STUYVESANT, COLUMBIA COUNTY, NEW YORK
By Capt. Franklin Ellis79
This is a manufacturing village, containing about seven hundred inhabitants, situated on both banks of Kinderhook creek, near where it passes out of the town. It is eight and a half miles north of Hudson, and three miles east from Coxsackie station, its nearest railway point. The location is elevated, and the surroundings are exceedingly picturesque, constituting this one of the most attractive places in the country. It contains several cotton and woolen-mills, five or six stores, a hotel, and three churches.
Unusual good water-power is here afforded by Kinderhook creek, by two natural falls of forty-five feet and twenty-six feet in height, and about forty rods apart. At the foot of the lower and greater falls the waters of the channel are divided by a point of rocks nearly a hundred feet in height, which forms the headland of an island containing about twenty acres of land. The surface of the island is rocky and covered with a growth of evergreens.
On the east channel, near the lower end of this island, a dam has been constructed to furnish power for the Columbia Woolen-Mill. This factory is the outgrowth of a cloth-dressing shop established here about 1800, by Wm. Van Hoesen. At a subsequent period he manufactured satinets on hand-looms, and when power-looms were introduced speedily adopted them. As the business increased he enlarged his manufacturing facilities, associating his sons, Isaac and Abram, in the management of the business, which was very prosperous until the stringent times of 1837. About that period A. W. Van Hoesen became the owner of the property, and at once instituted important improvements in the mill, greatly multiplying its capacity. By using the most approved machinery he was enabled to manufacture the finer grades of domestic cassimeres and silk-mixed goods, at the rate of ten thousand yards per month. His pattern-list embraced nearly a thousand varieties, and all the goods were finished in the most workmanlike manner, by practical and experienced operatives. The entire product of this mill was shipped to A. T. Stewart & Co., of New York city, and when Mr. Van Hoesen retired from business, in 1872, that firm took the mill, and has since operated it. Several large frame buildings are occupied, about seventy operatives are employed.
On the east side of the stream, below the lower fall, were formerly saw, grist, and plaster-mills, operated by Martin Van Alstyne. In time the property was purchased by Coventry & Mandeville, who erected a paper-mill on the south side of the grist-mill, operating both many years. In 1863, while the property of Wm. R. Dingman, the mills were destroyed by fire, and the site has since been unoccupied.
About 1801 the first paper-mill in the county was erected at the upper falls, by Pitkin & Edmonds. The grist-mill on the site was transformed for this purpose, and the manufacture of paper was carried on after the crude manner of those times, the mill having but one vat. A year later George Chittenden, afterwards the founder of Chittenden's Falls, a hamlet several miles below, on the same stream, purchased this mill, and operated it until 1806, and successfully demonstrated that paper could be profitably manufactured in the county.
This fall has been further improved by a dam seven feet high, and the power is now exclusively employed to operated Mill No. 1 of the Stuyvesant Falls Cotton-Mills. It occupies a three-story frame building, on the east side of the stream, which was erected in 1827, by A. A. Van Alen & Co. It had five hundred spindles. About the same time Mill No. 2 was erected at the lower falls, on the west side, by James and John Waddell. It is a large stone structure, and was supplied with eight hundred spindles. Mill No. 3 of the series is below, and near the last named. It was erected by A. A. Van Alen & Co., in 1845. The material is brick, and it had at that period about three thousand five hundred spindles. These mills are now the property of A. A. Van Alen, and are operated supplementary to each other in the manufacture of cotton printing-cloths. They are supplied with sixteen thousand spindles and three hundred and fifty-two looms, capacitating them to produce one hundred thousand yards per week. To produce this thirty bales of cotton are required, or about sixteen thousand bales per year. The mills at present give employment to one hundred male and one hundred and twenty-five female operatives, some of whom have served here more than forty years, and share with the proprietor the honor of being connected with one of the best mills in the State.
Mathew Coventry was one of the first to engage in merchandising at this place, probably in 1820. He occupied the building in which is now A. W. Van Hoesen's store. A. A. Van Alen was in trade as early as 1837, and many others have been engaged since, remaining but a short time.
Peter Acker is credited with having kept the first tavern, in a house which occupied the site of the present hotel, which was erected about 1871.
The first settled physician was a Dr. Scovel, who did not remain very long. Since 1836, Dr. H. B. Salmon has been the only regular practitioner that remained to become identified with the place. Since 1861 he has also held the position of postmaster of an office established about 1835. Edwin Coventry is said to have been the first postmaster. Among his successors were Peter Van Alen and W. G. Mandeville. A daily mail is supplied from Hudson and Kinderhook.