Looking Back in Philipstown

150 Years Ago (August 1870)

More was learned about the man accused of shooting and killing Elijah Jones, 40, the coachman of H.H. Munsell, last month. The suspect had allegedly robbed a messenger of the National Bank of Fishkill and was fleeing down Stone Street when Jones tried to stop him. The name of the accused, who lived in Newburgh, was John P. Trumpboar. According to sources there, he worked as a painter but had a drinking problem and quit his job on July 1. An innkeeper recalled that, the day before the robbery, Trumpboar said he was going to Catskill to get some money from an uncle who had raised him.

More than 150 people attended Jones’ funeral at the Reformed Church, which was organized by the bank’s officers. The bank also paid for an obelisk at Fishkill Rural Cemetery for Jones, a native of Warsaw, Poland, which reads that it was erected “as a tribute of respect for one who lost his life arresting a desperado who had robbed their messenger.” The Cold The Recorder said that Jones was Jewish but had converted to Christianity.

When John Bailey and his father and other stone cutters blew a fuse in a cliff at Storm King to mine granite, several pieces of about 10 pounds each were propelled like cannonballs, and one hit Bailey in the left leg just above the knee. He was taken across the river to his home, where three doctors amputated the leg, but he died that night.

Two village baseball teams, the Water Dogs and the No Names, squared off on the Morris Avenue field on a Saturday afternoon. The Water Dogs prevailed, 27-18.

After James Nimmo of Chestnut Street was awakened by his dog to find an intruder inside his home (who quickly fled out a window), The Recorder called for the village to have at least three policemen on duty every night, with one patrolling from Market Street to the depot, one from the depot to Kemble Avenue, and one from Kemble to Main and Chestnut and the gate of Mr. Parrott.

Because districts 3, 10 and 13 all needed new schoolhouses, at a cost of $25,000, it was proposed at a special meeting that the districts be merged into one building that could be built for $12,000 and run by a principal and “seven female assistants.”

The Recorder alleged that a gang of drunks “hastened if not caused” the death of Johanna Butterfass, 5, who had appeared to be recovering from an unnamed illness but died the morning after the ruffians roamed the streets using profane language and throwing stones that hit the Butterfass home, which frightened her.

Addison Merrick, who oversaw O.M. Baxter’s garden, posted a sign that read: “All persons will be charged 25 cents for looking at the Big Beet and the Big Cabbage. If the door keeper is absent, the money must be deposited in the cigar box at the foot of his post. No dead heads admitted.” The editor of The Recorder, who pointedly noted he had not paid the fee, said the beet was about 30 inches long and 4 inches in diameter but offered no specifics on the cabbage.

Edith Henyan, 3, of Nelsonville, died after being bitten on the arm by a dog that was found to have rabies.

A child of Patrick Connor of Market Street died from an overdose of laudanum that had been administered by the parents. [Laudanum, a tincture of opium, was commonly used as a painkiller — including for infants who were teething — as a sleep aid and as a cough suppressant.]

In 1870, a Cold Spring child died of a laudanum overdose. (Harper’s Weekly)

125 Years Ago (August 1895)

The signpost at the fork of the Cold Spring and Nelsonville roads near the Plumbush farm was painted bright red.

After 27 years on the school board, Stephen Mekeel announced he would not run again. Friends changed his mind and he defeated James Dykman, 16-13.

A stalk of corn that measured 13 feet and 6 inches and was cut at the Plumbush farm was on display at Champlin’s blacksmith shop in Nelsonville. Allen Jaycox then reported he had cut a stalk from his field that measured 13 feet and 9 inches. At the same time, S.B. Mekeel’s store had a Bartlett pear that weighed nearly a pound.

A newspaper illustration of Maria Barberi from the 1890s.

A number of villagers signed a petition to save Maria Barberi, a prisoner at Sing Sing, from death in the electric chair. [Barberi — her name was actually Maria Barbella — had been convicted of killing her lover in New York City with a straight razor. Her sentence was overturned and, at a second trial in 1896, a jury found her not guilty after the defense argued she had gone temporarily insane after being raped.]

