Looking Back in Philipstown

bella vista hotel

The Bella Vista on West Street in Cold Spring was named in 1921.

150 Years Ago (June 1871)

Asa Truesdell lost his left arm at the shoulder after he was hit by a train near the Cold Spring station. Truesdell had been walking home from Fishkill Landing [Beacon] when a freight train stopped at the Breakneck tunnel. Assuming it would stop for water at Cold Spring, he jumped aboard. When he realized the train did not plan to stop at the water tank, he leaped to the wooden tank platform, which gave way. He was spun around by the train as he fell and his arm went over the rail.

circus poster

This poster for the Commonwealth Circus promised an “equestrian goat.”

The Great Commonwealth Circus pitched its tent at the corner of Parrott and Pine streets for a Friday night show. The company noted that, unlike other troupes, it was a cooperative owned by the artists. The performers included somersault rider Charles Read, cannonball performer John Conklin, infant bareback rider Leon La Rue, the Great Conklin Brothers comedy team, acrobats Brown and Sandford, talking clown Pete Conklin and Count von Bismarck’s Celebrated Prussian Band.

A new platform was constructed at the Fountain Head pump with the slabs laid a half inch apart so wastewater would not pool. The Village Board also authorized the purchase of a new pump for Paulding Avenue if repairs were too expensive.

Mrs. Henry Purdy was saved from serious injury or death by William Lickley after she fell from the steps while boarding a slowly moving train at the depot. Lickley pulled her off the track.

W.H. Beskeen, a miner employed at the Breakneck tunnel, died of smallpox. He apparently caught it from a son of Mrs. Quirk, who lives nearby, who came home from New York City with the disease. The workers were given notice but “the warning went unheeded,” The Cold Spring Recorder noted.

Barney Hand lost a finger when cutting feed for his horse.

The Ladies Aid Society of the Presbyterian Church held its annual Cream and Strawberry Festival at Town Hall.

Mr. Wilson grew an Egyptian blood beet that was 6 inches around.

By a 4-1 vote, the Village Board agreed to raise the daily stipend for highway laborers by 25 cents.

At Garrison, a boarder named John Floyd insulted Henry Scofield, who responded by beating him. Floyd hired a Peekskill lawyer who obtained a warrant in Putnam Valley for Scofield, who was arrested for assault and held on $250 bail. But Floyd also allegedly threatened vengeance against Scofield, who filed for an arrest warrant in Cold Spring for Floyd, who was sent to the Carmel jail.

Two miles east of Cold Spring, a burglar ransacked the home of Sylvanus McKeel, “from cellar to garret,” taking cash and a satchel.

An earthquake struck at 10 p.m. on a Sunday night, rattling windows and doors.

The Recorder editor complained that police officers had ignored “a wretched female” who, over two nights, “was allowed to corrupt the village with her drunken presence and depraved behavior.”

A 5-year-old cow owned by Levi Bailey in the North Highlands produced 4.5 gallons during her first milking.

A reward was offered for two golden pheasants stolen from F. P. James.

Gilmore, the root beer manufacturer, offered bottles of his beverage from the store formerly occupied by the post office.

About 100 people attended a meeting at Town Hall to discuss opening a cooperative store in Cold Spring.

100 Years Ago (June 1921)

Thomas Impell promised $5 in gold to the person who supplied the best name for his new business on the riverfront, which he said would include a dance hall, ice cream parlor, restaurant and hotel. Nearly 100 people entered, and Mrs. Coryell Clark and Osmond Baxter Jr. split the prize when both suggested Bella Vista.

Impell ad

An advertisement placed in June 1921 soliciting names for a new restaurant and hotel on the Cold Spring waterfront.

The Putnam County Historical Society held its annual picnic at the carriage house of the Continental Village farm of Stuyvesant Fish. Automobiles ferried participants from Main and Chestnut streets for $2 roundtrip.

The Rev. Joseph Bergan of Our Lady of Loretto, who had been transferred to a parish in New York City, was presented with $425 and 26 pink roses, a symbol of his 26 years in the priesthood. He was succeeded by the Rev. William Dooley, formerly at the Church of St. Columba in Hopewell Junction.

