Looking Back in Philipstown

150 Years Ago (May 1870)

The Village Board decided to widen Main Street by taking off the bank between Academy Street and the new Methodist Church. As part of the project, the private fences on the south side of the street were moved back to their lawful lines.

The Free Masons contracted with George McCabe on West Street to use his attic for its meetings once he constructed a French roof with dormer windows.

Michael Flood lost his arm and James Vreeland had his foot crushed in accidents at the foundry.

The Cold Spring Recorder reported that a meeting held at Town Hall “was not as harmonious as could have been desired and the prevailing opinion was that the public funds had not been judiciously expended.”

Two men fought near the railroad crossing, one armed with a club and the other with a rock. After the rock prevailed, “a little man with a large talk then came along and got knocked into the gutter,” the Recorder reported.

At least six village homeowners added stoops and roofs over their front doors.

A private road called Boulevard was completed.

A northbound freight train stopped at Cold Spring because rotting floor planks in a car carrying 17 horses began to give out and the conductor did not hear the commotion until he slowed for the station.

The congregation of St. Mary’s Church blessed its new bell and dedicated the statue at the top of the steeple.

W.H. Wells, formerly of Cold Spring, opened a bank in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, with his brother, who lived there.

In a story with the headline “Colorphobia,” the Recorder noted that the first black soldier to take and pass the entrance exam at West Point had been refused a room at the Roe’s Hotel [which was owned by the government and located on Trophy Point] to await the start of classes in July and had to find a place in Highland Falls. “We think that the black cadet wants to be let alone — that the whole race having African blood in America should be let alone,” the paper wrote. “Meanwhile, the world moves on as before and will roll through space, shaking off the prejudices of its tenants, until all men are measured by the scale of intellectual and moral worth.” [The cadet was James Webster Smith, a former slave from Columbia, South Carolina. Another account says he was refused a meal by the hotel, not a room. Regardless, following several years of abuse, Smith was dismissed after allegedly failing a philosophy class, and returned home to become a college professor. In 1997, the academy posthumously honored him with a commission. The first black soldier to graduate from West Point was Henry Ossian Flipper, in 1877.]

125 Years Ago (May 1895)

The Rev. Elbert Floyd-Jones became the rector at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church. The congregation also voted to remove the fence around the property.

Willard Jaycox moved his grocery store in Nelsonville to the building opposite Champlin’s blacksmith shop [289 Main St.].

Tailor John Isberg said he had received an assortment of lawn tennis skirts.

The Philipstown Board of Excise granted licenses to three hotels and 12 saloons. The fee was $40 for hotels, $30 for saloons and $30 for druggists.

James McIlravy repaired the watering trough on the Garrison road near the Indian Brook bridge.

John Monroe of Nelsonville was taken to the Poughkeepsie asylum after being ruled insane by two local doctors but was judged likely to recover.

Rosanna Batchelor, the wife of Charles Batchelor, a partner of Thomas A. Edison, visited the home of Mr. and Mrs. John Woolcock. [Batchelor was a mechanic and draftsman who assisted Edison on projects such as the phonograph and telephone.]

Capt. George Tubbs, of Bristol, Rhode Island, visited the home of W.J. Tubbs. It was the first time in 25 years the brothers had seen each other.

Herbert Austin, a foundry worker who a week earlier had taken a sick tramp to the county poorhouse and fell ill himself the next day, died at age 37.

The siblings of John Iselin of Garrison, a family of bankers, petitioned the Putnam County district attorney to appoint someone to oversee his finances, on account of his alleged overindulgence in liquor and drugs. A jury was drawn to hear the case, which Iselin contested with the assistance of a former U.S. district attorney.

The Garrison Athletic Association organized a program with bicycle, foot and rowing races for Decoration Day [aka Memorial Day].

