History of Hudson, NY Part 3
From: Columbia County At The End of the Century
Published and edited under the
auspices of the Hudson Gazette
The Record Printing and Publishing Co.
Hudson, New York 1900

This history will be put online on several pages, see bottom for list of pages

Another evidence of rapid development and of the untiring energy of the proprietors is seen in the purchase from John Ten Broeck, on August 29, 1791, by Stephen Paddock, Elihu Bunker, and Samuel Mansfield, inspectors of the aqueducts of the city of Hudson, of sixty six and three fourths perches of land, with the springs of water thereon, for supplying the inhabitants of the city of Hudson. Water had then been supplied from the so called Ten Broeck spring some five years, through the efforts of an association of citizens formed for that purpose. Funds were collected by subscription, each person subscribing $25 being entitled to one share in the proprietorship, and to the right to take the water into his house; non subscribers were made to pay a reasonable sum for the water. The first meeting of the subscribers was held March 9, 1785, when Thomas Jenkins, David Lawrence, Daniel Gano, Samuel Mansfield, Stephen Paddock, and Ezra Reed, were chosen trustees, or managers; William Mayhew, clerk. As customary with them, the proprietors acted with promptness and on January 18, 1786, it was announced that the aqueduct was finished. The source of supply was about two miles from the city, and the cost of construction was $2,850. In March, 1780, an act was passed by the Legislature, "for the better regulating and protecting the Aqueducts of the city of Hudson," providing for the legal election of officers, the protection of the rights of the company, etc. After ten years the supply of water from the Ten Broeck springs became inadequate at times, a difficulty that was overcome by the purchase on the 18th of July, 1793, of what was known as Heck's springs, on the road to Clavarack, by Stephen Paddock, Cotton Gelston, and Russell Kellogg, trustees, "for the use of the inhabitants of the city of Hudson, under direction of the proprietors of the Aqueduct." This remarkable spring is the one referred to by the Labadist travelers in 1680, as follows: "Large clear fountains flow out of these cliffs or hills; the first real fountains, and the only ones, we have met in this country." During the year 1783 connection was made with this spring, which to this day has sent its crystal waters to the city. On the 30th of June, 1798, Daniel Clark, Thomas Power, and Alexander Coffin, "trustees of the Aqueducts in the city of Hudson," purchased from John Hathaway, for $425, "a lot of about two acres of land, near Peter Hardick's house, and along the Claverack road to the northeast corner of the Friends' Burying Ground, and along Cotton Gelston's land, with stone house, barn, and other buildings, and the well thereon," The purpose was to sink wells on this tract for an additional water supply, which would indicate that the former sources were still inadequate; the project failed, but later on the so-called Power spring was added to the supply. The later history of the waterworks is given a little further on.

One of the requisites of progress and safety the infant city lacked for several years; this was means for extinguishing fires. The proprietors realized their situation, undoubtedly, for it was ordained immediately after the city incorporation, on July 5, 1785, that persons be appointed "to be viewers of Chymnies, Hearths, and places where Ashes are or shall be kept, who shall view and inspect the same once in every fortnight;" a penalty of forty shillings was imposed on any person who should permit his chimney to take fire from want of sweeping it. Owners of houses also were required by ordinance to keep leather buckets marked with the owners' names, to be left hanging conspicuously near front doors; if these were supplied by a tenant he was allowed to deduct their cost from his rent. In case of a fire two lines of citizens were formed and the buckets were passed to and from one to another.

The city had its first fire in 1793, when the office of the Hudson Gazette and the book store of Ashbel Stoddard were both burned. The quietness of the atmosphere probably prevented further destruction, for there was still no fire extinguishing apparatus, no firemen's organization, and no adequate water supply. The fire proved a warning and at the next session of the Legislature, a petition was presented asking for authority for the mayor, recorder and commonalty of Hudson to organize fire companies; the desired act was passed March 19, 1794, and was followed by the adoption of the following ordinances:

"Passed July 22d, 1794. Be it Ordained, by the authority of the Mayor, Recorder, Aldermen and Commonalty of the City of Hudson, That the inhabitants or owner of every house within the compact part of this city, having three fire places or under, shall provide one Leather Bucket, and all and every house having more than three fire places shall provide Two Leather Buckets, each of which Bucket hereafter to be made shall be sufficient to contain at least two gallons and one half of water, and shall be marked with at least the initial of the Landlord's or owner's name, and shall be kept hung up in some conspicuous place in the entry or near the front Door of such respective house, ready to be used for extinguishing fires when there shall be occasion, and that such Buckets shall be found and provided by the persons inhabiting or occupying such houses respectively, at the expense of the owner, and if such inhabitant or occupant be a tenant the price thereof shall be allowed or deducted out of the rent, and if any housekeeper aforesaid shall neglect to provide and have in their respective house aforesaid, within three months after the publication of this Ordinance, the number of Leather Buckets in the manner hereinbefore directed, every such housekeeper or person shall, for every month he shall so neglect, forfeit and pay the sum of six shillings for each bucket.

"Be it ordained that so many firemen shall from time to time be appointed as the Common Council shall deem proper, and shall be called fire Wardens, whose duty it shall be immediately on the cry of fire to repair to the place where it shall be and direct the inhabitants in forming themselves into ranks for handing the buckets to supply the fire engines with water . . . and it is expected that all other persons will hereafter refrain from giving any orders or directions upon those occasions and cheerfully obey such as shall be given by the persons authorized for the purpose, and in order that the magistrates and Fire Wardens may be more readily distinguished at fires, the Mayor, Recorder, Aldermen and assistants shall each have upon those occasions a white Wand of at least five feet in length with a gilded flame at the top, and each of the Fire Wardens . . . shall carry in his hand a Speaking Trumpet, painted white . . . and each of the firemen shall provide himself with, and on those occasions shall wear a Leather Cap with the crown painted white. . . .

"And, in case of fire in the night time it is hereby enjoined on the citizens to place lighted candles at the front windows of their houses in order that the inhabitants may pass through the streets with greater safety."

In the mean time (in 1793) a number of public spirited citizens had circulated a subscription paper to raise funds for the purchase of a fire engine. The needed sum was pledged, and when the matter was laid before the Council, Laban Paddock, Robert Jenkins, and Erastus Pratt were appointed a committee to purchase an engine. A contract was accordingly made with Benjamin Cady, for £100, to furnish within three months, a four pump suction engine of one hundred and eighty gallons capacity, and capable of throwing water three hundred feet. This proceeding awakened public interest and soon funds were raised for the purchase of a second engine, and both of the machines, though in private ownership, were under direction and control of the Common Council. The first appointments of firemen is thus recorded:

"Firemen appointed April 17, 1794, to superintend the Fire Engine Number One. - John Kemper, Jonathan Purington, Seth Jones, Walter Johnson, Nathan Sears, Phineas Hoyt, Isaac Dayton, Christopher Hoxie, James Morgan, Silas Rand, Elisha Foot, Cornelius Tobey, Abner Hammond, Alpheus Smith, Thomas Manchester, Robert Taylor, Shubael Hoskins, Peter Truman, Joshua Tobey.

"Firemen appointed November 10, 1794, to superintend Fire Engine Number Two. - Peleg Thurston, Cotton Geiston, John H. Dayton, Laban Paddock, Zachariah Seymour, Robert Jenkins, Erastus Pratt, James Mooklar, John Walgrove, Amiel Jenkins, Arthur McArthur, Samuel Mansfield, William Jenkins, James Hyatt, William Ashley, Joseph Burrel, Samuel Lawrence, Benjamin Allen."

The No. 2 engine was completed first and both were in due time installed in houses built under the following resolution:

"Resolved, That two Houses be erected over the two Wells - on that in Second street and in the Main street - for the Reception of fire Engines, and that the said Wells be made convenient for the supply of Water."

The Main street house was soon afterwards removed "to the corner lot of the late Justus Van Hoesen, and that the committee cause a sufficient covering to be made for the other Engine on some part of the Market Square, under superintendence of Paul Dakin and John Kemper."

On the 22d of July, 1794, extended ordinances of the usual form were adopted by the Council for the government of the young fire department of the city, including the appointment and duties of fire wardens, duties of citizens in times of fires, etc. Silas Rand, Cornelius Tobey, Joseph Burrel, and Benjamin Allen were appointed fire wardens at that time. On the 10th of November, 1794, it was ordered,

"That Peter Rand procure one Ladder thirty feet long, and one of twenty feet long, and provide means to get the water with dispatch from the Reservoys in the Main street, to wit, the one at the Market, and the other near Shubael Worth's."

