Looking Back in Philipstown

150 Years Ago (September 1871)

Mrs. Alexander Trimble of Kemble Avenue was charged with assault after striking Mrs. Dore while the two were taking a walk together.

On a Saturday afternoon, a worker fell into molten iron at the West Point Foundry and severely burned his arm.

The spire of the old Methodist Episcopal Church in Cold Spring was taken down by William Ladue and the edifice was to be remodeled for stores and tenements.

A valuable dog that had gone missing at the close of the visit to Cold Spring by Dan Rice’s circus was discovered in the possession of two Kemble Avenue boys. John Van Vorhis took the dog to Yonkers, where the circus was performing.

A woman who was arrested for public intoxication was said by the Cold Spring Recorder to be a servant who had gained access to her employer’s wine cellar.

The New York Central & Hudson River Railroad Co. adopted a new style of car to transport petroleum: Fireproof iron tanks made of quarter-inch boiler iron were to be fastened to the platform cars. “They are filled from a dome at the top, the main hole of which is be securely fastened when the tank is filled,” the Recorder reported. “In case of an accident, should any of them be thrown from the car, none of the oil can escape.”

Four men fell from scaffolding that collapsed at the home of Thomas Hustis but somehow escaped serious injury.

A Garrison police officer with a search warrant turned out the possessions of a Peekskill ragman on suspicion he had stolen a harness the night before but found nothing.

The Alleganian Vocalists and Swiss Bell Ringers offered a concert at Town Hall, although the Recorder reported their performances “disappointed the public expectation.”

John Vanwinkle, believed to be the oldest man in western Putnam County, died at age 91. Born in New Jersey in 1780, he settled in Cold Spring when it had only three homes. He had long been a boatman for the Philipse family and was an almost daily visitor to the corner of Main and Fair streets.

After removing his coat and shoes, Dennis Mahan, a professor of military and civil engineering at West Point, jumped from the steamer Mary Powell into its paddlewheel. The deceased apparently was upset by a recommendation by the Board of Visitors that he be placed on the retired list.

P. Nichols, owner of the bookstore and news depot, announced he had received new stock that included Common Sense in the Household; a biography of Alfred the Great; a young adult book called Stories of Vinegar Hill, by Annie Warner (who lived on Constitution Island); a 25-cent, self-published pamphlet called The Frauds of New York City Government Exposed; and Josh Billings’ almanac for 1872.

125 Years Ago (September 1896)

The propeller ship Wm. C. Redfield, which ran between Poughkeepsie and New York, collided with the tug Edwin Terry near West Point. The Redfield was saved from sinking when the pilot managed to shout to the engineer through the speaking tube to “Hook her up, for your life!” and the ship ran aground before the water reached the boilers. The ships had collided at 1 a.m. during a heavy storm. The Terry, headed south with the barge Enterprise in tow, had rounded the narrow bend at Constitution Island when the Redfield appeared, going upriver.

Wm. C. Redfield

The Wm. C. Redfield around 1900 (Hudson River Maritime Museum)

The Recorder reminded hunters that there was a $25 fine for carrying a gun on Sunday.

The Garrison Athletic Club held its first picnic on Labor Day at the Osborn Oval. Tickets were 25 cents and dancing was an additional 25 cents, but ladies were admitted free.

The Recorder noted that the fish population in the Hudson seemed to be rebounding after falling off sharply due to the introduction of cesspools that drained into the river.

A man seen in the village showing a “terrible-looking arm” and asking for money was said to be a fakir who had applied acid to his limb.

William Church Osborn resigned as chair of the Putnam County Democratic Committee. He wrote: “I cannot retain a position in which the slightest aid for the folly and dishonesty of the Chicago platform is expected of me.” [The Democrats had adopted their national platform at Chicago in July; conservatives such as Osborn supported maintaining the gold standard and opposed the creation of a federal income tax.]

A bicycle relay race that started in San Francisco on Aug. 25 passed through Cold Spring on the way to New York City.

The West Point Foundry, for the first time in its nearly 80-year history, closed because of a lack of orders.

The Putnam Social Club of Cold Spring filed incorporation papers in Carmel. Its stated purpose was to offer members “social and literary intercourse.”

Bicycle racer William Ladue won a $35 rocking chair and a silver soup tureen at Catskill; two suitcases at Poughkeepsie; and a diamond scarf pin and a $35 diamond at the Dutchess County Fair.

