History of the
City of Troy

The following information is from Gazetteer and Business Directory of Rensselaer County, N. Y., for 1870-71, compiled by Hamilton Child, 1870. Ray Brown's website Ray's Place has town histories as published in Landmarks of Rensselaer County by George Baker Anderson (Syracuse, NY: D. Mason & Co., Publishers, 1897). For Chapter XV, Troy as a Village, click here. For Chapter XVI, Troy as a City, click here.

Troy was formed as a town, from Rensselaerwyck, March 18, 1791. Brunswick and parts of Grafton and Lansingburgh were taken off March 20, 1807, and a part of Greenbush in 1836. A part of Brunswick was annexed in 1814. The first village charter was passed in 1791, and another one in 1798. The village was formally incorporated by an act of the Legislature, passed April 2, 1801. This charter conferred limited powers on five Trustees, but the power of levying taxes was reserved to the voters. In 1805 the charter was revised and the Trustees were authorized to raise a tax of $1,500 for night watch, lighting streets, etc., and $1,000 for contingent expenses. The village contained four wards, each of which elected one Trustee, the President being appointed by the Governor and Council of appointment. Edward Tylee was the President for several years succeeding the year 1805.

The City Charter was granted April 12, 1816. Col. Albert Pawling was the first Mayor. A portion of Lansingburgh was annexed May 4, 1836. It lies upon the Hudson, near the center of the west border of the County. Its surface comprises the alluvial flat, from half to three-fourths of a mile in width, along the river, and the high bluffs which border it on the east. The high land upon the east border of the City is known as Mount Ida, and that upon the north-east as Mount Olympus. Mount Ida is chiefly clay and has been the scene of several destructive land slides. Poesten Kil and Wynants Kil both break through these hills in narrow ravines, and in a series of cascades, forming an excellent water-power.

The City is quite regularly laid out, River Street following the general course of the river, and the other streets at right angles to each other. It contains many beautiful residences and public buildings, and is noted for the enterprise of its inhabitants and its extensive manufacturers. It also contains the County Buildings, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy Female Seminary, Provincial Seminary, about forty churches, several extensive iron manufactories, paper and linen collar manufactories, manufactories of optical and mathematical instruments, safes, cotton and woolen goods, paper, etc., and about 50,000 inhabitants.

The public schools are under the charge of twenty Commissioners, elected for two years, one from each ward being elected annually. The schools are divided into four grades, viz., Primary, Intermediate, Grammar and High School Department, and are free to all residents of the City between the ages of five and twenty-one years. A school for colored children is established, affording facilities equal to those enjoyed by the members of the other schools. The number of teachers employed during the year ending Sept. 30, 1868, was 109. The number of persons between the ages of five and twenty-one years was 16,700; the number attending school, 10,420; the average attendance, 4,690. The number attending private schools was 2,183. The amount expended for teachers' wages, exclusive of the colored school, was $54,336.50; expenses of colored school, $1,906.62; the whole amount expended for all purposes, including teachers' wages, buildings, apparatus, etc., was $104,676.85. The number of school buildings is fourteen, all but one of which are of brick, estimated value $153,200. The estimated value of school lots is $51,800.

The Troy Academy was incorporated May 5, 1834. It is located on State Street, corner of Seventh. T. Newton Willson is the Principal.

The Troy Female Seminary is located on Second Street, adjoining a beautiful park. The germ of this Seminary was started in Middlebury, Vt., in 1814, by Mrs. Emma Willard. In 1819 it was removed to Waterford, N. Y., with the hope of securing aid from the State to establish a permanent institution. The expectations not being realized, and the school increasing to such an extent that no suitable building could be procured for its accommodation, it was removed to Troy in 1821, the City appropriating $4,000 for the erection of a building. It was incorporated May 6, 1837, and received under the care of the Regents Jan. 30, 1838. It has been enlarged at several different times, and for many years has enjoyed a national reputation, receiving pupils from all parts of the United States.

The Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, located on Eighth Street, at the head of Broadway, was established in 1824, through the liberality of Stephen Van Rensselaer. The Institute embraces four separate courses of study, on completing which the student is entitled to an appropriate diploma. The curriculum embraces a course of Civil Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Mining Engineering and Natural Science.

The Provincial Seminary is a theological institution under the control of the Roman Catholics. It is located upon the highlands which overlook the City, and occupies the spacious building and grounds formerly occupied by the Troy University. The main building is in the Byzantine style of architecture, 259 feet in length, with an average width of 58 feet, and four stories high.

