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SCHENECTADY DIGITAL HISTORY ARCHIVE

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History of the City and County of Schenectady, New York (1836)

[This information is from pp. 687-693 of Gazetteer of the State of New York: Comprehending Its Colonial History; General Geography, Geology, and Internal Improvements; Its Political State; a Minute Description of Its Several Counties, Towns and Villages; Statistical Tables, Exhibiting the Area, Improved Lands, Population, Stock, Taxes, Manufactures, Schools, and Cost of Public Instruction, in Each Town. With a Map of the State, and a Map of Each County, and Plans of the Cities and Principal Villages by Thomas F. Gordon. (Philadelphia: T. K. and P. G. Collins, Printers, 1836). Gordon's Gazetteer is in the Reference collection of the Schenectady County Public Library at R 974.7 G66.]

Schenectady County [map], taken from Albany, 7th March 1809; is bounded on the E. and N. E. by Saratoga; S. by Albany and Schoharie; W. by Montgomery counties; greatest length 25; breadth 20 miles; area 186 square miles; situate between 42 degrees and 48' and 42 degrees 58' N. lat.; and 52 degrees 37' and 3 degrees 1' E. long,; centrally distant N. from New York 163; from Albany 18 miles. The surface is much diversified with hills, plains and valleys. Flint Hill runs along the E. side of Schoharie Kill, through Duanesburg, and part of Princetown, and thence to the Mohawk, ending in the town of Rotterdam. The soil along this ridge is commonly stiff clay, resting on compact and ponderous hard pan, with ledges of lime, slate and graywacke. The town of Glenville is mostly covered by a spur from the Kayaderosseras range, extending within three miles of the city of Schenectady.

Generally, it may be observed, that the soil along the river and other streams is rich alluvion; on the hills, light sandy loam, sometimes fertile; and on the plains, clay and clay loam, sometimes barren. The county belongs to the transition formation.

Wherever practicable, the country is well cultivated, chiefly by descendants of the primitive Dutch settlers, among whom are many wealthy farmers.

The Mohawk river runs S. E. through the county, and receives from it on the N., and near the E. line the Aelplass creek. On the south, Norman's kill, Davities Gat and Boza kill flow to the county of Albany. The Schoharie kill, on the W. affords abundance of mill power, particularly at the State Bridge, on Cherry valley turnpike. Maria lake, of Duanesburg, sends forth the Chuctenunda, which reaches the Mohawk in Montgomery county, opposite to the village of Amsterdam.

The Albany and Schenectady, the Cherry Valley or Western, the Mohawk and Sacandaga, and the Troy Schenectady and Ballston turnpike roads; and the Mohawk and Hudson, the Rensselaer and Saratoga and the Utica and Schenectady railroads cross the county.

It may be proper to remark, as highly honourable to this county, and exemplary to others that there is not a store in the county at which spiritous liquors are sold.

The county is divided into 5 towns, and the city of Schenectady.

Duanesburg, called after the late Judge Duane, taken from Schenectady, 7th April, 1801; surface hilly, elevated nearly 500 feet above the Hudson, at Albany; soil clay and loam, well watered; better adapted to grass than grain. Schoharie creek is on the N. W. boundary, and Norman's kill, and its tributary, Boza or Mad creek rises in the town. On the latter, in the grounds now or late of General North, is a perpendicular fall of 70 feet. Lake Maria is a beautiful sheet of water, 2 miles in circumference, in the N. E. angle, upon the highest grounds of the town, abounding with fish, and near the seat of late G. W. Featherstonehaugh, Esq. From this spot is one of the most commanding views in the state, comprising near an hundred miles around the compass. The surplus waters of the lake through the Chuctenunda creek, give motion to many mills. Duanesburg, post village, lies in a valley upon the turnpike road from Albany to the Cherry valley, 20 miles W. N. W. from Albany, and 12 S. W. from Schenectady, contains 1 Quaker meeting house, 1 Episcopal Reformed, 1 Presbyterian and 1 Methodist Episcopal, churches 2 taverns and a store, from 12 to 15 dwellings. Eaton's Corners, an agricultural vicinage, has a post office.

