Hoosick Township Historical Society

Newsletter - March 2006

Editor: Phil Leonard
Museum Curator: Charles Filkins
Louis Miller Museum (518) 686-4682

Death During the Great Flood of 1869
On Monday, October 4, the Troy and Boston train which left Troy at 5 o’clock in the afternoon, proceeded on its way after the collision which occurred above Lansingburgh, and reached Hoosick Junction about 10 o’clock at night. Conductor John W. Clark concluded not to run the train farther on account of the unsafe condition of the bridge. Dr. Harvey W. Fowler and daughter, Miss Estelle Fowler, who were aboard the train, and who had just returned from a prolonged absence from home were very anxious to reach Hoosick Falls, where they resided, and where their other children had made great preparations to receive them. Pleading with Conductor Clark to fire up a locomotive (“The Old George Gould”) which was on this side of the bridge at the Junction, the party consisting of Dr. Fowler, wife and daughter, and twelve others took positions on the tender of the locomotive, and it was concluded to back the engine slowly toward the village. Two men with lanterns were placed on the rear of the tender, and the party progressed. The agent at the Junction, John Archer, reported the track in good condition, and in all appearances was entirely safe, but when the engine reached the bend in the river opposite Thayer’s pond the engine and tender sank into the stream, the bank had given completely away. After the accident a messenger was dispatched to Hoosick Falls to break the terrible news, and to obtain assistance which was rendered without delay, and greatest excitement prevailed. The body of Charles E. Aikens of Sandlake was found near by. The body of Dr. Fowler was found in the morning quite a distance from the scene of the accident. The body of Mrs. Fowler was not recovered at the time of the accident, but several days later below Eagle Bridge. Miss Estelle Fowler escaped uninjured. Conductor Clark, Rev. Dr. Dwyer, Frank Lewis, Frank Benson, Robert M. Clark, engineer, and John Ryan, fireman, were but slightly injured. Some of the others from Hoosick Falls who were on the engine and severely injured were: Robert H. Haswell, Alvah H. Webster, William Powell, Jr., Lucius M. Cooley and George W. Fisk.
Troy Record 1907

The Fowler Residence
This house was built in 1815 by Judge Gleason. In 1822 it was sold to his partner, Judge George R. Davis. Judge Davis moved to Troy, NY in 1829 and sold the property to Dr. Harvey W. Fowler, who married a daughter of Jonathan Eddy, and was for many years one of the wealthy and influential men of the village. “For almost sixty years the residence was one of the show places of Hoosick Falls. Situated in a beautiful grove on the east side of Main Street, its grounds reaching from the brook on the north to the Richmond property on the south, it was an ornament to the village, and its passing witnessed the greatest change that had been made in Main Street in a generation.

After Dr. Fowler was killed in 1869, the property became part of the Russell homestead. In 1887 the building committee of the Methodist Church, which was located across the street from this property, voted to purchase the property and build a new church on the site of this home. The homestead was purchased for $7,500 and the house was moved to the rear and was converted into a parsonage. Mrs Ann Helft lives in this home today.
Landmarks of Hoosick Falls an Address by James A. Beckett,August 17, 1911

The Amazing Charles Q. Eldredge
Charles Q. Eldredge lived in Hoosick Falls from 1873 to 1893. During the twenty years he became the largest landlord, developer, and one of the greatest promoters of the village. He moved to Hoosick Falls with $8,500 from the sale of a farm in Old Mystic, Conn. where he was born in 1845. He purchased half interest in the M. F. White Lumber and Wood factory. Mr. White died in 1876, and he became sole owner of the business. In an autobiography, he wrote the following about his twenty years in Hoosick Falls: I built and ran a large woodworking factory in connection with my lumber yard, built and conducted the only grist mill for miles around, ran a machine shop, and furnished rooms and power to a shirt factory working several hundred girls, plus rooms and power to a toy factory, and worked a large crew of carpenters and masons building over 200 buildings by contract in the years I was there. I was also instrumental in erecting, equipping and superintending a knit goods factory, employing 100 hands and was treasurer of the corporation for two years. I was one of the two men that secured the incorporation of the First National Bank of Hoosick Falls, which institution has ever stood as a credit to its promoters.” The factory mentioned above was the Miller, Hall, and Hartwell shirt factory from Troy, New York. “In 1872 he gave financial assistance toward the starting of Hoosick Falls’ first newspaper. He had a large tract of land near the Carey stone quarry that he had cut up into building lots and any man who appealed to him as being sincere in his desire to own his own home could obtain a lot from him on a very small down payment and a mortgage for the balance. County records show that he never had to foreclose a single one of these mortgages, which the record indicate numbered more than 200. As secretary of the Hoosick Falls Board of Trade, Mr. Eldredge did valuable work toward the development of the community......He offered to meet half way anybody in any honorable project that promised to work to the advantage of Hoosick Falls. Standard Press Feb 10, 1938

As the Wood Factory grew to 2,000 employees in 1890, Mr. Eldredge became more prosperous. Next to Walter A. Wood, he was the second largest real estate owner and second highest taxpayer. He was elected as a Trustee of the village for a two year period. After his wife’s untimely death in 1885, he lost interest in his business success. In 1892, he sold his general business to Elisha B. Hurd, retaining all real estate not connected directly with the business. He put someone in charge of his interests and moved back to Old Mystic. In Mystic, he built a new home called Riverview and transported his help from Hoosick Falls to do the construction. In 1917, he built his museum which housed curios accumulated during his lifetime. This museum is in Mystic and became part of the famous Mystic Seaport museum. He also wrote two books about his life. Due to the business panic that occurred in 1893 he was unable to sell his real estate in Hoosick Falls. He wrote: It took me till 1896 to find a purchaser and I can show cancelled checks of $113,000 cost, for what I deeded for $11,300. The purchase made the buyer the richest man in town. Time Magazine, February 14, 1938

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