Hoosick Falls

1. A Brief History of the Hoosick Area

The Town of Hoosick is the northernmost town in Rensselaer County, bounded on the north by the town of White Creek in Washington County, on the south by Petersburgh, and on the east by Bennington County, Vermont.

There are a number of theories as to the origin of the name. It is definitely a transliteration of an Indian name, probably Algonquin. Grace Niles claims it was hoo-sac, meaning “the place of the owl”, though this seems a stretch. An 1871 history of Orange County, VT gives a possible linguistic clue: ” It may not be amiss here to remark that, the term Co-os in the language of the Aborigines of the northern section of the Connecticut valley, is said to signify The Pines : and this name they gave to the great meadows below the fifteen mile falls, above Newbury; and also to similar meadows above those falls, about Lunenburg; on account of the great forests of pine trees in those places. When they added the termination suck to that term, the signifciation was the river at the pines–as the word suck denoted a river. The Indians inhabiting these places, were sometimes denominated the Coossucks.” (http://home.att.net/~local_history/Orange-Co-VThistory.htm). As people spelled things the way they heard them in the early days, Coosuck could have been heard and spelled as Hoosac. However, no one is certain where the name came from or what it means.

According to traditional history, the first recorded white settlers to the area were French fur traders who started the fort of St. Croix just west of the present day village of North Hoosick in the 1540’s. This seems to have been occupied intermittently by traders and missionaries, but no records survive. This history is elaborated on in a book by Grace Niles published in 1912. Barn restorer Richard Babcock claims to have found evidence to support this history.

In a four – part column published in the Bennington Banner (March 23 – April 13, 2001), Joseph Parks of the Bennington Historical Society presents a strong case that no such French settlement ever existed and that the name St. Croix actually came from the Mahican name Sanchaiek. Charles Filkins of the Hoosick Township Historical Society also holds this opinion. Mr. Parks states that the theory of a French settlement was first announced in the 1870’s by Hoosick Falls historian Levi Chandler Ball, who gave no source for his information, and that there are no earlier records of any such settlement.

On June 3, 1638 Governor Dongan granted the Hoosac Patent to Maria Van Rensselaer, Hendrick Van Ness, Gerrit Van Vechten, and Jacobus Van Cortlandt. However, few settled there for quite some time. The Dutch moved upriver from Schaghticoke and formed the Tiosiook Colony around 1724 along the river west of North Hoosick. Fur trader Jan Oothout built the first log house within the present boundary of Hoosick Falls around 1746. Most of the settlement was burned and the settlers driven out in 1754, but they returned and rebuilt after the French & Indian wars ended.

In the period following many new English settlers moved in, soon outnumbering the Dutch.

One of the important battles of the Revolution, the “Battle of Bennington”, was actually fought in Walloomsac in the Town of Hoosick. The battlefield is a park today.

The District of Hoosick was formed in 1772, and the Town of Hoosick was organized in 1788. (To see the 1800 census, click here). Hoosick Falls was incorporated as a village in 1827.

In 1852 a blacksmith name Walter A. Wood began manufacturing a reaper in Hoosick Falls. By the 1890’s the Wood Company was the largest farm machinery manufactury in the world, taking up 85 acres on the west bank of the river. The Wood Company closed in the mid 1920’s and today almost no trace remains of this huge factory complex.

This and other prosperous businesses brought a large influx of people into the area. The population of the Village was 4530 in 1880 and reached 7014 in 1890. The population of the Town of Hoosick, including the Village, was 7914 in 1880 and 10471 in 1890. This was probably the peak population of the area.

Church Street

In the twentieth century the village has slowly lost population and businesses. The downtown area has been affected by the same problems that affect the downtowns in small villages nationwide. The Town of Hoosick outside the village has not been as much affected, in fact it probably has more businesses today than in the past and quite a few new homes.


2. The People

Population:

John Street

The population of the Town of Hoosick was 6,732 in 1980 and had declined to 6,696 by 1990. The 2000 census put the population at 6,759, twenty-seven more than in 1980, which was a sharp rebound. The Capital District Regional Planning Commission projected it to grow to 6846 by 2010, a gain of 87. The actual figure from the 2010 census was 6,924, much more than projected.

The Village of Hoosick Falls had a population of 3,609 in 1980 and had declined to 3,490 in 1990. The Capital District Regional Planning Commission had projected it to further decline to 3,433 in 2000. The 2000 census puts the population at 3,436, so the projection was very close. The CDRPC projected a population of 3388 by 2010, for a population loss of 48. The actual figure from the 2010 census was 3501, a gain of 65 from 2000.

