Fred C. Haida Collection & West Point Foundry Collection

Introduction to the Directory

The West Point Foundry Archives was founded in January, in the year 2000.

The Archival documents and records  for the West Point Foundry are divided into two groups. The first is the West Point Foundry Collection, a collection of papers and records, the second is the Fred. C. Haida Collection of the West Point Foundry papers. The Haida Collection contains archival documents, secondary source materials, prints and photographs.

The combined documents are 10 cubic feet. The general condition of the documents range from fair to poor and fragile.  Most  documents are in Mylar sleeves and housed in a document box or binder.   The oversized documents are housed in flat files.

This Directory is designed to give the researcher an overview of the papers. Two abstracts are available to provide a more detailed information base on the individual papers and records.

Background History

The West Point Foundry was built in 1817 as an iron casting business for ordnance and domestic production. The primary incentive for such a business rose from the realization that  during the recent War of 1812, the United States military was drastically short of the cannon/shot and rifles. The West Point Foundry’s role at least in part was derived from the government’s desire to provide a more secure ordnance production.

The site selected was Cold Spring, New York because of  its access to the Hudson River and its proximity to other iron businesses in the area .  A second shop, the New York Shop, located in Manhattan, was the accessory business to the Foundry.

Gouverneur Kemble with his brother William Kemble and other stockholders invested in this Industrial Revolution Era venture.

Gouverneur Kemble would become the primary owner of the foundry.  He became a benefactor of the employees as well as the business.  He built a Chapel for his Irish men and families, provided housing and a company store.

Financially, the Foundry, notwithstanding orders from the federal government and private sector, did struggle financially with the exception of the Civil War Period (1860-1865). After the West Point Foundry went into receivership it was purchased by the Cornell brothers.

Gouverneur Kemble

Cornell Iron Works

The Cornell Era 1897-1914 brought a renewed prosperity for the Foundry. The production was focused on producing domestic machinery for factories.

The foundry throughout its operation produced domestic hardware, engines for ships, locomotives, machines for factories, an iron lighthouse, canal equipment and ordnance.  Under the supervision of Robert P. Parrott, the developer of the Parrott Gun, the ordnance production by the foundry became acclaimed as an important determinant in the success of the Union winning the Civil War in 1865.

At the end of the Civil War the Foundry began to decline due to the reduction of orders from the  military and competition from a developing industry,  the Steel Industry.  The foundry was purchased by the Cornell brothers in 1897.  Cornell was famed for their production of machines for sugar production and factories of  similar means. The Foundry finally closed in 1914.

The  Foundry site then housed the Astoria Silk Works  until a fire closed all operations at the site.  The Deuterium Corporation (1960), a Hilton resort developer,  while unable to use the site, did open the door for a preservation process and was instrumental in having the site placed on the National Register of Historic Places  .

The archival collection concludes with the Brill Report (1979), a comprehensive physical and historical study for the preservation of the West Point Foundry site.  Today, the historic West Point Foundry Preserve is owned by Scenic Hudson, Inc., a non-profit environmental organization.

Archival Arrangement

The West Point Foundry documents and records are arranged in a Series subject order beginning with 02-1 through 02-10.

The documents are contained in two sections, The West Point Foundry Collection and The Haida Collection-West Point Foundry.

Each of the two sections are bound together by the Directory, each section features its own abstract.

Research Materials Arrangement

The secondary source information is arranged as the archival material by subject in series 02-1 through 02-10. The Research Material has its own directory.

Series Outline

02-1 History, physical and commentary
02-2 Administration
A. Developers
B. General Business
02-3Foundry Physical Plant
02-5 Production
02-6 Accessory Structures
02-7 Employees
02-8 Foundry Decline and Transition
02-9 Preservation Era
02-10  Photographs – not organized as of 12/99

The condition of the archival documents ranges from fair to very fragile.  All documents are placed in mylar sleeves or protective bagging.

Series 02-1 History and Geography

A. Maps & Deeds

WPF records in this category and generally secondary source material. The Haida Collection features 4 large maps (copies).  The researcher may want to consult the Research Material and the History Collection.

West Point Foundry Collection
4 maps  1 Deed
Haida Collection – WPF
Binder 1

B. Related histories and general

Commentary, illustrations, and comments on the progress of the Civil War 1861-1864  is featured here in 3 Harper’s Weekly publications.  All publications  contain information pertaining to the WPF.  

  C. Putnam County

These documents encompass a variety of issues all pertaining to Cold Spring’s civil affairs and the public history. The documents include receipts from the Cold Spring School, letter correspondence concerning the Cornell Co. and the water supply, incorporation document, and a series of lists.

14 documents.
WPF Document  Box  Series 02-1

D. Commentary, Publications regarding West Point Foundry.

The WPF  group features two memorial books, Robert Parker Parrott and The South Boston Iron Co. and the West Point Foundry.  The Parrott memorial is personal, the businesses’ memorial is an appeal the U.S. Congress for contracts. The Haida Collection contains a book naming the  foundry as a source of production for the British War machine.

