Editor’s note: Beacon was created in 1913 from Matteawan and Fishkill Landing.

150 Years Ago (February 1873)

The Phoenix Manufacturing Co. of Fishkill contracted to build 20 brick machines of a new patent for a gentleman in Newark. At the same time, the machine shop at H.N. Swift in Matteawan was manufacturing an invention by a South Carolina man that, using a spring, could run a sewing machine for 90 minutes without winding.

A ferry was under construction that would be capable of transferring a full train’s worth of passengers from Fishkill Landing to Newburgh.

J.G. Murphy, principal of the Matteawan Union School, was being investigated because he allegedly improperly punished a student.

L.G. Contarini, the former editor of the defunct Matteawan Chronicle who was serving a two-year sentence at Sing Sing for bigamy, said he had given up on receiving a pardon from the governor, although Wife No. 3 was still working to procure one.

While cutting wood on a Philipstown estate, the son of Joseph Wood of Fishkill Landing struck his ax on the instep of his right foot. A co-worker helped him to a temporary hut and bound his foot with rope. At daylight, another crew member begged a passing farmer to take Wood on his wagon to Cold Spring, but the farmer refused, saying he had a full load. Finally, Wood found a ride in the afternoon, nearly 24 hours after the accident, where surgeons Lente and Murdock reconnected the artery. Wood then took the late train home from Cold Spring.

The editor of the Fishkill Journal said he would no longer be lending books because his library had been reduced to dictionaries and government documents.

Prof. J.W. Doughty and members of his class at the Academy “chained” the distance from the Newburgh dock to Pollopel’s Island [later Bannerman’s] and found it be 3 miles and 37 hundredths.

A party of ladies and gentlemen hired a sleigh to take them from Glenham to Wappingers Falls, returning by way of Fishkill. It appeared the drivers indulged too freely in gin in Wappingers and Fishkill, which, according to The Cold Spring Recorder, “made them rather talkative.” They “commenced using insulting language, whereupon the gentlemen gave them a sound thrashing” and took over the sleigh and horses to drive the remainder of the route without them.

A uniformed body was found on the tracks just south of Fishkill Landing. It was surmised the man had been hit by a northbound train and thrown onto the opposite track, where the body was hit by a southbound train.

A couple was arrested at Fishkill Landing for shoplifting. Henry Wilson and Mary O’Neil visited the dry goods store of J.E. Member & Sons, where Wilson purchased an undershirt while O’Neil purportedly secreted three shawls and three rubber dolls. The couple next visited Lester & Harrington, where they allegedly stole two coats, and T&J Ambrey, where Wilson was measured for pants while O’Neil reportedly lifted blue cloth, cassimere (a tightly woven fabric) and silk. Suspicious, the tailor followed them across the river, where he found O’Neil in a clothing store on Front Street, trying on a coat. Wilson was arrested at a nearby saloon.

Thomas Thorne, the milkman, was driving from Fishkill Village to Matteawan when three men asked for a ride. When Thorne refused — the conditions were poor and he had a heavy load — one of the men grabbed a cover from a milk can and struck him in the head. Thorne managed to whip up his horse and escape. Authorities suspected the same men broke into Tallmadge & Williams’ market at Matteawan the next day.

The Poughkeepsie Journal ran a correction to a report that had stated that Charles Francis Green had been arrested in Matteawan for abandoning his wife and children. The paper said the report had done an injustice to the hard-working Green, for it was Mrs. Green who abandoned him, then sued him for child support.

125 Years Ago (February 1898)

While rushing in the dark to the window at the sound of an outside alarm on Fishkill Landing, Mrs. J.W. Spaight, the wife of the editor of the Fishkill Standard, stepped off the upper step of the staircase, falling and breaking her wrist.

Nehemiah Place, the oldest resident of Fishkill Landing, died at age 92. Born in 1806, he served as postmaster for 12 years.

Fire destroyed the Osborne House, known as “The Fort,” about a mile outside Fishkill. Built in 1752 by Daniel Budd, it was used as a blockhouse or outpost to defend against Native Americans and later as a stagecoach relay house.

A well-dressed man appeared at the Delaware House in Port Jervis, giving his name as C.W. Sterling and saying he was the advance man for a theater company then in Middletown. He inquired about the cost of rooms for 12 people for two weeks, then presented a check for $86.50 [about $3,100 today] drawn on the First National Bank of Fishkill. The proprietor telegraphed the bank to make sure the check was good. The reply came: “Check is no good. Hold the man. Don’t let him escape. Officer will go for him.” Officer Moshier of Fishkill Landing arrived that evening, arrested Sterling at the concert hall and brought him to Matteawan. Sterling pleaded guilty to defrauding the Grand Army of the Republic (by keeping money collected for its production of The Prince of Liars) and a jeweler (by providing a worthless $50 check as security for three gold rings).

The deckhands on the Ramsdell threw ropes from the side of the ferry to rescue four skaters on the Hudson River who were adrift on a cake of ice.

George Bonticou of Matteawan said he had obtained options on most brickyards along the Hudson River to form a brick trust with capital of several million dollars. The only holdout was the Rose Brick Co. of Roseton, 4 miles north of Newburgh.

A wood-sawing contest for charity between young women was such a hit that organizers arranged for them to return to the Dibble Opera House the next day for a nail-driving contest. Pieces of joist were arranged on the stage with seven hammers and a pile of 10-penny wire nails. The winner was Belle Moshier, who drove 20 nails to the heads in four minutes. She also won the sawing contest.