The Town of Hoosick has now gained 192 people since 1980, and the Village has lost 108. This means the Town outside of the Village has gained 301 people.

In 1990 the median age in the Town of Hoosick in 1990 was 34.4, in the Village 33.7. In 2000 the median age in the Town of Hoosick was 38.6, in the Village 37.5. In 2010 the median age in the Town of Hoosick was 42.6, in the Village 40.5.


Education:

In 1990 74% of those 25 and older in the Town of Hoosick had a High School diploma or better, 15% had a Bachelor’s degree or better. 25% had never graduated from High School. For the Village, 74% had a High School diploma or better, 13% had a Bachelor’s degree or better, and 26% had never graduated from High School.

In 2000 82.9% of those 25 and older in the Town of Hoosick had a High School diploma or better, 18.2% had a Bachelor’s degree or better, and 17.1% never graduated from High School. For the Village, 81% of those 25 and older had a High School diploma or better and 18.8% a Bachelor’s degree or better, and 19.1% never graduated from High School.

Employment:

Main Street

The largest employment in 1990 was in manufacturing, followed by wholesale and retail trade and services. The CDRPC projected manufacturing employment would peak in 2000 and then decline, while trade and services employment continue to increase. (See appendix #2 for a list of businesses). The teflon coated materials industry employs many and many others work out of the immediate area. The 2000 census breaks things down somewhat differently, showing about 40% engaged in services of one type or another, while manufacturing employs about 24% and trade 16%. Manufacturing will have declined since 2000 due to the recession and the closing of the teflon plants, at least temporarily.

Income:

Median Household Income in the Village in 1989 was $24,265. For the Town it was $26,683. In 1999 it was $36,731 for the village and $41,304 for the town. This is an increase of $12,466 (or about 51%) for the village and $14,621 (or about 54%) for the town over a ten year period. 5.1% of families in the village and 5.3% of families in the town were below poverty level in 1999.

Housing:

Median value for owner-occupied housing in Hoosick Falls Village in 1990 was $74,500. Median rent for renter-occupied units was $315. In the Town of Hoosick the values were $77,100 and $311. By 2000 the values in the Village were $79,900 and $496. In the Town of Hoosick the values were were $86,100 and $481.

The number of households in the Town of Hoosick has increased from 2,556 in 1990 to 2,620 in 2000 to 2777 in 2010, with the average number of persons per household decreasing from 2.59 in 1990 to 2.55 in 2000 to 2.47 in 2010. Total housing units have increased from 2,778 in 1990 to 2,892 in 2000, but decreased to 2777 in 2010. Owner occupied units have increased from 1,809 in 1990 to 1,865 in 2000 to 1,968 in 2010 and renter occupied units from 747 to 755 in 2000 to 809 in 2010 while vacant housing units have risen from 222 in 1990 to 272 in 2000. The Capital District Regional Planning Commission projected a gain of 70 households by 2010, with a decline to 2.51 persons per household.

The number of households in the Village has increased from 1,367 in 1990 to 1,382 in 2000 to 1434 in 2010, with the average number of persons per household declining from 2.5 in 1990 to 2.43 in 2000 to 2.39 in 2010. Total housing units have increased from 1,490 in 1990 to 1,553 in 2000. Of these, owner occupied units decreased from 856 in 1990 to 842 in 2000, then increased to 862 in 2010 while renter occupied units rose from 511 in 1990 to 540 in 2000 to 572 in 2010 and vacant units from 123 in 1990 to 171 in 2000. The Capital District Regional Planning Commission projected a gain of 8 households by 2010, with a decline to 2.37 persons per household.

Race & Ethnic background:

The area is overwhelmingly white. There are only a few Blacks, Asians, and Hispanics. Based on the 1990 census, the majority of respondents listed their ancestry as Irish or French/French-Canadian, followed by German, English, Polish, and Italian. In 2000, 24% of Town of Hoosick residents listed their ancestry as Irish, followed by 15.3% German, 12.8% French and French Canadian, 10.8% English and 6.2% Polish. In the Village it was 24.6% Irish, 13.7% German, 13.3% French and French Canadian, 9.4% English, 9.4% Italian, and 4.8% Polish.

Religion:

Hoosick Falls is strongly Roman Catholic. There is a large Catholic church in the Village, plus a Catholic school.

