150 Years Ago (April 1873)

Gouverneur Kemble, 86, a former two-term congressman and co-founder of the West Point Foundry, suffered a stroke that affected the left side of his body but within a week was able to sit up and converse with friends.

At Town Hall, G. Swaine Buckley and Sam Sharpley performed the burlesque opera La Somnambula, “as played by them, during the entire season, at the St. James Theater, New York.” It was followed by a comic sketch, “Fresh from the Farm.”

Officer Morrison began to crack down on rabble-rousers during Town Hall performances, allowing no one past the door unless they were there to buy tickets, preventing anyone from climbing to the windows to peer inside and keeping anyone outside from shouting during shows.

Capt. Satterlee of the sloop A. Lewis encountered a squall opposite Cold Spring, which upset the stove and set the cabin on fire. He said the hatches, cabin doors and lines all washed overboard.

Cmdr. Richard W. Meade III, a former Cold Spring resident, was relieved from the command of the Narragansett at Panama by Commander George Dewey. Meade had left New York City in March 1871 to take the steamer on a diplomatic journey through the South Pacific; it spent 432 days at sea.

The excavation of the cellar at the southeast corner of Parrott and Pine streets was completed for the construction of a cottage for E. Ferris.

A worker began to install a tin roof on Town Hall.

P. Nichols, the news dealer and musical instruments and sewing machine retailer, moved from his store near the post office to a space across the street.

Seven sloops, five schooners and a canal boat were the first arrivals of the season at the Cold Spring docks.

Albert Lawrence was attempting to remove an old window with a chisel when the tool slipped and badly cut his cheek and lip. He was seen the next day on Main Street with his head bandaged.

The owner of Huckleberry Hill in Nelsonville exchanged it for a property in Brooklyn.

John Bates announced he had received a patent for his window-sash ventilator, which had slides that could be opened.

James Bleir, who claimed to be a wallpaper printer from New York City, was arrested after residents of Garden Street spotted him in a tree in Miss Smith’s yard, “acting in a singular manner.” He was sentenced to 30 days in jail.

The Cold Spring Recorder reported that a coachman, while blowing his nose, forced an eye from its socket. It was pushed back in by a co-worker, and the coachman was seen in the village with his head bandaged. (The next week, the Recorder issued a correction, noting that the “unprofessional” witnesses had exaggerated; he had only burst a blood vessel in his eye.)

The trunk of a chestnut tree cut down at the old Episcopal Church rested under the snow over the winter, apparently worthless except as firewood. But two axmen began chopping and created four smooth pieces of valuable ship timber.

An advertisement for Den Stone’s Circus that appeared in The ColdSpring Recorder
An advertisement for Den Stone’s Circus that appeared in The Cold Spring Recorder

Den Stone’s Circus was scheduled to present two tent shows with 46 performers and elephants, camels and other wild beasts but the troupe was delayed by weather on the road from Carmel and had to cancel the matinee.

Three boys were arrested by Officer Morrison and charged with forcing the clerk at the Southard House into a box that they set on the railroad tracks, as a prank. A judge ordered them to each pay $100 bail [$2,500 today] against a June court date in Carmel.

The Philipstown timbermen who spent the winter working in the oak swamps and forests near Brashear City, Louisiana, began to return home.

In eastern Philipstown, James Miller sowed 5 acres with oats on April 29 in sight of a snow bank.

A traveling French fiddle-grinder impressed residents with his whistling.

Explore the Past

The Putnam History Museum has produced a number of handsome guides to area historical spots that can be downloaded online or picked up at the museum when it reopens for the season in May.

Putnam History Museum guidebooksHistory Hikes
Benedict Arnold’s Flight Path
Little Stony Point

History Crawls
American Revolution
Cold Spring
Garrison’s Landing and Arden Point

125 Years Ago (April 1898)

Arthur Wise was seen on Main Street with his head wrapped in a bandage after he was struck with a hammer by Raymond O’Connell.

Capt. Edmund Zalinski, inventor of the Zalinski dynamite gun manufactured at the West Point Foundry, was hospitalized in New York City with the grippe [flu] and bronchitis.

Two men reported being mugged in Cold Spring: Albert Van Buskirk said he was assaulted by two strangers on lower Main Street who rifled his pockets and took $12. The other victim, who declined to give his name, said he was assaulted near B Street by street two men who went through his empty pockets.

