Looking Back in Philipstown

Clara Louise Kellogg

The soprano Clara Louise Kellogg bought a Philipstown estate in 1871.

150 Years Ago (March 1871)

At a special meeting of School District No. 16, which served residents of Breakneck, no agreement could be reached to fund the construction of a schoolhouse and residents had to continue to send their children to Rock Street.

Some flakes in a sudden snowstorm appeared to be an inch in diameter.

The wheel of a heavily loaded carriage ran over the chest of John Jaycox, 7, but he was expected to recover.

Cold Spring residents voted against incorporating the village, 243-44. Those in opposition cited a reluctance to give too much fiduciary power to the trustees.

The soprano Clara Louise Kellogg, “America’s most talented singer,” purchased a 25-acre estate on the Hudson opposite West Point and named it Clarehurst.

A Place to Unwind

In her 1913 autobiography, Memoirs of an American Prima Donna, Clara Louise Kellogg recalled her summer home in Philipstown:

“My mother and I spent many summers at Clarehurst… The Vanderbilts’ railroad, the New York Central, ran through Cold Spring, so that my Christmas present from William H. Vanderbilt each year was an annual pass… My place at Cold Spring was where I went to rest between seasons, a lovely place with the wind off the Hudson River, and gorgeous oak trees all about. When the acorns dropped on the tin roof of the veranda in the dead of night, they made an alarming noise like tiny ghostly footsteps.

“One day when I was off on an herb-hunting expedition, some highwaymen tried to stop my carriage, and that was the beginning of troublous times at Cold Spring. It developed that a band of robbers was operating in our neighborhood, with headquarters in a cave on Storm King Mountain, just opposite us. They made a specialty of robbing trains, and were led by a small man with such little feet that his footprints were easily enough traced — traced, but not easily caught up with!

“He never was caught, I believe. But he, or his followers, skulked about our place; and we were alarmed enough to provide ourselves with pistols. That was when I learned to shoot, and I used to have shooting parties for target practice. My father would prowl about after dark, firing off his pistol whenever he heard a suspicious sound, so that, for a time, what with acorns and pistols, the nights were somewhat disturbed.”

John Dillon escaped serious injury when he was thrown from a handcar loaded with men and tools onto the tracks in front of the car. The car hit him and derailed.

Jacob Southard opened a clothing store at the corner of Main and Garden streets.

The Rev. S.I. Ferguson, the pastor of the Methodist Episcopal church, addressed members of the local chapter of the Good Templars, exhorting them to “look not upon the wine when it is red, for it biteth like a serpent and stingeth like an adder.”

Haight sued Knapp for $49 in damages he claimed had been done by Knapp’s trespassing fowls and cattle, and for wood he said Knapp had cut.

The Rooster, an improvised instrument that made its way to Cold Spring from New York City, consisted of an old tin box or fruit can expertly played by urchins to produce a din the Cold Spring Recorder compared to “the squawk of a kidnapped centenarian hen” or “the bray of a superannuated jackass.”

The Nelsonville store of Isaac Biggs narrowly escaped burning to the ground when a wooden spittoon filled with sawdust caught fire because of a lit cigar or match. Fortunately, the tenants living above the store discovered it in time.

The horse pulling Thomas Hustis’ milk wagon took off when the driver went into a store on West Street. The animal broke and ran toward Breakneck, leaving pieces of shaft and harness along the way and nearly reaching Fishkill Landing [Beacon].

125 Years Ago (March 1896)

The Rev. J.W.A. Dodge of Cold Spring accepted a call to St. Paul’s Methodist Episcopal Church of Peekskill. He succeeded the Rev. Angelo Ostrander, who left for Trinity Church in Poughkeepsie.

The propeller steamer Daniel S. Miller left New York City at 2 a.m. and by 5 a.m. was stuck fast in the heavy ice off Cold Spring.

The 50 delegates of Group 7 of the New York State Bankers’ Association, which included Gen. Daniel Butterfield of Cold Spring, passed a resolution calling on the national organization to “secure a plain and unequivocal declaration on the maintenance of the present gold standard.”

100 Years Ago (March 1921)

The trustees of the Butterfield Memorial Hospital met in New York City to plan its construction using a $100,000 bequest from Julia Butterfield.

The whistle of the Cold Spring Textile Works blew for the first time to summon its workers.