St. Peter's College is also under the control of the Roman Catholics.

The Troy Hospital was incorporated March 1, 1851. It was founded chiefly through the exertions of Rev. P. Havermans and is controlled by the Roman Catholics. The nurses belong to the Sisters of Charity. A new building is in process of erection on Eighth Street, a portion of which is already completed.

The Marshall Infirmary for the insane is located a short distance from the business portion of the City. It was incorporated in 1851. The buildings and grounds, valued at $35,000, were donated by Benjamin Marshall, the founder.

The Troy Orphan Asylum was incorporated April 10, 1835. It was originally located on Grand Division Street, but during the great fire of May 1862, it was burned and afterwards rebuilt on Eighth Street, in the north part of the City. The Asylum is supported by donations and State appropriations.

St. Mary's Orphan Asylum is an institution connected with St. Mary's Church (Roman Catholic). The male department is under the charge of "The Brothers of the Christian Schools," and the female under that of the "Sisters of Charity."

The Warren Free Institute, a school for indigent female children, was incorporated March 19, 1846. It is located on Eighth Street, at the head of Grand Division. It was founded and endowed by the Warren family. The Protestant Episcopal Church of the Holy Cross is connected with the Institute.

The Troy Young Men's Association was organized December 22, 1834, with the following officers, viz; John T. McCoun, President; David L. Seymour, Henry Landon and Thomas Coleman, Vice Presidents; John T. Lamport, Recording Secretrary; Giles B. Kellogg, Corresponding Secretary; and Charles E. Seymour, Treasurer. The first rooms occupied the Association were at No. 197 River Street. The first annual meeting under the constitution was held February 16, 1835, at which time the Association numbered 450 members. The Library at that time contained about 1,200 volumes, including 600 or 700 volumes loaned by the "Troy Library." The Association now occupies rooms in the Athenaeum Building.

The Reading Room is furnished with the leading newspapers from all parts of the country, and the principal magazines, reviews, etc. The Library contains about 18,000 volumes. The Association sustain a course of lectures annually. In 1862 Mr. Wm. R. Yourt made the Association a bequest of $5,000, $3,000 of which were, by direction of his executors, C. L. Alden and John Yourt. The remaining $2,000 were to be invested in good securities, the interest to be applied to making additions to the Alcove called after Mr. Yourt's name. In June 1868, Mr. G. M. Tibbits made the Association a present of a find bronze statuette of Abraham Lincoln. It was obtained by Mr. T. in Munich, during his travels in Europe. It is a reduced copy of a larger one cast for the city of Chicago. It is about two feet eleven inches high, and standing upon a neat pedestal three and a half feet high, forms a very suitable ornament to the Library. We are indebted to the Librarian, Mr. F. H. Stevens, for the facts herein contained, as well as for the opportunity to consult the Library during the preparation of this work.

There are several cemeteries in and around Troy, the largest and finest of which is Oakwood, situated on an eminence overlooking Troy, Albany, Lansingburgh, Waterford and Cohoes. It lies chiefly in the town of Lansingburgh, contains many beautiful monuments, is laid out in good taste and kept in fine order. It is under the control of the Troy Cemetery Association.

Mount Ida, New Mount Ida and St. Mary's Cemeteries are located within the corporate limits of the City.

The Troy Water Works were built by the City in 1833-4, and have since been extended as the necessities of the City demanded. The water is drawn from Piscawin Creek, and the reservoir is of sufficient height to throw water to the top of most of the houses. The works are under the charge of Water Commissioners, and the rents are charged to property owners and collected with the taxes.

The Troy Union R. R. Co. is composed of persons representing the interests of the Hudson River and the N. Y. Central, Troy and Boston, and Rensselaer and Saratoga Railroads. A Union Depot was erected in 1853-4, 400 by 150 feet, walls 27 feet high, and a roof composed of a single arch. It had a tower 110 feet high, and four complete suites of rooms and offices. This structure was burned in May 1862. A new building has been erected upon the same site and about the same size, though differing somewhat in style. It is located on Sixth Street, between Broadway and Fulton Streets.

