This page conforms to the XHTML standard and uses style sheets. If your browser doesn't support these, you may not see the page as designed, but all the text is still accessible to you.

SCHENECTADY DIGITAL HISTORY ARCHIVE

Bringing the heritage of Schenectady County, New York to the world since 1996

You are here: Home » Resources » MVGW Home » Chapter 119

History of the Mohawk Valley: Gateway to the West 1614-1925
Chapter 119: The City of Johnstown, 1784-1925.

[This information is from Vol. II, pp. 1637-1655 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. Some images have been relocated to the area in the text where they are discussed. 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 Greene," some information in this book has been superseded by later research or was provided incorrectly by local sources.]

Contents | Biographies | Illustrations | Maps | Portraits

Go back to: Chapter 118 | ahead to: Chapter 120

History of the county seat of Tryon, Montgomery and Fulton Counties, from the close of the Revolution to the end of the first quarter of the twentieth century — From a frontier fur-trading village to a twentieth century city of culture and civilization — Golden era of the years from 1784 to 1836 — Removal of county seat of Montgomery County to Fonda, 1836 — Formation of Fulton County, of which Johnstown is made the county seat, 1838 — Johnstown incorporated as a village in 1808 — First Mohawk Valley county fair at Johnstown in 1816 — hard times following the building of the Erie Canal in 1825 — The glove industry — Governor Throop, General Dodge, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, the pioneer suffragist, natives of Johnstown — Old times and old buildings — 1870, Fonda, Johnstown and Gloversville Railroad opened, inaugurating an era of prosperity — 1905, Johnstown made a city — Johnstown of today.

By John T. Morrison, Johnstown

Following the close of the Revolution in 1783, and the restoration of peace, Johnstown increased rapidly in population, in commercial and political importance, and had evoluted into a large and flourishing village before Utica, Syracuse, Rochester or Buffalo, had an existence. It was also at this time the great center of the fur trade, the local dealers always finding a ready purchaser in John Jacob Astor, then the most extensive furrier in the world, and who often made trips to Johnstown in connection with his extensive business operations.

While New Englanders or Yankees constituted much of the population which came into Johnstown after the Revolution a considerable portion of these incomers were "Mohawk Dutch" (Holland Dutch and German), who moved northward from the river onto the fertile farmlands around the county seat. This Mohawk Dutch racial element forms a very considerable portion of the population of Johnstown and Gloversville, which is largely American rather than foreign in its character.

In 1803 the Legislature passed an act authorizing the construction of a road running westerly from Johnstown through Garoga, Lassellsville, Brockett's Bridge (now Dolgeville), swinging northerly and westerly, running through Russia to Boonville, now frequently referred to as "the old State road," and sometimes as "the Black River road." The opening of this road created a new avenue of trade and increased the commercial importance of Johnstown. Traders flocked in from all directions, the taverns were crowded to capacity, and life in the old village was characterized by the greatest activity and prosperity. These were the golden days of stage coach travel. Taverns and inns were scattered practically everywhere, along the principal lines of travel. Some of the more noted hostelries in the early days, and until the stage coach disappeared in this section, included the Rawlins House, heretofore referred to; the Fon Claire Tavern, built in 1781, by Jean Baptiste Vaumann de Fon Claire, a former captain in the Martinique Regiment of Louis XV of France, and which occupied the present site of the Burdick residence on South William Street. It was here that "Nick" Stoner, the famous revolutionary soldier, hunter and trapper, fatally assaulted the Indian who boasted of killing and scalping Henry Stoner, father of "Nick." In 1798 Fon Claire erected Union Hall on East Main Street and removed thither. The former tavern survived until 1867 when it was destroyed by fire. It was latterly known as the Potter House. "Jimmy Burke's Inn", (1793), was located at the southeast corner of William and Montgomery streets. This building was recently acquired by the Johnstown Chapter D. A. R. for a Chapter House. In 1796, Henry Yanney opened the famous "Black Horse Tavern," and conducted the same for a period of thirty years. This building is situated on the westerly side of the "Old Caughnawaga Road," now called the extension of South Melcher Street, and is still in the hands of the descendants of Henry Yanney and used as a homestead. The first hostelry north of the court house, on the site of the Sir William Johnson Hotel, which was recently torn down, was a two-story white building with a long dance hall on the south side over the horse sheds, which faced the north walls of the court house and the county building. In 1812 it was conducted by Jacob Yost, son of Peter Yost, the Revolutionary soldier. It was subsequently known as the Johnson House, owned and conducted by Heathcott Johnson and later by his son, Rodney Hall Johnson, "Pickens" and "Archibald McClellan's" on William Street; "Young's Tavern", subsequently known as the "Mathews House", on the present site of the post office, "Throops Tavern" in the center of the village; "The Red Tavern", on the site of the present Kennedy building; "The Coffee House" just opposite, all played an important part in the social life and commercial activities of the village in the early days of the Nineteenth century. Other taverns, and of a little later period, included the "McIntyre House", at the southeast corner of Main and Perry streets, latterly known as the "Harden House"; "The Yellow Tavern", at the southeast corner of Main and Market streets; "Rosa's Hotel", now Buchanan's undertaking parlor; and the "Cayadutta Hotel", which occupied the site of the present Ulinger building, destroyed by the great fire of 1874.

