Looking Back in Philipstown

150 Years Ago (December 1870)

Residents living near the railroad station were awakened at 3 a.m. on a Monday by a cry of “Murder!” Instead, it was Michael O’Brien, known as “Micky Free,” calling out as he was accosted by Lewis Harting, owner of the Cold Spring House, over his unpaid tavern bill. The next day, Justice Davenport issued a warrant against Harting et al for assault, while Harting countersued for the damage he said O’Brien caused to his stock and fixtures.

The Main Street pumps supplied from Fountain Head were dry for a few days as there was only 10 inches of water in the cistern.

S.B. Truesdell (the Philipstown clerk), Charles Ferris (the school commissioner and town justice), W.K. Lawson and Robert Carmichael traveled to Washington, D.C., to hunt along the Potomac. Upon their return, “one of the number gave a most distressing report of the poverty of both the land and the people in the districts which they visited,” according to the Cold Spring Recorder.

After eight years, the Reading Room Association voted to disband its library for lack of use and return its property to founders R.P. Parrott and D. Moffatt.

During a fight at the West Point Foundry, Thomas Nolan stabbed William Hamilton in the forearm with a steel nut-picker.

One of two boys found guilty of stealing candy from the freight house on the dock received a suspended sentence and the other was fined $2 and jailed for four days.

A dispute broke out in School District 6 when it was alleged that Trustee Cornelius Haight issued a tax list to pay for the new schoolhouse that did not include his own property. The superintendent ordered Haight to personally refund every other taxpayer what they had overpaid.

Capt. Wise of the John P. Wild privately negotiated a settlement after his crew was accused of loading a barrel of beer on the vessel without payment.

A scammer who came to town telling a tale of financial distress sold a worthless watch to David Robinson for $15 and another to Charles Bullock for $12.

Wilmont Strong, who kept a shoe store in the basement of the Spellman building opposite the Cold Spring House, turned down the wicking of his lamp on a Sunday night and went to church. Soon after, the people upstairs smelled smoke and discovered the lamp had set fire to a settee.

Capt. Joshua Cronk, while making a trip to Yonkers with a load of bricks, had to anchor near the Palisades because of high winds. When he pulled up anchor, another anchor of the same size and value of his own came up with it.

125 Years Ago (December 1895)

St. Mary’s Episcopal Church hosted a Christmas Revele with Cinderella and her fairy godmother in a Yellow Pumpkin Coach, Red Riding Hood, Rob Roy, a Puritan maiden, a hospital nurse, a wedding party and the Duchess of Marlborough [formerly Consuelo Vanderbilt].

Gen. Daniel Butterfield presented the Cold Spring Village Improvement Association with a tablet inscribed: “General George Washington, in frequent visits to the American troops encamped nearby during the War of the Revolution, drank at this spring and gave it its name, Cold Spring” and with the seal of the Sons of the Revolution. The association said it would place the tablet on a boulder monument near the spring at the railroad station.

1895 The Spring - Washington - Cold Spring

The tablet donated by Butterfield was attached to a boulder and later moved to another location closer to the Cold Spring Depot Restaurant. (Putnam History Museum)

Hay was running $15 to $17 per ton, making riding horses an expensive luxury for the winter.

There was a dispute over the will of Jack Mandigo, of Highland Falls, because of a report he had secretly wed his housekeeper, Miss Finney. She said that although he called her “Mrs. Mandigo” in person and on travel documents, they were not married. He died while the couple was on a trip to her native England; his body was returned to the U.S. and interred at Cold Spring Cemetery.

In a football game played on the Osborn estate, a team from West Point defeated Garrison, 6-0, on a touchdown (four points) and extra-point kick (two points).

The last of the bodies of 13 men killed in a Nov. 29 collapse at the 400-foot-deep Tilly Foster Iron Mine near Brewster following a heavy rain was recovered. The dead included seven Italian workers whose names were not reported.

1895 tilly-foster

The Tilly Foster Iron Mine in 1889 (Scientific American)

Cold Spring’s only dentist, Dr. C.R. Gilson, moved to New York City.

