Warren County, New York
Genealogy and History

History of Warren County, H. P. Smith
Chapter XXXII: History of the Town of Caldwell

This transcription was produced through the use of Readiris Pro 11 OCR software. Contributed by Tim Varney.


This Page 565township was organized March 2d, 1810, and was composed of parts of Queensbury, Bolton and Thurman. It was named from General James Caldwell, an Albany merchant, who, in 1787, became the patentee of 1,595 acres of land in this region, in four parcels, by grants dated September 18th-29th of that year. The southern extremity of Lake George pushes nearly into the center of the town from the northeast corner. Caldwell is bounded on the north by Bolton, on the east by Lake George and Queensbury, on the south by Queensbury, and on the west by Luzerne and Warrensburgh. The Schroon River barely touches the northwest corner on its way to Page 566 the Hudson. From the lake westward the surface rises abruptly, rendering the central portion of the town broken and hilly, the elevation culminating in the steep and sightly Prospect Hill, which rises about two thousand feet above tide. South of it a low valley is spread southwest through Caldwell and Luzerne to the valley of the Hudson, near the mouth of the Sacandaga River, and is undoubtedly a continuation of the valley which forms the basin of Lake George. The soil among the elevations in the center is a sandy loam, and in the lowlands a dark, rich mixture of clay and sand with loam. Settlement had commenced here years before the War of the Revolution, but in common with the other pre-Revolutionary communities of Northern New York, it was totally exterminated during that fierce struggle between powers and principalities. Soon after the close of the war, however, the fertility of some portions of the territory, and the natural beauty of the whole, attracted immigration, and settlements were recommenced. General James Caldwell, from whom the town was named, the father of William Caldwell, who is well remembered by the settled residents of the town, used to pass a considerable portion of his time in the village of Caldwell. (1) He built the stone structure now used as the post-office, and for a number of years used it as his office. He lived near the site of the Mansion House, which he built. His will was made in 1841, and he died a few years later. He owned nearly all the ground now covered by the village of Caldwell, and the title to the greater part still resides in his heirs. A small portion only has been sold. Among the early settlers was Daniel Shaw, who located about a mile and a half north of Lake George, on the place now owned by Henry H. Haden on the Bolton road. After his death one son, Nathaniel, lived on the farm for years. Another son was David Shaw. His lineal descendants are now all dead. Jehoicham Staats, another pioneer, lived at the beginning of this century on the place now called the Price Manor, two miles north of Lake George on the lake road. His grandson, John J. Staats, is one of the present highway commissioners of the town. A son of Jehoicham, named Boynton Staats, practices law in Albany. Eli Pettis, who came here as early as 1800, lived where the Crosby House now is. Two of his great-grandchildren are now living in the town. About the year 1810 a man named Carter lived near the village of Caldwell in the house at present occupied by Fred B. Hubbell. None of his descendants lives here now. Samuel Pike dwelt in a house on the site of Daniel Ferguson's new residence. He was a mason and helped build a number of the oldest houses in Caldwell, among them being the old "stone store." His many children are all dead. Miles Beach was an early cabinet-maker here, and had a shop where Mr. Gleason now keeps a meat-market in the village of Caldwell. His children, too, are all gone. John Beebe was one of the first lawyers in the town, and lived in the house now Page 567 occupied by the county clerk, David V. Brown. He was supervisor from 1823 to 1829 or '30 inclusive. He left three children. Joseph Whitley, another lawyer, went from here in early times to Black Brook, Clinton county, where he remained until his death. Daniel Nichols was about the first blacksmith. He moved into the western part of the State a long time ago. One of the most prominent men in this whole vicinity was Thomas Archibald, uncle to S. R. Archibald, who now resides at Caldwell. He held the office of county clerk for forty-two years, longer than any other person in the State has held that position. He died in Warrensburgh without a family. Samuel Payne came from Albany, where he had been proprietor of the Northern Hotel, and built and ran the Lake House at the head of Lake George. A small part of this old tavern was standing in 1810, and courts held sessions there before the erection of the court-house. Luther Stebbins, farmer and carpenter, immigrated to the town before 1825, and located about two miles north of Caldwell village. Hon. William Hay was a very prominent lawyer here before 1820. Nathan Brown lived about a mile south of the village. A son, Alphonso Brown, now resides at Caldwell. Early physicians were Drs. Tubbs, Bugbee, Hicks and Cromwell. S. R. Archibald, of Caldwell village, to whom we are indebted for a considerable of the foregoing information, was born in Salem, Washington county, N. Y., in March, 1819. Upon the death of his mother, in 1821, he was taken to an uncle, James Archibald, who lived in Bolton and afterwards in the northern part of Caldwell on the Schroon River. The infant Archibald was next placed in the care of Asa Wilson, who lived three miles north of the village of Caldwell on the farm now occupied by Sylvanus Taylor. In 1823 he was brought to the village of Caldwell, his uncle, Thomas Archibald, being then county clerk, and was adopted by Hiram Hawley, a shoemaker. Hawley was probably the first shoemaker in the place. Mr. Archibald remained with his guardian until he attained his majority, and then, having learned the shoemaking trade, he entered into business for himself. In 1841 he purchased the property which forms the site of his present home. The lot was then covered with several old buildings, among them a dilapidated old tannery which David Alden had built in the beginning of the century and run for years. (2) Mr. Archibald rebuilt this tannery (in 1842 and again in 1852), and conducted it until 1864, when he tore it down. He is now, and for thirty-four consecutive years has been, a justice of the peace. Among the other early settlers in the town were Benoni Burtch, --- Tierce, Andrew Edmonds, Reed Wilbur, Obadiah Hunt, Thaddeus Bradley, Elias Prosser, Nathan Burdick, George Van Deusen, --- Butler and Christopher Potter. General Caldwell erected the first iron and the first grist-mill.

