History From America's Most Famous Valleys
Little Falls, Chartered 1811
150 Years of Progress, 1961
Excerpts will be used from this book.
Map of the City of Little Falls, 1961 use your back button to return to this page.
Churches of Little Falls
Although Sir William Johnson built a church for the Mohawk Indians at Indian Castle in 1770, there are no records of any religious meetings in Little Falls until after the Revolution. Various missionaries traveled up and down the Mohawk Valley, but it was 1792 before a church was decided on in Little Falls.
In the safe of the Rev. Harold Thompson are the records of our first church, known as Octagon church because it was an eight-sided building. On September 26, 1792, a meeting was held and eighty-eight subscribers agreed to ., furnish funds to build a union church. As might have been expected, John Porteus, who held title to all the land on the north side at this time, was the leader in the movement and agreed to donate the land for a church and burial ground, and twenty pounds. A second meeting was held at the inn of John Morehouse on April 4 of the following year, with Major Jacob Petrie presiding and Evans Wharry elected clerk. The name Columbia church was decided upon and the pews were to be auctioned off. If the Dutch and English were unable to agree on a preacher who could speak both languages, they could hire their own and preach alternately. This practice was followed through many years, with one denomination using the church in the morning, another in the afternoon and a third in the evening. In cold weather the school was preferred as it was much warmer there. The eight sides of the church denoted that it was intended for all denominations, and each one used it at one time or another, before it was torn down. This common beginning, of all creeds, has handed down a heritage of tolerance through the years.
Pastor Thompson has the journal in which John Porteus kept his accounts and which shows the progress of the church construction. The first entry is on June 11, 1793, when Isaac Roach, one of the contractors, was paid four pounds for securing subscriptions. On July 29 the first lumber arrived. Ox teams were hired to clear the ground in August and a raising bee was held on September 5, 1793. The only expenses were for nails and two gallons of rum, to. refresh the workers. The last entry that year was on November 14, and a total of 99 pounds, 89 shillings had been spent.
Work was started on February 4, 1794, and on October 17 Mr. Porteus purchased a large quantity of yellow paint, so the exterior must have been completed by that time. The residence of John Porteus on Sixth Street was always referred
to as the "Yellow House", so that must have been his favorite color.
Burr and Roach were the carpenters and there are but two entries in the journal in 1796, but in December, 1797, there was an order for 1000 feet of oak lumber, so one wonders just when the church was actually used for the first time.
John Porteus died in 1799 and his son-in-law, William Alexander, had a dispute with the members of the church in June, 1801. He claimed that they had agreed to pay their subscription, but that he (Porteus) had expended 262 pounds while they had paid in only 68. He stated that he hoped the church wouldn't have to be sold to raise the balance. This dispute, however, didn't prevent Mr. Alexander from painting the church that year.
In 1802 a missionary, the Rev. John Taylor, visited Little Falls and described the Octagon church as having a weather vane, but no tower, and made a sketch of the building. On December 31, 1804, the Columbia church was disbanded and the Concord Society organized to manage the Octagon church.
As might be expected, all was not concord with the Concord Society, since many groups were using the same building. One faction favored Judge Sanders Lansing and the other George Feeter. Strangely, both represented the Ellice family at one time or another.
The church was repaired from time to time, notably in 1818 when the steeple was rebuilt and a tower added. In a copper ball under the weather vane, the following memorial was found: "This house was erected in the year of our Lord, one thousand seven hundred and ninety six, under the direction of John Porteus, Abraham Neely, Nicholas Thumb and Harry Klock, and completed in the year of our Lord, one thousand eight hundred and eighteen under the superintendence of:
Building committee: Doctor James Kennedy, John Dygert, William Girvan; Master builders: Joseph Dorr, William Loveland; Workmen: Dan Dale, James Dorr, Benjamin Carr, Sanford Pierce, James Sanders, Martin Easterbrook; Apprentices: Robert Wharry, William Haddock; Rev. Hezekiah N. Woodruff, Pastor. Little Falls, 23 April 1818, in the writing of Josiah Parsons."
As each denomination using the Octagon church became larger, they decided to build a church of their own, until only the Catholics and Universalists were using the venerable structure when it was torn down in 1842.
The first parish to erect a church of their own was the Baptist denomination. On June 17, 1815, the first Baptist meeting was held in this locality at the Fairfield school. In 1821 the Rev. Calvin Carpenter was ordained in Fairfield and was the first minister. In August, 1828, a committee was appointed by the Fairfield church to meet with Baptists from Little Falls, and advise the latter on organising a church. The first meetings in this city were held in the brick house of James Sanders, now standing on Garden Street at the head of Mary Street, on December 25, 1829. A meeting was held in the Octagon church on January 27, 1830, and the Rev. Calvin Carpenter was invited to spend half of his time with the local parish. The Baptist Society was incorporated on December 21, 1830, at a meeting in the stone school. Although the Octagon church was in use the school was preferred in the cold months. Alanson Ingham and the Rev. Calvin Carpenter were elected trustees at this meeting, the other trustees being Daniel Rogers, Parley Baton, Henry Haman and Stephen Brown. On March 12, 1831, the Ellice Estate sold the lot at the southwest corner of Albany and Mary Streets to the Baptist Association and the church was dedicated on March 31, 1832. William Chase furnished the wood work and James Sanders the mason work. In 1857 the church was enlarged and in 1876 the Sunday School was added. At this time, the old steeple was replaced by the twin towers and the church was rededicated on April 18, 1876.
