Looking Back in Beacon

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

150 Years Ago (March 1873)

According to The Newburgh Telegraph, “the good people of Fishkill Landing are horrified at the fact that one of their most honored citizens has taken unto himself the wife of another man and left for parts unknown.”

Augustus Mosier caught a fox at Verplanks dock after it was driven into a crevice by a dog.

David Forshay, 18, of Matteawan, was sentenced to three years in the Albany penitentiary for stealing and general vagrancy.

The coroner reported that, over six years, there had been five people found dead who were never identified. Each was buried in a corner of the Methodist Episcopal cemetery reserved for paupers.

Martin Hines was injured on the job at J&W Rothery in Matteawan. He would fasten a file on a stick and, grasping an end in each hand, press it against a grindstone. When a stick broke, Hines fell flat against the grindstone, which threw him over the guard.

W.R. Edmond of Matteawan owned a 2-year-old Durham heifer that weighed 955 pounds.

William Vanderwerker, a former justice of the peace, was charged with bigamy. His wife, Rebecca, went to court when she learned he had married Minnie Lowe in Buffalo on Jan. 22.

The men at the Fishkill Landing Machine Works were building two upright engines of 100 horsepower each for the Hudson River Iron Works at Poughkeepsie.


The Fishkill Landing Machine Works built several Corliss steam engines, which were a hit at the 1873 Vienna Exposition.

The ferry track between Newburgh and Fishkill Landing was resumed by cutting a channel through 15 inches of ice.

Smith Van Buren of Fishkill Landing died at Brighton, England, where he had traveled the previous fall with his invalid son.

After two years of legal battles, John Leverich of Fishkill Landing recovered $33,000 from the New York City government for his contract to clean Broadway.

Forty street lamps were erected in Matteawan, powered by gas mains.

After an oyster supper at the Methodist Episcopal Church of Matteawan, the congregation presented the Rev. Thomas Lodge with $150 [$3,800 today].

Two brothers, the sons of Jesse Mead of Fishkill, died at Dutchess Junction when they jumped from the Cincinnati Express.

125 Years Ago (March 1898)

Benjamin Talbot, of Fishkill Landing, bought 30 acres of wooded land on the old post road between Fishkill and Cold Spring to build a hotel.

The Poughkeepsie Eagle-News noted that a notary public from Matteawan charged $1.27 [$32] each time he signed his name but that it was probably justified because his name was Wladyslaf Jacob Pralatowski.

John Place, treasurer of the Mechanics’ Savings Bank in Fishkill Landing, had years earlier lost six $5 bills issued by the National Bank of Fishkill. A laborer who had an account at Mechanics, having overheard a conversation about lost money, told Place that he once found six $5 bills from the Fishkill bank. He said they must have been the same and, handing Place his deposit book, told him to deduct the amount. Place declined, so the laborer did some work for him and refused payment.

The Cold Spring Recorder updated a report that J. Hervey Cook of Fishkill Landing had suffered a stroke. In fact, it said, it was acute indigestion.

The Mechanics’ Saving Bank foreclosed on the Rothery property, including the old grist mill, silk factory, file shop, mill house, water power and adjacent land extending to the rubber shop line. Sold in two parts, on either side of Mill Street, it realized $15,662 [$568,000].

A Brooklyn judge committed Anna Braun to the Matteawan Hospital for Insane Criminals. She had been acquitted by reason of insanity of killing her 7-year-old son by giving him Paris Green [insecticide] in soda water at a drugstore. Braun, who suffered from acute melancholia, was to remain at Matteawan until she recovered.

Chauncey Depew

Chauncey Depew

Chauncey Depew (right), a Peekskill native who would be elected in 1899 to the U.S. Senate, sent a representative to Matteawan for the sale of relics of Robert Johnston, his great-grandfather on his mother’s side. Johnston was a linen merchant who emigrated from Ireland in 1760.

The Matteawan-Fishkill Landing correspondent for the Poughkeepsie Eagle-News noted: “The two great needs of our twin villages are sewers and unity.”

According to The Fishkill Herald, six young men in Matteawan challenged each other to an oyster-eating contest. Each team of three could have their oysters cooked in any fashion as long as their mouths were constantly full. After two hours at the King of Pythias Hall, only the team captains remained. When John Mase passed out while raising a stewed oyster to his lips, W.B. Hinman downed a raw oyster to win.

