I began writing a chronological history of the town of Schaghticoke some years ago. In that process, I had reached the first quarter of the 19th century, when the 150th Anniversary of the Civil War drew my attention. Moving back to the history for a bit, by about 1820, though the town certainly contained many farms, it experienced an industrial boom, with mills springing up along the Hoosic River and Tomhannock Creek, and settlements growing up around them. The earliest focus of settlement in town had been in the area of the Knickerbocker Mansion, but now there were businesses and homes around the village of Schaghticoke, known as “The Point,” and the Schaghticoke Powder Mill- at the junction of Route 40 and the Tomhannock Creek- known as “Schaghticoke Hill,” and in Speigletown- prompted by the junction of the Northern Turnpike (Route 40) and the road to the east (Fogarty Road.)
In 1819, the residents of the portion of the town of Schaghticoke, south of the Deepkill, went to the village of Lansingburgh and asked to be attached to it. A committee of the village government studied the issue and accepted their petition. As of now, I don’t know why they wanted to leave Schaghticoke- why would anyone want to leave such a great town?? Surviving town records begin in 1839, so they don’t help.
I mention the border change of the town as it affects my next topic- which was physically located on both sides of the DeepKill, and located in both Schaghticoke and Lansingburgh- making research a bit difficult.
Have you every wondered why the little community to the west of Route 40 midway between Speigletown and Melrose is called Grant’s Hollow? It is named for a very interesting man named Isaac Travis Grant, inventor and manufacturer. He exemplifies the energy of the 19th century- a local farm boy from a large family, with little education, becoming an inventor, entrepreneur, patron of local churches, political activist, and founder of a community.
Isaac was born March 13, 1808. He was the son of Peter and Hannah Banker Grant. Peter, 1779-1859 and Hannah, 1778-1850 are buried in the little cemetery on the east side of Route 40 just north of the Kingsley Arms Apartments. That area was once the thriving little community of Schaghticoke Hill, and a Methodist church was next to the cemetery. Isaac’s brother John Grant and his wife are also buried in that tiny cemetery, along with a couple more brothers: Herman K. Grant, who died 1829, aged 19, and Daniel Grant, who died 1816, aged 5. I have to add that I’m guessing that Herman’s middle name was Knickerbacker. Herman Knickerbacker, who was a US Congressman and First Judge of Rensselaer County, lived at Schaghticoke Hill. I’m betting that the Grants were his neighbors, partly because of their burial in the cemetery, partly because of their listing close to Knickerbacker on the 1840 census.
Thanks to the miracle of ancestry.com, I am now in contact with several descendants of Isaac Grant, one in Australia, who have filled in his family history for me. Isaac’s father Peter was the son of John and Susan Williams Grant. John’s father, James, came to the American Colonies in 1758 from Scotland, a Major in the British Army, fighting in the French and Indian Wars. According to “The Banker or Bancker Families in America,”, he was so impressed by America, that his four sons, including John, came in 1775 as soldiers in the British Army to Quebec, intending to desert and stay here. John became a Captain in the Green Mountain Boys and New Hampshire Militia during the Revolution.
Isaac’s mother, Hannah Banker, was the daughter of Adolph and Ruth Oakley Banker. Adolph also fought in the Revolution, in Dutchess County, but came to this area after the war. Again according to the Banker family genealogy of 1909, the family lived on the north side of the Tomhannock Creek on poor farms. A story told in the genealogy, which sounds rather exaggerated to me, states that Hannah “often went through the woods nearby to Johnsonville, six miles, after the cows, taking her gun with her and on the way home sometimes heard the panthers scream in the woods.” He father grew to be well off by trading horses and farms.
