Looking Back in Philipstown

Grant tomb

The dedication of Grant's tomb took place in New York City on April 27, 1897, but the Cold Spring Fire Co. declined an offer to march in the parade. (Library of Congress)

150 Years Ago (April 1872)

The vote for Philipstown supervisor ended in a 430-430 tie; under state election law, the three town justices were assigned to select the winner, and they chose the Democratic candidate, Colin Tolmie.

The editor of The Cold Spring Recorder reprimanded a “rabble of thoughtless boys and young men” who had chased a Black domestic servant home. “The prejudice which this community has long entertained against persons of African descent is gradually wearing away before the sunshine of common sense and the onward march of Christian charity, yet every now and then the natural antipathy will show itself in the most discreditable manner,” he wrote. He said the woman had reportedly been enticed by a white woman into a tavern on Main Street, where she drank a glass of gin, and her stagger outside drew the attention of the boys.

The Philipstown Town Board appointed Benjamin Hughson as jailer.

P. Nichols, who lived above the Baxter hardware store at Main and Rock streets, was awoken at 2 a.m. on a Thursday morning by the sound of breaking glass. He went into the street to investigate and encountered a burglar holding a club he had just used to break one of the Baxter windows. Nichols shouted, and the man fled.

The prima donna Clara Louise Kellogg was not expected to return to her home in Cold Spring before August while she performed in an opera tour of Europe.

Clara Louise Kellogg

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

It was an unusually quiet Monday night in Cold Spring because the West Point Foundry employee who brought the regular fortnightly pay from New York City to dispense to the workers was late.

J.B. Wickel, who paid a Cold Spring agent 20 cents for a policy from the Railway Passengers’ Insurance Co. before setting out on a business trip, received three weeks of $15 disability payments after being injured in the Bronx.

A team of horses backing a farm wagon into the yard of J.E. McCarty was led too near the edge of a cellar, which collapsed, and one horse dragged the other after it.

At a meeting of the trustees of the Old Burying Ground, the sexton reported that from December 1865 to date there had been 107 interments, including 63 small graves and 44 large graves.

The newly formed Kellogg Baseball Club defeated the Flyaway club of Peekskill, 28-22.

125 Years Ago (April 1897)

The Recorder noted that “the country air is at present permeated with the odor of burning rubbish heaps and fragrant phosphate.”

The Village Improvement Association placed baskets on the streets to collect wastepaper.

Seward Jaycox of Nelsonville was the first resident to tap into the Cold Spring waterworks when he arranged for connections to his home and barn.

A Drive Through the Highlands

From the Cold Spring Recorder, April 30, 1897

It was our pleasure recently with a friend to drive down the river road to Cold Spring, thence through the Highlands to Fishkill, thus making the circuit of a charming and romantic territory — a ride, however, that we have taken many times, though it is not the less interesting for that, says a writer in the Matteawan Journal [Beacon].

Passing down the river road we had a bird’s eye view of the thrifty brickyards along the river front. At Storm King station the crossing is protected by gates making it comparatively safe now for teams to cross the railroad tracks. Before reaching Breakneck tunnel we passed the handsome residence of Mr. Frank Timoney Sr., and also saw that gentleman standing at his gate. At Melzingah Brook, at the west of the road, the ravine has recently been cleared of trees, affording to the passerby a splendid view of that magnificent gorge.

horse and carriage

A horse and carriage from the 1890s (National Museum of American History)

In this vicinity resides Mr. Theodore Brinckerhoff, president of the Matteawan National Bank, who has a fine residence and farm on the bank of the Hudson. Since our previous trip down the river road we saw considerable change at Breakneck. The stone crusher has been abandoned and the buildings removed, nothing now remaining but the foundation.

At Cold Spring we drove through the cemetery, a beautiful spot, where lie the Haldanes, Pauldings, Kembles, Parrotts, Haights, Hustises, Truesdells, McCoys, Youmans, Youngs, Dykmans, VanDorens, de Velascos and the remains of other well-known families of Cold Spring and the Highlands.

Along the post road winding through the Highlands we find that many of the old places, owned by the old settlers, have changed hands.

For two or three miles south of Fishkill Village, Ed. Haight, road commissioner of the Town of Fishkill, has improved the highway by filling in the road bed with stone and gravel where it was needed, and the large willow trees along the main road and the Fishkill Creek have been trimmed and completely stripped of their limbs, leaving the bare trunks of the trees to start out again in the spring. At Lake Shattamuck, in the North Highlands, a new grist and saw mill has been established which has the prospect of doing a thriving business.

Some of the citizens of Cold Spring are the possessors of fine poultry. Among them we noticed a fine flock of Black Minorons, in fact the finest we ever saw outside of a show pen, owned by Mr. John Stevenson, of Nelsonville, and at Mr. Sylvanus F. Mckeel’s, in the above village, we saw a flock of handsome White Minorcas.

