Cudmore: An aggressively progressive editor

Amsterdam’s Board of Trade produced annual reports that are snapshots of life in Mohawk Valley

Amsterdam’s Board of Trade, a predecessor of the Fulton Montgomery Regional Chamber of Commerce, was instrumental in the movement to make Amsterdam a city in the late 19th century and produced annual reports that are snapshots of life in the Mohawk Valley over 100 years ago.

According to the 1902 Board of Trade Manual, newspaper editor George H. Loadwick spoke at the annual meeting praising the city’s growth from the time of its founding as Veddersburg, a hamlet that grew around Albert Vedder’s late 18th century gristmill near the mouth of the Chuctanunda Creek.

“The creaking of Vedder’s mill has given place to a chorus of industry in which thousands of mighty wheels whirl and spin in merry thrift,” Loadwick said. “The old creek, once the power upon which the commercial life of this community depended may now ripple along in its lazy beauty since steam, with all its power, has pushed it aside.”

Loadwick added, “The carpet mills, the oil mills, the knitting mills, foundries, rug mills and scores of other industries, great and small, that add to the noises of the world are active evidences of the strides of enterprise and advancement.”

He said that wagon springs made in Amsterdam “afford comfort to the carriage riding world” while “every well-kept and well-swept household in America” benefits from Amsterdam-made brooms.

Loadwick also praised the Mohawk Valley’s natural setting, “The river, the hills, the valley, the landscape, the wood and the plain, are all given bountifully to this fair region, the home of the brave, this abiding place of sterling manhood and the spot we love so well, whether to the manor born or as adopted citizens.”

Born in St. Johnsville in 1848, Loadwick attended and then taught at the village school while contributing columns to the Mohawk Valley Register, a newspaper in Fort Plain.

He moved to New York City where he worked for the United States Publishing Company.  He was transferred to their Cincinnati office and submitted newspaper columns there using the pen name Joe Gibbons.  When the company wanted to send him to San Francisco, Loadwick decided to return to the Mohawk Valley.

First he was part owner of Fonda’s Mohawk Valley Democrat then local correspondent for the Albany Argus, again using the Joe Gibbons byline.  Briefly he was city editor of the Utica Observer and joined the Amsterdam Recorder in 1878 as the paper’s editor.

In 1882 he became part owner and editor of the weekly Amsterdam Sentinel.  He made it a daily paper in 1884 and a morning paper in 1888, the only morning paper between Albany and Utica.

According to historian Washington Frothingham, Loadwick had a “keen wit,” was a brilliant debater and was “blunt and abrupt in manner and speech.”  Frothingham wrote that Loadwick’s Sentinel, which favored the Democrats, was “aggressively progressive.”

Loadwick loved animals and was president of the Montgomery County branch of the SPCA.  He took in stray dogs and frequently chided people who abused horses.

Loadwick’s health was declining in 1908 when he sold the Morning Sentinel to its city editor, Southern transplant Robert E, Lee Reynolds.  Loadwick died in 1909 at his home on Division Street in Amsterdam.  He was 61, survived by his widow, Emily Mosher Loadwick, and two daughters. Bessie Maria and Florence.  He was buried in St. Johnsville.

Reynolds was appointed city postmaster in 1914.  In 1918 he closed the Morning Sentinel, saying he could not do justice to both jobs.  Reynolds resigned as postmaster in 1922 and moved to Atlanta, which he foresaw as on the verge of an economic boom.  He died there in 1959.

Bob Cudmore is a freelance columnist. Opinions expressed in his column are his own and not necessarily the newspaper’s. Anyone with a suggestion for a Focus on History topic may contact him at 518-346-6657 or [email protected].

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