2 documents.
WPF Document Box  Series 02-1

3 magazine publications, illustrations
Haida Collection-WPF
Binder 1

1 book
Flat Document Box
Haida Collection-WPF

E. Civil War

1. New York State source materials
2. General topic and source materials

See the Research Materials for additional information.

Series 02-2 Administration

A-1 William Kemble

William Kemble (1795-1881) is the brother, co-founder with Gouverneur Kemble in the West Point Foundry business.  This arrangement of documents (1818-1835) are letter correspondence, financial account sheets, and promissory notes.

14 documents
WPF Binder 1  Series 02-2 Administration  A-1

A-2 Gouverneur Kemble

Gouverneur Kemble (1786-1875) was the brother of William Kemble and co-founder in the West Point Foundry business. G. Kemble’s documents are primarily letter correspondence with several financial notes, voucher and checks. The first group of letter correspondence is the Kemble-Rodgers Letters (1818-1820). This group is ten letters between Kemble and a Navy Commander pertaining to orders.  The second group of letter correspondence and various documents is in reference to business orders.

Kemble-Rodgers Letters  10 letters
10 letters + 28  = 38 documents
WPF Binder 2   Series 02-2 Administration A-2

6 letters
#7- financial notes  1-22
Haida Collection-WPF
Binder 3

A-3 William Young

William Young served as superintendent  to the West Point Foundry and later as Supervisor of the Ulster Iron Works. The documents (1817-1834) are various and primarily  letter correspondence.  Among this correspondence is a letter written by Young in reference to the recruiting of skilled workers from Ireland.  The Haida Collection features his travel accounting of the Ireland trip and a river ferriage statement.

25 documents
WPF Binder 3Series 02-2 Administration  A-3

 2 documents
 Haida Collection-WPF
 Binder 3

A-4 Robert P. Parrott

Robert P. Parrott was a former Army Captain, Engineer and teacher assigned to West Point. Parrott improved upon the ordnance hardware known as the Rodman Gun. He later became the developer of the Parrott Gun, an important ordnance element in the Civil War.  Parrot served as supervisor of the West Point Foundry as well as a stock holder and as an  leased owner of the foundry upon the retirement of G. Kemble. The documents in this series are various and primarily letter correspondence.  Mr. Parrott’s papers reveal the extent of his skills and confidence as a business man and innovator of modern ordnance. The Haida Collection/Binder 4 contains two letter transcription/copies notebook format.  This group of letters are significant because they are essentially Parrott’s response to the War Department in reference to the defense of his Guns (cannon).   The Haida Collection/Binder 5 is a various group of Parrott letters, drafts, copies, and index.

11 documents
WPF Binder 3  Series 02-2 Administration  A-4

2 notebooks-
20+1 letters
Haida Collection-WPF
Binder 4

 7 Letters
 1 index
 Haida Collection-WPF
 Binder 5

Series 02-2 General Accounting


General Accounting documents are a various collection of business records. There are accounts sheets, balance sheets, invoices, orders from West Point Military Academy, equipment sales, shipping lists for the sloops Peacock, Putnam, Kemble, and the Independence, New York Shop accounts, Adventure accounts, and a deed. The contents of this series include assigned folders of various business papers that include the a list of stockholders and stock information. The WPF Annual Report (1831) and a folders 15  and 16which contains many documents pertaining to shipping domestic and business, and freight rates. The condition of this group of documents ranges from fair to poor. Reading and transcription may be limited. They are sleeved in mylar.

100 + documents
4 of 16 documents are Oversized
WPF Document Box   Series 02-2 B


General Accounting documents in this section are two interesting and yet very diverse records. The first is a partnership agreement with the WPF Association, 1817 and the second is a insurance agreement, 1802.  The later document  is related to the WPF in an indirect manner.

2 documents
Haida Collection-WPF
Binder 1

Series 02-3 Physical Plant

A. Structural development

This sub-series is assigned to development that can be identified under an administrator's supervision.

1. Kemble, William
2. Kemble, Gouverneur
3. Young, William
4. Parrott, Robert  P.
5. Cornell Era:  This is primarily a blueprint collection. The two main areas are the administration buildings and shop plans and second machinery.  The blueprints have not been described fully nor conserved.  Handling such blueprints is very limited at this time.

3 documents
WPF Document Box Series 02-3

B. Structure and Function

The documents in this series are certificates, accounts, inspections  of machinery performance.

3 documents
WPF Document Box Series 02-3

Series 02-03

A. As equipment for production

The documents in this series are include information on patents, machinery publication, and a workmen’s report notes. A substantial number of the machines produced at the Foundry were designed to be placed in Sugar Plantations in Cuba and other factories. The folders containing Plate Prints of  machinery are extensive. The Hadia Collection contains three lithographs.