Despite the great genealogical information, it is still only through the tenuous data of the US Census that I can guess at the life of Isaac’s parents, Hannah and Peter. The Banker genealogy does say that Peter “was a very sociable man and was generally known in the community as “Uncle Peter,” and that Hannah was “short and very corpulent.” Turning to the documentary evidence, a Peter Grant appears on the 1800 census of Pittstown as a man under 25 with his wife and 1 female child under 10. In the 1810 census, a P. Grant is on the Schaghticoke census with a family of 4 males under 10, 1 from 26-44, 1 over 44, and two females 16-25, and 1 26-44. In the 1820 census, the only local Peter Grant is in Easton, with 6 males under 10, 2 from 10-15, 2 from 16-25, and 1 from 26-44. There were 2 females from 16-25 and 1 from 26-44. The census indicates that he was a farmer. He was still on the 1830 census in Easton, with some of those children having left home. The family included 2 males from 10-14, 1 from 15-19, 1 from 50-59, and 1 female from 5-9, 1 from 20-29, and 1 from 50-59.
By the 1840 census, the only local Peter Grant was in Schaghticoke, with just two children left at home, 1 boy aged 20-29 and one girl, aged 15-19. The census states that one person in the family was “employed in manufacture and trade.” According to my genealogical contact, the Grants had fourteen children, just three of them daughters. A census every ten years just couldn’t capture them all at once. The first child was born in 1800, the last in 1822. Isaac was named for Isaac Travis, who married his aunt Susan Grant.
The 1850 census is the first to give the names and some information about all of the people in a household. By that time, Peter and Hannah Grant were in Schaghticoke as a couple living alone, with his occupation as farmer. Hannah died in November 1850, of typhoid fever, and the 1855 census found Peter, listed as a widower born in Dutchess County, living as a boarder in the inn of Humphrey Akin. Peter died in 1859, aged 80.
tombstone of Peter Grant, father of Isaac, in the cemetery at Schaghticoke Hill
tombstone of Hannah Grant, mother of Isaac, in the cemetery at Schaghticoke Hill
There is one other hint to the childhood family of Isaac Grant. In the records of St. John’s Lutheran Church, which was located at the junction of Northline Drive and Valley Falls Road in Melrose, is the marriage of Augustus R. Grant, mechanic, and Phoebe M. Germond. They were married at the home of Widow Germond on December 6, 1838, and the witnesses were Alexander Grant, George Washington Grant, Isaac Grant, and James Germond. That record plus the tombstones of three Grant sons in the Schaghticoke Hill Cemetery gives a total of seven sons for Peter and Hannah, close to the reality. The listing of Augustus as a “mechanic” also hints that other Grants besides Isaac were involved in manufacturing. In the 19th century, a mechanic was a person working with machinery, as in mills. An amazing story in the Banker genealogy states that Isaac’s brother James was a grist mill owner in Johnsonville, who died in 1850. “He was found with his head thrust into a barrel of meal and was thought to have been killed by one of his employees whom he had offended.”
Turning to Isaac himself, the earliest mention I find of him in the newspaper is an ad in the Troy “Budget” in 1834. He stated he had taken over the factory formerly known as “Bryan & Grant,” and was now manufacturing fanning mills and cradles himself. That same year, he was listed in a group of local “Young Republicans,” meeting at the home of Colonel B.K. Bryan. I wonder if Colonel Bryan was his partner and mentor. This might partly explain how a poor farm boy was able to begin a business. Perhaps Isaac also acquired knowledge of mill operation from being around the Powder Mill, textile factory and grist mill which were located near his family home at Schaghticoke Hill. According to the Banker genealogy, Isaac did learn the fanning mill and cradle making from Bryan, but it was David Bryan. Indeed, David is on the 1840 census right next to Herman Knickerbocker at Schaghticoke Hill. The genealogy states his mill was run by “horse power,” highly unlikely as it was right on the Tomhannock where there were other mills. As for the “Colonel” part of the name, David Bryan was at least a Captain in Knickerbocker’s Regiment in the War of 1812. Certainly this is the Colonel Bryan of the newspaper article, with just a typo for the first initial.
Isaac certainly went far beyond his mentor in making agricultural machinery. First, he moved the operation south to a different stream. In 1836, he purchased 48 acres on the Deep Kill, the stream that runs through the future Grant’s Hollow, from Jonathan Wickware for $1680. The farm bordered the stream, and the description mentions the “upper side of the Bridge at the Turnpike crossing” and exempts the “land where the school house stands.” This deed gives several interesting bits of information about the area: confirmation of the continuation of the Northern Turnpike, the existence of a bridge across the stream, and the existence of the school house. It was and is located just up Mineral Springs Road on the left hand side.
