Looking Back in Philipstown


Elizabeth Healy Todd and her daughter, Elizabeth Weston Todd, in 1926 at Montrest on Lane Gate Road in Philipstown. Twenty-five years ago, the Putnam Historical Society hosted an exhibit on the family. (Putnam History Museum)

150 Years Ago (May 1873)

A burglar broke into R.E. Dalzell’s store overnight; the empty cash drawer was found the next morning by a carpenter working on a house on Fair Street.

“A walk about this village and Nelsonville shows that scarcely a place can be found which does not show new lumber,” the Cold Spring Recorder noted.

B.K. Bliss & Son of New York notified the postmaster that it had received an order from Cold Spring for seeds with cash but no address.

Theodore Robinson, while entering Pelham’s store in Cold Spring, walked through its plate-glass door, thinking it was open. He agreed to pay for the damage in installments.

Truesdell’s Market, at the lower end of Main Street, offered sirloin and veal cutlets for 23 cents per pound [about $6 today], pot roasts for 12 cents [$2.50] and stewing pieces for 10 cents.

Josie Spellman’s brother, who lived in Utah, mailed her a box of agate, quartz, petrified wood and a petrified fish collected near Salt Lake City.

Dr. Samuel Griffin was summoned from Nelsonville to Mekeel’s Corner [now the intersection of Route 301 and Route 9] to treat an 18-year-old woman in a group traveling in two covered wagons who was said to be suffering from typhoid fever. She appeared to be drugged, which made him suspicious. When she died soon after he arrived, the group said it had no money and asked the overseer of the poor to take her body. The three men, five women and three children left without further questioning. At a coroner’s inquest, a neighbor testified that the group told her that the girls’ parents had run off and that they planned to drop her at the hospital in Poughkeepsie before continuing to Pennsylvania. Dr. G. Wilson Murdock said his autopsy showed no trace of consumption or fever; based on her injuries, he concluded that the unidentified woman had been raped. She was interred at the old burying ground.

William Shriver died at his home on Paulding Avenue following a fatal error. According to his brother-in-law, Colin Tolmie Jr., Shriver asked his nephew to retrieve a bottle of liquid from his overcoat pocket, which Dr. Fredrick Lente had said to take by the teaspoon mixed in a glass of water to treat his rheumatism. Soon after, Shriver said his stomach burned, checked the label and said he had made a terrible mistake. Instead of Tincture of Black Snake-root, he had mixed in Tincture of Aconite, a liniment prescribed for his condition. Shriver hurriedly ate a meal and drank a large quantity of milk while Tolmie summoned Dr. Lente, who gave his patient an emetic to cause him to vomit. But within three hours, Shriver was dead. “I told Shriver and the family that the bottle labeled ‘Liniment’ was a powerful application,” the doctor testified at the coroner’s inquest. “It is not my duty to label medicine prescribed by myself as poison.”

Patrick Murray and Herman Hafkenshield were target shooting behind Murray’s shop when T.N. Avery, who lived next door, came to the fence to complain that bullets were hitting his roof. Murray later testified that he took the pistol from his friend and said that “we must give up this up.” According to Murray, after Hafkenshield said the pistol was empty anyway, Murray pointed it at the ground and fired. Hafkenshield “walked a short distance and said he was shot,” Murray recounted. “I said that could not be possible.” Said Hafkenshield: “I know that Murray shot me, for I saw the pistol in his hand at the time I received my wound.” A jury ruled the shooting to be accidental.

Patrick Duffy, who was arrested on charges of domestic violence and destroying property in his home, was released when his wife declined to prosecute.

John Chase caught a bass that measured 3 feet, 9 inches and weighed 26.5 pounds.

The Library Association received a batch of books, including a 15-volume set of the works of Charles Dickens; Hume’s History of England in six volumes; Gladstone’s Life of Faraday; A Russian Journey, by Edna Dean Proctor; and An American Girl Abroad, by Adeline Trafton.

A young man named Phillips, who ran a variety shop next to the post office, disappeared under suspicion of “dishonest practices at the railroad station,” according to The Recorder.

In a baseball game at the Vinegar Hill field, the Kellogg club from Cold Spring defeated the Flyaways from Peekskill, 71-33.