In a third incident, the station agent, James McAndrew, was accosted by two men on Main Street at Market. When they blocked his path on the sidewalk, he asked if it was a holdup. Before they could answer, he had one man by the throat and was punching him in the face. The other man tried to pull McAndrew off but fled when told if he continued he would be killed on the spot. The next morning, the men called upon McAndrew and apologized, saying they had been intoxicated and just horsing around.

Mary Eastwood, the wife of Charles Farmer, died at her home on Parsonage Street at age 52 of internal cancer, while John Burk, a former village resident, died at a New York City hospital during an operation to remove a tumor from his tongue.

A baby boy, about a day old, was left in a basket on the stoop of the Bethany Day Nursery on the river road. The child was turned over to the poormaster.

In the North Highlands, Robert Barrett’s poultry was averaging 60 eggs a day.

The Alonzo Hatch Electro-Photo Musical Co., in anticipation of two performances at the Baptist Church, offered a high-grade bicycle to the person who sold the most tickets. The performances were delayed four days when the Hatch equipment was erroneously shipped to Cold Spring in Steuben County.

Nine of the Chinese workers injured in October during the deadly New York Central derailment in Garrison — including Ong On, Wong Gim, Chin Luon Hong, Chin Lee Song and Chin Fong Hof — each sued the railroad for $50,000 [$1.25 million].

John Lowry, who had charge of Capt. Henry Metcalfe’s estate, was seen riding up Main Street with nearly a wagonload of Easter lilies to decorate St. Mary’s.

John Frazier and Joseph Carver, representing the Storm King Pants Co., visited Cold Spring.

T.U. Mckeel said he would provide a man and team to Cold Spring for street cleaning at no charge if the ashes could be dumped on his property at the foot of Market Street, where he was creating a dock for his coal yard.

Samuel Haight, who left Cold Spring at age 24 for Illinois, died at age 87. He was known for his 2,000-acre farm and the quality of his livestock.

Patrick Raftery announced he would close his saloon on Parsonage Street to become a grocer.

The bell was installed in the new firehouse at Main and Garden streets.

The wooden bridge near the Garrison tunnel was replaced with iron.

Perry & Reilley installed a hanging lamp under their awning on Main Street that lit up the entire block.

When the railroad reservoir was drawn down to make repairs, hundreds of fish (mostly goldfish) were placed in cans of water for their eventual return.

Officer McCaffrey appeared before the Village Board to report that a gang known as the Yonker’s Jack had been “soliciting” money from pedestrians. He asked for assistance in driving the men out of town. The board president and a few others walked with McCaffrey to the rear of Snider’s building on Stone Street, where they found three of the gang members and told them forcefully to move along. The last they were seen was walking down the tracks toward the Foundry.

100 Years Ago (April 1923)

The Putnam County Board of Supervisors approved spending $50,594 [$890,000] to build a road from the Carmel courthouse to Tompkins Corners in Putnam Valley through Kent Cliffs.

In the largest verdict in Putnam County history, a court awarded the estate of George McDonald $39,000 [$686,000] from the Pennsylvania Railroad Co. after he was crushed to death at a Manhattan train yard. His mother, the administrator, who lived in Putnam, said she had sued to benefit her unborn grandchild.

Stuyvesant Fish
Stuyvesant Fish

Stuyvesant Fish, 72, died of a heart attack at the National Park Bank at 214 Broadway in New York City, after being stricken while climbing the stairs to a second-floor board meeting. Fish, who lived on his estate in Garrison, was the former president of the Illinois Central Railroad and at one time served as treasurer of the New York division of the Association Against Prohibition. He was a son of Hamilton Fish, who served as secretary of state under President Grant. After a service at Trinity Church, his body was interred at St. Philip’s in Garrison.

Although Fish’s estate was estimated to be worth $2.5 million [$44 million], his handwritten will was only four paragraphs long and left everything to his three children. He included no bequests to charity, writing that he “has observed and always believed that charitable bequests afford the testator a means of gratifying his vanity at the expense of his heirs.”

Eddie Cantor and his daughters in 1926
Eddie Cantor and his daughters in 1926

The comedian Eddie Cantor, who attended the Surprise Lake summer camp in Philipstown as a boy, announced a fundraiser to build 100 bungalows there.

