Tricia Barbagallo an article published in the Hudson Valley Regional Review* in 2000
A colleague introduced me to James Caldwell in 1992 when he showed me an etching of Caldwell's Mills near Albany. I was intrigued to see such extensive factories on the Hudson River as early as 1790. Hoping to understand how a common Irish immigrant was able to build such an industry, I looked for answers in Warren County and Albany repositories, and I hiked Albany's hilly streets, walking the beat of the man who was influential in changing Albany from a small port town, into a center for industry and commerce. I walked through Lake George village to become aware of how Caldwell developed the nearly barren shores into a community for shipping, travelers, and industry. In 1999, my interest in Caldwell was renewed when my work as a historian for a cultural resources firm presented a rare insight into his everyday life. Archeologists excavated the eighteenth-century Albany waterfront and the remains of James Caldwell's dock on the Hudson River. I had the opportunity of walking on the very timbers where barrels of New York's first manufactured products were rolled onto sloops. I stood where two hundred years earlier Caldwell scoped incoming vessels, and I imagined him shouting orders with his Irish brogue to workmen who loaded wares. I pictured him in his three-point hat, and, knowing his humor, I saw him snicker and laugh. Then I saw him twirl his cane, swiftly turn, and head up Maiden Lane back to his store. As my imagination watched him leave, I thought, there goes James Caldwell, the founder of the American factory and an inventor of American business. While my interest in Caldwell stemmed from a personal curiosity it led me to conclude that if not for James Caldwell, Albany, Lake George, New York State, and the Northeast would not be what they are today.
James Caldwell was born in 1747, in County Donegal, northwest Ireland. In his early twenties James took his last look at the rocky cliffs and heather-covered hills before leaving to begin a new life in the Colonies. A pious Presbyterian discontented with an increasingly Catholic state, he and his older brother, Joseph, found their way to Philadelphia. With the establishment of the Donegal Presbytery in Pennsylvania, Philadelphia became a haven for Scots-Irish immigrants offering a welcoming destination for the Caldwells. He found work as a courier running goods and mail to the New York frontier for merchant Francis Wade. As a broker for New York's Commissioner of Indian Affairs Sir William Johnson, Wade transported slaves and furniture and promoted settlement in the Mohawk Valley. Using their connections to Wade and Johnson, the Caldwells learned the ropes of retailing, developed trustworthy reputations, and established relationships with some of the most notable merchants on the Eastern seaboard. They stayed in Philadelphia long enough to deepen their ties with local merchants, then took their money and left Philadelphia to make their own way. Keen and ambitious, they headed for Albany, realizing the centrality of the inland port town would make a success of their newly found initiative.1
The Caldwells opened a grocery store on Market Street to serve the locals and saw a future as suppliers for Johnson. They broke into the retail market by selling imported foods that were unavailable in Albany stores. Scots-Irish locals yearning for homeland foods appreciated their rice, Scotch snuff and Scotch barley, allspice, and ground mustard. Shoppers such as Scots-Irish physicians - Hunloke Woodruff, William McClelland, and James Low - and James's comrades at the Masters Lodge, all would have indulged their desire for smoked meats and cheeses and cured gammon (bacon). The Caldwells also introduced hard-to-find expensive items, such as citrus fruits and more than five varieties of imported liquors. What put them apart from other Albany retailers was their supply of "Virginia tobacco." Since their reasonably priced groceries were affordable to average consumers and their specialty items attracted Albany's elite, they established a steady clientele. Compared to other Albany retailers who mainly sold fabric and clothes on a cash-only basis, the Caldwells were eager to please and accepted cash, credit, or produce, and promised to import more "English" and "American" goods.2
Success in retailing meant major changes in their personal lives, and the brothers established permanent roots in Albany. In 1774 James returned to Philadelphia on business and boarded at the house of military officer and merchant William Barnes. Before leaving the city, James made a life-long business investment. At twenty-seven, he married Barnes's daughter, Elizabeth, locking himself into family life, financial resources, and deeper ties to the affluent community. James and his brother, also newly married, moved from their shared apartment above the store into separate residences and began living more separate lives. James settled Elizabeth into a more spacious Market Street house. After his marriage he was referred to as "a gentleman of Albany." In 1775, the couple baptized the first of eleven children, a daughter, Helen, at Albany's Presbyterian church. 3
