Looking Back in Philipstown

150 Years Ago (March 1873)

Seventeen residents put their names on the ballot at Town Hall for village offices, including nine candidates for five trustee positions.

While canvassing the vote, the trustees found that a resident had accidentally cast a prescription from Dr. Murdock, rather than his ballot.

Just after midnight on a Wednesday, the railroad watcher fired his pistol at men trying to break into a car on the south switches.

Three young men from Swartoutville, a hamlet near Fishkill, rode a sleigh to Philipstown to party at the High House. When they prepared to leave, they found their horse gone and assumed it had run away toward home. But after dragging the sleigh with frozen fingers back to Dutchess County, they discovered the horse was not there and had to return the next day to Philipstown to search for it.

Samuel Austin had a close call when, as he was crossing the railroad tracks with a load of wood, the whiffletree (connecting rod) gave away, separating the horses. The flagman was able to alert the 5:20 express, which applied its steam brakes.

So much snow fell on the mountain roads that Benjamin Ireland could not reach the village for four days. The thermometer dropped to 11 degrees below zero one morning at the Smith home near McKeel’s Corners [Routes 9 and 301].

John Baxter of South Highlands brought into the village the carcass of a “gigantic wild cat” he caught in a trap.

The Cold Spring Recorder reported that investors in a grocery cooperative formed two years earlier had lost their money, victims of competition with profit-motivated grocers. The co-op’s agent, William Truesdell, “hearing certain stories are being circulated reflecting on my character as an honest man,” said he was ready at any time to share its business records.

The state Legislature passed a bill on March 20 that allowed Philipstown to hold a referendum on whether to sell Town Hall, although The Recorder opined that its only value would be as a schoolhouse. The vote to sell the building failed by 60 votes.

The congregation and Sunday School of the Baptist Church showed up unannounced at the home of Stephen Hughson on Division Street to surprise him with supper and parlor games.

Early returns indicated that the Putnam County Board of Supervisors would have four Republicans and two Democrats. The Democrats represented Carmel and Putnam Valley.

After West Point cadets reported that a team, sleigh and two men had wandered from the staked track between the wharf and Constitution Island and broken through the ice near the Sunken Rocks, six Cold Spring men carried boards and planks to the scene. The only damage was to the harness, which had to be cut to extricate the animals.

Riding on the rear platform of a northbound train as it approached Breakneck, a railroad detective saw a man lying across the west track. He pulled a rope to stop the train and walked back to investigate. The detective and the night watchman at the crossing removed the man to Sandy Landing, outside the fence, although he was angry with his rescuers for waking him.

Residents reported a race through the streets of eastern Nelsonville between the driver of a sled carrying iron ore and another heavy with wood.

John Aldon, while chopping wood at Lake Surprise Farm, split the big toe of his left foot lengthwise. He was placed on a sled and taken to his home in Breakneck, where Dr. Murdock dressed the wound.

William Mosier, missing his rooster and suspecting his dog, trekked into the woods until he found a place where the snow was disturbed. There he found Chanticleer, with a few minor wounds and missing feathers, buried in a drift but alive.

The Recorder reported that, for the first time, a fake marriage notice had made it into print. The editor said the announcement for the union of Harrison Chapman and Belinda Bean, of Putnam Valley, was smuggled into the printing office as a prank. The paper was notified by Miss Bean.

A stray dog that bit a boy visiting from New Jersey in the face was taken to Sandy Landing by one of his relatives and shot.

As of March 21, the Hudson River was still icebound. In the previous 50 years, the earliest it had opened was Feb. 4 (1842) and the latest was April 13 (1843).

Two travelers with an “educated” bear paraded on Main Street, soliciting coins, and put up on Kemble Avenue for the night but departed early the next morning.

Mrs. William Brewster broke her collarbone when she was thrown from a wagon after two of its side wheels dropped into a deep rut.

When the wheel on a carriage driven by Elisha Barrett broke near MeKeel’s Corners, a piece of wood penetrated the horse’s leg, severing an artery. Barrett supposed the animal would bleed to death, but Dr. Murdock happened along, rendered the horse insensible with ether, restored the arterial circuit and bound the wound.

Officer Morrison arrested a man who stole an overcoat from Patrick Monaghan’s clothesline. He found him walking along the railroad tracks toward Fishkill.

A number of woodmen at MeKeel’s timber lots in Maryland returned to Cold Spring, frightened by rumors of smallpox.