[Map of Fulton County, Showing Townships, Railroads and Electric Roads]

[Map: Improved Highways of Fulton County]

On April 1st, 1808, Johnstown was incorporated as a village, and at a meeting of the inhabitants and freeholders held at the court house, December 6th of that year, the following named persons were elected as trustees of the newly incorporated village, viz: Daniel Cady, Daniel Paris, Caleb Johnson, Caleb J. Grinnel, Daniel Holden. Joseph Cuyler was unanimously elected village clerk. The first volunteer fireman in Johnstown was Daniel Cady, the eminent jurist, the great circuit rider judge, father of Elizabeth Cady Stanton. The largest real property owners included in the first assessment roll were Vaumann de Fon Claire, and Mathias B. Hildreth, the former the tavern-keeper heretofore referred to, the latter an eminent lawyer, twice Attorney-General of the State, first in 1808, and again in 1811. Each were assessed for $3,000.

It is interesting to know that the first county and agricultural fair in Tryon County, perhaps the first agricultural fair in the territory now embraced within the United States, was held on William street, on Oct. 12, 1819, by a society organized in that year. Stalls for the exhibition of cattle, horses and livestock, were erected and occupied space on the Rawlins' property just northerly of the tavern. The court house building was used for exhibits of fruits, vegetables, agricultural implements and the products of art and industry. Horse racing, and other contests of speed and skill, were held right out in the public street. Indeed, horse racing on William Street was popular in the old village as late as 1830. In this connection it is also interesting to know that no less a person than Joseph Bonaparte, successively king of Naples and Spain, eldest and favorite brother of the great Napoleon, was a frequent participant in these horse races. After the battle of Waterloo, and the fall of the emperor, and his exile at St. Helena, Joseph, saddened in heart and spirit, came to this country, and for a period of time resided in a secluded mansion on the edge of the great northern wilderness, the site of which is now in Lewis County. The location can easily be determined by finding Lake Bonaparte on the map, named after the ex-king of Naples and Spain. During this period Bonaparte was a frequent visitor to Johnstown, always at fair time, and always bringing with him several thoroughbreds which he entered in the races held on William Street.

[Photo: Johnson Hall, 1762]

The period from the close of the Revolution, until the separation of Fulton from Montgomery County, was one of great intellectual prominence as regards the flourishing county seat of Johnstown. Mention is made elsewhere of the distinguished members of the legal profession who were then citizens of the town or who were attracted here by legal business. At this period, Johnstown had three residents, who were then important figures or who were destined to later assume a high position in state or national affairs.

General Richard Dodge was a prominent citizen of Johnstown in the early 1800s. He was a veteran of the Revolution and a brigadier-general of the War of 1812, commanding the fourth brigade, consisting of the 10th, 11th and 13th regiments of Mohawk Valley militia. He was a brother-in-law of Washington Irving, who was a visitor to the Dodge home in Johnstown on many occasions.

Johnstown was the birthplace of Enos T. Throop (1784-1875), governor of New York State from 1830 to 1832. He was a most progressive, constructive executive and was instrumental in abolishing imprisonment for debt and in making the death penalty a punishment for murder only. New York was the first state to do this.

