Johnstown Hand-Book


This handbook is donated by Stephan G. Dennie.  Much appreciation and thanks are due to him
for taking the time to email this project.


This little volume contains a brief history of Johnstown, facts and

information relating to our local government, a business direc-

tory, church guide, telephone directory, fire alarm system

and signals, distance and fare from Johnstown to prin-

cipal points, description of boundaries of election

districts, and other miscellaneous information

relating to Johnstown, making it a valu-

able Hand-Book and work of refer-

ence for every citizen and



Copyright Applied For.





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Due to the size of the hand-book, it has been divided as follows:

On this page:  History and Public Officials

* Business Directory and Telephone Directory

* Community Information & Election Districts

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A Brief Sketch Including the More Important Facts
Relating to the History of the County Seat 
of Fulton County.

    Volumes could be, and have been, written concerning the history of Johnstown. There are, perhaps, few places in this country filled with as many points of historical interest as this thriving city on the banks of the beautiful Cayadutta. It is not our aim to give a history of Johnstown in this brief sketch, but to simply set forth a few important historical facts, such as may lead the reader to become acquainted in a general way with the past record of one of the liveliest and most enterprising cities of the Empire State.

    Johnstown, was founded by Sir William Johnson from whom it takes its name. The word Johnstown is a contraction of Johnson-town. Sir Wm. Johnson was an agent for the British government and for twenty years prior to his advent in Johnstown he had resided at Mount Johnson, on the northerly bank of the Mohawk river "' later called Fort Johnson, and now in the village of Akin.

    In 1763, Sir William moved to Johnstown and built what is known to-day as the old Johnson Hall. This building still stands, is well preserved and is frequently visited by strangers, who, acquainted with its history, find many things of interest connected therewith, and they love to linger amid its lovely surroundings and reflect upon the glory of its past. The Hall is located at a high point at the westerly terminus of West State street, where it commands an excellent birds-eye view of the city and is at present occupied by Mrs. John E. Wells.

    Sir William's removal from Mount Johnson was connected with a movement for the organization of Tryon County, and Johnstown was selected as the county seat. Tryon County was named in honor of Sir William Tryon, who was then Governor of the colony. The village was laid out in four squares, four streets running north and south and four east and west. These streets were not named until after the close of the Revolution and after the Johnson property had been confiscated. Commissioners were appointed by the State to sell the confiscated lands, and these commissioners gave the present names to the streets originally constituting the village of Johnstown.

    The Court House, which stands on North William street to-day, was built in 1772, and the first court was held with Sir Guy Johnson, a son of Sir Wm. Johnson, on the bench, on the 8th day of September, of that year. It was then the only court house between Albany and the Pacific Coast. The jail was subsequently built, and at the same time Saint John's church, which was destroyed by fire in 1836 and which occupied the present site of St. John's church of to-day. Next followed the school house, which stood on the corner of Main and William streets, diagonally opposite the court house, and was intended to be only the beginning of a more extended system of education.

    Sir William Johnson died on the 11th day of July, 1774, at the age of 60 years, and was buried in a vault erected for the family beneath the floor of St. John's church, but he was the only one of the number who ever occupied it. His funeral was the most solemn demonstration the colonists, up to that time, had ever witnessed. The funeral procession numbered more than two thousand, including colonial dignitaries and Indians, who were bereaved of a life-long friend. When St. John's church was rebuilt after the fire in 1836, the porch was erected facing the east, and this left the vault containing the remains of Sir William outside the walls of the church. They were afterwards taken up and reinterred in the church yard a short distance from the south wall of the church, where, to-day, rests all that was ever mortal of Johnstown's illustrious founder.

