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Yesteryears - the history of Albany
([1983])

Albany before 1883,   pp. 5-6 PDF (976.4 KB)


Page 5

ALBANY BEFORE 1883
The scene that greeted the Indians who were the
earliest known visitors to Albany was one of an area
covered only by a luxuriant growth of grass, interspersed
with flowers of every hue, and graced by the picturesque
woodland-bordered river. Legend has it that the Indians
called the river "Tonasookarah," meaning sugar and
also referring to the maple trees along the river banks.
Most of the area was in the early state of its natural
timber growth with an average of twelve to fourteen
trees to an acre; and these only a few inches in diameter.
The Indians came in the spring and in the fall with
their children and their ponies, camping at the Docken
campsite (now the Norwegian Settlement), the Porter-
field spring area, the Ray Tierney farm campsite, and
the Walter Wood farm area known as the Indian
Gardens. Until recently, stones arranged in circles
marked the campsite on the Ray Tierney farm. Allen's
Creek nearby suited the Indians admirably.
"Campbell's Ford," the name by which Albany was
first known, was an ideal river crossing settled by James
Campbell and Thomas Stewart in 1839. Seven years
later Captain Erastus Pond, master of a Great Lakes
ship, and Dr. Samuel Nichols, attracted by the pros-
pects of excellent water power and the scenic area, came
to Campbell's Ford. They purchased at least part of
their land from Isaac N. Arnold, an associate of
Abraham Lincoln. Dr. Nichols built a double log home
which was shared by the Pond family for a few months
until they built their own. Both homes were on the east
side of the river. In 1847 several families came and
Albany was on the way to becoming a thriving, populous
community.
Albany's bustling business district looked like this in 1865.
Looking north on Water Street, the tall building on the left is
probably the first flour mill built by Zebina Warren in 1849.
The mill was washed away in a flood in 1867.
The first brick building was the home of Zebina
Warren, which he built in 1851. It still stands
today-east of and next door to the Albany Public
Library. Built in what was platted as Block 13, the
house probably is not far from the spot where Dr.
Nichols built his log house.
The following story from the Albany Weekly Times of
June 8, 1858, illustrates the rapid progress of the village:
"The population of about 700 is chiefly composed of
the most energetic people from the eastern states. Sugar
River affords one of the best water powers between the
Rock and Mississippi Rivers and propels at the present
time machinery for two large flouring mills, one saw
mill, one cabinet and chair manufactory, one corn mill,
one woolen carding and cloth dressing machine. We
have in the business part of the village five dry goods
stores, three groceries, one hardware, one book and
drug store and 19 machine shops, such as tin, copper
and sheet iron, harness, blacksmith, paint, wagon, boot
and shoe, etc. We have one school house thirty by fifty
feet, two stories high to be finished in modern style at a
cost of -about $2,000. A spacious church, the spire of
which reaches to the height of 112 feet also attracts by its
beauty the attention of the traveler as he wends his way
to the quiet village. One big hotel is situated on the west
side of the river.
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