It is interesting to note that the Rev. Francis Bellamy, author of the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag, was pastor of our local Baptist church, 1879-1885. A park on Gansevoort Street is named in his honor and a monument was erected there, bearing the words of the Pledge. The present pastor, the Rev. Frederick Thorne, has served since 1949. Other pastors through the years have been: Rev. Henry C. Cooper, 1905-1922; Rev. Paul Swarthout, 1922-1927; Rev, Charles Allnatt, 1927-1949.
The second denomination to have a church of their own were the Presbyterians. A large number of the original members of the Octagon church were of this denomination, and like John Porteus, were Scotch or of Scotch descent. The first mention is found back on March 6, 1794, in a bill of sale for timbers, sold to Evans Wharry for "The Presbyterian Church at Little Falls."
The Rev. James Joyce was pastor of the Octagon church, 1812-1813, and his journal is in the possession of the present pastor, the Rev. J. Harold Thomson. As Little Falls had become a village the previous year and the community was growing, the Presbyterian members decided that the time, was right to organize a strictly separate society. The church was organised by the Rev. E. I. Mason on June 29, 1812, and the first Elders, Abraham Neely and Thomas Smith, were chosen on March 16, 1813. Daniel Talcott was the delegate to the Oneida Presbytery on February 2, 1813, when the local church was admitted.
The First Presbyterian Society was incorporated on April 16, 1831, when Elisha Capron was appointed clerk; William Pardee, treasurer; and John Dygert, collector. The same year the Rev. James Ostrom purchased a lot at the corner of Albany and Ann Streets and in 1832 a brick church was built on this site. This church was enlarged from time to time and in 1878 had a seating capacity of 400. A meeting was held in the basement on May 1 of that year, and it was
Photos of the Little Falls Churches, six churches. Use your back button to return to this page.
More Photos of the Little Falls Churches, six churches. Use your back button to return to this page.
in 1833, Father Beecham, Father Martin and Father Stokes. Some of these priests came down on horseback, and services were held in various places. The first pastor to be appointed to Little Falls was Father Burke in 1840. In 1842, when only the Universalists and Catholics were using the old Octagon church, it was torn down, and then both denominations used Washington Hall, located on South Ann Street, and torn down in 1958'59. About this time it was decided to erect a Catholic church on John Street, where St. Mary's School stands today. Voluntary labor prepared the foundation and the new church was completed in time to have Mass on Christmas day, 1847. In 1850 a wooden school house was huilt next door, and in 1855 a brick parish house was built. On June 20, 1866, boys playing with matches set fire to the church, which resulted in a loss of ten thousand dollars, only half of which was covered by insurance. Services were then held in Keller Hall, which is the building housing the National Auto Supply Store on Main Street. A new brick church was built at the northeast corner of Alexander and Petrie Streets. In June, 1867, Rev. Francis Van Campenhoudt was appointed pastor, and the cornerstone of the new church was laid on August 6. The new church was dedicated August 8, 1869, by Bishop Lynch, with an open air Mass. Unfortunately the design of the church was defective, and in a few years steel rods were placed from wall to wall to tie the walls together. The church was still unsafe, however, so it was necessary to build another. In 1874 work was started on the present St. Mary's stone church at Alexander, John and East Main Streets. In 18 73'18 74 services were held in the Skinner Opera House while the Petrie Street church was being trussed up. The cornerstone of the stone church was laid on May 19, 1879, five years after work began on the foundation. Thomas Dale was the stone contractor and William Dorr had the contract for the carpentry work. The new church was first used on Christmas Day, 1879, when Mass was first celebrated. The two lower floors of the present parish house were built in 1892 and, in 1901, the present steeple and chimes were built on the church. The Rev. E. A. O'Connor became the pastor on the death of Father Thomas Farrell in 1909, and he rebuilt and enlarged the school in 1911 and rebuilt the interior of the church in 1915. Father O'Connor passed away on January 30, 1938, and was succeeded by the Rev. William Noonan. The present pastor, Rev. Thomas Scott, was appointed after the death of Msgr. Noonan, which occurred on February 15, 1959. St. Mary's first cemetery was just north of the Church Street cemetery, where Arthur Street extension is now located, and was a gift of Richard Ray Ward in 1839. In 1864 the Sherman Street cemetery was purchased and the old one was closed in 1904. In 1922 the new cemetery on the Herkimer road was purchased.
