History of Troy, New York
FROM LANDMARKS OF RENSSELAER COUNTY
BY: GEORGE BAKER ANDERSON
PUBLISHED BY D. MASON & CO. PUBLISHERS, SYRACUSE, NY 1897



CHAPTER XVI.
TROY AS A CITY.


The original charter of the city of Troy was enacted April 12, 1816. It contained no unusual features. It constituted the inhabitants of the place a corporate body under the name of "The Mayor, Recorder, Aldermen and Commonalty of the City of Troy." The charter divided the city into six wards. The first, second, third and fourth were identical with those of the village as established by the law of April 4, 1806. The fifth ward comprised that section lying north of a line beginning at the bridge spanning the Poesten kill, near the grist mill of Townsend McCoun, and crossing the bridge and running along the south line of the Hollow Road until it intersected the Schuyler Road, where it turned south and ran to the south limits of the new city. The sixth ward included all the rest of the city which was not embraced in the other wards. The limits of the city were made identical in all respects with the limits of the town of Troy. as it existed at the time of the passage of the charter. The city officers provided for, by election and appointment, were a mayor, a recorder, a clerk, a marshal, a chamberlain, six aldermen, four assistant aldermen, six assessors, one or more collectors and six constables. The governor, with the consent of the Council of Appointment, had the power to appoint the mayor, the recorder and the marshal; the rest of the officers to be elected annually, by the people on the second Tuesday of May in each year. Each ward was entitled to one alderman, one assistant alderman, one assessor and one constable, except the fifth and six wards, which had no assistant aldermen. The common council was composed of the mayor, the recorder, the six aldermen and the four assistant aldermen and the time and place of its meetings were subject to the call of the mayor, or in his absence the reëorder, either of whom might preside. The first charter election was held Tuesday, May 14, 1816, and the first meeting of the common council was held in the court-house the week after, May 21. Col. Albert Pawling, who had been president of the village and held that office at the time the change in the form of government was made, was elected the first mayor of the city; William L. Marcy was the first recorder; the first aldermen and assistant aldermen were-first ward, George Allen, alderman, Amos Salisbury, assistant; second ward, Hugh Peebles, alderman, John Loudon, assistant; third ward, Townsend McCoun, alderman, Gurdon Corning, assistant; fourth ward, Stephen Ross, alderman, Henry Mallory, assistant; fifth ward, Lemuel Hawley, alderman: sixth ward, Philip Hart, jr., alderman; the first chamberlain was David Buel; the first city surveyor was William McManus; the first city clerk was William M. Bliss; the first chief engineer of the city fire department was William S. Parker; all of whom held office in 1816 in pursuance of the privileges accorded by the first city charter.

The first Sunday schools organized in Troy were those formed by the Troy Sunday School association in the summer of 1816. This association was organized July 8 with these officers: President, Joseph Russell; vice-president, Silas Covell; treasurer, John Loudon; secretary, David Buel. In them were represented the Presbyterian, Episcopal, Methodist and Baptist denominations. The schools were undenominational and the exercises consisted principally of singing, prayers, exhortation, reading, spelling and primary Bible study, that is, verses of Scripture were committed to memory in concert.

The Troy Lyceum of Natural History was formed November 9, 1818, by the election of these officers: President, John D. Dickinson; first vice-president, James Dalahy; second vice president, David Buel; recording secretary, Obed Rice; corresponding secretary, Dr. Amatus Robbins; treasurer, Albert Pawling Heartt; curators, Dr. Moses Hale, Dr. Ira M. Wells and Dr. Amatus Robbins. It was the first society of its kind in America and among its members were some of the best known scientists and authors in the United States. The society was incorporated two years after its organization, March 7, 1820.

The first person to engage in the manufacture of pianos in New York State was Joshua Thurston, who came from London, England, and settled in Troy in 1819. His manufactory was a great novelty and attracted many visitors from all sections of the State.

In July, 1819, an event occurred which stirred the people of the city of Troy to widespread expressions of great indignation. Colonel Albert Pawling, who had been appointed the first mayor of the city, was a man beloved and confided in by all, regardless of party. He had been one of the greatest benefactors of the village and city and at the time of his appointment there was no opposition to him, as far as can be learned. Suddenly, and without warning of his intention, Governor DeWitt Clinton removed him from office and appointed in his place Thomas Turner, a man evidently unpopular and possessed of few qualifications for the office. The removal and new appointment resulted in a spontaneous outburst of indignation. The commission of Mr. Turner reads as follows: The People of the State of New-York, by the Grace of GOD Free and Independent:

To all to whom these presents shall come, greeting: Know Ye, That WE, reposing especial trust and confidence in the ability and integrity of Thomas Turner of our City of Troy Esquire, Have nominated, constituted and appointed, and by these Presents, Do nominate, constitute and appoint him the said Thomas Turner Esquire MAYOR of our said City of Troy hereby giving and granting unto him the said Thomas Turner, Esq., all and singular the powers and authorities to the said office by law belonging or appertaining. TO HAVE AND TO HOLD the said office of Mayor of our said City of Troy together with the fees, profits and advantages to the same belonging, for and during the term of ONE year from the date hereof. IN TESTIMONY WHEREOF, We have caused these our Letters to be made Patent, and the Great Seal of our said State to be hereunto affixed: WIT. NESS our frusty and well-beloved DE WITT CLINTON, Esquire, Governor of our said State, General and Commander in Chief of all the Militia, and Admiral of the Navy of the same, by and with the advice and consent of said Council of Appointment, at our City of Albany, the third day of July in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundered and nineteen and in the fortythird year of our Independence.