In 1842, Isaac bought 7 ½ acres of land from John and Eliza Fake for the much higher price of $4000, perhaps because it fronted on the Turnpike, or perhaps because of the buildings on the property. In his Landmarks of Rensselaer County, published in 1897, George Anderson states that the factory in Grant’s Hollow as founded in 1836 by D.H. Viall, J.P. Leavens, and Ezra Banker. While the date seems correct from the deed cited above, the founder was Isaac T. Grant. Leavens and Banker worked with Grant, and Viall was his partner and successor, but, as the name would indicate, Grant was the boss.
The next mention I found of Isaac chronologically was as the recipient of US Patent 4105 in 1845, for a grain winnower. This “fan mill for cleaning grain…added an additional screen and ‘chess board’: arranged to allow a much stronger blast of wind to act on the grain at the lower part of shaking sieves. 2 operations are performed simultaneously in less than half the time required the old way.” In 1850, Isaac T. Grant and Daniel H. Viall received another patent for an improvement in grain cradles, which had the “construction of brace rods so as to fold for storage or transportation.” Viall went on to receive another patent for an improvement in grain cradles in 1861, witnessed by Isaac Grant and Alonzo Brookins. So Isaac and his partner were inventors and proprietors.
. isaac grant winnower
The 1850 US census for Schaghticoke, the first which gives family and occupational details, lists Isaac Grant as a mechanic, aged 38, with a family of four children: Malissa, 18; Bryan, 17; a student; Job P., 15, a student; and Matilda, 12, who had gone to school in the last year. This indicates that Isaac must have been married about age 20, and that his wife was deceased. Indeed, I found the grave of Peggy Maria Alexander Grant, along with that of Isaac, in the Hillside Cemetery, behind the Lutheran Church in Raymertown. She died in 1849, aged 36 years. The designation of Bryan and Job as “students” implies that they were in a secondary school, not just the local one-room school house.
Isaac was a busy man, with a factory, inventing, and four motherless children. Certainly Malissa, aged 18, must have been a big help. Also living with the family were three of Grant’s employees, George Cary, a 30-year-old teamster, Oscar Buffington, 17, and John W. Thompson, 25, mechanics, as well as Ann Bryan, a 25-year-old Irish woman, who was certainly the domestic help.
Grant’s partner Daniel H. Viall and his household are in the 1850 census for Lansingburgh. He probably lived just across the Deep Kill from Isaac. He is listed as a manufacturer, aged 32, with a wife Mary, 28; daughter Helen, 7, and sons Job, 3, and Isaac G., less than 1 year old. I have to say that I love that both Grant and Viall had sons named Job- I think named after Job Pierson, a prominent local politician, who had been a US Congressman and a neighbor of Peter and Hannah Grant at Schaghticoke Hill- and that Viall named a son Isaac G. Also in his household were six young men aged 16-25 with the occupation of “mechanic” and two Irish girls, to help in the household. Both Grant and Viall are great illustration of the development of the factory system. The proprietors provided housing for workers, a good way to monitor them while they weren’t at work.
Daniel Viall was born in 1819, died in 1905, and married Mary Elizabeth Germond, of Speigletown, in 1842. She was the daughter of Samuel Germond. Another of Samuel’s daughters had married Augustus R. Grant, Isaac’s brother. The Germond family was THE prominent family in Speigletown at the time. Daniel and Mary Viall ended up having nine children, at least three of whom died as small children, including Isaac. Daniel, Mary, and several of the children are buried in Elmwood Cemetery in Schaghticoke. Of course there are still Vialls in Schaghticoke today.
Isaac also got his family involved in the business. His brother John appears in the 1850 census aged 34, as a mechanic, with wife Catherine, 30, and children Delia, 15; Job A., 7(another Job!); Harriet, 5; Warren, 2; and three young men with occupation “merchant.” They may have been employees at the general store which the Grants also had at Grant’s Hollow. The store housed the Post Office for “Junction,” and Isaac was the Postmaster through the 1840’s. The Post Office certainly would have brought business to the store.