ST. PAUL'S UNIVERSALIST CHURCH
While the church in Eatonsbush was in no sense the arent church of the Little Falls Universalist Church, servvices were held there before there was a parish locally, and many drove up to attend Universalist services. There was a union church at Eatonsbush as early as 1800 and when the church was rebuilt in 1844 the Universalists owned half of it. Around 1910 the church was moved across the road, md today is part of the O'Hara barn, and the location of he pulpit is still apparent in the plaster walls. Just when ervices were first held in the local Octagon church is unknown, but the Rev. George Lisher lived here, 1823'1825. n June, 1823, a Universalist newspaper, the "Gospel Inquirer" was published here. Various preachers came to Little Falls holding services in the Octagon church or stone school, and in 1842, when the Octagon church was torn down. Rev. Dolphus Skinner and Rev. Aaron Grook were hired to preach alternate Sundays in Washington Hall. The tolerant spirit of the times is shown by the meeting of the Mohawk Valley Universalists, held February 22, 1849, in the Baptist Church. The Methodist Church was used by the Universalists for funerals. In 1848-1849 Temperance Hall, now the Journal fe? Courier building, was built and rented to the Universalists until October 1, 1855, when they purchased it for $3,850. The Universalist Society was incorporated May 3, 1851, under the Rev. J. H. Harter. On November 1, 1865, the lot on which the present church stands was purchased. The cornerstone was laid August 1, 1867. the Rev. Dolphus Skinner offering the prayer and giving the address. The church was dedicated on June 9, 1868. At that time the name, "St. Paul's Universalist Church" was adopted. The Sunday School was organized as early as 1850 and John I. Zoller, still an active member, was superintendent for 25 years. George W. Boyle is another member of long standing.
The Rev. J. H. Harter was the first resident pastor, in 1848. Others, through the years, have been the Rev. Richard Eddy Sykes, later president of St. Lawrence University; Rev. Henry Carey, who left to serve as a missionary in Japan; Rev. Seth Rogers Brooks, Rev. Lewis Lowry, Rev. Truman Menadue, Rev. Howard Gilman, Rev. Leland Stewart, and Rev. Leon Simonetti, who was succeeded in 1958 by the present pastor. Rev. Robert Sterling.
CHRIST EVANGELICAL LUTHERAN CHURCH
This year marks the sixty-first anniversary of the founding of Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church. Edward Kurzback is the only living member of the first church council. The preliminary steps for the establishment of the church were taken in 1899 by Edward Kurzback, August Galowski, Carl Bollman and others, who invited the Rev. Dallman, of Herkimer, to come to Little Falls and hold services in Temperance Hall. When the Rev. Carl Schroeder came to Herkimer as pastor, he continued the work in Little Falls, which on February 4, 1900, with 24 members, led to the establishment of the church. Though small in numbers, the congregation soon took courage to buy the old Armory on Petrie Street for two thousand dollars. Work was commenced to fit it up for religious services and Carl Haug was the architect. The congregation had become incorported on August 5, 1900, and the same year the congregation joined the Synod of New York. Having become large enough, it was decided to sever connections with Herkimer and call a pastor. On the 21st of December a call was extended to the Rev. Carl Schroeder, who had served the people, together with the Herkimer charge. He accepted the call and came to Little Falls on April 1, 1902, and with renewed zeal and energetic efforts plans were made to pay off the mortgage and prepare to build a new church. On November 30, 1903, the mortgage was paid and by August 13, 1905, it was decided to build a new church according to plans prepared by Carl Haug. The price was $6,500 and the builders were Isaac House and George Gressler. The cornerstone was laid on September 13, 1905, the dedication taking place on May 27, 1906. A twenty-fifth anniversary celebration was held in 1925 and a fifty-year celebration in 1950. Under the pastorate of the Rev. Gustave Reuman a parish house was built on Loomis Street which was later sold and the present parsonage, at 97 Church Street, was acquired.
The pastors, through the years, have been: the Rev. Carl A. Schroeder, 1901-1908; the Rev. Paulus R. Burgdorr, 1908-1912; the Rev. Gustave Reumann, 1913-1923; the Rev. J. F. Kark Riebesell, 1923-1950; the Rev. John W. Schuke, 1950-1957; the Rev. Walter 0. Huegel, 1957 to the present.