Elizabeth Crosby of Garrison won the Philipstown spelling bee.

The Ladies’ Guild of the Methodist Church presented the comedy Jerusha Dow’s Family Album, in which various characters in old photos came to life.

A baseball team from Croton forfeited to Cold Spring in the eighth inning following a dispute over the rules. The locals argued that a base runner was out if hit by a batted ball or if he interfered with the fielder; Croton said it had never heard of such a rule. “Baseball has advanced very rapidly in the past few years, which probably accounts for the visitors’ ignorance,” The Recorder noted.

In an advertisement, W.T. Watson, “the leading photographer of the Eastern Shore of Maryland,” announced he had rented “the little blue-front store opposite the Old Homestead Club” on Main Street to sell his portraits and landscapes.

Palen’s Drug Store offered a free bar of Klenzo Toilet Soap with the purchase of a family-size tube of Klenzo Dental Creme.


In 1921, Palen’s offered a free bar of soap with a purchase of Klenzo.

The organ at the Presbyterian Church, which had been out of commission for months, was repaired and upgraded from motor power with water to electricity.

Victory Ventry began an ice route around Garrison.

A group of New York City boys hiking through Garrison were caught stealing cookies and other food from Samuel Baxter’s house. Justice Ladue sentenced them to five days in the jail at Town Hall.

Joseph McCormack of Manitou received a permit to run a bus line from the Garrison depot and ferry to Peekskill.

Harry Williams and H. Moss of the Frivol Film Co. of New York City stayed at the River View Inn while scouting locations and shooting scenic footage for its two-reel comedies starring Williams.

A young combat veteran visiting Cold Spring from New Jersey attempted suicide in Depot Square by drinking a vial of iodine. After he collapsed, a crowd gathered and Joseph Daley administered hot milk and mustard. The man’s throat was badly burned but he was able to share his story of wartime trauma with The Recorder before his father came to take him home.

Hillcrest Presentations advertised its latest films to be shown at Town Hall, including Desperate Youth, starring “the girl [Gladys Walton] who played the heroine in those two famous pictures, Pink Tights and All Dolled Up.” Hillcrest said Town Hall would be “well-supplied with electric fans.”

Philipstown reminded residents that a law going into effect on July 1 would require all dogs to be licensed and wear a collar and tag or they would be seized and killed.

Paul July, who worked in New York City and lived in Yonkers, stopped with his wife and two children in Cold Spring for his first visit to his hometown in 20 years.

grocery ad

An advertisement from June 1921 for a grocer in Cold Spring

James Pillow returned to the North Highlands from the American Peony Society exhibition held over two days at Historical Hall in Boston.

After a dry spell, the village got 2.5 inches of rain in 30 minutes, which overwhelmed the gutters and flooded Main Street, washing out portions of the sidewalk between the Old Homestead Club and the railroad.

A 20-year-old electrician from Brooklyn drowned on a Sunday afternoon while swimming near Constitution Island. He and his new wife had rented furnished rooms over J.Y. Mekeel’s store for the weekend. Despite a search with grappling hooks and dynamite, the body was not found until Wednesday morning.

75 Years Ago (June 1946)

Samuel Gallu, formerly the featured tenor with Fred Waring’s Pennsylvanians, performed with the Philipstown Choral Society at a concert to benefit the Butterfield Library. The society had been organized the year before and had its debut concert, a performance of Handel’s Messiah, during the holidays.

Joseph Hoey was sentenced to one to five years at Sing Sing for stealing an automobile owned by Darrell Huff of Garrison.

50 Years Ago (June 1971)

The Putnam County News & Recorder printed a ballot at the request of Cold Spring Mayor Raymond LeFever for villagers to indicate whether to reinstall the traffic light at Main and Fair streets.

A resident wrote to the PCNR to complain that U.S. Rep. John Dow, whose district included Philipstown, was associated with the National Peace Action Coalition, which was “firmly in the hands of known Communists.”