We also visited the poultry yards of Mr. Warren Hustis, in the North Highlands. While Mr. Hustis does not make any pretensions as a breeder he has fowls that many a “fancy” breeder might be proud of. He has three varieties, Brown Leghorn, Buff Leghorn and Buff Plymouth Rock. The Brown Leghorns kept here are handsomely marked, very large in size and great egg producers. Mr. Hustis has a Brown Leghorn hen 7 years old and she seldom lets a day go by without depositing an egg in the nest, which seems to do away with the old supposition that a hen is “layed out” at three years of age.

The failure of the E.S. Dean Co. of New York City, which promoted a “safe system of speculation” in the stock market with returns of up to 400 percent, cost Philipstown residents about $4,000. W.E. Bishop, an agent with the New York Bureau of Information on Fraud visited Matteawan [Beacon] to interview victims and was expected to come to Cold Spring.

Helen Dykman, a granddaughter of Justice Jackson Dykman of the state Supreme Court, who had settled in Cold Spring and served as the Putnam County district attorney before moving to White Plains in 1866, stepped on a needle that broke off in her foot. Doctors were able to locate the piece with an X-ray but then could not find it again during surgery.

The members of the Cold Spring Fire Co. declined an invitation to participate in the parade for the dedication of Gen. Ulysses S. Grant’s tomb in New York City because they did not have enough traditional red shirts.

Owney, the post office dog, was reported dead, but The Recorder issued a correction the following week saying he had just retired to St. Louis to be cared for by the family of J.H. Melvin, one of the clerks.

To great acclaim in Cold Spring, the West Point Foundry was leased to the New York City iron and steel manufacturing firm of J.B. and J.M. Cornell, who promised to employ as many as 1,400 men. The firm, which made steel for everything from safe deposit vaults to skyscrapers, planned to move its operations from 11th Avenue and 26th Street. [The firm is today known as CornellCookson and based in Mountain Top, Pennsylvania.]

West Point Foundry

The West Point Foundry after the Cornell Co. began using it to manufacture steel.

Over the course of a week, at least five dogs were poisoned, including the red Irish setters owned by Charles Pelham and E.V. Nelson, and the Scotch collie owned by Alexander Spalding.

Thomas McAndrew, an Irishman who had been employed by the Hudson River Railroad for 39 years — including 20 years as the baggage agent at Cold Spring — died of pneumonia at age 61.

The Haldane Debating Club was entertained by a demonstration of a graphophone — a competitor to Thomas Edison’s phonograph — that included readings, recitations, songs, orchestral music and a circus galop.

The Nelsonville school hosted a benefit by a troupe that performed a comedietta, Too Much of a Good Thing, with nine actors, and a comedy, The Sham Doctor, with six Black actors.

William Church Osborn was elected president of a newly formed golf club that leased the Ardenia estate in Garrison. James Mooney, most recently a butler for Hamilton Fish, was hired as steward.

A train car of rhododendron arrived for J.M. Toucey, who used them to ornament the carriage drives and lawns at his Garrison estate, Cedar Crest.

Putnam County Sheriff Jeremiah Hazen of Carmel spent a few days in Cold Spring as the guest of Deputy Sheriff James Bailey.

POSTCARD SCORE — A Garrison couple last month donated 240 early 20th-century postcards to the Putnam History Museum with views, activities, landmarks and landscapes of the Hudson River Valley. Barry Ross began the collection at age 15 when he spotted a postcard of the Highlands at a Cold Spring antique shop. The Barry C. and Mary Jean (MJ) Ross Hudson River Postcard Collection will be digitized and posted at putnam.pastperfectonline.com and nyheritage.org, said Cassie Ward, director of the museum.

The Cold Spring Village Board voted not to ask for kerosene oil bids in anticipation of making a contract for electric lights in the coming year.

In Continentalville, Lilly Owen and Edgar and Estelle Scofield were recovering from the mumps.

Capt. Henry Metcalfe, who had a summer home in Cold Spring, addressed the children at South Georgia College in Thomasville at the opening exercises of a “tidy club.” He spoke against littering and for patriotism, and reminded the girls that “the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.”

The Recorder called for stricter regulation of homes that had kitchen waste pipes that emptied directly into village gutters.

In a surprise move, New York City Mayor William Strong appointed Frank Moss, 37, a native of Cold Spring, as police commissioner to succeed Theodore Roosevelt.

Frank Moss

Frank Moss, a Cold Spring native, was named New York City police commissioner in 1897.

100 Years Ago (April 1922)

Putnam County Judge J. Bennett Southard issued 20 revolver licenses, with half of them going to residents of Garrison and Cold Spring. It brought the total to 50.

A jail kitchen in the basement of the Putnam County courthouse was being used to store bottles, barrels and kegs of alcohol seized in temperance raids.

While at his office in Carmel, Harry Ferris of Cold Spring, the Putnam County forest ranger, noticed smoke on the west shore of Lake Gleneida and used a five-gallon pump that he carried in his car to put out a grass fire.