Initially the Caldwells planned their business to satisfy the local market, but during the Revolutionary War they expanded and tailored their stock to outfit the military. Instead of serving in the militia, both men remained on the home front. James took the helm while Joseph semi-retired to begin a career in teaching. As the war created a demand for large quantities of goods and a need for specialized products, James developed three new strategies to accommodate the war effort, and in the process, his business flourished. Using his connections abroad and in the Colonies, he became a supplier of bulk quantities of meat and salt to support the Army. He maintained and expanded his import business since exclusive items such as chocolate, liquor, and tobacco appealed to the high-ranking military officers stationed in Albany. Finally, as the war created a shortage of products, Caldwell began producing and dealing in scarce items such as ash, which indicates he dabbled in the production of soap and gunpowder. Using his increasing capital, he bought docks and a warehouse, which enabled him to conduct a heavier volume and more diverse commercial business.4
New acquaintances and the war presented opportunities for Caldwell to initiate new ventures. His ingenuity coupled with political unrest enabled shopkeeper James Caldwell to branch out as a wholesaler and supplier, which confirmed his position as a respected Albany merchant. Thus during the war, Caldwell's grocery store evolved into a multi-faceted operation that extended into the New York frontier. His link to the Western New York market had been jeopardized by the death of William Johnson. Always enterprising, he saw the vacant commissioner's frontier home as a supply base and purchased Johnson Hall to stockpile goods for frontier families and military expeditions. In the process, he developed a relationship with Joseph Brandt, a Native American loyal to the British, and Caldwell was later called Brandt's "life-long agent." Caldwell's relationship with Brandt suggests that both men may have had a superficial interest in supplying the enemy. Caldwell found Brandt's northern connections appealing and became more interested in expanding his business into the northern frontier and Canada.5
After the war, Caldwell focused on exporting farm products and supplying frontier communities, families, and taverns. He mastered supplying and selling and contemplated new ventures. After cataloging stock and resolving day-to-day problems, he found time to spend with Elizabeth, who delivered him five more children, including William in 1776, who became his protégé and successor. Looking for new enterprises as the stagnant post-war economy slowed his business, James, like many Albany retailers profited by selling West Indian commodities, but he wavered from importing. He bought a farm and became a supplier and exporter of his own meat, grain, and produce, and he started trucking and exporting New York State commodities. He studied the American retail market, noted regional demands, and hauled goods to and from New England and to northern and western New York. In 1784, his father-in-law and Wade presented a new business venture. Using Albany as a gateway, they intended to open the tobacco market from Philadelphia to Montreal. Caldwell secured a Montreal connection, and began importing French-Canadian commodities, spices and liquors in Albany. He also opened a store in Bennington, Vermont, and took on apprentices and sent them into the frontier to work as he had done. He owned three regional stores, making him a well-known chain-store grocer and supplier. While most merchants were content with a stable Albany-based business, Caldwell took risks. He was adventuresome and rationally invested his profits to broaden his business.6
By the late 1780s, Caldwell commanded more respect than the longstanding, now aging New Netherland Dutch merchants. He hobnobbed with Albany notables and became part of the elite social crowd, but he may have had his enemies. In 1788, James marched in a parade celebrating the ratification of the United States Constitution. Anti-Federalist demonstrators threw debris at marchers and aimed a cannon at the parade. Men from the audience disengaged the cannon, but no one was able to stop the brick being hurled at James Caldwell's head. The "riot" and his injury were the talk of Albany. 7
