Charles B Knox Gelatine Co. Inc.
Edition of
The Old Mohawk-Turnpike Book

VIEW OF THE CITY OF AMSTERDAM.
Taken from the Chalmers Knitting Co. mill, on the south side, showing
bridge across the Mohawk, the New York Central Railroad and station,
(on extreme right) and the business and manufacturing center of
Amsterdam.  Green Hill Cemetery is seen on right horizon.

   

AMSTERDAM.

(Montgomery County)
    

Turnpike Mileage Distances.

  

(Over N.Y.C.R.R., N.Y., 175 m; Buff., 264 m.. Pop. 1920, 33,524; 1910, 31,267; sea elevation, 267 ft.)

Amsterdam Turnpike and New York-Buffalo Highway Distances.

Eastward: Cranesville 3 m., Hoffmans Ferry 7 m., Schenectady 16 m., Albany 31 m., New York 180 m.

Westward: Fort Johnson 2 m., Tribes Hill-Fort Hunter 5 m., Auriesville Shrine (by detour to south side) 7 m., Fonda-Fultonville 11 m., Johnstown (by detour) 14 m., Gloversville (by detour) 17 m., Yosts (the Noses) 17 m., Sprakers 20 m., Canajoharie-Palatine Bridge 23 m., Stone Arabia churches (by detour) 26 m., Fort Plain-Nelliston 26 m., Palatine Church 29 m., St. Johnsville 32 m., General Herkimer Homestead (by detour) 40 m., East Creek 35 m., Finks Basin Bridge (Fall Hill) 40 m., Little Falls 42 m., Herkimer 49 m., Mohawk 50 m., Fort Herkimer Church (by detour) 52 m., Ilion 52 m., Frankfort 54 m., Utica 64 m., Whitesboro 68 m., Oriskany 71 m., Oriskany Battlefield Monument 73 m., Rome 79 m., Syracuse 114 m., Rochester 211 m., Buffalo 268 m.

The next important point west is Fort Johnson, 2 miles. East is Schenectady, 16 m.

Amsterdam is pleasantly located on both sides of the picturesque Chuctanunda (a Mohawk word meaning "stony"), its hills sloping upward from the Turnpike to a maximum city elevation of 380 feet above the Mohawk, 635 feet above sea level. This point is just where the street passes the city limits into the northern suburb of Rockton, in which the famous Sanford racehorse stock farm (1924) is located. Part of Amsterdam lies on the south shore on both sides of the South Chuctanunda. The south shore hill here rises to a sea level elevation of 800 feet, or 545 feet above the river.

A road to Saratoga leads cross-country from Amsterdam. Roads run south to the Schoharie.

  

Amsterdam - Industrial.

Amsterdam was incorporated as a city in 1885. In 1910, 34 per cent of the inhabitants were of foreign birth and 32 per cent of foreign parentage, the peoples of southern and eastern Europe predominating. Amsterdam is situated in the valley of the Mohawk river, on the Barge canal and the New York Central and the West Shore railroads. Trolleys connect with Schenectady, Albany, Fonda and Johnstown-Gloversville. The city is an important industrial center, with principal manufactures of rugs, carpets, knit goods, brooms, silk gloves, wool yarn, pearl buttons, box board and paper boxes, linseed oil and machinery. Amsterdam is an important trading center for the adjacent farming section. The city has 70 miles of streets, of which about 30 miles are improved, electric lighting service, a sewer system, municipal water works, two parks, playgrounds, homes for children and aged women, two public hospitals and a tuberculosis sanitarium. A bridge here crosses the Mohawk.

Amsterdam industries in 1912, employing over 1,000 operatives, were: Carpets and rugs, 4,116; hosiery and knit goods, 3,905. Broom making employed 801; silk and silk goods, 770; woolens and worsteds, 546. Amsterdam is a growingly important industrial center. Its industries started here because of the water power furnished by the Chuctanunda creek, which has been considerably developed since 1848.

