THE TOWN OF CHATHAM.
The territory comprising the town of Chatham is made up in the western part of a portion of the Kinderhook patent
and other smaller grants, and the eastern section belonged to the domains of the Van Rensselaer patent. The Patroon
had never caused the boundary lines of his estate to be surveyed until some years after settlement had begun by
squatters. As a result, contention arose, not only between the settlers and the Patroon, but also between the legal
tenants under both grants, and the squatters, who claimed the lands under sovereign rights, or by right of possession.
Finally, it was decided by the settlers to petition the king for a recognition of their claims, and on May 15 of
that year a memorial was prepared, in which it was asked that a committee composed of Elijah Hudson, Joseph Wood,
Samuel Wheeler, Barret Dwyer and Isaac Mills be appointed as attorneys for the squatters to confer with royal commissioners
in settling the controversy and securing, if possible, the claimants in possession of their lands. To preserve
a record of the names of these men, the list of signers to this memorial is here inserted, as follows: Joseph Hall,
Sylvanus Hudson, Jacob Brockway, Stephen Finch, Benjamin North, John Roberts, Peter Goose, David Reynolds, Richard
Hudson, Solomon Finch, Philip Philips, Seth Tubbs, Nathan Huntley, Joseph Pitts, Gilcox Sharp, V. V. Van Valkenburgh,
David Pingley, Daniel Webster, David Root, Lawrence Van Valkenburgh, Jacobie Van Valkenburgh, Caleb Knight, Christopher
Peak, Jesse Gould, Joseph English, Jabez Henry, Asahel Salmon, Reuben Burlingame, Joseph Howard, Joel Reynolds,
Thomas Brown, Obediah Wilbor, Abram Van Alstyne, Peter J. Vosburgh, David Reynolds, James Brockway, Ezekiel Thomas,
John Graves, Martin Smith, and Joseph Knapp.
These people were among the early settlers. The petition reached the crown, but nothing further was heard from
it. The fires of the Revolution were then smouldering, and it was an ill time for the colonists to expect any favors
from George III, especially so when the suppliants were supposed to be among the disaffected ones. The war of the
Revolution put a stop to further efforts in this direction. The passage by the Legislature of what was known as
the " Canaan Act," secured to many pioneers clear titles to the lands they had settled, and whose descendants
yet live in the town.
The town was erected on March 17, 1795, taking about equal portions from Canaan and Kinderhook. In 1813 portions
were set off in forming the towns of Ghent and Austerlitz, still leaving it the largest town in the county, its
superficial area being 31,703 acres. It is bounded on the north by Rensselaer county, on the east by New Lebanon
and Canaan, on the south by Austerlitz and Ghent, and on the west by Kinderhook.
The surface is an undulating upland, except along the creeks, where, in some places, comparatively broad valleys
spread out from the base of the hills. These valleys are extremely fertile, and the farms therein located are noted
for their thrifty appearance and general productive. ness. The soil is mostly a loam, intermixed with clay in some
parts and gravel in others, nearly every acre being tillable. In the eastern part of the town the hills reach a
considerable altitude and here grazing and dairying proves more profitable than raising the cereals.
The principal streams arc the Kinderhook Creek, to which is joined Steeny and Kline Kills, and numerous small brooks.
Steeny Kill, coming from the east, partly encircles Chatham village, and having a deep channel with rocky banks
and bed, affords a number of fair mill seats. The volume of its flow, however, in past years has decreased, like
most small streams, whose sources were at one time in forest lands.
