Looking Back in Philipstown

Horned toad

In 1873, a Philipstown resident received a shipment of horned toads.

150 Years Ago (September 1873)

The Cold Spring Recorder called for the three local school districts to merge, noting that the area’s 400 students were taught in “the rural method” and would benefit from a central school, although some teachers might lose their jobs. The paper noted that some parents were sending their children to distant private schools for $400 annually [$10,000 today] because of a lack of science instruction.

According to The Recorder, a parent who had followed his son to school asked a principal for a favor. The boy had refused to carry a pail of swill to the pig — would the teacher paddle him? The newspaper titled its report: “What Next?”

Thieves crept into the home of James McCarthy overnight and, while the occupants slept, stole a pocketbook with $20 [$500]. The day before, McCarthy had deposited $300 [$7,600] in the bank.

Mr. Levy offered a $25 reward for the identity of the boys and young men who threw gravel and stones at his home, narrowly missing Mrs. Levy and a glass kerosene lamp.

Alex Slater, an engineer, left for his annual winter stay in Cuba, where he worked on a sugar estate.

C.J. Organ was driving Mr. and Mrs. Edwin Squires to the village when the young horse was startled and ejected Organ from the wagon. Fortunately, it didn’t bolt. Organ wasn’t injured, but the couple said they preferred to walk the rest of the way.

Workers completed grading the crown and slope of Pear Tree Hill in Nelsonville. The Recorder noted that the area had changed a great deal over the previous 20 years, when the hill was “almost a precipice, the flat beyond a quagmire and the old Revolutionary house a moss-grew relic of colonial times.”

After “generating much excitement in the village,” a Garden Street resident was declared dangerously insane and sent to a Poughkeepsie hospital.

A brakeman on a northbound New York Central & Hudson River Railroad train to Poughkeepsie was killed just north of Cold Spring when he was decoupling a car at a switch. He apparently fell beneath the wheels as the engine rolled backward.

Two young men, apparently drunk, were arrested on Main Street near B Street early on a Monday morning and charged with abusing the horse pulling their buggy. The men were released with a promise they would return to claim the animal and pay expenses. The next day, a constable arrived from Wappingers Falls with warrants for the men’s arrest on charges of stealing a horse.

After a weeklong search along the post road, Byron Youmans found his two runaway horses at the village pound in Irvington, near Tarrytown.

While hunting on Bull Hill, G. Barnum of Nelsonville was struck on the leg by a rattlesnake but saved by his heavy pants and boots. He managed to shoot the creature, which had seven rattles, and brought it home as a trophy.

After the stock market crashed in Europe, setting off the Financial Panic of 1873, The Recorder suggested “mutual forbearance” by local creditors and debtors. Nationally, 100 banks and 55 railroads failed.

A grand jury in Carmel indicted Sarah Baldwin of Davenport’s Corners, about 4 miles north of Cold Spring, for keeping a bawdy house and selling liquor without a license. She was jailed with $1,500 bail [$38,000].

Two members of a Garrison baseball club wrote The Recorder to explain that they were claiming a 25-23 victory over an unnamed opponent because, following a dispute over a call at first base (“we having wrongly left the decisions to the catcher instead of having an umpire”), their opponents refused to continue. A spectator had been asked to rule on the call and favored Garrison.

Although the distance between the Cold Spring and Garrison stations along the Indian Brook road was said to be 3 miles, anyone who walked it had their doubts, according to The Recorder. The route was finally measured and found to be 5 miles and 23 rods [380 feet].

Dr. F.D. Lente received several live horned toads from a friend in Colorado.

125 Years Ago (September 1898)

At the annual meeting of the Cold Spring Village Improvement Association, Capt. Henry Metcalfe reported that the association had $50.94 [$1,900] in the bank but $110 in unpaid bills ($90 for a public watering trough and $20 to empty the scrap baskets). Metcalfe noted that the association had recently installed an iron drinking fountain at Main and Chestnut streets and planted 12 trees that were sprayed for beetles. In addition, Mr. McClary donated three bulletin boards to discourage people from posting notices on the trees.

The Misses Lawson donated to The Recorder the run of 25 issues of The Cold Spring Journal, which was published in the Odd Fellows Hall near the train station from December 1855 to May 1856.

The Recorder noted that, under a new state law, people gathering signatures for an independent nomination must swear they would vote for the nominee. It was designed to make it more difficult for politicians to nominate opponents they thought they could easily defeat.

Edward Livingston took Philipstown to court, arguing that fences erected on the Underhill estate should be removed by the town because they made the road less than three rods wide, violating an 1890 law. However, the town cited an 1821 law that allowed roads as narrow as two rods. A judge agreed, ruling that the more recent law only applied to new roads. (During the trial, testimony revealed that Livingston was negotiating to buy the Underhill estate, and that he told the seller his bid of $50 an acre was the equivalent of $60 because the fences were illegal and Livingston would have to pay to have them removed.)

