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History of the Mohawk Valley: Gateway to the West 1614-1925
Gardener Hinckley

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[This information is from Vol. III, pp. 705-706 of History of the Mohawk Valley: Gateway to the West 1614-1925, edited by Nelson Greene (Chicago: The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1925). It is in the Reference collection of the Schenectady County Public Library at R 974.7 G81h. This online edition includes lists of portraits, maps and illustrations. As noted by Paul Keesler in his article, "The Much Maligned Mr. Greene," some information in this book has been superseded by later research or was provided incorrectly by local sources.]

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Gardener Hinckley, a member of one of the early families of Russia, Herkimer county, New York, was the son of Elijah Hinckley, who settled in this section at an early date. The subject of this sketch was the first to build a sawmill in the town of Wilmurt, on West Canada Creek, in 1840, and two years later T. P. Ballou of Utica, New York, built another mill on the west branch of the stream at Noblesborough. The lumber from these mills was hauled to Utica by teams taking two days to make the trip. In 1846 these gentlemen united their lumber business under the firm name of Hinckley & Ballou, with the expectation of floating logs to or near Herkimer and building mills there to lessen the expense of marketing.

In 1847 they erected piers and booms on West Creek, about two miles north of Herkimer, but in February of the following year the boom of logs at Wilmurt broke and went over Trenton Falls, and did not stop at the boom at Herkimer as was expected, the water being too rapid and not sufficiently deep. This place was then abandoned and a more suitable location found above Trenton Falls, where other mills and booms were built in 1848-49. In 1850 a planing mill was added to the plant and in 1851 the Trenton & Prospect plank road was laid intersecting the northern plank road from Utica. Lumber was then hauled over this road until the R. W. & O. railway was opened for traffic, then taken to Trenton and later to Prospect and loaded on cars there, until the A. & St. L. was built into Hinckley in 1891. In 1854 Mr. Hinckley, with his family, came to live at the place bearing his name, after being burned out in Wilmurt the year previous. In 1855 Mr. Hinckley was elected to the state legislature when an act was passed making West Canada Creek from the boom at their mills a public highway and an appropriation of five thousand dollars was made for clearing the stream of obstructions. In 1857 the panic in State banks occurred and to feed fifty teams and one hundred and fifty men was no small matter. But by exchanging lumber for farm products, which the farmers dared not sell for bank bills, and by means of credit extended by friends, the firm of Hinckley & Ballou was enabled to survive.

In 1874 the mills were rebuilt from the ground up and were made the largest and most complete mills of their kind in the state. At this time Mr. Hinckley also engaged in farming and acquired large tracts of land near Wilmurt, Russia and Hinckley, some of which still remain in the family. The post office name of the town was Gang's Mills until 1891, when it was changed to Hinckley. The death of Mr. Hinckley occurred in March, 1875, and from that time on the ownership of the mills changed several times until purchased by the Trenton Falls Lumber Company, which built large additions and added the making of Sulphite fibre pulp. The mills are now known as the Hinckley Fibre Company and the firm's entire attention is devoted to the manufacture of pulp.

Four children were born to Mr. and Mrs. Gardener Hinckley: Samuel, Caroline, Mary Elizabeth and Sarah Helen, the only surviving member being Mary Elizabeth, who resides on the old homestead at Hinckley.

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