History of Gloversville, NY (Part 3)
From: History of Fulton County
Revised and Edited by: Washington Frothingham
Published by: D. Mason & Co. Syracuse, NY 1892

By Rev. Isaac O. Rankin, of Peekskill, former pastor of the Kingsboro Presbyterian Church.

Incorporation as a City - Schools

Note: This is still being worked on and will be about 8-12 large pages when completed. The first two pages are mostely prior to the incorporation of villages in 1847. Part 3 and following pages will be for the most part after that date.

In 1847 the legislature passed an act providing for the incorporation of villages in the state upon petition to the Court of Sessions of the county in which they were situated. In pursuance of the act the village of Gloversville was incorporated, although there are evidences tending to show that an effort in this direction was at least the subject of discussion among the inhabitants as early as 1851. The petition to the Court of Sessions was presented on the t6th of November, 1852, by J. G. Ward, A. S. Shottenlcirk and E. L. Burton, petitioner.:, and the order of incorporation was at once granted by Judge Johnson, subject, however, to ratification by electors residing within the proposed village limits, who were directed to vote upon the question on the t4th of January, 1853. A certificate filed with the county clerk showed that 194 votes were cast, of which 119 were in favor of and seventy five against the proposed incorporation. The lands included within the village were five hundred and twenty five acres in extent, and contained a resident population of 1,318 persons. The number of families was 249, there being an average of about six persons to each family, the largest being that of Edwin Frisbie with sixteen persons, followed by David Spaulding with fifteen, E. N. Spencer thirteen, and Alanson Hosmer, J. D. Haggart and Smith Lake with twelve each.

The first village election was held March 15, 1853, and the following officers were then chosen: Trustees, Samuel Gilchrist, W. C. Mills, William Case, D. S. Frank and Samuel Mills; assessors, Charles Sunderlin, Duncan McFarlin and Sherwood Haggart; treasurer, Timothy W. Miller; clerk, W. D. Sunderlin; collector, L. C. Washburn; pound master, David Wilson. At the first trustees meeting, held March 26, William Case was elected president, and Samuel Gilchrist vice president. The second annual election was held March 7, 1854, and resulted in the re-election of the first officers with the exception of clerk, R. B. Chadsey succeeding W. D Sunderlin. The following year, 1855, the officers elected were as follows: Zina Case, Samuel Gilchrist, Robert Earl, S. Mills and Sherwood Haggart, trustees; Rufus Washburn, William Van Vrankin and Charles Sunderlin, assessors; T. W. Miller, treasurer; John D. Plummer, collector; Seymour Sexton, clerk; Isaac M. Place, pound master. The next village officers were: T. W. Miller, Edward Leonard, Darius C. Mills, Elisha L. Burton and Seymour Sexton, trustees; N. J. Burton, clerk; David Wilson, H. C. Thomas and C. J. Fox, assessors; Jonathan Carpenter, road commissioner; L. C. Washburn, collector; H. C. Day, pound master.

Jonathan Carpenter was elected road commissioner in pursuance of an act passed April 1, 1854, by which the village was constituted a separate road district of the town of Johnstown, although the act designated the office as overseer of highways. This allusion to legislative action naturally leads us to now refer to the several acts of the legislature that have been passed and which have had reference to the municipal history of the village and city. By an act passed April 30, 1860, the village election was directed to be hereafter held on the first Tuesday in April, instead of in March, as provided by the law of 1847. In 1866 another special act enlarged the powers of the corporation, and authorized the trustees to regulate and control markets, to appoint an inspector of wood, and enforce such bylaws and regulations as should be adopted by them. The first extension of the village limits was made under an act of the legislature passed in 1867. This act also provided for the election of a police justice and "police constable." Chapter 821 of the laws of 1871 (passed April 28) provided for the selection of village water commissioners.