A few months later James Frazer was appointed "bell man," with directions to ring an alarm in case of fire on the bell of the Presbyterian church. On the 7th of December, 1799, the Council ordered that there be procured "four small fire hooks, with chains, poles, and ropes, and also six fire ladders, from twelve to sixteen feet in length, with hooks and brads."

A third fire company was organized in 1802, an engine was purchased and the following men were appointed firemen of Company No. 3: Jacob Davis, Enoch Barnard, William McKinstry, Robert Fidler, Benjamin F. Folger, Thomas Slocum, Benjamin Throop, Rufus Backus, Stephen Booth, Cornelius Tobey, John Bennett, Solomon Fuller, James Nixon, Br., Seth Austin, Br., Paul Gants, Isaac Sampson, Ezra Sampson, John Strader, Joseph Wharton, Lemuel Van Hoesen. A house for this engine was built on the east side of the City Hall square.

A resolution was adopted by the Council March 10, 1804, as follows:

"Resolved, That Robert Folger and others be appointed Baggmen, to preserve and secure Property and effects at Fires, and that they provide themselves with Baggs and other implements for that purpose."

A rather stringent regulation to prevent fires was contained in an ordinance of July 5, 1806, which forbade "the smoking of pipes or Segars in the streets of Hudson after sunset in the evening."

Engine No. 4 was purchased in 1808, in the same manner as the previous ones, and the first company, appointed December 17, was as follows: Robert A. Barnard, James Van Deusen, Aaron Chariot, Asahel Woodworth, jr., Zebina Henderson, James Strong, John S. Hopkins, William S. Miller, George Chittenden, Alpheus M. Hunt, John T. Everts, Myron Ackley, Evert Marsh, Jacob Hawes, William Champlain and John Bennett. These appurtenances sufficed for the city for a number of years.

The scarcity of money in small denominations was very troublesome in early years and many communities issued fractional scrip, a plan that was followed in Hudson. One of these issues was made in 1796, and the Council ordained on June 17, "that the Clerk be authorized to issue a paper currency in Small bills or notes not exceeding fourpence in any one bill, and to an amount not exceeding one hundred and twenty pounds." On the 9th of February, 1797, the clerk was directed "to issue One Hundred pounds more of small bills on the same principles those were issued in June last, and to be allowed the same premium for Issuing and receiving the same." A year or two later it was ordered "that the Clerk have two hundred and fifty Dollars in Cents struck off and issued by him on the principles of the former emissions." There are in the records numerous references to this temporary currency about that time.

For the maintenance of order in the city during ten or twelve years prior to 1798 volunteer watchmen were employed, a body of citizens serving in rotation; this was called the Citizens' Night Watch, and was organized chiefly to protect the place from fires, incendiarism, etc. It was first recognized by the Council when it was given authority to make arrests of public offenders. A regular night watch to be appointed by the Council was provided for on December 24, 1796, by the following ordinance:

"December 24, 1796, Be it ordained . . . a night watch be kept from 8 o'clock in the evening till day light in the morning, by Albert Swain, Reuben Bunker, John King, James Slater, Valentine Barnard, Samuel Heath, Sheffield Coffin and Cyprian Fitch, who or any two of them shall constantly walk the streets . . . and are hereby empowered to stop and take up all and every person of suspicious appearance, or that do not give a satisfactory account of themselves . . . and in case the said watchman, or at least two of them shall be absent from their duty in walking the streets, and otherwise watching the said city, more than ten minutes at any one time during the said night season . . and thereof convicted, he or they who shall so neglect or be absent from his duty shall forfeit and pay the sum of ten shillings. . . "

Again, in January, 1798, the following was adopted:

"That from and after the publication of this ordinance, a Night watch be kept by such persons as the Common Council shall, from time to time, appoint for that purpose, who, or at least two of them, shall constantly and Silently patrole the several Streets in the City from the hour of 10 O'Clock in the evening until daylight in the morning, and who are hereby empowered to stop and take up all and every person of Suspicious appearance or that do not give a satisfactory Account of themselves to the said Watchmen, and him or them Safely keep in a watch House or to commit him or them to the Bridewell or Gaol of the said City; and the keeper of the said Bridewell or Gaol is hereby authorized and required to take and keep all and every such Suspicious persons until they can have a further examination before the legal authority of the said City.