The Village Board, after hearing a report that a large number of Haldane students were smoking cigarettes, vowed to more strictly enforce a law that banned anyone who was or appeared to be under age 16 from smoking in public.

E.H. Timm, president of the Board of Education, donated 20 copies of The Army Sketch Book: An Artist’s Story of the War, by Edwin Forbes, to the Haldane Union School library. LeGrande Wilson, president of the Cold Spring branch of the Sunday League of America, also donated a copy of Sabbath for Man: A Study of the Origin, Obligation, History, Advantages and Present State of the Sabbath Observance, by the Rev. and Mrs. Wilbur Crafts.

After a day of testimony, a jury took 20 minutes to acquit Constable James Mosher of cruelty to animals for shooting Isaac, a dog owned by Warren Merritt. The Village Board a month earlier had issued a muzzle order and authorized Mosher to kill any dogs roaming the street. Although Isaac was playing in his own yard, Mosher said he had seen the dog on the loose earlier and in the company of a dog found to be rabid.

The Hudson River Railroad added a stop at Garrison for its “owl train,” allowing residents to attend theater parties in New York City.

The Putnam County Board of Supervisors discussed asking a clergyman to open each of its sessions with a prayer. (The Recorder headlined the brief notice: “Do Their Consciences Trouble Them?”)

The school in Philipstown District No. 5 closed for six weeks due to lack of funds.

Village residents gathered at the foot of Chestnut Street to watch the sky illuminated with the burning of the cattails on the marsh. [Because cattails spread quickly in wetlands, they were destroyed during the winter when it was easier to maintain a controlled burn.]

James McCaffrey appeared before the Village Board to complain that the fence constructed on Kemble Avenue by his neighbor, Mary O’Donnell, blocked his view of Main Street. He asked that the board order her to lower it by at least a foot.

The Nelsonville board complained to the Cold Spring board about the condition of the streets after the installation of new water mains.

The Rev. J.W.A. Dodge, pastor of the Methodist Episcopal Church, gave a sermon entitled “If I Become a Christian, Will My Pleasures Be Curtailed?”

Three pneumatic dynamite guns built at the West Point Foundry were tested and accepted by the U.S. Army to defend the San Francisco harbor.

1895 battery dynamite

A drawing of one of the pneumatic dynamite guns made in Cold Spring and installed in 1895 to protect the San Francisco harbor

H. Vito, an Italian employed at the water works, was arrested after being accused by Henry Copelan, a peddler in Newburgh, of stealing a silver watch. When Copelan did not appear in court, Vito was released. He promptly swore out a complaint accusing Copelan of selling goods on Sunday. Officer McCaffrey went to Newburgh to retrieve Copelan, who paid a $5 fine.

Dr. J.M. Griffin, a former resident of Cold Spring, gave a lecture on hypnotism to physicians at a Practitioner’s Club meeting held at Grace Hospital in Detroit in which he had a female volunteer taste bitter quinine but smack her lips and inhale ammonia after he told her it was perfume.

Electa Wright, an inmate of the county poorhouse for 59 years, died at age 84.

The members of the Garrison Athletic Club were “now engaged in playing the highly fashionable game of ‘hockey,’ which is a near relation to the exhilarating game of golf,” The Recorder noted. [This is likely a reference to ice polo, which was played with a ball rather than a puck.]

The Recorder offered a list of items for women to give men for Christmas: A cane, a scarf pin, sleeve links, an umbrella, an easy chair, a good picture, some new books, a handsome muffler, a dozen pure linen handkerchiefs or a box of very good cigars (“get some judge to select them”).

The Hudson River Railroad depot, fences and engine house were painted salmon.

The editor of The Recorder noted that he received The Congressional Record each day and that anyone was invited to stop by and get “a full account of what was done and said in Congress.”