Dr. Robert Buchanan passed through Cold Spring aboard a train from Sing Sing to Albany, where he was sentenced to death for poisoning his wife, who ran a brothel in New York City. He was handcuffed to Detective James Jackson, who occupied the seat beside him. [During the trial, one of the first that centered on forensic evidence, prosecutors killed a cat in the courtroom with morphine to demonstrate its effects. Buchanan was executed on July 2.]

Dan O’Connell, formerly of Cold Spring, was said by the Newburgh Telegraph to have died from excessive consumption of seltzer, which he drank because he owned a Kingston saloon and wanted to save his stomach from too much alcohol.

After Cold Spring residents voted 55-35 to impose a tax to finance a waterworks, the village created a six-member Board of Water Commissioners.

James Ryan, who worked for butcher Fred Evans, attempted to release his pet fox, named Dick, on Bull Hill, but a few days later Dick found his way back.

Walter Coffin was arrested in Boston on charges that he deposited three forged checks there, worth $4,502, drawn on the National Bank of Cold Spring-on-Hudson.

A 50-pound shell fired by cadets at West Point during training glanced off Crow Nest and headed for Cold Spring, where it struck the bluff facing T.B. Truesdell’s pickle factory and fell into the river.

Frank Watson, inspector of the dynamite gun at the West Point Foundry, left for San Francisco, where he will oversee installation.

A group of West Point cadets who came to Cold Spring to fill up on “jig water” shot out five street lamp globes on Market Street on their return to the ferry.

100 Years Ago (May 1920)

The Sunday schools of the Hudson River Baptist Association held their 61st annual convention at the Cold Spring church and Town Hall.

James Lavery, formerly overseas secretary for the Knights of Columbus, spoke to the Loretto Council about accompanying theatrical agent and producer Elisabeth Marbury on four wartime tours of France, Belgium, Holland and England. He described various battlefields and the cemeteries where thousands of Americans reposed in the “democracy of the eternal sleep.”

J.D. Sullivan, chief of the newly formed Compulsory Attendance Division of the state Department of Education. wrote to the Haldane school board to note that 13 children had been “illegally absent” during March for “out-of-town trips, work at home and the like.” He added, “Your board should put a definite stop to this sort of practice in Cold Spring” and suggested that the “arrest and prosecution of a delinquent parent now and then will have a wholesome effect on the community.”

Two Red Cross nurses were dispatched from New York City to assist Dr. Clark as he was overwhelmed in February and early March with 154 cases of influenza and pneumonia. The Recorder thanked owners of local estates for providing horses and lodging.

William Church Osborn of Garrison, a Democrat, announced his candidacy for a seat in the U.S. Senate. Franklin D. Roosevelt, another Democrat, had not yet decided whether to run. [Roosevelt instead became the vice presidential candidate on a ticket with James Cox, who was defeated by Warren Harding.]

A 13-year-old passenger in the delivery car of the Top Notch Bakery of Peekskill was killed when it was struck by a milk train at the Garrison crossing.

The empty West Point Foundry, which closed in 1911, was sold to the Astoria Silk Works of Long Island to construct a mill.

75 Years Ago (May 1945)

The Rev. Elbert Floyd-Jones marked his 50th year as rector of St. Mary’s Episcopal Church.

Bertram Bell of Paulding Avenue was appointed to the Cold Spring Village Board to succeed Lewis McCabe Sr., who resigned, saying he planned to spend his winters in Daytona Beach.

Patsy Anne Thompson, 11, of Los Angeles, whose mother, the former Adele Spilber, grew up in Cold Spring, had a role in a Hollywood film called Tomorrow, the World! about an American family whose 11-year-old German cousin, a member of the Hitler Youth, comes to live with them.

Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Etta of Parsonage Street received word that their son, Staff Sgt. Anthony Etta, had been liberated by the Russians from Stalag 3-A, where he was a German prisoner of war for nearly a year.

Sgt. Charles Macher, who arrived in Nelsonville for a 60-day furlough after being rescued from a German prisoner-of-war camp, saw his infant daughter for the first time.