The first settlers of the territory now included in this town were almost exclusively Hollanders. Many who had
first taken up their abode in Kinderhook, removed farther east and north, particularly the generation succeeding
the first corners sought locations in the fertile valleys and on the hill slopes in Chatham, to establish homes
for themselves and their children. They were a sturdy, vigorous people, and from the days of their settlement until
now have been noted for their energy, high moral standard and prominence in the civil affairs of the county. Among
the first families to thus found homes in this section were the Van Alens, Van Hoesens, Van Burens, Sons, Van Nesses,
Van Alstynes, Mesicks, Vosburghs and Van Valkenburghs. There were four brothers of the latter name - James, Bartholomew,
Lawrence and Solomon. Descendants of James still live in Chatham. During the Revolution this section was subject
to frequent incursions by tories and their bloody assistants the Indians, and rapine and murder marked their course
wherever a known patriot lived. Abraham Van Ness, an outspoken friend of the colonists, was murdered at his father's
The southern and eastern portions of the town had scarcely any occupants until some years after the western part
had become quite thickly settled, But before 1750 a number of Quakers came in, and with immigrants from New England
and Dutchess county, laid the foundation for permanent settlement. It is recorded that the Quakers were particularly
friendly with the Indians, and that one Wilbor had great influence with them and was often called on by them for
advice. Such was their faith in his fairness that they often called upon him to divide among them the presents
of goods and whisky which it was the policy of the fur buyers to bestow at frequent intervals, in order to restrain
the savages from carrying their furs to Albany and elsewhere.
From 1750 down to just before the Revolution settlement throughout the town became general and more rapid. The
rich valley lands and the gentle hills, with valuable timber tracts in some localities, became dotted with primitive
homes, and rude mills and shops sprang up along the streams, often within the shadow of the forest. Apart from
the list of residents already given as signers of the memorial to the English crown and the other families just
mentioned, the history of the several villages and their vicinity, with the early years of the civil list and the
church histories will give the reader a reasonably full account of the early denizens of this thrifty town. Many
other families are noticed in Volume II of this work. The town records furnish a valuable source of mere names
of settlers. In 1795 there were three hundred and eighty voters in the town, which would indicate that settlement
had been active and general before that time.
Among the names that have been gathered from different sources of those who were residents of the town before the
Revolution and down to the beginning of the century were Peter Van Aistyne, a very prominent man in town affairs,
Adam Van Ness, Hosea Bebee, Samuel Wilbor, Stephen Minton, James Brebner, Levi Stone, Theophilus Lockwood, Nicholas
Kittle, Matthew Dorr, Samuel Hudson, David Bebee, Michael Durham, Aaron Cady, Abner Beckwith, Abel Eaton, James
Savage, Martin Krum, Abraham Hogeboom, James Bartholomew, Gaylord Hawkins, James Palmer, Seth Jenney, Joseph Smith,
Stephen Palmer, John Davis, Jeremiah Burgess, Thomas Hulbert, Justus Betts, Simeon and Samuel Doty, Joseph Brewster,
Stephen Davis, William Benjamin, Stephen Churchill, Edward Palmer, Judson Parks, David Barnes, Alfred Parsons,
John and Nathan Noyes, Alexander Smith, Palmer Cady, Patrick Hamilton, John Stranahan, Gershom Babcock, Eleazer
Davis, Silas Pratt, Joseph Kellogg, Amasa Adams, Jonathan Ball, Peter Savage, John Camp, Samuel Anable, Hezekiah
Hulbert, Zebulon Douglas, Benjamin Lord, and many others noticed a little further on. A list, given below, of those
assessed for highway tax, will add to the above most if not all of the owners of real estate in the town in 1801:
John Son, Abram Macy, Timothy Bunker, Zepheniah Coffin, Amos Serrien, Henry Clark, Isaac Clark, Jared Pratt, E.