After hearing a distress whistle in the dark, the tower man at the Foundry Dock rowed toward Constitution Island and found the 40-foot Mangolia on its port side with three men clinging to the gunwhale. The ship’s captain said it was his first trip on the river in 10 years and that he had not been aware of the rocks.

The Recorder complained that the Hudson River Telephone Co. had “erected great ungainly and unsightly poles along the streets” and “with a ruthless hand cut down or trimmed trees which are the results of years of patient care and attention.”

The body of a well-dressed young man was found in Foundry Cove. A tattoo on his right arm that read “G.S.” led to his identification as George Smith, 22, of Newburgh, a lather who had formerly worked in Cold Spring. A relative said Smith, who suffered from fits, had recently been released from Bellevue Hospital in New York City. A coroner’s jury concluded he had fallen from a train on his way home.

When he stepped off the 8:08 p.m. train from New York City, Sgt. Grant Wright, a Rough Rider who had been mustered out after fighting under Theodore Roosevelt against the Spanish in Cuba, was greeted at the Cold Spring depot by 2,000 cheering residents and a fireworks display. The Recorder declared him “the first hero that the village can justly claim as all its own.” Wright was taken by carriage to a platform at Town Hall, where a quartet sang “The Star-Spangled Banner” and Judge Wood presented him with a gold watch.

Thomas Walsh and Edward Raftery pleaded guilty to burglarizing James Farrell’s saloon at the corner of Main and Stone streets; each was sentenced to two years in Sing Sing.

The Tidy Club, made up of children who vowed to keep the village clean, held a picnic for its members. The refreshments included lemons, sandwiches, cake, eggs, milk and candy.

Officer Foster arrested a man on a domestic abuse charge, but when his wife failed to appear in court he was released.

Frank Burns, who worked at the Cornell foundry, was badly burned by hot iron that ran into his shoe.

E.K. Roake opened a furniture store opposite Depot Square that included the contents of 19 rooms from the defunct Highland House in Garrison.

Fred Lath shot himself in the hand while hunting a woodchuck.

Maud Henyan and Hattie Seeger of Nelsonville held a festival at the Baptist Church that raised $12 [$440] to benefit the Sick Baby Fund.

J.M. Smith & Sons erected a creamery at their farm and began a butter route with their new refrigerated wagon.

Thomas Doran and his son, William, were driving a wagon down Main Street when the horse bolted near the Old Homestead Club. Thomas was thrown out at Garden Street and William near Secor’s store when the wagon struck another being driven by J.Y. Dykman. Father and son were taken unconscious to nearby drugstores; Thomas needed 20 stitches in his scalp but both men recovered.

Arthur Taylor rode his bicycle through Cold Spring enroute to Albany from New York City. He completed the trip in seven hours and 10 minutes, breaking the previous record by two-and-a-half hours.

Burglars broke into St. Philip’s Church in Garrison and stole three silver offertory plates.

John Toucey, the retired general manager of the New York Central and Hudson River Railroad, died at his home in Garrison at age 70. He spent 42 years with the railroad, rising from station agent. He was buried at St. Philip’s Church after a crowded service attended by many top railroad executives. Earlier in the month, Toucey had been presented with a bronze eagle that had been on the dome of the Grand Central depot.

What is the White Deer Trading Post?
Route 9 sign recalls Native American resident

By Marc Ferris

Along a busy stretch of Route 9 in Philipstown, a mile north of Route 301, the White Deer Trading Post stands out, with its prominent sign and wooden silhouettes of a teepee and leaping deer mounted on a fence.

But don’t try to check out the wares. The business closed more than 30 years ago, and there’s a “No Trespassing” sign in the window of what is now a private home.


The sign on Route 9 in Philipstown for the White Deer Trading Post (Photo by M. Ferris)

The sign and silhouettes are remnants of a Native American craft store operated for more than 25 years by Princess Wari Marie Martin, a member of the Mohawk tribe at the St. Regis reservation in New York at the Canadian border. She was born in Quebec.

Along with overseeing her store, Martin presented programs at schools and to civic groups about her tribe and its culture. Martin illustrated a 1971 presentation at the Garrison Art Center with artifacts and also taught at the Museum of Natural History in Manhattan.

In the late 1950s, she operated the White Deer Indian Village on Route 9 in Fishkill, north of Route 52, which held weekly pow-wows and was described as a retreat for tribal members traveling between St. Regis and New York City, where many were employed as steel-construction workers.

Princess Wari in 1960

Princess Wari in 1960 at an event

In 1960, she opened the trading post in Philipstown. A newspaper ad from the time read: “ ‘Princess Wari’ Real Indian Craft. Moccasins, Peace Pipes, Indian Dolls, Tom Toms. Navajo Rugs & Jewelry from Arizona.”

