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So far Karen Fredrickson has created 62 blog entries.

Uriah Boston – African American Barber

The story of Uriah Boston’s life and its significance to Poughkeepsie shouldn’t be lost to history. Frederick Douglass’s visit to Poughkeepsie and his famous “Emancipation Day” speech at College Hill on August 2, 1858, should be held in reverence. Learning more about the historical interaction between these two men, their differences in opinion, and what they had in common, is something to delve into for a deeper understanding of our local history, and how we can gain wisdom from it. Born in Pennsylvania in 1817, Uriah Boston was a well-known African American barber in Poughkeepsie. He started out as an apprentice to Jared Gray in the early 1840s. He went into business for himself in 1843. He plied his trade at various addresses in town, which included 4 Liberty Street, 12 Garden Street, and several Main Street locations (254, 286, 292, and 317). Uriah gained a large client base by providing many services to the public. It established him in a city with plenty of competition for hair stylists. Advertisement from the Poughkeepsie Eagle 29 April 1844 Uriah was an active member in Poughkeepsie’s Moral Reform and Temperance Society. He was also nominated as Secretary of [...]

Uriah Boston – African American Barber2024-06-18T10:17:26-04:00

A Different Perspective: Loyalists in Poughkeepsie

This weekend, Dutchess County is kicking off its celebration of the 250th anniversary of the American Revolution. Several local historical societies and organizations will set up displays at the Henry A. Wallace Visitor Center in Hyde Park. Why do we tell you this? Well, because the PPLD’s Local History Room will be there, too. When it comes to documents and collections from the American Revolution, we don’t exactly have much (our collection mainly focuses on the 19th and early 20th century), but what we do have are some very interesting documents that predate the war and showcase a people that were far more devoted to monarchy than you have been led to believe. What are these documents, you say? Glad you asked, as they are called Oaths of Allegiance. Oaths of Allegiance to the King - 1728 - 1773 These Oaths of Allegiance served as a combination of three pledges. First, there was swearing allegiance to the Hanoverian kings, George the II (1727-1760), and later George the III (1760-1820). The second pledge was declaring that the Stuarts and their heirs had no claims to the throne, and finally, an oath of faith in Protestant beliefs and that [...]

A Different Perspective: Loyalists in Poughkeepsie2024-06-05T12:09:18-04:00

Poughkeepsie City Directories

Hannah and Storm Coach & Saddlery Hardware, 427 Main St. (1860) By Bill Kleppel Like newspapers and maps, village and city directories were once vital references for everyday life. From a historical perspective, these relatively modern conveniences are now being erased, in real time, by the explosion of the Information Age. For some people, this is a sad state of affairs. These handy and ever-present tools from yesteryear are being pummeled out of existence by the evils of cyberspace. Here’s a special message for you boomers and other “olds” out there. The changeover is inevitable. Deal with it. It’s over! Thankfully, dire circumstances like this one are perfect reasons for people like me to be employed. The Local History Rooms at the Adriance Memorial Library are in the process of scanning the Poughkeepsie City directories from 1846 to the present. Perusing these tomes of paper with printed ink on them gives a great perspective of the burgeoning development of Poughkeepsie (and/or its demise) throughout the past 150 years. Now, with the advent of high end scanners and digital cameras, these historic jewels won’t be sullied and destroyed by grubby little fingers! These books are literally crumbling [...]

Poughkeepsie City Directories2024-05-23T11:02:48-04:00

Coming Soon! Walking Tour of Dwight Street and Hooker Avenue

By Shannon Butler You’ve been asking for a new walking tour, and it’s in the works! When you open the July-August Rotunda you will find mention of a walking tour on Dwight Street and Hooker Avenue. This is another historic district in the south end of the City of Poughkeepsie, and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1982. In this tour we will look at the homes that were constructed between the 1890’s and the early 20th century. One of the most common questions we get in the Local History Room is, “can you tell me about the history of my house?” That tends to be easier said than done. In most cases, we can find some basic information, like when the house may have been built. Using directories and old deeds, we can sometimes trace the previous owners of the property; but digging out interesting stories is a bit harder to do unless someone took the time to write down and then save everything. Sometimes we can look up the names of previous owners in the local newspapers to see if they were mentioned, but it definitely helps if the individual [...]