The Troy Iron Works, of Messrs. Burden & Sons, located in the south part of the City, manufacture nails, railroad spikes, horse-shoes, merchant iron, &c. The Troy Iron and Nail Factory, incorporated in 1812, was the germ of the present extensive Works. Mr. Henry Burden became agent and manager of the Works in 1821, which at that time consisted of a small wooden building, containing two water-wheels attached to a single pair of rollers for manufacturing nail and spike rods, and a few machines for making nails. Mr. Burden was an ingenious mechanic, and set about inventing and improving labor-saving machines, the result of which is some of the most important inventions of the age. The upper works consist of the main building, containing the forge and rolling mill, and is 400 by 75 feet, built against the perpendicular face of the rock which forms the bank of the ravine. A stone structure, 46 by 130 feet, contains the horse-shoe shop machines, while attached are other buildings containing the spike and rivet factory, punching shop, foundry, machine shop, &c. These works are driven by an immense over-shot wheel, sixty feet in diameter and twenty-two feet in length, with buckets six feet four inches in depth, equal to 1000 horse power. A single spike machine turns out 45 railroad spikes per minute. Twenty puddling furnaces are also in the room. The machines for making horse-shoes turn out sixty shoes each per minute. The nail holes are punched by another machine. Some idea of the immense business in this department may be had from the fact that during four years ending with 1868, the Burden Works manufactured in round numbers twenty-five thousand tons of horse-shoes, or, at one and a half pounds per shoe, over thirty-three millions of shoes. The merchant iron from this establishment is of a superior quality. The "Steam Works" of Messrs. Burden & Sons were commenced about 1862, and consist of blast furnace, forge and rolling mills. They are located between the railroad and the Hudson River, on land that has been raised about eleven feet above the original level. The river has been dredged for about a mile and the navigation greatly improved. The Works give employment to about 1,500 workmen. The blast-furnaces have a capacity of about 75 tons per day.

Albany Iron Works, owned by Erastus Corning and Erastus Corning, Jr., are located on the Wynants Kil, in the immediate vicinity of the Burden Works. In 1809 John Brinkerhoff, of Albany, erected a small foundry and rolling mill for converting Swede and Russia iron bars into plates. These plates were subsequently partially cut into nails, the nails being headed by hand. Brinkerhoff transferred these works to Corning, Winslow & Co., who enlarged and ran them for several years. The production in 1835 was six and a half tons per day. The Works assumed their present name in 1837. The Works are designated as the "Water Mill," "Steam Mill" and "Star Forge." The first puddling was done in 1838. There are now thirty-four puddling furnaces. The manufactures consist of merchant iron, railroad chairs, car axles, rivets, spikes, nails, horse-shoes, &c. About 750 hands are employed at an expense of $250,000 per year. The value of the merchant iron, railway car axles, chairs, &c., made annually, is about $1,750,000; value of rivets, spikes, &c., #400.000; nails $40,000; horse-shoes $40,000. The patent solid lip railroad chairs were invented here and have had an immense sale.

Rensselaer Iron Works were started in 1846 by Le Grand Cannon and his son Le Grand D. Cannon, and Peter A. Burden, with a capital of $100,000. The Works were subsequently greatly enlarged and the company re-organized. The present proprietors are John A. Griswold, Erastus Corning, Erastus Corning, Jr., and Chester Griswold. They manufacture railroad iron, merchant iron and steel, car axles, &c., and give employment to between 500 and 600 hands. They have blast-furnaces at Hudson and Fort Edward. The annual product is valued at about $2,500,000.

Bessemer Steel Works are owned and operated by the same company.

The Manufactory of Civil Engineers' and Surveyors' Instruments, by W. & L. E. Gurley, is one of the largest in the country, and their instruments have no superior in the State.

The Chain Works of J. B. Carr & Co., located in the upper part of the City, have been erected within the last few years and form an important item in the manufacturers of the City.

The Paper and Linen Collar Manufactories are numerous and extensive, giving employment to a large number of persons.

In 1720 Derick Vanderheyden obtained from Van Rensselaer, the proprietor of Rensselaerwyck, the title to 490 acres of land lying between the Poesten Kil and Meadow Creek, and embracing the original allotments of Troy, paying an annual rent of three bushels and three pecks of wheat, and four fat fowls. This land was possessed by the grantee and his descendants, and portions of it were cultivated as a farm. It attracted but little attention until after the Revolution, when a few New Englanders persuaded the Dutch proprietors to lay out a portion of it into lots. About 1786, when the Yankees made their appearance, there were three ancient brick dwellings within the present limits of the City. The most northern of these houses stood between Hoosick and Vanderheyden Streets, and a short distance east of River Street. It was occupied by Jacob I. Vanderheyden, grandson of the original lessee, and familiarly known as "Big Jacob." Jacob D. Vanderheyden, the proprietor of the middle farm, situated between Division and Grand Division Streets, occupied a residence at the south-west corner of Eighth and Grand Division Streets. He died in 1809, leaving several sons, one of whom built and occupied as a residence what is now the International Hotel, corner of River and Ferry Streets. The last was the residence of Matthias Vanderheyden, and is still standing at the south-east corner of Division and River Streets. From 1786 to 1790 the place was known by various names, as Ferry Hook, Vanderheyden's Ferry and Ashley's Ferry.