Mosher, Joseph Pitts, Morris Murphy, Thomas Williams, Abram Johnson, Abram Hogeboom, John Cornelius, Jacob Stevens,
Benajah Slack, William Wagner, Sheldon Curtis, Ichabod Lester, Peter Roberts, William Palmer, Ohediah Wilbor, Joseph
Phillips, Reuben Moore, Russell Crocker, William Clark, Abel Eaton, Aaron Cade, Elijah Stevens, Abner Beckwith,
John I. Miller, John Van Derburgh, Richard Stevens, Jonathan Chapman, Frederick Ham, William Sutherland, widow
Krum, Samuel Hunt, Dennis Harder, Joel Champion, James Van Valkenburgh, widow Mills, Israel Phelps, Nicholas Van
Hoesen, Nehemiah Reynolds, Nehemiah Finch, Amasa Pitts, Joseph Allen, Anson Pratt, AbrahamVosburgh, Caleb Knight,
Samuel Thompson, Samuel Crocker, Reuben Lay, David Wickham, Asa Starkweather, Daniel Bebee, Nathaniel Halsey, Andrew
Markus, Andrew Weiderwax, Andrew Calner, B. L. Van Valkenburgh, Jacob L. Schermerhorn, Conrad Rouse, Phineas Knapp,
Ebenezer Burger, Mathew Dorr, John Johnson, Robert Macy, David Haight, William Steves, Solomon Van Valkenburgh,
Josiah Richmond, James Brebner, Seth Rowland, Gaylord Hawkins, Abel Smith, Benjamin North, David Reynolds, Calvin
Eaton, John Darrow, Gershom Babcock, Isaac Webster, Elijah Cade, Samuel Mott, Rowland Gifford, Edward Dorr, Samuel
Wilbor, Joel Talmadge, Joseph Smith, James Savage, Philo Bebee, Ebenezer Cade, Ebenezer Lovejoy, Daniel Morris,
Jabez Person, Isaac Hammond, John Clark, Frederick Tobias, A. A. Van Alstyne, Tunis Sowers, Peter Van Slyke, Gershom
Reed, Isaac Van Ness, Peter Becker, James Hudson, John Roberts, Cornelius Van Ness, Justus Betts, S. Fitch, Oliver
Parks, William C. Elmore, E. Hudson, James Lockwood, Daniel Troop, Hosea Bebee, Elisha Hollister, Thomas Wilson,
Robert Gamier, Eleazer Davis, Daniel Benjamin, Gilbert Van Allen, A. J. Van Alstyne, Elkanah Briggs, Samuel Drake,
James Van Hoesen, Edward Upton, Peter Pulver, John R. Bullis, Robert Simms, John Walker, Timothy Babcock, Uriah
Coffin, Nathaniel Gillet.
The act erecting the town of Chatham, passed March 18, 1795, ordered that the first meeting for the organization,
and election of town officers, should be held at the house of Ebenezer Crocker. On this occasion the following
officers were elected: Supervisor, James Savage; town clerk, James Palmer; assessors, Peter Van Alstyne, Martin
Krum, William Gardner, Hosea Bebee; collectors, Ichabod Lester, David Bebee; constables, Noah Westover, James Lockwood;
poormaster, Abraham Hogeboom; fenceviewers, William Chamberlain, Seth Rowland, Rowland Gifford, Alexander Webster,
Robert Gardner, William Davenport; commissioners of highways, Jason Lester, Daniel Smith, Jared Pratt; census takers,
Peter Van Alstyne, William Gardner.
In the town records under date of " June ye 6th, 1801," there occurs the following entry: " Last
night a frost remarkable for posterity to read of."
In 1829 a meeting was held to take into consideration the project of forming a new county from the northern towns
of Columbia and southern towns of Rensselaer counties. A committee composed of Isaac Mills, Thomas Hoag, Richard
S. Peck, Archibald Campbell, George Bain and James Sutherland was appointed to confer with other committees upon
the subject, being instructed in favor of the proposal. This matter ended there, as far as relates to this town.
Until about 1810 there were a number of slaves held in the town. The records indicate that it was necessary for
slave owners to report for record the increase of their slave property. In 1800 Peter Van Slyck certified to a
negro child born of a slave woman belonging to him; and among others making similar reports were John I. Miller,
Matthew Dorr, Elsie Fisher, Jacob Van Hoesen, Daniel Troop, Josiah Richmond, Samuel Wilbor (Quaker), Abraham Van
Alstyne, and Hosea Bebee. Many of these were the most prominent men in the town. In 1808 Samuel Brockway, Samuel
Wilbor and Jesse Stevens recorded certificates of manumission of all their slaves.
The territory of this town has always offered a fair field for the work of the agriculturist. The average evenness
of its surface, the diversity and general productiveness of the soil, and the progressive methods of the farming
community have combined to contribute to the clearing and successful cultivation of many of the finest farms in
the county. As a whole the farmers of the town have directed their efforts to no special or exclusive lines, the
general character of mixed farming having been followed. All of the ordinary crops of grain, with potatoes, hay,
etc., have received attention and fully rewarded the toil of the energetic land owner. Among the many leading farmers
of the town, past and present, may be mentioned the following: James Skinkle, John Skinkle (deceased), George Shufelt,
James Bain (deceased), Isaac Bain, Elisha Clark, John W. Blunt, John K. Pierce, William Goodrich, Jonathan R. Powell,
Chauncey S. Ashley, Norman Ashley, Willis J. Best, Mrs. Angell (widow of Edwin A.), Charles Beckwith, and L. F.