In my collection, I have the day book of the store from 1851-1854. It records sales of everything from the grain cradles manufactured at I.T. Grant & Company, to brown sugar and cream of tartar, hoop iron, cloth, brandy, and shovels. The address on each page of the day book is “Junction”, which was the early name for Melrose. I’m not sure what junction this refers to- the Deep Kill stream and the Northern Turnpike? I always thought it was the Troy and Boston Railroad and the Turnpike, which crossed just north of the current heart of Melrose, but apparently not. The Railroad came through just about 1851, and was quite a bit north of the store’s location. The Northern Turnpike meandered through the little settlement of Grant’s Hollow, rather than forging straight north-south as current Route 40 does, crossing the Deep Kill on a bridge.
Getting back to Mr. Grant, it seems that his businesses prospered. In the 1855 census Isaac, now 47, is listed as a manufacturer owning a frame house worth $2000. He had remarried in 1853, to Elizabeth Stemton of Pittstown. Elizabeth was 32 years old. Son Job P. and daughter Emmalinda- the Matilda of the 1850 census- are also listed, along with a child of the new marriage, Ernest, aged 11/12. I know from other sources that the elder son, Bryan, was probably off studying to become a lawyer, and that daughter Malissa had married Dr. Henry B. Whiton, who was a regimental surgeon in the Civil War and returned to practice in Troy for many years. The household also included a servant, Ellen Murphy, who had just arrived from Ireland two years earlier, and a “laborer”, Austin Ford, aged 26, who had just arrived from England a year earlier and was illiterate. Isaac’s brother John lived next door in a frame house worth only $200, which he did not own. John and his wife had added a fourth child, a little girl named Nora.
Interestingly, in 1852, before he remarried, Isaac Grant was formally made guardian of his three oldest children. The documents state that the Malissa, Bryan, and Job were “entitled to certain property and estate” and that having a guardian named would “preserve their legal rights.” This would preserve their inheritance from their mother from their step-mother and her children. The estate amounted to about $3500, including real estate in Pittstown of six “unproductive” acres. Former Congressman Job Pierson and Levi Smith acted with Grant in this matter. An 1853 deed records the three children purchasing two acres of the farm of Hannah Alexander and Hannah Groff of Pittstown. Their mother Peggy was an Alexander before her marriage.
The 1855 NYS census includes agricultural and industrial summaries for each town. The Schaghticoke portion lists IT Grant Cradles and Fan Mills with a capital investment of $7000 in real estate and $2000 in tools and machinery. The mill had on hand about 25,000 feet of lumber worth $25,000, for use to make its products. It made 7000 grain cradles and 700 fanning mills worth $42,000 that year. The factory used steam and water power and employed thirteen men and three boys, at an average salary of $24 per month. I find it particularly interesting that the factory already was using some steam power. And sixteen employees constitute a pretty substantial business. The Lansingburgh census also reports on a farm of 85 acres that Grant and Viall had just acquired, valued at $4500, with 55 acres plowed, 15 acres of pasture, and 15 acres of meadow. This was undoubtedly nearby, just on the south side of the DeepKill, part of Lansingburgh at this point. The men were partners in industry and agriculture.
Besides running the factory and store at Junction, Isaac Grant branched out into other businesses. In the 1857 Troy City Directory, Grant with partner Daniel Viall and MM Nutting had an agricultural implements business at 355 River Street. The business, which was a “wire cloth and agricultural implement warehouse,” had a fire in March, 1859, but the $2000 loss was covered by insurance. This business listing continued until the 1862 directory. In 1858 Isaac also ran a three-story frame tavern on the east side of Main Street in the village of Schaghticoke.