125 Years Ago (March 1898)

Isaac Jaycox opened a butcher shop in Nelsonville. “Good meat is better than medicine,” he said.

W.S. Andrews on the river road hoped to hire a farmer who could drive and understood poultry and fruit.

James N. Paulding

James N. Paulding in 1869

James N. Paulding, the son of James Kirke Paulding, a former secretary of the Navy, died at age 64. After his mother died when he was a boy, James was raised in Cold Spring by his aunt, Mrs. Robert Parrott.

Nelsonville residents voted to have sidewalks repaired by general taxation (rather than relying on property owners) and to eliminate the poll tax.

An edition of the New York Evening World included an illustration of Robert Paulding of Cold Spring, who was described as “a wonderful jumper on skates.” His specialty was broad jumping, with a personal best of 18 feet, 9 inches. His best high jump was 3 feet, 10¼ inches, and his standing backward jump was 35 inches. He also succeeded on skates in clearing 8 feet, 6 inches on the pole vault.

A complaint was made to the Board of Trustees about young men congregating at the corner of Kemble Avenue and Main Street and harassing pedestrians.

Sgt. Charles Fisher, chief detective at West Point, killed himself by turning on the gas in a room in the library building. Fisher, who had been in the service for 26 years, had been court-martialed for fighting in the post saloon and demoted to private. The fight apparently started after an argument over whether Spain was to blame for the destruction in February of the U.S. battleship Maine in Havana harbor, which helped spark the Spanish-American War.

A federal court ruled that Richard Nicolas Warren, who claimed he was Spanish because he had been born in occupied Puerto Rico, was, in fact, a U.S. citizen. Richard was the son of Nelson Warren, an engineer born in Cold Spring who moved to Puerto Rico when he was 30 and lived there for 45 years before returning to his hometown. Richard Warren hoped to receive compensation from Spain for damages to his property in Puerto Rico during the Cuban war for independence.

Lakeshore Limited

The Lakeshore Limited passed by Cold Spring daily in 1898.

The Lake Shore Limited, which passed by Cold Spring daily while traveling between New York City and Chicago, was noted for its luxuries, including interior electric lights, a barber shop, toilet room, smoking room and library. The last car was for observation and fitted with easy chairs and a rear platform.

The state said Haldane would receive $839.36 in funding [about $30,000 today] for the 1898-99 school year, and Nelsonville would get $374.35 [$13,500].

Richard Gregg, the gardener at the Garrison estate of Charles de Rham, widened the road by 6 feet at the turn of the road running parallel with Indian Brook from the estate’s south entrance to the bridge.

Daisy Riggs, 3, of Nelsonville, died after her clothes caught fire while she and her friends were playing near a bonfire.

Workmen repairing William Croft’s home in Garrison were taking up an old floor when they discovered a cannonball that probably dated to the Revolution.

Hon. Hamilton Fish wrote home to say he had dined in Egypt with the U.S. ambassador.

The Haldane truant officer said he had made 90 official home visits in February and received satisfactory excuses from parents for their children’s absence at 88 of them.

John Robinson, 24, of Garrison, who had recently graduated from Eastman College, died of the measles.

After the election, the county Board of Supervisors had three Democrats (Putnam Valley, Carmel, Southeast) and three Republicans (Kent, Patterson, Philipstown).

Arthur Outhouse, a resident of Garrison, moved to Peekskill.

Someone kicked in the door of Charley Lau, the Chinese laundry man. Officer McCaffrey was instructed to arrest the first person caught annoying Lau.

While excavating in the yard of the Post building on Kemble Avenue, workmen uncovered an oblong cut stone believed to be an Indian relic.

A woman without a home, who gave her name as Jane Wilson, was arrested and brought before Justice Riggs. She promised to leave town if he released her.

A runaway horse on Main Street caught and carried away the water pump at the corner of Main and Market streets, the stoop post at the Mosher building and part of the stoop at the McIntyre building.

The Cold Spring trustees considered two candidates for street commissioner: incumbent Sela Post and challenger Michael Casey. The latter was chosen, 4-1. Trustee King remarked that he worked alongside his employees every day, and that he felt a street commissioner should do the same.

Harry Timm of Cold Spring, who was present at the launching of the battleships Kearsage and Kentucky in Newport News, Virginia, reported in a letter that it had been decided to christen the ships with water instead of Champagne. However, as the Kentucky slid into the bay, Kentuckians present threw about 100 bottles of whiskey that shattered against its steel side.