Payne. A prominent industry which is intimately related to agriculture in this town, is the extensive milk bottling
business, established about two years ago by Wright & Evans. Their output is shipped mainly to New York city.
During many past years Chatham was noted for the number and magnitude of its manufacturing industries, the busy
wheels of which have been turned by the water power of the streams at various points.
At the site of what was long known as the Clark Mills, there was in early years a grist mill, later a carding factory,
and still later a wadding factory, operated by H. & E. Backus. These were superseded by a paper mill prior
to 1840, about which time the first steam paper dryer used in this vicinity was introduced in the mill, increasing
its capacity tenfold. Nothing remains at this point but the old dam. Above this site Plato B. Moore located a mill
about 1840, which in course of time became the property of members of the Gilbert family and was widely known by
their name. When last in operation this mill contained two machines, one 56 inch and one 36 inch; J. D. Shufelt
was then proprietor. Nothing now remains of this property.
On the site of what was known as the old Stewart grist mill, which was one of the very early ones here, was subsequently
erected the Payne paper mill, which contained a 68 inch machine and two engines. The product was large, but with
changes in the conditions of paper markets, the mill was gradually converted into a board mill; it is now run by
the Stony Brook Box Board Company. Above this was the J. H. Garner paper mill, which had two engines and a broad
machine, giving it large capacity and turning out an excellent quality of paper. The site is now vacant.
The Mesick Paper Company built an extensive paper mill in the village with a eapacity of four tons of heavy paper
per day; an extra quality of light paper with waterproof finish was also made. This business was finally abandoned,
and the buildings were ultimately occupied by the existing plant for lighting the village by electricity, and owned
by the Chatham Electric Light, Heat and Power Company. A little above this site was the old grist mill of Joseph
R. Coleman,which later became a distillery; this business was also finally abandoned. What was known as the Davis
Paper Mill had a period of fair prosperity; it was situated above the village, while a mile below the village,
on the creek, was situated the Columbia mill, which was built by J. W. Smith & Son; here were carried on persistent
and costly experiments to produce paper from wood, as now so extensively made, but without success. The business
was long ago abandoned. Below this mill stands what was known as the M. M. Tompkins mill, which was established
in 1850 by Staats D. Tompkins; its capacity was over 3,000 pounds of straw wrapping paper per day; this mill was
later operated for a time by Angell Brothers, from whom it passed to Albert Tompkins. Edwin Angell then took it
and sold it to Thompson & Morris. Still farther down the stream was built what was known as the Eagle mill,
which was at one period operated by Staats D. Tompkins; Adams & Haner were later proprietors and turned out
5,000 pounds of straw wrapping paper per day. The property finally passed to Edward T. Hughes, who is now engaged
in the manufacture of tissue paper.
In this connection it is best to notice the few other paper mills of the town at large. One of these was the
Bullis Brothers' mill on the Steeny below Chatham Center, which was built in 1853 by Tompkins, Bullies & Wilson,
with a capacity of five tons of heavy paper per day; this mill is now operated by Sanford C. Haner. Paper making
began at Malden Bridge in 1845, when the firm of Hanna & Peaslee established a mill. Horace W. Peaslee was
a native of New Lebanon where he was born in 1807, his father being Jepthah Peaslee, the pioneer of that name in
the county. The son learned the millwright and machinist trade and in partnership with Samuel Hanna established
a foundry and machine shop at Valatie, in Iiinderhook, which they operated until 1843, when they purchased an old
cabinet shop, a grist mill and a saw mill at Malden Bridge. To make room for their new brick paper mill, the old
buildings were demolished, and the paper mill erected in 1845-46. The water fall of fourteen feet gave valuable
power and the mill produced nine hundred tons of straw wrapping paper per year; card board and other kinds of paper
were also made here. This property is now owned by the Rossmans of Stockport and is running on straw paper, with
A. W. Rossman manager.
From these brief sketches it will be seen that the manufacture of paper in this town was once a very important
industry, and also that it has declined until there is little of it left. Other industries noticed further on have
to some extent taken its place. In 1869 S. & J. W. Boright began dealing in lumber and other building materials
in Chatham village and the business is still in existence, with J. W. Boright proprietor. The manufacture of gloves
was once carried on here by H. D. Simpson, but the industry attained little prominence and was discontinued.