1. This village is by many called Lake George, and that is the name of the post-office, but we have preferred to abide by the old name in the text.

2. Alden died about 1826. No descendants left. He was supervisor for nine years succeeding 1814.

The first town meeting was held on Tuesday, April 3d, 1810, and the records are introduced in the following language: -

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"Agreeable to a law that was passed by the Legislature of the State of New York, for the purpose of establishing a new town in the County of Washington, known by the name of Caldwell, the inhabitants of the town of Caldwell met on Tuesday, the third day of April for the purpose of holding their first annual town meeting at the house of Samuel Allen, when the following persons were chosen for office:" James Archibald was elected supervisor; John B. Prosser, clerk; assessors, Daniel Nichols, Jesse Bishop and William Peffers; commissioners of highways, Pardon Crandall, Asa Wilson, Michael Harris; overseers of the poor, Halsey Rogers, John Simpson; constable and collector, Pardon Crandall; constable, Joseph Gibbs; poundkeepers, Daniel Shaw and Nathaniel Smith. Two weeks later a special meeting was held at the house of Samuel Allen, and the following persons were chosen overseers of highways for the eight districts then in the town: - Samuel Cole, Michael Harris, John Simpson, Gilbert Worden, Pardon Crandall, Ezra Fuller, Nathan Crandall, Aaron Gates. The early records are full of measures adopted by the board of supervisors and voted upon by the citizens relative to the laying out and opening of new roads, e. g., in 1817 a new road was constructed from the foot of the hill south of Fort William Henry to the State road. Other curious and interesting facts are hidden in the thumb-worn and dust covered volumes in the county clerk's office. In 1818 a bounty of twenty-five cents was offered for every crow killed in the county. In 1819 the town was divided into three school districts, and district No. 1, according to a report of the commissioners, had had six months and six days of school; the sum of $16.90 school money was received, and there was an attendance of fifty-three children. The entire school fund was $163.03. In 1820 a penalty of $1.00 was laid for every hog found on the common without a yoke. In 1821 the town was divided into four school districts, and had a school fund of $165.05. With the exception of one or two short roads, all the roads were laid out between 1825 and 1850.

By virtue of its situation at the head of Lake George, the village of Caldwell was formerly the emporium of the county, and indeed of the whole Lake George region. There was a large lumber business done. The water power in the vicinity was not considerable and consequently the manufacture of lumber was not so great as the shipment of logs to Ticonderoga. A few "thunder shower" mills, as Mr. Archibald calls them, were in the town. The inhabitants, he further states, lived largely "on fish and strangers," the locality being even in these early days, a favorite summer resort. Old men tell now about catching a barrel of trout in a single day. The business importance of the place, however, was practically destroyed by the construction of the Glens Falls Feeder, which was surveyed in about 1823, dug through in 1824, and enlarged and completed between 1828 and 1832, at which latter date it was made navigable for canal boats and became a thoroughfare of inland commerce. The lumber which had been shipped down the lake was thereafter drawn in Page 569 wagons to Fort Edward and Glens Falls. These villages thus grew as Caldwell declined, and were fed by the nourishment that had formerly sustained the importance of the latter.

