Looking Back in Philipstown

150 Years Ago (February 1872)

One of Asa Truesdell’s dogs attacked Brian Daley’s pigs and had to be choked to release his hold. The cries from passersby frightened a horse ridden by Richard Condell, which took off up Main Street, where it collided with a coal wagon driven by John Brewer, breaking its rear axle. The runaway was caught on a sidewalk at Furnace Street; Condell was not injured.

Some porters on the drawing-room cars on the Hudson River Railroad were reportedly charging passengers 10 cents each for newspapers that could be purchased in New York City for 1 to 4 cents.

Undersheriff Butler fell and broke his arm while attempting to arrest James Cahill for public intoxication; he asked bystanders for help but only S.B. Truesdell stepped forward to grab Jimmy and put him in the police sleigh.

Two wagonloads of gypsies stopped at the Sandy Landing bridge and built a campfire for lunch.

February 31

The March 2, 1872, issue of The Cold Spring Recorder carried the date of Feb. 31, which was probably a printer’s placeholder that was not corrected.

Mahlan Coe, a clerk at Geo. McCabe & Co. at the corner of Main and Rock, could not unlock the door in the morning to open the store. He retrieved a key to the adjoining Masonic rooms, ascended to the second floor and lowered himself by the elevator. There he found thieves had stolen silks and ribbons valued at $500. The lock on the door had been damaged when they picked it.

A member of the Methodist Episcopal Church wrote to The Cold Spring Recorder to complain about a group of rude women whom he said had interrupted the baptism of converts at the shore of the Hudson River. He noted that in the time of Caesar, persons who disturbed religious ceremonies were hacked to death.

The ironwork was completed on the bridge over the pond at the foot of Paulding Avenue.

The residence of Stephen Davenport burned down 2 miles east of the village. The fire was discovered by his granddaughter, who went upstairs to the room she shared with her mother and found it filled with smoke. When no flames could be located, not even a warm spot on the wall, Davenport circled the home and spotted a thin stream of smoke coming from where a newly built addition joined the home. The attic space between the ceiling and roof had been ignited by a kitchen exhaust pipe. Water was applied but the ceiling collapsed and the drafts fed the flames. Neighbors were able to save furniture from the lower level but the home was a loss. Davenport had an insurance policy with Lorillard, but the firm went bankrupt because of claims from the Chicago fire in 1871 and he had not bought another. The home had been built by his father, William Davenport, in 1806.

The old Rees house, the former site of the post office and news depot, was demolished, to be replaced by a brick building.

Charles Spellman, a native of Cold Spring, was severely burned in Covington, Tennessee, in a gasoline explosion.

Two Kemble Avenue boys played a dangerous trick when they whipped Miss Warner’s horse as it stood with a cart near the sidewalk outside Schoenfeld’s. Mr. Roberts managed to get outside before the horse could dart.

Charles Bross took S.B. Truesdell to court on a charge of assault-and-battery at the Garrison dock “on the occasion of the Potato Excitement” in December, when a barge wrecked with 2,000 barrels aboard. A jury found Truesdell guilty and fined him $50. Bross had secured the vessel, which townspeople began to loot; Truesdell was dispatched by the county to claim the cargo as jetsam.

Sarah Ellen Grace, who lived on Market Street, was diagnosed with smallpox, prompting hundreds of residents to swarm the office of Dr. Lente and Dr. Murdock to receive vaccinations.

James Bailey, delivering for grocer George W. Purdy, had stepped inside Henry Griffin’s home in Nelsonville when the three children of Mary McArthur — Martha, Nettie and Johnnie — climbed aboard his wagon. That spooked the horse, which took off, chased by townspeople. When it reached Morris Avenue, the wagon snapped an iron lamp post and a wooden tie-post, causing the shaft and springs to break and throwing the children onto the sidewalk amid broken jugs, bottles and food. They were not seriously hurt, nor was the horse.

Gotlieb Schneck, who had earlier returned to Cold Spring after an absence, was arrested at the train station by a New York City detective on charges of stealing the money and madam of a German friend.

125 Years Ago (February 1897)

The Recorder observed that residents and merchants were largely ignoring a village ordinance that they keep the sidewalks clear of snow.