HOLY TRINITY EVANGELICAL LUTHERAN CHURCH
Because the Y and J are written similarly in Slovak, Little Falls became the home of a large number of Americans of Slovak descent. Mrs. Anna Mocko Ragan planned to settle in Little Falls, N. J., but through error came to Little Falls, N. Y. She wrote back to friends in her native Myjava describing the place in very favorable terms, and many migrated to this city. At first meetings were held in the homes, and in 1897 first church services were held in Christ Lutheran Church. In 1900 the Rev. Karl Hauser conducted services and he urged that the members organise a congregation. On August 2, 1903, he conducted a service at Christ Lutheran Church, at which the congregation was organized under the name of the Holy Trinity Lutheran Church. The first land purchased was for a cemetery, and there were several additions through the years. In May, 1911, a building fund was started, and ground broken for the present church on May 14, 1912. The cornerstone was laid on June 23, and the church was dedicated on May 13, 1913. Officiating at the dedication were the Rev. Gustav Reuman and the Rev. Ladislav Boor. It was a year later before the first pastor. Rev. Paul Putra, was called. Rev. Martin Slabey became pastor in 1920 and a parsonage was purchased at 554 East Jefferson Street. The Rev. Thomas Smrcka served the parish from 1925 to his death in 1934. The Rev. George Billy was pastor from October 1934 until the time of his death on December 8, 1958.
The present pastor is the Rev. John Klc, who is a native of this city.
ST. NICHOLAS CHURCH
The first Ukrainian immigrants to settle in Little Falls came from Western Ukraine in 1906. There were a hard working people who, soon after their arrival, organised a Ukrainian Catholic congregation which became the foundation of the present parish.
They began to build the church on Upper Furnace Street in 1911, completing it the following year at which time it was dedicated in the name of St. Nicholas. The dedication was officiated over by a Ukrainian Catholic priest, the Very Reverend Ircha.
Because of a shortage of priests this parish as well as those in Utica, Rome and St. Johnsville were looked after by a visiting priest, and it was not until July 4, 1960, that Bishop A. Senyshyn of Stamford, Conn., appointed a resident priest to the Little Falls parish. To accommodate their priest the parish purchased and remodeled the parochial home at 245 Church Street.
The Ukrainian community of Little Falls numbers approximately 300. These people form their own parochial group incorporated as a parish of the diocese of the Ukrainian Catholic Church of Stamford, Conn.
The present pastor is Father Ivan Mak.
ST. JOSEPH'S CHURCH
The first large group of Italian natives to come to Little Falls were those engaged in building the West Shore Railroad, which was opened on October 1, 1883. And, like the Irish sixty years previously, many remained and their descendants are still living here. At first these people attended St. Mary's Church, but in 1923 St. Joseph's Parish was formed and a frame church was built at the northeast corner of East John and Mary Streets. The Rev. Anthony Spina was the first pastor and his home adjoined the church, a frame building on the east side. The church was opened on Sunday, July 29, 1923.
In 1933, after serving the parish for ten years. Father Spina was transferred, and the Rev. Joseph Connolly became the pastor.
On January 23, 1937, tragedy struck the new parish, when fire destroyed the church and parish house. After looking over the ruins, it was decided that it would be more practical to build a new church than to repair the damaged one. The house and lot on the southwest corner of Albany and William Streets was purchased and the present brick church was built. It was consecrated on November 25 of the same year. The altar is of red Numidian marble and there are seats for 350, 60 in the balcony. The frame house, west of the church, was purchased for the rectory.
In 1941 the Capuchan Sisters of the Infant of Jesus were established in St. Joseph's and the Stanton house, on Hancock Street, was rented for their residence. The Sisters of the Presentation are now serving the parish and they reside in the former rectory, west of the church. On October 10, 1943, the Dr. McEvilly house, to the rear of the church on John Street, was purchased for the pastor's residence. On July 23, 1948, the twenty-fifth anniversary of parish was celebrated and Bishop Gibbons was here. In 1952 the Rev. Joseph Connolly was transferred and the Rev. Anthony Perrone was appointed pastor.
On November 24, 1956, there was a mortgage burning celebration at St. Joseph's, as the entire cost of the new church had been paid off. Church services were held at 7:15 in the evening, followed by a dinner and dance in the DeCarlo-Staffo VFW Post rooms. All three pastors. Rev. Anthony Spina, Rev. Joseph Connolly and Rev. Anthony Perrone were present.
The present pastor, Father Almerico F. DiCerbo, was appointed June 11, 1960.
SACRED HEART CHURCH
The first Polish residents of Little Falls attended St. Mary's Roman Catholic Church, but as the numbers grew, they decided to have a church of their own. On October 3, 1911, the Society purchased a lot at 45 Furnace Street and a basement church, 38 by 92 feet, was built. At this time they were holding services in the old African Methodist Church on West Main Street. Father Stanislaus Lniski was pastor from 1908 to 1912, and the new church was dedicated March 1, 1912. Prom 1908 to 1938 Little Falls was a mission parish of the church in Herkimer, and the Herkimer pastors served the local church. The first resident pastor was the Rev. Boleslaus Dobrzynski, who served from 1938 to 1943, when the present pastor. Father Joseph Batkiewicz was appointed. In 1957 a new church was built on the site of the old one. The contractors were Koziol and Haponski. The present church was dedicated on November 18, 1957, with the Most Rev. William A. Scully, Roman Catholic Bishop of Albany, officiating.