George Brown

George Brown

Owing to the destruction of the town records by fire we are unable to give the first officers of the town, other than the supervisor, who was James Archibald; it is probable that he held the office until 1813. Since that date the supervisors have been as follows: Halsey Rogers, 1813; David Alden, 1814 to 1822 inclusive; John Beebe, 1823 to 1830 inclusive; Thomas Archibald, 1831 to 1836 inclusive; John F. Sherrill, 1837 to 1843 inclusive; Seth C. Baldwin, 1844; Perry G. Hammond, 1845; (from 1845 to 1860 we have been unable to obtain the town records;) W. W. Hicks, 1860-61; F. B. Hubbell, 1862 to 1864 inclusive; W. H. Moshier, 1865-66; Fred B. Hubbell, 1867 to 1869 inclusive; Hiram Wood, 1870 to 1872 inclusive; E. S. Harris, 1873; F. B. Hubbell, 1874 to 1876 inclusive; Jerome N. Hubbell, 1877-73; Elias S. Harris, 1879; Leander Harris, 1880-81; George W. Bates, 1882-83; Elmer J. West, 1884.

The present officers of the town are as follows: - Supervisor, Elmer J. West; town clerk, James H. Carpenter; assessors, Dwight Russell, Edwin White, O. F. Nichols; justices of the peace, Charles E. Hawley, John Van Dusen, James T. Crandall, Samuel R. Archibald; collector, Edward D. Smith; constables, Ebenezer Wilde, George Stanton, C. J. Bates, K. Burlingame, Jesse M. Sexton; game constable, C. J. Bates; overseers of poor, Ebenezer Wilde, Hiram Vowers; auditors, Alonzo Brown, C. E. Weatherhead, R. D. Gleason; inspectors of election, C. S. Wood, F. H. Worden, C. M. Smith; excise commissioners, John Caldwell, Dennis Lyons, Sidney Nichols.

Caldwell was a valuable and willing contributor to the cause of the Union during the Rebellion. The number of men furnished to the army between June 1st, 1861, and the president's call for 600,000 was twenty-three; number under the call for 600,000 was twenty-four; making a total of forty-seven. S. R. Archibald, of the village of Caldwell, is authority for the statement that the town furnished forty-seven volunteers. He remembers well the drilling and discipline to which they were subjected in the streets of his village during the dark days of the war.

But the place had, years before, been the theatre of bloody events, human blood had flowed in rivulets, and men had gone to their shallow graves like beds. Near the site of Caldwell, Colonel Ephraim Williams, the founder of Williams College, had fallen while defending the frontiers of his native State, and General Johnson and Baron Dieskau crossed swords "which smoked with bloody execution." The battle of Bloody Pond was fought on September 8th, 1755, and immediately afterward Johnson built Fort William Henry. Fort George was built four years later by General Amherst. The former fort is covered by the hotel which bears its name, and the latter is a heap of mouldering and scarcely distinguishable ruins.

