The subject of this evening's Lecture is, The City of Paterson-its Past, Present, and Future. And I cheerfully acknowledge the propriety of my being called upon to speak of the Past, when I walk these streets and meet but seven persons who were here engaged in the active business of life when I made this my home forty years ago, But where now is the venerable Peter Colt ?-where is
Charles Kinsey ?
Garabrant Van Houten?
Abraham Van Houten?
Abraham Godwin, Sen.,
And his three sons, Henry, Munson, and Abraham?
Jno. Van Blarcorn?
Abrn. Nan Blarcom?
Henry Van Blarcom?
Win. Van Blarcom?
Mark IV. Collet?
Dr. Win. Ellison?
William Dickey, Sen.?
Daniel F. Lockwood?
Robert N. Johnson?
Timothy B. Crane?
John Clark, Sen.?
John Clark, Jr.?
Edo Van Winkle?
Where are all these men, who were then here, engaged in business, and by their energy and enterprise, laying the foundation of our present prosperity-where are they? All swept from this petty space of Time into the vast ocean of Eternity,-arid we few yet linger for a moment upon its shore.
But standing as we do, so near that line which divides time from eternity, looking to the Future with humble hope, and upon the Past with unfeigned pleasure ,-it is a most acceptable duty which has been assigned to me, to note in that Past the rise and progress of our city, and to mark and trace the advance of the arts and sciences-of morals, virtue, and religion-all directly tending to our present prosperity and future happiness.
In treating of the Past, I do not propose to intrude upon the province of the geologist, by going back and attempting to describe that period when the Divine Architect, by His infinite wisdom and power, out of chaos, formed these mountains, rocks, and streams, so beautifully adapted to the wants of man. Nor shall I draw upon the imagination to depict those scenes, when, in far by-gone days, savage men here formed their social circles, and among these dark recesses worshipped their unknown gods, in delightful anticipation of enjoying their happy hunting-grounds in the world to come.
Nor shall I even go back to the first settlement of our country, when our Pilgrim fathers sought a home here for the enjoyment of civil and religious liberty. But I shall confine rn~ remarks to that period when the mind of man first conceived the idea of establishing domestic manufactures in this State, and of selecting this particular place for the purpose. And in the remarks which I shall niake I must claim the privilege of age-to talk of myself; for 1 have been so connected with the affairs of this place for the last forty years that I cannot well avoid it. But I have condensed these remarks as much as the subject would permit, being well aware that long statistical lectures must necessarily be tedious.
Soon after our national independence had been achieved, Alexander Hamilton, with a few other congenial spirits, who had seen and felt the trials of the past, and had the sagacity to look into the future, wisely concluded that, in order fully to enjoy the benefits of that independence, we should adopt such measures as would enable us eventually to produce among ourselves, at least, all the necessaries and comforts of life. With that view they determined to lay the foundation of a system of domestic manufactures, and applied to the Legislature of our State for the purpose. On the 22d of November, 1791, they obtained the act incorporating "The Society for establishing Useful Manufactures," which is now in force, and may with propriety he consideredtheFatherof our city.
This charter does not fix the place in which such manufactories should be established, but left that for the future action of the Society.
The company was organized at New-Brunswick on the last Monday of November, 1791, by the appointment of William Duer, John Denhurst, Benjamin Walker, Nicholas Low, Royal Flint, Elias Boudinot, Sohn Bayard, John Neilson, Archibald Mereer, Thomas Lowring, George Lewis, More Furmans, and Alexander McComb, as Directors; and they chose William Duer as their first Governor.
Soon after their organization, the Society proceeded to examine the several different localities which were brought to their notice for that purpose, and in May, 1792, they selected this place, as embracing more advantages than any other for the purpose of carrying on their operations; and time has fully justified the correctness of their selection. And in order fully to avail themselves of the benefits of the water-power, they purchased a large tract of about 700 acres of land, adjoining and contiguous to the falls, on which all the mills and the principal part of the city now stand. And it is worthy of remark, for it may be important hereafter to know, that in selecting this place they took into consideration the fact, that artificial reservoirs of water maybe easily form ed at the different lakes or ponds on the head waters of the streams tributary to the Passaic, for the purpose of keeping, up the supply of water in dry seasons of the year;
On the 4th of July, 1792, the Society made an appropration for the purpose of erecting a manufactory and of bringing the water from the river above the falls to supply. the necessary power. This was executed by making, a canal from the river, through the rock, some distance above the present cut, through which the water flowed and fell into a basin, which was formed by a dam crossing the ravine where the water now crosses it. This dam was then made high enough to throw the water into the present middle canal, and a deep cut was made through the steep ledge of rocks on the south-east side of the. ravine, to permit the water to flow from the basin into that canal.
The factory walls erected on that level, near the mill now occupied by Messrs. Hutchinson and Warden. For -some -years the water flowed from that factory diagonally, crossing Mill street and the Common, then called the Swamp, and entering into the river near the present Phenix Mill, About the year 1800) this middle race was extended along
the side of the hill, as it now runs, to supply some mills then about to be erected near the corner of Mill and Boudinot streets, and it was afterwards continued down Boudinot street as it was required to supply additional mills.
About the year 1828, the present upper canal was formed. This was done by raising the dam across the ravine -proper level to throw the water from the basin into to the that race-way. And in 1846, the new cut was made through the rock, and the water drawn from the river, where it-now flows, crossing the ravine in a trunk placed on the old dam -thus dispensing entirely with the upper basin.
At the time when this appropriation was made, there were but ten dwelling-houses in the place, three of which yet remain as silent witnesses of the growth, of our city. That is to say, the stone part of the old hotel standing on the-bank of the river, known as the Old Godwin House, the Old Van Winkle House, also standing on the bank of the river a short distance above, and the old stone house standing on the North side of Broadway, next, west,to the Ramapo Railroad.