The thriving village of Chatham is situated on the southern bank of the Steene Kill (or Steeny Creek), partly over
the town line in Ghent, and contains a population according to the census of 1890 of about 8,000. The early settlers
in this immediate vicinity, besides those mentioned on a preceding page, were William Thomas, who originally owned
the greater part of the village site and established the first business about 1812; and Capt. Thomas Groat, who
settled soon after Thomas, and whose name was attached to the place as Groat's Corners, until the more appropriate
title of Chatham Four Corners came into use, to continue until 1869, since which date it has been called Chatham
Village. Then came John L. Sharp, an early cabinet maker; Hezekiah Hulburt, a wagon maker; Joseph R. Coleman, the
miller; and Jethro Bunker, James Bullis, Edward Hunter, James Tobias, Samuel Van Alstyne, and others, farmers.
William Thomas opened a tavern here on the 1st of January, 1812, in the building that became known as Stanwix Hall,
which he erected in the previous year; it is now kept as a hotel. He was succeeded in a few years by George Bain,
who was followed previous to 1816 by Peter Groat, who owned a stage line, and after the establishment of the postoffice,
which was in existence in 1818, he kept it in the hotel. In 1815 Mr. Thomas built the so called Park House, on
the site of the present Hotel Windsor, where Ebenezer Crocker and others served the public, and in 1840 a third
tavern was opened by William Raymond, and others followed in later years. William Thomas opened, also, the first
store in the place in the Park House, where he was succeeded by Ebenezer Crocker, who sold off the goods and opened
a hotel. The second store was started by Joseph R. Coleman and Israel McCord in a small house farther up the turnpike.
Solomon Crandell settled in the village in 1829 and began trade, but two years later moved into what was known
as the Yellow House at the junction of the two turnpikes; there he continued until 1855, when he moved farther
up the street and followed his business during a period in all of about half a century. John H. Mesick opened a
store about 1840; among later merchants may be mentioned William Tator, William I. Peak, Jared Best, George L.
Morris (now president of bank), Homer Crandell, James E. Traver (formerly J. E. & J. B. Traver), grocers, David
L. Starks (deceased), Jacob L. Best, drugs; J. W. & Samuel Boright, F. P. Vincent (philatelist), J. F. Welch,
hardware for twenty five years; Charles Hawley, hardware; A. J. Fellows, drugs; H. J. Baringer, J. D. Dardess &
Son, A. W. Ball & Son, J. H. Page, H. J. Hayes & Co., R. E. Shuphelt, florist; Hamm Furniture Co. (Hamm
& Gifford), Elliott & Thomas, coal and wood, J. L. Pendleton, bakery, Washburn & Seymour, drugs, Halstead
& Pierson, wagons, carriages, coal and wood, R. H. Delavan, harness, William Rogowski & Co., dry goods,
Joseph Summer, merchant tailor, and others.
The growth of Chatham, was, like that of most similar villages, slow until the opening of the first railroad, when
it received an impetus that was greatly strengthened after the opening of the Harlem line, forming a junction with
the Boston and Albany road. The construction of what was the Harlem Extension road still further promoted the growth
of the village and it became one of the most thriving business communities in the eastern part of the State, more
than one hundred trains arriving and departing daily, involving the transfer here of many passengers. At about
the time that the village began to show rapid improvement it was visited by a destructive conflagration which burned
a long block of wooden buildings. It was in one respect, at least, a blessing to the place, for on the burned district
were erected substantial brick structures which still testify to the enterprise of the people.
The town of Chatham as a whole has passed through a long period of extensive and active manufacturing industry
in a variety of branches, and especially in the production of paper, which is still carried on to some extent,
but not as it was in past years. Water power was found at hand in the creek that flows through the village, as
well as elsewhere in the town, and the settlers were prompt to utilize it in turning numerous wheels. The census
of 1810 gives the town twelve grist mills (only a few of which are now in active existence), eight saw mills, four
fulling mills, and three carding machines. There were also one hundred and thirty eight looms in use in families;
these cloth producing interests long ago passed away. In 1860 there were four grist mills, five saw mills, one
paper mill, a plaster mill, a furnace and plow factory, a tannery, and a candle factory.
