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Black History is Local History: Theodore and Doris Mack

Black History is Local History: Theodore and Doris Mack As you may have read in one of our previous posts, Historical Views on Racism in Poughkeepsie, segregation and racism has existed here in the State of New York. However, we have also had some incredible people who lived right here in Poughkeepsie, who managed to overcome whatever barriers were put in their way while continuing the fight for Civil Rights. A couple who were raised and married in the South and made their way to Poughkeepsie just after World War II would find themselves on the front lines of it all. Together, they saw some interesting sights, made a difference in their community, and made a powerful friend along the way.  Theodore Lanett Mack was born in Little Rock, Arkansas in 1920 and was educated in local schools before heading off to college. While attending Wiley College in Marshall, Texas, he ended up pausing his studies to serve in the Navy as a musician during the war. In 1946, after he completed his service, Mack (as everyone called him) married Doris Holloway in Durham, North Carolina. Doris was born in Durham in 1922 and went to college to earn her Bachelor's [...]

Black History is Local History: Theodore and Doris Mack2022-02-17T13:06:07-05:00

No Longer Standing: Buildings of Poughkeepsie – The Old Post Office

No Longer Standing: Buildings of Poughkeepsie - The Old Post Office Those of you who have lived in Poughkeepsie for a long time may remember a stately brick building that once stood on Market Street. Today, the land where this building stood is now a very modern-looking Dutchess County Office Building (home of the DMV and County Clerk offices). If we go back in time to the mid 19th century, there was a famous row of buildings known as Lawyers’ Row. If you happened to find yourself in trouble, you could simply shop for a lawyer conveniently located right next door to the County Courthouse. However, in 1883, this real estate would find a new purpose when the Federal Government decided that this row of old decrepit buildings was the perfect spot for a post office.  On March 23rd, 1883, the lawyers on what was known as “Jewett Block” on the corner of Market and Union streets were all in a flurry as they considered the futures of their dingy office spaces. The Federal Government was in town looking for land to build a new Post Office, and they had their eye on Lawyers’ Row. It's not like this line of [...]

No Longer Standing: Buildings of Poughkeepsie – The Old Post Office2022-05-11T12:33:29-04:00

Check out this neat, paid Summer Job Opportunity for Teens!

Teens! Here is a neat, paid Summer opportunity!   The Public Archaeology Facility at Binghamton University (SUNY) are seeking youth participants (ages 15-26) to receive training as archaeological site monitors. These individuals would be hired for a period of three weeks (July 11-29). We are seeking youth participants who have an interest in stewardship of our national historical sites, and ideally live in the Poughkeepsie/Hyde Park area (or have reliable transportation to the area; local transportation will be provided).   They have partnered with the National Park Service in a pilot archaeological monitoring program for the Summer of 2022. The program will be located at the Hyde Park, NY NPS historical sites (Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historical Site, Eleanor Roosevelt National Historical Site, and Vanderbilt Mansion National Historical Site) with trips to the Martin Van Buren National Historic Site in Kinderhook.   Learn more by contacting Dr. Claire Horn at chorn@binghamton.edu or Amy Roache-Fedchenko (Archeologist, Northeast Archeological Resources Program), amy_fedchenko@partner.nps.gov   #teenage #teenjobs #archaeology #archaeologylife #archaeologist #summerjob #summerjobs #historicpreservation #stewardship

Check out this neat, paid Summer Job Opportunity for Teens!2022-02-10T10:14:18-05:00

“A dark gloomy day for Pokepsie” – The Destruction of the Henry Clay

“A dark gloomy day for Pokepsie” - The Destruction of the Henry Clay You may notice that the word "Poughkeepsie" is misspelled in our title. That is because it was spelled this way in an 1852 diary written by Matthew Vassar Jr., which is located here in our local history collection. He wrote these words to sum up the terrible news that he had just heard on July 31st, that the steamer ship Henry Clay had caught fire and crashed ashore near Yonkers. This year will mark 170 years since the catastrophe, and even though it did not take place near Poughkeepsie, it was certainly felt by many people within the city.  The Henry Clay was built by Thomas Collyer in 1851 and was known as a side-wheel paddle steamer. Her length was just under 200 feet and she (yes, boats are referred to as she/her) had the capacity to carry over 500 passengers and crew. In the 1840s and 50s, it was quite common for steam ships to race each other from New York City to Albany. Since there were many Steamer companies competing, it certainly looked appealing to paying customers if a ship could make the journey in seven [...]