Glenville, taken from the city of Schenectady of which it was the 4th ward, 14th April, 1820; named after the Glen family, early and large proprietors; centrally distant N. from Albany 20; and from Schenectady city, N. W. 5 miles; surface somewhat hilly; soil light sandy loam, of improveable quality, and generally under careful cultivation. The Aelplass creek runs near the E. boundary about 10 miles, to the Mohawk river, near the city of Schenectady. Sander's lake, named after the owner of the land on which it lies, about 1 mile in circumference, is plentifully stocked with fish. The village of Scotia, on the W. margin of this lake, half a mile from the city, has a Dutch Reformed church, 3 stores, 2 taverns, and about 30 dwellings. Glenville Church, village, 9 miles from Schenectady, contains the post office, a Dutch Reformed church, store, tavern, and 6 or 8 dwellings.

Neskayuna, whose name is derived from the Indian appellation, Con-nes-ti-gu-ne, "a field covered with corn," is a very small town taken from Watervliet, Albany county, 7 March, 1809; centrally distant from Albany, N. W. 12; and from Schenectady S. E. 6 miles. This name was formerly borne by an extensive tract, on both sides of the Mohawk, granted partly by the Nestigione, and partly by the Connestigione patent, and which together, embraced portions of Clifton Park and of Half Moon, towns, of Saratoga County, and Watervliet, of Albany County. Hence the name Neskayuna, still in use among the descendants of the primitive Dutch settlers, it also applied to a tract in Watervliet, at which is the Shaker settlement. The surface is hilly along the river, and soil productive, but the greater portion of the town is of light sand, of very indifferent quality. There is a hamlet near the river, bearing the name of the town, where is a church, and some few dwellings.

The Ballston turnpike crosses the Mohawk at Alexander's bridge, 4 miles below the city of Schenectady, where are some falls, and a low rolling dam across the river, and several mills. The Erie canal is carried over the river here by an aqueduct, 748 feet long, 25 feet above the stream, and falls immediately after, by 3 locks, 21 feet. A company was incorporated in 1836, with a capital of $6,000, to make a toll bridge, at or near this aqueduct.

Princetown, taken from Schenectady, 26th March, 1798; from Albany, N.W. 20 miles; surface hilly; soil clay sand and loam, underlaid with slate; drained S. by Norman's kill; N. by a small creek, flowing to the Mohawk. The post office is at Netterville, on the turnpike road leading from Albany to Cherry valley, 16 miles from the former, and 7 from Schenectady, at which there are 1 Dutch Reformed church, 1 Reformed Presbyterian church, 2 taverns, 1 store, 8 dwellings. The country is highly picturesque.

Rotterdam, formerly the 3d ward of Schenectady, taken from the city, 14 April, 1820; surface rolling; soil sandy loam and alluvion, generally of excellent quality, and especially so on the extensive river flats and islands. Of the latter there are 9, varying in area from 2 to 120 acres, separated from the main by a branch of the river, called Binne kill or Middle creek. The Erie canal, by 3 locks, passes the flats. Two small streams drain the town eastwardly. Rotterdam, village, 22 miles N.W. from Albany, and 4 from Schenectady, contains 2 Dutch Reformed churches, one furnace for casting iron, 1 carpet factory, 4 grist mills, 3 of which are employed on merchant work, 3 runs of stones, each, 2 carding and cloth dressing mills, the cotton factory of the "Schenectady Manufacturing Company," containing 2,000 spindles, 50 looms, making 400,000 yards of cotton goods, and 30,000 pounds of yarn annually; and some 25 dwellings.

Iron ore (yellow oxide) is abundant in the S. part of the town, and quantities are transported to the state of Delaware, to mix with the mountain ore. It is sold in the bed at 50 cents the ton.