Grant also got involved in his community. In 1844, he and several others purchased a strip of property near St. John’s Lutheran Church at the junction of Valley Falls Road and North Line Drive. They erected a shed for parking the wagons of parishioners during services at the Church. In 1848, he was one of the judges of two and three-year-old horses at the NYS Agricultural Society Fair. In 1850, he and former Congressman Job Pierson were delegates from Rensselaer County to the NYS Democratic Convention. He filled that role again in 1859. Either Grant was dissatisfied with the Lutheran Church or wanted to worship closer to home, or perhaps his second wife was not a Lutheran, because in 1853, he donated $100, the largest single amount given, and his partner Daniel Viall $50, towards erecting a new Methodist Church “ near the Junction Post Office.” Grant and his wife Elizabeth also gave the land for the building, probably next to his house on what is now Mineral Springs Road. This is the church that was later moved and added to another building to form the current Melrose Methodist Church.
The 1860 US Census confirms the prosperity of Grant and Viall. In the Lansingburgh section, I found Isaac Grant and Daniel Viall living next door to each other. Isaac Grant, 52, an agricultural implements manufacturer, had real estate of $27,000, and a personal estate of $5000. His wife Elizabeth, 37, had a personal estate of $2000. Just the two children of this second marriage lived at home: Ernest was 5 and Camille 4 years of age. Living in the home were Sidney Ransom, 17, a clerk and salesman, and John Robinson, 22, a farm laborer. Daniel Viall, 42, had an occupation listed as “agricultural implements”. He had real estate worth $13,000 and a personal estate of $4000. The family included wife Mary, 35; children Job, 1; Frank, 7; and Mary E., 3; plus Jane Snyder, a 20-year old domestic servant; Christopher Darrow, a 14-year-old apprentice machinist; and William Rose, a 19-year-old farm laborer. William’s parents, farmers, lived next door. This level of prosperity didn’t extend to Isaac’s brother John, now 44, who was listed as a machinist with just $300 in personal property. His family included son Job, now 17; Mary, 15; Warren, 12; Nora, 10; Inez, 5; and Stella, 3.
I also found Bryan, Isaac’s eldest son, living in the village of Schaghticoke in 1860. He was a 26-year-old lawyer worth $600, with a wife, Edith M, 24, worth $500, and an Irish domestic servant, Sarah Docerty, age 25. According to “The Bancker Genealogy,” Bryan went to R.P.I. from 1852-1854, then was a law student with the firm of Pierson, Beech, and Smith- this would be Job Pierson, for whom Isaac’s son Job was named. He was admitted to the bar and practiced in Schaghticoke for a couple of years. Edith, his first wife, was Edith Naylor of Greenwich.
The story of Grant and Viall takes a dark turn in the 1860’s. The 1865 census for Lansingburgh lists Daniel Viall, manufacturer, with an estate of only $1200, considerably less than in 1860. The mill is listed with capital invested of $21,000 up from $7000 in 1855, but with output of 230 fan mills worth $5120 and 3200 grain cradles worth $6123, down from total sales of $42000 ten years earlier. In this census, the raw materials on hand are detailed: 16,100 feet of oak worth $400, 19,000 feet of ash worth $570, 23,000 feet of “white wood” worth $920, 5,380 feet of bass worth $134, 600 feet maple worth $18, other “wood” worth $100. There were also 4170 pounds of cast iron worth $365. The mill employed about the same number of men as earlier: 12 men and 2 boys, now making $45.50 per month.
The 1865 census for the Grant family reveals some kind of cataclysmic event. Wife Elizabeth is the head of family in a frame house worth only $600. Isaac, now 57, is listed after her, still as a manufacturer, but with the word “asylum”, crossed out, next to his name. What happened? Clearly, he was not capable of managing the household, much less the business. Isaac had had a mental breakdown. He died October 17, 1868. An obituary in the Troy “Times” reported “born to the pursuits of a farmer, he was among the first in this section of the state to enter largely into the manufacture of agricultural implements, and for many years was the head of a large manufacturing concern….He was a man of great energy of character and remarkable for his business enterprise. In politics Mr. Grant was a Democrat and in the Presidential campaign four years ago his feelings became warmly enlisted. The excitement appeared too much even for his apparently robust and hardy constitution. It either developed or implanted a disease from which he never recovered. In November 1864 it was found necessary by his friends to restrain him and he was conveyed to Utica the same winter, having previously spent some months at the Marshall Infirmary.” Utica was the site of the state insane asylum, and the Marshall Infirmary was the local version. How interesting that politics was seen as the source of his mental illness.