Stephen Ashley and Benjamin Covell were the earliest settlers under the Vanderheydens. They came in about 1786, and Mr. Ashley opened a tavern in the old farm house at the corner of Division and River Streets. Among the other early settlers were Dr. Samuel Gale, Ephraim Morgan, John Boardman, Benjamin Smith, Philip Heartt, Anthony Goodspeed, Mahlon Taylor, Ebenezer Wilson and Samuel Wilson.

in 1788 Elkanah Watson visited the place, passing from Schenectady, across a thickly settled country, embracing many fine farms, to "Ashley's Ferry," six miles above Albany. He says: "On the east side of the river, at this point, a new town has recently been laid out, named Vanderheyden, at the head of navigation. Several bold and enterprising adventurers have already settled here, and a number of capacious warehouses and several dwellings have already been erected." "It bids fair to be a serious thorn in the side of New City, but in the issue a fatal rival." New City was the name by which Lansingburgh was called at that time.

In the spring of 1789 the place contained five small stores and about a dozen dwellings. By vote of the freeholders the village received the name of Troy, Jan. 5, 1789. On the organization of Rensselaer County in 1791, a spirited contest was carried on between Troy and Lansingburgh for the location of the county buildings.

Dr. Samuel Gale came to Troy in 1787, from Killingworth, Conn. His family, consisting of a wife, a daughter and four sons, together with his furniture, medicines, &c., were placed on board a sloop, in August of this year, with the intention of settling in New City. Owing to adverse winds, he was three weeks in making the passage to Troy. Through the influence of J. D. Vanderheyden, who kindly offered him the use of half his own house until he could be otherwise provided for, he was induced to settle in Troy. He immediately commenced the erection of a double frame house on the west side of River Street, below Ferry, where he lived until his death in 1799. His sons, Benjamin, John, Samuel and William, were among the early merchants. Samuel Gale was post master from 1804 to 1828.

The post office was established in 1793 or 1794, and John Woodworth was the first post master, holding the office until 1800, when he was succeeded by David Buel. For several years Troy was a general depot for all mail matter throughout an extensive region of country, north, east and west. Letters were carried to distant places by the newspaper post-riders, before mail routes and post offices were established. The publishers of the Albany Gazette established a line to Niagrara and delivered letters free of expense, through their post-riders, to all places on their route where there were no post offices. These riders traveled on horseback, and when the business was not sufficient to pay, subscriptions were sometimes raised for the purpose. The following is a copy of a post-rider's advertisement in the Northern Budget. We regret that we cannot give a fac-simile of the cut at it's head: "News! News! Aaron Oliver, Post-Rider, wishes to inform the public that he has extended his route and that he now rides through the towns of Troy, Pittstown, Hoosick, Mapleton, part of Bennington and Shaftsbury, Petersburgh, Stephtntown, Greenbush and Schodack. All commands in his line will be received with thanks and executed with punctuality. He returns his sincere thanks to his former customers and intends by unabated diligence to merit a continuance of their favors."

"O'er rugged hills and valleys wide,
He never has yet failed to trudge it;
As steady as the flowing tide,
He hands about the
Northern Budget."

June 18, 1799.

During the first ten years after Troy had a name among the places of the earth, mills were erected and a considerable trade in lumber, pot and pearlashes was carried on with the towns at the north, and in Vermont. Mahlon Taylor erected a flouring mill on the Poesten Kil; another was erected soon after, near Ida Falls, by Moses Vail; and a third near the mouth of Wynants Kil, by Mr. Witbeck. Quite a number of stores were erected on River Street, between Broadway and Ferry Streets. The first brick dwelling erected after the commencement of the village, was by James Spencer in 1795, on what is now Washington Square. In 1799 four brick dwellings were erected, viz., No. 31 First, and 20 and 22 Second Street, and one at the corner of River and Washington Streets. In 1794 the population was estimated at from 400 to 500, and at the close of the century it amounted to 1,100 or 1,200, most of the dwellings being on First and Second Street, and the stores on River. One of the stores on River Street was built and occupied by Abraham Ten Eyck, Albert Pawling and Conrad J. Elmendorf. Isaac Merritt occupied a store on the west side of River Street, near the site of the Troy House.