10 + documents
1 book
50 + Plate Prints
WPF Document Box  

Series 02-4 Machinery

3 lithographs
Haida Collection-WPF
Binder 1

Series 02-5 Production

A. Domestic

This group is designated for domestic production decorative assortments  such as iron benches, fences, and sculpture.  It will also encompass architectural production such as cast iron for window and door surrounds, iron facades as seen on city business buildings great and small, and some housing.

WPF Document Box   Series  02-5   A.

B. Structural

This series of documents is non-ordnance and specific by subject.  The first group is transportation related, infrastructure, the singular iron lighthouse in America, and canal construction equipment.
* instruction book

4  documents/folders
WPF  Document Box Series 02-5 B.

C. Ordinance (1817-1888)

The documents in this series are general ordinance.  The primary contributor to ordinance design and production at the Foundry was Robert P. Parrott. His Parrott Gun was developed for the United States Military during the Civil War.

4 documents
WPF Document Box  Series 02-5  C

D. Cornell Era (1897-1911)

Production under the Cornell Company was non-ordinance.  The machinery made at the Foundry concentrated on machinery for factories such as sugar plantations and refineries.  Catalogues features photo prints of  the New York and West Point Foundry Shops.

1 catalog-various 1 copy
1 catalog-sugar machinery   4 copies
1 inventory book
WPF Document Box  Series 02-5  D

Series 02-6 Accessory structures

A. Church 1828 “The Chapel of Our Lady”

There are no documents in the archival collection at this time.  The researcher may consult the Research Materials and the History Collection, both are secondary source data.

B. Company Store

The WPF series features documents and records pertaining to the Foundry Company Store that served the employees and families.  The account sheets disclose information on employees names, items purchased, and cost.   From The Haida Collection is an account book 1868-1959. This is primarily names and merchandise orders.

2 documents – 1 oversized
WPF Document Box Series 02-6 B
1 account book
flat document box
Haida Collection-WPF

C. Housing

This group of documents is general in scope.  The documents feature a contract for work and a document account of rents paid.  The researcher who is developing material on employees may find confirmation of an employee in the rents paid accounts.

2 documents
WFP Document Box  Series 02-6 C

D. School

Archival documents in this series have not been collected for the West Point Foundry Collection.

Series 02-7 Employees

A. Commentary

This series was created to accommodate the Research Materials records.  Archival commentary is limited and none has been collected for the WPF Collection at this time.

B. Contracts, indentures

The documents in this grouping range from an article of agreement for employment 1817, supervisor’s contract, and three indentures for young men.

5 documents- 2 oversized
WPF Document Box  Series 02-7  B

C. Work records and wages

Records in this group are a journal of employees working hours, accounting sheets showing names and disbursements.  One document, The Hudson Tablet, a list of Pay and Wage records is borderline primary/secondary document, however,  I have chosen to treat it as primary due to its importance as research data.

4 documents
WPF Document Box  Series 02-7 C
1 book – Tables, Rules, and Formulas
flat document box
Haida Collection-WPF

D. Employee identified papers

Documents in this series can be related to a particular name and document. The WPF Collection contains The Ferris Papers, a former supervisor of the a Cornell Shop. His papers are extensive, however their condition ranges from fair to poor.  The other documents that are receipts and brief notes belonging to Hustis, Haldane, and Day and  Mr. Thornton’s patent correspondence and booklet .  The Haida Collection contains the book of Charles Haswell, an engineer at the Foundry.

1. John F. Ferris Papers
This group is housed in two enclosed folders, 75 + documents, and index.
2. Hustis signed receipts
20 receipts, condition is poor.
3. Henry Haldane
9 receipts
4. William Thorton, patent correspondence and booklet
5. William and Nicholas Day 1818-1819
24 records, condition is fair to poor.
6. David Lloyd, Naturalization Certificate 1844

Document group #1 - #5 are housed in
WPF Document Box  Series 02-7  D

1 Book

Haida Collection

Series 02-8 Foundry transition and closing

A. Reorganization and receivership

This series is limited in archival documents. Currently it features real estate bulletins for the sale of the Foundry.

4 documents
WPF Document Box Series 02-8

B. Cornell 1897-1911

See development and production

C. Astoria Silk Works 1920

2 documents
WPF Document Box  Series 02-8

Series 02-9 Historic Preservation Period

A. Deuterium Corporation  1960

The Deuterium Corporation purchased old Foundry site as a possible location for a resort on the Hudson.  This project never came to fruition, however, it did bring to the attention of the public the importance of saving  the foundry as a historic site. This series contains limited archival material, however, the researcher may consult the Research Materials for more complete data.

1 document
WPF Document Box  Series 02-9  A

B. Brill Report

A comprehensive report of the West  Point Foundry Site featuring the historic documentation, geography, building development, technology, appendices, illustrations.  The report was written by Ralph Brill,1979, 148 pages.
One notebook original and two copies.

C. General

D. Correspondence

Series 02-10 WPF Photographs

To be arranged.  They are currently in a box and notebook in a  loose arrangement.   While some photographs are viewable they have not been described or housed.  A possible additional resource, The Historical Society’s Photography Collection, in notebooks may provide some images featuring the Foundry.