DE WITT CLINTON.
Passed the Secretary's Office, the 12th day of July, 1819.
J. V. R. YATES, Secretary.


An illustration of the popular feeling over what was considered by the people of Troy as an unwarranted abuse of power on the part of Governor Clinton may be had in the following communication, which appeared in the Troy Northern Budget July 13, 1819, the issue next following the news of the appointment of Mr. Turner. The communication was signed "A Trojan."

A report reached this city in the early part of last week that Thomas Turner had been appointed Mayor in the place of Col. Pawling, but it was so unwelcome to the great body of citizens that they were unwilling to believe it. The report however proves to be true. What has this city done to merit this indignity? If the feelings and policy of the Governor would not permit him to spare an old soldier of the Revolution-the companion in arms and ardent friend of his father and uncle the citizen of unblemished reputation, the zealous and upright magistrate-the man who with propriety may be called one of the fathers of our city, who had taken care of its infancy and watched with parental solicitude over its rising prosperity, I ask if the Governor could not spare such a man, why has he given us such a successor? The insult admits of no palliation. Mr. Clinton knew the standing of Turner: because he had been recently and reluctantly compelled to recede from his purpose of making him Sheriff of this county by the indignant voice of the people. He also knew from the expressed opinion of the most respectable men of all parties in this city, that the citizens wished the continuance of the old Mayor.

When that venerable patriot Gen. Clinton, in his declining years, expressed with feeling regret his apprehension of the evils that this state would stiffer by the unprincipled ambition of his nephew, he probably had some indistinct forebodings of the political abuses which have now fallen upon us; but how inexpressibly poignant would have been his regret, if he could have foreseen the very transactions on

which I am now commenting.- A young man flew to the standard of this patriot and participated with him for seven years the dangers and sufferings by which our liberties were achieved. When he left the service of his country, he carried with him the love and affection of this patriot and the commendation of Washington. No act of his after life, disgraced this auspicious beginning. Having been a pupil in the school of the revolution his political sentiments emanated from the purest principles of republicanism.-Amidst all the changes and vicissitudes which this State has undergone, he has not erred in his political faith. In his old age he would not belie those principles which he loved in his youth, and practised in his manhood,- of course he could not be a favorite of present administration. Those very virtues which won the respect and esteem of General James Clinton and George Clinton, have drawn down upon the gray head of Col. Pawling the displeasure of Dewitt Clinton. The merit of this act belongs exclusively to the Governor, and his comfort arising from reflections on it, will excite no man's envy. I shall not attempt to do justice to public feeling on this occasion among our citizens; nor comment upon other acts- of the present administration, which evinces its baseness. Let them hunt down and proscribe political virtue as much as they please, they never can make the people insensible to a want of it in themselves. The hoary headed patriot may feel their rage, but they cannot reach his reputation. Every such victim will make a martyr. Though a man more entitled to respect than the late Mayor of this city has not encountered executive ire, nor fewer qualifications to redeem the misdeed, could be found in any successor, we have this consolation that other parts of the state are suffering evils similar in kind if not equal in degree with ourselves; and from this common suffering may and will arise a sense of the necessity of a remedy; and if the people of this State are not tamer than the slaves of despotism in a few months, this intolerable reign, in which talents are proscribed and virtue is a victim, will have passed away forever.

In response to an overwheln-iing popular demand Mr. Turner refused to serve in the office to which he had been appointed and Mayor Pawling continued to act until February, 1820, when Esaias Warren was named as his successor.

The Rensselaer County Agricultural society was organized June 3, 1819, and the first fair under its auspices was held October 12 and 13 of the same year on the Common south of Hoosick street.

The first disastrous fire which visited the city of Troy started on the afternoon of June 20, 1820, in a stable in the rear of the residence of Colonel Davis, on the west side of First street north of Congress. A high wind from the south prevailed at the time, and within a few hours ninety buildings had been reduced to ashes. Of these sixty-nine were stores and dwelling houses. The burned property included all the buildings on the west side of First street north of and including the home of Colonel Davis, to the intersection of First and River streets, excepting the building occupied by the Bank of Troy; those on the east side of River street north of and including the store of H. & G. Vail, to the intersection of First and River streets; those on the west side of River street from Dr. Samuel Gale's drug store north as far as the site of the building No. 227 River street, opposite the Troy house; and those on both sides of State street between First and River streets. The local fire department was helpless to prevent the spread of the flames and in response to the earnest appeals of the people of Troy fire engines were sent to the scene from Albany, Waterford and the United States arsenal at Gibbonsville (now West Troy). Upon their arrival the efforts to stay the fire were renewed with desperation and were finally successful. About three weeks after the fire a day of prayer was set apart, July 12, and the inhabitants thronged to the various churches where services were held and in deep humiliation bowed to God in submission to His will. But for many weeks the city was enshrouded in gloom over the crushing blow that had fallen upon it, ruining many of its inhabitants and retarding its progress. During the following year contributions of food, clothing and money were sent to the sufferers from all parts of the country. The total losses of the fire aggregated $700,000, on which there was an insurance of about $110,000.