William Phyfe received a contract to paint a drop curtain for the Depew Opera House in Peekskill showing a Saxon landscape with cottages.

100 Years Ago (March 1923)

A judge ruled that Stuyvesant Fish had to return land that he purchased in southern Philipstown at a tax sale in 1916. The parcel’s previous owner, Harrison Mills, sued after losing the property, and a state court ruled that Putnam County could only sell land to recover back taxes if the owner had not paid anything. Mills had made a partial payment.

POSTCARDS READY — The Putnam History Museum has completed the scanning of 240 early 20th-century postcards donated by Barry and MJ Ross of Garrison. The images, which showcase the Hudson River Valley, are available at putnamhistorymuseum.org and nyheritage.org.

75 Years Ago (March 1948)

The Cold Spring Lions Club celebrated its ninth anniversary at the Hudson View Hotel. According to The Philipstown Times, the entertainment for the 65 members and their guests included choral selections by The Octavians and novelty songs by an accordionist and guitar player.

The Haldane High School boxing team hosted Hastings at the Haldane gym.

Hobby House Inc., which manufactured rustic wooden souvenirs, opened in Cold Spring.

John Dieweler, the caretaker of the Benjamin Weise home on East Mountain, died in a 1 a.m. fire that destroyed the structure.

50 Years Ago (March 1973)

Cold Spring officials asked if any parents knew the whereabouts of the double street sign from Main and Crown streets.

The Philipstown Board of Assessors was notified by the state that because the Metropolitan Transportation Authority had started leasing land owned by Penn Central, the property should be removed from the tax rolls.

Robert Beckhard announced he would be conducting the newly formed Garrison Chorale and that auditions would be held at the Garrison Art Center.

The Philipstown Volunteer Ambulance Corps bestowed its first life membership on Frank Basso, one of its founders.

The Haldane school board hired an architectural firm to prepare drawings for a 750-student elementary school. A study had found the district had nearly 400 more students than capacity, which would grow to 673 by 1977.

Barbara Impellittiere, 27, was elected as the first female mayor of Cold Spring, 510-142. She was also the first female mayor in Putnam County, and probably the youngest female mayor elected in the state.

The American Legion in Cold Spring created a club for the sons and grandsons of its veterans. The charter members were Donato Yannitelli, Anthony Yannitelli, Tino Yannitelli, Peter Raleigh, Dean Roy, Anthony Percacciolo, Glenn Galligan, Cary Downey, Larry Downey Jr., John LaComte and John Van Tassel.

Bruyn Polhemus of Haldane High School finished eighth in the shot put at the state track meet at Cornell with a throw of 52 feet, 8 inches.

25 Years Ago (March 1998)

Robert Bondi, the Putnam County executive, said he planned to run for a third term. He was elected in 1979 as the first chairman of the county Legislature after it switched from a board of supervisors.

The Rev. Robert Douty became the pastor at the Cold Spring Baptist Church. For the previous two years, he had taught third grade at the Garrison School and directed Christian education at St. Philip’s Episcopal Church.

In a court-ordered referendum, 70 percent of Putnam Valley residents confirmed a Town Board decision to disband the police department.

A court ruled that Philipstown could not regulate soil mining because, under state law, municipalities only had control over operating hours, traffic and dust control. However, a community could ban soil mining.

By a 4-1 vote, the Town Board appointed Roger Chirico as the new highway superintendent.

A group of parents agreed to drop a lawsuit against Cold Spring over the proposed relocation of the Tots Park on High Street. Instead, a new group, the Friends of Tot Park, submitted a report to the board with recommendations.

Building Bridges, Building Boats was created in Cold Spring to offer a program in which students would build a traditional Hudson River shad-netting boat.

Jim Guinan, the owner of Guinan’s Garrison Country Store on the Landing, was grandmaster of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Peekskill. Born and raised in County Offaly, he immigrated to the U.S. aboard the Queen Mary with his wife, Peg, and their four children.

Joyce Blum, a resident of South Mountain Pass in Garrison, refused to leave the corner of her property so Central Hudson crews could cut down trees near the power lines, as it had done on the other side of the road. She sat on a boulder and called the police, who told her Central Hudson was prepared to get a court order.

The Haldane girls’ basketball team (25-2) claimed its third Class D title, defeating Westport, who had stymied the Blue Devils in the 1996 title game. In the semifinal win over Batavia-Notre Dame, Aaron Nastasi scored her 1,000th career point.

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