While slipping out of the Christmas service at the North Highlands church because her son was fretting, Mrs. Fred Cargill opened the coal-vault door by mistake and they both fell about 15 feet down a flight of stairs. Neither mother nor son were seriously injured, although her head dented a piece of stove pipe nearly in half.

While walking along the platform at the railroad station, John Cummings, 50, the longtime Main Street watchman, suddenly fell on the tracks, apparently the victim of a stroke. He was pulled to safety before the train arrived but died the next morning.

100 Years Ago (December 1920)

A court approved the final accounting, after eight years, by executor Albert Hanger of the estate of Julia Butterfield, allowing a $500,000 bequest to be released to the International Y.M.C.A. At her death, Mrs. Butterfield was estimated to be worth $4.7 million [about $61 million today].

The oldest resident of Amityville was celebrated: Isaac Valentine, 92. He grew up in Brooklyn but at age 14 was sent to Cold Spring to apprentice for six years in the carpenter’s trade with his uncle, Israel Valentine.

75 Years Ago (December 1945)

A state Supreme Court justice in White Plains granted Kenneth Doxey, a farmhand who lived on High Street in Cold Spring, an annulment of his marriage after Doxey claimed he hadn’t realized his wife was “colored.” Doxey and his wife wed on Nov. 15, 1937, a week after they met on the street in the village. He said friends told him she was not white but she said she was Portuguese. Doxey told the judge he left her in 1938 after he being introduced to his African American father-in-law.

Helen Swinburne of Manitou gave a presentation to the Garrison 4-H Club on how to raise Angora rabbits, which each produce about 16 ounces of fur annually.

The Haldane varsity basketball team defeated a team of alumni (including Mike Scoba, Joe Etta, Billy Whitehill, Bill Markovich, Elmer Price, Tony Merando and Sal Nastasi), 32-25. Earlier, the junior varsity defeated the Beacon Wolves.

The newly formed Philipstown Choral Society presented Handel’s Messiah at the Haldane school.

50 Years Ago (December 1970)

The Philipstown Council offered its endorsement of a plan by the Haldane Central School to “stem the menace of drug addiction” among students by working with churches and groups such as the PTA and Jaycees.

Marilyn Silverman began work as the Philipstown supervisor of recreation. “If skiing, skating, painting, dancing, a teen center, sleighing, volleyball and archery ‘turn you on,’ look forward to these activities in the near future,” she said.

1970 collard grave marker

The grave marker of Alexander Collard, former superintendent of the Cold Spring Cemetery

Alexander Collard, who had worked at the Cold Spring Cemetery for 37 years, most recently as its superintendent, died at age 58 and was buried at the cemetery.

Jimmy “Duffy” Ricevuto of Parsonage Street defeated Bill Villetto of North Highlands, 7 games to 4, to win the Cold Spring and North Highlands 8 Ball Championship.

The Center Mobil Service Station in Cold Spring, owned by Skinny Manglass, received $20,000 in upgrades that included new pumps, blacktopping and paint.

Jack LaDue, owner and editor of The Putnam County News & Recorder, pulled the winning ticket in a raffle held by the Help-a-Cat League of Philipstown.

Larry Mulvehill of Cold Spring won third prize among professionals and $1,000 in LIFE Magazine’s annual photography contest. Mulvehill had waded into the Hudson to photograph his daughter and niece and spotted a fish killed by pollution. LIFE called it a “picture that makes you think twice.”

1970 Life photo

A photo taken in 1970 by Larry Mulvehill of Cold Spring that appeared in LIFE Magazine

Services were held at the Eaton Funeral Home, 9 Morris Ave., in Cold Spring for Theodore Lund, 80, who was struck and killed by a car on Christmas Eve on Albany Post Road in North Highlands. Lund, a native of Sweden, was a retired employee of the Matteawan State Hospital in Beacon.

25 Years Ago (December 1995)

Workers completed the renovation of the Haldane Elementary School library, which was paid for by two years of fundraising in the community and donations from businesses such as C&E Paint, Pidala Electric, Pidala Oil and Hudson Design. Parent volunteers removed the thousands of books before the work began.


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