The only horse owned by farmer Frederick Hawks died within 15 minutes after a man who claimed to be a veterinarian poured liquid into its nostrils to treat heaves [respiratory disease].

A group of boys hit a baseball from a vacant lot south of the depot that flew across Main Street and through the window of Tevlin’s saloon.

The new class at West Point had 160 members, the largest ever, because of the increase in the number of U.S. House members [to 292] following the 1870 census and each being given the right to nominate one cadet. Forty-five cadets graduated.

At midnight on a Saturday, a barn owned by Edward Baxter on a lot between Fair and Garden streets burned down, killing two horses. The barn also had caught fire in 1870 but neighbors saved it.

Dr. Dupree, a traveling foot doctor, saw patients at the Pacific Hotel.

Robert McCormick of Fort Montgomery, the brakeman on the 6:20 p.m. freight, fell from a car just as the train left Cold Spring and was badly injured. He was taken by train to Poughkeepsie Hospital but died the next morning.

125 Years Ago (May 1898)

The Cold Spring Hose Co. No. 1 moved into its new firehouse on Garden Street.

Two dogs owned by Charles Miller died after eating poisoned meat.

Officer McCaffrey collected $10 [about $365] from an auctioneer at the Mosher building under a new licensing law.

There was a run on flour at local grocers as prices rose.

George Speedling retired after 33 years as a butcher in Nelsonville.

Grant Wright left for Washington, D.C., to enlist in Teddy Roosevelt’s Rough Riders to fight in Cuba for its independence from Spain. Hamilton Fish Jr. of New York City and Garrison also enlisted.

Teddy Roosevelt

Teddy Roosevelt is shown after his return from Cuba. At least two Philipstown men volunteered in 1898 for his Rough Riders. (Library of Congress)

A boatload of crushed stone was delivered to Hamilton Fish for the roads on his Garrison estate.

Officer McCaffrey evicted six men who were using the basement of the abandoned Cold Spring House for shelter.

The new organ for St. Mary’s Episcopal Church arrived from Detroit.

The Town Board posted signs on the highways warning “tramps” to give Philipstown the “go-by.”

Putnam County issued liquor licenses to 10 Cold Spring hotels ($200 fee), two Philipstown hotels ($100) and four storekeepers ($75) but no druggists ($5).

The Village Board spent an hour discussing whether to repair Bank Street.

A 22-mile bicycle race was held on Memorial Day; the route began at the corner of Main and Garden streets, made a round-trip to the Village of Fishkill, and ended at Paulding and Chestnut streets. Prizes donated by local merchants included a bicycle suit, three bottles of tooth powder, a pair of shoes and a box of candy.

Sherwood Odell sold 400 pies in a day to the soldiers from his stand at the campground in Continentalville.

The Board of Education discussed building a new schoolhouse. The district had 335 students, with an average daily attendance of 237. The primary grades had 92 students, which required the class to be divided for half-days.

Edward Livingston appeared before the Board of Highway Commissioners to complain that a highway fence on the estate of his neighbor, Mrs. Underhill, should be set back. Commissioner Smith asked Livingston if his request was made out of spite, but Livingston said it was because the road wasn’t legally wide enough. Smith replied that he doubted there was road in Philipstown that was legally wide enough.

A meteor flew over Continentalville and crashed near the home of the Owen brothers.

Hamilton Fish and his family returned to Garrison after an absence of nearly two years, during which they traveled to Great Britain, Egypt and the Orient.

An advertisement in The Recorder asked: “How about your underwear: Isn’t it a little too heavy? At J.J. Isberg’s you will find lighter weights, not too thick nor too thin. Balbriggan or natural wool.”

A pedestrian noticed a bag fall from a wagon on the Garrison road and yelled to the driver, who did not stop. Inside were 40 live eels.

The Board of Trustees received a complaint about the men and boys who congregated in front of Smythe’s grocery store at the corner of Main Street and Kemble Avenue.

The master mechanic of the West Point Foundry added electricity to Spalding’s pharmacy with a wire strung from Wood & Arnold’s carpenter shop on Rock Street, where he had installed a dynamo. According to The Recorder, “at 8:45 o’clock the power was turned on, and as one interested spectator expressed it, the kerosene lamps looked as if they had an attack of yellow jaundice compared with the magnificent electric light. These were the first electric lights used in the village and at least 400 people witnessed the experiment.” At the same time, the master mechanic asked the Village Board to grant him a franchise to build an electric plant, which he said could light the village much better and for the same amount of money as kerosene.