His widow Elizabeth and their son Earnest died in 1875. All, plus first wife Peggy, are buried in the Hillside Cemetery behind the Lutheran Church in Raymertown. Isaac actually has two grave stones, one with each wife. I don’t know where he is buried.
According to a website of Civil War soldiers in Ohio, Isaac’s eldest son Bryan, whom we last saw as a lawyer in the village of Schaghticoke in 1860, went to Ohio and became a lieutenant in an Ohio Civil War regiment in 1862. He somehow didn’t go to war, reason not known. He moved to New Jersey in 1870 and worked for Gold and Stock Telegraph Company, “taking charge of the distribution of European commercial and financial news to the business world.” After the death of his first wife, he married again, and was living in East Orange, New Jersey with his son in 1910.
Second son Job Pierson Grant, aged 25, is listed in the 1860 census for Lansingburgh in the family of David Viele as a merchant with a personal estate of 1860. He registered for the draft in 1863 as a “married manufacturer”, but was not drafted. By the 1870 census he was in Troy, with no occupation listed, with wife Elizabeth and daughter Minnie, age 6. So neither Bryan nor Job had joined the family business.
Isaac’s brother John also had a tragic end. I noticed that he and his wife Catherine were both buried in the cemetery at Schaghticoke Hill, having died the same day: January 14, 1862. John was 45, Catherine 41. This led me to look in the “Lansingburgh Daily Gazette” newspaper for the next day. Here is what I found: “Railroad Accident. A sad accident occurred on the Troy and Boston Railroad near Buskirk’s Bridge Tuesday a.m., which resulted in the death of two persons, Mr. and Mrs. John B. Grant, who resided at the “Junction”, Schaghticoke. The deceased were riding in a carriage on the way to the funeral of a deceased friend and were crossing the Railroad track when the engine struck the wagon with great force, sending its occupants high in the air, demolishing the vehicle into fragments. . ..Mrs. Grant was killed instantly and Mr. Grant was terribly cut about the head and died in a few hours. Both the deceased were admired and respected by their friends and neighbors, and their sad, untimely fate is regretted by all. Mr. Grant…was employed as the superintendent of the large manufacturing establishment of his brother, Mr. IT Grant, at the”Junction.” The deceased has a family of five children.”
Son Job A., aged 17, had four little sisters to care for. However, he enlisted in the 125th Regiment New York Volunteers, Company K, in August of that year, and went off to war. In the Civil War records, Job is described as a mechanic, 5’8” tall, with blue eyes and light hair. On December 1, 1863, he was captured by the Confederates at Mine Run, Virginia. He died of dysentery in Andersonville Prison on July 24, 1864.
All of the other children seemed to have lived good lives after being orphaned by their parents and guardian. Brother Warren went to Columbia County, where he married and lived until 1914. The girls all ended up in New York City. Mary married a lawyer, John Vincent, who became a District Attorney. Nora married William Connel, a merchant, and Stella, Charles Williams, a dry goods merchant.
Happily, the Grant Fan Mill and Cradle Company continued on under the direction of partner Daniel Viall, and new partners J.P. Leavens, J.S. Walling, and E. Banker. In the 1870 Rensselaer County Directory, it advertised “Grant’s patent fan mills and grain cradles, and dealers in dry goods, groceries, hardware, and agricultural implements.”