Schenectady [map], or Schagh-nack-taa-de — "beyond the pine plains" — a name originally applied to Albany, is a city still of very extensive area, although the 3d and 4th wards have been taken from it. The flats upon the Mohawk river are extensive and rich, and the uplands, undulating, have a sandy loam soil upon clay slate; watered by the Mohawk and its tributary, the Sandkill, a steady and valuable stream, which unite near the compact portion of the city. The city is supplied with water for domestic uses by an aqueduct from the spring on a neighbouring hill. It had a considerable corporate estate, formerly vested in trustees, by letters patent granted in 1684. Portions have been sold, but the residue, between sixteen and seventeen thousand acres, has been leased in perpetuity to individuals, at fixed rents, giving an annual revenue of $5000, in which the towns of Rotterdam and Glenville have an interest.

This city is on the site of the ancient Indian village, Oron-gugh-harie — literally, "a great multitude collected together." It was a seat of the Mohawks, even before the confederacy of the Five Nations, and was abandoned by them long before the American revolution. Some fifteen or twenty Hollanders are said to have settled here in the fur trade so early as 1620, and they and their descendants to have lived in peace until the period of the colonial wars between Great Britain and France. It would appear, from the the Dutch records, that the first grant of lands was made here in 1661, to Arent Van Corlaer and others, on condition that they purchased the soil from the Indians. Surveys were made of such lands by the surveyor, Cortelyan, in July, 1664. The object of this advance into the wilderness was to obtain advantages in the fur trade, which Albany exclusively claimed, and sought to engross, by prohibitions on the Schenectady settlers. In 1664-5, the settlement had acquired some consideration, and was the residence of Corlaer when it was visited by the French in an excursion against the Iroquois. The invaders, having lost their way, had become weak from fatigue and famine, and would have been cast upon the mercies of their enemies had not Corlaer interfered, and enabled them to return safely to Canada. On the 8th February, 1690, the town, then consisting of 63 houses and a church, was burned by a party of French and Indians by a night surprise; 60 of the inhabitants were slain, 27 made captives, and of those who fled to Albany, 27 were crippled by the frost. In 1748 the place was again carried by the enemy, and 70 of the citizens slain. On the 17th November, 1819, the city suffered greatly from fire; 170 buildings were destroyed, and a loss sustained equal to $150,000. Before and during the revolutionary war, there was a good grammar school here, under the care of the Rev. A. Miller, in which the late Governor Tichenor, of Vermont, and several other gentlemen who attained high celebrity, acted as assistants, and in which the late John Wells, of New York, received the rudiments of science.

The compact portion of the city is on the S. E. side of the Mohawk river, 16 miles N.W. from Albany, and 15 S. W. from Ballston Springs. On the E. are hills of a moderate height, with a soil of light sand. The plat is laid out on 20 streets, crossing each other, and running half a mile in one direction and a mile in another, eight of which are intersected, diagonally by the Erie canal. It contains the court house, county offices, and prison, in one neat building; 1 Episcopal, 1 Dutch Reformed, 1 Presbyterian, 1 Baptist, 1 Cameronian, 1 Methodist Episcopal, 1 Universalist, 1 Roman Catholic, churches, and Seventh Day Baptist society, the Union College, lyceum, an academy for males, a flourishing seminary for the education of young ladies, a Lancaster school, several select and district schools; 6 newspapers; the Schenectady Bank, capital $165,000; the Schenectady and Schoharie Insurance Company, capital $100,000, charter limited to 1864; an alms house, with farm annexed; 1 market house, 1 furnace for casting iron, a brass foundry, tobacco factory, a paper mill, making, annually, 5000 reams, a carpet and sattinet factory, and 1200 houses. There is a good covered bridge over the Mohawk, 997 feet in length.

