Learning About New York Part X


Stony Point is a little rough promontory on the west bank of the Hudson nearly a mile below the entrance of the Highlands, having a lighthouse on the summit. It was fortified during the revolution, and was stormed by Gen. Wayne, July 16, 1779. Verplank's Point, on the opposite side of the river, is also a place distinguished in the history of the revolution. The following is from Holmes' Annals:

"The campaign of this year, though barren in important events, was distinguished by one gallant enterprise, which reflected much honor on the American arms. Stony Point, a fortress on the North River, had been taken from the Americans, and strongly fortified by the British. It was at this time garrisoned by about six hundred men, under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Johnson. General Washington, having obtained precise information of the condition of the works, the nature of the ground in their vicinity, the strength and arrangements of the garrison, and the disposition of the guards, and having in person reconnoitered the post, resolved to attempt the surprise of it. The execution of the plan was entrusted to General Wayne, and the troops employed on this service were chiefly from New England. It was the intention to attack the works on the right and left flanks at the same instant. The regiments of Febiger and Meigs, with Major Hull's detachment, formed the right column, and Butler's regiment, with two companies under Major Murfree, formed the left. The van of the right was composed of one hundred and fifty volunteers, led by Lieutenant-Colonel Fleury and Major Posey, and the van of the left, of one hundred volunteers, under Major Stewart. At half past eleven on the night of the 15th of July the columns moved on to the charge at opposite points of the works, the van of each with unloaded muskets and fixed bayonets. Each column was preceded by a forlorn hope of twenty men, the one commanded by Lieutenant Gibbons and the other by Lieutenant Knox, whose duty it was to remove the abbatis and other obstructions. A deep morass, overflowed by the tide, a double row of abbatis, and a formidable fortress, presented serious impediments, but appalled not the assailants. Twenty minutes after twelve, both columns rushed forward under a tremendous fire of musketry and grapeshot, entered the works at the point of the bayonet, and meeting in the center of them at nearly the same instant, compelled the garrison to surrender at discretion."

Troy, the capital of Renssellaer county, 6 miles above Albany, at the head of steamboat navigation, is one of the most flourishing manufacturing and commercial places in the state. The city is built on a plain somewhat elevated above the Hudson, extending from the river back to a range of hills, terminating abruptly about one mile east, and furnishing from their summits (elevated from 300 to 400 feet) a commanding and beautiful view of the city and surrounding country. Mount Ida, directly in rear of the broadest part of the city, and Mount Olympus, in the northern part, are the eminences most distinguished for the fine prospects they afford. Two streams, the Wynantskill and Poestenkill, furnishing extensive water power, empty into the Hudson within the limits of the city, the latter rolling down through a picturesque ravine south of Mt. Ida. The limits of the city extend three miles along the river, and one mile from east to west. It is laid out with much regularity, and is handsomely built. The streets are sixty feet wide, and cross each other at right angles, excepting River-street, which follows the curve of the river, and is the principal thoroughfare of business.

Troy contains a large number of fine public buildings and private residences. The Court House is a splendid edifice, built of Sing Sing marble, of Grecian architecture, with a front of the Doric order. Several of the church edifices are costly structures. The Troy Female Seminary, established here by Mrs. Willard in 1821, is one of the most popular institutions of the kind in the Union. It is beautifully situated in the central part of the city, with ornamented grounds, commodious buildings, etc. The Renssellaer Institute is a polytechnic school of high repute. The Troy City Hospital, under the direction of the Sisters of Charity, annually receives a large number of patients. Troy University, under the patronage of the Methodist denomination, recently erected, stands on a commanding elevation 150 feet above the level of the river; the building is four stories high, in the Byzantine style of architecture. There are about thirty churches, and about 40,000 inhabitants.

Troy is distinguished for the business enterprise of its capitalists and citizens generally. Its situation for trade and commerce has some natural advantages, but has been greatly improved and increased by various canals and railroads, which, centering here, have made this a great thoroughfare for travel and trade, and developed the manufacturing interests of the city. It connects by the Hudson with the Erie Canal at West Troy, directly opposite, and with the Champlain Canal at Waterford, four miles above. Many of the boats which arrive by these canals here discharge their cargoes on board of large barges, to be towed down the river, and receive in exchange cargoes of merchandise passing to the north and west. A dam across the Hudson renders it navigable for sloops to Lansingburg. Steamboats of the first class ply daily between this place and New York. The city contains numerous flouring mills, paper mills, cotton and woolen factories, tanneries, iron foundries, machine shops, rolling mills, etc.

The first settlement of Troy commenced about 1720, in which year Derick Van Derheyden leased 490 acres of the proprietor of Renssellaerwyck, at the small rent of three bushels and three pecks of wheat and four fat fowls annually. This tract now constitutes the most densely populated portion of the city, and was formerly known as the corn grounds of the native Indians. After the revolution, emigrants from New England seeing the advantageous situation of Van Derheyden, as it was then called, came into the place. Being situated at the head of natural navigation of the Hudson, it soon began to outstrip Lansingburg, which had been unwisely located above the "rifts." In 1793, the name of Van Derheyden's Ferry was changed to the more classic name of Troy. It was made the county seat in 1791, incorporated as a village in 1796, and as a city in 1816.