Col. Albert Pawling was a native of Dutchess or Ulster Co., and son of Col. Levi Pawling, an efficient officer of the Revolution. He joined the army in 1775 as Second Lieutenant in a regiment commanded by Col. James Clinton, and went to Canada. He served under Montgomery and returned in 1776 with that unsuccessful expedition. He was appointed Brigade Major in 1776, under General George Clinton, and served until 1777, when he was promoted to be Major of one of the sixteen additional regiments commanded by Col. William Malcom. He resigned, notwithstanding the following letter from Washington, the original of which is in the Library of the Troy Young Men's Association:

"Head Quarters Middlebrook,
2d March 1779.


In your letter of the 25th ult. you seem to have misconceived the intention of Congress, upon which is founded your application for leave to resign. It is not their purpose to reduce Col. Malcom's regiment. This will be incorporated with Col. Spencer's, as you are the only Major in the two regiments, of course you will be continued. After considering the just claims which the country has on good officers I am persuaded you will suspend your application.

I am Sir,
Your most h'ble serv't,

It is stated that Col. Pawling was a Colonel of a regiment of Swiss, raised for the defense of the frontiers of New York, in which he served till the close of the war.

The Warren family came to Troy from Connecticut at an early day and entered into mercantile business. Esaias, Nathan and Stephen occupied a store on River Street, and were engaged in the produce and carrying trade to New York. Esaias was the first President of the Troy Bank. The McCoun family came in 1793 or '94; their store was nearly opposite the Mansion House. Philip Heartt was at an early day connected in business with Benjamin Smith and Joseph Russel. Stephen Ashley kept an inn for two or three years at the place where he first located, corner of River and Division Streets. He afterwards removed to the corner of Ferry and River, to what was known afterwards as Babcock's Tavern. His sign had painted upon it a portrait of Washington in the center, and the words "Why here is Ashley's," surrounding the portrait. Jeremiah Prince opened a tavern near the Ferry in 1793. His son succeeded him for many years. Howard Moulton kept a tavern on the site of the Female Seminary.

From copies of the Northern Budget published from 1805 to 1808, we have been able to learn the names and business of many of the prominent business men. Among the advertisements we find the following, dated June 11, 1805:

"John E. Wool is just opening for sale a fresh and elegant assortment of fashionable Dry Goods." After enumerating a large number of articles, he added, "likewise a good assortment of Groceries." "Said Wool assures his customers and the public that the above goods (with very few exceptions) will be sold as low as they can be purchased in the city of New York for ready pay."

E. Warren & Co. advertise "100 barrels of Connecticut River Shad this day landing and for sale." The same firm also advertise "25 hhds of St. Croix, Jamaica and Antigua Rum." Jones, Smith & Co. advertise "Crockery, Glass and China Ware," saying that they have taken part of the store occupied by Heartt & Smith. Thoral Kilborn and Nehemiah Smith advertise Merchant Tailoring establishments. The paper contained a good assortment of news, though some of it would be regarded as rather old in these days of telegraphs and railroads. The paper of June 11th contained the account of the organization of the Massachusetts Legislature, which occurred May 29th. Hon. Harrison Gray Otis was elected President of the Senate, and Timothy Bigelow Speaker of the House of Representatives. The publishers of the Budget, Messrs. Moffit & Lyon, call attention to the fact that they have recently "procured a new and very expensive set of types from the celebrated foundry of Dr. Winslow, Glasgow." They also call the attention of their delinquent subscribers in the following manner, viz: "Unless certain small strips of paper current at the banks are speedily enclosed to us, or other means of payment provided, all who are one year in arrears shall have their paper discontinued on the course of a few weeks." Elam Lynds offers ten dollars for a runaway apprentice to the hatting business. John Diefendorf and George Dunckel offer a reward of $80 for two runaway negroes, or $40 for either of them. The Fourth of July was duly celebrated, the utmost harmony, hilarity and good order prevailed throughout the day. An oration was delivered in the Presbyterian Church, by J. L. Billings, "satisfying the most sanguine expectations of his audience." Among the toasts we select the following as indicating the political proclivities of the times: "Our Sister State, New Hampshire--emerged from a long night of darkness, having burst asunder the Liliputian ties with which Federalism had bound her in her first slumbers."

"Massachusetts--she will shortly become a firm pillar in the Republic. Her triumph, though slow, is sure."

"Connecticut--struggling against the Union of Church and State, her accession to the Republican ranks, though last will be not least."

