James Caldwell
Stefan Bielinski

According to traditional sources, James Caldwell was born in Northern Ireland in 1747. He probably was of Scots-Irish ancestry.

As a young man, he emigrated to America. After spending some time in Philadelphia, he migrated to Albany. In 1772, the grocery store of Joseph and James Caldwell was advertized in the Albany Gazette. In that year, he also first signed in at the Albany Masonic Lodge.

In May 1774, he married fellow emigre Elizabeth Barnes - probabaly in Philadelphia. By the mid-1790s, the marriage had produced at least twelve children. Like most immigrant Scots, he was a member and officer of the Albany Presbyterian church.

From a rented room in the home of John Visscher, Caldwell's business expanded to a substantial building along Market Street. Eventually, his store and storage would extend to the bank of the Hudson. He owned other property in Albany and Watervliet as well.

As a British-identified, relative newcomer, Caldwell figured to be watched closely by his new Albany neighbors as colonists became revolutionaries during the mid-1770s. From the outset, he supported Albany relief initiatives, sold store items to the Albany committee, and took part in community-based activities short of actual involvement or problems with the Committee of Correspondence. PAGE IN PROGRESS  His stock figured as personal property received high assessment on county-wide tax lists for 1779. By that time, he had made the transition from grocer to "merchant."

After the war, his business took on many new dimensions and involved a number of partners.  in-progress; much more on his Albany life can be added here!

A notable Federalist, in August 1788, he was beaned by a brick during a disturbance surrounding celebration of the ratification of the Federal Constitution.

Fire of 1793

Bank of Albany

Caldwell's business base location was in an Albany house at what became 47 State Street. His Market Street household was configured on the census in 1790. A decade later, his household was described on the census for the second ward. However, he also owned a number of properties on Market and Pearl Streets and on the streets behind those main arteries as well.

External properties:   more to come including an engraving of his mills   including the manufacturing complex located in the gorge to the north of Albany near the Van Rensselaer Manor House known as Caldwell's Mills which burned in 1794.

He was the founder and initial developer of the settlement first called "Caldwell" at the southern tip of Lake George.

James Caldwell filed a will in 1825. It divided his estate into twelve equal parts, and named his wife, two living children, and the children of two deceased children as his heirs. Elizabeth Barnes Caldwell died in September 1827. James Caldwell died in Albany in 1829 and was buried in a cemetery in what is now "Lake George Village."

See Tricia's article linked below for more details at this time!


the people of colonial AlbanyThe life of James Caldwell is CAP biography number 7509. This preliminary profile is derived chiefly from community-based resources. Tricia A. Barbagallo's more detailed biographical portrait was published in the September 2000 issue of the Hudson Valley Regional Review *. See also, James Caldwell Family Papers at the New York State Library.

A copy of the will is said to be included in the family papers at the Albany Institute of History and Art.

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first posted: 7/5/02; last revised 2/13/12