Olden Time - Chapter Twelve
Epenetus Reed - First Sloop Loaded at Coxsackie
Transcribed by Arlene Goodwin. From the book entitled, "Ye Olden Time, as compiled from the Coxsackie News of 1889" written by Robert Henry Van Bergen, together with notations by Rev. Delber W. Clark, and edited by Francis A. Hallenbeck, 1935
Epenetus Reed—First Sloop Loaded at Coxsackie—Men of Note—Old Time Boats—And Many Fact of Deep Interest to Present and Former Resident of Coxsackie.
In continuation of our story of "Ye Olden Time." It is perhaps proper in this place to acknowledge our indebtedness to Mrs. Alexander Reed for some historical data of the Reed family, and it is well enough to advise the reader also, if he deems it worth his while, to connect the reading of the article in this week’s issue with that published three weeks ago, so as to keep the whole narrative entrain.
Epenetus Reed began an active business life in Coxsackie early in the century. He seemed to have had no political aspirations, as the records of the town do not show that he even held an office, except that of Supervisor in the year 1812. He first lived on the hill near the present residence of Hubble Greene. He built the brick store now occupied by W. R. Church as a hardware store, and with Theron Skeel as partner, was extensively engaged in mercantile business. He built the double house on Ely street next south of the Union building. He and Skeel had a joint occupation of that house for a time. Reed afterwards—in the year 1814—built the house which he occupied up to his death and is now owned and occupied by Mrs. Henrietta Reed, relict of his grand son, Alexander Reed. He seemed in early life to have been in possession of abundant means which, with admirable foresight, he invested in real estate which was then held at comparative low figure. He bought largely of lands in Coxsackie Patent, as well as farms of land in Staco Patent and on Coxsackie Flats, in the south part of town.
George Reed, as successor of this father with Epenetus Reed, son of Abijah Reed of the town of Greenville, as partner, continued the store and flagging-stone business for a time, employing sloops for transportation at first and afterwards the barge "Union." Finally after several changes and transfers—occupying some years—to Capt. Gilbert Bedell, H. G. Bedell, Jacob Bedell and Wheeler Powell. Alexander Reed and Wheeler Powell bought out the whole plant in the year 1858 and continued the freighting business by steamer "Mayo."
Thomas Nelson was also engaged in freighting business on the river before 1830. He came from Stanton Hill, a Quaker by birth. His sons, Joseph and Jeremiah, were engaged in a small store business at the Landing. Thomas Nelson obtained from the State a grant of land under water up to the channel bank of the river and built a wharf and storehouse—the wharf now occupied as landing place for the Albany and Catskill steamers. Before the year 1834 he ran a sloop and in that year he put on the barge "Washington," the first vessel of that class ever loaded at Coxsackie. He owned and lived a that time on a small farm which is now included in the farm of F. G. Adams. He failed in business in the year 1839.
Hunt, of Stanton Hill, and William Burling Nelson, under the firm name of Hunt & Nelson, continued the business with the barge "Washington" which boat they soon changed into a propellor and afterwards built a new side wheeler, "The Excelsior." They ran the Excelsior about two years when her boiler collapsed at New York and she was consumed by fire. They then built the "Manhattan", which ran as a freight and passenger boat until their failure in the year.
Ralph Barker and William Kirtland, of Saybrook, Conn., and W. D. Kirtland, son of Judge Dorrance Kirtland, of Coxsackie, were also early in the field as store keepers and freighters, under the firm name of Barker, Kirtland & Co. Their store and office was on the corner of Main and River streets, the stand now occupied by Dolan, as a liquor store, and their wharf was a continuation of Main street up to high water mark and is now owned by the Reed & Powell Transportation Co. Ralph Barker retired from the partnership after a few years and his nephew, Ebenezer Barker, was introduced into the firm. They ran the sloop "Climax" and afterwards in the year 1834, started the barge "Farmer." This firm failed in the year 1850.