Benjamin Turner was walking through the woods on the Philipse estate in Garrison when he felt a stinging sensation in his right ear. Upon closer inspection, he found a bullet had passed through it and wedged in a nearby tree.

While Janet, Julia, Rosalind and Hamilton Fish Jr. hosted a card party for their friends on the family estate along the Hudson, the passing steamer Adirondack threw its searchlight on the scene, illuminating the grounds.

Robert Mason, a brother of Aaron Mason of Garrison, who had not been heard from in 36 years, returned home to Peekskill. Robert said he owned ranches in Washington, Nevada and Mexico.

John Bracken, the night watchman at the West 23rd Street pier in New York City, was found dead at his post at age 43. He commuted daily from Cold Spring on the 4:29 p.m. train.

100 Years Ago (September 1921)

After the Haldane school board complained to the Cold Spring Village Board about the dirty streets and sidewalks around the school, Trustee McAndrew was sent to investigate. He reported that everything looked fine to him, then added: “If criticism is good for the village, it is good for the school. On Sunday, Sept. 4, the American flag was displayed throughout the village, as a mark of respect to the memory of one who made the supreme sacrifice for his country [James Harvey Hustis, who had been killed in World War I and was buried that day at Cold Spring Cemetery]. This boy was a graduate of the Haldane school. No flag was displayed at the school. They cut the flagpole down five years ago; the patriotism of the institution evidently fell with the flagpole.”

Mary Harris Armor, a firebrand from Georgia, spoke in favor of prohibition during the annual meeting of the county chapter of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union at the Methodist Episcopal Church.

Mary Harris Armor

Mary Harris Armor of Georgia spoke in Philipstown in 1921 in favor of prohibition.

The Tidal Oil Co. installed a Visible Measure & Pump in front of Selleck’s Garage on Fair Street. It had an illuminated electric dome and hand crank.

The Meyer brothers, formerly of Brooklyn, purchased the grocery and meat business at the corner of Main and Rock streets.

Garrison Connection to the Harlem Hellfighters

President Joe Biden on Aug. 25 signed legislation awarding the Congressional Gold Medal to a New York infantry regiment that fought in World War I and had a Garrison connection.


A painting depicts the Hellfighters on Sept. 29, 1918, during the Meuse-Argonne offensive in France.

Known as the Harlem Hellfighters, the 2,000 Black soldiers, including Afro-Puerto Ricans, were volunteers who served in the 369th Infantry. One of the regiment’s captains, overseeing Company K, was a state legislator named Hamilton Fish, who was born in Garrison in 1888 and graduated from Harvard in 1910.

The regiment arrived in France in December 1917 and the Black troops and their officers were assigned manual labor. But the French were desperate for soldiers, and the 369th was sent to the front lines, where they earned their Hellfighters nickname from the Germans, although they preferred Harlem’s Rattlers. The regiment would spend 191 days, or more than six months, in the trenches.

Hamilton Fish

Fish in a military parade

In a 1991 memoir, Fish wrote that at the end of the war, he told his men: “You have fought and died for freedom and democracy. Now, you should go back home to the United States and continue to fight for your own freedom and democracy.”

Fish was a founder of the American Legion and served as a member of Congress from 1920 to 1945. Three times he sponsored anti-lynching bills that were defeated by Southern congressmen. He is also credited with proposing the bill to create the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, though his efforts in that regard to include the remains of a Black soldier were rejected by senior command.

After a long career, he and his wife, Alice Curtis Desmond, founded the Desmond-Fish Library in 1979; Fish died in 1991. The library, located at 472 Route 403, has installed a display case with books, medals and other artifacts related to the regiment.

Information provided by the Desmond-Fish Public Library

Cold Spring won two of three baseball games in a series against the American Legion team from Beacon. The villagers won the first game at Kemble Field, 2-0; Beacon won at home, 10-0; and Cold Spring won again at Kemble, 6-5.

Nate Lyons installed a concrete sidewalk in front of the Farrell home on Garden Street.

In a pioneering surgery, Dr. John Heslin, a cousin of Mrs. William Casey of Cold Spring, was one of two doctors in Albany who replaced a man’s crushed urethra with a dog vein.

The Village Board passed a resolution instructing the police officer to arrest any driver exceeding 15 mph on Main Street.

J.W. DuBois had nearly completed installation at his foundry of a two-ton Heald Machine No. 55, which could grind cylinders up to 9 inches in diameter and 15 inches in length.