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The condition of the town of Caldwell at this time may be inferred to some extent from the reminiscences of George Brown, proprietor of the Central Hotel. He was born in the town of Queensbury, September 3d, 1815, and remembers distinctly the Lake George region as far back as 1830. The village of Caldwell was then as now the county seat. An old tavern where the Central Hotel now stands was kept by Lyman Jenks; and another on the site of the Carpenter House was kept by a Mr. Russell, and known as the Caldwell House. The Lake House, then about half its present size, was kept by John F. Sherrill. There were two stores in the village then; the store which Halsey Rogers built in 1819, was kept by Charles Robarts. He had succeeded Halsey Rogers about 1828. The other store stood on the site of Zebee's drug store, and was in the hands of Hiram Wood. Charles Robarts also ran a saw-mill on the first stream north of the village, and a grist-mill was kept running near it. Pelatiah Richards owned a distillery several miles northwest of the settlement, near Warrensburgh. The district school stood on the site of the present building; and a church edifice, probably Union, used now as a residence by Jesse Saxton, attested then the religious energies of its builder, William Caldwell. On the site of Fort George stood Nathan Brown's lime kiln. That potash was made in greater or less quantities is probable, but is not remembered by those now remaining to tell about it. Sugar-making was carried on in a general way. The principal business, however, was, as has been stated, lumbering. The land had not been extensively cleared and was teeming with most valuable timber. The only road of much importance was the old State road from Albany to Montreal, occupying the same bed now filled by the plank road. The head of Lake George was then a great fishing tract. Many suckers would run up the books every spring, and the place seemed to have a greater local celebrity, and less fame abroad, than it has to-day. There was one boat running on the lake, viz.: a steamboat called The Mountaineer, commanded by Captain Laribee, and built about 1824,(1) and run until 1836. It was the second boat on the lake, the first being the James Caldwell, commanded by Captain Winans. It was built sometime between 1816 and 1820, and was disabled by lightning and afterwards entirely destroyed by fire before she had long plied the waters of Lake George. In 1838 the William Caldwell was put on the lake and ran until 1850. In that year the John Jay, commanded by Captain J. Gale, superseded her and ran until 1856, when she took fire in her engine room off Friends' Point, and in an effort to reach shore, struck a rock on Waltonian Isle, and sunk. Six lives were lost. The Minnehaha was built at the northern end of the lake in 1857 and ran for twenty years. The Horicon displaced her in 1877. There are now running, besides the Horicon, Page 571 the Ticonderoga, the Ganouskie, and Lillie M. Price. The principal smaller steamers are the River Queen, the Julia, the Ed. D. Lewis, and the Meteor.

1. The matter concerning early boats is taken from S. R. Stoddard's Lake George.

Eugene L. Seelve

Eugene L. Seelve

Postmasters. - The first postmaster at Caldwell of which there is any recollection was William Williams, who remained in office until after 1825. He was succeeded, probably, by Charles Robarts, who held the appointment until about 1840, when Hiram Wood came in. Wood did not go out until about 1861, when S. R. Archibald succeeded him. The present postmaster, E. S. Harris, followed Archibald in 1875. The post-office is Lake George.

Present Business. - The Central Hotel is kept by George Brown, formerly proprietor of the Half-way House at French Mountain. He has been proprietor of the Central Hotel since February, 1884. Before that his son, Clark J. Brown, conducted the business four years. His elder son, Benjamin O. Brown, built the hotel in the winter of 1875-76 and kept it until succeeded by Clark J Brown. It will accommodate one hundred guests, and is open the year round.

The Carpenter Hotel has just been leased by Messrs. Hamilton & Craig, who are successors to Sullivan & Madden. Next before them J. H. Carpenter ran the house for twelve years. It will now, after having been twice enlarged, accommodate one hundred guests.

The Lake House, just north of the Central House, on the opposite side of the street, is built on the oldest hotel site at the lake. It is three hundred feet long. The Harris House, south of it, belongs to the same proprietor, who makes use of it only during the busy season. F. G. Tucker is the proprietor.

The Fort William Henry Hotel was rebuilt from an older hotel, in 1868, by T. Rocssle & Son, who are also proprietors of the Arlington, at Washington. It is from four to six stories in height, and fronts three hundred and thirty-four feet on the lake. It covers the site of the old Fort William Henry, hence its name.

The Prospect Mountain House is built at an elevation of nearly 1,800 feet above the lake. The Mount Ferguson House is on a point which though really lower than the main mountain, appears from Caldwell to be higher. W. J. Ferguson, proprietor. Fort George Hotel was completed and ready for occupation in 1874. It is on the east side of the lake, near the head, and has a capacity for nearly three hundred guests. E. L. Seelye is proprietor.

Crosbysidc, formerly known as the United States Hotel, is across the lake from Caldwell. It will accommodate about two hundred guests. Proprietor, F. G. Crosby. The Carpenter and the Central Hotels are the only ones which are kept open winters as well as summers.

To S. R. Stoddard's little hand-book entitled Lake George we are indebted for much of the information concerning the hotels above mentioned, and we cannot do better than quote a few words from the same interesting chapter concerning the Indian encampment: -

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" 'A remnant of the once mighty race of Mohicans still lingers;' they are given to lingering; they prefer it to anything else; their wigwams are found in the borders of the forest, just west of the entrance to the Fort William Henry grounds. Six or seven families in all, from the home of the St. Francis Indians, in Lower Canada, coming in the spring and usually returning with the frosts; descendants of the Abenakis - 'O-ben-ah-keh - they will tell you, and pure blood at that."