From the time of original incorporation until 1873, Gloversville was what has been commonly known as a municipality of the third class, but in the year last mentioned it advanced to the second class, being then granted a charter under the name of "the village of Gloversville," and declared to be "a body politic and corporate." This was done by an act passed May 14, 1873, which act provided for the election of a president, eight trustees, a treasurer, clerk, three assessors, one police justice, one superintendent of streets, sewers, and village property, a collector of corporation taxes and three inspectors of election; also for the appointment by the trustees of a health officer and other officers authorized to be appointed by the board of trustees. The same act, also made provision for a board of health (to comprise the president, clerk, and two of the trustees), a police department, commissioners of excise and a fire department. The office of superintendent of streets was made elective by the act referred to, but in 1878, by an amendatory act, that officer was to be appointed by the trustees. Another act, passed May 5, 1886, again enlarged the powers of the village authorities, made elective all offices except clerk, policemen and superintendent of streets, but still the village remained a part of the town of Johnstown, and was not entirely separated therefrom until the granting of the city charter in 1890, the latter constituting Gloversville a city of the "first class," having all the powers and liabilities of cities in this state.

On the 9th of March, 1890, the legislature passed an act to incorporate the "City of Gloversville," by which the former village corporation was dissolved. The city was divided into six wards, and election of officers was authorized as follows: Mayor, chamberlain, recorder, two justices of the peace, two constables, nine members of the board of education, five water commissioners, one commissioner of charities, and three assessors. The officers directed to be appointed were three excise commissioners, one city attorney, a clerk, one superintendent of streets, one chief of police, and policemen (as the common council shall determine) and from two to four city physicians. It should be stated, however, that an act passed in 1891 provided for the election of school commissioners on the second Tuesday in September, instead of the day of the annual city election.

The first mayor of Gloversville was Ashley D. L. Baker, elected in 1890, succeeded in 1892 by Clark L. Jordan. The first chamberlain was J. Frank Davis, who was re-elected in 1892. Jerome Eggleston was the first city recorder, and likewise re-elected for a second term of office. Ralph Sexton has been twice elected commissioner of charities.

The foregoing record furnishes a brief municipal history of Gloversville from the time of its original incorporation as a village to the granting of its city charter, the latter resulting in a complete separation of its territory from the old town of Johnstown. When first incorporated the village population was little more than 1,000, while now the city has 15,000 inhabitants, a growth in forty years of nearly fifteen times its original number. However interesting would be a detailed history of the founding and growth of this remarkable municipality during the last half century, the absence of records precludes the furnishing of such a narrative, and whatever is known or accessible is fragmentary and disconnected. From the original limited area of less than a square mile of land there has grown a city of good proportions, and within its boundaries is included the old and historic hamlet of Kingsboro. The once remote lands of the village have been brought into service for building purposes, the results of natural increase in population and the enterprise of local capitalists. Several years ago a horse railroad was put in operation between Gloversville and Kingsboro, but the project not proving a financial success was therefore abandoned. More recently, however, measures have been adopted for again connecting these points by modern means of travel, by constructing a belt line of electric road through various portions of the city. However, the most interesting part of the history of Gloversville is that recorded in the history of its institutions and business interests, public and private, and to those the attention of the reader is directed; but before entering into their detail it is proper at this time to furnish the succession of postmasters, as has been done in recording the history of Kingsboro. In Gloversville the postmasters, with date of their appointment, have been as follows: Henry Churchill, January 29, 1829; Harvey Jones, August 26, 1841; Henry Churchill, August 6, 1845; Lorain Sunderlin, August 26, 1845; Henry Churchill, May 18, 1847; Elisha L. Burton, June 8, 1849; Lloyd H. Copeland, June 15, 1853; Ebenezer R. Mackey, September 26, 1854; Isaac Combs, February 13, 1855; Elisha L. Burton, May 30, 1861; Esther L. Burton, October 28, 1862; Edward Ward, January 6, 1871; Albert W. Rocklin, February 26, 1877; George C. Potter, February 9, 1891.

Public Schools of Gloversville (By Prof. H. A. Pratt.) - The first public school house of Gloversville was built of slabs in 1800.