    At the time of his death the landed estate of Sir William Johnson was (with but one exception) the largest in America. Shortly before his death, he made a will, but this will, on account of the Colonial troubles, was never executed. Within two years after Sir William's death, Sir John, who fell heir to the larger portion of his father's possessions, fled to Canada, and all the other heirs followed him; the immense estate, comprising over 170,000 acres, was soon confiscated, thus relieving the country of the misfortune of a manorial tenure. A lack of space forbids us from going into the details of the life and character of Sir William Johnson, but we must not omit to say that he was by far the greatest man that ever represented the British power in the colony of New York, ranking far superior to any and all the governors appointed by the crown. He was warmly loved by the Indians for the kind solicitude manifested in their welfare, and they made him chief, his title being War-ra-hara. His alliance with the Indians enhanced his power and it became almost boundless in extent.

    After the close of the Revolution, Johnstown was the largest and only prominent place west of Albany. Shortly after the close of the war Tryon County was changed to Montgomery County, and many adventurers found their way to Johnstown where they found a large and desirable field for enterprise. For a number of years Johnstown's court house and jail were the farthest west in the state, and for this reason attracted a large amount of business from distant points. Johnstown was a flourishing and thriving village when Rochester and Buffalo had no existence. It was the great centre of the fur trade of a vast frontier, and as it was the greatest point of both professional and commercial importance, these combine in the growth of the place.  Its commercial importance gave occasion for an unusual number of hotels, and Johnstown, in the early days of its history, could boast of nine well appointed inns where the weary traveler could find all the comforts of home.  In the early days, following the Revolution, Johnstown was honored by the presence of many prominent personages. Few persons to-day are aware that the great French patriot who sacrificed rank and fortune to assist in bringing about American independence, the Marquis de Layfayette, was at one time a guest at Union Hall tavern in the easterly part of this city.

    Johnstown was incorporated as a village in 1808, the trustees being Daniel Cady, Daniel Paris, Caleb Johnson, Caleb Grinnel and Daniel Holden. The assessed valuation of all the real estate in Johnstown at the time of incorporation was $80,000.00, while to-day it is fast approaching $3,000,000,000.

    The old Academy on South Market street, now occupied as a glove shop, was erected in 1796, and many there were who secured their education at this institution of learning, who afterwards won distinction, and held high and honorable positions in the various walks of life.

    The severest blow to Johnstown, during its earlier history, was the loss of the public buildings by which this place ceased to be the county seat. A speculating company laid out the village of Fonda and succeeded in obtaining a legislative bill removing thither the county seat. The residents of Johnstown strongly resisted the movement and made every possible effort to defeat the scheme of the speculators, but to no avail. Fonda became the county seat of Montgomery County. This, however, led eventually to the creation of Fulton County, and on April 18th, 1838, Johnstown again became a county seat. A duplicate set of records was given to the new county, and the old court house was reopened for judicial proceedings.

    It will, perhaps, prove interesting to the reader to learn the origin of the glove industry. In the early part of this century, Talmadge Edwards came hither from Massachusetts, bringing the art of dressing deer skins. He made leather breeches and mittens and taught the art to his New England friends who settled in Kingsboro. Edwards continued to manufacture breeches and mittens, but it gave little promise. It was from this, however, that sprung the great industry that it is in Fulton County to-day.

    Among the earliest names connected with the manufacture of gloves in Johnstown we find A. S. Van Voast, Jonathan Ricketts, L. Bertrand, Marcellus Gilbert, James McMartin, D. H. Cuyler and Samuel Hill.

    The first merchant in Johnstown was Robert Adams, a native of Ireland, and a man of high character. His store was a large frame building which stood on William street next to the plot occupied by the Sir Wm. Johnson Hotel.

    Among the earlier members of the legal profession in Johnstown we find the names of Daniel Cady, Daniel Paris, Mathias B. Hildreth, Howland Fish, Aaron Haring, John W. Cady, Peter Brooks, William I. Dodge, R. H. Cushney, Henry Cunningham, Benjamin Chamberlain, Abraham Morrell, Donald McIntyre, Chas. McVean, John Frothingham and Edward Bayard.

    The old court house on North William street has been the scene of many thrilling trials, and many world famed men, in time gone by, have participated in the legal contests fought there. One case was tried in this old building in which Aaron Burr and Thomas Addis Emmett were both retained.