Jonathan Huntington advertises a singing school at the White School House, a few rods south-east of the Court House, from six to nine o'clock on Thursday and Saturday evenings.

December 3, 1805, Moses Craft advertises a House of Entertainment at the north end of the village, where he keeps the best of hay and stabling for thirty span of horses, and has kept a good yard for wagons and a store room for goods. He also kept a "Register Book" of goods to be carried into the country.

Charles H. Wetmore advertises that he will open a school on "Monday, Jan. 6, 1806, in the chamber of the house now occupied by Capt. Webb, nearly opposite Mr. E. Pennimen's, in which will be taught reading, writing, arithmetic, grammar and Latin and Greek. The utmost attention will be paid to the morals of the scholars.

Platt Titus advertises that the Troy & Albany stage runs twice a day, leaving his tavern at the upper end of First Street at 8 A.M. and 2 P.M.

May 10, 1808, Daniel T. Wandell notifies the public that he has invented machinery for ferrying, which in the worst weather will propel a scow across the river in six minutes without hand labor and with perfect safety. He says he has applied for a patent but does not describe his machinery.

The following extract from the journal of Mr. John Lambert, an Englishman, who was traveling from Montreal to New York in 1807, gives some idea of the appearance of Troy at that time:

"Troy is a well built town consisting chiefly of one street of handsome red brick houses, upwards of a mile and a half in length. There are two or three short streets which branch off from the main one, but it is in the latter that all the principal stores, warehouses and shops are situated. It also contains several excellent inns or taverns. The houses which are all new, are lofty and built with much taste and simplicity, though convenience and accommodation seem to have guided the architect more than ornament. The deep red brick, well pointed, gives the buildings an air or neatness and cleanliness seldom met with in old towns, but I cannot say that I admire it so much as the yellow brick of England. Troy has been erected within the last twenty years and is now a place of considerable importance. The trade which it has opened with the new settlements to the northward through the States of New York and Vermont as far as Canada, is very extensive, and in another twenty years it promises to rival the old established city of Albany. Its prosperity is indeed already looked upon with an eye of jealousy by the people of the latter place."

From Troy he went to Albany by stage, intending to take the steamboat for New York, but the river was closed by ice, and navigation suspended. He says: "We were much disappointed at this news as we were very desirous of seeing the construction and management of this celebrated vessel which travels at the rate of five miles an hour against wind and tide. It was built about four years ago under the direction of Mr. Fulton, an American gentleman of great mechanical abilities. The length of the boat is 160 feet and her breadth in proportion so as not too much to impede her sailing. The machine which moves her wheels is called a twenty-horse machine or equal to the power of so many horses, and is kept in motion by steam from a copper boiler eight or ten feet in length. The wheels on each side are similar to water wheels and under cover; they are moved backwards and forwards, separately or together at pleasure." "Her route is between New York and Albany, a distance of 160 miles, which she performs regularly twice a week, sometimes in the short space of thirty-two hours, exclusive of detention by taking in and landing passengers. She carries 100 to 120 people. Fare $7.00."

Quite a contrast between this boat and those now running upon the same route.

Several destructive land slides have occurred in Troy. The first one worthy of note occurred January 1, 1837. A large mass of the clayey earth from the hill east of the head of Washington Street, and extending for some distance each way, slid rapidly down, overwhelming everything in its course, covering several acres of ground and accompanied by a torrent of water. The mass carried with it two stables and three dwellings, crushing them into a thousand pieces. The stables and horses were moved over two hundred feet, into a hollow on the corner of Washington and Fourth Streets. A brick kiln was also destroyed by the avalanche. One of the dwellings was unoccupied, another occupied by Mr. John Grace, wife and little boy. The parents were both killed but the boy escaped. Mrs. Leavensworth and her children occupied another of the houses; she was so badly injured that she survived but a short time. Her two children were crushed to a jelly. There were 22 horses in the stables, sixteen of which were killed. The earth was piled up in ;the street from ten to forty feet deep. An article in the Troy Budget of Jan. 2, says: "The scene that presented itself in the early part of the evening was awful in the highest degree. The horrors of an earthquake could not have presented a more dreadful spectacle." Another slide occurred Feb. 17, 1843, and was still more destructive to life and property. Between thirty and forty persons were killed and ten dwellings were destroyed. The slide began about one hundred yards east of Fifth Street, destroyed two houses on the east side of the street and passed Washington to Hill, destroying the dwellings on both sides. The earth moved over a space of more than 500 feet after reaching the level ground. The width of the slide was from two to three hundred yards, covering an area of several acres. On the 21st of the same month another slide occurred about equal to the first. This occurred in the day time, and moved so slowly that there was no difficulty in avoiding its path.