GERMAN EVANGELICAL CHURCH
When the Octogan church was built, 1792-1796, there were many of German descent in Little Falls and preaching was in both German and English. Those of German descent were probably farmers, as most of the early churches in the rural areas are Lutheran or Dutch Reformed. After the Octagon church was torn down there were no German churches in Little Falls, until the middle of the nineteenth century. The papers of 1854 tell of the church services in the old stone school with preaching in German. As early as 1849 the Rev. P. Herian began to labor in Little Falls, and in 1857 organized a society and made plans for the erection of a church. The Society was incorporated on January 29 of that year, the church was built that summer on East Gansevoort Street, and it was dedicated on Christmas Day of the same year. In 1905 the wood church was torn down and a larger brick church built by the German Evangelical Corporation. The Rev. Philip Sacks was the pastor and the church was built by Kearney Bros., who furnished the masonry for $3,000 and Charles Eagan who completed the wood work for $4,637. The original bell was the one formerly used at the railroad station to notify that a train was approaching. The new church was dedicated on February 11, 1906, and served the parish for twenty years, being sold in 1926 to the Polish National Church.
HOLY SPIRIT CHURCH
The Holy Spirit Polish National Catholic Church was organized in 1926 by the Rev. Leopold Dombrowski, and he Lutheran Church on East Gansevoort Street and the ajoining parsonage was purchased.
The Rev. Father Nandwski was the first resident pastor. The church has its own cemetery on Route 5 in the Town of Herkimer, purchased in 1927.
The present pastor, the Rev. Roman Jasinski, is a resident of Schenectady and visits the local church on weekends.
AFRICAN METHODIST EPISCOPAL CHURCH
It was impossible to determine when the first African M. E. Zion Church was built in Little Falls. An article of July 12, 1855, describes a ball held in Temperance Hall on the 27th anniversary of their freedom in the North, and at that time they had a visiting preacher. The church is shown on West Main Street in the atlas of 1868, but this structure was torn down in 1889 and the cornerstone of the second church was laid on September 27 of that year. This church was in use about twenty years and was last rented by the Sacred Heart Parish before they built their basement church in March, 1912. It remained idle another twenty years and was torn down in 1934.
BETHEL MISSION CHURCH
The Bethel Mission was started around 1888 by the local Y.M.C.A. secretary, Lewis Howe, in the Mohawk Valley Hotel building at the corner of Jefferson and German Streets, now Flint Avenue. The group incorporated on October 14, 1890.
In June, 1894, James T. Leigh was president; William Ingham, Sr., was leader; and Mrs. C. T. Crofts was superintendent of the Sunday School. When the Rev. Doctor Humphries was in charge, it was decided to build a church on the north side of East Jefferson Street, a short distance east of the present lift bridge. The site was the gift of William Milligan. D. H. Burrell, Sr., furnished the funds to build the church. Work was started in October, 1902, the cornerstone laid in November and Hallinan Bros. completed the job the following spring. The South Side Union Church was dedicated on May 9, 1903, and the Rev. J. L. Humphrey, former pastor, was the speaker.
The fate of the church was soon threatened by the Barge Canal survey, which showed that the old Erie, at the rear of the structure, would be widened to take the land on which the church was located. Around 1911 the church was torn down, and D. H. Burrell, Jr., who had been the supervisor when the church was built, took the tin box from the cornerstone.
The City of Little Falls
Before the Revolution Little Falls and Herkimer County, as well as most of the area west of Amsterdam, was part of Tryon County, which was set up on March 27, 1772. Only a few years later, when Independence was assured, (the name was changed to Montgomery County on January, 27, 1789, in honor of General Montgomery, who was killed in an attack on Quebec in the year 1775.
After the state government was organised the state was divided into counties, Herkimer County being the eighteenth, and was set up on February 16, 1791. The east line of the new county was the Burnetsfield line of 1723, running north and south from the foot of the falls. This left all of Little Falls, east of Burrows Mill Street Mill, in Montomery County. Although the new county was named in honor of the hero of Oriskany, strangely his home remained in Montgomery County until April 17, 1817, when the towns of Manheim, Danube, and Stark were added. Originally there were but two townships in Herkimer County, Herkimer on the north side of the Mohawk and German Flatts on the south side. The two towns were actually named in error, as the delegate said that Herkimer was on the right bank and German Platts on the left, as he looked downstream. But at Kingston, the authorities looked upstream, and changed the names. At first the county government was located at Whitesboro and extended to Lake Erie and the St. Lawrence except for the counties of Ontario, Otsego and Tioga. When Oneida County was set up the county seat of Herkimer was moved to Herkimer
Beekman map of 1809, Little Falls and Schedule A House Lots in the Village under Perpetual Leases, Reserving an Annual Rent. Use your back button to return to this page.