Julia Fish won the cake with the ring in it that was raffled at the picnic held by St. Joseph’s Church in Garrison.

The household furniture of the Rev. John Scott, the newly hired pastor at the Baptist Church, arrived from central New Jersey.

Mrs. E. Winbile, of Haywood Landing, Florida, visited her brother, William Jaycox of Nelsonville. They had not seen each other in 42 years.

The Garrison Athletic Club football team began practice.

Fred D. Miller, a long-distance pedestrian, who passed through Cold Spring in January on what he said was a return trip from New Orleans, passed through Garrison on what he said was a walk to Denver. He was accompanied by his dog, Guess.

Over a two-week period, Truesdell’s pickle factory on Market Street received 2.5 million cucumbers grown by local farmers.

Truesdell’s pickle factory, which processed millions of cucumbers in 1895, was located in the former Union Church, seen in this image at center right. (Putnam History Museum)

A swindler played the “envelope game” on servants employed by residents of the Garrison road, in one case stealing $5.

A drove of 180 cattle consigned to C. & H. Smith of Griffin’s Corners passed through Garrison.

Representatives of the Kickapoo Medicine Co. sold their wares in Garrison in 1895

Dr. H.A. Fletcher and his son, owners of the Kickapoo Medicine Co., arrived at the Garrison Hotel for a week’s stay during which each evening they introduced their products. The final night was expected to end with a balloon ascension. [Kickapoo Indian Medicine shows were popular in the 1890s; the products included a cough cure, liver pills, salve, hair tonic and tapeworm killer.]

An assailant known as “Jack the Hugger” seized a young lady from behind and kissed her against her will as she walked home from the Garrison post office at dusk. When she screamed, he man fled across the field toward the railroad tracks.

A thief broke the Fish memorial window to gain entry into St. Philip’s Church in Garrison, where he robbed the poor box and stole the communion wine.

A “morphine fiend” attempted to swindle narcotics from pharmacist James Boyd. He brought in a list of drugs he said were for James Ruddiman. He said he would take the morphine and cocaine with him and return for the others in a few hours. While the man waited, Boyd sent his clerk to check with Ruddiman, who said the stranger was a fraud.

The Hudson River Telephone Co. completed its circuit between Cold Spring and Fishkill.

100 Years Ago (August 1920)

The sale of the empty West Point Foundry, which closed in 1911, was completed to the Astoria Silk Works of Long Island, which planned to construct a mill employing 700 people. Its most recent owner had been the A.B. & J.M. Cornell Iron Works. Parts for the first locomotive used in New York state, the De Witt Clinton, on display at Grand Central Terminal, had been cast there.

The latest accounting of the estate of Julia Butterfield [who died in 1913] was delayed in surrogate court because papers had not been served to Daniel Butterfield Jr., who was a patient at the Bloomingdale Insane Asylum in New York City.

In 1920, Daniel Butterfield Jr. was a resident of the Bloomingdale Insane Asylum in New York City.

75 Years Ago (August 1945)

A U.S. Army chaplain who was with Pvt. Thomas Lutze when the Cold Spring resident was mortally wounded during fighting in France in December visited with his mother to share details of her son’s last moments.

Residents lined Main Street eight to 10 deep from Fair Street to Town Hall for about two hours of impromptu parades on the evening of Aug. 14 to celebrate V-J Day after the Japanese surrendered to end World War II. The air was filled with church bells, fire sirens, whistles, horns and noisemakers. The Haldane Central School band led the parade, which began at 8 p.m., followed by Red Cross units, veterans, the Village Board, the Town Board, clergy, schoolchildren and firetrucks. From the lawn of St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, Maj. Dale Chalmers told the crowd: “Our work is not done. We have a dislocated world to feed and help reconstruct.”

