Rapid expansion of maritime commerce resulting from steamboats and the Champlain Canal buoyed Essex prosperity until about 1850 when the population of Essex reached 2,351 residents.
Frankly, I find it a little difficult to imagine our quaint little village bustling with 2,351 residents. But, history tells us so, and we’re expected to believe it. Wow! That’s a lot of industrious Essex dwellers, workers, socializers, doodlers… Well, hopefully a few of them were doodlers.
In any event, Essex growth during the first half of the 19th century was astonishing in comparison with the sparsely populated community today.
Essex Growth Until Mid-Century
The first half of the 19th century brought substantial Essex growth with most commercial enterprise (and even most residential development) concentrated in the center of town near Main Street and the waterfront.
Ransom Noble owned a tannery and store; William Ross operated a general store beneath his brother Henry H. Ross’s Law office; Belden Noble and Gen. Daniel Wright owned inns; and Amos Anson, Nathan Nichols and Isaac Drew owned taverns. Shipbuilding, potash production and iron ore extraction were also important industries in Essex at the time, however the middle of the 19th century appears to have been the apex of industrial, commercial and population growth for Essex, NY.