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Turning Back the Pages

First U.S. calico was made locally

J.P. Van Husen, resident of the town of Queensbury, has interesting relics of the early days of Warren County. He has a piece of calico cloth which was woven in the town of Johnsburgh more than 100 years ago. The pattern was brown with white dots and was given to him by the late David Noble in 1879 and is a sample of the very first calico made in America.

The ancient factory in which calico was made in 1805 or 1809 was in a building erected by John Thurman on the banks of Beaver Creek, now called Mill Creek and near the site of the old Dunn Grist Mill. The territory was than in the town of Thurman, Washington County, from which the town of Johnsburgh was later created.

The machinery for the spinning and weaving was made and installed by Joseph Holden, an Englishman. The spinning and weaving was done by Donald McGinnis and the printing by Joseph Smalley.

Van Husen also exhibits a piece of currency used in the Revolutionary days. The currency is made of paper and was good for $5. The quality of paper used is heavy and resembles blotting paper of today. On the back it says, “This bill shall pass for currency in all payments in the state of New York for five Spanish milled dollars or the value thereof in gold or silver according to resolution of the convention of New York 13th day of August 1776.

(Note: David Noble, a widower, came to America, the land of opportunity, in 1795 from Ireland with his four sons and three daughters. He was a minister who followed the preaching of John Wesley. He bought 400 acres of land in Wevertown from John Thurman, sight unseen, and gave 100acres to each of his four sons.

Readers are welcome to contact Adirondack Journal correspondent Jean Hadden at jhadden1@nycap.rr.com or 623-2210.

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