About the same time, I found the account of an event in the newspaper where the little community of “Junction” was already being called “Grant’s Hollow.” The 1876 “Beer’s Atlas” has the heading “Grant’s Hollow” in its list of merchants, manufacturers, and farmers, with the only listing as the “Rensselaer Agricultural Works”. It states: “Grant Fan Mill and Cradle Company, (successor to IT Grant and Son), manufacturers of “Grant’s patent fan mills and grain cradles…We have taken over one hundred Best Premiums in the US. Railroad and Express Station, Melrose, on the Troy and Boston Railroad, care of Grant & Viall. D. H. Viall. J. P. Leavens. E. B. Banker.” The 1877 map in Beers Atlas shows the factory on the both sides of the Deep Kill. D.H. Viall is the major property owner on the north side, with his residence just east of where the road crossed the stream. The Store House is labeled J.P.Leavens, and is on the south side of the stream, just east of the road.
illustration of Grant’s MIll
At the same time, DH Viall is listed in the Troy City Directory as part of “Nutting, Hull, and Company, agricultural rooms at 357 and 359 River Street, house at Junction on the Troy and Boston Railroad.” Two other men, JBS Maltby, who made “wire cloth, screens, and etc.” and Halbert D. Hull, “hardware” were involved in the business, which sounds like a conglomerate to sell tools to farmers. It only lasted for a couple of years.
By 1875, Daniel Viall was listed as half of “Grant and Viall, scrap iron dealers, dock above the steamboat landing”. Most interestingly, the Grant was Germon H. Grant. This partnership only lasted a couple of years as well. I think that Germon may have been a son of Augustus R. Grant, one of Isaac Grant’s brothers. He had married Phoebe Germond in 1838. Daniel Viall was married to Phoebe’s sister, Mary. In the 1850 census, I found A.B. Grant, grocer, in Troy, with P.M. Grant, his wife, and son German (sic) H. age 8. In the 1870 Troy directory, Augustus was an iron dealer at 269 River Street with German as a clerk there. Germon or German evidently wasn’t settled on being an iron dealer, as in the 1871 directory, he and partner G.N. Rhodes were selling hats, caps, and furs at 5 Museum Building. One wonders at D.H. Viall’s feelings at being in partnership with a young man who was his own nephew, and the nephew of his old partner Isaac. And one wonders why it didn’t work out.
Evidently, Daniel Viall had retired from or left the business by 1880. He is listed in that census as age 60 with no occupation, and with just wife Mary, and youngest son Charles, 16, who “works on the farm.” As I said earlier, they had had nine children, but at least three died as toddlers, two in 1852. Son Job, born in 1845, married Alida Baucus, daughter of a local farmer. He is listed in the 1870 Rensselaer County Directory as a partner of Abel Thomas. They were “general dealers in stoves, tin, copper, sheet iron, hardware, and agricultural implements” in Thompson’s Building on Main Street in Hart’s Falls (the village of Schaghticoke.) Son Franklin, born in 1852, married Nancy Banker in 1874 in Grant’s Hollow, but I cannot find him in the census after that. He died in 1917 and is buried in Elmwood Cemetery. Son Charles is listed in the 1905 census as a “mail route agent,” with a wife and two children.
In the 1900 Schaghticoke census, Daniel lived as a boarder in the home of Hannah and Martha Rose, with the occupation, at age 80, of “day laborer.” More happily, by the 1905 census, Daniel Viall and his son Job, both widowers were living with Job’s daughter Jennie Winton, evidently a widow, aged 32, on Main Street in the village of Schaghticoke. Daniel, age 85, died that year. Job, age 58, was still a “general merchant.” He was still running the business twenty years later, when he lived with another daughter, Jennie, and her husband Edward Pinkham, a telegraph operator. Job died in 1933.
I have not found out anything about Daniel Viall’s partners Ezra Banker and J.S. Walling. Partner Josephus Peck Leavens was a local boy, born in 1815 or 1816. Lois Hartnett recently sent me a letter. Her home was the Leavens Homestead, and a note with the deed stated that “for a number of years (Josephus) had been one of the proprietors of the well- known Grant Fan Mill and Cradle Company”. Leavens married Rebekah Jane Germond, of that prominent Speigletown family, in 1837. Their son Josephus was born in 1837. In the 1865 census he was still at home, occupation farmer. He married Mary Wheeler in 1868. In the 1880 census they are listed with three children. Josephus’ occupation is given as “storekeeper,” perhaps indicating that he had also entered the business, perhaps managing the retail side. Daniel Viall and his family lived next door. Mary died in 1883 and Josephus married Evaline Brewster in 1885. I know that he had six children from the two marriages, but have not found any further trace of him.
