COLUMBIA COUNTY, NEW YORK
By Captain Franklin Ellis121
THE HUDSON AQUEDUCT
The project to supply Hudson with pure water, from sources outside the bounds of the compact settlement, was formed just prior to the city's incorporation by a number of citizens who associated themselves together for the purpose. Each subscription of twenty-five dollars entitled the subscriber to one share in the proprietorship, and to the right to lead the water into his house‡ for the supply of the family or families living therein. Non-subscribers were supplied by payment of a reasonable annual tax.
The first meeting of the subscribers for organization was held March 9, 1785, and the first managers or trustees elected were Thomas Jenkins, Daniel Lawrence, Daniel Gano, Samuel Mansfield, Stephen Paddock, and Ezra Reed; William Mayhew, clerk.
The plan was to bring the water to the city through wooden pipes,--logs, bored lengthwise,--and the work was commenced immediately. The supply was first taken from the "Ten Broeck spring," on the farm of John Ten Broeck. By what tenure the association then held this spring does not appear, as no record of purchase is found until Aug. 29, 1791, when John Ten Broeck conveyed by deed to Stephen Paddock, Elihu Bunker, and Samuel Mansfield, inspectors of the aqueducts of the city of Hudson, a piece or parcel of land containing sixty-six and three-quarters perches, with the springs or water thereon, for supplying with water the inhabitants of the city of Hudson.
The work upon the aqueduct appears to have progressed rapidly, and on the 13th of June, 1785, we find the construction committee notifying subscribers to pay in immediately to Stephen Paddock, treasurer, four dollars on each share, "as a number of contracts must be discharged." On the 18th of January, 1786, the aqueduct was announced as completed, and the people of Hudson were for the first time supplied with water of good quality. The total cost of the work, conveying the water a distance of two miles from the source to the city plat, was $2850.
In March, 1790, the Legislature passed "An act for the better regulating and protecting the Aqueducts in the City of Hudson." That act regulated the election of officers, and provided for the establishment of by-laws, which it gave the common council the power to enforce by the imposition of proper penalties for infraction; thus in some measure relieving the association from its previous condition of powerlessness for the protection of its own rights and interests.
For the first seven years the only source of supply to the aqueduct was the Ten Broeck spring; but it was found that this did not at all times furnish a sufficient quantity of water. On the 30th of August, 1791, in view of a scarcity of supply, the council
"Resolved, that John Kemper be appointed to take the pump-brake and upper box from the public pump, and, at the hour of six in the morning, at twelve at noon, and at five in the evening of each day, go with, or deliver it to the hands of some careful persons to be carried to the pump, that each of the citizens applying for water may have an equal proportion; and that said brake and box shall not be delivered at any other times of the day until a constant supply of water shall be found in the pump."
The town-pump referred to was situated near the old market, and was supplied with water by the aqueduct.
On the 19th of July, 1793, Caspar Huyck and John V. H. Huyck conveyed by deed to Stephen Paddock, Cotton Gelston, and Russell Kellogg, trustees, "for the use of the inhabitants of the city of Hudson, under direction of the proprietors of the Aqueduct," a piece of land with springs thereon, called and known as Huyck's springs, situated "southwesterly of the house of Samuel Nichols, now in possession of Luther Dunning." This spring, now known as the "Hudson Fountain," is located on the Claverack road, and is the same of which the Labadists, Dankers and Sluyters, wrote in 1680, "Large clear fountains flow out of these cliffs or hills; the first real fountains, and the only ones, we have met in this country." Connection was made with this spring during the year 1793, and from that day to this it has sent its clear, sparkling tribute to the thirsty city.
It does not seem that the supply was regarded as sufficient, even after the addition of the Huyck spring; for on the 30th of June, 1798, Daniel Clark, Thomas Power, and Alexander Coffin, "trustees of the Aqueducts in the city of Hudson," purchased from Captain John Hathaway, for four hundred and twenty-five dollars, "a lot of about two acres of land, near Peter Hardick's house,, and along the Claverack road† to the northeast corner of the Friends' Burying-Ground, and along Cotton Gelston's land, with stone house, barn, and other buildings, and the well thereon;" their object being to sink wells upon the land, believing (for some reason which is not now apparent) that they would by that means secure an ample supply of water. The project, however, failed of success, and afterwards the "Power spring" was added to the aqueduct's sources of supply.
In 1816, March 22, "An act to incorporate the Hudson Aqueduct Company" passed the Legislature, granting a perpetual charter, and naming as directors Robert Jenkins, William Johnson, Judah Paddock, Ebenezer Comstock, and Gayer Gardner. In December, 1835, the company petitioned the Legislature for an increase of capital, for the purpose of furnishing the aqueduct with iron pipes. This met with considerable opposition, being thought unnecessary, for the reason that new wooden pipes had been laid not long before. This caused a long and vexatious delay; but the measure was finally carried, and the iron pipes were laid in 1841.
It is believed that there exists no purer water than that of the Hudson Aqueduct Company, and that to its purity is attributable the remarkable exemption which the city has enjoyed from fevers, cholera, and epidemics of all descriptions. And although the recently-constructed city water-works furnish more than an abundance, not only for fire and manufacturing purposes, but for every other possible requirement, yet the supplies from the Ten Broeck, the Huyck, and the Power's springs should be highly prized, and never abandoned.
The present (1878) directors of the company are Benjamin F. Deuell, president and general superintendent; Theodore Miller, Jacob Macy, Henry J. Baringer; Cornelius H. Evans, clerk and treasurer.
‡When a house was sold it was usual to sell the proprietorship, or water-right, with it.
†This tract of land was sold by the association, and, after changing hands several times, was purchased by the turnpike company, who cut their road through it, and the remainder was afterwards sold to the Episcopal church.