Mr. and Mrs. William Church Osborn sailed for a three-month trip to England, France and Italy.

The Recorder editorialized: “We notice in the Putnam County Republican an article printed from the Brewster Standard stating that there are four pieces of state road to be built in the Town of Southeast during the coming year. What is the matter with our supervisor and the town officials of Philipstown? Philipstown has never had a mile of state road… but our town has had the privilege of paying its part of the county taxes to build state roads in Putnam Valley, Patterson, Carmel and Southeast.”

J.W. Dubois related that, while he had his hands full standing outside his shop, the wind took his hat. He instructed his dog to retrieve it, but he had a bone in his mouth. Dubois claimed the dog turned the hat over with both paws, dropped the bone inside and carried the hat to the shop.

The Village of Cold Spring was forced to borrow voting booths and boxes from Patterson for its March 15 election because Philipstown inexplicably refused. The Village Board passed a resolution to “deplore the strange action” by the town.

The Village Board voted to extend voting hours from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. for workers who arrived home on the 7 p.m. train.

Fourteen members of the Cold Spring troop of the Boy Scouts of America hiked 12 miles to Peekskill and watched Huckleberry Finn at the Hudson Theatre before taking the 5:50 train home.


Fourteen Cold Spring Boy Scouts watched this silent film in Peekskill in 1921.

The officers, teachers and students of the Sunday school at the Methodist Episcopal church wrote to the Village Board and state officials to report that “intoxicating drink is being sold in our villages in open violation” of federal temperance laws, and consumed by “those of foreign birth in our village.” An official with the state Department of Excise noted that Cold Spring had not had a temperance agent in nearly two years because of budget cuts but that it would forward the complaint to the Putnam County sheriff.

A state Supreme Court judge ruled in favor of William Church Osborn and Frederick H. Osborn, who had been sued by Charlotte McCoy over land she sold them in 1914. She claimed her signature had been forged, but her husband, who co-signed the deed a week after their marriage, testified for the defense.

The cast of the Knights of Columbus’ first annual minstrel at Loretto Hall was declared by the Recorder to be the “blackest, funniest, most gorgeous of the brotherhood of burnt cork.” Along with solos such as “Mammy,” the show included baton and fire-stick swinging by Haldane student Walter Callahan.

Thirteen men were granted citizenship by the Supreme Court at Carmel, including Frederick Hocking, John Phelan, Agostino Lemo, Alfonso Cretazzo, George Toukatos and Harry Cox of Cold Spring, and George Rattle of Garrison.

John Tilden, the president of an underwear manufacturing company and owner of a grand home at Manitou, was ordered to pay $15,000 to a former employee who claimed Tilden had assaulted him two years earlier.

Reflections of a Cold Spring Native

75 Years Ago (March 1946)

M.D.V., a native of Cold Spring, wrote to the newspaper advice columnist Helen Worth to say that the author of the book Wide, Wide World, mentioned in an earlier column, was Anna Warner. “She and her sister, Susan Warner, lived in a wooded section known as Warner’s Island [now Constitution Island],” M.D.V. wrote. “I was born in the town of Cold Spring and when the colorful Warner sisters rode forth in their surrey, they created more than a mild sensation for the residents.”

A Cold Spring attorney, Francis Dale, defended a cabinetmaker from Danbury, Connecticut, who was arrested in Poughkeepsie for possessing a firearm. Dale said an “alert policeman” had searched his client’s parked car with a “fine-toothed comb” and discovered two unloaded revolvers. The man pleaded guilty and paid a $50 fine.

50 Years Ago (March 1971)

The Haldane boys’ basketball team, under Coach John Rath, upset Millbrook in overtime, 52-51, in a Bi-Valley Dutchess League game. With the game tied in the fourth quarter, the Blue Devils held the ball for the final 1:43 but missed a last-second shot.

Joseph Percacciolo Jr. and Frank Eaton met with members of Environmental Concern to discuss recycling projects in Philipstown. They noted that while newspapers, rags and magazines could be dropped at the Methodist Church, the Grand Union or Guinan’s, there was no place to recycle glass.