It stood on the north side of West Fulton street, probably a little west of Orchard street, but the exact locality is in dispute. It was removed about 1811 to a spot on South Main street, on land then owned by James Burr, opposite the site of the Alvord House.

Three years later a second school house was built, this time of brick, near the present northwest corner of the Rose block, on Main and West Fulton streets. This was a commodious building and was used until 1836, when it gave place to business structures.

The third school house was a two story wooden building which stood on the site of the present Martin house at the northwest corner of West Fulton and School streets, and gave its name to School street. At the end of thirteen years it was replaced by a larger building in which the district school was held until the close of the summer term in 1868. This building was arranged for three teachers and (somewhat raised and enlarged) is known as the Martin House.

The district known as school district No. 169 of the town of Johnstown, included the greater part, but not all, of the corporation of Gloversville. Its boundaries were somewhat changed from time to time, but were never the same as those of Gloversville.

In 1867 the school was an ordinary district school with accommodations entirely inadequate for the school population, and the attendance was small and irregular. Many pupils were attending private schools, of which there were three in the village, in addition to those at the seminary.

The people were dissatisfied and after some agitation, on December 30, 1867: the following request was presented to the trustees of the district, Charles C. Bowen, Elias C Burton, and Henry C. Thomas. "We, the undersigned, do hereby request that a special meeting of the taxable inhabitants of this school district be called for the purpose of adopting measures and obtaining an expression of the minds of such taxpayers, in relation to making an application to the legislature to change the present system of schools in this district into that of a graded school, and for such other business in relation to such object as may come before the meeting. [Signed bye:] W. J. Heacock, E. Leavenworth, R. Washburn, Phillip Graff W. H. Place, Daniel Hays, J. K. Sexton, G. S. Chadbourne, A. Simmons, Wm. C. Mills, M. W. Oderkirk, J. H. Seymour, A. D. Brower, U. M. Place, V. S. Harmon, N. W. Welch, J. McLaren and A. E. Porter." The result was that on February 25, 1868, at a meeting held in the district school house, it was voted by 169 to 33 to change the system of the village schools by combining them into a graded school, and to increase the number of trustees to nine. At another meeting at the same place March 2, following, the new board of trustees was chosen as follows:

For three years, James H. Seymour, Seymour Sexton, Joseph S. Heacock; two years, U. M. Place, E. Leavenworth, P. R. Furbeck; one year, Daniel Hayes, William H. Place, William A. Kasson.

On March 9, 1868, the new trustees organized as the Board of Education of Gloversville Union Free School, otherwise known as District No. 16, and electedW. M. Place, president; P. R. Furbeck, clerk.

The new system began operations May 11, 1868, at the old schoolhouse with about 100 pupils, Cyrus Stewart being principal, Miss Lizzie Windoes and Miss Mary Wyckoff, assistants. Before the close of the term the attendance fully doubled, the corps of assistants was raised to five, and an additional building west of the Alvord House procured for the overflow.

Mr. Stewart retired at the close of the term and H. A. Pratt, a graduate of Yale College, who for the past year had been principal of the seminary, succeeded him.

During the summer negotiations for the purchase of the seminary property terminated successfully, the district paying $17,388.88 for the same, and on October 25, 1868, the fall term of Gloversville Union School began at the old seminary with about 500 pupils under the charge of nine teachers, Mr. Pratt being principal and Miss Rhoda Waterbury preceptress. The old school house on School street was no longer used for school purposes, and all private schools had been discontinued.

The school rapidly increased in numbers, 783 pupils having been enrolled during the school year and two teachers added, the average daily attendance having been 465.

As the school grew, new rooms were fitted up from time to time in the seminary building, until it contained thirteen, with one recitation room.

These being insufficient to accommodate all the pupils, a three story, six room brick building, now known as the south building, was erected on the seminary grounds in 1874-75, at a cost, including furniture, of about $15,000.

In 1883 a similar building, now known as the north building, was erected at about the same cost, this also being on the seminary grounds. In 1888 another six room, three story brick building, now known as the Spring street school house, was erected on Spring street at a cost, including site, of some $17,000.