While he invested his spare time with friends and as a trustee of the First Presbyterian Church, he invested heavily in land. Beginning in 1780, he purchased and developed twenty-six Albany lots. On South Court Street he built a block-long commercial building, called Harmony or Caldwell's Row, and rented storefronts to retailers. In 1787, he bought over 1,500 acres of land along the Lake George shores and later became landlord to more than 220 Warren County residents. He owned more than 220,000 acres in nine other undeveloped New York counties, and he held land in Vermont and Canada. Caldwell's land speculation may have been a means to invest excess income, but it also increased his wealth, provided a steady income that could be reinvested, and enabled him to monopolize the northern retail market.8
During the 1790s, Caldwell built his business into a New York-based marketing empire that changed Albany and the New York economy forever. With stores, farms, warehouses, wharves, and regional contacts, Caldwell had everything in motion to mass-produce Albany goods successfully. He hired Boston architect Christopher Batterman to design a factory and mills that required little manual labor. Caldwell's Mills, said to be the most extensive factory in the United States at the time, opened its doors for business in March 1790. Tobacco was the principal commodity. Caldwell processed imported whole Virginia leaf to make snuff and cigars on site, and bypassed his Philadelphia suppliers to save time and money. And because he was ingenious James Caldwell, he went one step further. He stamped every snuff bladder, bag, or cigar, whether dried, cured, kegged, or rolled, with the Caldwell name and a guarantee of quality. Caldwell cigars and tobacco products were introduced to the local economy and sold from his new tobacco store on Pearl Street. Tobacco products also were exported and sold in bulk throughout the region. Caldwell millers processed 150,000 barrels of tobacco annually enabling him to gain a hold on the Northeast tobacco market.9
The mills had multiple buildings, were considered ingeniously designed, and, what was considered a first in 1790, used both manual labor and machinery to process tobacco. The snuff mill was powered by steam and water. A three-and-a-half-foot-wide water wheel, fed by an underground conduit, set the grindstones and cutting machines in motion. Usually, water-powered mills ran on one or two wheels and once water flow was halted, milling ceased. What was inventive about Caldwell's Mills is that multiple conduits provided separate power sources, which allowed milling to continue in one area while it was halted in another. With greater distribution and control of power, the mills were able to operate continuously and were better managed. It is evident from the design of the mill that Caldwell and Batterman studied small tobacco factories and planned to build an advanced milling complex that would process tobacco in the most expedient, efficient, and cost-effective manner. In 1793, Caldwell and Batterman earned national fame for their engineering techniques, and they received a United States patent for tobacco production.10
The technology and the design created many advantages. Batterman included a curing house in his plan, offering James the opportunity to produce several kinds and grades of tobacco. The usual curing house of the time was a separate small barn-style building, but Caldwell's was three stories tall and was attached to his mill. Caldwell could air- and heat-cure tobacco, which allowed him to produce chewing, snuff, and smoking tobacco. He added a storeroom to the curing house so he could age tobacco in order to produce a finer, more expensive product. To flue-dry tobacco efficiently, Batterman installed several fireplaces in the curing house, which used one quarter the wood normally necessary for this drying process. Most of Caldwell's first tobacco was flue-dried and processed into snuff to be inhaled or chewed, mainly by the wealthy. After the tobacco was cured, cut, and ground, it was pulled to the third floor of the mill where it was pressed and packed into barrels or snuffboxes. Four mortars, sixteen rollers, and a bolter also were used to process Caldwell tobacco. In a separate room, employees made cigars using rollers "in a manner never before discovered without either pins or thorns, of which invention is solely due to the manufactory."11
The mills operated nine months a year and were so efficient, they produced more product than could be sold, which prompted Caldwell to open a market in Canada, thus fulfilling a life-long dream. It was said that Caldwell set out to "spare no pains" to produce goods that were high in quality and exceeded those imported from Europe. Caldwell's success is testimony that his products were fine quality and packaged well, and his products soon became preferred by consumers. He launched into the tobacco business in the late 1700s, an era often referred to as the Age of Snuff. As he made mass quantities of snuff available for public consumption, he contributed to a fashionable social habit and made tobacco more affordable to average consumers. At the same time, he had a major impact on American culture by making pipe, chewing, and smoking tobacco more readily available and affordable for daily use. The success of the mills made James Caldwell, one of Albany's and New York State's most prestigious residents.12
