150 Years Ago (December 1872)

A group of Cold Spring retailers announced they would start closing two hours earlier, at 8 p.m. except on Mondays [payday] and Saturdays.

A teenager was knocked unconscious when his slide down the Main Street sidewalk ended when his sled hit a tree. Dr. Murdock was summoned and — to make matters worse — the lad needed surgery to repair a ruptured scrotum.

A large group traveling from Cold Spring to the installation of the Rev. J.L. Scott at the Presbyterian Church in Matteawan [Beacon] refused to divide when the sleigh driver insisted he could only accommodate the weight of 16 passengers at a time, so he returned to the stable and the party took the 5:51 a.m. milk train.

While eggs with two yolks were not unusual, one of George Purdy’s hens produced an egg encased in a second shell. Purdy also found a bird’s nest with a strip of The Recorder and a ballot for supervisor woven in its web.

A gale left the Norwich, a steamer that left Catskill towing 30 barges loaded with coal, along the Cold Spring shore with only two still attached. The others sank, grounded on the shore or drifted with the currents, becoming covered in ice from the waves. The loss was estimated at 3,500 tons valued at $25,000 [about $610,000 today].

The officers of the Cold Spring Library Association announced they would take advantage of a new state law that allowed a town or village to collect a library tax of up to $1 from each voter, and then up to 50 cents annually.

Residents of Cherry Street, west Paulding Avenue and north Chestnut Street complained that, because of the lack of pressure in their neighborhood water pumps, they were forced to walk to Main Street every day.

The Recorder reported that the Friday before Christmas was lively. “Main Street, from the Town Hall to the dock, was filled with sleighs and sleds, while the walks were in constant use by pedestrians. The sleighing was excellent, the temperature moderate and the near approach of Christmas brought hundreds of farmers from a radius of 6 miles to our market.”

Gen. Egbert Viele
Gen. Egbert Viele

Gen. Egbert Viele sued Putnam County Sheriff Richard Horton, accusing him of coddling a suspect in the kidnapping of Viele’s daughter by his estranged wife. According to news reports, two men involved in the abduction were arrested, and Viele claimed Horton told one suspect he could put in a good word for him with the grand jury. [Viele is buried in the pyramid vault in West Point Cemetery.]

Professor Palmer shared his illuminated photographs at Town Hall but the quality of the gas in the lamps “failed to do justice to the views,” The Recorder said.

A band of swindlers that had recently told an elderly couple in Haverstraw that they were police officers searching for counterfeit money and removed all the cash in the house for “examination” (and left a receipt) showed up in Garrison to run the scam on Erastus Mowatt. However, their target had wisely only recently deposited all his cash in the bank.

William Hustis hired a contractor to make about $1,000 in improvements to his North Highlands home but, The Recorder noted, the costs had reached $2,500 “and the work still goes on.”

125 Years Ago (December 1897)

The insurance agency Wood and Southard distributed its 1898 calendars.

Richard Gregg removed a boulder at the top of a small hill on the Garrison road to make it wider and was considering blasting the rocks at the bend of the road that ran parallel with Indian Brook.

The Haldane Board of Education discussed closing the school early for the holidays because of an outbreak of scarlet fever. The illness was fatal for Samuel Riggs Jr., 7, of Nelsonville.

A burglar broke into the Cold Spring post office overnight and stole $33 in stamps, although the postmaster noted that $24 of them could only be used to mail periodicals or to pay postage due.

A holiday ad
A holiday ad from The Cold Spring Recorder, December 1897

The next evening, a group of young men, convinced there was a prowler outside Donohue & Crawford’s store, organized a posse armed with shotguns, revolvers, axes, crowbars, picks, shovels and lanterns and searched nearby bushes and barns without success.

Several train cars filled with Christmas trees passed by the Cold Spring station.

James Smith left town to spend the winter in Colorado.

William Brower and Anna Hulse were married at South Highlands Methodist Episcopal Church in Garrison. After a short wedding trip, the couple moved in with the groom’s mother.

A meeting was held at Academy Hall to discuss conducting night courses over the winter in mechanical engineering, geometry, grammar and other practical subjects.

Charles Pelham Jr. sold his newsstand at the corner of Main and Garden streets.

The New York Central and Hudson River Railroad ordered station agents to crack down on smoking in the baggage rooms.

The railroad began to settle claims by victims of a wreck in October south of Garrison that killed 19 people. John Ryan of Jersey City, who suffered minor injuries, received $2,500 [$90,000], while, The Recorder noted, “each dead Chinaman was valued at $2,000” [$72,000]. [Eight Chinese workers were among the fatalities.]

William Devos, the superintendent of Cragside [now the Haldane campus], shipped mushrooms grown on the estate to Gen. and Mrs. Butterfield at their winter home in New York City.

A Smith Premier typewriter (antikeychop.com)

Edward Meeks, who had been in London for the previous year as a representative of the Smith Premier Typewriting Co., returned to Cold Spring.

The Nelsonville school added a practical business course to its curriculum, modeled on the methods of the Rochester Business University.

Following the opening of a new section of the village, lots were sold on Mountain Avenue, Orchard Street, Locust Ridge and Cedar Street. The purchasers were all locals except for a lawyer from New York City who bought three parcels.

A troupe of Black performers, including May Webber, age 9, presented Uncle Tom’s Cabin at Town Hall. “There is a good company of colored dancers, cake walkers and singers,” reported The Recorder.