Amsterdam in 1909 had 97 factories with 10,776 employees, an annual manufactured product valued at $22,000,000, which value had doubled in ten years. It has the largest number of industrial operatives and output value of any of New York's 43 cities between 10,000 and 50,000 population. Its chief industry is rug manufacturing in which it is the second rug making city in the State, Yonkers being first. This is also the first city in broom making in New York State. Broom corn at one time largely covered the Mohawk valley flatlands. This important crop is now grown in the west. Hagamans, a village to the north, and Fort Johnson to the west are virtually parts of Amsterdam.

In 1919 Amsterdam had 117 factories with 19,299 primary horsepower, capital of $40,449,000, 11,497 workers receiving $11,404,000 annually, and a total yearly manufactured production of $52,851,000 (1920 U.S. Census report).

Amsterdam is rapidly becoming the largest rug and carpet making city in America and the world. Amsterdam is not only an unusual and important manufacturing city but it is picturesquely situated on the steep hills rising from the Mohawk river. The city has great historical interest as the site of Sir William Johnson's first (1738) valley location and the site of Guy Park, built here by Sir William in 1766. Fort Johnson (!749), just west of the (1924) city limits is the site of Johnson's second valley location and his first baronial home. Fort Johnson village is in reality part of Amsterdam and will doubtless soon actually become so. It is so considered in this book.

The North Chuctanunda creek enters the Mohawk on the north bank and the South Chuctanunda on the south shore directly opposite. Chuctanunda means "stony creek."

The Chuctanunda creeks are also said to have been named from an overhanging stony ledge on the north bank of the Mohawk, such stony points or projections being called "Chuctanunda" by the Mohawks.

  

Lock No. 11, Dam No. 7.

Lock No. 11 and Dam No. 7, Barge canal Erie section, here located, are also known as the Amsterdam lock and dam. There is a river water level rise of 12 feet here, from 255 feet sea level below, to 267 feet above the dam. There is a Barge canal terminal dock at Amsterdam.

The Amsterdam level extends five miles westward to the Tribes Hill dam. The Amsterdam Barge canal lock and dam afford travelers through the Mohawk valley an unusually good opportunity to inspect the working of these feats of canal engineering. This is particularly so because tourists can visit historic Guy Park and then look over the Barge canal lock and dam close by. These Mohawk river moveable dams are unusual and can be seen only in the lower Mohawk valley.

  

Amsterdam Historical-- Sir William Johnson's First Location, 1738.

The Mohican tribe of Algonquin Indians were resident in the lower Mohawk valley before 1600, when the Mohawk tribe of Iroquois drove them out. Very few Mohican village sites have been found but one was unearthed in the township of Amsterdam in 1923.

Doubtless the first settler in the present limits of Amsterdam was William Johnson (Sir William Johnson, 1755), who located on the south shore road, in the present southeastern part of the city in 1738. He came here from Ireland to superintend the estate of his uncle, Sir Peter Warren, a retired admiral of the British navy, then resident in New York city. The admiral's lands lay in the present town of Florida, opposite Amsterdam. Johnson, then 23 years old, built a log house (his first home) and a store and here began his momentous and influential career. In 1742 he removed to Fort Johnson. Thus Amsterdam can claim the young, vigorous figure of Johnson as a patron city father just as Johnstown has the wise and honored baronet, and Schenectady proclaims the great Van Corlear as its founder. Likewise Utica has John Post, Rome has General Gansevoort (who defended Fort Stanwix at Rome, 1777), and Herkimer has General Herkimer, Fonda has Major Jelles Fonda, Fort Plain has Colonel Willett, Ilion has the later figure of Eliphalet Remington and so through most of the valley towns, which claim some figure as its patron city father, as a representative symbol of the municipality.

Johnson's place at Amsterdam was known as "Johnson's Settlement." Here he married his first wife, Catherine Weisenberg, who was variously said to be Dutch and a German girl. Johnson paid his neighbor, Phillips, 10 pounds for his housemaid, to reimburse him for the girl's passage money from the "old country." Sir William Johnson's son, John, was born here at Amsterdam in 1742, and in 1743 Col. Johnson and his family removed to his newly erected buildings, on the north shore, about two and a half miles westward.