Edward Dugan died at the General Hospital a few days after being injured while jumping from the trolley car near the Glenham switch. He was one of 50 graduates of the DeGarmo Institute after its move to Fishkill Landing.

“Aunt” Sally Dickson of Fishkill Landing died after her clothing caught on fire while she was burning weeds. She had rushed into her house and neighbors could not save her because her Newfoundland dog kept them at bay for 15 minutes.

Sisters Louisa and Mariana Collins completed their 47th year working together at a Fishkill Landing factory. They had missed only five or six days.

At the Matteawan Hospital for Insane Criminals, Dr. H.E. Allison, the superintendent, asked George Appo, a notorious pickpocket, about his craft. Appo smiled and explained his method. When he was finished, he handed Allison the roll of bills that had been in the doctor’s vest pocket.


An illustration from an 1897 book shows one of George Appo’s innovations.

100 Years Ago (March 1923)

Emilie Van Rensselaer prepared to leave for Syria so she could be closer to the Holy Land for the end of the world. She planned to join a mission there led by Bishop Ryan, an evangelist she heard at the Free Reading Room in Beacon.

Robert Kent Jr., a farmer from Glenham, was charged with assault for punching and choking the attorney of a man suing Kent over a debt. The Beacon lawyer said he was questioning Kent about his finances when the farmer said that “you won’t get a damn cent” and punched him in the jaw, then choked him on the floor until another lawyer intervened.

The construction of the Chelsea Hospital, which was expected to use 100,000 gallons of water a day, compelled the city to consider a referendum for a $190,000 bond [$3.3 million] to build a dam and filtration plant.

Engineers completed plans for a concrete highway between Beacon and Cold Spring. The original drawings called for a 16-foot-wide surface but the planners lobbied for another $10,500 [$185,000] to expand to 18 feet because of the expected traffic.

A Beacon Native at the White House

As part of the centennial celebration of the White House News Photographers Association, the Beacon Historical Society will host an exhibit on one of its founding members, Harry Van Tine (1885-1968), a native of Fishkill Landing (now Beacon). The Eyes of History opens from 1 to 4 p.m. on Saturday (March 25) and continues through May 6.

Van Tine

Harry Van Tine (left) with a colleague, Joe Johnson, in Washington in 1924

“Harry developed a keen interest in the nascent field of photography at the turn of the 20th century,” said Diane Lapis, the special projects manager for the BHS. “His early photographs were printed on hundreds of souvenir postcards and sold by the thousands at the Van Tine stationery store, creating a visual history of the Hudson Valley.”

While working as a photojournalist for Hearst in New York City, Van Tine was sent in 1915 to open a bureau in Washington, D.C. The WHNPA was founded in 1921 to get photographers better access to the White House.

Van Tine spent more than 50 years photographing presidents and other leaders, historical figures and world events. He also served as a manager for the International News Photo agency.

The Eyes of History includes seldom-seen photos from the WHNPA archives. Along with 12 panels recounting 100 years of White House and presidential history, the BHS exhibit documents Van Tine’s life.

The Beacon Historical Society, at 61 Leonard St., is open from 10 a.m. to noon on Thursdays and from 1 to 3 p.m. on Saturdays. See beaconhistorical.org. Lapis will speak about Van Tine at 7 p.m. Tuesday (March 28) at St. Joachim’s School Hall, 51 Leonard St. The event will also be accessible via Zoom.

A site at Main Street and Teller Avenue was selected for the veterans memorial building, which was expected to cost $60,000 [$1.1 million]. The lot was purchased by the city for $5,000 [$88,000].

Nancy Glacea, 18, of Beacon, and Anna Rossi, 20, of Millbrook, who became friends while they shared a room at Bowne Memorial Hospital in Wappingers Falls, died within a few hours of each other after lengthy illnesses.

Police were investigating the fifth burglary in two weeks. They suspected a gang of teenagers, since the thieves often took small change.

A gale blew down the brick walls of a building being constructed at the corner of Main Street and Fishkill Avenue.

In a joint statement, the mayor and police chief claimed that they had driven every narcotics dealer out of the city. However, the Poughkeepsie Eagle-News noted they drug sales seemed to be humming along at the Dutchess Junction brickyards.

75 Years Ago (March 1948)

The landlord of the city’s Main Street offices informed the council he planned to raise the rent by 100 percent, to $150 per month [about $1,900]. The city instead moved its offices to 453 Main St. for $125 per month.