The Emma Willard Female Seminary, which in later years became known throughout the entire country as a most excellent school for young ladies, was established in Troy in 1821. Mrs. Emma Willard was the wife of Dr. John Willard. In 1814 she established a boarding school for girls at Middlebury, Vt. While acting as principal of that school she conceived a plan for the incorporation and endowment of an institution for the higher education of young women. Believing that New York State offered superior advantages for the location of such a school she communicated an outline of her plan to Governor Clinton of New York, who agreed to assist her. According to his promise the governor caused to be passed a legislative enactment incorporating a female seminary at Waterlord under the care of the Regents of the University and appropriating thereto its proper quota of the public moneys. The seminary opened in Waterford in the spring of 1819. After it had been successfully incorporated the citizens of Troy, appreciating the advantages which would accrue to them from the loèation of the school in the city, proposed to Mrs. Willard that she remove the seminary to Troy, agreeing to contribute freely of their means to its establishment and maintenance. To this proposition she assented, and March 26, 1821, the common council of the city, in response to a general demand, resolved to raise by tax in the first, second, third and fourth wards the sum of $4,000 for the purchase of a suitable building. It also appointed Jeremiah Dauchy, Ephraim Morgan, Gurdon Corning, Nathan Warren, Lewis Lyman, John G Vanderheyden, Thomas Skelding, Gilbert Reilay, George Smith, Richard P. Hart and James Vandenburgh a commission to obtain suitable quarters at an expense not to exceed $5,000 and to engage a principal - for the new school. April 14, agreeable to the recommendation of this committee, the city purchased for $1,700 the "Old Coffee House," originally owned by Captain Howard Moulton, an officer in the American army during the war of the Revolution, who removed from Troy to Stafford Springs, Conn. He constructed the building in 1795. It was a three-story frame building and in its early days was the principal rival of the famous Ashley's Inn. While the "Old Coffee House" was being renovated and put in condition for the reception of the new institution Mrs. Willard became principal of the Troy Female seminary, temporarily using the lecture room of the Troy Lyceum of Natural History in the courthouse for a recitation room and the apartments of two dwelling houses near by for dormitories and study rooms. August 2 the common council appointed David Buel, jr., Joseph Russell, Nathan Warren, Richard P. Hart, Jeremiah Dauchy, James Mallory, William Bradley and Amasa Paine trustees of the school. The work of repairing the building selected for its occupancy was completed in the fall, when the school moved into it and began what proved to be a successful career. 'The seminary's first faculty consisted of the following: Principal, Mrs. Emma Willard; instructors, Elizabeth Sherrill, Angelica Gilbert, Mary Heywood and Elizabeth P. Huntington; assistant instructors, Sarah W. Ingalls, Mary H. Field, Mary E. Akin and Elizabeth Whiting. The first class numbered ninety pupils, twenty-nine of whom resided in Troy and the remainder coming from the States of New York, Connecticut, Vermont, Massachusetts, Ohio, South Carolina and Georgia.

A munificent enterprise, which subsequently became one of Troy's noblest institutions, had its inception in 1823, when a number of citizens petitioned the Legislature to enact a law incorporating them under the name of the Troy Savings Bank. The act was passed April 23, 1823, and named as the first managers of the institution John Gary, Derick Lane, Richard P. Hart, Gurdon Corning, John Thomas, John Paine, Nathan Warren, Lewis Lyman, Platt Titus, James Van Schoonhoven, Henry Mallory, Leland Howard, Joseph Russell, Samuel Gale, Townsend McCoun, William Bradley, Alanson Douglas, William Smith and David Buel, jr. The charter permitted the managers to make an agreement with any of the banks of the city to receive deposits and transact business on such terms and conditions as the managers might deem to be for the best interests of all. The trustees were authorized to regulate the rate of interest to be paid depositors, and the latter were to receive a ratable proportion of all the profits of the bank after all the necessary expenses had been deducted. The board of managers comprised the president, two vice-presidents and twelve trustees, the mayor and recorder of the city being ex-officio members of the body. At the first meeting of the managers held at Platt Titus's Inn August 15 Townsend McCoun was elected president, Richard P. Hart, first vicepresident, and LewisLyman, second vice-president. The by-laws were adopted at the same time and the first deposits were received August 30 at the Farmers' Bank. The wisdom of the founders of the bank may be :appreciated when it is known that it is being conducted to-day on the same general lines on which it started business over 73 years ago.

The opening of the Erie Canal to traffic October 8, 1823, was made' the occasion of quitea demonstration in Troy. A canal boat named the Trojan Trader left the city carrying the first load of merchandise sent west from the Hudson river by way of the Erie canal. The enterprise of the citizens of Troy in bringing this about was the cause of more or less bitter adverse criticism from a few cities and villages which were envious of the wideawake and progressive spirit manifested by Trojans in this great event, but in other quarters the' stroke of enterprise was commended liberally, so that in the end Troy secured a great deal of advertising, which its business men richly deserved.

An interesting incident, a fact not generally known, is that the well known Christmas poem so dear to the heart of every child, "A Visit from St. Nicholas," written by Clement Clarke Moore, LL. D., then professor of Oriental and Greek literature in the General Theological Seminary of the Protestant Episcopal church in New York, was published for the first time in the Troy Sentinel December 23, 1823.