A lamp exploded in the cabin of the schooner John Jones while it was in winter quarters south of the Foundry dock. The Cold Spring Hose Co. No. 1 managed to get a stream of water on the blaze and save the ship.

Mrs. Horatio Lyons of Springfield, Massachusetts, left property valued at $1 million to her only direct heir, Chalmers Dale Jr., a 15-year-old grandson whose family had a summer home in Philipstown. When the will was read, however, it was revealed that shortly before her death, Mrs. Lyons had signed a codicil leaving her estate to distant relatives. Chalmers Dale Sr. hired three law firms to contest, arguing undue influence.

Mr. and Mrs. Benjamin Odell of Continentalville were surprised to see their son, Harry, who had left home 14 months earlier to join the Navy. They said they would object to his return to the service because he was a minor.

Bike racks were installed in the luggage cars of the Central Hudson Railroad.

The executor of the estate of William and Mary Tompkins auctioned their farm at Tompkins Corners in Putnam Valley.

John Groundwater, who came to the U.S. from the Orkney Islands off the coast of Scotland in 1839 and worked for years at the West Point Foundry, died at 81. He was the oldest member of the Presbyterian Church.

Thieves cleared the henneries of the Rev. Dr. Wheatley and Elisha Nelson, and also the kitchen cellar of Kate Haight, during a Saturday night windstorm that kept everyone inside.

Mrs. William Osborn of Garrison left for a three-month trip through Japan and China.

The Haldane Debating Club presented the questions: “Resolved, that the government should build a ship canal from Albany to Buffalo” and “Resolved, that a man learns more by traveling than by study.”

Anthony Bursaile, who stole $1,800 from a saloon keeper at Breakneck, was arrested with the money in Rome, Italy.

A cat owned by Emily Tompkins in Putnam Valley died at age 27.

The household furniture of Rev. Cleo Foote, the new pastor of the Baptist church, arrived and was taken to the parsonage on Parsonage Street.

In celebration of Washington’s Birthday, a group of residents installed a water pump at the corner of Main and Market that had a porcelain lining and a nickel-silver drinking cup.

100 Years Ago (February 1922)

The Village of Cold Spring budget had an appropriation for concrete sidewalks. It also included money for extra police officers because of the force of workmen expected to move to the village over two or three years to build the New York City aqueduct. A tractor steam shovel sat on the railroad siding, waiting to be moved to Nelsonville for the project.

aqueduct map

A 1905 map of the route planned for the New York City aqueduct through the Highlands.

The St. Luke’s Tennis Club of Beacon presented A Couple of Million, a comedy in four acts, at St. Mary’s parish house, followed by a dance.

Members of the Old Homestead Club and the Odd Fellows began a seven-match euchre tournament.

The state Conservation Commission [later the Department of Environmental Conservation], which planned to grow up to 30 million seedlings to reforest idle farmland, received requests from Stephen Chase of Garrison for 50,000 and from the Friars of the Atonement in Garrison for 900.

The Nelsonville board placed a referendum on the ballot to fund 10 fire hydrants.

Mother Irene Gill in 1925

Mother Irene Gill in 1925

Irene Gill, mother superior of the Order of Ursuline Nuns, visited Cold Spring to inspect properties for a possible move, including for its academy for girls. The sisters’ home in Fishkill had been destroyed in a fire. [The order eventually purchased a property in Beacon called Hiddenbrooke.]

The Public Service Commission in Albany received a complaint from a group of Cold Spring residents upset with the minimum rate charged by the Cold Spring Light, Heat & Power Co. and its price for meters.

Edward L. Post & Son of Cold Spring offered a free, nickel-plated Fittsgerald heater with any order for a house to be wired for electricity.

John Williams, who said he was homeless, was sentenced to 90 days in jail for vagrancy.

The thermometer at Perry & Reilley’s store, considered the most accurate in the village, fell to 16 degrees below zero overnight on Feb. 16.

Despite the cold, someone attempted to break into Andrew Davey’s store through the back window with an iron bar.

A minstrel show at Town Hall organized by the Odd Fellows raised $50 for Near East Relief, which had been founded in Syracuse in 1915 to aid Armenian and Assyrian refugees.

The Recorder offered this tip: “To freshen the flavor of canned fruit, open the can several hours before the fruit is to be used, drain the syrup and reheat it, adding a little more sugar. Pour the syrup, boiling hot, over the fruit, and let it chill before it is served.”

