Looking Back in Philipstown

150 Years Ago (October 1870)

William Spellman pleaded guilty to stealing three chickens from the roost of Peter McGurk and was fined $25. His accomplice, Lydia Williamson, who was accused of cooking the chickens despite knowing they were stolen (witnesses said she called it “a good haul”) was found guilty and fined $10.

William Hadden, a veteran of the War of 1812, sued a pension agent, Ransom Barger, for money allegedly withheld. A court awarded $18.36.

A Native American who was a traveling Episcopalian priest preached at the Philipse Church at Garrisons.

After opening a dry goods and grocery store in Nelsonville, Isaac Riggs placed a newspaper ad that promised, “No more need of going to Cold Spring!”

Three-member school boards were elected in District No. 3 (Rock Street), No. 13 (Foundry School) and No. 10 (Nelsonville).

The Philipstown supervisor, clerk and assessors met at the Pacific Hotel to designate the polling places for the November election, and the usual spots were chosen: Washburn’s Hotel at Garrisons, Thomas Mckeel’s house and Town Hall.

After Mary McKenna walked into Foundry Pond and had to be rescued by her husband, she was taken before Justice Ferris and papers made out to send her to the state mental hospital at Utica.

A boy who ran into a Town Hall meeting at 9 p.m. on a Wednesday night shouting there was a fire caused a stampede over the benches and down the stairs. It turned out to be inside the chimney of a nearby house.

A 3-foot-long wildcat caught on Sugar Loaf Mountain was brought to Cold Spring to collect a $3 bounty offered by Putnam County. A resident named Butterfass stuffed the skin and Supervisor McCabe cut off a piece of its right ear as a voucher.

125 Years Ago (October 1895)

A new state law closed the distance one was allowed to loiter outside the polls on Election Day from 150 to 100 feet. The law also required that all marks be made with a black lead pencil on the ballots, which measured 16 by 14 inches. The polls were to be open from sunrise (6:39 a.m.) to sundown (4:49 p.m.).

William Church Osborn of Garrison was nominated as the Democratic candidate for the state Senate seat that represented Putnam, Dutchess and Columbia counties.

Members of the committee tasked with building a waterworks for Cold Spring surveyed available sources. They rejected Foundry Brook (sometimes fouled with green scum), Warren Brook (too low during droughts), Cat Pond (limited supply and the water was brown) and Barrett’s Pond (which flowed into Fishkill Creek, so the rights of the mill owners could be infringed). The slope of Bull Hill was considered the most likely spot, with a good brook that flowed into a natural basin, with another brook to the west that could be diverted with a pipeline into the reservoir. The committee contracted for 5 1/2 miles of pipe and 48 hydrants.

Following the death of the wife of Judge Dykman, who had lived in Cold Spring for 45 years, an adult resident fondly recalled how he had been part of an “army” of children who each Christmas morning would “swoop down up on the Dykmans [home] and meet such as a reception and enjoy such refreshments as touched the childish fancy.”

The trustees of the Village of Nelsonville called a meeting for residents to consider paying for a fire protection system.

Sparks from a passing locomotive set fire to a woodshed belonging to Michael Devine on Market Street, and it burned to the ground.

Rappaile Mongone, who ran a shoe repair shop in the Diamond House, sailed for Italy for a two-month visit. He planned to return with his wife.

The Methodists hosted a series of meetings that featured “some of the latest and choicest selections of church music.”

The Rev. E. Floyd-Jones of St. Mary’s Episcopal Church baptized 16 children during a Sunday morning service.

A bicycle race was held on the Garrison road but only three of the seven contestants finished; the others broke their wheels.

Aunt Patty was profiled by The Sun

Martha Squire, known as “Aunt Patty,” celebrated her 101st birthday at the home of one of her daughters in Nelsonville, where she had lived for the previous 68 years. Aunt Patty drew a $30 monthly pension from the service of her husband in the War of 1812. She was profiled by a New York City newspaper, The Sun, which noted that at age 80 she had turned her birthday into an annual reunion for her family. (She had 10 children, 17 grandchildren, 21 great-grandchildren and four great-great-grandchildren.) During an interview, she expressed an interest in politics but said that she doubted President Grover Cleveland could win a third term. “When politics change, there will be better times,” she said. She also recalled, when she was 5 years old and George Washington died, men going about with emblems of mourning on their arms.

Garrison’s first football team was organized by members of the Garrison Athletic Club, who met at the Garrison Hotel. William Benjamin was named the coach.

Gen. and Mrs. Butterfield gave a party at their estate Cragside [now the site of the Haldane campus]. One guest later described his arrival: “The approach from Morris Avenue to the mansion is beautiful. Large maple trees on each side of the road, their branches interlacing, making an arch overhead, statuary, fountains, miniature lakes, hammocks, rustic seats at every turn of the ascent.”

The trustees of the St. Mary’s Athletic Association reported that its financial condition required “serious and immediate attention.” Capt. Henry Metcalfe, its vice president, suggested that it could open the gymnasium only during the winter months and admit anyone to membership without initiation if they agreed to pay 25 cents per month, but no one showed up to the meeting he called to discuss the plan.

Devil, the office cat at the Haldane School, was killed by a train. He was buried under the shade of a pear tree.