The year after the opening of the great Erie canal another memorable event occurred in Troy- the reception tendered the - great French patriot, Marquis de La Fayette, September 18, 1824. The committee in whose charge his entertainment was left comprised Colonel Albert Pawling, Colonel Derick Lane, Ephraim Morgan, Benjamin Smith, Stephen Warren, Gurdon Corning, James Mallory, George Tibbits, John D. Dickinson, Joseph Russell and John P. Cushman. The Marquis arrived at Gibbonsville (West Troy) on the packet boat Schenectady in the company of the Albany entertainment committee and mili tary escort. The packet was towed from that point to the foot of Ferry street, where he was welcomed to the city by the Hon. George Tibbits in behalf of the populace. In his reply to the greeting he received the gallant Frenchman marvelled at the great changes which had taken place in Tray since his previous visit to the village forty years before. The speech-- making was followed by a grand' parade in which the Albany and Tray military companies, a Masonic delegation and bther representatives of the city participated. In the parlors of the Tray house Recorder Thomas Clowes, in the absence of the Mayor, formally welcomed the Marquis, after which the party proceeded to St. John's hall, the Masonic headquarters, where the distinguished guest of the city was once more welcomed by the Hon. David Buel, jr. After dinner the party visited Mrs. Emma Willard at the Troy Female Seminary, and soon afterward the Marquis left the city amid the most enthusiastic plaudits of thousands of persons who had gathered upon the banks of the river.

To Stephen Van Rensselaer, the last but one of the patroons, Troy owes its most celebrated educational institution, the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, originally called the Rensselaer school. This institution was founded November 5, 1824, the donor fitting out at his own personal expense the Farmers' bank building on the northwest corner of River and Middleburgh streets. The first trustees appointed by the founder, were: The Rev. Samuel Blatchford, pastor of the First Presbyterian church of Lansingburgh; Eliãs Parmelee of Lansingburgh, John Cramer and Guert Van Schoonhoven of Waterford, Samuel De Witt and T. Romeyn Beck of Albany, and John D. Dickinson and Jedediah Tracy of Tray. He named the Rev. Samuel Blatchford as president, Amos Eaton of Troy as senior professor and Lewis C. Beck of Albany as junior professor. The school was formally opened January 3, 1825, the courses prescribed being chemistry, experimental philosophy and natural history, with their application to agriculture, domestic economy and the arts. Land surveying, in which the school soon gained a world-wide reputation, was also taught. The school was incorporated March 21, 1826, and the first class was graduated in the same year. The name of the school was changed to Rensselaer Institute April 26, 1832. A more extended account of this noble institution appears in another chapter. -

March 2, 1824, Chief Justice Marshall of the United States Supreme Court handed down a decision declaring unconstitutional the law granting the North River Steamboat company the exclusive right to navigate the waters of the Hudson, and almost immediately the capitalists of Troy, who had been anxiously awaiting such a termination of the case, formed a stock company under the name of "The Tray Steamboat company" and made a contract for the construction of a large steamboat suitable for navigation on the river. August 21 of that year the Vessel, named "Chief Justice Marshall" in honor of the judge whose decision had 'made its construction possible, was launched at New York. The company was incorporated March 31, 1825, with a capital stock of $200,000, and the first passage of the boat from New York to Tray was made March 12, the boat being in charge of Captain R. W. Sherman. Trips were made regularly tliereafter down the river one night and back the next. The next spring the steamboats Constitution and Constellation began making regular trips, and in the summer the steamboat New London was purchased and added to the fleet.

The industrial progress made by the flourishing city of Tray up to this time, 1825, was a little short of marvelous Her population in that year was 7,859, an increase of nearly fifty per cent in five years. The numerous manufactories included six grist mills, three saw mills, an oil mill, a fulling mill, a cotton factory, a distillery, a shovel and spade factory, two iron furnaces, three breweries, a large machine shop, four tanneries, two shoe factories, a paper mill, a rope manufac-. tory, three carriage factories, a gun factory, two bleaching and calendering concerns and two chair factories, besides many less important manufacturing establishments.

The first steam ferry boat began making regular trips across the river at the Upper Ferry in July, 1826, being owned by John G. Vanderheyden, proprietor of the ferry. It did a thriving business and added in no small measure to the general prosperity of the city.

Early in 1826 the vestry of St. Paul's Episcopal church, upon the request of the growing congregation, decided to secure a more commodious site and build a new church edifice. The two lots on the northeast corner of State and Third streets were therefore purchased and $24,000 having been subscribed for the purpose contracts were made for the building, work upon which was begun in the spring of the following year. The corner-stone was laid April 24, 1827, by the Rev. David Butler and the building was consecrated by Bishop John H. Hobart August 16, 1828. Its total cost was $40,368.66.

Soon after the erection of the new St. Paul's was decided upon the members of the First Presbyterian church determined, February 1, 1826, to purchase a site and erect a building. May 22 the trustees purchased two lots on the southeast corner of Grand Division and Sixth streets. The building was begun the next month, the corner stone being laid July 12, and March 10, 1827, a call was extended to the Rev. Mark Tucker of Northampton, Mass., to become pastor. The church was dedicated July 18 and the Rev. Mr. Tucker was installed pastor October 31.

The congregation of St. Peter's Roman Catholic church, which had been organized in 1825, and which had held its first services in a school house at the corner of Second and Ferry streets, SOOU feeling the need of better and more commodious quarters, in the summer of 1826 concluded to erect a home of their own if possible. In response to an appeal from the members of the church a sufficient sum of money was soon subscribed and in the latter part of October in that year the lot on the northeast corner of Hutton and North Second streets was deeded to the society by John D. Dickinson and others in consideration of the payment of six cents The work of constructing a small frame building was begun soon after and February 19, 1827, "the trustees of St. Peter's church" were incorporated. The building was consecrated in 1830 by Bishop John Du Bois of New York.