Coming Soon! Walking Tour of Dwight Street and Hooker Avenue2024-05-10T09:23:51-04:00

Ruth Linda Deyo: Child Prodigy

By Bill Kleppel Recently, we had a visiting patron in the Local History Rooms doing research for a project on Hudson Valley composers. He was particularly interested in sheet music from the 19th and early 20th centuries.  My colleague and I selected material for him in advance so he could get to work right away. This is when we happened upon LH Document Box 780-M. Inside the box were musical compositions created by Ruth Linda Deyo in 1892. This music was published when Ms. Deyo was seven years old. Ruth Linda Deyo was born in Poughkeepsie in 1884 to Peter Deyo, a banker at The Poughkeepsie National Bank, and Ida Florence Woolsey. Ruth’s special aptitude was noticed by her parents when she began playing the piano at the age of three. She started creating her own music soon afterward. Her first music recitals in Poughkeepsie were held at parlor concerts, church gatherings, and local musicals, as well the Deyo home on 60 Academy Street, where they lived until 1890. The family moved to West Superior, Wisconsin, in April of that year.1 The Deyo’s would return frequently to the Hudson Valley to visit family and friends in [...]

Ruth Linda Deyo: Child Prodigy2024-04-26T11:34:58-04:00

No Butts about it! Scrabble in Poughkeepsie

By Shannon Butler If you walk down Academy Street, you will see some lovely houses that represent the Victorian era. Among the people who lived in these homes were the big names of Poughkeepsie business and culture, such as Adriance, Smith, and Hull. Another name comes to mind that might not be as familiar, though it's quite likely that you have played the game he invented; that name is Butts. The family had been in Dutchess County since the mid-18th century and moved to Poughkeepsie when the city was booming with life and opportunity. That is where Mr. Alfred Mosher Butts was born. At 131 Academy Street sits a lovely home that was designed in 1894 by William J. Beardsley for Mr. Allison Butts. Butts had grown up on the family’s ancestral farm in Stanford, and came to Poughkeepsie in 1874 to teach. He soon earned the position of deputy county clerk, but studied the law while working in that position. By the 1880’s his law practice was flourishing, as he became the expert on law relating to real estate, trusts, and corporations. He decided that he and his wife, Arri, needed a bigger home, one that [...]

No Butts about it! Scrabble in Poughkeepsie2024-04-12T10:23:29-04:00

Female Physicians of Poughkeepsie

By Shannon Butler In previous blog entries we have discussed several female doctors that have lived, worked, and studied here in Poughkeepsie. It stands to reason that since we are home to one of the first female colleges in the country, this city would naturally be a more attractive place to do business. Some of these women came to Poughkeepsie to work for Vassar College, while others joined together and set up practices of their own. Some would serve in the military as doctors and see action overseas, but no matter what path they took, they all paved a future for women in medicine. The first mention that we see in the directories of a practicing female physician is for Dr. Marie E. Luckey West who worked here from 1862 until sometime in the 1870s. She appears on the 1870 Poughkeepsie census with the occupation of “Doctress.” Perhaps one of the first female physicians to come to Poughkeepsie from elsewhere was Dr. Alida Avery who was hired to serve as the campus physician, as well as a professor of physiology and hygiene. She was remembered by her students as being somewhat stern; however, as a woman, [...]

Female Physicians of Poughkeepsie2024-03-22T13:39:37-04:00

Grace Roberts

By Bill Kleppel Another treasure was found while sifting through the miscellaneous files of the History Rooms at the Adriance Memorial Library. Today, I’ll introduce you to a local outspoken suffragette and social reformer who ran her own dairy cattle farm. Her previously unearthed memoir was written in the year before her death at the age of 89. The document gives us a glimpse into her astounding life, as well as her family’s fascinating history. Yet, most of the story is dedicated to her crusade to take down crooked financial swindlers before, during, and after the great Stock Market Crash of 1929. Her name was Grace Roberts. Grace Van Braam Roberts was born on May 12, 1869 to Dr. Charles Henry Roberts, a prominent Poughkeepsie dentist, and Katherine Aymer Freeman, in the town of Lloyd, New York, located in Ulster County. She was a graduate of Vassar College. In 1890, Grace founded Ulsterdorp Farms on her father’s estate in Lloyd. Soon afterward, she created the Halfway House Dairy Farm. This is where she developed her lifelong interest in cattle ranching. She would continue to manage the dairy farm until two months before her death in 1958. Grace [...]