In 1891 the Park street street school house, also a six room, three story brick structure, was built at a cost, including site, of about $16, 000.

In 1892 $18,000 was voted by the school district for another schoolhouse, which will be built on the southwest corner of North Main street and Green avenue. This will probably be a two story, eight room building,

When Gloversville became a city on March 19, 1890, and all the territory within its limits became a school district to be known as "The School District of the City of Gloversville," it was found that this new district embraced nearly all of the former districts Nos. 15, 16 and 17 of the town of Johnstown, No. 16 being also known as Gloversville Union School, and No. 17 as Kingsboro Union School. This gave the city of Gloversville the old school house in Kingsboro, formerly occupied by the Kingsboro Academy, containing four rooms and a two room building on South Main street, both wooden structures. In June 1892, therefore, "The School District of the City of Gloversville" owned seven school houses, containing forty one school rooms, with a seating capacity of upwards of 2,400. These, however, were not sufficient to accommodate all the pupils and the district was forced to hire two additional rooms for the overflow.

In 1881, by special act of the legislature, Gloversville Union School became entitled to public money to the amount of $800 a year for a superintendent of schools. Mr. H. A. Pratt was elected superintendent, which office he continued to hold until his resignation.

In September, 1871, an academic department, subject to the visitation of the Regents of the University, was opened under the charge of George R. Dorman, a graduate of Union College. He served one year and was succeeded by Mrs. M. A. Kelley, who held the position until 1878.

Other teachers in charge of this department were: Miss Emma J. Chriswell, 1878-85; Miss Villa F. Page, 1885-86; Miss Jessie Hughes, 1886-87; Miss Metta L. Persons, 1887-92. They were assisted by Mr. A. L. Peck, 1877-88; Mr. B C. Van Ingen, 1888-91; Mr. Robert J. Hughes, 1891-92; Mrs. E. C. West, 1884-91; Miss Mattie J. Law, 1891-92; Miss Helen Lawn, 1892.

In 1885 drawing was introduced into all of the rooms, and has ever since been regularly and systematically taught with excellent results.

Kindergarten work was introduced in 1886, Miss Beulah Gilman, a trained kindergartner from the Oswego Normal School, having been the first teacher in that department. Miss Gilman proved very capable and the experiment was so satisfactory that, later on, four kindergarten teachers were employed at the same time and this has become one of the most flourishing departments of the school system.

The study of vocal music began in 1887, under the efficient supervision of Miss Lizzie Macnee, and has been continued down to the present time.

Mr. Pratt resigned in 1890, after having served continuously in Gloversville as principal and superintendent of schools for twenty three years. He was succeeded by James A. Estee, a graduate of Alfred University, who is now superintendent.

The history of the public school system of Gloversville, since the organization of the Union School, is one of continuous growth and prosperity. Beginning the school year 1868-69 with nine teachers and less than 500 pupils, the total enrollment for the year was 738, and it has steadily increased year by year, until in 1891-92 it contains upwards of 2,800 pupils, under a superintendent with forty seven assistant teachers.

The growth for a series of years is shown by the following extract from Superintendent Pratt's last report, which, except for the last year, includes residents only:

School Year

Number Enrolled
School Year
as Pupils.

Average Number at
School Each Day.




























The Academic Department, now named the Gloversville High School, has also grown steadily under its able corps of teachers and is in a flourishing condition. Starting in 1871 with one teacher and less than a dozen academic pupils, it now has four teachers and has enrolled during 1891-92, 140 students. Its pupils may take a three years' English Course, a four years' Classical Course, or the Regent's Academic Course, and may be fitted for the classical or other departments of college.

The "course of study" in the other departments, preparatory to the High School, occupies eight years.

Appended is a list of the presidents of the Boards of Education: U. M. Place, Dr. James H. Seymour, Dr. P. R. Furbeck, John Ferguson, James D. Foster, Solomon Jeffers, Dr. Eugene Beach, Dr. Charles M. Lefler, F. M. Young, Daniel Hays.