Beekman map of 1809, Little Falls, listing of Schedule B, House lots in the Village of Little Falls Sold. Use your back button to return to this page.
village. On February 16, 1829, the Town of Little Falls was set up, and the eastern part of Little Falls was added, when it became a city on May 8, 1895.
As the settlement at Little Falls grew, the residents wished to have a part in the government, although the land on the north side was owned by the Ellice Estate, who were residents of Great Britain.
This condition, as well as the fact that Little Falls was part of the town of Herkimer, probably prompted the people to apply for a village charter in 1811. The Bleekers, agents for the Ellice Estate, who were residents of Albany, would appear to have had a hand in drafting the first charter, as the powers were so limited. Here is an abstract, taken from the Centennial booklet of 1911:
ABSTRACT OF THE FIRST CHARTER OF LITTLE FALLS, N. Y.
Chapter eighty-seven of the laws of eighteen hundred and eleven, passed March thirtieth of that year, constituted all that part of the town of Herkimer, in the town and county of Herkimer, contained in the following bounds: Beginning at a point or place on the north side of the Mohawk river, at the corner between the lands occupied by Robert Hinchman and Jost Tygart, thence in a northerly direction to the southern boundary of Evan Wharry's farm, thence easterly along the ridge of high lands to the boundary line between the counties of Herkimer and Montgomery, thence southerly along the said boundary line to the north shore of the Mohawk river, thence along the said shore to the place of beginning, as "The Village of Little Falls", for the period of fifteen years. Provisions were made in said i law for the annual election on the first Tuesday in May of five discreet freeholders, residents within the above limits, as trustees, by the freeholders and inhabitants, residing therein, qualified to vote at town meetings. All the freeholders and inhabitants residing within the village of Little Falls, and their successors, were constituted a body politic and corporate by the name and style of "the trustees of the village of Little Falls", who might bring and defend all manner of actions, causes and complaints in any and all courts, purchase, hold and convey real and personal property for the public use, erect and repair buildings, dig and repair reservoirs for water for the use of the village, purchase and repair fire engines, ladders, buckets, and other instruments and utensils for extinguishing fires, make other necessary improvements, and raise and expend, with the consent of the major part of the freeholders of the village, first given in legal and open meeting, a sum not exceeding five hundred dollars in each year. The trustees were given power to make, ordain, constitute and publish prudential by-laws, rules and regulations, and to enforce obedience to them by expedient fines and forfeitures, not exceeding ten dollars for any offense. The trustees were not empowered to regulate the price of any commodity but bread. There were provisions for the annual election of a collector, whose duty it was to collect and pay over to the treasurer all taxes, and a treasurer, whose duty it was to expend, under the direction of the trustees, all moneys paid over to him. In case of a vacancy in the office of collector or treasurer, provisions were made that the trustees might, within ten days, fill the vacancy by appointment. The trustees, collector and treasurer, before entering upon the duties of their respective offices, and within ten days after their election, were required to take and subscribe an oath or affirmation, before a justice of the peace of Herkimer county, for the faithful execution of their respective duties. The collector and treasurer, who were to receive compensation for their services, were, in addition, required to give security for the faithful discharge of their duties. Provisions were made for the appointment of twenty-five firemen by the trustees. The trustees were constituted fire wardens with power to regulate the fire department and the conduct of the firemen, being empowered to enforce their regulations by fines and removals, though no fine for any one offense could exceed two dollars and might be remitted. The trustees were to act as assessors. Any person feeling aggrieved by any assessment might have the assessment reviewed by any three justices of the peace of Herkimer county. It was the duty of the trustees, within twenty days after their election, to assemble and elect one of their number president of the board of trustees, and another of the number to be its clerk. Among other things, it was the president's duty to preside at meetings of the board of trustees and call special meetings thereof, to see that the by-laws of the village were enforced and to prosecute infringements thereon. It was the duty of the clerk to keep the minutes of the board and to perform certain of the president's duties during his absence. Any person elected to the board of trustees, who refused to act, might be fined ten dollars. Public meetings were called by notice of one week to the inhabitants, given by the president of the board of trustees. There was a corporate seal in the custody of the president.
The above Charter states that five discreet freeholders will be elected, but there were no property owners at that time (only the Ellice Estate owned land), so no one but their agent was eligible. The first lot to be sold was to James Etheridge, on October 23, 1817.
In 1826 Judge Sanders Lansing, who represented the Ellice Estate, drew up a second charter at a meeting held in the stone school. This, however, was like the original charter, allowing only property owners to become trustees, which limited the five offices to James Etheridge, Robert Hinchman, David Petrie, Lansing and George Feeter, agent for the Ellices. Amid much confusion Judge Lansing abandoned the chair and the meeting broke up.