As far as I know, the Grant Fan Mill and Cradle Co., or Rensselaer Agricultural Works stayed in business throughout the 19th century. I have found a number of newspaper articles that record the final step in its history in 1895. Several newspapers reported its re-incorporation as the Grant Ferris Company “by Albert.E. Powers and N.B. Powers of Lansingburgh and F.H. Ferris of Melrose.” J.A. Powers of the Glens Falls Electric Railway Company was a stockholder. The “Batavia Daily News” of January 8 reported “there has been a novel company incorporated, called the Grant Ferris Company…besides the prosaic intention of manufacturing agricultural implements it proposed to run country stores in various states of the union and even in foreign countries. The capital is fixed at $50,000 and the principal office is to be at Melrose.” The “Glens Falls Morning Star” added that the company “will manufacture the well-known Ferris seed drill and Grant fan or separator for threshing machines, coffee mills, etc.” And the “Utica Observer” reported the company “will conduct a general store in Melrose.” This is the same business model the company had used since 1836, with the addition of the Ferris seed drill.
Albert E. and Nathaniel B. Powers were the owners of a very successful oil cloth factory in Lansingburg. Their father and mother William and Deborah began the business in 1817, adding a paint and oil business and an oil refinery. Albert and Nathaniel joined as partners in the 1840’s, and ran the business with their mother after their father’s death in 1852. An article in a book entitled, “America’s Successful Men of Affairs,” published in 1896, reports that they were “interested” in the Ferris Seeder Company. Fred H.Ferris was a local man, born in 1869, who got into the machinery business in a similar way to Isaac Grant, beginning as a farmer, moving on to invention and manufacturing.
“Landmarks of Rensselaer County” by George Anderson reports that the Grant Ferris Company became the property of Albert E. Powers and burned in 1895. Apparently the idea of a chain of international general stores didn’t come to fruition. I would guess that the fire ended lots of plans. But the company moved to Green Island and continued. Rensselaer County inventor John G. Snyder developed a combined oat and rye thresher for the company. It also branched out into marine engines. I find it interesting that it maintained the name Grant, and wonder if anyone connected with the company knew anything about Isaac. A brochure put out by the company, quoted to me by Jim Ferris, descendant of Fred, reported that Grant Ferris was a descendant of the Grant Company, founded in 1822. 1822 was surely an exaggeration. From all I have written, I’m sure you can tell that I have found his story to be a fascinating one, full of “what ifs”- what if Isaac and his brother had lived longer? What if one of their sons had gone in to the business? What happened that Daniel Viall, also an inventor, didn’t stay on with the company through his own long life? What if the Grant-Ferris Company hadn’t burned in 1895?
Newspaper articles: http://www.fultonhistory.com
Probate records, Rensselaer County Historical Society: Job, Melissa, Bryan Grant guardianship papers
US Patent Office papers: Viall and Grant patent applications
Beers Atlas 1876
“The Cultivator” 1845, illustration of fanning mill
Records of St. John’s Lutheran Church
US census: 1790, 1800, 1810, 1820, 1840, 1850, 1860, 1880, 1900
NYS Census: 1855, 1865, 1905
Troy City directories: 1870, 1875
Anderson, George “Landmarks of Rensselaer County” 1897
Elmwood Cemetery records, Schaghticoke
NY Civil War Muster roll records for Job A Grant
Civil War Draft Registration records NARA: Job P Grant
Roster of Ohio Soldiers Vol. 8 p. 263- Bryant Grant- web page of Ohio researcher
“Lansingburgh Daily Gazette”: Oct 22, 1868, Jan 16, 1862
Hillside Cemetery, Raymertown, records
Schaghticoke Hill Methodist Cemetery records
1870 Rensselaer County directory
Records of Melrose Methodist Church
“The Leavens Name” 1903 by Philo French Leavens
Ancestry.com family tree for Isaac Travis Grant
Hart Papers, Rensselaer County Historical Society
Rensselaer County deeds, book 37, 56, 57, 59,61,90
Records of Lansingburgh: “Marriages in School District 1, year ending 1854”