Private Schools. - In 1849 Miss Emily Corwin opened the first private school (of which there is any account) in Gloversville. In 185o Miss Smith, with one assistant, established a select school for young ladies, which proved very successful. She was succeeded in the fall of 185f by Miss S. E. Roberts (now Mrs. E. R. Churchill), who conducted the school for twenty two weeks, her successor being Miss Sarah Sherman, under whose charge the school continued to flourish. In 1852 she left for a better position, and was succeeded by Miss Efner.

In 1853 Miss Bright came to Gloversville, expecting to take the school, but the accommodations were so poor that she would not consent, unless the people would build a suitable school house. A few ladies and gentlemen met in the parlors of Mr. Alanson Judson to discuss the subject. Other meetings followed, resulting in the formation of a stock company and its incorporation under the name of Gloversville Union Seminary.

The seminary was managed by a board of twelve trustees, four from each of the then existing churches, the pastor of each church being ex officio a member of this board. The original trustees were as follows:

Congregational-Alanson Hosmer, Alanson Judson, U. M. Place, Rev. Homer N. Dunning.

Baptist-Henry C. Churchill, Henry C. Thomas, James H. Burr, Rev. Isaac Westcott.

Methodist-Harry C. Jones, J. G. Ward, Samuel Gilchrist, Rev. Merritt Bates.

The trustees organized by the election of Mr. Churchill as president and Mr. Ward as secretary, and soon after bought about two acres of ground on the corner of North Main and Prospect streets for $100, and in 1854 erected thereon the building long known as Gloversville Union Seminary, now the center building of the three public school houses on the same plot. It is a three story brick building, 105 feet long, 51 feet wide, and was originally intended for a boarding school for young ladies, in connection with a day school for the more advanced pupils of both sexes in the village. It was furnished throughout and contained accommodations for upwards of fifty boarders, and about zoo day scholars. The cost of the building, furniture, etc., was about $21,000.

The circular issued by the trustees in 1855 contains the following:

"This Seminary throughout is new its Buildings, its Apparatus, its Instruments, its Furniture are all new, neat, convenient, and as they should be. Every window has blinds, every sash a pulley and weights, and every room a ventilator. Its apartments are not cells, but high and spacious. In every desirable appointment for a school purpose, its equal can scarcely be found in the state . . . . The Seminary has the most ample accommodations for at least forty boarding scholars, exclusively female."

All expenses for boarding pupils, music excepted, were given as $160 to $180 a year.

The school was opened September 12, 1855, under the charge of Rev. Edgar Perkins, who was its principal for about five years. He was succeeded by Fitz Henry Weld, who retired about 1865. Other principals were George W. McLellan, 1865-66; R. S. Bingham, 1866-67, and H. A. Pratt, 1867-68.

Under the administration of Mr. Perkins the school soon gained a high reputation and was well patronized, the rooms for boarders being nearly all occupied, while the day school was largely attended and proved of great benefit to the youth of the village. The original design was not, however, rigidly adhered to, and male boarders were soon admitted.

The school continued to prosper during the earlier portion of Mr. Weld's administration, but later on for various reasons the boarding department declined, and did not regain its importance under his successors.

Under Mr. Weld a primary department was established, which was continued until the sale of the property.

Although the seminary was for a time highly prosperous and undoubtedly of great importance to the village, it was never remunerative to the stockholders, and in 1868 the property was sold to the school district of Gloversville, and ever since has been used for public school purposes.

Since the establishment of the Union Free School there have been no private schools of any great size or importance in Gloversville.

Gloversville History

Part 1 - Early History.

Part 2 - Early Hisotry Continued.

Part 3 - Incorporation as a City - Schools.

Part 4 - Libraries. - Gloversville Water Works. - Opera House.

Part 5 - Fire Department- Board of Trade - Gas - Electric Lighting

Part 6 - Churches 1

Part 7 - Churches 2

Part 8 - YMCA, Secret Societies, Newspapers

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