The Saratoga and Schenectady rail road, constructed in 1832, commences near the Erie canal, (where it connects with the Mohawk and Hudson, and Utica rail roads) and extends across the city to the bridge, on which it is laid, without interruption to the ordinary travel; thence the road runs northerly across the Mohawk Flats, for about three-fourths of a mile; thence takes a north-easterly course, in full view of the river, for about four miles; thence a northerly course, along the verdant banks of Ballston lake, and enters the village of Ballston Spa on a curvature of considerable extent. Leaving the village, it crosses the Kayaderosseras creek by a substantial bridge, and continues, in nearly a straight line, to Saratoga Springs, near the centre of the village.

The road is about 21 1/2 miles long. The scenery along the whole line is beautiful, and the country remarkably level: the greatest inclination on the railway being only 16 feet to the mile. About three miles of the road, near Saratoga Springs, is laid on stone blocks, and the remainder is constructed of substantial wooden materials, with the usual iron rail plates.

The entire cost of the road, including locomotive engines, carriages, horses, wagons, land, fixtures &c. was about $300,000.

The city was incorporated 26th March, 1798, by the title of the mayor, aldermen, and commonalty, &c. It was formerly a place of much business, when goods were carried across by the turnpike to the batteaux on the Mohawk, which were prevented by the Cahoes falls from prosecuting their course to tide; but after the opening of the canal, much of the trade which centered here was transferred to Albany. The prosperity of the city has received a new impulse by the rail roads leading to Albany and Saratoga, and to Utica, and the establishment of the packet boat lines on the Erie canal; and in the last five years the inhabitants have increased nearly one third. One line of boats leaves at 7:30 o'clock in the morning, and the other and 6:30 in the evening, daily, and run to Utica, 80 miles, in about 18 or 20 hours. This is the point of embarkation for all travellers proceeding westwardly by the canal. Owing to the length and tediousness of the way, by the canal, to Albany, there are no passage boats from that city.

The Union College was incorporated by the Regents in 1794, and has reached its present flourishing condition from a small germ. In 1785 an academy was erected here by the consistory of the Reformed Dutch church, which after the establishment of the Union College, was presented to its trustees, and used as a grammar school. Liberal donations from individuals, raised a suite of edifices in the heart of the city, the principal one of which was afterwards used as a court house, but having been re-purchased by the institution, is now devoted to collegiate objects. In 1814 the trustees bought a site on the high grounds east of the city, upon which are the chief buildings of the college, consisting of two structures of brick, each 200 feet long, 4 stories high, standing in a line 600 feet asunder. To complete the original plan, 6 other buildings are necessary. The situation has been chosen with much taste. It commands a fine view of the city, the Mohawk Valley, and adjacent country.

This institution has been largely endowed by the state by the following grants;

In 1795
$3,750 00
In 1796
10,000 00
In 1797, $750 annually, for 2 years,
1,500 00
In 1800
10,000 00
Also 10 lots in the military townships, of 550 acres each, which appear, by the report of the trustees, to have been sold for
23,985 46
In 1802, one-half of the garrison lands granted by the Regents of the University, 1449 acres, which produced probably
3,000 00
By the act of 1805, raised by four successive lotteries
80,000 00
By act of 1814, $200,000, with interest, to be raised by lotteries
200,000 00
 
$332,135.46

In 1835, the college faculty consisted of a president and seven professors, an instructor of the French and Spanish languages, one tutor, and two fellows. The number of graduates admitted to the degree of Bachelor of Arts was 65, and the whole number of students, matriculated for the year, 261.

Candidates for admission must be 16 years of age, of good moral character, and if from another college, have a regular dismission or letter of request, and may enter any class for which they are qualified. There are three terms in the year, the expenses of which are payable in advance. Moneys for the use of the students are transmitted to the college register, who acts as their fiscal guardian, and accounts, quarterly, with the parent at the end of the term. The annual expense consists of the college bills, including board in the hall, $98; fuel and light, $8; washing, $6; students boarding out of the hall, or remaining during vacation, incur additional expenses.

The governor, lieutenant governor, chancellor, judges of the supreme court, attorney general, surveyor general, secretary of state, comptroller, treasurer, are, ex officio trustees, and there are eight others.