  

Guy Park
Erected 1766 by Sir William Johnson for his daughter Mary, or "Polly", 
who married Col. Guy Johnson.  Built between King's Highway (where 
Central tracks now run) and the Mohawk river, then a waterway of 
commerce.  Guy Park is seen from Central railroad and the Turnpike.  Now
state property, under the care of Amsterdam Chapter, Daughters of the
American Revolution, with historical collections open free.

Guy Park, 1766.

Another Johnson - Col. Guy Johnson - was one of Amsterdam's pioneer residents. Guy Johnson was a nephew of Sir William and married Mary, one of Sir William's daughters. In 1766 Sir William Johnson built here, on the north side of the river close to the Turnpike, a low two-story stone house for his nephew and his daughter. With its adjoining estate it was known as Guy Park.

For ten years Guy Park was a brilliant social rendezvous of the small circle of pretentious Tory military aristocracy of Tryon county, of which Johnstown was the center. It was the scene of Tory conference and Tory plotting in the feverish years preceding the Revolution. On Sir William's death, in 1774, Col. Guy Johnson succeeded him as Indian Commissioner. Then Guy Park became a council house for the Iroquois and other Indian warriors who gathered here to confer with the Tory successor of the Great White Chief Warraghegagey, which was the Indian name of their beloved and respected Sir William Johnson.

The following is a brief sketch of the Guy Johnson of Guy Park: For his day Guy Johnson was a talented man of considerable education, who inherited much of his uncle's talent in his diplomatic dealings with the Indians. Johnson was skilled in map-making and clever as an artist. His sketch of Fort Johnson, now in the collections there, shows his ability. In 1777 he is described as "a short, pursy man about forty years of age, of stern countenance and haughty demeanor, dressed in a British uniform, powdered locks and a cocked hat." He was born in Ireland about 1740. He was a lieutenant in the British service and about 1762 was appointed an Indian deputy after which he exchanged his commission for land in the Mohawk valley. He was so successful on a mission to the Onondagas that the tribe gave him the title U-ragh-quad-ir-ha, meaning the "Rays of the Sun enlightening the Earth."

Mary or Polly Johnson, daughter of Sir William, was courted by John Carden but Guy Johnson won her. Feb. 4, 1763, they were married. Sir William presented them with Guy Park, a property a mile square, where he built a frame house for them, which was struck by lightning and burned. Great attention was given to the gardens and fruit trees of the place. In 1764 little Polly Johnson, a daughter, arrived. In 1766, the new stone house was completed and beautifully fitted out with furnishings from London and an organ from New York. All these goods came by sloop up the Hudson to Albany, from whence they were portaged to Schenectady by wagon and from thence came by boat up the Mohawk, which was then the valley freight route. In 1767 Guy Johnson was made a colonel in Sir William Johnson's New York Colonial Militia forces. In 1770 Guy became master of St. Patrick's Masonic Lodge of Johnstown. In 1772, on the formation of Tryon county he was made county judge and, on the death of his uncle, Sir William, in the same year, he was made British agent for the Northern Indians, including the Mohawks and the Iroquois. He was closely watched by American patriotic authorities on the outbreak of the Revolution, because of his strong Tory leanings. Before this time Johnson had strongly fortified Guy Park.

At Guy Park, May 25, 1775, Johnson held a council with the Indians and the neighborhood magistrates, after which he immediately called another council at Canajoharie (present Indian Castle). To this place Johnson went with his entire following, including his negro slaves, Joseph Brant and the two Butlers. Without stopping there they went to Fort Oswego and there the party joined the British forces at Oswego. Mary or Polly, wife of Guy Johnson, died July 11, 1775, at Oswego.

Col. Johnson fought with the British forces in the Revolution and on several occasions was with raiding parties against his old valley neighbors.

Col. Guy Johnson died later in London March 5, 1788. His daughter, Mary or "Polly," later married the British Field Marshal Lord Clyde.