Volunteers from the Allen Coal Co., Edgar Polhemus Co. and Joseph Percacciolo and Sons hauled 850 yards of stone to the site of the proposed Philipstown Memorial Park and Pool for its roads and parking lot.

Pearl Chertok, a harpist who had played on the Ed Sullivan and Captain Kangeroo shows, performed for Haldane students in a PTA program.

The undefeated High School of Art and Design wrestling team won the New York City championship under the direction of Coach Al Ireland of Nelsonville, a former Marine sergeant who had been awarded nine Purple Hearts. The next month, Ireland was named the city’s wrestling coach of the year.


HELLO, DOLLY! — Christopher Radko shared this photo on Facebook of Gene Kelly directing Barbra Streisand in a “cover set” filmed 53 years ago at what is now the Garrison Recreation Center and was formerly a gymnasium for the Capuchin friars.

Nelsonville announced the reorganization of its five-man police department.

The Haldane school district divided its $1.69 million budget — an increase of 15 percent over the previous year — into five sections on the ballot, but voters defeated all five. The central budget of $1.56 million was defeated, 713-196; the closest vote among the other four proposals was to fund athletics and extracurriculars, which lost 499-423. Two propositions — to buy two school buses and a station wagon, and to increase the board from five to nine members — also were soundly defeated. Asked the next day how he was feeling, District Principal Robert Roda replied, “Glum.”

The North Highlands Engine Co. No. 1 won best overall company (from among 103 entries) at the 82nd Annual Hudson Valley Volunteer Firemen’s Association parade in Beacon. Its ladies auxiliary was named the best in Class A.

After a resident complained to the Cold Spring board about Grand Union shopping carts being abandoned all over the village, officials notified the grocery store it would start issuing fines unless they were picked up.

Commodore Lewis Novoting, president and chairman of the Globe Slicing Co. of Stamford, Connecticut, celebrated his 80th birthday. He co-founded the firm in 1919 and still commuted daily from his home in Cold Spring. [In the 1930s, Novoting and his partner in Globe had built a development with about 60 homes around Lake Valhalla in the Highlands.]

Forty students from Haldane High School traveled to Stratford, Connecticut, to see a performance of The Tempest by the American Shakespeare Festival Theatre.

The Philipstown chapter of the Order of Eastern Star celebrated its 50th anniversary at the Masonic Temple in Nelsonville.

25 Years Ago (June 1996)

After Dan Crimmins defeated incumbent Pat Sexton for a spot on the five-member Haldane school board, Sexton asked her three colleagues to appoint her to a seat newly vacated by a member who resigned.

The Open Space Institute, which had purchased 2,068 acres of the former Hubbard Estate in Philipstown for $6 million in 1991, sold the parcel to New York State for half that price so it could be added to Fahnestock State Park. The Haldane school district was set to receive $171,000 annually in lieu of taxes on the property, which would be taken off the tax rolls, but estimated its loss would be closer to $400,000.

The Garrison Volunteer Fire Co. organized a flea market and auction to restore its 1929 Sanford pumper truck in time for the department’s 75th anniversary in 2004.

Lucio Petrocelli sued the Philipstown Town Board for its alleged negligence in maintaining Indian Brook Road, Avery Road, East Mountain Road North and East Mountain Road South, all dirt. He said he had a petition signed by 535 residents who favored paving them.

Police responded to a call from two female hikers who said they were tied to a tree at gunpoint by a masked man near Breakneck Ridge. The women, who were from White Plains, said the robber took only a container of mace and their car keys.

In a women’s league softball game, the T&L Terminators came from behind to defeat Guinans, 25-24, when Sandi Sinacori hit a bases-loaded single in the bottom of the final inning.

Jacob Weisberg, author of In Defense of Government, John Horgan, author of The End of Science, and Hillary Johnson, author of Osler’s Web, an investigation of chronic fatigue syndrome, held a joint book signing at Salmagundi’s.

The Philipstown Recreation Department’s newly created lacrosse program for students in grades 4 to 9 hosted a team from White Plains in what was thought to be the first lacrosse game played in Philipstown. The visitors prevailed, 4-0, before about 150 spectators.

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