The following year Judge Nathaniel Benton drew up a third charter which stated that a majority of the trustees must be freeholders. This was adopted and an election was held in the stone school on May 29, 1827, at which time Judge Benton was elected the first village president. The total amount to be raised by taxes was limited to three hundred dollars. New streets were to be opened up at the expense of the owners, which was the Ellice Estate.
As you will note by the description of the 1811 village charter, Little Falls was entirely on the north side of the river, the western boundary was Hinchman's, which was north of the present Hansen Island, and the east line was the Burnetsfield charter line, extending north from the Burrpws lower mill. The north boundary was the ridge of high lands which was also the limit of the original Burnetsfield lots.|
Previous to the adoption of city government, the names i terms
of village presidents, from 1827 to and including 1894were as follows:
1827-Nathaniel S. Benton
1828-Nathaniel S. Benton
1834-H. P. Alexander
1835-H. P. Alexander
1837-Jesse C. Dann
1838-M. W. Priest
1839-Jesse C. Dann
1840-M. W. Priest
1841-M. W. Priest
1843-G. B. Youngs
1844-M. W. Priest
1847-M. W. Priest, resigned August 12, 1847; Richard N. Casler appointed August 18, 1847.
1849-George H. Feeter
1850-George H. Feeter
1853-Zenas C. Priest
1854-Henry Link, appointed, (Jarvis N. Lake elected), J. N. Barber appointed.
1855-Thomas Burch, (Joseph W. Helmer, appointed).
1856-J. N. Barber
1858-Seth M. Richmond
1859-Seth M. Richmond
1860-Seth M. Richmond
1861-Seth M. Richmond, resigned, Robert Casler appointed January 14, 1862.
1862-M. W. Priest
1863-M. W. Priest
1864-M. W. Priest
1865-M. W. Priest
1866-M. W. Priest
1867-Mount M. Abel
1868-John P. Sharer
1869-John P. Sharer
1870-John P. Sharer
1871-John P. Sharer
1872-M. W. Priest
1873-M. W. Priest
1874-Willard A. Stafford, resigned. Watts T. Loomis appointed April 4, 1874.
1875-S. Stewart Lansing
1876-S. Stewart Lansing
1878-Isaac B. Richmond
1879-Isaac B. Richmond
1881-Isaac B. Richmond
1882-Kendrick E. Morgan
1883-Isaac B. Richmond
1884-J. J. Gilbert
1885-J. J. Gilbert
1886-J. W. Baker
1887-George F. Crumby
1888-Isaac B, Richmond
1889-Charles L. Petree
1890-Isaac B. Richmond
1891-J. J. Gilbert
1893-Horace G. Babcock
BEGINNING OF CITY GOVERNMENT
In accordance with the provisions of the new charter, Charles King, who was serving as village president at the time of its adoption, became the first mayor, and Peter A. Conyne, James D. dark, James B. Donovan, Horace Buchanan. Squire Bailey, John Crowley, Sr., James T. Leigh and George D. Waterman, who were serving terms as village trustees, were created aldermen, thereby forming the first common council of the new city of Little Falls, their terms expiring May 28, 1895, at which time the first election under the new charter was held.
The elected mayors of Little Falls have been:
In 1901 the term was increased to two years.
1901-1903-Edward H. Kingsbury
1904-1905-Dr. Edgar Douglas
1906-1907-Dr. A. B, Santry
1924-John Kearns resigned in July and Dr. Tanker was appointed and served through 1925.
1928-1931-Dr. John Tanzer
1932-1935-Dr. Augustus Santry
1936-1939-John B. McGuire, Jr.
1956-John George has been elected three terms and is the present executive.
The present city officers are as follows:
Hon. John W. George, Mayor and President ex-officio of City Boards; Edward P. Wagner, City Clerk; Kristina Stack, Deputy City Clerk; Charles W. Phillips, City Treasurer; Mary Vail, Deputy City Treasurer; Joseph A. Santry, City Attorney; Bernard J. Malone, City Judge; James J. Welch, City Engineer.
Common Council: First Ward-Henry Zuccaro, John Troy; Second Ward-Charles N. Nellis, Jr, Willard M. Topper; Third Ward-Thomas Waldron, Malvin Guiney; Fourth Ward-Michael Cecconi, Burdette Balderston. Board of Public Works: Walter F. Wright, Albert G. Nedzynski, Vice-president; Thomas Giammaria, John Flynn, James J. Welch, City Engineer.
Board of Fire and Police: Bernard J. Potter, Daniel Guiney, Vice-president; Gilbert C. Upright, Irving L. Nightingale, Abram Swartz, Fire Chief; Francis F. Reardon, Police Chief.