Mercantile. - Dennis Lyon, successor to Charles E. Hawley, keeps a grocery store in Caldwell. E. A. & C. J. West have been running a general store since 1883. They were preceded by Coolidge & Lee, and they by Sylvester Lewis, who started the business. Dr. William R. Adamson has kept a drug store on Main street for about six years. A. Wurtenberg has for the last ten years opened regularly every season a dry goods store in the village. He occupies the old stone store. Julius Tripp, in the fall of 1884, succeeded Adolphus Brown in the hardware business. George Smith has had a grocery store at the upper end of the village since the fall of 1884.

John R. Potter and S. R. Archibald are the shoemakers of the locality.

Physicians. - Dr. William R. Adamson was graduated from the Bellevue Medical College in 1873, and came to Caldwell in 1875. Dr. F. H. Stevens was graduated from the Medical College at Castleton, Vt. (now the Burlington Medical College), in 1849. He practiced first with his preceptor at Crown Point. Came to Caldwell in December, 1884.

Churches. - The oldest church in Caldwell is the Presbyterian, which had a predominating influence in the ecclesiastical councils of the old Union Church before mentioned. The present structure was built in 1855, and took the place of the old one. The pastor at that time was the Rev. Eldad Goodman, successor to Rev. Eastman. He was followed in 1858 by Rev. S. Huntington, who remained until 1861, and was replaced by the Rev. Eldad Goodman. In 1870 Rev. James Lamb was called and remained until 1884. Then Rev. S. Huntington came in until 1878. In that year the present pastor, Rev. Robert Barbour, accepted his call. The church was organized in 1830. The records the first year or two were signed by Amos Savage. In 1848 the church dissolved, and in 1851 reorganized. The present officers are: Elders, F. G. Crosby, G. W. Tubbs, G. W. Smith; deacon, Edwin White; trustees, A. S. Harris, M. N. Nichols, G. W. Tubbs. The present membership is forty-one. The pastor acts also as Sunday-school superintendent.

St. James Parish (Episcopal) was organized in 1855, and a frame church edifice at once erected. The clerk at the first meeting was Austin W. Holden. The first wardens were James Cromwell, M. D., and William H. Smith; the first vestrymen, John N. Robinson, Horace Welch, Samuel R. Archibald, John J. Harris, Hiram Wood, Henry M. Norman, F. G. Tucker, and William Vaughn. The first rector was the Rev. Robert Locke. His successors have been consecutively, Page 573 Revs. Robert F. Crary. John F. Potter, James A. Upjohn, and the present rector, Rev. Charles H. Lancaster, who commenced his labors here in March, 1874. In May, 1866, the first frame church was blown down by a mighty wind and the present edifice immediately begun on the same site. In 1879 the rectory was built at a total cost of $3,183.45, by Thomas Fuller, the original designer of the State capitol at Albany, and now chief architect of the Dominion of Canada. The present value of the church and lot is $10,000, and of the rectory and lot, $5,000. There are ninety-one communicants in the parish, and the Sunday-school, with the rector as superintendent, has forty-eight pupils and six teachers. The present officers are: Rector, Rev. Charles H. Lancaster; wardens, H. H. Hayden, and George H. Cramer; vestrymen, S. R. Archibald, F. G. Tucker, Le Grand C. Cramer, Walter J. Price, James Crandall, Kleber Burlingame, Galloway C. Morris, and Charles M. Schieffiin. Samuel R, Archibald has been clerk of the vestry since 1869.

In 1884 a Methodist Church was organized, and a chapel erected in 1885. The Rev. Webster Ingersoll supplied the pulpit for several months. The Rev. Mr. Potter was the first pastor. Membership thirty. E.J. West is the Sunday-school superintendent.

Water Works. - The first water-works were built in Caldwell in 1879, but proved inadequate and were abandoned. In 1883 new works were built by a stock company on Prospect Mountain, which afford an abundant supply of water for fire and domestic purposes.

Hill View Post-office. - This post-office was established in 1877, four miles north of Caldwell. E. L. Patrick, M. D., has been the postmaster from the beginning.

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