"And in case any fire shall be discovered in the night season, the said watchmen shall give immediate alarm to the Firemen, Bell man, and other citizens, and in all respects shall use their endeavors to preserve the City from fire, and also to keep the Peace thereof."

From this beginning developed the later police department, which is noticed further on. Public lighting of the streets also began in 1798, the following ordinance having been adopted on the 6th of October:

"That the City be lighted during the Dark Nights, and that the Recorder and Mr. Kellogg he a Committee to Direct the construction of, and the place for, the Lamps, not exceeding Twenty in number, and are to provide Oil, and agree with Suitable persons to light the same."

The sum of $300 was appropriated to pay the expense of this primitive street lighting system. It was customary in many cities and villages years ago to light streets only when the moon was small, according to the almanac; of course the plan was a faulty one, for on many dark and cloudy nights the streets were left unlighted. There was difficulty from this source, probably, in Hudson, for, a short time after the adoption of the foregoing ordinance, the Council

"Resolved, That the Mayor be a committee to direct the lighting of the Lamps the next dark Moon."

The limits of the compact part of the city over which these police and lighting facilities were supposed to have complete jurisdiction were described as follows:

"Lying and being within a line extending from the South Bay, at the south corner of the Tan Yard of Giles Frary, easterly to the house of Ezekiel Gilbert; from thence northerly through the Tan Yard of James Nixon to a street known on the plot of the city by the name of Mill street; northwesterly along said Mill street to Hudson's River, and southerly along said River to the place of beginning."

This district, as will be seen, comprised only a small part of the present city territory.

During all the period to which reference has thus far been made, the original proprietors of Hudson labored earnestly, energetically, wisely, and successfully for the founding of a city and such institutions as would best promote its welfare. But the time finally came when their direct control of public affairs in the place became impracticable and an important change was made, Thomas Jenkins, the leader among the proprietors, the man whose judgment on important matters was always sought, and whose influence was paramount, died in 1808 in New York city, his remains being brought to Hudson for burial. With his passing away the organization lost one of its chief supporters and it continued less than two years after his decease. The last proprietors' meeting was held May 23, 1810, of which Stephen Paddock was moderator, and Erastus Pratt, clerk. Some years previous to this time they had deeded to the city the streets, highways and lands intended for public use, and arrangements were now perfected for the final extinction of the proprietors' organization. This was not accomplished without opposition, Cotton Gelston, an influential citizen, bitterly condemning the proceeding and throwing every possible obstacle in the way. He was then city clerk and it was into his hands that the papers of the Association were to be delivered, but this fact did not appeal to him, and he seized the books and threatened to destroy them in order to prevent the transfer to the city. A scuffle took place between him and three others, of whom Gilbert Jenkins was one, and Mr. Gelston was subdued, but not until he had destroyed a part of the papers. The surrender was then accomplished and the proprietors' association passed out of existence. Altogether it was a remarkable body of men; individually they were strong characters; their sense of honor and loyalty was keen and broad; their judgment as a rule, sound and calm; and their business sagacity and enterprise exceptional. Had this not been true it would have been almost a miracle that they should have remained so long associated in peace and amity. They laid the foundations of the beautiful city broad and deep, and did it in so brief a period that it excites amazement as well as admiration. Many of them were members of the Society of Friends, but they welcomed good citizens of any denomination. Their liberality is amply demonstrated in their founding of the early churches, schools and other institutions. It was a community founded on business principles and largely for business reasons, but it succeeded in many other directions. The proprietors probably "builded better than they knew." In the second volume of this work will be found biographical notes of some of the more prominent of the proprietors.

The spirit of the Revolution was still alive in Hudson while the first proprietors were founding their homes on the bank of the river, and a military company called Gano's Artillery was organized in 1786, the year after the incorporation of the city. What this early company did, how they were armed, how long they remained in existence cannot now be learned. Two years later there was Frothingham's Artillery, a company of fifty members, under command of Thomas Frothingham; this organization took part in the first Hudson celebration of the 4th of July. Another artillery company was called Haxtun's Artillery, which was in existence in 1793, under command of Benjamin Haxtun. It is probable that these military organizations of early years were composed substantially of the same men, who were at different periods commanded by different officers, whose names were adopted to designate the company.

