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.
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 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.
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.
physical and commentary
The condition of the archival documents ranges from fair to very fragile. All documents are placed in mylar sleeves or protective bagging.
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.
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.
3 magazine publications, illustrations
E. Civil War
1. New York State source materials
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
Series 02-3 Physical Plant
A. Structural development
This sub-series is assigned to development that can be identified under
an administrator's supervision.
B. Structure and Function
The documents in this series are certificates, accounts, inspections of machinery performance.
A. As equipment for production
10 + documents
Series 02-4 Machinery
Series 02-5 Production
WPF Document Box Series 02-5 A.
C. Ordinance (1817-1888)
D. Cornell Era (1897-1911)
1 catalog-various 1 copy
Series 02-6 Accessory structures
A. Church 1828 “The Chapel of Our Lady”
B. Company Store
2 documents – 1 oversized
Series 02-7 Employees
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
5 documents- 2 oversized
C. Work records and wages
D. Employee identified papers
1. John F. Ferris Papers
Document group #1 - #5 are housed in
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.
B. Cornell 1897-1911
C. Astoria Silk Works 1920
Series 02-9 Historic Preservation Period
A. Deuterium Corporation 1960
B. Brill Report
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.