About the first attempt to use the water power of the town was in the southern part, at what has long been known
as White Mills, where grist and saw mills were operated in early years by Robert Clark and others; these mills
supplied grinding of grain and lumber sawing for the pioneers of a wide section of territory. To that place went
also Joseph Watson to begin the manufacture of cotton wadding, which became a successful industry, returning such
profits that George Humphrey, who was then operating the grist mill, was induced to convert that into a wadding
factory. The business subsequently passed to Francis H. Rathbone, who made further improvements in methods and
processes, and later J. W. Smith took the business, conducting it on a large scale and employing both water and
steam power. It was absorbed by the Wadding trust, and under its control was closed.
The manufacture of paper in Chatham village began about 1828 by Dickey & Wilder, in a small building on
the site of the later Morris & Boice mill; there a grist mill was converted into one of the old hand paper
mills. Soon afterward, about 1834, the firm of Wright & Hamilton introduced in this town the first machinery
for paper making, and and the industry rapidly increased in magnitude and importance. The mill at this point was
ultimately equipped with modern machinery as then used and continued until recent years; it is idle at the present
What was known as the Chatham Village Smelting Furnace was built in 1873 by the firm of Beckley & Adams, who
operated it one year when it was closed. Its capacity was ten tons of pig iron per day. This establishment is now
in operation by the Kelly Mining Company, with J. J. Morehouse, manager.
The old foundry, built by Joel Page in 1837, stood on the site of the present village hall, and was destroyed by
the great fire, which had its origin in the foundry building.
The Chatham Village Foundry and Machine Works were established in 1840 and have had a continued existence to the
present time, being now operated by George E. Drumm & Co. Large quantities of general castings are produced
and agricultural implements made. The list of the usual mechanic shops that have existed in the village for longer
or shorter periods is a long one and need not be followed here; many of these have long ago disappeared with the
changes of recent years in methods of manufacture in wagons, boots and shoes, tin ware, etc., and the consequent
centralization of many industries in great establishments in cities.
A large machine shop business has long been conducted by W. H. Clark, who has a finely equipped establishment,
many of his best working machines having been built by himself, including heavy engine lathes, milling machines,
etc. He makes a specialty of paper mill rolls and other mill machinery, which is sold over a wide extent of territory.
The building erected a number of years ago for a thermometer factory by Charles Taglibue, of Brooklyn, and vacated,
was taken in 1892 by the Chatham Shirt Company, for the manufacture of shirts. The firm now carrying on the business
is Woodward & Bailey (W. C. Woodward and M. C. Bailey), who manufacture white and colored shirts to the number
of one hundred dozen per day.
Lewis Coon is a contractor and large dealer in lumber, sash, doors, etc. Halstead & Pierson are extensive dealers
in coal, wagons and agricultural implements, and James Thomas (the present village president) is also a coal dealer.
The volume of trade and manufactures in Chatham village demanded many years the financial conveniences of a bank
and led in 1859 to the establishment of the old Columbia Bank, a State organization with a capital of $100,000.
William A. Woodbridge was president of the institution and S. M. Jewell, cashier. In June, 1867, this bank closed
its business as a State institution and became a private bank conducted by William A. Trowbridge & Co. It failed
in June, 1873.
The present State Bank was organized March 1, 1875, with a cash capital of $50,000, and the following named directors:
A. M. Tracy, Daniel Clark, Joseph C. Ford, T. R. Burrows, Isaac Son, George A. Birch, Edmund L. Judson, George
L. Morris, John D. Shufelt, A. H. Stark, John M. Bailey, Walter F. Hurcomb, Charles B. Knowles, and Samuel Moffatt.
George L, Morris was chosen president and has ever since held the office. The first vice president was Talcott
R. Burrows, who was succeeded by W. H. Barnes, and he by John T. Wheeler, the present incumbent. Samuel Moffatt
was the first cashier and was followed by Frank P. Salmon, who is still in that position. The handsome brick building
occupied by the bank was erected in 1884. The bank has surplus and profits amounting to $23,000.