After missing school for a year, Jimmie Mosher was deposited by the truant officer with Miss Rosell, the teacher at Davenport’s Corners in North Highlands.

The Recorder began publishing with a Potter drum cylinder press, driven by a two-horsepower kerosene engine. It had a capacity of 1,800 impressions per hour.

As a Christmas present, the employees of the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railroad presented Samuel Sloan with a gold tea set valued at $16,500 [$600,000]. Sloan, who had a summer home in Garrison, had been president of the railroad for 30 years.

Henry “Buttons” Madison, a well-known vagabond who wandered the shores of the Hudson River, when in Philipstown would share breakfast with Capt. Metcalfe, lunch with Charles de Rham and supper with Mrs. Fairfield Osborn before retiring to the stables of her estate.

100 Years Ago (December 1922)

A 15-foot burning cross appeared on Table Rock on Bull Hill late on a Sunday evening. The Recorder surmised it was “the work of the ridiculous Ku Klux Klan or of the more familiar but ill-advised clan of practical jokers.” The Putnam County Courier reported that “although the burning cross could be distinctly seen and was the cause of much discussion, it was a long time before any of the men would venture near the place and finally several well-armed went up to investigate. On approaching the place the light suddenly disappeared but they continued and found standing on the spot a large wooden cross about 15 feet in height. This had been covered with heavy burlap [saturated with kerosene] and this was still smoldering.” The Courier suggested it might have been a ruse to draw people away from where the Klan was actually meeting.

Walter Scott
Sir Walter Scott

The Men’s Club of the Presbyterian Church held an evening of readings from the works of Sir Walter Scott.

The Recorder noted that the Philipstown settlement in Daytona Beach, Florida, was growing each winter.

The last water line connection was made to supply the fire hydrants in Nelsonville.

The Cold Spring Village Board asked residents to separate and tie the loose paper in their trash because it was blowing all over the garbage dump at Sandy Land.

50 Years Ago (December 1972)

Several Philipstown residents honored Alexander Saunders for his work with Scenic Hudson by presenting the Butterfield Library with a collection of more than 100 books on conservation and ecology.

James Carter, the principal at Haldane, announced that, going forward, school closings due to bad weather would be announced on local radio stations rather than by sounding the whistle at the Cold Spring Fire Co.

The Nelsonville Village Board voted to adopt a zoning ordinance. It was the last municipality in Putnam County not to have one.

A firm on “South Mountain Passage” in Garrison was advertising personalized bronze lips by mail order as Christmas gifts. “No other girl has ever given him this, no other ever can.” The kits were $21.75 each, or $23.75 with a walnut base.

Lips ad
A 1972 ad for personalized bronzed lips produced on South Mountain Pass in Garrison. (via Delia Freeman via Philipstown Neighbors via #GotWeird)

The Cold Spring Village Board discussed a proposed local law to limit public demonstrations to 100 people.

After receiving a $12,850 bid to repair the main water storage tanks in Continental Village, water district personnel and local workers did the job for $3,900.

The Haldane school board accepted the resignation of a longtime member who had been asked to step down because he had attended only one meeting in four months.

25 Years Ago (December 1997)

The Cold Spring/Garrison Chamber of Commerce opened a 700-square-foot office at 1 Railroad Ave. It noted that it might create a weekend information booth staffed by seniors.

The Philipstown Town Board announced that Joseph Percacciolo would retire as highway superintendent as of Dec. 12 and appointed an interim to serve out the final two years of his four-year term. The superintendent had said in February that he planned to leave. However, critics noted his resignation letter was dated Nov. 12, just after the election, which kept the position off the ballot.

Bell Atlantic Mobile sued Philipstown, the Town Board and the Zoning Board of Appeals in federal court over a newly enacted moratorium on the construction of cell towers. Bell Atlantic wanted to build towers on Albany Post Road in Garrison and at the intersection of Routes 9 and 301 in the North Highlands.

Cold Spring hired Conservation Technologies to “walk” the 15 miles of village water pipes with electronic microphones to find leaks.

Although the Philipstown Recreation Department had denied an application from the newly formed Cold Spring Antique Dealers Association to hold two outdoor shows at Mayor’s Park that it expected would attract up to 2,000 people each, the Village Board said it would consider the request.

After nearly 10 years as principal and superintendent at the Garrison School, Craig Onofry took a position as superintendent of the Scottsville district near Rochester.

The Cold Spring/Garrison Chamber of Commerce announced the winners of its Merchant Window and Home Holiday Decorating Contest: 55 Parrott St. was most traditional; 34 Garden St. was most angelic; and 78 Highview Terrace and 31 Post Road tied for most creative. Among businesses, The Everlasting Shop on Route 9 was most traditional; The Foundry Cafe was most angelic; and Houlihan Lawrence was the most creative.

Danny Knitzer, a 1994 Haldane grad, finished his second season as a wide receiver with the Orange County Bulldogs, a semi-professional football team based in Middletown. The team finished 15-0 and won the United Football League title.

Behind The Story

Type: News

News: Based on facts, either observed and verified directly by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

A former longtime national magazine editor, Rowe has worked at newspapers in Michigan, Idaho and South Dakota and has bachelor’s and master’s degrees in journalism from Northwestern University. Location: Philipstown. Languages: English. Area of Expertise: General.