STUYVESANT, COLUMBIA COUNTY, NEW YORK
By Capt. Franklin Ellis78
Stuyvesant Landing, on the Hudson, and also a station on the Hudson River railroad, ten miles north from the city of Hudson, is a pleasant village of four hundred inhabitants. It has an active freighting business to New York city, and contains several manufactories importance. There are, also, a number of stores, a hotel, and three churches. The business part of the village is along the river, but the residences are principally on the bluffs, which here form a pleasant elevation, on which are some fine houses. The place was formerly know as Kinderhook Landing, and was first improved at the lower part of the present village, near the springs. The current of the river having shifted from the shore at that point, caused the landing to be established at its present place some time about 1800. At the old or lower landing, Medad Butler‡ had a public-house, and was, also a sloop-owner. Butler and Van Valkenburgh had a store in the house now occupied by Jacob Hendere as a cigar-factory, and which is probably the oldest building in the village. These and the usual shops gave the place for those times a busy appearance.
At the upper landing, Van Valkenburgh & Pruyn were in trade, and were followed by Alexander McMachem, and Butler & Vosburgh. The latter was an extensive real estate owner, and disposed of much of his interests to Abel S. Peters, who was for many years a leading business man.
About this time, 1816, the freighting business began to assume importance, and was carried on by Abel S. Peters, Walter Butler, and Stephen Wendover. The former had the upper dock, where, in 1819, he erected a warehouse which is yet standing, and which is now occupied by A. Davis. Wendover was at the lower dock, and Butler occupied the intermediate place. Each owned a sloop, making a trip to New York every fortnight. About 1836, the "Kinderhook and Stuyvesant Steamboat Association" was formed, and the "United States," Captain George Mayhew, commander, placed on the line between Stuyvesant and New York. Walter Butler was the managing agent of the company, which, after several years' operation, was obliged to close business on account of financial difficulties. Wendover & Son next had a line of propellers, among the boats being the "Wyoming" and the "St. Nicholas." During the Rebellion the latter was sold to the government. About the same time the propeller "A. Davis" plied between the two points named until it was also sold to the government. Both Davis and Wendover then employed barges. The latter was succeeded as a freighter, in 1868, by Henry A. Best & Co., who are still in business. Captain Davis has continued in this capacity since 1833, excepting a period of ten years, when J. Wilcoxson and others occupied this dock.
The barge line was displaced by the propeller "Andrew Harder," in 1870, which has since been run as either a regular or opposition boat. Other boats plying from the landing to New York have been the "Walter Brett," the "Escort," and the present "Charlotte Vanderbilt," which makes three trips per week, and being a large boat, affords excellent freight and passenger accommodations.
Two miles north from the landing, on the east of Stuyvesant side of the river, is a United States light-house. (Click to see a picture.) It was built in 1829, and refitted in 1854. It is constructed of stone and brick, painted white. The height of the tower is thirty-two feet from its base, and thirty-eight feet from the water. It contains a No. 6 lens, which affords a fixed light, visible at a distance of ten nautical miles.
One of the first hotels at the upper landing was kept by Peter Ackers, in a frame house standing on a lot which is now used by the track of the railroad. In 1841, Gilbert Clapp became the proprietor, and he and his sons have conducted it ever since. The present spacious house was built in 1873.
The post-office was established with the name of Kinderhook, and afterwards Stuyvesant Landing. It is at present known as the Stuyvesant office, and has, since 1861, been in charge of E. Murrel, Jr. The office has also been held by Walter Butler, Alexander Bidwell, Peter I. Houghtaling, P. L. Schermerhorn, George B. Shultz, E. J. Smith, and Baltus P. Van Slyck.
A Dr. Stevens was one of the first to practice medicine at the landing. Dr. Nelson Rusk came at an early day, and was successful practitioner about forty years. Drs. Hollister, Van Aken, and Van Slyck, were also here for short periods. Dr. P. K. Pomeroy is the present physician. In former days a Dr. John M. Crouse, the famous mad-dog doctor, lived in Stuyvesant. He is said to have effected some remarkable cures, and was consulted by people living at great distances from the place.
The manufactories of the village have a comparatively recent origin. About 1853, Backus, Smith & Sargent opened a stove-foundry, on the dock now occupied as a coal-house by Best & Co., where several patterns of stoves were manufactured, which met with sufficient favor to warrant the erection of a larger foundry, on the present site, about four years later. A number of changes in the ownership of the property ensued, the firm becoming, about 1863, S. W. Gibbs & Co., who established a business that extended to all parts of the Union; and several stoves which were here designed and manufactured attained a national reputation. Among these were "Gibbs' Cook," which is a model for that class of stoves, the "Texas Star," the "Radiant," and "Fire Basket" heaters; and several ranges of very desirable patterns. The list comprised a large number of patterns and several hundred sizes, whose manufacture required the employment of fifty men. In 1873, Gibbs & Co. retired from business, and the foundry was thereafter operated but a few months a year until the beginning of 1878, when the works came into the possession of the "Stuyvesant Stove Company." This is an incorporated body, having nine members and the following officers: William Yungblut, president; Wm. Henzel, secretary; Wm. T. Greer, treasurer; and James D. Rourk, superintendent. The manufacture of the best of the Gibbs patterns are continued, and many new features are constantly added. The works occupy a very large brick building, with convenient foundries attached. It is supplied with power from a good engine, and there is ample capacity to produce six hundred stoves per month. At present thirty men are employed.
The Stuyvesant Steam Flouring-Mills were erected about 1856, by Peter and Thomas Houghtaling and George B. Shultz. They occupy a large frame building on the dock, and are supplied with four run of stones and improved machinery. The motor is a fifty horse-power engine, and the capacity is one hundred barrels per day. Best & Wilcoxson are the present proprietors.
Four miles north from the landing the manufacture of bricks has been carried on extensively, employing twenty-three operatives, and producing twenty-four thousand bricks per day.
‡ Medad Butler was born in Brandford, Connecticut 18 Jan. 1766 married Hannah Tylee and is buried in The Butler Cemetery on Rte 9-J Stuyvesant Landing.