In addition to tobacco, Caldwell also processed regional farm products at the mills. Because he could hull barley at a fast rate, he fueled the expanding brewing market. He split peas, processed starch and hair powder, ground chocolate into cocoa, and ground mustard into powder. The products he had imported in the 1770s were now conveniently produced in Albany, and hauled to frontier communities or exported. By producing commodities locally, Caldwell maintained a steady supply of goods on the market, and he did not have to contend with the problems and losses associated with stalled river traffic. With Batterman, he opened a bottle factory and packaged mill products in Caldwell bottles, selling his name throughout the states. He provided convenient new opportunities for regional farmers by offering milling services to grind, bolt, and bag their wheat. During peak season, Caldwell hired up to 100 men, including two slaves and boys as young as nine. A 1790 newspaper reported Caldwell was the country's largest employer. Mass labor, new technology, quality goods, and Albany's central location enabled Caldwell to get his products anywhere in the region within three to five days turning his wealth into a fortune -Albany's location was pivotal to his success. And so, Albany developed as a center for industry.13
Caldwell occasionally suffered serious financial losses, but unlike other Albany merchants, he had the financial resources to recover. In 1793 three slaves, paid by white citizens of Albany, set fire to Leonard Gansevoort's barn destroying more than twenty-three stores, homes, and stables. The slaves were hanged. James Caldwell's house and store both were lost in the fire, but he rebuilt a larger store and a house. He met with disaster again in 1794 when an accidental fire consumed his factories. Since fire insurance was rare at that time, he sustained a total loss. Refusing money and donations from his friends and neighbors, he rebuilt more extensive factories with a loan from the state and voluntary labor from numerous citizens of Albany. Caldwell suffered from three more fires at the mills in the ensuing years, which make clear the risks and hazards associated with milling and how financially capable he was in recovering from setbacks. Instead of becoming discouraged, Caldwell saw each disaster as an opportunity to expand and perfect his business. Even in misfortune, he managed to busy himself with other business prospects and with his family. He more seriously pursued a Quebec market, had more children, and became a grandfather. As he aged he became a distinguished businessman and respected family man.14
Just as Caldwell was recovering from the fires another financial storm threatened his tobacco business. When a bill to impose an eight-cent tax on all snuff products produced in the United States was proposed in Congress, Caldwell sent a letter in protest. On May 29, 1794, his letter was read in the House and ordered to "lie on the table." The effort proved futile. The bill was passed into law that year, and he incurred a 60-percent loss on the selling price of all snuff products. After the mills burned, Caldwell wrote Congress again, asking for a reprieve on outstanding taxes because of his property losses. Congress had no mercy. With the new law in mind, Caldwell envisioned greater financial hardship on the horizon, so he rebuilt his factory to produce more cut tobacco. By 1796 Caldwell took on a partner, George Pearson, and sold mostly tax-free cut tobacco for pipes and cigars. He continued to produce snuff, but because of higher taxes, he was forced to raise the selling price, making snuff and chewing tobacco affordable only to the wealthy. The newly passed law and the fire influenced him to cut his losses, sell less snuff, and rebuild his factory in order to produce more smoking tobacco.15
In his early fifties James Caldwell was a celebrated citizen of Albany who chatted up dignitaries in taverns and entertained distinguished visitors with a tour of his famous mills. He also made friends in the literary community. His wit and humor are celebrated in the works of James K. Paulding. Paulding caroused with Washington Irving, and he used Albany as a backdrop to mock what was then considered the old Dutch-style politics. Caldwell's humor is etched in tales about "Retired Common Councilman Lancelot Langstaff” and in whimsy about proper behavior for elderly gentlemen where readers learn that "old bachelors deserve no mercy unless they come under the class of disappointed lovers!" While he invested his social time with an array of "characters," he also invested in banks and highways and became one of Albany's major philanthropists by making donations to schools and the library.16