[Painting: Johnstown in 1862]

Elizabeth Cady Stanton was the World's pioneer suffragist. She was a daughter of Judge Daniel Cady, one of Johnstown's most distinguished jurists. Mrs. Stanton was born in Johnstown in 1815 and died in New York City in 1902. At the age of eighty, she wrote a biography, entitled "Eighty Years and More", which gives a delightful picture of Johnstown in the early years of the Nineteenth Century and which also details her uphill fight for women's suffrage and other reforms pertaining to women. Elizabeth Cady Stanton was one of America's most remarkable women. She was a resident of Johnstown until her twenty-fifth year when she married Henry B. Stanton, an abolitionist, and removed to Boston, later going to Seneca Falls, N. Y. and then to New York City. In her twenty-five years in Johnstown, Elizabeth Cady evolved all her later theories concerning woman's place in the scheme of government and women's rights. These facts are clearly brought out in her biography, which is one of America's most interesting human documents. Johnstown may therefore be said to be the birthplace of women's suffrage. The Mohawk Valley has had a most important place in this and other progressive movements. Mrs. Stanton's chief co-worker, Susan B. Anthony, was the lady principal of Canajoharie Academy, from 1848 to 1850, during which years she became an ardent supporter of the abolition cause and women's rights. Miss Anthony left Canajoharie in 1850 and joined Mrs. Stanton at the latter's home in Seneca Falls, where they began their combined battle for suffrage for women which attained full success within a few years following the death of these two remarkable American women. The Cady home in Johnstown was on the site of the present People's Bank. The noted American artist, Mr. E. L. Henry has painted a picture of this corner, entitled "Johnstown in 1862." This interesting work shows the Cady home and the adjacent Cayadutta Hotel, with the stage just starting out for Fonda. The picture was painted for Mrs. Rose M. Knox. Mrs. Knox also commissioned Mr. Henry to paint a picture of an Indian council at Johnson Hall and this is also one of the cherished art treasures of the Knox home. Both paintings were exhibited at the time of the (1922) sesquicentennial of the founding of Tryon County and were used for illustrative purposes at that time.

Johnstown continued to grow and prosper until 1825 when the opening of the Erie Canal diverted trade and stagecoach travel from the old highways, and Johnstown suffered a decline, which continued until 1845. Real estate became almost valueless. Laborers were paid seventy-five cents from sun to sun, mechanics received one dollar. The price for sawing and splitting a cord of wood was five shillings. Wheat flour was rarely used; butter and fresh meat were luxuries even with the most affluent. The ordinary food articles were potatoes with rye and Indian bread and pork. In winter buckwheat cakes, with pork fat or molasses, formed the universal dish. Children went barefoot until frost, and until they reached full youth. It would indeed be difficult to adequately describe the privations, the suffering, and the hardships endured by the people of Johnstown during this twenty-year period of decadence and decline.

To cap the climax, so to speak, in the midst of this period of general suffering, Johnstown ceased to be the county seat. One John B. Borst, representing a group of land speculators, laid out the village of Fonda, and succeeded in securing the passage by the Legislature of an act removing the county seat to the new village. Nothing ever caused more excitement, or thrilled and angered the people of old Johnstown, more than this event. The movement to change the county seat was resisted in every possible manner; a county and congressional ticket were elected on this issue; but to no avail. The people were forced to witness the removal of the ancient records of Tryon and Montgomery counties to Fonda. Finally, however, in 1838, in deference to public opinion, the Legislature passed an act creating Fulton County (named in honor of the inventor of the steamboat, a relative by marriage of Judge Cady), and naming Johnstown as the county seat. The old records of Tryon and Montgomery counties were transcribed and placed in the clerk's office in the new county, and the old court house building reopened for trials, litigation and judicial proceedings.

During this period the only industry which afforded any relief to the distressed inhabitants was the infant glove and leather business. The same year that Johnstown was incorporated as a village, 1808, Talmage Edwards, a native of England, moved hither from Massachusetts, and established a shop and mill for the tanning of deerskins and the manufacture of gloves and mittens at the northeast corner of William and Montgomery streets. This was the first glove manufacturing establishment in the United States. Later, Edwards became associated in the glove and leather business with James Burr and William C. Mills at Kingsborough. At first the Indian process of tanning was used exclusively. Jackets and breeches, as well as gloves and mittens, were manufactured. In the early days, leather (buckskin) was cheaper than heavy cloth suitable for clothing, and, moreover, more suitable and durable in connection with the rough and laborious work of the farmers and woodchoppers. It was the custom of the pioneer manufacturers to make a stock of jackets, breeches, gloves and mittens, pack the same upon the back of a horse, lead the animal up the Mohawk, and over into the "Chenango country," and exchange the local products for wheat, peltry, and other articles for domestic use or of commercial value. Besides those mentioned, the early glove and mitten manufacturers included John Ward, Philander Heacock, Elisha Judson, Josiah, Daniel and Abner Leonard, Willard Rose, A. S. Van Voast, U. M. Place, Jonathan Ricketts and John McNab.