The postoffice at Chatham was established as Chatham Four Corners at a date prior to 1818, with Ebenezer Crocker,
postmaster. Peter Groat occupied the office in 1820, and later Solomon Crandell was the official for a number of
years. Other postmasters were John Cadman, W. H. Barnes, and others. The present official is George E. Drumm.
The old Stanwix Hall building, before mentioned, is still occupied as a hotel, and the traveling public is amply
accommodated in the village by the Chatham House, kept by J. B. Sinclair; the new Windsor House, which was recently
burned and rebuilt by C. H. Mason; the Webster House, Gorman's Hotel, and the Wesley House.
Chatham village has from early times been ably represented in the legal profession, one of the pioneers having
been Martin Van Deaden. He was followed by P, W. Bishop, who moved to Troy, and Elijah Payne who removed to Hudson.
One of the eminent attorneys and jurists of Columbia county, Hugh W. McClellan, practiced here more than twenty
five years. John Cadman, who at one period held the office of county judge, began practice here in 1853. Later
attorneys were Alvah D. Roe, Horatio H. Wright (deceased), Charles Baurhyte, W. C. Daley, Nathan Post, Lewis K.
Brown, and George K. Daley. The lawyers now in practice in the village are George McClellan (son of Hugh W. McClellan),
admitted to the bar in 1880; John C. Dardiss, admitted in 1893; Aaron B. Gardenier, admitted in 1871; Sanford W,
Smith, admitted in September, 1890; Charles E. Barrett, admitted in May, 1882; George K. Daley, admitted in May,
1863; and W. B. Daley, admitted in May, 1893.
Dr. Edward Dorr was one of the pioneers here and continued in medical practice many years. Drs. Loftus, Hyatt,
Green, Bourn, and Foster came between 1830 and 1840, and Dr. James T. Shufelt began practice in 1839, continuing
nearly half a century. Dr. William C. Baley was his contemporary and practiced many years. Drs, W. H. Barnes and
John T. Wheeler were prominent physicians many years ago. Dr. Frank C. Maxon has been in practice almost forty
years, and other present physicians of the village are Drs. I. C. Washburn, C. L. Mosher, W. R. Starks, and Mary
E. Clarke. Dr. A. M. Calkins has practiced dentistry seventeen years, and five prior years in Philmont.
In the several hamlets of the town are Dr. Sherman Van Ness at Chatham Center; Dr. R. H. Morey at Old Chatham;
Dr. Frank T. Kunker, at North Chatham; and Dr. G. W. Goodell at East Chatham.
The cause of education in Chatham has received adequate attention from early times. The first available record
is under date of September 12, 1795, on which day the School Commissioners in the persons of James Savage, Martin
Krum, Hosea Beebe, Abraham Hogeboom, Samuel Wilbor, Peter Van Aistyne, and James Bartholomew, met at the house
of Gaylord Hawkins, appointed James Palmer clerk; and adopted the following:
"Resolved, That the clerk write twelve advertisements reciting part of the act for the encouragement of schools,
and notify the time of the next meeting."
The second meeting was held at the house of William Vosburgh, but there is no record of its proceedings. The town
was divided into districts, but what the original number was is not known. A Miss King is credited with having
taught the first school in Chatham village in a small building that stood near the site of the railroad bridge.
In 1860 there were twenty districts in the town, and 1,497 children were taught. A few years later the number of
districts was reduced to nineteen.
The last report of the superintendent of public instruction gives the number of districts containing school houses
as eighteen; the number of teachers, twenty; the value of school buildings and sites, $11,235; the assessed valuation
of districts, $2,319,444, and the whole number of children taught in the preceding year, 495. The town forms part
of the second district of Columbia county, of which John D. Mickle is school commissioner.
The office of town superintendent of schools was first held in 1844 by Oliver J. Peck, who was followed by Amos
J. Boright, Hugh W. McClellan, Isaac M. Pitts, Horatio N. Wright, Nathaniel Mosher, and others. In 1878 there were
in the town 1,089 children of school age.
