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

150 years ago (August 1872)

Charles Ledwich, of Alsdorf & Ledwich of Fishkill Landing, has received a patent for a water closet [toilet] accessory for removing the porcelain bowl for cleaning.

The Howland Public Library (below) opened on August 5 in a newly constructed building at 477 Main Street, now the Howland Cultural Center. It was named for General Joseph Howland, the first Chairman of its Board of Directors, and designed by his brother-in-law, Richard Morris Hunt. [The library moved to its present location at 313 Main St. in 1976.]

The Old Howland Public Library (Beacon Historical Society)

Defenders for Matty Howe, 22, of Fishkill, accused of strangling her newborn baby, say her seducer abandoned her and her parents stopped visiting their daughter in the county jail. While incarcerated, she began a relationship with fellow inmate, Eugene Schmidtlein, who was charged with robbery. They decided to get married, but the jailer refused to summon a minister or allow the couple to appear together in court to be married before a judge.

The Phoenix Manufacturing Co. of Matteawan introduced a foot-operated sewing machine that could run at full speed for 75 minutes and allow its operator to create up to 2,500 stitches per minute.

Horace Greley

Horace Greeley ran for president in 1872 with local support.

The Matteawan and Fishkill Landing chapter of the Greeley and Brown Club reported having 125 members. The men backed Horace Greeley (right) for US President against incumbent Ulysses S. Grant. Greeley’s running mate was Benjamin Gratz Brown, the governor of Missouri.

Three men were loading a gravel cart at Toohey’s Grove in Matteawan when a bank caved in and buried one of them. He managed to move his hands enough to create breathing space and was rescued.

The 90-foot steamer William Baxter, which was built at the Fishkill Landing Machine Co., made its maiden voyage at Newburgh to take on 100 tons of cement bound for Buffalo. The Newburgh’s Journal noted that the boat, powered by two 4½-foot propellers, could reach speeds of 5 mph while consuming only 10 pounds of coal per mile. It was built in pursuit of a $100,000 prize offered by New York State for a way to move ships faster and cheaper than with horses along the 352-mile Erie Canal.

At New York, The church newspaper published an ode signed FWS to the newly dedicated Howland Library, including this stanza: “Honor to him who builds for nobler uses / On deep foundations raises his strong walls / A graceful temple rises to the Muses / A refuge sweet in its airy rooms. ”

125 years ago (August 1897)

A milk peddler in Matteawan has been arrested for assaulting a customer’s 11-year-old daughter after offering her a ride in his covered wagon. Extra guards have been posted at the jail to prevent any “rough justice” by angry residents or the girl’s father.

John Haight of Fishkill Landing planned a trip to England to research a genealogy he planned to publish about his family.

John Murphy, the captain of a brick sloop, was shot and wounded in a strike at the Lahey & Bowe brickyard at Fishkill Landing.

Orson Fowler

Orson Fowler

An eight-sided house built in Fishkill by Orson Fowler (right), the famous phrenologist and author of The Octagon Househad to be destroyed with dynamite when Fowler decided to rebuild it because it had been constructed entirely of concrete.

According to a story from New York Evening Newspaper, Albert Knapp, a farmer residing near the Fishkill Mountains, was attacked in his cellar by four copperheads. He stunned a snake with a club while another coiled around his leg. Friends came to his aid and he was not bitten.

Henry Trostler (or Frostlar), 49, has been released from the Matteawan Asylum for the Criminally Insane and ordered to return to his native Austria. In 1879, while working as an usher in a New York theater, he shot a cashier who was flirting with his wife, sending a bullet through the man’s hat. A lawyer says his newly released client refused to board a steamer for Hamburg until he saw his daughter, who was a baby when he was interned and thought live in Chicago.

Two inmates escaped Matteawan Asylum by removing a window latch with a contraband screwdriver.

The Superintendent of Asylum read a paper at the Prison Association of New York’s annual conference titled “Who is the Insane Criminal?”

Tom Hickey

“Red” Tom Hickey

Tom Hickey (right), a Texas socialist and founder of The rebelrejected as fabricated a report in the New York Sun who said his lecture in Matteawan in front of 300 people caused a riot and stabbings. The newspaper mockingly identified him as Jacob Startiski and called him an anarchist.

Augustus Mosher rescued the engineer’s daughter from the Union Ferry after she fell overboard at Long Dock.

Officer Valentine, “in a moment of exasperation”, knocked down and beat a suspect until bystanders managed to pull him to safety in a nearby pharmacy.

