150 Years Ago (February 1873)

The Hudson River Railroad published its stops at Cold Spring. Northbound trains picked up passengers at 9:18 a.m., 12:45 p.m., 3:58 p.m., 4:15 p.m., 5:51 p.m. (Montreal Express) and 7:49 p.m. (Pacific Express). Southbound trains stopped at 7:46 a.m., 9:58 a.m. (Chicago Express), 1:51 p.m. (Cincinnati Express), 3:57 p.m. and 8:53 p.m. (the “milk” train).

The Cold Spring Recorder reported that Cadet Smith “is the only colored man at the West Point Military Academy now. Gibbs was dismissed last week and went home to Florida.” [James Webster Smith and Thomas V.R. Gibbs were among the first four Black cadets to enroll at West Point; three failed their initial exams and Smith was expelled during his third year after allegedly flunking a philosophy course. The first Black cadet to graduate was Henry Ossian Flipper, in 1877.]

The Recorder noted that farmers appeared nervous about their winter stores, citing the adage: “Half your wood and half your hay will be needed after Candlemas Day [Feb. 2].”

A Poughkeepsie man purchased a 4-year-old, fast-trotting Morgan mare from Vincent Merritt of Cold Spring for $500 [about $12,000 today].

Thomas Avery of Cold Spring agreed to purchase 3,000 cords of wood to be cut under contract on government land by John Denton of Highland Falls. However, it was slow work for the 40-man crew because of the deep snow.

In a lengthy letter to the editor, a Recorder subscriber in Nelsonville complained that the paper was not delivered until after 7 p.m. on Saturday and often ended up buried in the snow, and that it contained no news from Nelsonville, anyway, as if nobody lived “above the horizon formed by Baptist Hill.”

The Library Association announced it was expanding into offices recently vacated by Mr. Harney and, after renovations, would have a reading room with periodicals and select books, a room for bound volumes and a “place of resort of rational amusements” with a table for parlor croquet, chess and draughts [checkers].

Quick action by a co-worker at the West Point Foundry, and a thick sleeve, likely saved the arm of Stephen Hughson of Nelsonville. After slipping on the oily floor, Hughson tried to catch himself but instead put his arm into the jaws of the feed wheels. The cogs snagged on his thick coat, giving Joseph McKaig Jr. enough time to throw the belt off the drum.

The Recorder corrected an earlier report that a thief had taken John McCabe’s horse. While McCabe was out searching for the culprit, the horse was discovered in a neighbor’s yard.

The farmer Dalzell drew considerable attention by driving his wagon into town pulled by two horses harnessed front and back, a novelty in Philipstown.

The trains were delayed in both directions at Cold Spring when a car filled with sheep ran off an icy track. It was reset but slipped again and its freight had to be transferred to another car.

The water wheel at the West Point Foundry broke, causing work to shut down in shops that depended on its power.

On Feb. 4, the daytime temperature rose from 8 to 49 degrees.

Robert Potter, alias Danson, who was in the Putnam County Jail on charges he burglarized the McKinley home on Market Street, managed to escape by creating a dummy that made it appear he was fast asleep. It was surmised that Potter hid behind the door and slipped out as the jailor entered the cell on his rounds. The sheriff suspected someone in Carmel was harboring the fugitive, because he wasn’t dressed for the cold.

The pipes connecting the reservoir to the Cold Spring train station were completed, allowing the engines to be filled in about a quarter of the time. After further testing, the unsightly water tubs in front of the depot would be removed.

The Noisy Lads Social Club held a hop at the Cleremont House in Garrison.

Sylvester Allis, the editor of The Recorder, noted that, while researching local history on the occasion of Washington’s Birthday, he learned that “in passing from Fishkill to West Point, Gen. Washington was accustomed to ride, with one or two aides, through Nelsonville, across Margaret’s Falls Brook near the site of the stone bridge, thence through Plum Bush to Warren’s Landing, where boats were kept to connect with West Point.”

At the February session of the county court in Carmel, the grand jury (including two men from Philipstown) returned seven indictments: three for assault and battery, two for burglary and two for false pretenses.

The Nelsonville overseer of the poor announced he would not run for re-election, which The Recorder attributed to his caring at his home for two barefoot strangers who did not speak English but having his invoice to the village rejected.

Thieves broke into a railcar parked overnight at the Cold Spring station and took a shipment of almonds but left the tea and coffee untouched. Police surmised it was the work of boys since they stole only what they could consume. A watchman hired to guard the car reimbursed merchant Samuel Shultz for the loss.

An engineer at the depot narrowly escaped being blinded when a jet of hot oil was forced into his face by the steam escaping from the cylinder of an engine.

125 Years Ago (February 1898)

The Cold Spring Board of Trustees met but there was no business so it adjourned.

A field musician at West Point who attempted to hang himself after being spurned by a Cold Spring girl was court martialed and dismissed from the service.

James Harden-Hickey

James Harden-Hickey (left), the son-in-law of John Haldane Flagler, a former resident of Cold Spring, killed himself with morphine at a hotel in El Paso, Texas. Harden-Hickey, who had been a frequent visitor to the village, was despondent because he could not raise the funds to field an army to defend his 1893 claim to the island of Trinidad. He had declared himself its prince but the British in 1895 made their own claim.

The Recorder noted that mechanics who commuted from Newburgh to work at the Cornell Iron Works in Cold Spring each spent $8 a month [about $285 today] on ferry and train tickets. They typically began their morning trip on the 6:33 a.m. ferry and their evening return on the 6:33 p.m. train at Cold Spring.

