EARLY MOHAWK BUSINESS
The passages below are from the classic "The History of Montgomery and Fulton Counties" by F.W. Beers &Co., 1878.
The Course of Trade and Industry
The water-power afforded by Cayadutta creek led, at a very early day, to the establishment of grist-mills at this point. One or two have been already mentioned. Another is said to have stood, previous to the Revolution, half a mile above the site of the Cayadutta, or "Upper", mill.
A cotton-mill was carried on for about five years by a company organized in 1811, consisting of John and Simon Veeder, G. Van Deusen, Henry Fonda and Myndert Wemple. The capital was $5,000. A woolen-mill and carding-machine for custom-work was attached. Simon I. Veeder rented the building, and started a satinet factory in 1825, which he continued till 1830, when he sold to John Booth. The latter operated the establishment until about 1843, when he died, and the property passed into the hands of J.V.A. and J.V. Wemple, by whom the building was used as a threshing-machine manufactory for a short time, the last-named gentleman becoming at length the sole proprietor. In 1860 the property passed into the hands of Geo. F. Mills & Bro.
This firm began business at Fonda in 1849, purchasing what is now known as the Upper Mill, which now has four run of stone, with a capacity of one hundred and fifty barrels perday, and is devoted exclusively to supplying the wholesale trade of the firm. In 1860, being desirous of enlarging their business, the proprietors bought the lower mill, a building 40 by 60 feet, which is now furnished with three run of stone, has a capacity of six hundred bushels per day, and is used for custom-work. The firm also produces and deals largely in plaster and lumber.
The Mohawk River Bank commenced its business career October 13th, 1856, with a capital of $100,000. Its officers were: Daniel Spraker, president; John Bowdish, vice-president; Earl S. Gillett, cashier; and Horace Van Evera, teller. It became the National Mohawk River Bank June 5th, 1865, with capital and official management unchanged; and they still remain the same as when it commenced business in 1856. There have been very few changes in the board of directors. The banking house is a nice brick edifice, a few rods from the railroad depot, built in 1856 for the purposes of the bank. This bank has the reputation of being one of the most carefully managed institutions of the kind in this part of the State.
One of the first merchants was Gen. Dodge, who was in business here about 1790. The first drug store was kept by N. Webster about 1842. McIntyre & Briggs now carry on the business on Main Street.
The mercantile business of I.M. Davis is one of long standing. He began in 1844 as a clerk. In the next year he formed a partnership with his father, under the firm name of M.O. Davis & Son. The father retiring in 1849, the son carried on the business alone for a year, when he took a Mr. Teller as junior partner, who remained with him until 1855. Mr. Davis then went into the hardware business, and continued it alone until 1861, from which time he had a partner until 1867. Since then he has carried on a general mercantile business, and is one of the most successful business men of the county. H.L. & J.G. Sizer, Main street, and two or three other establishments are also in the dry goods trade, and there are two clothing stores.
G.F. Putman, of Putman & Son, carriage makers, Main street, was born at Tribes Hill in 1823. He came to Fonda in 1840, and has been successfully engaged in his present business ever since. There are two or three other carriage factories and blacksmith shops in the village.
George Jones is a dealer in groceries, oysters and clams. E.B. Cushney is in the same business; both on Main street. There are two other firms in the same line.
Fonda is well provided with hotels. The Fonda Hotel is the most conspicuous building in the village. It is about 125 feet by 55 feet and three stories high, with an imposing colonnade at either end. It and the courthouse are represented by a wood-cut in Barber & Howe's Historical Collections as they appeared in 1841, with a single railroad track running between them. The Johnson House, three stories high, with thirty-five guests' rooms and with a livery stable attached, was bought and fitted up as a hotel by its present proprietor, D.W.C. Johnson, in 1870. The Cayadutta Hotel, S. Vrooman, proprietor, should also be mentioned. These houses are also on Main street. Two or three more might be mentioned. James Fisher and two others keep restaurants. J.S. Feltis is a wholesale dealer in Taylor & Sons Albany ales; business established in 1852.
Cider and vinegar are manufactured by B.H. Vrooman, who is also an ice dealer, and by Benjamin S. Martin; the business of the latter, wholesale and retail, was established in 1866.
The first insurance office in Fonda was opened in 1862 by A.H. Burtch, who still continues it.
There are two justices of the peace; Peter A. Graff has his office in the court-house.
P. Colgrove, Main street, is a manufacturer of and dealer in harness, whips, etc.
Henry Siver is the proprietor of the Fonda Marble Works, Main street.
The legal and medical professions have the usual representation in the village.
Among business establishments not above enumerated, are a bakery, a lumber-yard, a flour and feed, two hardware, a furniture, a boot and she, and two fruit stores, four paint shops, an express office (American), and a photograph gallery.
Caughnawaga was represented in journalism by The Mohawk Farmer, not a long-lived publication. Fonda's first newspaper was The Fonda Herald, which was issued by J.K. Reynolds, jr., in 1837.
Next came The Fonda Sentinel, which was started in 1845. During part of its existence under that name it was published by Clark & Thayer. In 1864, the Sentinel was purchased by Mr. C.B. Freeman, who united with it the Mohawk Valley American, which he had been publishing at Fultonville, and formed the Mohawk Valley Democrat, which was issued from the former office of the Sentinel. The Democrat continued under the control of Mr. Freeman until two years since, when it passed into the hands of the present proprietor, Mr. John E. Ashe.
The American Star, which had been published six weeks at Canajoharie, was removed to Fonda in May, 1855, and in the next year to Fultonville, where it took the name of the Mohawk Valley American, coming into the possession of Mr. C.B. Freeman, whose disposition of it has been noted above.
Last Updated: 8/6/97
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