A survey of Fishkill Landing and Matteawan identified nine churches, two public schools, a public library, two weeklies, a daily newspaper, three printing presses, a national bank, two savings banks, three machine shops, a rubber factory, four hotels, a gas company and saloons “as thick as locusts in Egypt”.

100 years ago (August 1922)

Officer Charles Lucy was shot and killed by a ‘crazy’ resident while responding to a call on North Street. In the days that followed, police cracked down, arresting a World War I veteran suffering from shell shock for annoying a woman and arresting an Italian immigrant on North Chestnut Street for possession of a loaded revolver . The Poughkeepsie Eagle-News reported that residents were also particularly vigilant, “keeping an eye out for figures in town” whom they deemed potentially violent. At the same time, a guard was placed outside the killer’s home to prevent other items from being taken away as keepsakes.

City commissioners approved the expenditure of $35,000 to repair the dam.

Police were looking for a man who had sold all the family furniture for $30 before disappearing two weeks before the birth of his youngest child.

The Board of Health has issued a warning about swimming in the Hudson River due to the risk of typhoid.

On the advice of his doctor, a 42-year-old widower went to the police to be treated as a drug addict. He said he got hooked while working as a young man in a pharmacy. When told he would be incarcerated, he said, “I guess that will be my end,” but his doctor reassured him.

Two sheriff’s deputies found a 9-square-foot, brittle, iron-like substance in a 10-square-foot hole in a remote area near Mount Beacon, which the Poughkeepsie Eagle-News suggested could be part of a meteor.

75 years ago (August 1947)

A 65-year-old Department of Public Works employee died after falling from a dump truck on Grove Street.

A Camp Beacon counselor was diagnosed with diphtheria.

Francois Peattie

Francis Peattie sits in the nose of a B-17E with a bomb sight on a combat mission in 1943. (Photo by Jose Holguin)

Tompkins Hose firefighters dedicated a plaque to Lt. Francis Peattie (right), a company member missing since June 1943. [Peattie, a bombardier, was killed when his Flying Fortress crashed in the South Pacific. Through the efforts of the lone survivor of the crash, Col. Jose Holguin, Peattie’s body was identified and returned to Beacon in 1985.]

Conrad Nagel, who in 1940 received an honorary Academy Award, appeared for a week in petrified forest at the Roosevelt Theater with his ex-wife, Lynn Merrick, star of A close call for Boston Blackie, whistler’s voice and other movies. This was followed by a week with John Carradine at Rainfrom a novel by Somerset Maugham, and a week by Miriam Hopkins in There is always Juliet.

Tommy Hopper, 17, won the qualifying round of Poughkeepsie’s first junior golf tournament, but lost in the final to 16-year-old Lido Lucarini, the defending Dutchess Amateur champion.

Police have been investigating a complaint by Pink Waters, of River Street, that a man fired a gun from a window.

A 40-year-old housewife has been fined $15 for disorderly conduct after she used abusive language at police headquarters and threw her shoe at the desk sergeant.

50 years ago (August 1972)

The Penn Central Railroad offered to lease a former waterfront dump from the city for $1 a year if it turned the parcel into suburban land.

A 15-year-old girl died in a fire at her home on Avenue Rombout. One of his older brothers was among the volunteer firefighters who responded. Her father and three other siblings escaped.

The Planning Board has approved plans by the Chemprene Division of Richardson Co. to build a 150,000 square foot plant on Fishkill Avenue on the site of the former Matteawan State Hospital.

Police Chief Warren Hughes said there were 21 burglaries in June and 23 in July, nearly half the number reported in 1971. He suspected most were “committed by young people to support drug addiction” because 75% happened during the day, which was not the modus operandi of the professionals.

A fire destroyed a vacant building at 288 South Ave. which had been the site of the Misericordia novitiate. The deputy fire chief said there was a problem when firefighters connected lines to a fire hydrant on the old convent grounds and another on South Avenue only to discover they were connected to the same main pipe and drawing water from each other.

A year after construction began, developers of the 123-unit Davies South Terrace Apartments opened a rental office. Priority was given to families displaced by urban renewal.

25 years ago (August 1997)

The building inspector deemed the apartments at 65, 67, 69 and 71 Main Street, all owned by the same owner, unsafe and ordered them closed. Six families have been displaced. Apartments lacked smoke detectors, were infested with cockroaches, and had blocked exits and holes in floors and walls; tenants said they couldn’t afford better.


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