In the early 1800s, Caldwell put the plans in motion to move his business headquarters to Warren County. Never letting his entrepreneurial sense waiver, he invested in northern canals, steamships, or anything that could speedily supply his Montreal store. His Lake George property was an ideal central location from which he could manage his Albany, Vermont, and Canadian businesses. He built a mansion on the lakeshore, had a hand in establishing mills and a hotel, and promoted the region as a stopover for travelers. His decision to move north coincided with his son, William, coming of age. He trained William, renamed his Albany business Caldwell and Son, and formed a partnership with William Fraser, the manager of his mills. At fifty-seven, James retired from selling groceries in Albany, and began living in two worlds. From Lake George he managed his northern investments, concentrated more on developing the Lake George shore, and in Albany he lived his family life and advised his employees. 17
In spite his successes, the early 1800s were not entirely happy years for James Caldwell. While his business initiatives were profitable, his family life was tragic. The ultimate misfortune of his life was that he outlived all but one of his immediate family members. With the decease of nine children, several grandchildren, and his brother, his Albany life was less important so he shifted his energy to his Lake George and Canadian ventures. Caldwell financed his own string of steamboats, which he rented out for shipping and for daylong recreational tours, and he continued as a wholesaler to northern retailers. As more settlers built businesses in Lake George, the hamlet developed into a comfortable second home and also was his retreat. He funded the construction of the First Presbyterian Church and made donations to establish schools. The growth of the community prompted the establishment of the Village of Caldwell, in 1810. 18
In his seventies Caldwell’s wife died and he lost the capacity to manage his businesses, so he retired. He lived to see his Albany mills decline and, approaching eighty and in failing health, he paid little attention to business. One of his last transactions was a desperate attempt to save his dying son, Edwin. Edwin had taken ill in Manhattan and was sent to Louisiana for treatment. James wrote to New Orleans doctors who labored to cure his son, "Please advance my son Edwin A. Caldwell $1,282-$400 for wine and $50 for washing, etc." Money wasn't the cure; Edwin died.19
The once ambitious young entrepreneur became mentally incapacitated. With a Caldwell stogie hanging from his wrinkled mouth, he gazed absently at the Lake George waters from the porch of his mansion or he would have watched hurried shoppers pass his house in Albany. Caldwell would have constantly re-read a note from his son, which portrays an image of a lonely and feeble man:
Your friends and relations are:
Jane Semele, your daughter in Montreal
Stephen Semele, your son-in-law
Dr. Beck in Albany is your son-in-law - he has two children, Catherine and Helen
James C. Low is your grandson
James Caldwell died in Albany, February 29, 1829, at eighty-three. Many citizens of Albany may have watched the funeral procession slowly climb up State Street hill to the cemetery. He was interred in a vault, above his wife's grave and near his children. The Caldwell graves were moved near the Sacred Heart Catholic Cemetery in Caldwell village in 1855, an ironic ending for the Presbyterian young man who left the increasingly Catholic north Ireland. A blackened moss-covered gravestone is the only tribute to his role in history. But his real monuments are in Lake George, the city of Albany, and New York State. Caldwell memorialized his role in life as an inventor, as one of the first men to mass-produce and mass-market products, as someone who established Albany as a hub for commerce, and as the first promoter of the Lake George region for travelers. Caldwell arrived in the Colonies with little and left a legacy and an entrepreneurial ideology that continues to be fundamental for American businesses today. 20
James Caldwell's business practices were innovative and they resonated throughout the Early Republic, influencing the development of the Northeast as a center for industry. He introduced new methods for mass-production when he successfully coupled manual labor with technology. He set a standard that became a model for future merchants and industrialists, and his idea to market and guarantee products using his name was innovational, and was quickly adopted by other entrepreneurs. He was one of America's first chain-store grocers and targeted regional markets to sell his products. Many of today’s American business strategies were instituted by James Caldwell in Albany, New York, along the banks of the Hudson River at Caldwell's Mills, in 1790.