After Johnson's flight Guy Park was confiscated by the American Revolutionary authorities and later was sold. After a career as a tavern and a handsome private residence, the property had a varied career. The building was altered and the roof raised about 1846 and the two wings were added in 1858. About 1905 the State bought it for Barge canal engineering purposes. It was restored and turned over to a State Commission of five members of the Amsterdam Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution. Guy Park is now a public historical museum and the home of the Chapter. This result was brought about through the efforts of a member of this Chapter. See "Fort Johnson and Guy Park," a pamphlet by C. F. McClumpha and Elma Strong Morris.

Sir William Johnson also built another stone house for his second son-in-law, Col. Daniel Claus, west of Guy Park and between here and Fort Johnson. This was burned later and never rebuilt. With three Tory mansions situated so closely together, this was naturally a strong Loyalist center prior to the Revolution.

See "Old Fort Johnson" by W. Max Reid of Amsterdam, which contains much relative to Guy Park. See Reid's "Mohawk Valley."

  

The Ghost of Guy Park.

Mary, daughter of Sir William Johnson, married Col. Guy Johnson. After Col. Johnson's flight to Canada in 1775, Guy Park was confiscated by the Tryon County Committee of Safety, and was leased to Henry Kennedy, who occupied it with his family. The Kennedys affirmed that the specter of Mary Johnson, then deceased, revisited her old home much to their discomfiture.

The Johnson lady's apparition was said to have appeared in the northwest room just off the hall entrance. These ghostly visitations were later explained by the supposition that they were attempts by female agents or spies, employed by the Johnsons, to secure valuables and papers which had been placed in secret closets alongside the fireplace in this "ghost chamber." The Guy Park ghost is said to have been "laid" by a spy in the guise of a German traveler, who secured the desired articles, after which the visitations ceased. This German awoke the family by a pistol shot in the dark hours of the early morning. He said the ghost appeared and he fired his pistol point blank at it, whereupon it disappeared immediately. The man mounted his horse and rode away, telling the Kennedys the ghost would not reappear and it is said from that time on that the spirit of Mary Johnson was never again seen in or about Guy Park.

In the busy days of the old Mohawk Turnpike, Guy Park was a famous turnpike inn and stopping place for large freight wagons.

Guy Park figures in Robert W. Chambers's historic novel, "The Lost Children."

Barge canal traffic and the operation of its locks can be easily seen at the lock in the river close to Guy Park.

  

Revolutionary Boy Scout Capture, 1779.

During the Revolution, in the town of Florida, south of Amsterdam, two Tory spies, Lieut. Newberry and Sergt. Hare, were captured in 1779. Hare, a bloodthirsty Tory, who had murdered women on the frontier, was taken by Francis Putnam, a fifteen-year-old "rebel" and an American boy scout of his time, who lay in ambush for Hare with a rifle and captured him. The spies were hung by Gen. Clinton on a hill at Canajoharie, in sight from your car. (See Canajoharie.)

  

Veddersburg, 1783-1804.

During the Revolutionary war Aaron Vedder settled at the mouth of the Chuctanunda, and built a saw mill and grist mill. Here he was captured by Indians but escaped. Other early settlers were E. E. DeGraff, Nicholas Wilcox and William Kline. A ford was here located at Stanton island, below Amsterdam. Ross's and Butler's British-Canadian-Indian regiment of raiders crossed the Mohawk to the north shore on the morning of Oct. 25, 1781, on their way to defeat on the battlefield of Johnstown. The beginnings of Amsterdam date from the close of the Revolution (1783) when settlers began to locate on and at the mouth of the Chuctanunda. The little hamlet was called Veddersburg from Aaron Vedder, its first permanent settler. In 1800 the Reformed Dutch church of Veddersburg (now Amsterdam) was built here. A map of 1807 shows about fifteen houses, five mills, a hotel and the Dutch church. The Chuctanunda is thereon called "Tjoughtenoonda, a never-failing stream."

The Chuctanunda was early used for manufacturing and in 1802 there were five mills located on it, while in 1816, the number had increased to seventeen. Prior to 1804 the hamlet here located was called Veddersburg, from its first settler at the mouth of the Chuctanunda. In 1804, by popular vote, the name was changed to Amsterdam in honor of the chief city of Holland, from which came the ancestors of many of the residents of this section. In 1813 there were some forty odd buildings here, of which twenty-five were dwellings. In 1821 a bridge was erected across the Mohawk and in 1831 the growing settlement was incorporated as a village.

