This is a copy of an article in the Troy Times dated April 20th, 1923.
[ my comments in brackets - Michael Engle]
Old Landmarks Recalled By Cambridge D. A. R.
At a recent meeting of the Ondawa Chapter, Daughters of the American
Revolution of Cambridge, several interesting historical papers were
Taverns in This Vicinity
After dealing with old-fashioned taverns in general, Mrs. C. A. McGhee in
an interesting paper stated 'Horace Greely was at one time entertained at
the Pine Tree Tavern in East Poultney, Vt. It is the only place where a
tourist may find shelter today.'
In the township of Cambridge and White Creek there was a number of
taverns. Across the green from the old White Meeting House was an old red
tavern kept by a Mr. and Mrs Ruel Beebe. It was an amusing sight, when Mrs.
Beebe would stand in the front door with her hands folded under her checked
apron, scolding the boys, who loved to stone her geese and sheep, that were
pastured on the meeting-house green and in the graveyard. Diagonally across
the road was the inn kept by Uncle Zeb Fenton. This building was afterwards
destroyed by fire.
On the Annaquassacoke Road the Hugh Thompson Tavern was the stopping place
for many teamsters coming from Vermont with Lumber and produce. The house
is still in good preservation and the old sign is in the posession of
colateral descendants living in Cambridge.
On the Shun-Pike, a road parallel to the Turnpike and used to avoid the
toll-gate, now Stone Road, at Waites Corners, near the meeting house, was a
tavern kept by Mr. Anson Tinkham for many years, which was afterwards
burned and never rebuilt.
On the corner of Main and Union Streets was a public house for many years.
It was called Chase's Tavern and afterwards known as the Union House. On
the Checkered House site was the first inn erected in the old town of
Cambridge. This was a log structure and run by a Mr. James Cowden, who
later rebuilt what we have known as the Old Checkered House. Major Cowden
was peculiar in his tastes, originating the checkered style of painting.
The checkerboard, a household fixture in olden times, doubtless suggested
the design. Mr. Cowden was a stepfather of Edward Long, who was a faithful
landlord and devoted servant to the public. The house was well known by
many throughout the country and was destroyed by fire February 10,
As its part of the mapping of the old turnpikes by the national
organization, the Ondawa Chapter was assigned that part of the turnpike
from Buskirk's Bridge to Troy. This paper prepared by Mrs. M. B. Hutton of
Valley Falls, was full of interesting and intimate facts concerning this
territory and it is herewith reproduced:
The old Post Road, or more properly called the Albany Northern Turnpike
[I'd like to know where they got this info from, because 'Albany' was never
part of the name], was established by an act
of Legislature passed April 1, 1799. A supplementary act was passed April
30, 1802, making an additional line of road. It ran from Troy through
Lansingburgh [again, how did it start in Troy] (then known as Stone Arabia,
also the New City), through Speigletown [established uninformally in May,
1796], Grant's hollow, Melrose (then known as the Junction), Tomhannock (or
Center Pittstown), Millertown (or as then called North Pittstown, a suburb
of Johnsonville), Buskirks, Cambridge, Salem and to the north.
to the building of the Northern Turnpike from Troy to Vermont[we can assume
this is the 1802 act], the following notice was given to those interested
in the construction of this important throughfare:
'Notice is hereby
given that the books of the first company of the Northern Turnpike road are
opened, agreeably to the direction of the statute incorperating said
company, and are lodged with the Commissioners, at the following places,
viz: At Lansingburgh, with john Lovett; at Pittstown, with John Carpenter;
at Buskirk's Bridge, with Martin Van Buskirk; at Cambridge, with Edmund
Wells, jr; at Salem, with John Williams; at Hebron, with David Long; at
Granville, with Timothy Leonard. All persons desiring to subscribe for
shares in said company may apply to either of said Commissioners, at either
of the aforesaid places. June 11, 1799," - History of the Seventeen Towns
of Rensselaer County.
It was financed by many stockholders, and
evidently much money was expended in laying out thehighway, as the law
required that it should be at least four rods wide, twenty four feet of
which shall be bedded with wood, stone, gravel or any other hard substance
compacted together, a sufficient depth to secure a solid foundation, "and
said road shall be faced with gravel or other hard material in such a
manner as will admit an even surface rising towards the middle by a gradual
arch." The rates of toll which might be charged were fixed by the same
A certain portion of the turnpike through a part of Pittstown was
built on the old St. Croix road (also spelled St. Coic, Sancoix, St. Coych,
St. hoick, Saintcoix, St. Croyk), [This is believed to be part of the road
now called Fogarty Road in Speigletown that went through what is now the
Tomhannock Resv.] a road so old that we have no record of its early days.
