By Capt. Franklin Ellis312
This flourishing incorporated village is situated on the south bank of the Steeny creek, a little west of the centre of the southern line, and partly in the town of Ghent. It is distant from Hudson sixteen miles, and twenty-seven miles from Albany. The location is very fine, being on dry, elevated ground, securing good natural drainage and the healthfulness of the place to a remarkable degree. The site of the principal part of the village was originally owned by William Thomas, who inaugurated the first business enterprise about1812. Shortly after, Captain Peter Groat settled in the place, which was long known as "Groat's Corners," then as "Chatham Four Corners," and since 1869 by the present name. Besides the Groat and Thomas families, the early settlers of the place were John L. Sharp, a cabinet-maker; Hezekiah Hulburt, wagoner; Joseph R. Coleman, miller; and Jethro Bunker, James Bullis, Edward Hunter, James Tobias, and Samuel Van Alstyne, farmers. Edward Dorr was the physician, and Simeon Van Deusen the lawyer.
The growth of the place was slow and unimportant until it became a railroad centre, since which it has assumed a substantial and village-like aspect. A destructive fire in 1869 swept away a long block of frame buildings, which have been rebuilt with fine and substantial business blocks of brick. The railroads give the village a busy appearance. It is an important station on the Boston and Albany line, the northern terminus of the New York and Harlem, and the Hudson and Boston railroads, and the southern terminus of the Harlem Extension railroad. All have stations in the village, and more than a hundred trains arrive and depart daily. The population is estimated at two thousand.
The fist tavern in the place was opened by William Thomas, Jan. 1, 1812, in the present "Stanwix Hall," which was built in the previous year by Thomas. In a few years he was succeeded by George Bain, and he, before 1816, by Peter Groat, who also owned a stage-line and kept the post-office in his house. This place has been in continuous use for tavern purposes, and is now kept by M. S. Beach.
In 1815, William Thomas erected the Park House, in which Ebenezer Crocker and others kept pioneer taverns; and in 1840 a third house was opened for the accommodation of travelers by William Raymond, on the site now occupied by Hoes' Hotel. The "Francisco House" was opened at a later day.
The first store in the village was opened in the Park House, about 1815, by William Thomas. He was succeeded by Ebenezer Crocker, who sold out the goods and opened a tavern. Joseph R. Coleman and Israel McCord had the second store, in a small house farther up the turnpike. Solomon Crandell came to the place in 1829 to engage in trade, and two years later moved his store into the Yellow house, at the point formed by the meeting of the two turnpikes. This place he occupied until l855, and since that period has continued in business farther up the street. John H. Mesick opened a store about 1840, and William Tator, William I. Peak, Jared Best, George L. Morris, Homer Crandell, and others have been active merchants for many years. Since 1869, S. & J. W. Boright have been the leading dealers in lumber and building materials, and now transact a heavy business in their line. The various branches of trade are represented by more than a hundred firms.
The manufacture of gloves was formerly carried on very extensively by H. D. Simpson, but has been suspended for the present. The other manufacturing interest are elsewhere noted.
The post-office was established at "Chatham Four Corners" prior to 1818, and Ebenezer Crocker appointed postmaster. In 1820 the position was filled by Peter Groat, and subsequently for twelve years by Solomon Crandell, John Cadman, and others. The office is at present administered by W. H. Barnes. There are nine mails in, and an equal number out, daily, and the volume of matter received and sent is very large.
The banking interests of the place were first represented in 1859, by the "Columbia Bank," organized under the general banking laws of the State, as a bank of issue and deposit with a capital of $100,000. William A. Woodbridge was president, and S. M. Jewell cashier. In June, 1867, it closed its business as a State bank, and became a private banking institution, conducted by William A. Trowbridge & Co. It failed in June,1873.
On the 1st of March, 1875, the present State Bank of Chatham village was established as a bank of deposit and discount, with a cash capital of $50,000, and the following directors: C. M. Tracy, Daniel Clark, Joseph C. Ford, T. R. Burrows, W. H. Parson, Isaac Son, George A. Birch, Edmund L. Judson, George L. Morris, John D. Shufelt, A. H. Stark, John M. Bailey, Walter F. Hurcomb, Charles R. Knowles, and Samuel Moffat, President, George L. Morris; Vice-President, Talcott R. Burrows; Cashier, Samuel Moffatt. A neat building on Kinderhook street is occupied by the bank.
The learned professions have from the first been ably represented in Chatham village. As a physician, Edward Dorr came to the place among the first-settlers, continuing in practice many years. Doctors Lofus, Hyatt, and Green came about 1835, and Doctors Bourn and Foster followed soon after. Dr. James T. Shufelt has been in the place in practice since 1830, and has a contemporary in Dr. William C. Bailey. Other resident physicians are Doctors W. H. Barnes, Frank Maxon, and John T. Wheeler.
One of the early lawyers was Martin Van Deusen, who had an office on the site now occupied by Judge Cadman's. P. W. Bishop, now of Troy, and Elijah Payn, of Hudson, practiced law next in the order of time. Hugh W. McClellan has been here more than twenty-five years. He has served as surrogate, and is at present county judge. John Cadman has been in practice since 1853, excepting his service as county judge in 1871. Alvah D. Roe, Horatio H. Wright, and Charles Baurhyte have been in practice; and W. C. Daley, since 1865; Nathan Post, since 1867; Lewis J. Brown since 1869; and George K. Daley, are now practicing attorneys.
The press of Chatham will be found mentioned in the chapter devoted to that subject in the general history of the county.
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