History of Sterlingburgh, New York
On the southern bank of Indian river, about one mile above Antwerp bridge, is a cluster of buildings which, though hardly entitled to the appellation of village, is collectively known as Sterlingburgh, from James Sterling, who was its proprietor for many years. It consists of an excellent grist-mill, a saw-mill, and a few dwellings, besides several large buildings, relics of past enterprise, now in disuse, and some in actual decay.
The water-power is better here than at Antwerp village, and it is difficult to understand why, in view of this and other natural advantages, the latter should have become the more important place. It was not long after the conclusion of his great purchase before the attention of Mr. Parrish was directed to these facts, and late in the autumn of 1816 he commenced preparations for the damming of the river, and the erection of a forge at this point. During the early part of the following year he completed these, as also a large house and a road to the works; but the enterprise proved unprofitable, and by the opening of the year 1820 it was abandoned. No vestige of this old forge has now been visible for many years.
In 1824 the erection of a distillery was commenced here for Mr. Parrish, under the supervision of William McAllaster, his agent. Other buildings were also erected to be used in the fattening of cattle and swine from the refuse of the distillery. This enterprise was intended to furnish to those who had purchased lands from Parrish an opportunity to pay for them in grain and cattle, thus affording a good and convenient market, and, at the same time, benefiting the proprietor by hastening payments on the lands which he had sold to them.
This establishment continued in operation for thirteen years (with the exception of a partial suspension during 1829 and 1830), and in that time it consumed 72,114 bushels of corn, 42,444 bushels of rye, 5086 bushels of malt, 108 bushels of barley, and 4900 pounds of hops, from which it produced 15,700 barrels of proof whisky, and more than a thousand head of cattle, and a large number of swine were fattened from its refuse.
In 1834, Mr. Parrish erected a grist-mill near the distillery, taking the water from the dam which he had built in 1816-17 for use of the forge. This mill still stands, and is in successful operation.
In 1846 the distillery, mill, and water-power were purchased of Mr. Parrish by James Sterling, who erected a furnace upon the property. This he kept in operation, principally upon ores from the Sterling mine, until 1858, when its fires went out forever. The old building and stack may still be seen, in a most dilapidated condition, near the river-bank; and the stone buildings of Mr. Parrish — distillery and cattle barn, all of stone — are yet there. In one of these Mr. Sterling carried on a foundry before 1858. In later years the still-house was for a time used as a cheese-factory, until the erection of the new one at Antwerp village.
In 1859, Sterlingburgh was sold by James Sterling to Alexander Copley, whose sons, Alexander and Eugene Copley, are its present proprietors.
A mile above Sterlingburgh, upon Indian river, is an extensive forge, built in 1870, by A. P. Sterling and Edgar Peckham, upon the site of an old sawmill formerly owned by George A. Hoard. The cost of this forge was $20,000, and it employed one hundred men. Messrs. Sterling & Peckham operated it upon ores from the Sterling mine and from Lake Champlain. The works had been built by them under a long lease from Alexander Copley, to whom the entire establishment was afterwards sold. It is now owned by A. & E. Copley, the proprietors of Sterlingburgh.