Heald Machine No. 55

A Heald Machine No. 55

75 Years Ago (September 1946)

Armed with a machine gun and revolvers, three masked men tied up the night watchman at the Cold Spring Dyeing and Finishing Co. and spent an hour stealing $25,000 worth of dress goods and curtain material. The watchman recalled one of the robbers saying, “It’s too bad we didn’t bring a bigger truck.” After the men fled, the watchman wiggled free and walked nearly a mile to the Cold Spring firehouse to sound the alarm. [Four months later, three New Jersey men were charged with the robbery; they also were suspected of stealing nylon stockings from another plant. Twenty years later, one of the three, Gabriel “Johnny the Walk” DeFranco, was killed in what appeared to a mob hit.]

Paul and Ruth Corey

Paul and Ruth Corey in Cold Spring around 1938

Henry Holt published Acres of Antaeus, the latest novel by Philipstown writer Paul Corey. He and his wife, Ruth, had purchased a local farm in 1929, where he had built a stone cottage. [In 1947 the couple relocated to Sonoma, California, where Paul built another home and published, as his next book, Shad Haul, a young-adult novel set in “Philipsville.”]

Eddie O’Keefe of Cold Spring won the highest honor at the American Dahlia Society’s 32nd annual show for his 12-inch red flower of the cactus variety called Skyrocket, grown from seed.

50 Years Ago (September 1971)

Adolf Peters, a summer resident of Lake Valhalla, died at age 74. A native of Germany, he worked for the Globe Slicing Machine Co. until his early retirement in 1938. He also dredged and developed Belle Meade Island in Miami.

Harold Homefield, the principal of Haldane High School, resigned, saying that after district residents in August voted down the proposed budget for a second time, “it has become apparent that our community is not particularly education-minded and is willing to sacrifice the welfare of its children, if need be, to protest its tax burden.” Homefield said that he had accepted the second rejection of the budget but could not abide the defeat, in separate resolutions, of funding for athletics, the cafeteria and student transportation.

Mark Giammatteo, the president of the Haldane Faculty Association, noted in a statement that teachers were under no obligation to volunteer to coach sports because funding had been cut. “The voters have let the students down, and it is unreasonable to expect a few teachers to make up for it,” he said.

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York presented the deed to the Chapel of Our Lady, which was built in 1833 on the banks of the Hudson River, to Chapel of Our Lady Restoration Inc. The actor Helen Hayes and Carl Carmer, author of The Hudson, took part in the ceremony. The property had been given to the Catholic church in 1830 by Gouverneur Kemble, the first supervisor of the West Point Foundry. It was used until 1906, when a larger church was built.

25 Years Ago (September 1996)

In a surprise move, Putnam Valley Councilman Sam Gambino introduced a motion to abolish the police department, effective Dec. 31. The agency had a $1.5 million annual budget. Within hours, Chief William Carlos filed a federal lawsuit to block the move.

The state sent Philipstown $119,381 to repair damage caused by widespread flooding in January.

A state court judge issued a temporary restraining order to stop the paving of Esselborne Road and East Mountain Road North and South in response to a motion by the Philipstown Dirt Road Association.

The Open Space Institute agreed to lease 28 acres on the Malcolm Gordon School property to Philipstown for softball and soccer games. It said it would charge $1 per year for five years, and that the town could then buy the property for $1. The town would be required to add a driveway and parking lot and install gates.

El Castillo, the owners of Dick’s Castle, announced plans to convert the structure into 28 luxury apartments, plus a library, dining rooms, palm court and lap pool.

A new community recreational facility built by volunteers at Mayor’s Park was dedicated as the Mayor Anthony Phillips Pavilion.

Boscobel opened an exhibit of the surviving books from States Dyckman’s library.

The Haldane school board accepted the resignation of Superintendent Diana Greene following a closed-door session that lasted two-and-a-half hours. Greene was then placed on paid leave for the 1996-97 academic year, which would have been her second at the school.

Keith Capolino opened the G.H. Ford Tea Co. at 142 Main St.

A Haldane senior, Jed Dellarmi, 17, was killed in a crash on Wolcott Avenue in Beacon when the car he was driving collided with a Dutchess County transit bus. Two passengers were treated at St. Luke’s Hospital.

The Village of Cold Spring offered 150th Anniversary mugs for $5 and commemorative plates for $20. Both featured the Cold Spring bandstand.

Dennis Brady, a former Cold Spring resident, donated a portion of his liver to his 10-month-old son, Dennis Jr., who had been born without the ducts that drain bile. The 12-hour operation took place at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City.

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