The years 1827 and 1828 were marked by wonderful prosperity in all lines of trade and industry in Troy. In the former year the city grew as it had never grown before, no less than 330 buildings of all kinds being constructed. The business of the city was the greatest that year it had ever known. Money was plentiful and everybody was happy, from the greatest capitalist to the poorest mechanic or laborer. Travel to the city had increased so that it was found necessary to make considerable additions to the principal hotel, the Troy house, and to build another hotel, the Mansion house, which was begun in the latter year by Nathan Warren. In the following year, 1829, the work of paving River street with cobblestones was begun, the houses on the principal streets were numbered and the proud growing city began to take on metropolitan airs at a rapid rate. The local census of 1828 showed the population to be 10,840, an increase of more than 3,000 souls in three years- phenomenal development even for those days. A year later it was deemed advisable to organize another bank, which was incorporated April 29, 1829, under the name of the Merchants' and Mechanics' Bank of Troy. It opened its doors for business February 12, 1830, with a capital stock of $300,000. The bank was at first located in the Mansion house, with George Vail as president and Alanson Douglas as cashier. Its brick building at No. 16 First street was occupied for the first in 1830.

May 1, 1830, the Daily Troy Sentinel, the first daily newspaper issued in Troy, was published for the first time by Tuttle & Gregory. Its office was at No. 225 River street and it was edited by 0. L. Holley. It was well patronized, both by subscribers and advertisers, and the merchants and manufacturers looked upon it as a valuable addition to the industries of Troy. It was issued every afternoon except Sundays.

A number of the members of St. Paul's church having determined to form a separate congregation and erect another church, independent religious services were held by them, in charge of a layman, in the Presbyterian session house at No. 71 Fourth street. November 22, 1830, officers were elected and the new church was named St. John's church. January 13 of the next year the old St. Paul's church on State street was purchased and the Rev. John A. Hicks of Easton, Pa., was called to the pastorate, assuming his duties the following May.

April 18, 1831, an act was passed by the Legislature incorporating the Troy Turnpike and Railroad company, the stockholders of which were Lewis Burtis, Stephen Ross, David Gleason, Stephen Eldridge, Anson Arnold, Abraham Van Tuyl, John Burtis, jr., Alsop Weed and Robert D. Silliman. The charter authorized them to construct a turnpike road from the west end of the Troy and Bennington road in Hoosick street in Troy, to the town of Bennington or the town of Pownal, Vt. It also gave them power to build a single or double railroad from Troy to either or both of the Vermont towns. The capital stock was limited to $100,000. Work upon the turnpike was begun at once and for many years it was an important highway and stage route.

The "burying ground on the hill," as it was generally known, having become about filled with graves, January 1, 1832, the city authorities purchased 12½ acres of land on the south side of the Poesten kill and east of the road to Albia, which they named Mount Ida Cemetery. Three years afterward,. February 5, 1835, a portion of it was sold to St. Peter's Catholié church, and was used as a burying ground by that denomination.

When the Asiatic cholera was expected in Troy in 1832, on its awful journey throughout the country, the militia were ordered out to keep from the city several canal boats loaded with emigrants and reported as having cholera victims aboard. These boats came down the Champlain canal from Canada: In describing the ravages of cholera in. Troy William E. Hagan, esq., writing in the Troy Press June 19, 1890, said: Some of the proceedings which the excitement at that time stimulated were ridiculous in the extreme, and particularly the conduct of one Col. Dillon Beebe, who commanded the militia here that Sunday afternoon, when he, in full uniform and with a great array of rooster feathers in his cocked hat, strode up through the aisle of the First Presbyterian church (Dr. Beman's), and without ceremony broke in upon the doctor's discourse in a loud stentorian voice ordering all the members of the militia there present to immediately appear armed and equipped as the law directed at Washington square. Some of the women present fainted, others laughed at the ridiculousness of the performance, but at all events it broke up the. meeting.

But it was found that the boats contained a colony of Swedes bound for the West, and thatthere was not a sick. person amongst them.

But the cholera did visit Troy within a fortnight after the departure of the Swedish emigrants. . . . . The first person to die of the cholera in 1832 was James E. Prescott. The next death was that of one Henry O'Neal, and after the latter occurred there were many others. Amongst the old residents Asa Anthony was the .firstto pass away. He was the. father of Prof. Charles H. Anthony, for many years the principal of the Troy . academy, and long since dead. Capt. Snow, a prominent North River captain who lived at No. 43 Third street, was also one of the victims.

The most remarkable death occasioned was that of Archie Weaver, a blacksmith whose shop stood on the southwest corner of Congress and Third streets. He wasa man of large size and of great strength. He was boasting in the morning of how he would conquer the disease should it attack him. He was taken ill about three o'clock in the afternoon and died at nine o'clock in the evening, and was buried the same night. The cholera victims of the epidemic of 1832 were in the main buried in the Mount Ida cemetery, where a long row of the graves may still be seen. .

Since 1832 the cholera has twice visited Troy, in 1849 and in 1853.. During the latter year it was more fatal in its effects than before. Fortunately for the people of the present day, Dr. William P. Seymour was health officer during the prevalence of the cholera in 1853, and he was by education and personal ability well fitted to tabulate all the phenomenal statistics which attended its visitation.