The early process and method of making gloves differed greatly from the process and methods of modern times. Cutting dies and sewing machines had not come into use, and the work was all performed by hand. The patterns were made of shingles or pasteboard, and were laid upon the leather, and were traced with sharp-pointed pieces of lead called "plummets." The women did the stitching, all by hand, usually placing the mate of the glove or mitten on which they were working under them, serving the purpose of the modern "laying off."

[Photo: Statue of Sir William Johnson]

The manufacture of fine, or "kid gloves," to use the popular expression, was introduced in 1844 by two brothers, Lucien and Theophilous Bertrand, who came from France in that year. The Bertrands established a manufacturing plant on the second floor of the Rood building at the southwest corner of Main and Market streets, the site of the present Fairchild building. This was the first fine glove factory in the United States. From these small beginnings have evoluted the great glove and leather industries of today, which furnish employment and livelihood for thousands under a clean and wholesome environment, and under influences with conduce to thrift, enterprise, an unusually strong public and community spirit, and a high standard of citizenship.

The Civil War record of Johnstown is, indeed, one of the most brilliant chapters in its history, and a record of which every citizen is justified in feeling a deep sense of pride. Volunteers and citizens of Johnstown constituted a part of no less than eighteen regiments, and from the firing upon of Fort Sumter until secession was buried at Appomattox, no soldiers displayed greater zeal and patriotism, fought with greater heroism, made greater sacrifices, than the citizens of Johnstown. Many of these regiments participated in the most important and sanguinary battles of the war, and in them many of Johnstown's citizens made the supreme sacrifice in order that the union might be perpetuated, and found eternal resting places under southern skies, below the Mason and Dixon line. The following is a partial list of the regiments in which citizens of Johnstown played a leading role: 77 Reg.; 93 Reg.; 115 Reg. (the Old Iron Hearted); 153 Reg.; 3rd Cavalry; 13th Reg., Heavy Artillery.

As the glove and leather business increased in importance, and Johnstown and the surrounding territory increased in population, the need and necessity of better transportation facilities and communication with the outer world became more and more felt. Indeed, the need of railroad communication was agitated as early as 1836, and in that year on May 13th, at a meeting held in the court house, an organization was perfected known as the Johnstown and Utica and Syracuse Railway Company with a capital stock of $75,000. A survey and thorough investigation revealed, however, that the scheme was impracticable and the enterprise was abandoned. Some time later, a canal from Johnstown to Fonda was contemplated, but this, too, was abandoned as impracticable. A movement was then started to organize a company to build a railroad from Fonda through Johnstown and Gloversville to Garoga, terminating at a point near Canada Lake. At that time the New York Central burned great quantities of wood in its locomotives, and the projectors of this enterprise were filled with the hopeful expectation that, by reaching the timber district and transporting to market lumber and firewood in sufficient quantities, the road could be operated at a substantial profit. It soon became apparent, however, that coal was about to supersede wood as fuel for engines and locomotives, and, for this reason, this enterprise was also abandoned. Finally, on the 16th day of June, 1867, the Fonda, Johnstown & Gloversville Railroad Co. was organized with a capital stock of $300,000, and articles of incorporation filed in the office of the Secretary of State on the following day. The first officers of the company were as follows: President, Willard J. Heacock; Vice President, David A. Wells; Treasurer, John McLaren, Jr.; Secretary, Timothy W. Miller; Directors, W. J. Heacock, John McLaren, John E. Wells, Byron G. Shults, D. B. Judson, John McNab, D. A. Wells, Alanson Judson, Lewis Veghte, George F. Mills, U. M. Place, John Peck and Timothy W. Miller.

