Victory Mills, Saratoga County, New York

The village of Victory adjoins Schuylerville in the Town of Saratoga, New York. Victory is located on Fish Creek, a tributary to the historic Hudson River. In 2000, the village of Victory had a population of 665.Victory was incorporated in 1849 and has historical significance in that the Saratoga Battle Monument is within the Village and the General Phillip Schuyler House and the Saratoga National Historical Park and National Cemetery are nearby.

The village is the product of the industrial revolution. The number of textile mills, which required abundant waterpower, grew rapidly during the mid-1800s. Three wealthy Bostonians, Enoch Mudge, David Nevins, and Jared Coffin learned of the potential of waterpower on Fish Creek in the Town of Saratoga. They sent Benjamin Losee and Pickham Green to investigate the potential and by 1846 the men had incorporated “The Saratoga Victory Manufacturing Company” and built a three-story cotton cloth manufacturing plant costing $425,000. The company flourished and the number of employees living near the mill increased.

As a result the Village of Victory was incorporated under the general laws on April 16, 1849, with William E. Miner, Patrick Cooney, George McCreedy, Russell Carr and Benjamin Kelsey elected as trustees, William E. Miner, president and James Cavanaugh, clerk.

In 1850, the cotton mill employed 160 men, 209 women, working at 12,500 spindles and 309 looms and produced over 1,800,000 yards of cotton cloth. By 1877, the company employed 700 and had a capacity of 26,000 spindles with annual production of 819,988 pounds, or 4,487,190 of yards of goods.

The development and expansion of Victory Mill coincided with the Potato Famine in Ireland. As a result, many Irish Catholic immigrants found work at the mills and as early as 1847, there was already a significant number of Irish families settled there. Early settlers included John Lynch, Michael and John Kelley, Patrick, James, and Lawrence Cooney, Wm. Carroll, Charles and Andrew Farley, Hugh and John Quinn, Hugh T. White, Hugh Temple, John Cavanaugh, James and Thomas Mulvihill, Patrick Lennon, Peter Garrihan, Patrick Airn, Patrick, James, and Mathew Gearatty, Wm. Fitzsimmons, Hugh Geary and Peter Bannon.

Note that several of these men were likely natives of County Longford including Bannon, Gearatty, Geary and Mulvilhil. While settlers in Victory Mills came from various places in Ireland, it is noteworthy that the largest number of headstone inscriptions in Victory Cemetery list the County Longford parishes of Cashel and Shrule as the origin of the settler.

No regular or permanent Catholic services were available to serve the spiritual needs of this rapidly expanding Irish Catholic population. The only Catholic churches within a circuit of thirty miles were at Lansingburg, Whitehall, and Sandy Hill. Considerable commitment and self-sacrifice and a strong love for their faith were required to attend services at these distant places, oftentimes traveling on foot. Many would set out together on foot the previous night in order to arrive in time for early Sunday morning or holy day services.
The first Catholic Masses at Victory Mills were held at the houses of different members, conducted at irregular intervals by visiting priests. Sunday school was generally held at the house of William Carroll. Catholic services were also held in the old Schuylerville Academy, and in the schoolhouse east of the well-known “Mansion House.” Ground was broken for a church in 1845. This was on a lot nearly opposite the Reformed Protestant church. A plain wooden structure was erected at an expense of about $700, and consecrated in 1847 by Bishop McCloskey. This work was executed under the labors of Father Daly who was succeeded in the missionary work by Father Cull. The first resident priest was Rev. Father Roach, who was succeeded in a short time by Rev. H.B. Finnegan who was serving in 1878.

The church together with early records, was burned to the ground on Sunday morning, June 22, 1871. Catholics parishioners then worshiped for a time in the public hall at Victory Mills. Bishop Conroy of Albany, laid the cornerstone of the new church, which was completed during 1873 and dedicated by Bishop McNierney on October 21st. The impressive structure was considered second to none in the upper Hudson Valley. The cost of $40,000 required heavy financial sacrifice for the mainly working class parishioners. It occupied a commanding position, convenient for the two villages and overlooking the surrounding country for many miles.

The Catholic population included within the parish, which extended somewhat beyond the borders of Schuylerville, by 1878 numbered twelve hundred. It had a Sunday school of two hundred pupils, superintended by Mr. John Carlin.