to meet the demands of his
increasing business. This building, which stood
on Vassar street, was destroyed by fire May 10,

181 1. Mr. Vassar had no insurance, and the loss
proved a serious one. It was followed two days
after by the death of his eldest son, John Guy Vas-
sar, who was suflfocated amidst the ruins, in a re-
cently emptied beer- vat charged with carbonic acid
gas, into which he descended with the hope of
saving some hops it contained. Other losses of
property followed, and business ventures failed, and
when past fifty years of age, James Vassar and his
wife with their family, which then numbered seven
children, were reduced to comparative poverty.
Almost disheartened by the gloomy and unpromis-
ing future, he finally leased and closely tilled four-
teen acres of land on the New York and Albany
post-road, a Uttle north of the Fallkill, in the sub-
urbs of Poughkeepsie, where he and his wife passed
the greater part of the evening of their lives in com-
fort and serenity. Mrs. Vassar died in March,
1837, and her husband survived her only three years.

Matthew Vassar, their second oldest son, was
born April 29, 1792, in East Dereham, in the rich
maritime and agricultural county of Norfolk, Eng-
land. He revived, in an humble way, the business of
brewing, using for that purpose the dye-house of
George Booth, the husband of his sister Maria, who
was then engaged in the manufacture of woolen
cloth in Poughkeepsie. He made three barrels of
ale at a brewing, and sold and delivered it in small
quantities to the citizens with his own hands. In

181 2, he hired a basement room in the courthouse,
the building now standing, and opened a "saloon"
for the sale of ale and oysters — the first oyster sa-
loon established in the town. Thus his days were
spent over his brewing apparatus in the dye-house,
or in disposing of his "grains" about the village;
while his evenings, until midnight, were devoted to
his customers in his " saloon."

* The A nurican Brewers' Gazette, May, 1880.

In 181 2, Matthew Vassar erected on the site of
the brewery destroyed in i8ri, a more extensive
one, with a capacity of about forty barrels. It is a
plain, substantial stone building, and is still stand-
ing, though it has been converted from its original
use to a storehouse, and is soon to be removed.
Additions to these were made from time to time, a
principal malt-house having been constructed in
1814. These buildings, which extended from Vas-
sar to Bridge streets, were, with the exception of
that part of the brewery erected in 1812, destroyed
by fire on the morning of Oct. 10, 1862.

Mr. Vassar struggled on alone, unaided by influ-
ence or capital, for about two years. In the spring
of 1814, he formed a copartnership, under the name
of M. Vassar & Co., with Thomas Purser, an Eng-
lishman of considerable fortune, and also of some
experience in brewing, who furnished the means
for increasing the business. The business at the
court house was abandoned, and Mr. Vassar's whole
attention given to the manufacture of ale. The
partnership business was successful, but owing to
failing health Mr. Purser withdrew after about two
years. His place was supplied by Nathan and
Mulford Conklin, who were then carrying on an
extensive mercantile business in Poughkeepsie, but
in 1829, Mr. Vassar purchased their interest. Dur-
ing this period Mr. Vassar experienced various vi-
cissitudes, and on two or three occasions losses by
fire and flood brought him to the verge of bank-
ruptcy ; but after he had conducted the business
about twenty years, " a tide of uninterrupted pros-
perity bore him on to the possession of a large for-

In 1832, the business had become too large to be
well managed by him alone, and he took in as part-
ners his nephews, Matthew Vassar, Jr., and John
Guy Vassar, sons of his deceased brother John Guy.
The brewery on Vassar street soon became too
small for the increasing business, and in 1836, the
present extensive " brewery and maltings," with a
capacity for sixty thousand barrels annually, and
occupying a plot of ground three hundred and fifty
feet square on the river bank, was erected. The
two "maltings" are capable of producing one
hundred and twenty-five thousand bushels of malt
during the season, and are run to their full capacity.
So great was the increase of their business at this
period that it became necessary to use the two
breweries in Poughkeepsie, also one in New York,
and another in Lansingburgh.

At various periods Mr. Vassar brought into the
business, as partners, his brother James, James



Vassar Harbottle, Alfred R. Booth, John Guy Vas-
sar, 2d, Erastus Reeve, J. L. D. Lyon and Ohver
H. Booth, to the latter of whom — one of his
nephews — he sold his interest in May, 1866, and
devoted the remaining two years of his busy life
(he died June 23, 1868,) largely to the fostering
care of that grand institution which perpetuates his
name, and was founded by him five years previously
for the thorough education of women.*

There are no less than four other breweries in
operation in the city. The principal of these is
Frank's Sons' Brewery, located at 11 to 21 Tuhp
street, which was established in 1858, by Frank &
Klady, (V. Frank and Philip Klady,) who erected

Online LibraryJames H. (James Hadden) SmithHistory of Duchess county, New York : with illustrations and biographical sketches of some of its prominent men and pioneers → online text (page 78 of 125)