100 Years Ago (May 1923)

A body taken from the river near Cold Spring was believed to be that of William Abbott of Brooklyn, a former deputy state compensation commissioner, who had been missing for three months. It was weighted around the neck. Abbott had written a friend saying he planned to jump from the Beacon-Newburgh ferry.

75 Years Ago (May 1948)

Col. Johnathan Huston, 83, of Cold Spring, was among the speakers at the 50th anniversary gathering in Poughkeepsie of the Colonial Camp No. 75, United Spanish War Veterans.

Anthony Marsloe of the state liquor authority spoke at a meeting of the Cold Spring Lions Club on the enforcement of Alcohol Beverage Control laws.

Police said they seized bundles of tickets while arresting a Maple Terrace man on charges of running an illegal lottery.

50 Years Ago (May 1973)

For the first time in 40 years, Haldane district voters were asked to consider a major capital project: A proposal to renovate the main building and build a new elementary school. It was defeated, 597-398, as was a referendum to only construct the elementary school, 560-381. In his analysis after the vote, the superintendent said residents seemed to agree that the 1,100-student district needed a new building but just didn’t want to pay for it.

elementary school

Voters in 1973 rejected two proposals to build a new elementary school at Haldane.

The Village of Cold Spring planned to purchase the former Post’s Garage at the corner of Church and Main streets so it could be renovated by members of the fire company for its headquarters. The move would allow the village offices to be expanded at the Municipal Building. When the building was leased to the nascent fire company 77 years earlier, the company had one fire truck, but that had grown to four.

For the first time, members of the Philipstown Volunteer Ambulance Corp. delivered a baby. Florence Van Loan, James Daniels and Andrea Phillips responded to a call from the Gerard Barry residence on Route 9D in Garrison to transport Patricia Barry to the Peekskill Community Hospital, but Bonnie Ann Barry was born at home.

Gen. Omar Bradley

Gen. Omar Bradley

Omar Bradley, the country’s only living five-star general, visited West Point to receive the Sylvanus Thayer Award from the Association of Graduates. He was a 1915 graduate of the academy.

Daniel Kiesbye of Cold Spring was promoted to executive chef at the Bear Mountain Inn.

The Haldane track-and-field team, coached by Pat Shields, won its 28th straight dual meet, at Pine Plains. It was the first meet in the history of the Dutchess County Scholastic League held under lights.

25 Years Ago (May 1998)

The Putnam County Visitors Bureau launched a website at visitputnam.org with a computer donated by the Cold Spring Antiques Dealers Association.

The Putnam County Historical Society opened an exhibit, The Healy Legacy, with artifacts provided by the family. It included a photo of Elizabeth “Libby” Todd Healy, the present owner of the family home, Montrest, as an infant in her father’s Packard Roadster. Montrest had been built by her great-grandfather, Aaron Healy, a Brooklyn leather merchant.

The Putnam County Legislature passed a law that allowed it to select two newspapers for public notices by majority vote, instead of one being selected by Republican members and one by the Democrats.

The Legislature voted down a proposal to share sales tax revenue with its municipalities and another to spend $7,000 for a boat patrol on Lake Oscawana in Putnam Valley.

The Town Board discussed legislation to regulate timber harvesting, defined as operations covering 2 or more acres.

The Continental Village Fire Department held an open house to show off its new Marion Freightliner Pumper.

Stan Freilich, a write-in candidate, defeated Dorothy Gilman, 272-259, for a seat on the Garrison school board. The budget, which included a 2.9 percent tax increase, was approved, 357-249.

About 75 people gathered at the Haldane campus to remember Richard Aderson, a former administrator who was shot and killed in February 1997 following a fender-bender on I-84 near the Newburgh-Beacon Bridge. The group dedicated a tree in his memory along the sidewalk near a brick Haldane sign installed on Earth Day. [Aderson’s assailant was never identified.]

A 30-foot section of the roof of the Hudson House River Inn in Cold Spring blew off in a storm and a home on Corey Lane in Philipstown burned down after being struck by lightning. No one was injured.

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