    It will, perhaps, prove interesting to note that the first shot fired in the Revolution, west of the Hudson river, and the last engagement of the great conflict, occured at Johnstown. After general hostilities had terminated by the fall of Yorktown, and on the 25th day of October, 1781, occurred the battle of Johnstown --the last engagement of the American revolution. This battle was fought near Johnson hall, the British forces under command of Colonel Ross, the American forces led by Colonel Marinus Willet. The latter were successful.

    Johnstown furnished many able soldiers in the second war for American Independence and for the great civil strife, still fresh in the memory of many of our people, but a lack of space prevents us from going into details of another interesting chapter of Johnstown's history.

    Johnstown is, to-day, one of the most thriving and enterprising cities in the Empire State. Its principal industry is the manufacture of Gloves and Mittens, having nearly one hundred factories for the manufacture of these articles in which several thousand people find profitable and congenial employment. Johnstown is 800 feet above the sea level, its surroundings picturesque and its climate equable and healthful.

    The up-growth of Johnstown has not been as rapid or magical as some other centres of population and industry of New York State, but the town's progress has been steady and solid, and our people have been spared sudden inflations and collapses born of the speculation that characterizes the history of some communities. The advance the town has made has been firm and permanent, and its manufacturing and commercial enterprises are noted for their stability and the conservatism which marks their management. It is, indeed, a pleasing fact to the Johnstown people, that while there has been an almost general decline in land values since the present industrial depression set in, this decline is scarcely marked in this city, real estate holding its own and commanding a normal figure under the most adverse circumstances. This fact bespeaks more strongly than words of the stability of the place. 

    Johnstown was incorporated as a city on the 9th day of May, 1894. The first board of aldermen was composed of the following members: John F. Cahill, James F. Mason, Eli J. Miller, John P. O'Neil, Geo C. Potter, Frank Randall, Geo. A. Stewart, James Stewart and Sidney E. Trumbull.  Johnstown's first mayor was Jacob P. Miller, at the present time an extensive glove manufacturer and president of the People's Bank.

    Johnstown has an area of 530 square miles. The city, is indeed, well equipped with schools and churches, a list of which will be found hereafter, and a water supply unrivalled by any of the smaller municipalities in this state. In 1894, the existing water supply was determined to be inadequate for the needs of the people, and the following year an additional supply was secured by constructing a pipe line from the Cork Centre Creek, a small stream of pure spring water, located about four miles westerly from the city. The present supply meets all requirements of the present, and what it is reasonable to assume will be needed for many years to come.

    The citizens of Johnstown are public spirited and enterprising, and every public enterprise receives their hearty co-operation. The city has a paid fire department, and as its efficiency has been so well demonstrated on many occasions, further comment is not needed here.


The following is a list of the members of the present Common Council, other city boards and other facts and information relating to our local government which will be found both useful and interesting to our citizens:



Chas. M. Knox, Mayor, term expires, January 1st, 1898;

Geo. R. Collamer, Alderman at Large, term expires January 1st, 1898;
Chas. O. Wait, Alderman, Ward 1, term expires January 1st, 1899;
John P. O'Neil, Alderman, Ward 1, term expires January 1st, 1898;
Lincoln S. Jennings, Alderman, Ward 2, term expires January 1st, 1899;
Cornelius A. King, Alderman, Ward 2, term expires January 1st, 1898;
Willard Selmser, Alderman, Ward 3, term expires January 1st, 1899;
William T. Thyne, Alderman, Ward 3, term expires January 1st, 1898;
William Berry, Alderman, Ward 4, term expires January 1st, 1899;
Richard Windsor, Alderman, Ward 4, term expires, January 1st, 1898;

William W. Crouse, Clerk, January 1st, 1898.

Order of Business.

1. Presentations of petitions.
2. Presentations of claims and accounts.
3. Matters pertaining to opening and widening of streets.
4. Reports from city officers.
5. Reports from standing committees.
6. Reports of select committees.
7. Motions and resolutions.
8. Unfinished business of previous session.
9. New business




Auditing Board. - Richard Windsor, chairman;
John P. O'Neil, Cornelius A. King, William T. Thyne.