D. Mallory Stephens, whose district in the state Assembly included Putnam County, held a dinner at the Sea Food House on Albany Post Road for the Haldane and Carmel high school football teams after they tied in the Putnam County Football Championship game.

75 Years Ago: Roosevelt Goes Home

On April 15, 1945, three days after the death of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, his funeral train passed through Garrison on its way to Hyde Park. A writer for The New Yorker had chosen the spot to record impressions of the journey.

Sunday morning, at dawn, we were at the railroad station in the small town of Garrison, which lies across the Hudson from West Point. Only a railroad-crossing watchman and two fishermen were there when we arrived, but a moment later a man drove up and asked one of the fishermen, who double as ferrymen to the Point, to take him across.

“The president’s coming,” the fisherman said. ‘You’ll want to wait for that.” …

The Roosevelt funeral train as it made its way up the Hudson River on April 15, 1945.

In the next half-hour or so, two or three dozen automobiles, of all makes and sizes, from Model A Fords on up, drove up, and the people who got out of them were all makes and sizes, too… Soon there were 70 or 80 people on the platform… The funeral train finally curved into sight, trailing a plume of white smoke, and the crowd grew silent. As the locomotive pounded past the platform, some of the men removed their hats, the rest just stared …

The special for Hyde Park was made up mostly of the new gray Pullmans and the flag-covered coffin was in a beautiful lounge car at the end, with its military guard of honor. It disappeared up the track, and Garrison’s moment was over.

50 Years Ago (May 1970)

Garrison school district residents rejected a proposed 14 percent increase in the budget, to $595,000, by a vote of 277-191. They also voted down a 7 percent increase in spending for the hot-lunch program.

Haldane school district residents rejected a proposed 15 percent increase in the budget, to $1.47 million, by a vote of 380-283. The proposal included a 12 percent increase in teacher salaries.

William Green, a social-studies teacher at Garrison Middle School, was featured in an article in National Wildlife about his innovative lessons on conservation.

The Most Rev. Joseph Pernicone, vicar of Dutchess and Putnam counties, confirmed 155 children and two adults at Our Lady of Loretto.

Cold Spring United Methodist held a supper to honor Helen Jimenez, who had been its organist for 50 years.

Commander Anthony Benecasa of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2362 expressed support for President Nixon’s policy of sending troops from Vietnam into neighboring Cambodia, saying “anything we do in Cambodia that results in saving American lives should have the full backing of the American people.”

The Fathers of Mercy donated four acres of land to the Cold Spring Lions for a planned Philipstown Memorial Park and Pool.

25 Years Ago (May 1995)

Haldane said students would be picked up by their buses 15 to 20 minutes earlier because the district had launched a breakfast program mandated by the federal government.

The Village Board banned vending along the 200-foot stretch of West Street on the waterfront except for special events. Many people in the audience came to support a couple who had been selling hot dogs from a truck parked next to the bandstand.

Gergely Pediatrics moved to a renovated 1938 stone-and-clapboard house on Route 403 near Route 9. Dr. Peter Gergely had been in practice in Cold Spring since 1990 and before that was the head of pediatrics at West Point.

The Gergely Pediatrics office on Route 403 opened in 1995.

The Garrison school budget passed, 270-234, and Cathy Lilburne and John Cronin were elected as trustees. Voters also approved a resolution to decrease the trustee term from five years to three.

Andrew Bertone, the mayor of Rutherford, New Jersey, complained that he had received a $25 parking ticket on Fair Street while visiting Cold Spring to shop. He vowed never to return.

The Friends of the Desmond-Fish Library purchased a Micron computer and color printer for the children’s room. The computer came with several programs on CDs, including an encyclopedia.

Bruce Raymond of Fair Street was credited with saving a woman from drowning. He was driving a truck for C.K. Industries on the Sprain Brook Parkway when the car ahead of him flipped over the guardrail and into a reservoir, landing upside down. He stopped, dove into the water, opened the passenger door, unlocked the seat belt and pulled the unconscious driver from the vehicle.

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