On September 30th, 1867, a contract was entered into with Adam Swartz for the construction of the road and the work immediately thereafter commenced, but Swartz found the undertaking too great, more than he bargained for, so to speak, and he threw up the job. Several other contractors undertook to carry out the undertaking Swartz had assumed, but they, too, failed in their agreements. Finally, under the direction of Lawton Caton, a very capable civil engineer of Syracuse, and who subsequently and for many years served with great efficiency as superintendent, the road was completed, and the first train, consisting of locomotive, two passenger cars, one baggage car, two box cars, and four platform cars, was run over the road on November 29th, 1870. This date marks the opening of a new era, the birth and beginning of the new and modern Johnstown.

As Johnstown increased in population and commercial importance, the need of a more potent municipal government became manifest, and on May 9th, 1895, the Legislature, in deference to an almost unanimous appeal of the citizens, passed a law incorporating the city. The first city officials were as follows: Mayor, Jacob P. Miller; Alderman-at-Large, James F. Mason; Aldermen, Eli Miller, John P. O'Neil, Frank Randall, George A. Stewart, John F. Cahill, S. E. Trumbull, George C. Potter, James Stewart; City Clerk, John T. Morrison.

Since the incorporation of the city, and the greater potency of the city government, Johnstown has made rapid strides in progress and the matter of improvements. Many new streets have been laid out, many miles of streets have been improved, new industries have been attracted to the city, a new and additional water supply added to the old system, school and educational facilities have been improved and increased, and all in all the present conditions bespeak loudly substantial progress and prosperity for the future of Johnstown.

It is, indeed, quite impossible to go into any great details regarding Johnstown, within the limitations of this chapter. I have referred to many things any one of which, to do it justice, would fill a volume. And this is particularly true in relation to Johnstown's school system. Starting with Sir William Johnson's free school, which was succeeded by the Academy on South Market Street, and the latter by the present highly-organized and efficient modern free school system, — to go into full details would fill several volumes. Elizabeth Cady Stanton, the pioneer, and for many years the national leader of the Woman's suffrage movement, a native of Johnstown, in her recent and revised auto biography, draws a vivid word-picture of school days at the old Academy, during her girlhood period, in the '30s, of the scholarly atmosphere that prevailed throughout the village, and I might add, which survives to this day. The citizens of Johnstown have always taken a deep and extraordinary interest in matters pertaining to their schools and education, and the result is reflected not only in the number of persons who received their preliminary education in Johnstown, and who subsequently won high and merited distinction in different walks of life outside, but also in the clean and wholesome conditions and the high standards which prevail generally throughout the city at the present time.

On January 27th, 1794, the State Board of Regents received the school which evoluted from Sir Willam Johnson's free school under its visitation. The Academy was erected in 1796, the eleventh academy in the State, and held high position among the schools of the country until 1869 when the trustees declared their office vacant, and the old private educational institution was adopted as the academic department of the Union Free school.

Pursuant to an act of the Legislature, the Johnstown schools were reorganized in 1869. Prior to this the village was divided into two school districts by Market Street, the one on the west side, No. 4, being known as the "Lower District," and the one on the east side, No. 23, as the "Upper District." On December 11th, 1882, the inhabitants of Johnstown authorized the construction of a commodious school building at the northwest corner of the intersection of Perry and Montgomery streets. This was erected in 1884, and occupied in February, 1885. Just four years later, February 1st, 1889, it was completely destroyed by one of the most tragic and notable conflagrations in the history of Johnstown. The destroyed building was replaced the same year.

In 1908 the growth of the academic department reached such a point, and the necessity of a new high school building became so great, that the Board of Education asked for an appropriation for this purpose and the citizens enthusiastically voted for it. The new, handsome, and much-needed present high school building was erected in 1910, and occupied in September of the same year.

Among those entitled to honorable mention in connection with the development of Johnstown's school system is William S. Snyder, who came to Johnstown as teacher in the "lower district" school house. He became principal and superintendent when the school system was reorganized the second time, in 1873, and continued in this office until 1898. He was a man of indefatigable spirit and energy, a strict disciplinarian, a very capable teacher, a man who put his whole heart in the work of developing and improving the school system, and to whom the present generation and posterity owe a debt of gratitude that like many others, perhaps, will never be paid. Mr. Snyder was succeeded by P. M. Hull who served as superintendent 1898-9, who in turn was succeeded by Dr. Frank W. Jennings who served until 1910. The present superintendent, Mr. Earl L. Ackley, has served since the retirement of Dr. Jennings. He is a tireless worker, an efficient organizer, a strong and capable teacher, and is doing good work and achieving substantial results in raising the standards of our educational institutions. During the administration of Superintendent Ackley, Johnstown's school system has made a healthy and wholesome progress, kept abreast of the times, and ranks with the school systems of any of the cities of the State.

