Historic Stottville and Its Distinctive Businesses
By Mindy Potts Oct 2001
Webpage and Notes by Cliff Lamere 29 May 2003
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This historical article about Stottville, NY is part of series written by Mindy Potts for publication in the monthly newspaper "OK Times & The Hudson River Sampler", Northern Columbia County Edition. Published in Stuyvesant, Columbia Co., NY, the newspaper also distributes a Southern Columbia County and Northern Dutchess County edition. The text and title of the original article may have been slightly revised for this webpage so that they would be more meaningful to a geographically diverse audience.
Original publication: October 2001, pg 1
Original title: The Historical Stottville and Its Distinctive Businesses
(Introduction by Cliff Lamere)
The Historical Stottville and Its Distinctive Businesses
The village we know as Stottville, in the town of Stockport, was originally called Springville, and as with many of the communities of Columbia County, its early businesses sprang up because of unique rich natural resources.
The Claverack Creek, at the point it runs through the village of Stottville, has a set of falls that was an ideal spot for powering mills. In 1828, a former English military man, Jonathon Stott, purchased the water rights at this site and subsequently built up the industry. He recognized the future of the cloth milling in the looms and also brought over expert weavers from Europe. Working for 12 hours daily, six days each week, the spinners made $9 per week and the weavers, $12 per week and this was enough to raise families with money left over. The business saw success, and as the years passed it turned into a family operation.
Village rumor had it that the Stotts had a barrel of money in the office for anyone in the family to dip into and that no real bookkeeping was done. However it is difficult to wholly believe this rumor due to the duration of the success of the Stotts Mills which were sold in 1910 to Atlantic Mills of Providence for $370,000.
Of the Stott Family estate and properties which grew over the generations, many houses owned or built by the Stotts are still standing today although privately owned. At the height of the industry, the creek supported four mills, two of which are still visible today. The two mills that are no longer standing were on either side of the bridge at County Route 20, Atlantic Avenue. Recent history has seen a new bridge across the Claverack Creek. The original covered bridge was replaced in 1881 by an iron bridge that was in use until the new bridge was built.
Before the Stotts made their business and their name in the village, the area had been called Springville. The mineral springs, another natural resource south of the bridge, were the lure for the Columbia Springs Hotel. Located on 20 acres of beautiful land, the hotel became a rival to Saratoga Spa. Charles Nash built the original building in 1855. An advertisement of the time stated "These waters are especially efficacious in the treatment of rheumatism, blood, kidney and liver and stomach trouble and general debility." In the early 1900's, a weekís stay would cost guests $8 - $15 for room and board. By 1920, the business had declined and finally closed. The hotel itself and the outbuildings burned in 1925.
Charles E. Gardner, in 1872, started a successful ice cream manufacturing business, the Gardner and Whitney Ice Cream Company, which was in operation for over 75 years.
Another unique business was the Motorteria. It was grocery on wheels. Operated by Clayton Clum until about the 1960's, the Motorteria would load up with groceries including refrigerated items and travel to the houses in Stottville bringing the grocery store to the housewives.
Stottville is home to one of the two fire stations in the town of Stockport, Stottville #2. Whatís more unique about the fire station in Stottville is that it boasts the first two women to complete fire school in Columbia County.
Stottville has the only school in the town of Stockport. Faith Christian Academy is a private school located in Calvary of God Church on Atlantic Avenue. Because Stottville is within the boundaries of the Hudson City School District, students have the option to attend public school in Hudson or private school in Stottville.
For a small village, Stottville has had its share of interesting historical businesses. Iím going to end this article with a story that isnít directly about business in Stottville - unless you consider that the facts of the tale were unearthed by construction workers going about their business... I know, itís a stretch; however, people love legends. Whether its because some believe every word of the story, or because the story COULD be true or because its incredible that anyone would believe the story, we all listen.
The legend is of the girl in the glass coffin. In the early 1800's, a girl died on the eve of her wedding day. She was buried in her wedding dress inside a glass coffin which was then placed inside a wooden coffin. In 1910, a construction crew unearthed the glass coffin containing the well preserved body. Local authorities were called in and as they arrived, the glass coffin shattered and the body gradually disintegrated. Whether the glass was broken by boys shooting air rifles nearby or from the change in the temperature of the glass as it went from the ground to the sunlight, it is not known, but it is rumored that the girl can be spotted on stormy nights, sitting on her coffin, combing her hair.
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