Mark Lounsberry Jr. won a wager when he crossed the river to Newburgh by jumping from one floating ice cake to another. It took 45 minutes.

100 Years Ago (February 1923)

A Beacon man was granted a divorce after two private detectives he hired to trail his wife told a judge she had stayed with another man overnight in a rooming house on Catherine Street. The wife offered no defense, and the husband was given custody of their 13-year-old son.

John Cronin
John Cronin

John Cronin (right), who was defeated in the Republican primary for commissioner of public safety, said he would not run as an independent. He had been a city official since Beacon was incorporated in 1913.

In a special election, voters approved a proposal to spend up to $60,000 [about $1 million] to build a Memorial Hall in remembrance of the great war. It would include an auditorium for concerts and a floor for dancing and basketball.

Ogden Seaman, 15, a Beacon High School student, died of a “lingering malady” at Vassar Hospital in Poughkeepsie. Three classmates had each donated a pint of blood for transfusions so he might have the strength to sustain an operation.

The coach of the Beacon High School basketball team kicked four players off the team, saying they had played in a game not sanctioned by the school.

William Conzelman, a resident of the Gallaudet Home for Deaf Mutes in New Hamburg, died at Highland Hospital at age 78. A native of Bavaria, he came to the U.S. in his late 20s.

Raymond Delehay, a Beacon native who was serving in the U.S. Navy, was seriously injured when his Curtiss N-9 seaplane overturned in San Diego Bay. A chief machinist’s mate was killed in the crash.

The Young People’s Local Union of the First Baptist Church began a petition drive to ban movie theaters from operating on Sundays.

A 4-year-old boy lost an eye and two fingers when the kitchen stove exploded in his home on Hudson Avenue.

Lewis Ebert, who commuted daily from Beacon to lower Manhattan for 25 years, calculated that he had spent nearly five years in transit, covering 39,000 miles annually, and spent $3,000 [$52,000] over the years on fares. His 2½-hour trip each way included the Beacon trolley, the New York Central and the subway. Ebert managed a commission house that dealt in butter, cheese and eggs.

75 Years Ago (February 1948)

A 24-year-old man was charged with assault following a knife fight at Brooks’ Tavern on Main Street. The victim, an attendant at the Matteawan State Hospital, needed 27 stitches in his forehead.

A man loitering at the train station at 7 a.m. apparently stole an idling Palisi Brothers taxi and drove it to the Peekskill station, where a conductor said he boarded a train to New York City.

A Wolcott Avenue man was arrested for petty larceny after his wife told police she had given him $3 but that he grabbed her purse and took another $15.

A varsity basketball game in which Beacon hosted Commerce High School of Yonkers ended in the third quarter when the referee declared a forfeit by the visitors. He had just tossed Commerce’s leading scorer and its coach from the game for protesting a foul call, but they kept arguing. In the junior varsity game, a Commerce player accidentally struck a Beacon player in the face while waving his arms in celebration of a 22-20 win, leading to a scrum with fans.

Under a formula devised by Gov. Dewey’s Committee on State Education, Beacon would receive $212,000 [$2.6 million] in state aid, or 50 percent more than the year before.

Peter Idema Jr. narrowly escaped being electrocuted after his truck skidded and knocked down an electric light pole on East Main Street. When he attempted to push the pole off the truck, he came in contact with wires carrying 2,400 volts. He fell to the pavement with the pole on top of him; two co-workers traveling with him managed to lift it and take him to Highland Hospital.

50 Years Ago (February 1973)

Coach Rick Pam
Coach Rick Pam

The Beacon boys’ basketball team, under first-year coach Rick Pam (right), was 17-0 before falling at home to Poughkeepsie, 79-68, in the final game of the season.

The state Assembly unanimously passed a bill to relocate a proposed arterial route through Beacon. Democrats initially objected because they believed the route was being changed to demolish more low-income housing. But Beacon officials said the change would reduce the number of relocations. A Democratic member from Manhattan said he was a friend of Pete Seeger and he “didn’t want to vote for a bill that would railroad his house down,” although the folk singer lived on the top of a mountain south of Beacon, nowhere near the proposed route.

The Planning Board said it favored two of the seven proposed routes for the artery, one that made Main Street the thoroughfare between Route 9D and Interstate 84 and the other that designated Church Street.

Mayor Robert Cahill announced a crackdown on unpaid parking tickets, noting that 55 percent of the 257 tickets issued in January remained unpaid. The City Council also approved the purchase of a speed radar gun for $985 [$6,600].

The Beacon-Fishkill Chamber of Commerce announced the formation of the Beacon Retail Association to distribute brochures and promote Friday night shopping.

The Planning Board turned down a request from taxi company owner Edward Morgan to open a gas station at Main and Elm streets. Morgan protested that a lumberyard had been allowed to build on the site of the demolished Dutchess Hotel across the street, without any oversight by the board.

A fire that shot through the roof of Bernstein’s Toy Store, at 472 Main St., spread to the upper floors of 468, 466 and 462 Main before firefighters could contain it.

The Beacon school board’s building committee presented a $4.5 million proposal [about $30 million today] to add 17 classrooms to three elementary schools, convert Rombout Middle School to a high school and renovate the high school into a three-year middle school. State aid would cover 60 percent of the cost.

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.