Beacon schools faced a teacher shortage because of a surge of kindergarten and first-grade students.

A Union Street resident told police that someone hit his car at Wolcott and Teller and drove off. After canvassing the area, officers found a vehicle with fresh damage parked outside a diner and arrested the 20-year-old owner, who was eating lunch.

A reappraisal of properties in Beacon at 100 percent of market value raised the total assessed value from $11 million to $17 million, costing the school district about $41,000 [$512,000] in state aid.

Burglars stole $1,000 worth of fountain pens and pencils from R.T. Van Tine’s stationery store at 177 Main St.

A 28-year-old Beacon man who had convictions for assaulting women in 1940 and 1947 was arrested in connection with an attack in Poughkeepsie.

Police searched a wooded area east of Route 9D for a man accused of stabbing a woman inside a Marlboro tavern the day before. He had been aboard a train to New York City; when police stopped it at Beacon to arrest him, he jumped and fled into the freight yard.

A 31-year-old Beacon woman was arrested after she allegedly bit the ear of another woman during a fight. The wound required seven stitches.

50 Years Ago (March 1973)

The Beacon High School boys’ basketball team finished 21-1 (losing only to Poughkeepsie) and won the Section I, Class B title. The team members were Dave Lucas, Armie Hicks, Rodney Paulin, George Hughes, Tom Powers, Joe Powell, Mark DiRocco, Lewis Brown, Steve Armstrong, Tony DeGelormo, Dan Lucas and Joe Simmons.

The Republican Committee considered six candidates for mayor before selecting Francis Moore, a member of the Dutchess Legislature. The Democrats endorsed incumbent Robert Cahill.

Developers asked the Planning Board to approve a 52-unit condo development at Sargent Avenue and Wodenethe Street. The board chair noted it had heard four proposals for the site over 10 years but none had panned out.

Two hundred firefighters from eight companies fought a blaze for 11 hours that destroyed three buildings in the urban renewal area. The former Inflated Rubber Products factory and two houses on River Street slated for demolition were destroyed. Hundreds of spectators watched from higher ground.

25 Years Ago (March 1998)

Carl Lindquist opened Carl’s Beacon Market at 400 Fishkill Ave., in the former 17,600-square-foot A&P supermarket.

A 32-year-old Newburgh man jumped to his death from a girder on the Newburgh-Beacon Bridge on a Monday evening after talking with police negotiators for eight hours. Two of the three westbound lanes of Interstate 84 were closed during the ordeal, creating a three-hour wait for drivers crossing from Beacon.

For the first time, a Beacon High School production included movable sets, for Hello, Dolly! It was only the second musical performed by students. Pat DeLeo, the director, said they had already done five Shakespeare comedies “and I didn’t think the tragedies would attract an audience.”

A state review found the Beacon school district had made academic progress in the lower grades but was still lagging at the high school. Only 26 percent of the Class of 1997 graduated with Regents’ diplomas, compared to 46 percent of students in similar schools, and 23 percent had been suspended at some time during the previous year for disciplinary reasons.

Martina Heath of Beacon High School finished third in the high jump at the New York State Championships.

The state opened a dedicated E-Z Pass lane on the Newburgh-Beacon Bridge after complaints from drivers who said they were repeatedly stuck behind drivers who didn’t have exact change or used commuter toll booklets.

Ron Iarossi, owner of Kringle’s Christmas House in Beacon, hosted the inaugural Ultimate Chocolate Festival at a hotel in Poughkeepsie.

Once a week, employees of the Dutchess County Health Department visited Beacon to stop teens and young adults on the street and offer pamphlets about HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases, condoms and instructions on how to sterilize needles.

The City Council approved a special-use permit for Doug Berlin, who planned to demolish three buildings at 446-452 Main St. to construct a restaurant, storefront and four apartments. “It’s amazing how fluid this process is,” Berlin said.

Department of Public Works employees made a gruesome discovery on a Wednesday afternoon at Riverfront Park: five decapitated pit bulls. Police said they had no leads.

Beacon had spent $4 million of $8 million budgeted to repair the worst 75 of its 220 streets. The city asked homeowners to pay half the cost of repairing sidewalks in front of their properties.

Teachers and students at Glenham Elementary School organized a Pounds of Pennies fundraiser to help fix the roof at the Howland Cultural Center. One pound equals 160 pennies; the school had collected 1,340 pounds.

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