A new era was opened in the history of Troy with the construction of the first line of railroad having the city for a terminus. In 1826 a railroad was projected, to run from Troy to Schenectady, but the people were enthusiastic supporters of the Erie and the Champlain canals and few friends for the railroad proposed could be found. Such an enterprise was not deemed necessary and few believed that it would provide superior transportation facilities to those of the canals or that it would pay its builders. Nevertheless the people of Albany thought otherwise and plans were soon made for and work begun upon the Mohawk & Hudson railroad, extending from Albany to Schenectady. This road was completed in 1832. At this time the trade of Northern New York, especially of Saratoga and Washington counties, was assuming considerable proportions. In order to draw this trade from Troy, to which it most naturally would flow, the people of Albany attempted to divert it from that channel by the construction of a branch line from Schenectady to Saratoga Springs. Undaunted, the business men of Troy at once set to work to secure a charter for a new road from Troy to Baliston Spa, a distance of nearly twenty-six miles. This franchise was granted them April 14, 1832, the articles of incorporation naming as the first directors George Griswold, John Cramer, Elisha Tibbits, John Knickerbacker, Richard P. Hart, Townsend McCoun, Nathan Warren, Stephen Warren, Le Grand Cannon, George Vail, Moses Williams, John P. Cushman and John Paine. Work upon the road, which was called the Rensselaer & Saratoga railroad, was begun the next year and October 6, 1835, the first passenger train crossed the bridge between Troy and Green Island. The northern terminus of the road was in the south end of the village of Baliston Spa, and the southern terminus was at No. 10 First street, Troy, the present site of the Athenaeum building. From the bridge the cars were drawn by horses down River street, turning into First in front of the Troy house, the engine leaving the train at the bridge. While the Rensselaer & Saratoga road extended only as far north as Baliston Spa, the Schenectady branch of the Mohawk & Hudson road had been built as far north as Saratoga Springs, the latter road thereby securing a monopoly of the traffic between Saratoga Springs and Ballston Spa. As soon as the Rensselaer & Saratoga road had been completed an endeavor was made to enter into an agreement with the other road whereby the passenger and freight traffic of the Rensselaer & Saratoga might be carried on north of Baliston Spa over the tracks of the Schenectady & Saratoga road. The project was selfishly opposed, however, by the management of the latter road, comprised almost wholly of inhabitants of Albany, who were jealous of Troy's commercial success, and doubtless would have come to naught had it not been for the fact that the directors of the Rensselaer & Saratoga road had an unexpected opportunity to purchase of a New York broker a sufficient number of shares of stock of the other road to give them its control. This settled the question and the two roads thereafter worked in harmony. Direct communication between the village of Troy and the village of Saratoga Springs was at once established, giving additional prestige to Troy as a commercial centre and securing for its merchants and manufacturers that of which the rival city of Albany had tried to deprive them.

The first cars used on the Rensselaer & Saratoga railroad were made by Gilbert, Veazie & Eaton, then famous Troy car builders. The passenger cars were looked upon as marvels of beauty, crude as they were, and were twenty-four in number. They were twenty-four feet long, eight feet wide and a little over six feet high inside, and each was divided into three apartments. The seats were "cushioned and, backed with crimson morocco, trimmed with coach lace; each apartment is surrounded by movable panels, thus affording the comforts and facilities of either a close or open carriage to suit the convenience of the passengers."

The existing improved system of waterworks in Troy had its inception in 1833 and 1834. The old Conduit company, to which reference has been made in preceding pages, supplied the residents of Troy with water until 1833, when a new reservoir was constructed for the purpose of increasing the supply and the storage capacity. April 18, 1829, the Troy Water Works company had been incorporated, with a capital stock of $250,000: Surveys having been made and an abundance of excellent water having been found, the old corporation surrendered its rights to the city and its property was soon afterward purchased for a small sum. The necessary land and the water privileges of the Piscawen kill were soon obtained, and in the spring of 1833 the construction of a dam and reservoir was begun. These were completed the next year and showed a total capacity of about 450,000 gallons. The streets were piped for the distribution of the water, and soon two more reservoirs, holding 1,000,000 gallons were constructed. Other reservoirs were constructed on the Piscawen kill in 1843 and again in 1853 as the demand for water grew, and thus the system developed gradually to its present proportions.

April 5, 1831, the Troy Insurance company was incorporated, remaining in business ten years. Its predecessor, the Rensselaer & Saratoga Insurance company, passed out of existence in 1840 after doing business 26 years. May 14, 1836, the Mechanics' Mutual Insurance company of the City of Troy received a charter, which it retained until 1856, when it wound up its affairs and discontinued business.

One of the most important industries established in Troy 'about this time. was the Troy India Rubber company, which was granted a charter by the Legislature May 4, 1836, with a capital stock of a quarter of a million dollars.. The company's factory, a big one for those days, was a brick structure located on the west side of the Greenbush road a short distance south of the Poesten kill. The factory with its contents was destroyed by fire the same year, but new buildings were at once erected and 120 people were employed.

An exciting event of the year 1836 in Troy was the mobbing of Theodore D. Weld, a distinguished philanthropist, in the Bethel, a mission church founded for the spiritual benefit of boatmen, located on the northwest corner of Fifth and Elbow Streets, the present site of the Fifth Avenue hotel. At that time the majority of the inhabitants of Troy were opposed to the then increasing movement for the abolition of slavery, and many bitter controversies had arisen between the abolitionists and those who advocated non-interference with the South. Mr.. Weld had delivered several lectures on the subject of slavery and had attracted large audiences to the Bethel. Soon after he had arrived in Troy there appeared in one of. the city papers - an incendiary communication regarding him and his teachings which stirred the proslavery people up to a high state, of excitement. On the afternoon of June 2 Mr. Weld was delivering a lecture in the church before a large audience, when a mob entered and attacked him, attempting to drag him from the pulpit. A struggle between members of the congregation and the mob ensued, in which the former were victorious, after which the lecturer was conducted from the church to a place of safety by Henry Z. Hayner, a prominent lawyer who had held the leader of the mob at bay. The incident created intense excitement throughout the city and doubtless strengthened the ranks of the local abolitionists.