Other churches in the Village are: Episcopal, Baptist, United Presbyterian. Outside the Village but in the Town of Hoosick are the Community Alliance, West Hoosick Baptist, Hoosick Baptist, North Hoosick Methodist, Cornerstone Fellowship, etc. There are more in surrounding towns. A survey done by the church a few years ago shows 18 churches (see appendix #1), with a total seating capacity of 2355. On an average, 1115 people attend church each week, or 16.6% of the town. Only 4.4% of the town attends an evangelical church each week. (This survey included a few churches in Washington County and missed some in Rensselaer, plus omitted many in Vermont which people from the area attend. It has been updated somewhat for this report, but is still incomplete).

There are some Jehovah’s Witnesses in the Hoosick area, with a church in Cambridge. There are also some Mormons, whose church is in Bennington.


3. Businesses:

Hoosick Falls and the immediate area has two drug stores, one supermarket, two banks and credit unions, several restaurants, a Ford dealership, a Chevrolet dealership, several garages, several convenience stores, a community warehouse (used goods), an auto parts store, a bowling alley, an internet service, a number of bars, and several other small businesses of various types. A more complete list is shown in Appendix #2.

Many people shop in Bennington (10 mi.) where there is more variety and lower prices, or in the Capital District (30 mi.).


4. Community:

The area has a library, athletic field, indoor skating rink, pool, playground, Little League, Youth Center, Community Band, historical society and museum, and country club. Other recreational facilities in the Village include the Village park, senior citizen’s center, and tennis courts.

Available outside the Village:

  1. Barbeque Bowling, River Road
  2. Flag Acres Zoo, West Hoosick
  3. Bennington Battlefield, Walloomsac (picnicking)
  4. Lake Lauderdale County Park, Cambridge (swimming, picnicking)
  5. Lauderdale Campground, Cambridge (camping)
  6. Woodford State Park, Bennington, Vermont (camping, swmming, picnicking)
  7. Grafton Lakes State Park, Grafton, NY
  8. Lake Shaftsbury State Park, Shaftsbury, Vermont (swimming, picnicking)
  9. Hoosick Rail Trail (biking)


5. Medical Facilities:

Hoosick Falls has a number of doctors and several clinics. There was an acute care facility in Cambridge, but it closed in April of 2003. The nearest hospital is in Bennington. Hoosick Falls has a good Rescue Squad and a helicopter pad for emergency airlifts.


6. Education – Schools & Colleges:

Most children in the area attend the Hoosick Falls Central School. Other schools available in the immediate area are St. Mary’s (Catholic) for grades k-8, Grace Christian School in Bennington, Hoosac School (Episcopal prep school), and the Cambridge and Bennington public schools.

Reports on the Hoosick Falls Central School may be found at: http://www.emsc.nysed.gov/irts/reportcard/

and at: The Times Union Website:
http://www.timesunion.com/reportcard2004/schools.asp?county=49&district=49050106

In 1997 the Hoosick Falls Central School District had a grand total of 1485 students, 528 in K-4 grade, 502 in 5-8 grade, and 437 in 9-12 grade. In the 1997-98 school year enrollment was 1440, according to the “school report card”. The 2001 Report Card shows 1273 total students, 453 in Elementary, 403 in Middle School, and 417 in High School. In 2003 there were 1280 students in all, 343 in Elementary, 312 in Middle School, and 625 in High School. The decline in the number of persons per household and the number of elementary students indicates problems ahead for the school district as the population ages and the number of students decreases.

For younger children, there is the Morningstar pre-school.

There are four colleges in Bennington: Bennington College, Southern Vermont College, Community College of Vermont, and a satellite office of Antioch College. Other colleges are available in New York State in the Capital District and to the north in both New York and Vermont, but entail a fairly long drive. South in Massachusetts are Williams College in Williamstown, North Adams State, and Berkshire Community College.


7. Transportation:

Bus transportation exists between Hoosick Falls and Troy/Albany and between Hoosick Falls and Bennington. Otherwise automobiles are essential.


8. Athletics & Sports:

Hoosick Falls is very sports oriented. School sports programs are strongly supported. There is also a Little League, athletic field, skating rink, tennis courts, a pool, and a country club.


9. Arts:

The Community Band gives concerts in Wood Park every Wed. night in the summertime, and also performs a Christmas Concert. There is a ballet school in the Village of Hoosick Falls. Hubbard Hall in Cambridge hosts a number of events, as does Fort Salem Theatre. There is a Performing Arts Center in Bennington. The area is within traveling distance of the Saratoga Performing Arts Center and other major sites in the Capital District, Massachusetts, and Connecticut.