Russell Judson and Almet Reed, as partners, were also early store keepers and freighters and dealers in flagging stones. Russell Judson was the son of William Judson, who lived on the hill where Judged Leets *(Judge Leete’s place is present site of St. Mary’s R. C. Church.) owned and occupied. And Almet Reed was the son of Roswell Reed. Judson owned a farm at Stockport, Columbia Co., lived there, and they as partners had a store there as well as at Coxsackie. The store at Coxsackie was located where S. H. Van Dyck’s *(S. H. Van Dyck’s Shoe Store building now occupied by Van Slyke & Vosburgh.) shoe store now stands. They owned two sloops, the "Ben Franklin" and the "Revenue". Almet Reed transacted the business of the firm at Coxsackie and Judson at Stockport. The print works at Columbiaville, Columbia Co., the grain trade and the transportation of flagging stone gave full employment to their river craft.
Roswell Reed, sr., although never engaged in active business in Coxsackie, contributed in various ways to the general thrift and prosperity of the town. He was rated sixty years ago at about $200,000, and his capital was borrowed and used on all sides, in the various industries of the town. He was of a speculative turn of mind, and it is said that his attention was early called to the annual tax sales by the Comptroller at Albany, that is, sale of land by the State, on account of unpaid taxes. He was a very cautious and wary bidder and buyer, and without doubt, at that early period in the history of the State, he made many very profitable investments, which among others were stepping stones to fortune. At that time, before the Erie canal was built and before there were lines of railway transportation, the best and most productive lands in the State, in Central New York, had but a nominal valuation and the buyer of such lands at a tax sale was a very fortunate purchaser. Those very lands after the construction of the canal increased in valuation a hundred fold. And outlet for the production of the land and the transportation of the same to the large cities and the seaboard was at once secured.
Roswell Reed built the brick house *(Roswell Reed House now Wheeler farm, south of the village on Athens road) on the Albany and Greene road early in the century and bought two hundred acres of land immediately surrounding the house and lying on the east and west by the highway. He reared a family of twelve children—five boys and seven girls. Of the boys, Roswell and Almet were more or less in business in Coxsackie. Almet, as before stated, in partnership with Russell Judson, and Roswell as dormant partner with Rufus Lasher in the dry goods trade. Roswell built the brick store on the corner of Main and Ely streets in the year 1853, now belonging to W. H. Winans. Previous to the building was at Kinston, Ulster Co., in partnership with his brother-in-law, Ezra Fitch, in the flagging stone and freighting business. Upon his retirement from business at Kingston he took possession of the homestead place of his father and engaged in farming. He soon sold about one hundred acres of this place, lying on the east side of the highway, to Ezra Fitch, who built thereon a first-class house costing some eighteen thousand dollars. He also sold to Lombard, his brother-in-law, the old mansion house and all the land of the original farm lying on the west side of the Albany and Greene turnpike road.
Roswell Reed was a man of restless, untiring industry and dash, and after the sale of most of the land which belonged to his father’s estate, his ambition seemed to be to carve out a new farm where he might give free play to his own taste in the location of the buildings and general arrangement and division and sub-division of the lands. He accordingly bought a small farm of Nathaniel Browning lying just south of the land sold to Fitch. He also bought the farm lying south of and adjoining the Brownell farm, of the widow Hallenbeck, containing about one hundred and forty acres. Mrs. Hallenbeck lived in the house now occupied by Samuel Stephens. He paid for that farm $125 per acre, a price for a farm of land at that time, about 1854, unheard of, and from that time on the price of farming lands in the vicinity of Coxsackie Landing began to appreciate. He sold the south part of the Hallenbeck farm to John Campbell and his brother William Reed and the land sold to those parties now make up the farm of Samuel Stephens. So that he had remaining a farm of about one hundred and fifty acres, bounded on the east by the Hudson river, on the west by the Albany and Greene turnpike road, on the north by the farm sold to Ezra Fitch, now belonging to John J. Burchell, of New York, and on the south the farm now owned Samuel Stephens. The lines of division between the Fitch farm and the Reed farm, now belonging to F. G. Adams, and the line of division between the Adams farm and the farm of Stephens, are parallel lines running from the river to the Albany and Greene road, and the farm of 150 acres, now owned by F. G. Adams, is today, in its location and appointments in all ways, one of the most desirable country seats along the upper Hudson.