Jacob Glick

Jacob Glick at age 100 (Putnam History Museum)

Jacob Glick died at age 100 at his home at 15 Orchard St. The dry goods and clothing store he operated on Main Street was still open, operated by his children. Born in Hungary, he came to the U.S. at age 17 and lived in Yonkers before moving to Newburgh in 1892 to work in a tavern. In 1906, he learned of a small store for sale in Cold Spring. An Orthodox Jew, Glick credited his long life to working hard six days a week and keeping the Sabbath and a kosher home.

Al Ireland of Nelsonville was presented by Notre Dame University with the middleweight boxing trophy he won in 1954 during its annual Bengal Bouts. At age 36, Ireland had been the oldest champion in the tournament’s history. Soon after his victory, he had been sent to Indianapolis for a military checkup and missed the awards ceremony.

The Independent Party candidate, Raymond LeFever, was elected mayor of Cold Spring, succeeding James Early, who did not run for re-election. He received 351 votes against 287 for Edward Mancari of the People’s Party in the first contested mayoral election in 10 years. In Nelsonville, Franklin Dorsett was elected village justice after drawing straws with his opponent because both received 96 votes.

Tom Impellittiere, an Italian immigrant who had lived in Cold Spring since 1915 and was a barber at the Officers Club at West Point for 43 years, died at age 87. He had cut the hair of Gens. Eisenhower, MacArthur, Taylor, Marshall and Westmoreland.

Tom Impellittiere

Tom Impellittiere (who went by Tom Impell), center, with his sons, Ray and Gerard, in 1957. Ray owned an auto dealership in Cold Spring and Gerard was a barber, like his father. (Putnam History Museum)

William Stolecki, president of the parish council at Our Lady of Loretto, called for support of a bill proposed in Albany that would give $150 annually to parents who sent their children to private schools, such as that run by the Cold Spring church. He said the money would not be a “handout” but a refund of a portion of “what the nonpublic school parent has already given in the first place for the education of children in our own community.”

Navy Airman Apprentice Bruce Metzger of Philipstown was serving at McMurdo Station in the Antarctic.

A dance organized at Our Lady of Loretto for juniors at Haldane High School turned out to be “an outright disgrace,” according to Mayor LeFever, who was one of its five chaperones. About 10 of the teens procured alcohol before the dance; three got drunk and threw up on the dance floor, and a 15-year-old ended up at Butterfield Hospital.

25 Years Ago (March 1996)

A 23-year-old Beacon woman gave birth to a baby girl at Papa John’s Restaurant on Route 9 in Philipstown at 7:15 p.m. on a Wednesday night. Owner Frank Broccoli, staff members Octavio Buitrago, Luis Criollo and Maria Figueroa, and Putnam County Sheriff’s Deputy Robert Ferris assisted. Broccoli was photographed standing next to a sign that read, “We Deliver!”

Deputy Ferris tracked down a 42-year-old woman who had knocked on the door of a Philipstown residence at 9:15 p.m. during a snowstorm, asking for something hot to drink but refusing to come inside. The officer followed footprints in the snow and found the woman hiding in a vacant barn. She told him she had been staying in the barn for 10 days. He arranged for her to be placed in a shelter.

Janet Ribertone, the former owner of Janet’s Country Kitchen in Highland Falls, opened a restaurant in Cold Spring called 76 Main Street.

Margaret Guinan of Garrison’s Landing was named Police Woman of the Year by the Westchester County Committee of the American Legion Auxiliary. She was the only woman on Yorktown’s 51-member force. She had joined the department in 1983 as an office assistant.

The Haldane High School girls’ basketball team won the state Class D public school championship by defeating Westport, 67-29, at Hudson Valley Community College in Troy. Kristen Faust was named the MVP. It was the second title for Coach Ken Thomas. The Blue Devils reached the finals by upsetting No. 1 West Canada, 59-56, in overtime. The team also defeated the state private school champion, Sacred Heart of Long Island, 49-39, for a second title.

The Cold Spring Village Board and Putnam County Executive Robert Bondi discussed establishing a 24/7 emergency room at the Craig House in Beacon. The building had been purchased by Putnam Hospital Center as a 54-bed psychiatric center and already had a doctor on duty.

Six Cold Spring and Nelsonville students, ages 12 to 14, were charged with throwing rocks at the tile roof of the bandstand, causing $3,000 in damage.

Cold Spring Mayor Anthony Phillips said residents should not be alarmed by the removal of five trees at the waterfront. “New trees will be planted,” he said.

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