A memorable event in the history of Troy was a catastrophe which occurred early in the evening of Sunday, January 1, 1837, when an immense quantity of clay, which had been loosened through the combined influences of frosts and thaws, slid down the west side of Ida hill, or Mount Ida, burying three dwelling houses, in which were seven persons, and two stables, containing twenty two horses. The avalanche came with such terrific force as to carry everything before it for a distance of four or five hundred feet westward on the level, covering several acres of land. John Grace and his wife were instantly killed and two young sons of Mrs. Leavenworth were crushed in a shocking manner. Sixteen of the twenty-two horses were killed. The accident created th.e wildest sensation for a time.

The St. Patrick's Day mob in Troy, March 17, 1837, was another sensational incident in which several persons were badly injured and considerable property ruined or damaged, all on account of the antics of a lot of young boys. Early in the morning effigies were suspended from trees and buildings in different sections of the city for the evident purpose of bringing the holiday into disrepute. During the morning one Irish resident, incensed at the sight, attempted to pull down one of the figures which was suspended at the foot of Ferry street but was prevented from doing so by a crowd of men and boys. Soon afterwards he returned to the scene with a crowd of his fellow countrymen and - an incipient riot at once followed. Missiles were thrown through the air, injuring several persons, some quite severely. Among these were John P. Cole, whose wounds were of a very serious nature, and another man who was knocked down and beaten by the enraged Irishmen. Several buildings were attacked, the store of Theodorus Valleau being badly damaged. Mayor Richard P. Hart, attended by other city officials, commanded the rioters to disperse, which they did temporarily, but they soon returned to renew their depredations.. Finding they could not be controlled by peaceable means the Citizens Corps was ordered out under arms at noon, but even this summary proceeding was not effectual, as the rioting continued at intervals the rest of the day and during the evening, when the mob went so far as to fire guns into the crowd, seriously injuring several persons. The rioters finally dispersed, being overawed by the militia. As a result of the trouble about twenty of the ringleaders were sentenced to jail.

During the period of business depression in the United States whièh began in 1837 Troy was seriously affected with other cities. The Troy banks were finally compelled to suspend specie payments and for the purpose of continuing business James A. Zander, then city commissioner, assumed the personal responsibility of issuing temporary local currency, a plan followed in many other cities of the- country. Bills of four denominations-one, two, three and four shillings, of 12½ cents each-were printed and widely circulated for several years. These read as follows: On demand, I promise to pay to the bearer, --- cents in New York Safety Fund bills, on the presentation of Five Dollars at my office. Troy, July 1st, 1837. James A. Zander.

The people had confidence in Mr. Zander, who was famed for his integrity, and the bills practically saved the business of Troy. They were eventually redeemed by the city.

The city was increased in size in 1836 by the addition of a part of the town of Lansingburgh, the northern boundary of Troy then being established as it has since remained. April 22, 1837, the Legislature passed an act dividing the fourth ward into two wards, that part lying north of a line running through the middle of Jacob street becoming the seventh ward. Those parts of the first and sixth wards lying between Liberty street and Canal avenue by the same law became the eighth ward.

The market facilities of Troy were greatly improved during the years 1839 and 1840 by the erection of two brick market buildings. The first was Fulton market, which was built on the site of the old shipyard on the southwest corner of River and Elbow (Fulton) streets; the other was Washington market, situated on the southwest corner of Division and Second streets. In the second story of each building was a large hall in which public meetings of all kinds were held. Both markets were opened to the public in May, 1841. The first market in Troy had been established forty years before in a long, low wooden building in the middle of State street between First and Second streets. Six years later, in 1806, a new market building was erected' on the northwest corner of Third and State streets, and in 1812 two other markets were built, one in the northern part and the other in the southern part of the village. To meet the increasing demands, sixteen years later a new North market was erected on the south, side of Federal street, between River street and Fifth avenue, and a new South market was built on the northeast corner of Division and Second streets. The market on Third and State streets then became Centre market. All these markets were finally abandoned when the new markets were established in 1839.

April 13, 1839, the Troy Episcopal Institute, which had been established the preceding year by Rev. William F. Walker, rector of Christ Episcopal church, was incorporated. It was located on the east side of Eighth street between Federal and Jacob streets, one of the finest sites in the city. The school was not a paying institution and after a career of less than three years it was closed.

In the summer of 1840 transportation facilities to and from Troy were greatly enhanced by the construction of the' handsome passenger and freight steamer Troy, which began regular trips between Troy and New York July 17. The steamer was 294 feet in length and 61 feet in width and cost $100,000, a large sum to be put into a steam vessel in that period. The Troy was well patronized by all classes of trade and its owners soon realized that it would not be long before they would be compelled to put a companion boat on the line.