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10. The Surrounding Area:

Town of Hoosick

This has been described in part above. Once predominately rural, many of the farms have gone out of business or been consolidated. Many new houses have been built. Several businesses have been established along Route 7, several of which have moved out of the village.

Town of White Creek

Still largely rural but includes most of the Village of Cambridge. The extreme southern section is in the Hoosick Falls School District and on the Hoosick Falls telephone exchange, even though it is in Washington County. Many farms have gone out here, but much of the land is still used by the remaining farmers.

The 1990 population was 3,196. In 2000 it was 3,411. In 2010 it dropped to 3,356. 1989 Median Household Income was $26,653. In 1999 it had increased to $34,412.

Total households increased from 1,181 in 1990 to 1,317 in 2000 to 1,343 in 2010, with average household size decreasing from 2.67 in 1990 to 2.52 in 2000 to 2.48 in 2010. Total housing units increased from 1,335 in 1990 to 1,466 in 2000 then decreased to 1,343 in 2010, with owner occupied units increasing from 941 in 1990 to 1,012 in 2000 to 1,020 in 2010, renter occupied units increasing from 240 in 1990 to 305 in 2000 to 323 in 2010, and vacant units decreasing from 154 to 149. The median value of owner-occupied housing was $86,400 in 2000, and the median rent of renter-occupied units was $466.

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Town of Petersburgh

This town also is largely rural. 1990 population was 1,461. The 2000 census shows it has increased to 1,563. The Capital District regional Planning Commission projects it will increase to 1,673 by 2010. 1989 Median Household Income was $30,781. In 1999 it had increased to $45,909.

Total households increased from 515 in 1990 to 587 in 2000, with average household size decreasing from 2.84 to 2.66. Total housing units increased from 650 to 695 in 2000, with owner-occupied units at 502, renter-occupied units at 85, and vacant units at 108. The median value of owner-occupied housing was $82,600 in 2000, and the median rent of renter-occupied units was $588.

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Town of Bennington, Vt.

Includes Bennington and the surrounding area, with a fairly big population. Few farms are left here and the area is building up rapidly. The traffic has gotten so bad that a new bypass is being built to divert through traffic. Bennington has quite a few businesses, but does rather poorly economically. With a few exceptions, industries here are marginal and leaving and the area is increasingly dependent on tourism. 1990 population was 16,451. The 2000 census figure is 15,737. 1989 Median Household Income was $26,409. In 1999 it had increased to $33,706. Bennington has two supermarkets, three shopping centers, five major auto dealerships, and a large number of small stores. It also has a large (for the area) number of medical establishments and a hospital.

Total households increased from 5,983 in 1990 to 6,162 in 2000, with average household size declining from 2.55 to 2.36. Total housing units increased from 6,392 in 1990 to 6,574 in 2000, with owner occupied units increasing from 3,714 to 3,763, renter occupied units rising from 2,269 to 2,399, and vacant units from 409 to 412. Median value of owner-occupied housing in 2000 was $98,400 and median rent of renter-occupied units was $518.

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11. Resources on the Hoosick area:

1. Anderson, George Baker. Landmarks of Rensselaer County. Syracuse, NY: D. Mason and Co., 1897.

2. Niles, Grace Greylock. The Hoosac Valley, Its Legends and History. New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, The Knickerbocker Press, 1912.

3. Parks, Joseph. Hoosick History, Parts 1 – 4. Bennington, Vermont: The Bennington Banner, March 23, March 30, April 6, April 13, 2001.

4. Capital District Regional Planning Commission:

http://www.cdrpc.org/CFS.html

5. U.S. Census Factfinder:
http://factfinder.census.gov/java_prod/dads.ui.homePage.HomePage

6. U.S. Census Population Estimates:
http://www.census.gov/population/estimates/metro-city/placebyst/SC99T7_NY.txt

7. School Report Cards:
http://www.emsc.nysed.gov/irts/reportcard/”
http://www.timesunion.com/reportcard2004/schools.asp?county=49&district=49050106

8. Chamber of Commerce:
http://www.hoosickchamber.com

9. hoosickfalls.com
http://www.hoosickfalls.com

10. Hoosick Township Historical Society:
http://www.hoosickhistory.com

12. Bennington Information
http://www.bennington.com/splash.pl

END OF REPORT. Produced by Ted Rice and Lorraine Vincent in January 2001. Last Updated Feb-21-2010

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