History of Greenwich, NY
A History of Greenwich, Washington Co., NY

(This paper was contributed to the Washington Co. web site by Edwin Neilson who was born and raised in Washington Co., graduating from Greenwich High School in 1966. He was given this paper when in the 7th grade (about 1960) and thought others might find it interesting. Mr. Neilson now lives in Idaho.)

   Washington County is 61 miles in length from north to south. It is from 17 to 18 miles wide except in the northern part which is only 5 to 6 miles in width. It has an area of 843 square miles. It is bounded on the north by Essex County, on the east by Vermont, on the west by Warren and Saratoga Counties, and on the south by Rensselaer County.
   The county buildings are divided among several towns. Courts are held at Salem and Hudson Falls (Sandy Hill). The Court House and County Jail are at Salem and the County Seat is at Hudson Falls. The County Poor Farm for paupers is located about 2 miles outside of the village of Argyle.
   The town of Greenwich is in the southern half of Washington County. It is bounded on the west by the Hudson River. The Battenkill River forms a line of division for Easton and Jackson on the south. Salem bounds it on the east and Argyle and Fort Edward on the north. The town is twelve miles from east to west and five miles from the north to south.
   The Battenkill rises in Dorset, VT, and runs 20 miles through the state. It is 24 miles long in NY. It goes through Middle Falls (Galesville). At Middle Falls it drops 40 feet and at Big Falls drops 70 feet. It joins the Hudson River at Clark's Mills.
   In the very early days the eastern tribe of the Iroquois used Greenwich as a hunting ground. It was called Dense Forest.
   It is said that the first white man to live here was a man by the name of Rogers (a desperado). He was here around 1763. Early settlers of the town came about 1766 from Kingston, RI. Judge Nathan Tefft and his two sons settled Middle Falls.
   Soon after there came a man called "Whispering _____" because of his loud voice. He saw that the land was good. And a story is told (tradition) that he went up on Bald Mountain, the highest peak in Washington Co., and called back to RI to Jonanthan Foster,"Come on up, Captain, the land is good." True or not, Mr. Foster came and settled on the MacMullan farm.
   Robert Kenyon settled on the Gray farm. He returned to RI for money; upon returning he found a man named Mosher had squatted on his claim.
   Many families came here from RI during the Revolutionary War (1775-1776). David Sprague had 22 children. All lived and settled on farms around him. Hence, we have the name Spraguetown. The Teffts were called the Tafts in RI.
   Little interest was shown in the Revolutionary War. The British Army under Colonel Baum marched through Bennington, VT. One party of scouts (Indians) passed along the Battenkill below the old C.K. Rice house (Paul Wilson's) on the Cambridge Road. One woman (Miss Elisa Coon, Mrs. Brandy) and her two children were captured and forced to march with the army. She soon escaped by hiding herself and children in the straw in a forsaken pig pen. She was recaptured and taken to Stillwater where she escaped. The experience did not hurt her and she lived to be nearly 100 years old. She was buried on the hill beyond Whipple City.
   Soon after the Revolution, a Mr. Rodgers settled on a farm (Mr. Weaver's farm) along the Battenkill. He set out the first apple orchard in town. He made a very special journey to RI to get the sprouts.
   Very soon after the Revolution the Bottskill Baptist Church was organized.
   In 1780 a dam was built across the Battenkill by Frank Looker's house. A Mr. Carvine started it but sold out to Mr. Job Whipple of RI. Mr. Whipple came from Cumberland, RI. He came to Albany on horse back in search of land to where he could locate himself and his family. He found Mr. Carvine, who had purchased land here but had become discouraged and returned to Albany. Mr. Whipple was induced to visit Greenwich, where he moved the next year with his family. and commenced the struggle and hardship of a pioneer life.
   There was but one dwelling besides his own in this locality. Having been reared in the Friend's Faith, he practiced his principles in his new settlement. By his energy and enterprise he soon drew others around him. He built another dam across the Kill, erected a saw mill, grist mill, and a wood-cording mill, in which his sons Daniel, David and Otis helped him.