[Photo: Residence of Mrs. Charles B. Knox, Johnstown]

In the case of the Presbyterians, or the "Calvinists", as they were popularly called; the Lutherans; the Methodists; the Baptists; and the Roman Catholics; these several sects or denominations held church worship long before there was a formal organization or incorporation, and before church edifices were erected. Following the Revolution, the Presbyterians were granted by the Legislature sole control of the St. John's church property, and worshipped in the old stone church heretofore described, erected in 1772. For a number of years the Lutherans also were permitted to worship in this building. We have no record of where services were first held by the Scotch Highlanders, (Roman Catholic), but we do know that such services were held as early as 1773, and that the first Catholic clergyman was Rev. John McKenna, an Irish priest, educated at Lorain University.

The Presbyterian Church was formally organized and incorporated in 1785. The first Presbyterian church edifice was erected in 1799, and is now the main building of the manufacturing plant of the Scotsmoor Company on North Market Street. This church building was erected during the pastorate of Rev. Simon Hosack, a man of high scholarly attainments, great strength of character, who served as its pastor for a period of forty-three years.

The United Presbyterian Church sprang from a secession of members from the "Calvinist" church, which occurred in 1827, due to a change in the manner of conducting the singing in connection with the church services. For many years services were held in the building on South Market Street, until recently occupied as a glove factory by W. M. Grant and Son. The present church edifice was erected in 1869. The late James A. Williamson, D. D., was selected as pastor in 1864, and served as such for more than fifty years. A golden jubilee of Dr. Williamson's pastorate was fittingly celebrated June 17th, 18th and 19th, 1914.

The original incorporation of the church society, which has evoluted into St. Paul's (Lutheran) Church, occurred February 4th, 1801. The first church building was just westerly of the old burial ground on the northerly side of the extension of West Main Street, on the Gross farm, and dates back to pre-revolutionary days and to the time of Sir William Johnson. This edifice was erected by the Lutherans of Albany Bush and Johnson's Bush, as the scattered settlement in the vicinity of the church was called in the early days, and on a glebe donated by the Baronet.

The first Methodist Episcopal church edifice was situated on the northerly side of Main Street, just easterly of the law office of Judge Daniel Cady. The date of the erection of this building has been lost, but it was many years before the present church organization was perfected, and which occurred August 31st, 1829. The cornerstone of the present magnificent church structure was laid with fitting ceremonies July 16th, 1887.

The Baptist Church was organized November 3rd, 1842. There were persons of this denomination living in or near the village as early as 1795, and prayer meetings were held at this time at the house of a Mr. Hardy, an Englishman, residing on William Street; also at the home of a member of the Methodist Church named Brewster, who resided opposite the Dutch Reformed meeting house. Governor Enos T. Throop, (1829-32), a native of Johnstown, was an elder of the Baptist Church during a period of the early days of the Nineteenth century.

The modern churches of Johnstown include the Reformed Church; St. Mark's Lutheran Church; St. Anthony's Church (Slovak Roman Catholic); Sts. Cyril and Method, (Slovak Catholic); Chapel of the Immaculate Conception, (Italian Roman Catholic); St. Patrick's Roman Catholic; First Church of Christ Scientist; and the A. M. E. Zion.

No community in the State or country, showed a stronger spirit of patriotism during the World war than Johnstown, and its record in this respect is as brilliant as the record of Johnstown in the Rebellion. In every enterprise connected with the world's greatest tragedy, Johnstown rushed to the front with a spontaneity that was indeed commendable. In the matter of subscribing its quota for the several issues of Liberty Bonds, in the achievements of the Red Cross, in short in the field of all activities connected with War Relief work, Johnstown displayed a spirit, energy and enthusiasm, which was applauded far and wide. The following is the registration of the Second Military District of Fulton County of which Johnstown constituted the largest and leading part: June 5th, 1917, 1,793, between the ages of 21 and 31; June 5th, 1918, 52, who had reached their 21st birthday; August 24th, 1918, 26, who had reached their 21st birthday; September 12th, 1918, 2,759, between the ages of 18 and 45.

