-by Kelly Yacobucci Farquhar, Montgomery County Historian/RMO - Nov, 2006
Every community has its own unique history and the Village of
Fultonville is no exception. Seated in the heart of Montgomery County on the
south bank of the Mohawk River, this community’s origins began much earlier than
its date of incorporation.
In 1750, John Evart Van Epps purchased 900 acres of marshland in
the area that became known as Van Epps’ Swamp. Although its future as the town’s
business center was years down the line, early on this area was overshadowed by
Voorheesville, later known as the Glen hamlet.
John Starin opened one of the first taverns around 1810.
However, the construction of the Erie Canal catapulted the community’s growth.
By the time the waterway began operations in 1825, area officials had streets
laid out and a variety of businesses opened doors including a flourmill,
distillery, mercantile, saw mill, blacksmith shop, and potashery. Along Main
Street was a flurry of activity with the construction of homes, most of which
were built by Maynard Starin and Thomas Robinson. The canal’s enlargement in the
1830s brought more businesses to this prospering community.
On August 9, 1848, the community, now known as Fultonville, in
honor of steamboat inventor Robert Fulton, incorporated as a Village. That same
year, residents purchased land from Garret Yates for the purpose of establishing
a public cemetery. Burial plots were sold at auction. A private cemetery, set up
by Barney Gardinier about one-half mile from the center of the village, passed
into the hands of Maple Avenue Cemetery Association when that organization
formed in 1873.
Life in Fultonville thrived, as this was a major transportation
center exporting freight, specifically lumber, from the Adirondacks, as well as
from Fonda, Johnstown, and Gloversville. A variety of manufacturers continued
operations in Fultonville for a long time, including a furniture company, Wemple
& Yates Foundry, a broom-making company, and a manufacturer from Vermont that
eased the burdens of some homemakers. White Mop Wringer began producing wooden
mop wringers in 1893 turning to production of the steel fashioned wringers by
By 1903, Fultonville’s chief industry was the Wiles’ Furniture
Company, employing some 40 men. Located in the Wiles’ Block on the south side of
the Erie Canal at the corner of Main and Canal Streets, the company got its
start in Fultonville before 1861 with Peter Wiles at the helm. Peter’s son
William joined his father in the venture of furniture making and undertaking –
quite a diversity in business. As the twentieth century approached, the
company’s products expanded to making brass and iron bedsteads. Destroyed by
fire in 1900, the area residents became principal stockholders and rebuilt the
Wiles Manufacturing Company, only to have it destroyed once again three years
John H. Starin, son of the above tavern keeper, after leaving
his native village in search of greater opportunity, made a name for himself in
New York City as a shipping magnate with both railroad and steamboat lines.
Formerly a postmaster and druggist in Fultonville, Starin is credited with
establishing the Staten Island Ferry and a steamboat line to New Haven,
Connecticut. Upon his return to Fultonville in 1874, he purchased 600 acres at
the easterly end of the village for his palatial estate, high on a hill
overlooking the Mohawk River. Starin generously bestowed his wealth upon his
native village in many ways. Among them establishing a silk mill, the
Fultonville National Bank built in 1883, a library, a sewing school, and a
dance/banquet hall in the upper floor of the Donaldson Block.
Two newspapers were published in Fultonville -- The
Montgomery County Republican, which started out in 1840 as the Montgomery
County Whig, and The Mohawk Valley American that started in 1856 and
operated in Fultonville until it was consolidated with The Fonda Sentinel
to become The Mohawk Valley Democrat published in Fonda.
Where school-age children in Fultonville previously attended
either the one-room schoolhouse districts or the Union Free School, by the
middle of the twentieth century, they were educated in the consolidated
Fonda-Fultonville School that was centralized 1953-54. The Union Free School, on
Union Street, was constructed in 1884. The building burned in January 1923 on
the first day the students returned from Christmas vacation. A second edifice
was put up, only to be razed less than half a century later. Today, a park
occupies the site of the school and an historic marker, erected by the
Fultonville High School alumni, commemorates the educational instruction many
Village residents received religious instruction at three
different churches. The Fultonville Reformed Church organized in 1838 with a
white frame structure built the following year. When that building was destroyed
by fire in 1852, a second structure was dedicated in 1856. The Methodist Church
on Montgomery Street organized in 1854. Before the end of the nineteenth
century, the third congregation, the Calvary Baptist Church, organized in 1892.
The congregation constructed their house of worship on Main Street. The building
was transferred to the ownership of the Pilgrim Holiness church with the
dissolution of the Calvary Baptists in the 1930s.
After traffic on the Erie Canal dwindled, so did some of
Fultonville’s business, however, it was construction of the New York State
Thruway through the heart of the village’s business section that tremendously
affected growth. Close to 40 structures were moved or demolished, in the early
1950s, in preparation for the state’s “superhighway,” drastically altering the
Despite losing two major industries in the last few years, White
Mop Wringer and Capital Vial, there have been some businesses recently opening
doors in Fultonville. Riverside Drive continues to see traffic due to the
Thruway interchange and the nearby Fonda Speedway/Fairgrounds. A franchise of
the Dunkin’ Donuts chain greets visitors as they get off the Thruway and with
new businesses starting up in the Glen Industrial Park, Fultonville’s future