Times Square on Aug. 15, 1945, the day after the news arrived that Japan had surrendered (National Archives)

The Cold Spring Lions Club held its inaugural block dance on Main Street between Fair and Garden with music by a six-piece New Jersey band. The master of ceremonies was Joseph Bloom, an executive with WABC. Entertainers from three local dude ranches performed, and organizers arranged a jitterbug contest.

Pvt. Joseph Coffey, 26, of Garrison, a 1935 graduate of Peekskill High School, told his parents in a letter he had been moving around so much that the last mail he received was an April issue of the Peekskill Home News, which he read repeatedly cover to cover. He said that he learned from the paper that a Peekskill friend, Pfc. Frank Snyder, had been killed in action on Iwo Jima. When he found himself on the island, Coffey located the grave and took a photo that he said he planned to send to Snyder’s parents.

Terance King, 61, the custodian of the Garrison school and a member of the Garrison Volunteer Fire Department, was assisting at the scene of a burning tractor-trailer on Route 9 when he was struck by a car, which broke his leg.

Joseph Mirasola, the owner of the second-run Hudson Theatre, purchased 100 new seats but said he had no one to install them. The films shown at the venue were first screened in Peekskill and Beacon.

The Philipstown Salvage Committee held its monthly collection of wastepaper and tin cans.

A thrift shop run by local Girl Scouts moved to 161 Main St. It was open Wednesday afternoons and Saturday mornings.

50 Years Ago (August 1970)

Robert McCaffrey reported that he shot a hole-in-one — with witnesses — on July 28 at the Highlands Country Club in Garrison.

Dominic Benecasa won $100 on a lottery ticket purchased at Sam Sunday’s barber shop.

Stanley White, an architect who served 15 years on the Haldane school board, died at age 69. He designed the remodeling of Beacon High School and Butterfield Hospital and additions to the Garrison and Haldane school buildings.

The Rev. Leonard Rust, pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Philipstown, left for a six-week trip that took him to Rome, Jerusalem, India, China, Hong Kong, the Philippines and Japan.

The West Point Band played a concert at the bandstand to honor the Cold Spring Musical Society and its retired conductor, Capt. Francis Dale. The society grew out of a concert given in 1925 by Dale on violin and James DuBois on bass fiddle. The group raised $2,700 to construct a bandstand at the foot of Main Street.

The Philipstown Town Board curtailed the operations of the town dump on Lane Gate Road following complaints from neighbors that refuse was being burned illegally there. The Cold Spring Fire Co. had been called to the dump 24 times in the previous six months. Supervisor Joseph Percacciolo said that the town had to burn some refuse because it lacked the funds to bury everything.

The Philipstown Area Jaycees played a softball game at the Haldane Field against members of the Cold Spring Fire Co. in which members of both teams rode donkeys.

The Citizens Committee for the Protection of the Environment hosted a Survival Seminar and Song Fest at the Garrison Inn to mark the 25th anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Vandals trashed the principal’s office at Haldane overnight and damaged two school buses.

Jack DelViscovi, a Haldane grad and racing driver, opened Mini-Bike Sales & Service on Route 9, a half mile north of Perks Plaza.

25 Years Ago (August 1995)

The Nelsonville board required peddlers to obtain a permit; banned “unreasonable loud, disturbing and unnecessary noise”; mandated the trimming of plants that blocked views at intersections; and limited the parking of trailers to 24 hours. A proposed law that would ban smoking in village-owned buildings was set aside.

Burglars went through a back door at Guinan’s Garrison Country Store late on a Friday night and stole $700 worth of cigarettes, two cameras and $45.

Johnson Wagner, 15, of Garrison, won the 1995 Westchester Golf Association Jr. Championship. [Wagner turned pro in 2002 and now plays on the PGA Tour.]

The Philipstown Zoning Board met to review plans submitted by Matt Williams, a co-creator of Home Improvement and Roseanne and a former writer for The Cosby Show, who hoped to build a literary, educational and fine arts institution on a 68-acre farm on Route 9D that he envisioned as a retreat for artists and writers.

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