Our first record of highways made in 1784 often referred to the "St. Coyk"
as a road already existing, from which many roads branch. Fort St. Croix
was built in 1724, at what is now North Hoosac, and it is possible this
road was built about this time.
On leaving the old covered bridge in Buskirk, one finds himself near the
southern boundary of the old Hoosac Patent, the first grant of land deeded
by the Schaghticokes to Christians in 1868. There were 70,000 acres. On
the Hoosac River between Buskirk and Eagle Bridge was located a sacrificial
altar to the Great Manitou of the Schaghticoke tribe.
JACOB A. FORT.
A short distance
to the east, at the junction of the Walloomsac with the Hoosac River, which
forms a cross, the "cross of good luck," the Roman Catholic banner of St.
Croix was raised in 1540 by one of the Jesuit Fathers, and here he built a
palisaded castle in memory of the missionary, St. Antione of Padua. In the
Hoosac Valley were built, at different times, no less than ten forts.
About two miles down the turnpike from here stood the third Northern
Following the turnpike south, about a mile above
Johnsonville, on the right stands a house in a fine state of preservation,
which served as a hotel in stagecoach days, while across the road stands a
A half-mile or so below, stood, on the right side of the
road, the old Aiken Tavern, now rapidly falling into decay. From the
remains of the barns across the road, this must have been one of the places
where horses were kept for relays.
Still farther to the south, one
leaves our road of today and crosses a high hill to Millertown, or North
Pittstown. On this road, at the old Richmond farm, stands another
milestone. At North Pittstown was the old Follet House.
Johnsonville, a half-mile away, the bridge across the Hoosac River was used
as a toll bridge.
Continuing on to Tomhannock (then Center Pittstown,
and also Reeds Hollow), stood at the junction of the turnpike and the old
St. Croix Road a tavern known as the "Old Hotel", also as the William
Larmon Hotel, built some years before 1800, and destroyed by fire in 1914,
while on the right about half way down the village, was built, in 1805, a
hotel with barns on the opposite side of the street, built to accommodate
thirty five to forty teams of horses. This tavern was the old Reed Stage
Hotel, run by L.V. and J.B. Reed, and between 1830 and 1840 they ran a line
of stage coaches over this road, also one from Troy to Saratoga. An
original poster or notice of their route is now in the posession of E.
Reed, of Tomhannock, a son of one of the propieters of this hotel...
[omitted talk about the Troy Saratoga line]
... At one time, Millard Fillmore and James Buchanan were entertained at
this house. The annual town meetings from 1811 to 1821 were also held
here. This building burned in 1857.
At the lower end of the village
of Tomhannock stands an old milestone which reads: 'To Lanfingburgh, 10
Miles." Near this tone was the toll-gate with its house built very near
the road. The last keeper of this gate was Simeon Norton. Concerning this
toll gate there is still in existence a certificate, evidently a yearly
pass for a family, which cost five shillings:
NORTHERN TURNPIKE ROAD - $0.62 1/2.
The toll gatherer at the second Northern Turnpike Gate as often as this
Certificate shall be shown unto him by John Ray or any of his family, shall
and will permit them, and their Wagons, Horses, Seighs, and all other
things to pass the gate, free of toll after the date hereof, until the
first day of October next, except between the hours of ten o'clock in the
evening and four o'clock in the morning of each day.
Oct. 1, 1824.
[The newspaper article has it listed as Kort, but it is Fort]
Comittee for Commuting, &c, &c.
On every toll-gate was a board with the
rates of toll painted thereon. Here is the rate of toll for the Tomhannock
For one carriage or sleigh
drawn by 4 horses .......... 25 cents
If drawn by 2 horses ........ 15 cents
If drawn by 1 horse ......... 10 cents
For any 20 cattle ........... 25 cents
For any 20 sheep ........ 12 1/2 cents
For every passenger on foot .. 2 cents
Citizens and travelers sometimes resented these tolls and rose against the
payment. One tollkeeper awoke one morning to find his gate gone, and a bit
of paper on the old gate post read:
'The man who stopped the boy going to the mill, Will find his gate at the
bottom of the hill.'
In 1849 these laws were passed in regard to those who were exempt from
tolls at gates of the turnpikes:
Persons going to and from any court in which they have been summoned as
jurors or subpoenaed as witnesses.
Persons going to and from any training at which the law required them to
All going to any funeral or all funeral processions.
Troops in the actual service of this the United States.
Persons going to town meeting or election at which they are entitled to
vote, or returning thereform.