Troy has several times been scourged by destructive fires. On the 20th of June, 1820, a fire broke out in a shed near First Street and consumed the wealthiest portion of the City. The buildings on both sides of River Street, from a point opposite the Troy House to a point within a hundred feet of Congress, were entirely destroyed; also the west side of First, from the third door above Congress, to River Street. The loss was estimated at $370,000. On the 25th of August, 1854, another destructive occurred, destroying property to the amount of $1,000,000. The most destructive fire occurred on the 10th of May, 1862. It occurred at mid-day and commenced in the Railroad Bridge. The wind was blowing violently from the north-west, and thousands of burning shingles and other light materials were scattered before the wind, causing the fire to spread in a fearful manner. The Fire Department were powerless to stay its progress and at one time it seemed that all the central and south-eastern portion of the City was doomed. More than one-fourth of the business portion of the City was burned and between 50 and 60 acres were covered with smoldering ruins at sunset of that memorable day. Several lives were lost and 671 buildings were burned. The loss was estimated at $3,000,000. Three churches, several hotels, the Polytechnic Institute, the Troy Academy, Orphan Asylum and the Union Depot were burned.

The early settlers of Troy were religious men, and public worship was held when the inhabitants were but few. The first services were held in a store, and afterwards a school house was their place of worship, where the people were called together by the sound of a conch-shell. Sermons were read by Dr. Gale or Col. Pawling. In 1791 the frame for a house of worship was erected, and the next year it was inclosed and soon after occupied. This was the first edifice of the First Presbyterian Church. Rev. Jonas Coe was the first pastor, officiating several years at Troy and Lansingburgh on alternate Sabbaths. He was ordained and installed June 25, 1793. He resided at Lansingburgh during the early years of his ministry, but about 1802 he removed to Troy. After holding the united charge for nearly eleven years, the two congregations were dissolved and Mr. Coe continued pastor of the Church in Troy, until his death in 1822. He was succeeded by Rev. Dr. Beeman, whose successor was Rev. M. R. Vincent, the present pastor.

During the latter part of the last century the currency of the country was specie, and the weekly collections in the churches were so small, on account of the scarcity of small change, that the First Presbyterian Church of Albany passed a resolution, Jan. 4, 1790, "That one thousand coppers be stamped, Church Penny, and placed in the hands of the Treasurer for the purpose of exchanging with the members of the congregation at the rate of twelve for one shilling, in order to add respect to the weekly collections." It is probably that the same necessity gave rise to paper money, which was issued by the First Presbyterian Church of Troy in 1792. The following is the form in which their church scrip was issued:

"Two Pence. By order of the Trustees of the Presbyterian Congregation in Troy, I promise to pay the bearer Two Pence on demand. B. GORTON, Treasurer. August 28th, 1792."

St. John's Episcopal Church was erected in 1804.

The Baptist Church on Third Street was erected in 1805.

St. Jean Baptiste Church was organized in 1868 by Rev. Geo. Brown, with about 1500 members. A church edifice has been erected at a cost of $40,000, and capable of seating 900. The church belongs to the French Catholics of the City. Services are held in Latin and in French; no English is spoken.

The State Street M. E. Church, the first of that denomination erected in the City, was built in 1807 and 1809. The first class was formed in 1801, Stephen Andress being a prominent member of the same. This class was broken up and scattered, one of its members finding a lodging in the State Prison. In 1804 John Wright removed to Troy, and on inquiring if there were any Methodists there, was answered, "No, there were some but I believe they have all been sent to the State Prison." He however found a small number worshipping in a private house. It is not known at what time the class was reorganized, but Benjamin Betts, who died in 1804 or 1805, was a member, as was also Caleb Curtis. Andress, Betts and Curtis were among the first members. As already stated their first house of worship was erected on State Street and accommodated all the members for twenty years. Troy first appears as an appointment in 1810, when Dr. Phoebus was the preacher. In 1813 Laban Clark, and in 1815, Tobias Spicer were the preachers. The charge at that time included Troy, Albia, West Troy, Lansingburgh and Brunswick, the entire membership being 107. At the close of Mr. Spicer's term of service he reported 250 members. In 1827 a new church was erected on State Street and has been occupied until the present time. A fine stone church is now in process of erection near the site of the old one, estimated to cost $60,000.

North Second Street M. E. Church was erected in 1835.

Congress Street church in 1848.