In Nelsonville, Paulding Lovelace captured two large snakes that he put on exhibit at his home; Malcolm Evans discovered a stalk of corn with eight ears; John Riggs displayed a banana plant in his store; and Robert Mekeel won a raffle for a 100-pound pumpkin.

100 Years Ago (October 1920)

After staking out the state road near Cold Spring for two months, state troopers arrested two men and two women who were alleged to be members of a gang that specialized in raiding whiskey trucks. The four were arrested at a hotel near Fishkill and charged with violating prohibition laws and keeping a disorderly house. In addition, one man was charged with white slavery because his wife of three months said he had kept her hostage at the hotel.

75 Years Ago (October 1945)

In 1942, Henry Rea found a collarless German police dog near his home in Cold Spring. He named him Rex, but Henry’s mother thought the dog was too large to keep. They took the stray to the Westchester branch of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals with the idea that it might be useful to the military. Renamed Laddy, the dog was assigned to the Coast Guard War Dog Training Base in Baltimore and, in 1944, shipped to the Naval Air Station at Jacksonville, Florida. With the war over, Laddy was returned to the Rea family as a Navy veteran and, because he had been well-trained, Mrs. Rea thought he would be OK to keep.

Anthony Dahlia lost two-thirds of three fingers on his left hand in an accident at his job at Green Fuel Economizer in Beacon.

David Gordon and his wife and children returned to Philipstown after spending 18 months in Madison, Wisconsin, where he was an instructor in the Army radio school at Truax Field.

The Rev. William Sharp preached his farewell sermon at St. Philip’s Episcopal Church in Garrison before leaving for his new parish in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, D.C. Because he had been the chaplain for the Malcolm Gordon School in Garrison, he dedicated the service to eight former students who lost their lives in combat. They were Robert Leveridge, Jarker Snell, David Lapsley, William Greble, James Fargo Jr., Gouverneur Carnochan, Sprague Septon and Nathaniel Landon Jr. — the mother of the latter was reluctant to participate because her son had been lost in flight in early 1944 and she held out hope that he was a prisoner of war.

Harriet Dunseith of Nelsonville died after flames from waste paper she was burning caught her dress on fire.

50 Years Ago (October 1970)

Tink Mekeel, a former mayor and trustee of Nelsonville, died at age 70. He had owned the Mekeel Bros. Garage since 1923.

The Butterfield Volunteer Service Committee announced it would start delivering the mail and newspapers to patients at the hospital.

A 19-year-old college student from Garrison was killed when his Corvair struck a utility pole on Route 9 at the curve south of Travis Corners Road.

Robert Patterson Jr., a resident of Cold Spring who was president of the Legal Aid Society in New York City, was named to a state panel on court reforms.

Mayor James Early of Cold Spring denied rumors that he planned to retire, calling them “false” and “ugly.”

The Thalle Construction Co. was the low bidder to serve as general contractor for the new village sewage plant. It was expected to cost $2.2 million [about $13 million today].

A man from Auburn, New York, died when a fire broke out in his room at the White Cottages on Route 9, a half mile south of Perk’s Plaza.

A paperback version

A paperback version of the biography of Father Daniel Egan of Graymoor

Father Daniel Egan, a Franciscan Friar of the Atonement and the founder at Graymoor of the New Hope Manor for teenage girls addicted to drugs, agreed to kick off a monthly lecture series. Egan was known as “the junkie priest” because of his work since the 1950s with addicts in New York City and a bestselling biography of the same name.

The winners of the Philipstown Punt, Pass and Kick contest sponsored by Ray Impellittiere Motors were Mark Miller (age 8), Ed Gallio Jr. (9), Russell Miller (10), Richard Mancari (11), Carl Villegas (12) and Brian Valentine (13).

The Philipstown Packers won the Beacon Pop Warner Football League title with a 12-6 victory over the Beacon 49ers before a crowd said to approach 1,000 people.

25 Years Ago (October 1995)

The U.S. Postal Service announced it would begin sorting the mail of Continental Village residents in Garrison rather than Westchester County.

Metro-North said it would add two early-morning trains on the Hudson Line to accommodate passengers attending the Pope’s Mass in Central Park.

Five Haldane High School students were charged with distributing cocaine. Police said the students, who were all minors, purchased the drugs in New York City to sell at the homecoming football game rally.

A collection of 50 “zeppelin boxes” personalized by folk artist Steven Lindstedt were exhibited in the second-floor gallery at the Skybaby building. He cast the zeppelins inside in plaster using chocolate molds popular in the 1930s.

Robert’s Total Care Salon presented “What’s New for Fall in Hairstyles” as a benefit for the Butterfield Library.

The suspect, in a police sketch

The Putnam County Sheriff’s Department said it was investigating a report of an attempted abduction outside the Grand Union grocery store. A woman told police she had been approached by a man holding a knife who attempted to force her into a vehicle. She described him as Middle Eastern or Hispanic with raccoon-type patches under his eyes.

Karen Jackson was elected as the second assistant chief by members of the Garrison Fire Co., making her the first female chief fire officer in Putnam County.

Several residents attended a Haldane school board meeting to say they felt threatened by groups of high school students who hung out in the village during school hours. In response, about 40 students raked leaves on lawns near the school to show they were good neighbors.


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