The Recorder shared this joke: A farmer hitched his team to a telephone pole. “You can’t hitch here,” exclaimed a policeman. “Can’t hitch?!” shouted the irate farmer. ‘Why does that sign say, ‘Fine for hitching’?”

The Speedling & Smalley dealership in Nelsonville advertised its latest arrivals, including a 60-horsepower, 7-passenger Studebaker Big Six sedan that sold for $2,700 [$45,000 today] and a Model F.B. Chevrolet coupe or sedan for $1,575 [$26,000]. The Model 490 Chevrolet touring car or roadster was also available for $525 [$9,000].


A Nelsonville dealer offered a number of Studebakers in 1922, including this Big Six sedan that sold for $2,700, or about $45,000 today.

A reader wrote to complain that while he held members of the Board of Assessors in high esteem, “never before in the history of Philipstown has the assessed valuation been so unequally apportioned,” particularly in rural districts.

Louis Gent asked the Village Board to curb Academy Street because water from the sidewalk was overflowing into his cellar.

The Cold Spring health officer reported 33 residents had contagious diseases, including lobar pneumonia (2), diphtheria (2), influenza (6), mumps (5) and whooping cough (18).

Lyons truck on Hudson

SOLID PATH — When we asked on Facebook if anyone remembered being able to walk or skate across the Hudson River in the winter, Jennifer Lyons shared this photo of her great-grandfather Nate Lyons’ truck on the frozen river in 1935.

75 Years Ago (February 1947)

Mr. and Mrs. George Morse of Cold Spring were driving on Albany Post Road about 2½ miles south of Fishkill at 5:45 p.m. on a Sunday when they came across the body of a man in the traffic lane. The deceased was identified by state troopers as Edward Mosher, 65, whose welfare ID card said he lived in New York City public housing. Mosher was apparently the victim of a hit-and-run.

Montgomery Angell, a Garrison banker, was appointed to the Taconic State Park commission. He succeeded Vanderbilt Webb, also of Garrison, who had been a member of the commission since it was created in 1925.

The Garrison school board approved 30 percent pay raises for its teachers, which in some cases made their salaries higher than what the state recommended in small communities.

50 Years Ago (February 1972)

Anthony Mazzuca resigned as mayor of Nelsonville, citing personal reasons, after three years in the position. Trustee Jack Meyer was appointed to fill the vacancy and Edward Cleary, the manager of Cold Spring Paint and Hardware on Main Street, was appointed to succeed Meyer.

Helen Hayes, who won the 1970 Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her role in Airport, announced at a luncheon held at the Museum of Contemporary Crafts in New York City [now the Museum of Arts and Design] that she would spearhead a fundraising campaign to restore the 137-year-old Chapel of Our Lady in Cold Spring.

The Haldane boys’ basketball team won their first two games of the season, over Dover, 50-47, and Dover Plains, 72-33, to finish 2-12.

The Putnam County Historical Society reopened its exhibit, “Quilts, Coverlets and Counterpanes,” after being closed in January due to a flu epidemic.

George “Bus” Loughran, 58, a longtime resident of Manitou Road in Garrison, died of gunshot wounds suffered during an attempted robbery at his liquor store on Ninth Avenue in New York City.

Dr. Louis Genesse, who had a dental practice on Locust Ridge in Cold Spring for 36 years until he retired in 1960, died at 78.

25 Years Ago (February 1997)

Joe Percacciolo, a former county legislator, resigned as Philipstown highway superintendent. “I have enjoyed most of my time in public service,” he said.

The Haldane girls’ basketball team, the defending Class D state champions, finished the season 19-1. The junior varsity finished 17-1.

Season of AdventureSeason of Adventure, a newly published anthology of “traveling tales and outdoor journeys of women over 50,” included a story by Harriet Laine, a former Philipstown resident who took equestrian trips to Australia, India and North Africa. (The horse she boarded in Garrison was named Nairobi.) Laine died of cancer before learning that her story would appear.

The Cold Spring Village Board voted to revise some Architectural and Historic Review Board policies. It expanded the definition of alteration to include “covering over” exterior features and expanded exterior features to include “steps, entryways, vents and architectural openings, grillwork and canopies.”

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