Huyck, Francis C.
Francis Conkling Huyck was born on July 10, 1838 in Rensselaerville, Albany County, NY to John S. Huyck (1800-1872) and Isabella Conkling (1809-1874). He was their eldest child and had a younger sister Mary Elizabeth Huyck (B. July 8, 1840). He was known as Frank.
Francis' father John was very civic minded and was a great supporter of the Rensselaerville Academy to which he sent his son Francis. In addition, Francis attended the Canandaigua Academy.
Marriage and Children
Francis married Emily Harriet Niles, who was born on January 10, 1845 in Rensselaerville to the Honorable John Niles and Mary Cook. They would ultimately have six children one of which died very young. Their children were:
- Edmund Niles Huyck (B. May 17, 1866, D. unk)
- Elizabeth Moore Huyck (B. Jan 24, 1869, M. Lewis A. Eldridge, D. unk)
- John Niles Huyck (B. June 1, 1871, D. Oct 31, 1914)
- Francis Conklin Huyck Jr. (B. Nov 15, 1874, D. Nov 19, 1938)
- Amy Conkling Huyck (B. Jan 15, 1879, D. Aug 6, 1881)
- Emily Niles Huyck (B. Jan 13, 1882)
All of his children except Emily were born in Rensselaerville.
Francis was Presbyterian and attended the Presbyterian Church of Rensselaerville.
Francis joined his father at their General Store in Rensselaerville. Francis found himself unsuited for the business and grew bored.
In about 1870, Henry Waterbury, who ran the local woolen mill on the Ten Mile Creek, proposed that Francis join him in an expansion of the business to include the manufacture of paper machine felts. Francis investigated the proposal by visiting numerous paper mills to learn the business, discuss their needs and to understand the supply and pricing issues of paper machine felts. At the time, there were only three paper machine felt manufacturers in the US. Finding a favorable business environment, Francis joined Waterbury in the venture despite the fears of his family and friends. Francis borrowed $10,000.00 from his father John S. Huyck which he used to invest in Waterbury's business. The timing of his capital influx was critical as the dam on Lake Myosotis had washed out about the same time and Waterbury needed $5000.00 to rebuild it.
The timing of Waterbury and Huyck's new business venture was great as the paper business was booming. Francis enjoyed the challenge of starting up a new business and selling to new clients. The Mill would manufacture the felts and then send them to women in the nearby countryside to join the felts. Then the felts would be returned to the mill for washing, fulling and finishing.
By the end of the decade, the defiencies of their mill site became apparent to both men. It was far from the nearest RR station making transportation difficult. In addition, there was an insufficient pool of skilled workers. As a result, Henry Waterbury decided to move the mill to Oriskany. Francis decided not to follow, but instead to relocate to Albany, which was about 27 miles to the NE. Francis bought a knitting mill in the Kenwood neighborhood of Albany about 2 miles from the city center. He named the facility "Kenwood Mills" and designed a logo of a curly horned ram standing a top a stone outcropping.
Initially, he ran into funding problems and obtained capital from Chauncey Argersinger, who became his business partner. Kenwood Mills manufactured woolens for clothing, blankets and paper machine felts. His business grew and became well known both throughout the US and Canada as well as in Europe. Francis strongly believed in utilizing the latest and best technologies available. To educate himself, he traveled to mills in England to learn better techniques.
Ultimately the mill in Kenwood burned to the ground and less than a year later, Francis had relocated the mill to the city of Rensselaer, Rensselaer County, NY across the Hudson River from the city of Albany.
Francis' life was centered around Rensselaerville, the birthplace of himself and most of his children. Even after he relocated to Albany, Rensselaerville was a major part of his life. He and his family summered there each year.
In 1879, the Rensselaerville Grist Mill burned to the ground. A year later Francis C. Huyck and George L. Bouton rebuilt the mill with a turbine to replace the overshot wheel. George L. Bouton ran the gristmill, but Francis insured both the mill and the grain inside.
Francis was civic minded like his father. In 1903 he bought the Old Methodist Church building for use as a community hall and it was named Conkling Hall. In addition he was responsible for the Library in Rensselaerville.
Francis was a member of a number of clubs and associations including the Holland Society of New York, Albany Chamber of Commerce, Lotos Club and Republican Club.
Francis died on Thursday July 4th 1907 at his home at 387 State Street in Albany. His funeral was held at the Presbyterian Church in Rensselaerville at 5 pm on Sunday. The family requested that no flowers be sent.
After his death, his sons continued in the business and soon after built a plant in Arnprior, Ontario, Canada. They are known for having provided their employees with one of the most progressive benefits package in the nation. By 1911, they had an employee health plan which was funded by employee contributions of 1% of their salary and the remainder covered by the company.
Like their father, they continued to support their hometown of Rensselaerville.
The company that Francis started at Kenwood Mills is still in existence today and is known as Huyck Wangner. In the early 1970s, they made a huge advancement in papermaking there their introduction of synthetic fabrics and felts. 
Additional Research Notes
- Reynolds, Cuyler, Hudson-Mohawk Genealogical and Family Memoirs, Lewis Historical Publishing Company, NY, 1911, page 1605-6, Ancestry.com
- US Censuses
- Walton, Perry, "Two Related Industries: An Account of Paper-Making and of Paper-Maker' as Manufactured at Kenwood Mills Rensselaer, New York U.S.A. and Arnprior, Ontario, Canada the Two Plants of F. C. Huyck and Sons Albany, New York", Published by F. C. Huyck and Sons 1920, www.googlebooks.com
- Rensselaerville Historical Society, People Made It Happen Here; History of the Town of Rensselaerville ca. 1788-1950
- Haseley, Janet, "The History of the Rensselaerville Grist Mill, Rensselaerville Historical Society, 1996, www.albanyhilltowns.com
- Howell, George Rogers, & Jonathan Tenney, Bi-centennial History of the County of Albany, NY from 1609-1886 with Portraits, Biographies and Illustrations, W. W. Munsell & Co., 1886
- Obituaries, NY Times July 7, 1907
- Textile World Record Volume 33 Published by Lord and Nagle Co, Boston, 1907
- Murray, John E. "Origins of American Health Insurance; A History of Industrial Sickness Funds, 2007, www.googlebooks.com