A photo shows her in full regalia, smiling outside her shop. In the early 1970s, the Evening-Star in Peekskill reported that her stock included a box made of porcupine quills, handmade leather bags from the Oklahoma Pawnee tribe and an $850 turquoise-and-silver necklace made by Southwestern Navajos. She also offered hand-carved and painted walking canes and dolls made by the Ojibway tribe in Canada.

Princess Wari said she named the retreat and shop after a Mohawk dancer, Esther Louise Georgette Deer, who performed as Princess White Deer. In the early 20th century, Esther toured the U.S., Europe and South Africa with The Famous Deer Brothers, the Ziegfeld Follies and Wild West shows. She also wrote a play, From Wigwam to White Lights.

After the passage of the 19th Amendment in 1920, Deer encouraged Indigenous women to exercise their newfound right to vote and became a central figure in the Native American rights movement of the 1960s. She died in 1992.

During the 1970s, Princess Wari fought to eliminate use of the term “Indians” in everyday communications and lobbied the federal government to provide grants to establish Native American studies programs at colleges.

Her obituary recalled her as a talented dressmaker and seamstress who modeled as a young woman for Jay Thorpe in New York City, a high-end women’s clothing store on 57th Street near Fifth Avenue. She also appeared in at least one Western and was the first woman to buy a firetruck for the St. Regis reservation.

In 1985, the trading post property sold for $155,000. (According to tax records, the 3-acre parcel is now owned by a Beacon resident.) Princess Wari died in 2007, at age 96, at a nursing facility on the reservation. Her obituary lists only nieces and nephews as survivors and says she was the last surviving of eight Martin siblings.

More than once, the Evening-Star quoted Princess Wari sharing what she said was her guide to life: “The Great Spirit created me as one, and I must do the very best I know how.”

100 Years Ago (September 1923)

With the surveying for a proposed road between Beacon and Cold Spring along the Hudson River [Route 9D] complete, the state planned to remove two railroad grade crossings near Storm King in preparation for construction. The road would connect with a concrete highway proposed from Cold Spring to Mekeel’s Corners [the intersection of Route 9 and 301].

Leo Hendrickson of New Jersey returned to Cold Spring for the first time in a month and was immediately arrested on charges he had attacked a 17-year-old local girl who had recently moved to the U.S. from Bohemia.

75 Years Ago (September 1948)

The state Department of Commerce announced that 10-foot-high “air markers” would be installed on the Haldane school roof with the village name and directional arrows pointing north and toward the nearest airport.

The state awarded a $314,000 [$4 million] contract to replace the wooden trestle over Annsville Creek with a five-span steel structure. The crossover for Routes 6 and 9 just south of Philipstown had been closed for two years following a fire, with traffic detoured around the head of the creek or through Cold Spring.

50 Years Ago (September 1973)

Norman Champlin, Joseph Dirito, Ernie Amato, Jake Cretelli, Frank Budney and other firefighters spent a Saturday working on the new home of the Cold Spring Fire Co. on Main Street, including cutting an H beam to support the 24-foot-wide overhead door. Mike Scalpi of Riverview donated a pan of meatballs and sauce.

Twenty-six elementary students from the Manitou school district, which did not have its own building, enrolled at the Garrison School, bringing the student body there to 290.

Two sisters and two brothers from Continental Village, Mr. and Mrs. Herbert Lubbers and Mr. and Mrs. Harold Lubbers, celebrated their 25th wedding anniversaries with a party at Dutchess Manor. The couples were married in a dual ceremony at a Bronx church.

For the 18th year, Ray Impellittiere Motors of Cold Spring provided Haldane High School with a dual-control vehicle — in this case, a 1974 Gran Torino — for its drivers’ education class.

25 Years Ago (September 1998)

Anne Impellizzeri took over as executive director at Manitoga in Garrison. She had worked for 28 years for the Metropolitan Life Insurance Co. before becoming president of the Blanton-Peale Institute of New York City.

The Philipstown Depot Theatre hosted a high-definition video festival that included Hollywood stars reading children’s stories, a biography of impressionist Paul Cezanne and a trip down Broadway in New York City.

A Garrison resident, Bob Rogers, accused a school board trustee of grabbing his camera when he tried to videotape a meeting at the Desmond-Fish library about proposed capital improvements. Organized by the PTA, the meeting brought together various committees to discuss their progress; the school board president said the gathering was not open to the public and that she and other trustees were attending as private citizens.

After accusations appeared in two letters to the Putnam County News & Recorder that county Legislator Vinny Tamagna did not live in Philipstown, he responded that, while often away on business, he resided on Garrison’s Landing.

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