LITTLE FALLS, named from the falls of the Mohawk at this place, was formed from Fairfield, Herkimer and German Flats, February 16, 1829. It lies in the interior of the County, south of the center. The surface is a broken upland, divided by the deep narrow gorge of the Mohawk. A range of hills extends north and south from the village. They are rocky and precipitous near the river but less rugged on the north and south borders. The rocks at Little Falls are chiefly hypersthene and gneiss, overlaid by calciferous sandstone on the south side of the river. Falls Hill, south of the village, is about the same height. In the immediate vicinity of the village are quarries of limestone from which is obtained lime and good stone for building purposes. Small caves and pot holes are numerous among the rocks near the river. The largest of the pot holes is twenty-eight feet in diameter and thirty-seven feet deep. At this place was one of the most formidable barriers in the construction of the Erie Canal. The north part of the town is covered by Utica slate, and the south part by the Hudson River and Clinton groups. The Mohawk flows north-east, through near the center of the town, in a series of cascades and rapids. Its banks are rocky and in some places precipitous. The soil is sandy and gravelly loam.
Little Falls, (p.v.) situated in the east part, on the line of Manheim and Danube, was incorporated March 30, 1811. Its name was changed to Rockton, April 16, 1850, and again changed to Little Falls, April 16, 1852. It is an important station on the N.Y.C.R.R. and the Erie Canal, and contains seven churches, viz., Baptist, Episcopal, Presbyterian, Methodist, Universalist, African Methodist and Roman Catholic; an academy, two union schools, two printing offices, a bank, a large number of manufactories and about 5,000 inhabitants. The buildings generally are of a substantial rather than ornamental character. This village is the great cheese market of the County, the sales frequently amounting to two or three thousand boxes in a day. Two reservoirs afford an abundant supply of water in case of fire, and penstocks in almost every street afford an abundance of pure water for both man and beast.
The Little Falls Cotton Mill is of stone, 147 by 40 feet, and four stories high. It was started in 1835, manufactures prints, runs 6,000 spindles and gives employment to 120 hands.
Saxony Woolen Factory is of brick, 75 by 45 feet, four stories high, and gives employment to 110 hands.
Mohawk and Elboeuf Mills manufacture silk mixtures. Mohawk mill is 500 by 50 feet and five stories high, Elboeuf mill is 160 by 50 feet, and three stories high. About 750,000 pounds of wool are used annually, and about 500,000 yards of cloth are manufactured. The mills contain twenty sets of cards and give employmet to 300 hands. The pay roll is $9,000 per month. Stitt & Underhill are the proprietors.
The Stocking Yarn Manufactory runs 240 spindles and uses about 1200 pounds of wool per month.
The Cheese Box Factory of LaDieu & Schuyler turns out about 60,000 boxes annually, and gives employment to 14 or 15 hands. The proprietors have a saw mill that cuts 5,000 feet daily.
Little Falls Ax Factory employs eight men and turns out 1,000 dozen axes annually.
The Flouring Mill of Lansing, Mills & Fonda, is of stone, contains four runs of stones and has a capacity for grinding 1500 bushels per day.
The Hammer Factory gives employment to 100 men.
Little Falls Machine Shop gives employment to seven men, the shop capital is $5,000.
Little Falls Iron Foundry gives employment to 18 men and turns out 400 to 500 tons of castings annually. The building is 80 by 40 feet.
The Tannery of Rust & Company occupies a building 40 by 100 feet. The expense of carrying on the business, including stock, labor and taxes, is $120,000, and the value of the products is $130,000.
The Young Warrier Mower - This popular Mower was invented by Frank Bramer about two or three years since, and secured by letters patent. Its manufacture was commenced and carried on at Fabius, Onondaga County, until 1868. An exhibition of one of these machines in the field at Little Fallls in that season, produced an impression so favorable on some enterprising citizens of that place, that a company was organized and incorporated for its manufacture at Little Falls. It commenced business there on the first of December, 1868. The establishment is on the south side of the river, adjoining the tow path of the Erie Canal. The principal building is of brick and stone, 80 feet by 40, four stories high, with an excellent water power. Another building is now being erected adjoining, one story high, with an area of 3000 square feet, to increase its capacity. Its castings are procured from the neighboring furnace of Mr. Reddy. The Company commenced moderately, producing only 600 machines the first year, intending to enlarge its capacity and number of the mowers from year to year, as its merits become better known. It employed 40 men last winter, besides the furnace men. Arphaxed Loomis is the President of the Company, and Frank Bramer the Managing Agent.