Grace Roberts2024-03-08T14:36:01-05:00

Poughkeepsie Architecture: The City Almshouse

By Shannon Butler In previous blog posts we have discussed beautiful buildings of Poughkeepsie, some that are still standing and many that have been lost to time. When one thinks of fabulous architecture, we tend to imagine grand mansions where wealthy bankers and businessmen once lived, or local landmarks like banks, train stations, and even our very own library building here on Market Street. There is one grand building that has stood the test of time and has been a witness to many sad stories over the past century, yet still looks beautiful, and serves a purpose to this day. When you are speeding west on the arterial (admit it, you know you drive faster than 30 mph), you probably never take the time to glance at it, but the Poughkeepsie Almshouse should really be admired both for its beauty and its history. In 1863, the City of Poughkeepsie purchased the old County Poorhouse, which was located on Maple Street and had been in operation since the 1830’s. The county and the city decided to separate their poor populations, as Poughkeepsie generally had a higher population of people in need than the rest of the towns [...]

Poughkeepsie Architecture: The City Almshouse2024-02-23T10:06:37-05:00

Before the Oath of Office: Future Presidents at the Bardavon

February 9, 2024 By Bill Kleppel “All roads to the White House lead through Poughkeepsie!”…. are words that have never been uttered. However! Several future presidents visited our town in the years before they’d taken the oath of office. More specifically, their trips included being on or near the stage of our prestigious Bardavon Theater! Not only is 2024 a presidential election year, it’s also the 155th anniversary of the opening of the Bardavon (originally named the Collingwood Opera House). The Bardavon is the oldest continuously operating theater in New York State.1 Future President Dwight D. Eisenhower in front of the Bardavon in June of 1948. William McKinley - 1892 On November 1, 1892, a week before the presidential election between Benjamin Harrison and Grover Cleveland, a large Republican Party meeting commenced at the Collingwood Opera House. The attendants were most excited to see the popular Governor from Ohio, William McKinley. Five hundred people gathered well before the Collingwood was to open at 1:30 pm. The group blocked the theater’s entrance and teemed onto the street. The doors were opened early to alleviate the chaos and soon the entire venue was standing room only. McKinley had [...]

Before the Oath of Office: Future Presidents at the Bardavon2024-02-09T10:52:36-05:00

Mary Ellen Reid – A Name to a Face

January 26, 2024 By Shannon Butler There are lots of photographs of interesting people in our collections here in the Local History Room. Some of those people have been properly identified, while others have not. It can be somewhat difficult to put a name to a face, when everyone who might have remembered that face is gone. However, sometimes we get lucky and a research request can yield an answer that we never expected, and even a story that was lost to history. Not long ago, I received a request from a man looking for his Great-Aunt Mary, and as soon as I began my search, I was able to finally identify some of the ladies in our Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) photo collection. Mary Ellen Reid was born in 1873 in Aurora, Illinois, where she studied in local schools before becoming heavily involved with the YWCA. She was sent by the organization to Oxford, England, where she trained in bible studies. By 1901, she had made her way to Poughkeepsie, where she began her work as an executive secretary for the YWCA of Poughkeepsie. Reid took part in just about every activity, from bible [...]

Mary Ellen Reid – A Name to a Face2024-01-26T10:20:57-05:00

The Bodey’s of Poughkeepsie Saga – Part II

by Bill Kleppel We left you at the end of Part I in November of 1859. The patriarch of the Bodey family had vanished in a blizzard close to where he had struck gold in the western hills of El Dorado, California… ….Meanwhile, Back In Poughkeepsie A flood of catastrophic events engulfed the rest of the Bodey’s. The Death of William A. O. Bodey William A. O. Bodey was born on November 5, 1843. On December 18, 1852, William and his friends went ice skating on Lent’s Pond in Poughkeepsie. Two of the friends began to argue and a fight ensued. This gained the attention of a crowd nearby. In an instant, over 20 people converged on the frozen pond to watch the altercation. Suddenly, the ice gave way, plunging everyone into the frigid water below. Two boys drowned that day. One was William Bodey. He was nine years old. The Poughkeepsie Journal deemed it a “Distressing Calamity” when an article about the deaths appeared in the Christmas Day edition.8 The Death of George A. Bodey W.S. and Sarah’s second son, George, succumbed to typhoid fever on March 9, 1860, at the age of 19.9 He [...]

