This Week in History – Week of February 1st
The first electric lights were turned on at 7:46 PM, “illumed the streets of the village”, with the Electric Committee having the honor of throwing the switch. The Thompson-Houston system has 83 lights with several more to be added. Little Falls’ citizens were highly pleased. Mill whistles and church bells heralded the occasion.
An early morning disastrous blaze destroyed two hotels, including the Hinchman House, and ten businesses in the heart of the city. The fire originated in a big new barn fronting on Albany Street, and it took the assistance of local and area firefighters, and those from Herkimer and Utica, brought to Little Falls by a special train, to tame the fire.
The scale of wages agreed upon by contractors and painters of this city for the coming season is $2.50 for nine hours work. Heretofore it had been $2.50 for ten hours work.
The Grange store on South Second Street in Little Falls was closing after 60 years in operation. The newly remodeled Gray’s Super Market on East John Street, Little Falls, was set for its formal opening. Ignatz Gray began the business in 1918. The store had been known as Red Star Market the WGY Food Store.
Machinery for making knitting needles is in place at M. Reddy’s works on the south side. About a dozen employees of both sexes are engaged in this intricate and interesting business.
Revolutionary War hero, Major Andrew Finck , who served at Saratoga, Valley Forge, Johnstown, New Jersey, and Canada, passed away today at age 69. He was proprietor of the tavern at Finck’s Ford on the Mohawk River.
Produce brought to Little Falls (1,200 inhabitants) and sent to market is principally cheese, clover-seed, barley, oats, potatoes, and salt with an estimated value of $200,000. The village contains 9 dry good stores, 5 store houses, 1 distillery (uses 2,200 bushels of rye and corn,) 3 paper mills, 2 iron foundries, 2 fulling mills, 1 brewery, and 3 malt houses.
The Hinchman House, on Main Street, the premier hotel in Little Falls, was destroyed by a fire of unknown origin. Also destroyed were Oppel’s Jewelry Store and Vosburgh’s Boot & Shoe Store. Losses exceed $50,000.
The mortality rate in New York State for the month of January was the highest ever recorded. Little Falls ranked second in the state with a death rate of 43.76 deaths per 1000 people. The worldwide flu pandemic killed over one million people. (Note: The population of Little Falls in 1890 was 8,783.
As a result of a severe blizzard, Robert MacKinnon sent teams for his female operatives who lived a distance from the mills and were unable to get out. He provided them with dinner at the mill and had them conveyed home at night.
The Hoffman Paper Company was incorporated and a mill was built near the end of West Main Street. When the company failed in 1913, Charles Burrows reorganized the business as Burrows Paper Company.
The Dudley Burwell Trust Fund amounting to nearly $17,000 has been turned over to the city with the death of William G. Milligan, trustee of the Burwell estate. The money is to be used for the care and maintenance of the grounds known as “Moreland Park” for use by the people of Little Falls.
Chief James Long, in his report for January, indicated that forty-four arrests were made including those for public intoxication, assault, and second degree grand larceny. Other arrests were for disorderly conduct, rape, and running a disorderly house, all of these in connection with the vice expose in the city.
The grounds were cleared and work was started on the Octagon Church. also known as the “Pepper Box.” It was completed in 1818 and torn down in 1842. The church was to be 60 feet in major diameter, having a sloped roof leading to a cupola topped with hollow gilt balls. Papers were placed inside the balls that were normally placed in a cornerstone. The church would have a capacity for 300 people.
The Christ Evangelical Lutheran church was organized by the vision of local residents of German extraction. Initial preaching and teaching was in the German language, but the congregation soon introduced services in English.
The toboggan slide of East Monroe Street is now completed and ready for business every afternoon and evening when the weather is cold enough to freeze water. The slide is a safe and exhilarating sport and provides a run of about one quarter mile.
A bitter debate ensued a the council meeting when it was learned that Mayor Kingsbury purchased horses for the fire department without consulting his colleagues on the horse-buying committee. The horses were “rejected” but not returned and continued to eat at $2.25 per day per horse. A long time passed before the horses were finally returned to Utica.
William Alexander, son-in-law of John Porteus, and agent for the Ellice Estate, leased to himself the lot on the south side of Main Street extending to the Ann Street corner for the sum of three dollars a year. Crane’s Tavern was built on the site, the first tavern in Little Falls. It became the leading gathering place in the early history of the village.
The village sold the right to cut ice on the reservoir to B. & B. Casler for $375. This ice could be used in drinks, unlike the river water, so was in greater demand.
A Little Falls veteran of the Civil War, with a great war record, passed away today. Alfred Casler, a member of the 121st Regiment, had to his credit 35 battles, some of the bloodiest of the war. He was at Appomattox when General Lee surrendered.
An announcement was made of the approval of a federal grant of $350,000 toward the $1,450,000 cost for a new motel in the city by the Little Falls Motel Associates, Inc. Representative Donald Mitchell made HUD official s aware of the importance of the motel complex to Little Falls’ overall development effort.
Longtime Little Falls High School baseball coach Ted Schoff was inducted into the Mohawk Valley Baseball Hall of Fame. Over 31 seasons, Schoff’s teams won 533 games, 12 Section III championships, 14 league titles and a state championship in 1982.
A letter from California tells of green peas, grapes, strawberries, raspberries, etc., all growing in the open air, with beautiful blossoms. Here in Little Falls, the open air products just now are pneumonias, catarrhs, neuralgias, rheumatism, and pleurisies, and the only nosegays are red noses and rum blossoms.
Rollin Smith, born in Little Falls in 1838 and admitted to the bar in 1863, passed away. He was a County Judge and one of the organizers of the Little Falls National Bank. In 1910 he made a will leaving his home on East Main Street and Waverly Place, to the village for a library, in addition to a substantial monetary bequest.
The Board of Public Works was authorized by the Common Council to proceed with the construction of a nine-hole golf course on city property, adjacent to the auxiliary reservoir. The $20,000 required for the project would be appropriated from the Surplus Water Fund, and revenues from the operation of the golf course will be credited to the same fund.
Senator Robert F. Kennedy gave his views on many different subjects before a large and welcoming crowd at the Little Falls High School. RFK responded to a number of different questions posed by students, and opined that the Vietnam War could not be won by military measures alone.
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