TOWNS
1820
1825
1830
1835
Militia
Voters
Aliens
Schenectady
 
1st. ward
 
 
1818
2300
245
455
93
2d. ward
 
 
2450
3972
508
820
222
Total
3939
4068
4268
6272
753
1275
315
Duanesburgh
3510
3384
2837
3281
313
650
47
Glenville
2514
2373
2947
3027
374
575
274
Neskayuna
516
506
452
565
47
116
10
Princetown
1073
1042
812
975
100
206
9
Rotterdam
1529
1503
1481
2110
180
468
73
 
13081
12876
12347
16230
1767
3290
728
TOWNS
Females
Marriages
Births
Deaths
Married under 45 years
Unmarried between 16 & 45
Unmarried under 16 years
Males
Females
Males
Females
Schenectady
 
1st. ward
268
246
405
31
52
56
33
44
2d. ward
488
466
723
31
59
58
57
40
Total
756
712
1128
62
111
114
90
84
Duanesburgh
350
310
732
26
57
63
23
19
Glenville
319
228
611
14
42
52
17
18
Neskayuna
61
50
110
3
7
8
7
6
Princetown
95
109
190
13
20
10
8
5
Rotterdam
265
180
432
21
33
42
11
22
 
1846
1589
3203
139
270
289
156
154

Note. Males 8,355; Females, 7,875; Paupers, 60; Blacks, 429; Black voters, 5; Deaf and Dumb 17; Blind, 15; Idiots, 21; lunatics 6

TOWNS
Area in Acres
Acres improved
Assessed value real estate
Assessed value personal estate
Cattle
Horses
Sheep
Swine
Fulled yds.
Woolens unfulled
Cottons, linens, &c.
County tax
Town tax
Schenectady
 
1st. ward
2423
1703
157660
197969
377
183
460
576
210
266
124
1285
1301
2d. ward
3276
2016
453100
238200
393
418
140
940
15
231
22
2498
2211
Total
5699
3719
610760
436169
770
601
600
1516
225
497
146
3783
3512
Duanesburgh
43071
29312
367736
60269
4760
1319
8582
2983
4627
5904
9701
1546
491
Glenville
29399
19396
363739
17100
2811
1050
4706
2995
3003
3011
2621
1376
845
Neskayuna
6900
3831
83450
6550
587
232
857
580
673
592
369
325
209
Princetown
14399
9996
121887
14294
1620
508
2463
1164
1574
2119
2523
492
228
Rotterdam
20097
11942
267991
43840
1827
741
2221
1524
2039
2045
2738
1126
382
 
119565
78196
1815623
578222
12375
4451
19429
10762
12141
14168
18098
8648
5667
TOWNS
Grist mills
Saw mills
Oil mills
Fulling mills
Card machines
Cotton fact.
Iron works
Asheries
Tanneries
Breweries
Schenectady
 
1st. ward
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
1
2d. ward
2
1
 
 
 
1
2
 
3
 
Duanesburgh
3
16
 
1
1
 
 
1
3
 
Glenville
2
2
 
1
1
 
 
 
1
 
Neskayuna
1
2
 
 
 
 
 
 
1
 
Princetown
 
5
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Rotterdam
4
3
1
2
2
 
1
 
1
 
 
12
29
1
4
4
1
3
1
9
1
Value of product
95612
9155
1250
10300
14070
35000
43000
220
41912
8214
Value of material
85904
4676
1250
8300
12740
20000
20000
105
24005
3168
TOWNS
No. of School districts
Public money expended
Teachers' wages besides public money
No. of Scholars
Schenectady
 
1st. ward
3
68
196
140
2d. ward
Duanesburgh
20
288
796
1177
Glenville
13
263
410
778
Neskayuna
3
46
112
84
Princetown
5
76
221
202
Rotterdam
10
152
263
355
 
56
893
1998
2736

No. of children between 5 and 16 years of age, 3,165.

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