75 Years Ago (April 1947)

In a story in the Poughkeepsie Journal, Albert Terhune recalled his 33 years as a chauffeur. His first job in 1908 was driving for a former mayor of New York City whose sedan had a new feature called a windshield. In 1913, he took a job with Herman Brandt, the first life-insurance salesman in New York City to sell a $1 million policy, who had a home in Cold Spring. Terhune retired in 1941.

The Putnam County Draft Board closed, six years after it had been created following the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Dr. Edward Angell, former head of neurology at General Hospital in Rochester, died at his son Montgomery’s summer home in Cold Spring at age 90.

Charles Foreman of Cold Spring opened the Charles Foreman Detective Bureau in Poughkeepsie.

50 Years Ago (April 1972)

The boys of the Malcolm Gordon School in Garrison presented three one-act plays and a musical number at the Amateur Comedy Club in New York City. Among the performers were Philipstown residents Eugene Newman, Mark Kolody, Jeffrey Williams and Donny Yannitelli.

Justice William Braatz of Philipstown accused the Putnam County Republican Committee of denying a fair hearing to potential candidates for the state Assembly. The committee chair, Donald B. Smith, called the charge “false and irresponsible,” saying that only incumbent Willis Stephens had requested an endorsement.

Pamela Rogers of Cold Spring, a nursing student at Catholic Medical Center in Queens, was crowned as Miss Hope of Putnam County by the American Cancer Society chapter.

The Philipstown Packers football team, which was affiliated with the Beacon Pop Warner league, finished 2-2-2. The squad was 4-2 in its first season in 1969 and 5-1 in its second, when it won the championship.

The Nelsonville police were investigating the vandalism of a truck owned by Mr. Bodge, who said the radio antenna and a windshield wiper were snapped off and sand poured into the gas tank.

Police officer Michael Firary was credited with saving Leslie Van Voorhis from his burning home on Fishkill Road after Firary noticed flames while on patrol at 12:50 a.m.

The Nelsonville Village Board discussed a proposed sewer system that would be installed at no cost to the village on Division Street and cross Pine, where it would hook into the Cold Spring line.

The Fishkill National Bank said it planned to move its Cold Spring branch to the Our Lady of Loretto convent property at the corner of Chestnut and Oak streets.

A 64-year-old Queens man died in a collision with a tractor-trailer at the intersection of Route 9 and Route 403 in Garrison. Police said the man was making a left turn into the northbound lane shortly after 9 a.m. when his vehicle was struck by an Allen Coal Co. truck headed south. The truck pushed the car into a ditch and the trailer landed on top of it.

25 Years Ago (April 1997)

The Haldane school board was informed that Putnam County, which reimbursed districts for unpaid school taxes, would be cutting its 1997-98 payment to $282,000 from $652,000. What apparently happened is that the Open Space Institute and Beaverkill Conservancy prepaid their taxes for 1995, 1996 and 1997 but they were reported as unpaid, so Putnam said it was reclaiming the excess.

The Garrison school board voted 5-1 to add Yorktown to the high schools that its eighth graders could attend, along with Haldane and O’Neill. However, the Yorktown school board had second thoughts and soon after voted against accepting Garrison students.

A bench at the corner of Main Street and Kemble Avenue where Joseph “Moe” Mazzuca would gather with friends each evening to discuss the events of the day was dedicated to his memory.

A Garrison resident questioned whether the school board could legally grant a “leave of absence” to a trustee who took a three-month work assignment in Puerto Rico, or if the seat should be placed on the ballot. The board said that, under state law, a vacancy could only be declared if a member missed at least three consecutive meetings without providing a valid excuse.

The Hastings Center, a biomedical ethics research center, announced plans to restore the Malcolm Gordon School on Route 9D as its headquarters.

Howard Fawcett, who with his wife Ann had allowed the Constitution Marsh sanctuary to use land along Indian Brook free of charge for a visitors’ center, died at age 86. The sanctuary’s director, Jim Rod, recalled that Fawcett once said the two smartest things he ever did was purchase the 5-acre property in 1949 and marry Ann in 1955. Until it burned down, the Fawcetts had used a cabin on the property as a getaway they dubbed Brookhouse.

A plaque was installed on a rock next to the entrance of the new bridge over the Metro-North tracks at Little Stony Point to recognize state Sen. Vincent Leibell for his efforts to secure funds to build it. The former bridge had been condemned and torn down, which made it necessary to close the park. Richard Shea, the caretaker, said plans for an entrance and parking would likely be completed in the summer.

At a Putnam County Legislature committee meeting, George Michaud outlined what he called the worst snafu he’d seen in 16 years as director of real property. He said a Garrison couple had paid a $44,000 in taxes on their newly constructed home when they should have owed $23,000, but they had missed the deadlines to appeal. Philipstown assessed the home as having three stories when it was one story with a cathedral ceiling. Michaud said the $21,000 was not refundable under state law because it was a “square-foot mistake,” or clerical error, not one of “essential fact,” such as miscalculating acreage. Vincent Tamagna, who represented Philipstown on the Legislature, said he planned to alert the state to the case as an example of a bad law that needed to be fixed.

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