In 1840 Amsterdam is described as having a toll bridge over the Mohawk, 4 churches, 1 bank, 1 academy, 1 female seminary, 14 stores, 2 grist mills, 2 furnaces, 1 carpet manufactory, 1 printing office, 1 scythe factory and "various other manufactories," with 250 dwellings and a population of about 1,700.

The south side village grew up after the Erie canal was built in 1825, and was called Port Jackson, prior to its incorporation in the city of Amsterdam in 1885.

The following dates regarding Amsterdam are of commercial and manufacturing interest: 1840, carpet manufacture begun at Hagamans; 1842, William K. Greene carpet factory started at Amsterdam; 1848, manufacture of linseed oil started; 1857, knit goods manufacture begun; 1860, first Chuctanunda water power reservoir constructed; 1868, first broom factory; 1876, second Chuctanunda water power reservoir built; 1885, Amsterdam chartered as a city.

  

Birth of Amsterdam Carpet Industry, 1840.

The story of the carpet industry's location and growth at Amsterdam forms an absorbing chapter in the romance of American business. In 1836 William K. Greene, Sr., met with business reverses in Connecticut and removed to Poughkeepsie, where he met a Scotchman named Douglas, who was a dyer and whose father was a manufacturer of ingrain carpets in Scotland. Mr. Greene thus became interested in carpet manufacture. One day in looking through the New York Herald he saw an advertisement of an old mill and dwelling at Hagaman (north of Amsterdam). Mr. Greene and Mr. Douglas came to Hagaman and rented the property for $100 a year. They purchased six hand looms, loaded them on a sloop for Albany, brought them to Hagaman, and so this great Amsterdam industry began in the year 1840 in this northern suburb - as the result of advertising and of a keen man's eye happening to scan that advertisement. The business was removed in 1842 to Amsterdam and there grew rapidly.

  

Co. G, 105th Infantry, N. G. S. N. Y.

The armory of Co. G, 105th Inf., New York Guard, is located at Florida Ave., corner of Dewitt street.

This company was mustered into service as the 46th Separate Co., N. G. N. Y., Sept. 3, 1888. It was mustered into service May 16, 1898, as Co. H, 2nd New York Volunteer Infantry during the Spanish-American war and performed field service at Chickamagua Park, Ga., Fernandina, Fla., and Averill Park, N.Y., until mustered out of U.S. service Nov. 1, 1898. A junior guard company, organized here as the 146th Sep. Co., became Co. C, 301st N.Y. Vol. Inf., when a second junior 146th Sep. Co. was here recruited. Following the Spanish war the Amsterdam Guard Co. became Co. H, 2nd Inf., N. Y. G.

Co. H was federalized and mustered into service June 23, 1916, and did duty on the Mexican border, with the 2nd Inf., until October, 1916, when it was sent home and mustered out of U.S. service Nov. 19, 1916.

It was mustered into U.S. service with the 2nd Inf., N. G. U. S., at the entrance of United States into the World war in 1817. It did guard duty at and near Whitehall, N. Y., and later trained at Camp Wadsworth, N.C. Here the 71st Inf., N. Y. G., and the 13th Inf., N. Y. G., were joined to the 2nd Inf., N. Y. G., forming the 105th U.S. Inf., and the Amsterdam company became amalgamated as Co. H, 105th Inf., 27th U.S. Division, and as such took part in the breaking of the Hindenburg line near Bony, France, Sept. 25-29, 1918. Co. H was mustered out, after its return to America, April 1, 1919. Following Co. H's entrance into U.S. service in 1917, a new N.Y. Guard company was here recruited, which guarded the Barge canal from Cranesville to Oswego, with 3 officers, 138 men and 27 posts, along the 150 miles of canal. It was relieved of active duty Nov. 30, 1918.

The Amsterdam company is now Co. G, 105th Infantry, 27th division, New York Guard, a federalized unit of the United States Army.

  

  

  

      

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