The Farmers Bank of Troy was incorporated in 1801. The charter extended to 1811 and provided that the capital stock should consist of five thousand shares of $50 each, and the whole amount of property to be held by the Bank was limited to $300,000. The Directors were to be selected from the following towns, viz., two from Waterford, five from Lansinburgh and six from Troy. The first Directors were Guest Van Schoonhover and Samuel Stewart, from Waterford; Elijah Janes, Charles Selden, John D. Dickinson, James Hickok and William Bradley, from Lansingburgh; John Woodworth, Daniel Merritt, Benjamin Tibbits, Christopher Hutton, Townsend McCoun and Ephraim Morgan, of Troy. The charter provided that the buildings should be erected near the road leading from Troy to Lansingburgh, not further than Mill Creek, and not further south than the house of Joshua Raymond. John D. Dickinson was the first President, and Hugh Peebles, Cashier. The books were opened for subscriptions, May 13, 1801, and May 31, 1803, the Bank declared a dividend of four and a half per cent, although the whole stock had not been paid in. This was the first bank in Troy, where there are now fifteen, including four Savings Banks.

The following information is from History of Rensselaer Co., New York, With Illustrations and Biographical Sketches of its Prominent Men and Pioneers by Nathaniel Bartlett Sylvester, 1880.

The first white man who attempted to make a settlement on land now included within the corporate limits of the city of Troy was Thomas Chambers, who leased and occupied a "bouwerie" in Troy as early as the year 1646.

The town of Troy was formed from the manor of Rensselaerwyck on March 18, 1791. Brunswick and parts of Grafton and Lansingburgh were taken off March 20, 1807, and a part of Greenbush in 1836. A part of Brunswick was annexed in 1814. On Monday April 4, 1791, the first town meeting was held, at which the following persons were elected officers of the town:

Supervisor: Cornelius Lansing
Assessors: Derick Lane, Ephraim Morgan, David DeFreest, Henry H. Gardinier and Nicholas Wager
Constables: David Henry, William Hickok, Lawrence Dorset and Samuel Colamore
Collector of Taxes: David Henry
Overseers of the Poor: David Henry and Henry and Henry H. Gardinier
Commissioners of Highways: Cornelius Lansing, Mahlon Taylor and Jacob Wager
Town Clerk: Cornelius Lansing.

Memorable service was rendered during the Civil War by John A. Griswold of the Rensselaer Iron-Works and John F. Winslow of the Albany Iron-Works. Impressed by the ineffectiveness of the wooden vessels of the U. S. Navy, they earnestly encouraged the construction of that "iron-battery", the Monitor, invented by John Ericsson. The iron-clad was finished, christened by it's inventor and launched Jan. 30, 1862. Troy's other early manufacturers included foundaries, manufacturers of collars and shirts, laundrymen and manufacturers of buttonhole machines, laundry machines, ironing machines and starching machines.

Army List, 1861 - 1865

The following is a [partial*] list of regiments raised in Troy during the Civil War.

2nd Regiment

125th Regiment

169th Regiment

* NOTE: James Owens writes on 29 August 2003, "Companies for both the 30th NY Volunteer Infantry and the 21st NY Volunteer Cavalry were raised in Troy. The 21st was commanded by Colonel Tibbets, a well-known Troy figure." Lin wrote, "James is absolutely right; I am looking at the pension file of soldier Samuel VAN BUREN (1829-1905) of Troy, who served in both of these regiments. This pension file states that "Private Samuel Van Buren of Lieut. Adam Lampman's Company (B.) of the Thirtieth Regiment of New York Vols was enlisted by Capt. W. Lanny of the Thirtieth Regiment of New York Vols at Troy, N. Y. on the Eighth day of June 1861." The 30th Regiment served with distinction at the Battle of Bull Run in Virginia on 30 August 1862, and Samuel Van Buren was wounded in that battle. After he recovered, he re-enlisted in the 21st Cavalry; his pension file does not actually state where this re-enlistment took place, so I looked further. In the pension file of another soldier, James H. VAN BUREN (1844-1903) of Troy (nephew of Samuel), I found this statement: "James H. Van Buren enlisted under the name of James H. Van Buren at Troy, N. Y. on the 30th day of September A. D. 1863, in Co. A. 21st. Regt. N. Y. Cav. Vols as private." I do not know why Sylvester, writing in 1880, overlooked the 21st and 30th regiments, but I am glad that James has helped make sure that WE here at the Rensselaer Co NY GenWeb site do remember the valiant 30th and 21st! --Lin Van Buren.

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