The influential men among the first settlers of Troy were the friends of order and the supporters of the institution of religion. When too few to support a clergyman, they assembled in a store at the sound of a coach horn, and afterward in a school house. Here they usually listened to a sermon read by Dr. Samuel Gall, or Col. Pawling, a revolutionary officer. Rev. Dr. Jonas Coe, a Presbyterian clergyman, appears to have been the first who officiated in the place. The first Episcopal church was erected in 1804, the first Baptist in 1805, and the first Methodist in 1809.

West Troy, Albany county, on the west side of the Hudson, opposite Troy, of which it is properly a suburb or part, is 6 miles above Albany, with which it is connected by a macadamized road. This flourishing place was incorporated in 1836. The Erie Canal connects here, by lateral canals and locks, with the Hudson. The surplus waters of the canal afford great water power, which is extensively improved. One of the largest bell foundries in the Union is at this place. The Watervliet Arsenal, established here in 1813 by the United States, comprises about 40 buildings on its grounds of 100 acres, and is the largest arsenal of construction in the country. It contains about 9,000 inhabitants.

Lansingburg was incorporated in 1801. It is beautifully situated on the east bank of the Hudson, 3 miles above Troy, with which it is closely connected. Formerly it was called the "New City," and at first had a rapid growth. A bridge across the river connects it with Waterford. It is a place of active business, and has a variety of manufactures. Population about 5,000.

The village of Saratoga Springs was incorporated in 1826. It is 181 miles from New York and 36 from Albany. From being a place of resort for a few invalids, it has, in the course of half a century, grown up to be one of the largest and most beautiful villages in the state, and is now, during the summer season, one of the greatest resorts of the wealth and fashion of the country on the continent. It contains about 6,000 inhabitants. During the "heated term" (June, July and August), there are here usually about 2,000 visitors. The citizens have shown considerable liberality in improving and adorning their village. The streets are well shaded by beautiful rows of maple, elm, horse chestnut, and other trees, and the walks of the principal streets are well flagged, rendering a promenade pleasant and agreeable. The hotels, stores, shops, and many of the dwelling houses are lighted with gas, and in the height of the season the principal streets present a thronged and brilliant appearance.

The Saratoga Springs are several in number, and are a continuation of a chain of springs discovering themselves about twelve miles south in the town of Ballston. Congress Spring is the most celebrated; by means of bottling its waters and sending them abroad, its properties have become widely known in various parts of the world. The Putnam Spring, owned by Mr. L. Putnam, is a favorite with many visitants. The Iodine Spring, in the north-east part of the village, was explored and curbed in the autumn of 1839, and was first brought into notice the following summer. The Pavilion Spring, near the center of the village, a few rods east of the Columbian Hotel, was brought to its present condition in 1840, by Mr. D. McLaren, at an expense of several thousand dollars. The Empire Spring has a high reputation. The Union Spring is about a mile from the Iodine. The High Rock, Flat Rock, Hamilton, Columbian and Washington are all quite similar, being highly charged with iron.

The following inscriptions are copied from monuments in the Saratoga graveyard. The first is in memory of Mr. Coleman, the inventor of the Ĉolian Attachment to the Piano so well known in every part of the country:

O. M. Coleman's Monument.

"Obed M. Coleman, died April 5, 1845, aged 28. As well the singers-- as the players on instruments SHALL BE THERE."

"The grave of William Leete Stone, who died at Saratoga Springs Aug. 15, 1844, aged 52. I shall be satisfied in thy likeness." [Col. Stone was the son of a Presbyterian clergyman, and was born at Esopus, N. Y. When quite young he removed to the western part of the state with his father. He was bred a printer at Cooperstown, and at an early age began to write for the public prints. He edited a paper at Herkimer, at Hudson, at Albany, and one at Hartford, Conn. In 1821 he succeeded Mr. Lewis in the editorship of the "New York Commercial Advertiser," becoming at the same time one of its proprietors; he continued in charge till his death. Col. S. was the author of several historical works, the most valuable of which were "Memoirs of Joseph Brandt," in 1838, and a "Memoir of Red Jacket," in 1841, the "Life of Uncas," and "History of Wyoming." These two first works are of the first order. During the whole of his editorial career Mr. S. was distinguished for his high, honorable and Christian principles.]

The brothers of Margaret Miller Davidson have erected this structure as a testimony of their affection. She was the daughter of Dr. Oliver and Mrs. Margaret Davidson, and died at Saratoga Springs, Nov. 25, 1838, aged 15 years and 8 months. She has sculptured for herself a more lasting monument, and when this shall have crumbled into dust her name will continue to be the goods' glowing theme.

Davidson Monument. [Underneath a representation of a broken harp.]

A few short years have rolled along,
With mingled joy and pain,
And I have passed, a broken tone,
And echo of a strain.


Website: The History Box.com
Article Name: Learning About New York State Part X
Researcher/Transcriber Miriam Medina


BIBLIOGRAPHY: Our whole country; or, The past and present of the United States, historical and descriptive. In two volumes By John Warner Barber ... and Henry Howe ...Cincinnati, H. Howe, 1861.
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