Farmers going to work or returning from their work on their farms.
Persons living within one mile of any gate shall pass at half toll.
Evidently the old turnpike through here was built on the site of the old
St. Croix road.
A short distance below Tomhannock at a point which now
lies at the bottom of Troy's reservoir, was another milestone. Here, also,
was an old covered bridge built by The Albany Northern Turnpike Company
across the Tomhannock Creek, and was in a good condition when razed by the
city of Troy at the time its reservoir was built.
Near here, too, was
the old Daniel Carpenter place or hotel. Two miles below Tomhannock was an
old hotel, 'the Finney Tavern Stand,' on the old Herman farm. This hotel
was a rallying place for volunteers who joined Gen. Gilbert Eddy's
expedition against the British at Plattsburgh in 1814, which company
evidently marched over the old Northern Turnpike. In this hotel, the draft
of 1812 was made, and near here stands an old milestone.
At a short distance, on the right from here, lies a point of historic
interest. This land was formerly owned by two tribes of Indians, the
Mohawks (or Loups of Wolves) and the Hoosacs. They were a part of the
great Algonquin tribe, and had allowed the Schaghticokes, fugitives from
some of the New England tribes, to occupy a part of their land. Here, in
1676, the standards of the Hoosacs and Mohawks were unfurled at an
'Assembly of the Wise' when Gov. Edmond Andros planted the Wintenagemot Oak
(which stands today, 1922) on the lower Hoosac River in Old Schaghticoke.
This tree marks the only 'Vale of Peace' in the continent, where a 'Tree of
Welfare' has been planted for the Indians. It was after the planting of
this 'Tree of Peace' that the Hoosacs, with all that remained of the
Mohican Indians, took the new national name of Schaghticokes. There were
also included in this union the remants of several smaller tribes. The
name Schaghticoke was variously spelled- Schaahtecogue, Skeetecook and
Skatecook. A short distance from this 'Council Tree,' was built in 1703 a
fort in the 'great meadow.' Here also stands the old Knickerbocker home on
the first farm leased (in 1709) by the Schaghticokes. It contained sixty
acres, for which he was to pay an annual quit claim of 'ten bushels of
goods merchantable wheat to be delivered to the city of Albany.' This
Johannes Knickerbocker, was the son of Harmon K. Knickerbocker, the 'Prince
of the Tribe of Schaghticoke Indians.' He built first a log cabin on the
site of the present mansion. This is near the fort of which he was the
Captain, and is also near the old Council Tree. General Lafayette visited
this house in 1825. Near here, also, was built the old Dutch meeting
house, organized in 1714. This was torn down and rebuilt in 1760 - the
first frame edifice in the Hoosac valley. On its sacred desk was used the
old Knickerbocker Bible bearing date of 1682. It is said to be the only
extant copy of that edition of New Netherlands Bibles in this part of the
country. In the same territory was the Hoosac's burial field, and
sacrificial altar to Hobbamocko, known as 'Devil's Chimney.'
Leaving the vicinity of Tomhannock, our next point of interest is the old
doty House of Melrose, built and run for some years by an Ormand Doty, a
man who claimed a direct line to the Mayflower. This was also a stagecoach
house, and was built around 1800.
There was anotherhotel here, run by
a man named Strunk. This hotel burned about 1910 and was replaced by a
In Grant's hollow stood the old Leavens House. Some
years ago oxen were hitched to it, and it was drawn to the top of the hill,
on the left, just before entering the hollow. Here it stands now,
practically as it was in the old days, its old fireplaces still in use,
A short distance below Grant's Hollow, on the right side of the
road, is an old burying ground, all of the graves what one could call old.
'Col. Brookins, born May 29, 1747, died July 20, 1820.' He
was evidently a Colonel in our Army of the Revolution. Also.
lies the boy of Mary Follett, wife of Charles Follett. Aged 57 yrs. 8 mo.
27 days. She died on the 4th January, 1796 at the horizon sun at eve.
The soul took its flight and did the body leave. god is just or elfe this
body had not been in filent duft to reft.'
[ note f=s ]
Nearly across the road from here, on the left stands a milestone, 'To
Lanfingburgh 4 Miles.'
A half mile before reaching Speigletown stood
another toll gate, sometimes known as the 'shilling gate,' the house of
which was only torn down about 1910.
In Speigletown stands the old Rice
House, on the left, with its old tall pillars. It looks, excepting in
style, to be practically new, while on the right is the old Speigletown
Hotel, built by a man named Speigle [it's actually VanDerSpiegel], from
whom the place was named.