   Being a man of great integrity, many differences among his neighbors were referred to him. He was Justice of the Peace for many years, holding court at his own home. He established the first library.
   After erecting his mills and finding surplus water supply in the Kill, he returned to RI for Mr. William Mowry. Mr. Mowry established the first cotton factory in NY State and the first in the country outside RI. In 1816 the company sent Mr. Mowry to England to visit the cotton mills and bring home all the improvements he could find (cotton manufacturing was not a sure thing). The English manufacturers, becoming alarmed at the rapid spread of this industry in America, had closed their doors to American merchants. Hence, Mr. Mowry had to conceal his mission but his eagerness betrayed him and he was thrown out as a Yankee spy.
   Mr. Mowry married Job Whipple's daughter. He built the Blandy House. I believe his mill was later Mr. Palmer's. His yarn was jobbed out to women to weave. They rode horseback from Whitehall, Granville, and VT, for yarn to weave into cloth. They had their pay in yarn.
   Union Village was on the Easton side and incorporated in 1809. It was previously known as Whipple City, deriving its name from Job Whipple, who obtained a deed for the village site in 1781. It is said that its name was changed from Whipple City to Union Village on account of the harmony and good will that prevailed among the inhabitants. The name of Greenwich was substituted as the name of the town by the Post Office. The postal authorities would call it by no other name. It was the northern terminus of the G. & J. Railroad until 1932 and it is 17 miles from Fort Edward. The streets were beautifully outlined with elms and maples, which are a joy to the present inhabitants. Good farming and a good water supply made it a prosperous community.
   In 1878 there were two hotels, five churches, one bank, a printing office (People's Journal), two carriage factories, one grist mill, one saw mill, two flax mills, American Foundry, Tefft's and Clark's door, sash and blind factory and Pleasant Vale mills.
   Some 60 men served in the War of 1812. Very little showing was made. It is said that they took twelve days to march to Whitehall but upon arriving and hearing the battle had been fought, they returned in one day. About 231 men went to war in 1861. One hundred were killed or died. George Corliss was interested in the escaping slaves. He made Greenwich famous as a station on the underground railroad on the line of march toward Canada. No slave that came this far was ever returned.
   The Bottskill Baptist Church was the sixth in NY State. Elder Barbor received $250 a year and worked a farm besides. He preached until he was so old he had to preach sitting down. Anti-slavery caused so much disturbance that a Congregational Church was formed. St. Joseph's Church was built in 1870. They purchased the old Methodist meeting house (St. Joseph's Hall). The new church was built in 1903. The Methodist Church was built in 1870. They had circuit preachers at first. St. Paul's Episcopal Church was organized in 1880. The church was built in 1882. The United Presbyterian Church was organized in 1880. The Christian Science Society, located on Academy Street, was organized in 1916.
   The first school stood on a lot occupied by Fairbanks Cottage on Gray Ave. Susan B. Anthony taught there. Later, a little red schoolhouse stood opposite the Baptist Church near where Mr. I.V. Gill lives. Later still, there was a brick building on Bleecker Street. In 1848, the main part of Academy (I.O.O.F.) Hall was built. The old Union School was built later on land purchased from Mr. Gray (the present site). It was burned in a fire of unknown origin in December 1925. The present building was erected in 1926.
   Aunt Wealthy Whipple lived to be 104 years old. On her 100th birthday, the town gave her a celebration similar to old home week. Susan B. Anthony attended school in Greenwich and taught school here. She later became famous for women's suffrage. President Chester A. Arthur, the 21st President, lived here and attended school in Mrs. Wait's house on Bleeker Street. His father was pastor of the Baptist Church. George Corliss, the inventor of the Corliss steam engine, lived here. His engine changed steam power throughout the world. Miss Clara Parsons, the present head of the finger print department of NY State, and recognized as the first expert in the United States was a native of Greenwich. Mrs. Halladay was an insane murderer. She killed her husband and several children. Bernt Vanderburg was a bank robber who was born and grew up here.
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