Five years after the people of Troy had shown the inhabitants of Albany that they were not dependent upon the latter for railroad facilities and had begun the operation of the Rensselaer & Saratoga railroad, the construction of another line of road was begun under circumstances somewhat similar. When the Rensselaer & Saratoga road was constructed the Trojans consulted the business men and capitalists of Albany, with the end in view of securing their consent to the extension of the Utica & Schenectady railroad to Troy. The application was vigorously opposed by Albanians, however, who believed that by refusing to give their consent to the plan the matter would be dropped in Troy, and the rapidly increasing and very valuable trade of Central and Western New York would continue to be monopolized by the business men of Albany. But the latter evidently had not reckoned upon the indomitable energy which characterized the people of Troy, though it had been illustrated in an emphatic manner, for the Legislature was immediately petitioned, May 21, 1836, to pass an act incorporating the Schenectady & Troy Railroad company. This request was granted and, the Rensselaer & Saratoga railroad having been found to be a paying institution, work was begun in 1840 upon the road connecting Troy and Schenectady. The expense of the work, $649,142, was borne by the city of Troy, which bonded itself for that amount. The first regular trains were run over the road beginning in November, 1842, the cars being drawn by horses across the Rensselaer & Saratoga railroad bridge to the company's office on River street. In the spring of the following year the tracks were extended along River street from the Troy house to State street, in order that both roads might land and receive passengers and freight at the steamboat landing. The business of both the railroad company and the steamboat company had begun to assume large proportions. The steamer Empire, a companion boat to the Troy, began running regularly between Troy and New York May 17, 1843, bringing additional business to the railroads. The Empire was much larger than the Troy, being 330 feet in length, with 360 berths and 72 staterooms.

The development of local transportation facilities boomed in those days. With a railroad from Troy to Saratoga and another from Troy to Schenectady; with a double line of steamboats from Troy to New York and adequate ferriage across the Hudson, the people of Troy began to see great possibilitiesin a railroad to New York city. As early as April 17, 1832, a charter was granted the New York and Albany Railroad company, upon the application to the Legislature of a number of the representative men of Troy and Albany. The - act permitted the construction of a railroad from the junction of Fourth avenue and the Harlem river in New York to a point opposite or near the city of Albany, with power to extend the road to Troy. The building of the road was delayed for several years, but in 1840 and 1841 a track was laid from Greenbush to Troy; but its use was temporarily prohibited by the passage of a law in 1842, which provided that that section of the road was- not to be used until $250,000, in addition to the amount previously expended, were actually paid out for the construction of that portion of the New York & Albany railroad south of the northern bou-ndary of Columbia county. This legislation was enacted, it was charged, at the instanceof Troy's old-time enemy, Albany, which was still jealous of the commercial supremacy of the former city. Within three years, however, the $250,000 called for by law had been expended on the New York & Albany road, and May 11, 1845, the people of Troy secured a charter for the road which they had built, under the name of the Troy & Greenbush Railroad company, and one month later trains on the road began making regular trips. The road extended to Washington street, at which point it intersected the Schenectady & Troy railroad, and the cars were drawn by horses over the track on River street to the station built in 1845 at the intersection of River and King streets. The office of the road was at No. 161 River street. June 1, 1851, the road was leased to the Hudson River Railroad company, the local company retaining the management of the business between Troy and Albany. In July, 1851, an office was established at No. 197 River street by the Hudson River Railroad company and in December of the same year through trains between Troy and New York began running on the new road.

A good idea of the general impression of Troy among strangers at this time may be gathered from the following extracts from "Historical Collections of the State of New York," etc., written by John W. Barber, a noted historical writer, and Henry Howe, also a writer of considerable repute, and published in New York in 1841:

The city of Troy is regularly laid out, on a plan similar to that of Philadelphia. The principal street is River street, which extends along the Hudson the whole length of the city, and is ornamented with many splendid and spacious stores. It is the theatre of a very extensive business. The remaining portion of the place generally exhibits the quiet aspect of the country. Many of the buildings, both public and private, are spacious and elegant. The court-house, built of Sing Sing marble, is a splendid edifice, after the Grecian model. St. Paul's church is a noble Gothic edifice, erected at an expense of about 50,000 dollars. There are in Troy twelve places of publie worship-viz., 3 Presbyterian, 2 Episcopal, 2 Methodist, 1 Scotch Presbyterian, 1 Roman Catholic, 1 African church and 2 Friends meeting houses. On the Wynant and Poestens Kills, which here empty into the Hudson. are several manufacturing estab. lishments. The city is abundantly supplied with excellent water from the neighboring hills. Hydrants are placed at the corners of the streets with hose attached, which in case of fire, as the natural head of the water is 75 feet above the city level, supersedes the use of fire engines. Troy is indebted in a great measure for its prosperity to its advantageous situation, and the enterprise and industry of her inhabitants. She has extensively availed herself of the facilities afforded by the river and the Erie and the Champlain canals. The tides of the Hudson frequently ascend to a dam thrown across the river about a mile and a half above the centre of the city. By means of a lock, sloop navigation is thus afforded to the village of Waterford. Within the last few years Troy has increased rapidiy in wealth and population. In 1820 her population was 5,268; in 1880, 11,566; in 1840, 19,373. The Rensselaer & Saratoga railroad, 24 miles to Balliston Spa, crosses the Hudson at this place by a bridge 1,600 feet in length. . . .

[ To PART 2 ]

Return to [ NY History ] [ History at Rays Place ] [ Rays Place ]


NY Counties - Albany - Allegany - Broome - Cayuga - Chatauqua - Chenango - Clinton - Columbia - Cortland - Dutchess - Erie - Essex - Franklin - Fulton - Genesee - Herkimer - Jefferson - Lewis - Livingston - Madison - Montgomery - Niagara - Oneida - Onondaga - Ontario - Orange - Orleans - Oswego - Putnam - Queens - Rensselaer - Richmond - Rockland - St. Lawrence - Saratoga - Schenectady - Steuben - Suffolk - Tioga - Tompkins - Tryone - Ulster - Washington - Wayne - Yates


All pages copyright 2003-2012. All items on this site are copyrighted by their author(s). These pages may be linked to but not used on another web site. Anyone may copy and use the information provided here freely for personal use only. Privacy Policy