Woodbridge's Paper Mill gives employment to 33 hands and turns out $100,000 worth of paper annually.
Gilbert's Starch Factory uses about 100 bushels of corn daily and employs fifteen hands.
Island Paper Mills consume 2,000 pounds of stock daily and give employment to six hands.
Jacksonburgh, in the west part, on the canal, is a hamlet.
Bethel, in the south part, and
Paine's Hollow (p.o.) in the south-west part, are hamlets. The last contains a Methodist church.
Eatonvillle is a post office.
There are several large cheese factories in different parts of the town; among them is the "Herkimer County Central Cheese Factory", owned and operated by Mr. George W. Davis. It manufactures the milk of 700 cows and turns out 280,000 pounds of cheese annually. Mr. Davis is considered one of the most successful cheese manufacturers in the County.
Eatonville Cheese Factory, in the north-west part, is owned by a company and manufactures 240,000 pounds of cheese annually.
This town embraces parts of several different patents, among which are a portion of the Glen Purchase of 1739; Guy Johnson's Tract, granted in 1765; Vaughn's Patent, granted in 1770; Fall Hill Patent, granted in 1752; six lots of Butterfield's Patent, granted in 1725, and lots 12 and 13 of Burnetsfield Patent.
The first settlement was made by a colony of Palatinates, but at what time is not known with certainty. That it could not be previous to 1722 is quite evident, and that it was within a very few years after is also quite evident. The following persons received grants of land, and most, if not all, settled in the vicinity of Little Falls within a few years after the grants were made: John Jost Temouth, Fredrigh Temouth, John and Anna Veldelent, Jacob, Nicholas and Andries Wever, Mary Beerman, Nicholas Kesler, Johannes Puradt, Christian Fox, Jacob and Johan Bowman, with several by the name of Staring. The lots embracing the water power north of the river were owned previous to the Revolution by one of the Petrie family, who erected the first grist mill on Furnace Creek. The settlers suffered greatly during the war and most of them were driven away. In June, 1782, a party of Tories and Indians invaded the town, burned a grist mill on Furnace Creek, murdered Daniel Petrie and carried away several prisoners. Among the first settlers after the war were John Porteous, William Alexander, Richard Philips, Thomas Smith, Joel Lankton, Richard Winsor, William Carr, William Moralee, Washington and Eben Britton, Alpheus Parkhurst, John Drummond and Josiah Skinner, all of whom settled here between 1790 and 1800. William Alexander was a native of Schenectady, and located here soon after Mr. Porteous, with whom he was for some time connected in business. He died January 3d, 1813. Eben Britton settled in the village in 1792 and carried on the tanning business many years.
Col. William Feeter was a native of the territory now embraced in Fulton County. His father and all the other members of the family followed the fortunes of Sir John Johnson and went with him to Canada. This rebellious son was driven from the paternal roof and compelled to seek a home among some of the patriot neighbors. A Mr. Youney, with whom he found a temporary home, presented him with a musket and told him he would have to rely upon that for defense until his country's freedom was acknowledged by the British Government. He was among the most active in repelling the attacks of Tories and Indians during the war, and at its close settled in the town and opened a large farm, which he cultivated more than fifty years. He raised a large family, most of whom settled in this County. He died at Little Falls, May 5, 1844, at the age of 88 years.
The construction of the old canal and locks gave an impulse to the growth and prosperity of the village which brought it into notice at an early period, but for the want of a liberal policy on the part of the proprietor, the place did not continue to increase as it would under other circumstances.