I wish to acknowledge Stefan Bielinski for redirecting my stubborn energy and urging me to pursue Caldwell. Without his interest and appreciation, my work would be less valuable. I thank Prudence Backman and Mary Schifferly at the McKinney Library for being so attentive in retrieving documents. I am indebted most to Ned Hoskin, and to Sean Keegan, Graham Hodges, and the noble Tom Wallace for their comments and encouragement.
1 The life of James Caldwell is documented in the Colonial Albany Social History Project (CAP) biography number 7509. Joseph Caldwell is CAP number 7510 and Sir William Johnson is number 8489. For analysis of Scottish-Irish immigration to America see James G. Leybum,The Scotch-Irish: A Social History (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1962), and Ralph S. Wallace, "The Scotch-Irish of Provincial New Hampshire," University of New Hampshire, Doctoral Dissertation (Durham, N.H., 1984). For business transactions between Francis Wade and William Johnson, see Milton W. Hamilton, Sir William Johnson: Colonial American, 1715-1763 (Port Washington, N.Y.: National University Publications, 1976), 310 and 377-378n; Milton W. Hamilton, The Papers of Sir William Johnson 15 vols. (Albany: University of the State of New York, 1965), 13:635 and 8:1126-27; and Richard E. Day, The New York State Library, Calendar of the Sir William Johnson, Manuscripts in the New York State Library (Albany: University of the State of New York, 1909), 140, 187 and 525. Caldwell developed a relationship with Johnson's half-breed son, Peter, who also was under Wade's guidance. Peter Johnson attended school in Philadelphia, and became a retailer.
2 The Caldwells placed an advertisement in the July 24, 1772, issue of the Albany Gazette. See CAP biographies for William Mc Clelland, James Low, and biography 3524 for Hunloke Woodruff. Compare the Caldwell's stock to Albany merchants James Gourlay, biography number 8214, and Paul Hogstrasser, number 8494. Both men mainly imported clothes, fabric, rugs, and shoes from London, Glasgow, and Hull. Compare the Caldwell's to Scots-Irish retailers Robert Mc Clallen, number 725, and Thomas Barry, 1821, who sold fabric, and foods such as pickled fish, and whiskey, kettles, tobacco, and yarn imported from London and Bristol. Barry accepted produce for goods, but Mc Clallen and other longstanding Albany retailers mainly operated on a cash-only basis.
3 Albany Institute of History and Art, McKinney Library, Caldwell Family Papers and Papers of Theodoric Romeyn Beck/Beck Family. See also the family grave plot, Sacred Heart Catholic Cemetery, Lake George Village, Warren County, New York. Graves were photographed in 1992 and 2000 by author, and are on file at the Colonial Albany Project.
4 See CAP biography of Joseph Caldwell, 7510, letter to Albany Committee of Correspondence, January 6, 1778. He asks to be excused from military duty, since he serves as schoolmaster. His request was granted that day. It may not have been a ploy, because he served as a teacher until 1815, but he also continued as a retailer. He was paid for supplying the Army. After the war, Joseph Caldwell requested an expansion of the public market, which suggests he was still involved in business. In 1798, Joseph Caldwell was called a grocer, and the 1799 tax list notes his property was worth £22,540. His personal belongings valued at £19,553, which indicate he was among the wealthiest citizens of Albany and worth more than would be usual for a teacher. John Caloner was one of the Caldwell agents in Philadelphia. The Caldwells continued to deal with Francis Wade, but during the war Wade was appointed Quartermaster General of the Army and moved to Delaware. Having a connection to Wade, while he was in that position, the Caldwells would have had many promising opportunities. Philadelphia also was an important connection for the Caldwells, since merchants there had a stronghold on the northern United States tobacco market. For a short term, David Edgar served as Caldwell's broker in New York City. See Thomas M. Doerflinger, A Vigorous Spirit of Enterprise: Merchants and Economic Development in Revolutionary Philadelphia (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1986), 225-27 and 289-90. See Caldwell's account book, McKinney Library, Caldwell papers. For details of land transactions see CAP biography for James Caldwell, specifically the Grantee/Grantor Index and the Calendar of Land Papers. For Caldwell's production interests see the Albany Gazette ads 1772 to 1787. Caldwell's warehouse was able to hold 10,000 barrels of grain, which indicates the volume and commodity he was trucking. See CAP Caldwell biography, Revolutionary War activity, Albany Committee of Correspondence 1:100,897,974,971,994 and 999.