The school history of Chatham village can be followed more in detail. A meeting of District No. 22, Chatham and
Ghent, was held in 1850, at which a vote was taken on a resolution to raise money by tax with which to erect a
school house on Kinderhook street. The older building was sold, and on land purchased of William H. Shaver the
new house was built. This lot was sold eventually to John Cadman for $500 and in 1859 the school lot on School
street was purchased. It was then voted to raise by tax $1,250 for building a new school house, to which was to
be added the proceeds from the old property.
In 1873 the sum of $2,500 was voted with which to erect a brick addition to the school building in School street.
In 1880 Union School District No. 1 was formed. By this time the attendance had largely increased and it became
necessary to hire rooms for the overflow. In 1882 the lot on which stands the present school building on Woodbridge
avenue was purchased for $2,500, and the building erected thereon. To provide funds for this purpose $20,000 in
bonds were issued. The accepted bid for building the house was for V 4,229. In 1894 a second building was erected
on the same lot; it is of brick, and cost about $8,500. The first principal in the Union district (1881) was M.
J. Michael, whose wife served as assistant. He was succeeded by I. H. Bishop, and one year later Frank H. Wood
was employed. He was followed by S. McKee Smith, and he by the present principal, W. H. Lynch, who is a Harvard
graduate and a very capable and efficient educator. There are fourteen teachers in all in the employ of the school,
which bears the character of a high school, with academic department and teachers' training class.
What was known as Chatham Academy was erected in 1871, at a cost of $3,000; this property passed to possession
of John Cadman, J. D. Shufelt, and D. F. Lovejoy, who continued a school as a private enterprise. Abraham Macy
was the first principal, and others who occupied the position were L. C. Hitchcock, George F. Cole, Edward Weatherby
and Miss E. French. The school was closed many years ago and the building is occupied for a dwelling.
The Chatham School of Telegraphy and Business College is a successful institution in every way. It is conducted
by a company, of which D. H. Hoffman is president, H. McClellan Potter, secretary and business manager, and James
J. O'Niell, treasurer.
A petition for the incorporation of Chatham village was granted on February 15, 1869. The population was then given
as 1,355, who were about equally divided between this town and Ghent. The area of the proposed village was eight
hundred and fifty two acres. An election was held on March 18, 1869, to vote on the question of incorporation,
at which two hundred and eighty four votes were polled, of which number eighty six only were in opposition to the
measure. The corporate name adopted was Chatham Village. The first municipal election was held on April 24, 1869,
at which the following officers were chosen: Trustees, William A. Woodbridge, Abram B. Pulley, John Wing, Mark
Mealy, and George L. Morris; clerk, Abram Ashley, Br.; assessors, Richard H. Bump, Joseph P. Hogeboom, Samuel Jerkowskie;
collector, Enos C. Peak; treasurer, James T. Shufelt; poundmaster, Hiram Allen. William A. Woodbridge was elected
the first president of the village and Dr. James T. Shufelt was chosen health officer. William C. Daley was chosen
police justice and George C. Burrows and George E. Kenworthy, police constables.
Following is a list of the presidents and clerks of the village from its incorporation to the present time, with
the years of their service:
Presidents. - 1869-73, William A, Woodbridge; 1874-75, D. S. Lovejoy; 1876, Elijah M. Thomas; 1877, John D. Shufelt;
1878-79, Aaron Bell; 1880, W. H. Ten Broeck; 1881, George E. Drumm; 1882, James Smith; 1883, E. M. Thomas; 1884,
W. H. Barnes; 1885, E. Backus; 1886, John P. Mickle; 1887, John W. Boright; 1888, H. A. Seymour; 1889, J. J. Morehouse;
1890, F. C. Maxon; 1891, Ezra Hawley; 1892 James Elliott; 1893, I. C. Washburn; 1894, A. Marks; 1895, W. C. Daley;
1896, John W. Blunt; 1897, A. J. Fellows; 1898-99, S, R. Hatfield; 1900, James Thomas.
Clerks. - 1869-80, Abram Ashley, jr.; 1881, Nathan S. Post; 1882-85, Cornelius Shufelt; 1886-88, L. C. Callender;
1889-91, F. E. Page; 1892-1900, W. B. Daley.
[Continued in Chatham History part 2.]