Ways and Means. - Cornelius A. King, chairman;
William Berry, William T. Thyne.

Judiciary. - Geo. R. Collamer, chairman;
Willard Selmser, Richard Windsor.

Fire Department. - Chas. O. Wait, chairman;
Lincoln S. Jennings, William T. Thyne.

Police and Police Regulation. - Richard Windsor, chairman;
eo. R. Collamer, Cornelius A. King.

Public Property, Printing, and Supplies. - Willard Selmser, chairman;
John P. O'Neil, Geo. R. Collamer.

Streets, Highways and Bridges. - John P. O'Neil, chairman;
Willard Selmser, Richard Windsor.

Electric Lights, Lamps and Gas. - William T. Thyne, chairman;
Lincoln S. Jennings, Chas. O. Wait.

Public Buildings. - Geo. R. Collamer, chairman;
Cornelius A. King, John P. O'Neil.

Claims, Ordinances and Rules. - Cornelius A. King, chairman;
Lincoln S. Jennings, William Berry.

Sidewalks, Crosswalks and Gutters. - Lincoln S. Jennings, chairman;
William T. Thyne, Richard Windsor.

Pavements and Gutters. - Geo. R. Collamer, chairman;
William Berry, Lincoln S. Jennings.

Relation of City and County Claims. - William Berry, chairman;
Willard Selmser, Chas. O. Wait.

Construction of Buildings. - William T. Thyne, chairman;
William Berry, Chas. O. Wait.

Common Council meet at the council chamber, in city hall, in regular session, on the first and third Monday's in each month, at 7:30 P.M.



John Dewey, President, term expires January 1st, 1898;

Henry Alfrey, Ward No. 1, term expires January 1st, 1899;
Chas. W. Rowles, Ward No. 2, term expires January 1st, 1898
Asa J. Brown, Ward No. 3, term expires January 1st, 1899;
Geo. A. Stewart, Ward No. 4, term expires January 1st, 1898;
W. W. Crouse, Clerk, term expires January 1st, 1898.


Standing Committees, 1897.

Rates and Grievances. - Alfrey, Dewey, Rowles.
Extension. - Stewart, Dewey, Brown.
Reservoir. - Brown, Alfrey, Stewart.
Audits. - Stewart, Brown, Rowles.
Finance. - Rowles, Dewey, Alfrey.

Water Commissioners meet, in regular session, at the common council chamber, in the city hall, on the first and third Tuesday's in each month, at 7:30 P. M.



Chas. M. Knox, ex-officio  President, term expires January 1st, 1898;
Jacob Y. Moore, term expires January 1st, 1900;
Henry S. Yost, term expires January 1st, 1900;
John M. Burdick, M. D., term expires January 1st, 1899;
M. S. Northrup, term expires January 1st, 1899;
Chas. Prindle, term expires January 1st, 1898;
John W. Hagadorn, term expires January 1st, 1898;
J. M. Joslin, M. D., Health Officer, term expires January 1st, 1898;
W. W. Crouse, ex-officio Clerk, term expires January 1st, 1898.

Board of Health meet, in regular session, at the common council chambers, in the city hall, on the first and third Wednesday's in each month, at 7:30 P. M.


Examining and Supervising Board of Plumbers and Plumbing.

M. S. Northrup, chairman, January 1st, 1899
Frank Randall, January 1st, 1900
William Van Ness, January 1st, 1899
Wesley Eynes, January 1st, 1898
 J. M. Joslin, M. D., January 1st, 1898
 Omer J. Hotaling, secretary, January 1st, 1898.

Plumbing Board meet, in regular session, at the parlor of the W. S. Northrup Hose Co., No. 2, in the city hall, on the second Monday of each month, at 7:30 P. M.



 David V. Still, M. D., term expires 1899;
Borden D. Smith, term expires 1899;
John L. Way, term expires 1899;
Chas. M. Putnam, term expires 1898;
Byron Hulbert, term expires 1898;
John M. Dougal, term expires, 1898;
Harwood Dudley, term expires 1897;
W. H. Colgrove, term expires 1897;
F. L. Carroll, term expires 1897.