5 For details concerning the death of Johnson and his estate see Hamilton, Sir William Johnson. For Brandt's relationship with Caldwell, see Isabel Thompson Kelsay, Joseph Brandt, 1743-1807: Man of Two Worlds (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 1984), 69, 157, and 645-646. Caldwell's relationship with Brandt is interesting, since Brandt supported the British during the Revolution. Caldwell also paid the bail for several suspected loyalists, suggesting he was a conservative patriot. The portrait of Joseph Brandt by Ames was painted while Brandt was staying at the Caldwell house. Elizabeth Caldwell is said to have made the clothes Brandt is wearing. See Theodore Bolton and Irwin Cortelyou, Ezra Ames of Albany 1768 to 1836 (New York: New-York Historical Society, 1955), 100, 179-180 and 186-87.
6 For information on James's children see CAP biographies for his wife, Elizabeth Barnes, 7810, and children Helen Louisa, William, number 7511; George, 7818; Dorothy, 7815; James, Jr.; Ann Marie, 7811; Jane, 7820; Elizabeth, 7817; Charlotte, 7814; Harriet, 7813; and Edwin, 7816. See also the First Presbyterian Church of Albany, records; will of James Caldwell, Albany County Surrogate's Court; and the Caldwell Papers at the McKinney Library. Compare Caldwell's stock to other Albany merchants who advertised in the Albany Gazette. Like others, Caldwell sold imported finery or products not made in the states, mostly goods from the West Indies, and products from China such as silk, porcelain, housewares, heavy-grade cotton, and teas. From his French-Canadian contacts, he imported foods, spices, and liquors. See Grantee/Grantor index for Fulton County farmland. See letter April 11, 1784, from Francis Wade to Caldwell delivered by William Barnes acknowledging interest in Montreal market, McKinney Library, Caldwell Papers. See CAP biography for John Van Zandt who ran the Bennington store and Joel Munsell, Annals of Albany. 10 vols. (Albany: J. Munsell, 1852), 10:412.
7 By the late 1780s Caldwell befriended Albany's Stephan Van Rensselaer, who sold him land for his mills and backed him financially. See CAP biography for Van Rensselaer. For details of the Anti-Federalist attack on parade marchers, see James' CAP biography in Joel Munsell, Annals of Albany, 1:235.
8 See Caldwell Ledger Book, on-line, New York Gen-Web, Warren County and Warren County Historical Society. For Albany city lots, see Grantee/Grantor index for James Caldwell. Caldwell or Harmony Row was co-owned by Benjamin Clench and James Caldwell; see CAP biographies for both; see also McKinney Library's billhead collection.
9 See CAP biography for Christopher Batterman. For marketing techniques for Caldwell products see Albany Gazette articles on October 14, 1790 and January 3, 1791, and Munsell, Annals of Albany, 9:218. Ezra Ames painted two tobacco-store Indians for Caldwell; see Bolton and Cortelyou, Ezra Ames of Albany, 104 and 304.
10 "A Description of the Manufactory at Albany: A Description of the Works Lately Erected by Mr. James Caldwell, of the City of Albany, Merchant, who is Sole Proprietor Thereof," in Munsell's Annals of Albany, 1:268-69. For details of the Caldwell/Batterman patent see U.S. Patent Office Application Records, Miscellaneous Inventions and Discoveries, Tobacco Manufacturing, June 26, 1793.
11 Munsell,Annals of Albany, 1:268-69.
12 Munsell,Annals of Albany, 1:268-69.
13 For a description of Caldwell's Mills see advertisements in the Albany Gazette and Munsell's Annals of Albany. The Albany Institute of History and Art has a collection of Caldwell/Batterman bottles. The two joined other investors to produce bottles and window glass at a Guilderland, New York, factory.