"What matters death, if Freedom be not dead;
No flags are fair if Freedom's flag be furled,
Who fights for Freedom goes with joyful tread
To meet the fires of Hell against him hurled.
And has for Captain Him whose thorn-wreathed head
Smiles from the Cross upon a conquered world."

The following is a list of names of the young men of the Second Military District who made the supreme sacrifice, gave up their lives, that freedom's flag might not be furled, that our Christian civilization might be perpetuated, that the world might be "made safe for democracy": Leonard W. Ripton, Charles R. Walrath, John Dobijas, Patrick Connelly, Henry Bradt, Russell Trumbell, Frank Filkins, H. J. Smith, James P. Uhlinger, J. Oran Johnson, Lloyd Reese, Frederick Fogarty, Philip C. Gross, William F. Forchette, Clyde Mabee, Brown D. Murray, Dorr Mason, William Weaver, Abbott Laning, Leo F. Burke, Edward M. Sheil and Floyd Manzer.

[Photo: The Tryon County Bar]

[Photo: Johnstown Pageant, 1922]

The reader will appreciate that the limitations of a sketch of this character makes necessary the omission of a great many things that otherwise and in the interest of completeness should be included. A chapter could be written in relation to the Bar of Johnstown, past and present, and the many eminent jurists and lawyers, who have been and are identified with and who have graced the same, since the days of Judge Daniel Cady down to the present time; and the many important and sensational trials and litigations which have taken place in the old court house, and in which such eminent men and lawyers as Chancellor Kent, Alexander Hamilton, Aaron Burr, Thomas Addis Emmett and others have participated. Much the same can be said of the medical profession. And no sketch of Johnstown is complete without giving some of the details of the more important events in the life and career of its illustrious founder, Sir William Johnson. And the history of St. Patrick's Lodge No. 4, F. & A. M., of which Sr. William was the first Master, chartered in 1766. Another chapter could be written in relation to the ancient highways by which the hardy pioneers found ingress and egress to and from this section a century and a half ago. But for the reason stated all this must be omitted, and for the reader interested I would suggest the perusal of many volumes on these several subjects to be found in nearly every public library.

A few pertinent facts not heretofore referred to are the following: the first newspaper in Johnstown was published in 1796; the first bank incorporated in 1831; the first great fire occurred in 1834; first telegraph introduced in 1857; gas introduced in 1857; first horse railroad, 1874; first electric railroad, 1893; first water works system built in 1878; electric lights introduced, 1887; first asphalt pavement laid, 1891; Johnstown Historical Society organized, 1892; first Masonic Lodge building erected, 1794; Y. M. C. A. building erected, 1902; Johnstown Public Library erected, 1902; Johnson Hall purchased by State of New York, 1907, now in the custody of the Johnstown Historical Society.

As there are no two individuals just alike so there are no two communities just alike. Communities are simply aggregations of individuals, possessing all the characteristics of an individual, reflecting the average virtues and vices, the average strength and weakness, of all. And each community differs in certain of its characteristics from every other community. Johnstown is noted for a certain wholesome conservatism. The citizens are not inclined to embrace a thing until they are soundly convinced that it is right, and when so convinced they get behind every worthy enterprise with a public and community spirit that is indeed commendable, and which has excited applause and admiration throughout the State and the country.

A notable organization quite recently perfected, largely through the efforts and energy of Mrs. Rose M. Knox, is the Federation of Women's Clubs for Civic Improvement, whose slogan is, "Beautify Johnstown." It was through the efforts of Mrs. Knox and these women that an appropriation was secured from the State Commission on Parks for the purpose of improving and beautifying the grounds surrounding Johnson Hall. Mrs. Knox is a woman of extraordinary executive ability, who manages the extensive business established by her late husband, the Charles B. Knox Gelatine Co., Inc., and her connection with any public or community enterprise or movement insures success. She is very progressive, commendably generous, and much attractiveness has been added to life in Johnstown through her and her late husband's princely benefactions.

[Johnson Hall Pageant, 1922]

Go to top of page | back to: Chapter 118 | ahead to: Chapter 120

You are here: Home » Resources » MVGW Home » Chapter 119

http://www.schenectadyhistory.org/resources/mvgw/history/119.html updated August 3, 2010

Copyright 2010 Schenectady Digital History Archive — a service of the Schenectady County Public Library