"In 1816 there were only two streets or thoroughfares in the village. The turnpike, now known as Main Street, and the Eastern and Western Avenues, which then extended on the present line no farther than to cross Furnace Creek, where it turned down east of the yellow house, thence over the old canal, and along between the old canal and river, to the head of the Falls. The Western Avenue was not then opened. The other road was what is now called German Bridge, Ann and Church streets, crossing the river from the South and leading to Eatonville and Topnotch. There were not over forty dwelling houses in the place at the time. Before Main street was extended west from Ann, the traveled road was down Ann street, across the old canal, and thence along Mill street. At this time there was one church, the Octagon, not finished, the stone school house, two taverns, two blacksmith shops, five or six stores and groceries, and one grist and one saw mil on the north side of the river. This was nearly the state of things until 1828, except the few erections and improvements that had been made on Main and Ann streets, and two or three dwelling houses on Garden street. Ann street, north of Garden, was a pasture. All that part of the village east of Second and south of the lots fronting on Main street, extending to the river, as well as that portion east of the old Salisbury road, was a drear wilderness, thickly covered with white cedar undergrowth. (Benton's Herkimer)"
From the opening of the Erie Canal in 1825, the progress of the village has been steady though not rapid, and will compare favorably with other places of similar size. The following extract from the Journal of Rev. John Taylor, who visited the place in 1802, will give an idea of its appearance at that time:
The Presbyterian Church of Little Falls was organized ecclesiastically on the 29th of June, 1812, in connection with the "Concord Society", but was not legally incorporated as a separate religious society until April 16th, 1831. As nearly as can be determined, only six entered into the original organization. The first pastor was the Rev. James Joyce, who was ordained and installed July 9th 1812. Since then the following persons have acted either as pastors or stated supplies for a longer or shorter period: Hezekiah N. Woodruff, Stephen W. Burritt, Jacob Helffenstein, D. M. Smith, J. Barton, J.H. Martin, Jos. F. Warner, J. I. Ostrom, L.P. Blodgett, A. B. Bloodgood, A. G. Vermilye, H. W. Morris, M.L.P. Hill, and W. B. Parmelee, the present pastor.
The number of members reported in January, 1869, was 234. The society has had but one place of worship previous to that now occupied, and that was the old Octagonal Church, located on what is now Church street. This was the first church edifice built at Little Falls. From an oil painting of the structure, drawn on a scale of one-eighth of an inch to the foot, it appears that the extreme height of the edifice was about 54 feet. The sides were twelve feet each; the posts sixteen feet in height, and the slope of the roof from the top of the posts to where the rafters joined was 16 feet, and from this point to the top of the spire was 24 feet. This edifice was free to all denominations and was not unfrequently the scene of sharp disputes. When the church was taken down, a manuscript was found in the ball of the steeple of which the following is a correct copy:
The present church edifice is of brick, was erected in 1832, is 42 by 80 feet, and cost about $4,000. It is located on the corner of Ann and Albany streets. It has been quite prosperous from the beginning and is now probably the largest Protestant Church in the County.
The Episcopal Church was organized February 22, 1823, with Nathaniel S. Benton and George H. Feeter, church wardens; Oran G. Otis, Lester Green, Solomon Lockwood, Abner Graves, Andrew A. Barton, Wm. G. Borland, Thomas Gould and Daniel H. Eastman, vestrymen. The first rector was Rev. Phineas L. Whipple, who officiated one-half the time for one year from the 3d of January, 1824, for the sum of two hundred dollars. The present church edifice is a substantial stone structure, well finished inside, and furnished with a fine organ. The beautiful stained glass windows cost $2,000.
The Baptist Church was organized December 21st, 1830, and the following persons elected trustees: Daniel Rogers, Alanson Ingham, Parley Eaton, Henry Haman and Stephen W. Brown. In 1832 the society erected a stone church on the corner of Albany and Mary streets. The number of members of the organization of the society was thirteen; the present number is 184.
The Methodist Church was organized November 19th, 1832, and Edmond L. Shephard, Gilbert Robinson, George Warcup, Ebenezer S. Edgerton and Henry Heath were elected trustees. A subscription for a church edifice was started in October, 1836, and the house, 45 by 50 feet, was completed in 1839. In 1848 it was enlarged to its present size, 45 by 75 feet. The audience room will seat 425 persons. The church is valued at $10,000. The society own a parsonage valued at $2,500. Rev. Charles L. Dunning was the pastor at the time of the completion of the church. The number of members is 170. Rev. M. Gaylord Bullock is the present pastor.
The Universalist Society was organized May 3, 1851, and M. M. Ransom, O. Benedict, A. Zoller, L.O. Gay, J. K. Chapman, L. M. Gray, A. Fuller and O. Angel were elected trustees. The number of members at its organization was twenty; the present number is fifty. The church edifice is a fine brick structure of the Gothic style of architecture, 43 by 85 feet, and cost $20,000.
The Roman Catholic Church was organized in 1853 with 40 communicants. The present number is 2,200. The church edifice was erected in 1867 at a cost of $45,000. It is of brick, 60 by 152, and 45 feet from floor to ceiling.
The population in 1865 was 5,588; its area is 17,393 acres.
There are ten school districts, employing twenty teachers. The number of children of school age is 2,127; the number attending school 1,343; the average attendance 524, and the amount expended for school purposes during the year ending September 30, 1868, was $8,165.62.
Last Updated: 2/25/98
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