Financing was completed for the Bear Mountain Hudson River Bridge Co. to construct and operate a 1,632-foot toll span between Anthony’s Nose and Port Clinton. It would be the first highway bridge over the Hudson south of Albany, with a capacity of 5,000 vehicles per hour. The structure was expected to cost $6 million [$1 billion], to be raised through the sale of bonds.

The Buffalo express had to stop at Garrison because its baggage car was burning. It was uncoupled and attached to the engine, which ran to Cold Spring to have the flames extinguished. The only baggage saved was Bruce, a 15-year-old collie. It was later discovered that, before the train left New York City, two employees had noticed a burning smell but could not locate the source.

75 Years Ago (April 1948)

According to The Philipstown Times, the Cold Spring Lions Club raised nearly $1,000 [$12,000] at their summer annual ball at the Haldane gym. The funds were used to provide milk and crackers for needy students. Cellophane bags with 200 colored balloons were suspended from the ceiling and Mr. and Mrs. Clark of Undercliff Park in Cold Spring won the waltz contest.

In a letter to the editor of The Philipstown Times, a reader asked why he had been rebuked for smoking while attending a basketball game at Haldane but observed many smokers in the gym during the Milk Fund Ball.

The Hudson Theatre schedule included John Wayne and Laraine Day in Tycoon; James Stewart in Call Northside 777; Ronald Reagan and Eleanor Parker in Voice of the Turtle; Eddie Cantor and Joan Davis in If You Knew Susie; and Alan Ladd and Veronica Lake in Saigon.

After receiving an alert that an inmate had escaped from the asylum in Beacon, Harry McElrath, the Nelsonville police officer, was on the lookout. At 2:30 a.m. he encountered a pedestrian on Main Street who admitted he was the escapee.

Robert Graves left for the Cookson Hills in Oklahoma, where he planned to visit relatives and inspect the haunts frequented by Charles “Pretty Boy” Floyd, the gangster who had grown up in nearby Akins.

Raymond Lewis of Nelsonville left for Columbus, where he was in charge of a construction job at The Ohio State University.

The Village Board in Nelsonville scheduled a public hearing for its proposed $8,060 [$101,000] annual budget.

Chet Tyler, who had just released an album of cowboy songs, was hired by the C.J. Walter dude ranch in Garrison.

John Christian, the proprietor of Chris’s Garage in Nelsonville, enrolled at the Roberts Technical Institute in New York City for an advanced course in bodywork and spray-painting.

According to The Philipstown Times, when the 17-year-old daughter of a Kemble Avenue couple was seen with a young man the parents objected to, her brothers proceeded to give the suitor a beating. After arriving home, the girl became despondent and shot herself three times in the stomach with a revolver. She was rushed to Butterfield Hospital for surgery.

50 Years Ago (April 1973)

James LaDue retired after 31 years as the Cold Spring postal carrier.

Rep. Hamilton Fish was the dinner speaker at a meeting of the Cold Spring Lions Club. The Republican had won each of his two previous elections with 70 percent of the vote. (He was first elected in 1969.)

For the first time, the Cold Spring Fire Co. held its annual election with a voting machine.

The Committee for Public Information, created to oppose a proposal to build a Hilton hotel on the former West Point Foundry site, organized a petition to protest the “irregularities and injustices” at a Town Board hearing at which it said critics were not allowed to speak.

25 Years Ago (April 1998)

A Cold Spring woman was arrested at Haldane Elementary after officers accused her of speeding and running a red light. The woman had entered the school to pick up her child but was asked to leave. When she refused, she was arrested. Students were kept in their classrooms with the shades drawn during the confrontation.

Regina Morini, who represented Mahopac on the Putnam County Legislature, announced she was switching from the Democratic to Republican party.

New York sent $600,000 in payment-in-lieu-of-tax payments to Putnam County as compensation for state-owned parkland. The previous year, the money had been sent directly to towns, villages and school districts.

The Haldane softball team defeated Pawling, 40-9, in 4½ innings.

Vinny Tamagna, a Republican in his first term representing Philipstown on the Putnam Legislature, announced his candidacy for county executive. [A few weeks later, after “a positive meeting” with Republican incumbent Robert Bondi, he withdrew.]

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.