In the closing years of that century Hathaway's Infantry was in active existence under command of Nicholas Hathaway; its uniform was blue with red trimmings, and cocked hats. Upon reception of the news of the death of Washington in 1799, this company formed a part of the public procession that solemnized the event, and Haxtun's Artillery fired minute guns. The name of the next artillery organization recorded was the Wigton Artillery, commanded by William Wigton; their uniform was similar to that of Hathaway's Infantry, and the tendency of such organizations in those days to form political affiliations is shown in the fact that this one was known as the Republican Company, while the Hudson Greens, under command at about the same time of Samuel Canno11, was called the Federal Company. Both of these companies were ordered to New York during the war of 1812.

A company called the Hudson Rangers, commanded by Capt. Nicholas Hathaway, was in existence as early as 1802, wearing a blue uniform and the great bear skin caps then in vogue. The Hudson City Guards, under command of Capt. Orville Holley, were organized in 1820, and wore a blue coat, light colored trousers, and a high, bucket shaped hat, with a long white plume. At about the same time the Scotch Plaids were organized under command of Darius Culver; the character of their uniform is indicated in their title, and they wore a black beaver cap with a cluster of black plumes. These two last named organizations were friendly rivals in discipline, efficiency, and popularity.

The Hudson Light Guard, or "The Worth Guards," as they were later known, were organized about 1840, under command of E. P. Cowles; they wore a gray and red uniform, with bearskin hats. Besides these military organizations there were two companies composed wholly of men of Irish extraction, formed about the time of the beginning of the Civil war, but they were not in existence long. The celebrated Cowles Guard (23d Separate Company) is noticed further on.

During the period from the date of the incorporation of the city of Hudson, to about the end of the first quarter of the century, it passed through remarkable changes in its commercial and shipping interests. Much of the history of this factor in the development of the place has been given in Chapter XIII. Bright and apparently well grounded anticipations were long entertained that Hudson would not only become a shipping port of the first importance, but also would rival Nantucket and New Bedford in her whaling interests; and for a number of years both of these lines of activity showed the most unmistakable evidence of permanent prosperity. The surrounding hills supplied excellent timber for ship building and during the period under consideration there were at least five yards in existence, in which on more than one occasion there was a large vessel on the stocks in each. The names of Titus and James Morgan, of Jenkins and Gelston, and Sears, and Lacy, and Abiel Cheney, with others, became widely known for their staunch and well planned vessels.

Exports from the young city were very large in those days, consisting mainly of lumber, hoops, staves, heading, for the West Indies; fish in great quantities, principally herring; beef and pork, of which an immense amount was slaughtered and packed here, with country produce of all kinds. The herring fishery was a source of large income, and it is a tradition that a single Hudson firm sold and shipped a thousand barrels of pickled fish in one day. Fifteen vessels were known to leave the port in a single day, all full laden. Territory contributing to this large shipping interest was not confined to Columbia county, but extended into Berkshire and the northwest counties of Connecticut. Kindred trades and manufactures, cordage, oil products, leather, sail cloth, etc., were numerous, all adding to the general prosperity of the city. These are more fully described in Miller's pages, in the Appendix. Seal fishing, too, down to the year 1800, was quite extensively followed, five or six vessels being engaged in it. The larger part of the skins were tanned in Hudson, the remainder being sold in New York. The last voyage for seals was made in 1799, in the ship Ajax, Captain Pinkham, Zephaniah Coffin, first mate. Down to 1807 all freighting and passenger business on the river was done by sloops, of which a large fleet belonged here, lines being owned by Hathaway, Coffin, Hogeboom, Edmonds, Folger, Hyatt, Van Hoesen, and others. In 1806 two packets were built for passengers exclusively; each was of one hundred tons and had "three lengths of berths in their after cabins, five in their great cabins, the forecastle being occupied by the hands." These boats were both named Experiment and were respectively commanded by Capts. Laban Paddock and Elihu S. Bunker, by whom they were built and owned. These were soon followed by the first steam boat, already described.


Hudson History

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7


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