Despite having to haul the hose cart through snowbanks, Cold Spring firefighters needed only seven minutes to respond to a blaze on the back stairs of the Mosher house at Main and Market streets. The fire was already under control because of the efforts of a bucket brigade. The Recorder noted that, had the fire occurred at night, the stairs were the only exit for the families living on the second and third floors.

Robert Paulding of Cold Spring competed in a 1-mile novice skating race at the Ice Palace in New York City. On the last straight, he collided with another competitor and both fell. Paulding managed to get to his feet to place second but, after a protest, he was relegated to third.

The air machinery that powered the gates at the intersection near the depot was malfunctioning, forcing drivers to dismount and raise or lower them by hand.

The New York Central Railroad Co. settled for $3,000 [about $107,000 today] with the widow of the locomotive fireman who was one of 19 people killed in a wreck in October near Garrison.

The members of Cold Spring Hose Co. No. 1 accepted a proposal by Judge Wood, who offered to construct a firehouse on a parcel he owned on Garden Street near Main.

The 16-member Forest Dramatic Co. performed the musical drama Among the Breakers at Town Hall, with a set that included a full-size lifeboat.

Irving McCoy, the editor of The Recorder, questioned the hygiene of many Cold Spring residents, whom he accused of being “shy of water.” He also observed that “the woman who will scrimp for a month to wear a stuffed blue bird on her hat cries her eyes out when the cat gets the canary.”

75 Years Ago (February 1948)

The rear roof over an unoccupied section of the century-old D. Yannitelli building at 158-162 Main St. collapsed under the weight of snow. The building formerly housed the Methodist Church.

Four of the five homes in the Whitehill development in Undercliff Park had been sold and two of the owners, Village Clerk Ronald McConville and Joseph Etta, had moved in. The two other owners were Hugh Clark of Beacon and Frederick Cunningham, the music instructor at the Haldane School.

charles wheeler locke
A self-portrait by Charles Wheeler Locke

A wash drawing by Charles Wheeler Locke of Garrison titled “Beer” was chosen for an annual exhibit of contemporary American sculpture, watercolors and drawings at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City.

Tom Donnelly was at Butterfield Memorial Hospital with a broken kneecap following an accident on Cat Rock Road in Garrison. Donnelly was driving to work when he met a truck driven by Morris Blaze of Feldman and Blaze’s Kosher Meat Market of Peekskill on a bad turn. He pulled over as far as the snow would allow but the truck rammed his car.

Two electives were added to the curriculum at the Haldane High School: personal and social development for girls and driver education and training, sponsored by the American Automobile Association with a dual-control Chevrolet loaned by a Nelsonville dealer. A similar class was offered before World War II but eliminated because of gas rationing.

Mr. and Mrs. Keith Livermore of Garrison announced the birth at home of a son at 4:20 a.m. on a Thursday morning. [The son, Keith, later enlisted in the U.S. Army and was killed in 1967, at age 19, by a sniper in Binh Dinh, Vietnam.]

The Teen Agers of Cold Spring held an organizational meeting at Village Hall.

Joseph Stevens, manager of the Hudson Theatre, announced that lenses had been placed on the projectors to increase the size of the picture by 18 inches. In addition, the carpeting in the lobby and men’s restroom had been replaced with tile and Stevens hoped to install air conditioning by June.

50 Years Ago (February 1973)

The Elementary Educational Task Force recommended to the Haldane school board that the district construct a $2.6 million, two-floor structure on 10.6 acres behind the annex with classrooms and a library, gymnasium and cafetorium (cafeteria/auditorium). A consultant also recommended a $900,000 renovation of the main building for the upper grades. Enrollment at Haldane had doubled over the previous 20 years, to more than 1,000 students.

The Cold Spring Village Board approved plans for Mayor’s Park, which would be located on either side of the sewage treatment plant on Fair Street. It would include a picnic area; playground; boccie court; basketball court; ice skating and hockey facilities; a six-lane, 440-yard track; and a baseball field for the newly formed Babe Ruth youth baseball league.

25 Years Ago (February 1998)

A joint subcommittee of the Haldane and Garrison school boards met to explore shared services, including sports, staff development, transportation and special education.

The Capuchin Franciscans Province of St. Mary said it planned to sell its property on Route 9D to a White Plains developer to create a retirement community and hotel. The Capuchins had owned the property since 1917, when they purchased it from Hamilton Fish. In 1973 the seminary became Capuchin Youth and Families Ministry, which would continue after the sale.

Sixty residents rallied at the Tiny Tots Park on High Street on a Sunday afternoon to protest a plan to relocate it to the northeast end of the block. The next morning, after a crew arrived to cut down what the village said were dangerous trees, a group of residents asked a state judge in Carmel to issue an injunction. In response, the village agreed to not remove any trees or move any playground equipment until March 12, its deadline to respond to the legal filing.

Mayor Anthony Phillips said that the state Transportation Department planned to reconstruct Route 301 from the Cold Spring traffic light to Route 9. The project would take about two years, he said.

Following a public hearing by the Nelsonville Planning Board over a proposal by the Putnam County Housing Corp. to build an 80-unit complex for seniors on a 4-acre parcel on Secor Street, the agency decided not to proceed. The plans would require a zoning change because the parcel was only approved for up to eight units. Residents who voiced opposition said they were not against senior housing but only the density of the project.

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.