14 For details on the fire set on November 17, 1793, see Munsell's Annals of Albany , and several articles published in the Albany Gazette. See "The Examination of Bet a Negro Female Slave" at the New York State Library. For accounts of the mill fire and more detailed descriptions of Caldwell's Mills, see Munsell, Annals of Albany, 8:187,4:217,3:61, and 7:150. Caldwell took advantage of state legislation passed in 1790 that offered a start-up loan from the state to re-open his mills. For information on Caldwell's first grandchildren see William Caldwell CAP biography, 7511, and Helen Caldwell.
15 Journal of the House of Representatives of the United States, 1789 to 1873, on-line at www.loc.gov. See letters and actions, January to June 1794, May 29, 1794, and January 7, 1795. The Stephen Van Rensselaer Account book, McKinney Library, Albany Institute of History and Art lists the prices of Caldwell snuff and tobacco.
16 For a description of Caldwell's personality see the obituary written by his son-in-law, Theodoric R. Beck, in Munsell, Annals of Albany, 8:4. See individual works by James K. Paulding. Quoted here is James K. Paulding, A Book of Vagaries and Other Whim Whams Selected from the Papers of a Retired Common Councilman, Lancelot Langstaff (New York: Scribner, 1868). For more on Paulding's style related to Irving see James T. Callan, Kindred Spirits: Knickerbocker Writers and American Literature, 1807-1855 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina, 1967). See the Albany Gazette, "James Caldwell a Merchant in Montreal and William Caldwell a Merchant in Albany," and Caldwell account books. The Montreal store opened by 1800.
17 For his Warren County initiatives see Russell P. Bellico, Chronicles of Lake George: Journeys in War and Peace (Fleischmanns, New York: Purple Mountain Press, 1995) and Bellico, Sails and Steam in the Mountains: A Maritime and Military History of Lake George and Lake Champlain (Fleischmanns, New York: Purple Mountain Press, 1992). Caldwell was enticed to set up a base on the lake after a 1792 legislative act was passed to improve and establish state canals. Since the lake linked the Hudson River to Lake Champlain, the lakeshore was a natural center-point for his ventures. His Lake George property was not built in a picturesque area, but where the shore was straight and would accommodate shipping.
18 The village, first established as Caldwell, was renamed Lake George Village in 1962. For more on his steam vessels, see Bellico, Sails and Steam, and Chronicles of Lake George. William Caldwell also owned steamships, and he built mills and an iron foundry in Caldwell. See also Frederic Van De Water, Lake Champlain and Lake George (Indianapolis: Babbs Merrill, 1946),326; W. Max Reid, Lake George and Lake Champlain (New York: Putnam and Sons, 1910),307; Wallace E. Lamb, The Champlain and Lake George Valley (New York: The American Historical Company, 1940), 579-583; Jeptha Root Simms, The Frontiersmen of New York (Albany: Riggs, 1882),272; Empire State Historical Association, History of the State of New York (Port Washington, New York: Friedman, 1962), 18:18-44; William Brown, ed.,History of Warren County (Glens Falls: Glens Falls Post Company, 1963),3 and 267; and H.P. Smith, History of Warren County (Syracuse: D. Mason and Co., 1885), 212, 216 and 565-73.
19 See Albany Institute, McKinney Library, for letter to New Orleans doctors, 1827, and note written by William Caldwell for his father.
20 William's note is abbreviated here; more Caldwell grandchildren were listed in the original. See photos of the Caldwell plots taken in 1992 and 2000 on file in CAP. The 1992 photos show a dilapidated family gravesite; by 2000, stones were repaired. The family is buried near the Sacred Heart Catholic Cemetery on Mohican Street in Lake George Village. The inscriptions are barely readable. The largest vault is not James Caldwell's, but memorializes his son, James Caldwell, Jr.
first posted: 7/20/04