The Bodey’s of Poughkeepsie Saga – Part II2024-01-12T09:52:09-05:00

The Bodey’s of Poughkeepsie Saga – Part I

Ogden Bodey While researching Civil War era veterans from the 150th New York Infantry Regiment, I stumbled across Ogden Bodey.  His family story is so incomprehensible and tragic that I felt the need to share it with you. It features war, the California Gold Rush, a sudden disappearance, a Wild West boomtown and its demise, and an unfortunate litany of random deaths within one brood that is brutal in its magnitude. Ogden Bodey was born in Poughkeepsie on June 1, 1846, to Waterman S. Bodey and Sarah Wolcock Bodey. In 1862, Ogden enlisted into the 150th Regiment as a musician/drummer. He lied about his age to enter the Civil War at 16. During his three year tenure as a Union soldier, he participated in some of the most monumental events of the war, including the Battle of Gettysburg and Sherman’s March to the Sea. When the conflict ended in 1865, he was in Washington, D.C. and decided to leave the military. When he returned home, he found work as a tinsmith in Poughkeepsie, and then in Newark, New Jersey. On January 3, 1871, five and a half years after fighting valiantly in the bloodiest struggle in our nation’s [...]

The Bodey’s of Poughkeepsie Saga – Part I2024-01-10T10:23:35-05:00

John Bolding

by Bill Kleppel In 1824, John Bolding was born enslaved in South Carolina. On August 24, 1851, he was a free man working as a tailor in Poughkeepsie. On August 29, 1851, John Bolding was held before a Federal Law Commissioner in New York City. This commissioner would determine if Bolding was free to live his life with his family, or if he was the property of Robert C. Anderson of Columbia, South Carolina. The concept of time is occasionally confounding and unfathomable. The Emancipation Proclamation was enacted into law 160 years ago in 1863. This vast period of time encapsulates the Wright Brothers first flight off the ground, as well as Neil Armstrong’s first steps on the Moon.  It also includes the beginnings of the Industrial Revolution and our present burgeoning Information Age. There were people born during the Civil War that were still alive in the early 1970’s. If you were born during or before this period, you were breathing the same air as those seniors. These same seniors, as children, once breathed the same air as people who were enslaved by law in this country. It’s not as long ago as you think. John [...]

John Bolding2024-01-09T10:49:59-05:00

St. Barnabas’ Hospital

Long before the days of Vassar Brothers Medical Center or Mid-Hudson Regional Hospital (formerly St. Francis) there were not many options for medical care here in Poughkeepsie. In the 19th century, if you were ill or had an emergency, the best you could hope for was a trip to the local pharmacy, where you might be given a real cure, or something entirely useless. Or perhaps you were lucky enough to have a trained physician come to your home. By 1870, Poughkeepsie had a population of 20,000 people, but there was still no hospital to meet their medical needs. A year later, the Episcopal churches within the city endeavored to change that. In 1865, a group of doctors, along with several wealthy subscribers, helped raise the money to rent a space to be used as a “Homoeopathic Medical and Surgical Dispensary,” which was located on Bridge Street. This went on for a few years, until 1871, when leaders of Christ Church, St. Paul’s Church, and the Holy Comforter Church, formed a committee with the intention of forming the city’s first hospital. In March of 1871, a building was rented on Garden Street to house the new hospital and the venture to [...]

St. Barnabas’ Hospital2023-12-15T15:10:52-05:00

Paraclete Potter and the 1820 World Atlas

By William Kleppel It’s a cold and stormy winter night. You’re carrying a candle up the flight of stairs to your second floor study. The flame flickers and you realize someone has left the window open beside your desk! You shut it quickly, grab a quilted blanket, and drop into your chair to read. Earlier in the day, you stopped by the local bookshop and happened upon a small world atlas. It was printed by the store’s owner, and the editor of the Poughkeepsie Daily Eagle, Paraclete Potter. Flipping through the maps, you dream of far flung adventures to the Spice Isles, Amazonia, New Holland, and Van Diemen’s Land while sipping your rum laced hot chocolate. …of course, that would be if you were a citizen of Poughkeepsie, dreaming of world travel in 1820. Today, the Spice Isles are located in Indonesia, Amazonia is a large swath of South America, New Holland is Australia, and Van Diemen’s Land is Tasmania (which you wouldn’t have wanted to explore in 1820 since it was an English penal colony at that time). I found this atlas, the first to be published in the city of Poughkeepsie, shoved in a folder within the depths of [...]