Board of Health: Anna Bielejec, Emilio Pasquale, Susan Paulus, Doris C. Wnght, Donald E. Stafford, Vice-President; Lawrence Marocco, Fred C. Sabin, M.D., Health Officer; William J. Troy, Sanitary and Plumbing Inspector; Dr. Vincent P. Vangura, Meat and Milk Inspector.
Board of Charities: Jane Read, Emma Miller, Bessie V. Champion.
Recreation Commission: Robert Cotter, Vice-president; Bernard Taverni, Frederika V. Conrad, William Shepardson, John Finnegan.
Planning Board: George G. Fiesinger, Chairman; Joseph P. Miosek, Donald McCully, John G. Valuck, James J. Welch, Jacob Muhl, Jr., Frank Gregorin, Jr.
Municipal Civil Service Commission: Max Waltamath, John Loren^oni, John T. Kopek, Margaret M. Nolan, Secretary.
City Court: Edwina Wyras;, Clerk; Frances Young, Marshal.
Assessors: Charles Raiello, William Vail, Harold Gifford.
Sealer of Weights and Measures: Floyd A. Chapman.
Supervisors: Mrs. Elizabeth McGuire, Daniel Long.
City Historian: Edward J. Cooney.
The City of Little Falls is fortunate in being the owner of its own water supply system, which has proved adequate for many years, and with the new reservoir that will be dedicated during this sesqui-centennial celebration, hope is that it will continue to be adequate for many more years. In describing the Little Falls water works, we might go back to the early settlers, the Dutch Palatines, who built a mill and houses here in 1725. At this time the Mohawk was clean, with no pollution from sewers or industrial plants, and as their knowledge of disease was quite limited, they obtained their drinking water from the river.
Later, houses were built farther away from the river, wells were dug near them and spring water was carried for drinking, especially on hot days, when cool spring water was a rare treat.
Being situated in a valley, surrounded by rocky cliffs, there were many mountain springs which the people used. In 1806 a company was formed called the Aqueduct Assn. which furnished water to subscribers. As money was scarce, they printed their own money, which was paid to the workmen, and honored in the Ellice store in the village.
Long logs were drilled out, and tapered and, collared at the ends, which carried the water all over the village. Many of the early deeds have clauses regarding these water rights. One line led down Ann Street from the spring in the rear of Arnold Blumberg's lot to a reservoir in the Western Park, as well as to subscribers in the neighborhood. Later
there were reservoirs in the Eastern Park, and under the sidewalk at Main and Mary and Main and Ann, which were used for fire fighting.
The first complaint against these wells was in 1847 when the council voted to remove the old cemetery at the Octagon Church, as "the health of the village was in danger."
After the middle of the century, many householders installed cisterns in the cellar, which obtained water from eaves in rainy weather. In dry spells water used to be carried from the "penstock" in the Eastern Park for washing.
When the flat tin roofs were built, this furnished a means of collecting clean water, and some houses had wood tanks, lined with copper, in the attic, with a low pressure gravity feed to metal tubs and wash stands, with marble tops.
During the last war, a house owner on Burwell Street tore out a copper water tank on the second floor to use the space for a clothes closet. The copper had increased in value to such an extent that its sale for junk paid for the alteration.
There were private sewers in those days, most of which emptied into the creeks and in turn the Canal Basin, which is now Clinton Park. In 1881 the old aqueduct burst, draining the Basin, and it was discovered that a sewer and water system was an absolute necessity.
On July 17, 1883, a contract was made by the village with McDermott & Ashenhurst to build a sewerage system for a city of 10,200 people.
On May 21, 1885, the village trustees appointed a committee of 12 prominent men to investigate the subject of a water works. This committee, after an extensive survey, decided upon the use of Beaver Brook and favored a village owned system.
On July 3, 1885, a Board of Water Commissioners was organized with J. J. Gilbert as president; C. J. Palmer as secretary; and Lyman Timmerman as treasurer.
Sixty-one Years of Service
In the year 1900, Enos Brown decided to leave his father's drydock in Frankfort and establish a trucking business in Little Falls. His first contract was hauling goods from the packet boats on the Erie Canal to local grocery store.
As business increased his brother, Howard, joined him in the enterprise. About 1913, the Hallinan brothers, who operated a stone quarry at Brown Bros.' present location on E. Mill Street, built a railroad trestle and coal bins against the face of the quarry and offered the site to the Brown Brothers as a coal yard.
The partnership ended with the death of Howard in 1931 and in 1936 Enos Brown was joined by a new partner, his son-in-law, Harvey A. Mills. At that time automatic heating was coming of age and the partners decided to handle fuel oils to supplement their coal and trucking business. Oil storage tanks were installed at the yard and a tank truck purchased.
Enos Brown died in 1938 and the business was operated by Harvey Mills until joined by his son. Brown Mills, in 1946.
In 1950, the father and son partnership decided to install and service heating systems and today offer both fuel and a complete heating service to their many fine customers, some of whom have purchased their fuel of Brown Brothers for almost half a century.
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