Olden Time - Chapter Six
An Old Mill - Upper Landing
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
An Old Mill—The Upper Landing—A Cracker Factory— Sloop Navigation—Remarks on Roads—Mr. Durkee’s Work.
An article on Coxsackie Patent, recently closed with an account of the Dunscomb purchase. In connection with that it may be added that seventy years ago a saw-mill was located on that site along Coxsackie Creek, just below the bridge over Diepe Clove Kill where it empties into Coxsackie Creek might have been conducted on and over a 20-foot water wheel. That mill was in use for many years, but at last, on account of the scarcity of timber, it was abandoned.
In reference to the Upper Landing we may additionally state at an early period a village site was laid out on paper, into blocks and streets, and was named "Carthage." The location was just west of the ice house on land formerly owned and occupied by Charles Titus, who kept a store at that place. The property was, at a late day, purchased of the heirs of Titus by E. N. Hubbell and utilized for brick making.
There was, in fact, a nucleus at the Upper Landing about which gathered at an early day several enterprises. Among other things a cracker manufactory was established at that place by one Titcomb; and water was conducted from a point some three miles away in pipe logs of three inches calibre into the settlement, in the year 1806. A lawyer’s shingle was hung out, and a clergyman, W. H. Cahoone, was located in the large yellow house, just east of the intersection of Lafayette Avenue with the Upper Landing road. He preached as well in the Second Reformed church.
It seems, however, that very soon after the firm of Baker & Co., collapsed, that there was a diversion of business interest towards Reed’s Landing, and from that time on the Upper Landing has been on the wane, and the Middle Landing and Lower Landing of today are the business centers of the town.
Hitherto most of the farmer’s products had been transported to New York on sloops. Even loose hay, or hay unpacked, was carried, and people who had occasion to go to the city took passage on the sloops of that day, and with favorable wind and tide, made a quick passage. But with the growth of population and increase of farm products a more commodious vessel than the old-fashioned sloop became necessary, and the barge was substituted, it being towed by a steamer; and today a daily liner of steamers seems to be necessary for the transportation of farm products to the city, as well as the return of commercial goods from the city to the country.
Contemporaneous with the apparent growth of the Upper Landing, Upper Coxsackie Valley was also the center of a large trade seventy years ago, and it too had gradually lost its prestige and has merely a local trade. But it yet occurs to many of us that Coxsackie, notwithstanding its prosperity and the enterprise of its corporate powers in improving its roads, providing ample facilities for the education of the masses, and in various other directions making provision for the general welfare and prosperity of the whole, yet needs a boom of some kind to enliven the tide of progress and accelerate the general current of business.
In this connection it may be well, and we are glad to chronicle the statement, that the mind of the public, having been pretty well concentrated on the fact that our roads everywhere have been for a year, at times, almost impassable, that our corporate authorities, under their new charter and an improved plan and by the use of better material and under the direction of a superintendent well qualified for the position, are diligently and substantially improving the roads in the corporation.
This is a good work. The roads are the great arteries through which flows all the market production of the farmer. In fact, the opening and building and good condition of a road is the first sign of the transition period of the savage state to that of civilization. They are to the body politic, in a sense, what the veins and arteries are to the human body, and it has been well said of old that the condition of the roads affords a pretty safe criterion whereby to judge of the progress and cultivation of the people, and it is to be hoped that there may be an overflow of zeal in this direction which may lead to some improvement of the country roads as well.
When the summer visitor from the city begins to cast about for a pleasant abiding place during the hot season his first inquiry is almost always as to the roads, and his selection of a summer resort is very much controlled by the fact of good roads.
To fill up the space allotted to us for these jottings and recollections, disjointed and disconnected as they are, we will briefly refer to an enterprise inaugurated and successfully prosecuted some sixty years ago between the middle and lower landings and it illustrates the fact that the initial work of an enterprise, although not deemed at that time of much importance, may yet be remotely of very great value.
Mr. Durkee began the work of excavating and digging down the bluff and filling in the bay of the river up to the channel bank, thereby adding that much to the wharfage, and we will remember that while the work was in progress it was believed by the public, at best, as only the visionary project of a madcap. This work was in fact the beginning of the growth of the Lower Landing and added very much to the commercial facilities of the town generally.
The old ice house and the store houses of D. M. Hamilton now occupy the space filled in.
Durkee, the proprietor of the work, failed before its completion, and the unfinished job was bought out by other parties. Capt. Isaac Smith, who lived at the Lower Landing, opened a store there and was engaged in sloop navigation and a general freighting business. He was truly the beginning of the business at the Lower Landing, which has been so fortunately perpetuated by his successors, and he was probably more benefitted by this work of Durkee’s than any other party inasmuch as he was the principal purchaser of a bankrupt estate at a low valuation.
The highway along and over the bluff, which intersected the old Albany and Greene turnpike near the house of Wm. K. Reed and ran southerly to the Lower Landing was located originally on and over the east side of the dwellings now standing below or south of the church, but the location was changed when the work of excavation was commenced because the old road was deemed a dangerous one for travelers.