John M. Dougall, President;
Morris Saxton, Clerk;
Wm. S. Snyder, Superintendent of Schools;
W. J. Northover, Attendance Officer

Meetings of the Board. - Monday preceding the last Friday of each month at 7:30 P. M., in the library room, high school building, Montgomery street.

Superintendent's office. - High school building, Montgomery street;
office hours, 8:00 to 9:00 A. M. and 3:00 to 3:45 P. M., each school day.


Calendar, 1897

Annual School Election, Aug. 4;  Holiday vacation, Jan. 4;  Regents' examination, Jan. 25-29;  Second term begins, Feb.1;  Lincoln's birthday, Feb. 12;  Washington's birthday, Feb. 22;  Regents' examination, March 22-26;  Arbor day, May 7;  Memorial day, May 30;  Flag day, June 14;  Regents' examination, June 14-18;  Commencement, June 23;  Examination for Cornell scholarship, June 5;  Examination for state certificate at Albany, etc., Aug. 23-27.

Annual School Election - The annual election of school officers is held on the first Tuesday in August in each year; the annual meeting of the Board of Education is held on the second Tuesday in August of each year.  At each annual meeting the board as constituted for the preceding year is dissolved and a new board organized.



Recorder. - John C. Mason, term expires Jan. 1, 1898;  court chamber in Fairchild building, corner Main and Market streets; court hours, 9 to 12 A. M. and 2 to 5 P. M.

City Chamberlain. - Frederick J. Moore, term expires Jan. 1, 1898; office in city hall; office hours, 8 to 12 A. M. and 1 to 5 P. M.

City Attorney. - Andrew J. Nellis, term expires Jan. 1, 1898; office in Stuart Henry building, West Main street.

Commissioner of Charities. - John C. Holmes, term expires Jan. 1, 1896; residence, Prospect street.

City Physician. - J. W. Joslin, term expires Jan. 1, 1898; office 217 West Main street.

Superintendent of Streets and Water Works. - Chas. C. Abel, term expires Jan. 1, 1898; office, city hall.

City Engineer. - James W. Miller, term expires Jan. 1, 1898; office Windsor building, South William street.

Chief of Police. - Thompson Morgan, term expires Jan. 1, 1898; office at police headquarters, city hall.

Chief Engineer, Fire Department. - Wm. H. Board, term expires Jan. 1, 1898; residence, No. 105 Mason street.
First assistant; John Jackson, term expires Jan. l, 1898.
Second assistant, John Topp, term expires Jan. 1, 1898.

Plumbing Inspector. - Omer J. Hotaling, term expires Jan 1, 1898; office in council chamber, city hall.

Justices' of the Peace. - W. W. Smith, term expires -Jan. 1, 1898; office, Edwards building, West Main street, 3d floor, over Bannister's book store. 
Gordon S. Van Alstyne, term expires Jan. 1st, 1898; office in the old Johnstown bank building, West Main St., second floor.

Constables. - Marvin Hillabrandt, term expires Jan. 1st, 1898; residence, 3 East Fulton street. 
James D. Straight, term expires Jan. 1, 1898; residence, 1 East Fulton street.

Assessor. - Daniel Stewart, term expires Jan. 1, 1898; residence, 37 Chestnut street.

Supervisors. - D. H. Van Heusen, ward 1, term expires Jan. 1, 1898;
Nellis Getman, ward 2, term expires Jan. 1, l898;
Isaac Foot, ward 3, term expires, Jan. 1, 1898;
Ezra Nare, ward 4, term expires Jan. 1st, 1898.

Police Department -Chief, Thompson Morgan;
Patrolmen:  William Lentz, Alex. Kilmer, Myron Shufelt.


Continued  - on to the Business Directory

Return to Fulton County NYGenWeb


Copyright 1999, Jeanette Shiel, Stephan G. Dennie
All Rights Reserved.

Last updated Tuesday, 13-May-2008 13:12:11 PDT