Paraclete Potter and the 1820 World Atlas2023-12-01T11:08:21-05:00

Poughkeepsie Men in the 54th Massachusetts Regiment

by Shannon Butler If you are interested in the American Civil War, like me, perhaps you have seen the 1989 film Glory, starring Denzel Washington, Morgan Freeman, and Matthew Broderick. The film takes a close look at the famous 54th Massachusetts Regiment; the first regiment of African American soldiers to fight in the Civil War. The regiment took heavy casualties as it tried and failed to take the confederate stronghold of Fort Wagner, just outside of Charleston, South Carolina, in July of 1863.  Even if you’re not a history nerd you should check out the movie just for the terrific acting (Denzel Washington won his first Oscar for this role). Did you know that a few men from Poughkeepsie joined the 54th, and that some even saw action at the Battle of Fort Wagner? Sadly, some of these men paid a high price in the fight for freedom. When President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation in January of 1863, there was a sudden rush of African American volunteers who were finally able to join the fight. John Gray was born around 1841 and grew up in Poughkeepsie, where he worked on a farm until the Civil War broke out. Both [...]

Poughkeepsie Men in the 54th Massachusetts Regiment2023-11-17T12:06:48-05:00

Poughkeepsie Rural Cemetery – 170 Years

by Shannon Butler Adriance Memorial Library just celebrated our 125th anniversary and we wanted to wish a happy anniversary to our partners in local history, the Poughkeepsie Rural Cemetery! This week the cemetery is 170 years old and still looks as beautiful as ever. We thought it would be nice to share some of the details of its early history and inform you of a very special installation at the cemetery: a Día de los Muertos ofrenda (altar), on display until November 15th. The remembrance of life and the mourning of the dead is handled quite differently from culture to culture, and even from century to century. In the 19th century, it was quite common for families to pack up a picnic, head down to the Poughkeepsie Rural Cemetery, and sit and eat at the graves of their dearly departed. That doesn’t happen much these days, but in Hispanic culture, that’s what the Day of the Dead is all about. In the days before the rural cemetery movement, there were lots of little burial grounds and graveyards connected with churches within the city limits. However, after the New York State Legislature passed the Rural Cemetery Act in 1847, allowing the commercialization of [...]

Poughkeepsie Rural Cemetery – 170 Years2023-11-03T14:45:27-04:00

125 Years of Adriance Memorial Library: The Old Days and the Future

by Shannon Butler We might sound like a broken record here, but have we mentioned that it's the 125th anniversary for Adriance Memorial Library? That’s right! Come and see us this Saturday from 1pm to 3pm for all sorts of fun activities (brownie points if you come dressed in 1890s clothing!) We will have a little bit of everything, from fun games to early documents that showcase our history. In an earlier post, we told you about how the library came to be at its current location. It was such a big deal that even the New York Times and the New York Tribune picked up the story and shared photos of the beautiful new library. Over a century has passed, with thousands of books loaned and thousands of library cards issued since we first opened our doors on October 18, 1898. During the past few weeks we have been digging through our collections to find interesting pieces to showcase for Saturday’s event and we have found everything from old blueprints to “no spitting” signs (we’ll have them all on display this Saturday). In the months after opening day, the library was filled with more “sightseers” who were taking in the [...]

125 Years of Adriance Memorial Library: The Old Days and the Future2023-10-18T16:14:14-04:00

Must Love Dogs: Some Pups in Poughkeepsie

In this blog post, we decided to look at an interesting piece of dog history. Twenty twenty-three marks 215 years since the New York State Legislature decided that all dog owners must make sure that their dogs have collars and that their family name (meaning the owner’s) is visible on that collar. Is this a very random piece of history? Yes, it is. Did you know this random fact? Probably not.

Must Love Dogs: Some Pups in Poughkeepsie2023-10-06T10:07:23-04:00

William Lyon Dobbs and his Orchestra

Buried within the collections of the Local History Room is a box with a thick leather ledger inside. On the cover of this book, someone wrote in pen, “Chas. E. Dobbs, Daybook. Feb 1. 1906 to” and that's it. However, the pages inside the ledger are a bit more complicated than a simple daybook, as newspaper articles and musical programs are plastered over the older handwriting that once marked its pages.

William Lyon Dobbs and his Orchestra2023-09-21T16:22:36-04:00
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