“A dark gloomy day for Pokepsie” – The Destruction of the Henry Clay2022-05-11T12:33:52-04:00

The Gallows Tree: Executions or Legends?

The Gallows Tree: Executions or Legends? In the book “The History of Dutchess County” by James Smith, there is a passage that reads, "on the west side of the road, nearly midway between Kidney's creek and the Fallkill, on the old Thomas Nelson property, now the estate of Mr. Orrin Williams, stood the Gallows Tree." When we think of the term "gallows," we immediately think of people being hanged from a tall branch. The idea that a tree’s single purpose in history was for the hanging of criminals is certainly an ominous thought, but what proof do we have that a certain tree was used by the city of Poughkeepsie to conduct capital punishment? If indeed the tree was used for such things, how long did that go on before someone finally said “it's time to find a better way”?    On the 1799 map of Poughkeepsie in the area of what is now Pulaski Park there is definitely a very clear set of words: “Gallows Tree,” complete with a little drawing of a tree (in case future historians thought that might be the terrible name of someone’s estate or something). So we have concrete proof that there was certainly a tree [...]

The Gallows Tree: Executions or Legends?2022-05-11T12:34:12-04:00

The Poughkeepsie Savings Bank Building

The Poughkeepsie Savings Bank Building In our modern era, where we can do almost anything that needs to be done online, a trip to the bank sometimes feels like a thing of the past. Today if you need to deposit a check, you can take a picture of it with your phone. Or if you want to apply for some kind of loan, you can do that almost entirely online as well. So the idea of getting dressed up and making your way to a grand old building made of marble does have a touch of the old days to it. One of the earliest banking establishments for Poughkeepsie was none other than the Poughkeepsie Savings Bank, and though the institution itself is now a thing of the past, the grand old building is still here and is being repurposed. Originally chartered in 1831, this bank had some of the biggest names in Poughkeepsie’s history serving on the first board of trustees, including Matthew Vassar, Thomas Tallmadge, and William Davies, just to name a few. The first president of the bank was Colonel Henry A. Livingston, not to be confused with the Henry Livingston of “Revolutionary fame,” as Edmund Platt’s “History [...]

The Poughkeepsie Savings Bank Building2022-01-21T09:01:40-05:00

No Longer Standing: Buildings of Poughkeepsie – The Poughkeepsie Hotel

No Longer Standing: Buildings of Poughkeepsie - The Poughkeepsie Hotel Every town that attracts visitors needs someplace for those visitors to stay. Even in Poughkeepsie's humble beginnings, people came into town in order to conduct business. Farmers had to travel from outside of town to buy and sell goods, which would sometimes mean an overnight visit requiring taverns and inns. Right in the center of things, the Poughkeepsie Hotel was one of the oldest and longest lasting hotels that the city ever had. The hotel operated for well over a century and hosted some interesting guests over the course of those years. Today, we only have a few pictures of what once was, but it gives us a glimpse of how the streets of Poughkeepsie have changed. The Poughkeepsie Hotel started off as the Baldwin’s Hotel sometime around 1803, though it is believed that there may have even been a hotel here as early as 1797. It sat on the north side of Main Street and stared directly down Market Street (essentially the top of a ‘T’). In 1804, members of the Republican party purchased the hotel from Robert Williams for the sum of about $9,000 to be used as a [...]

No Longer Standing: Buildings of Poughkeepsie – The Poughkeepsie Hotel2022-01-14T08:53:54-05:00

Poughkeepsie Architecture: The Poughkeepsie Station

Poughkeepsie Architecture: The Poughkeepsie Station We are quite lucky to live on this particular section of the Hudson River. We are at the center of it all when it comes to getting around. If for some reason you don’t feel like driving, and would much rather sit back and enjoy the scenery, taking the train is one of the best ways to do it. The station that we have in Poughkeepsie is the third station to have been constructed here and the entire area around it has drastically changed over the past 100 years, but the mission remains the same; catch the train on time. The railroad first came into town in 1850 and was known as the Hudson River Railroad in the early years. This was part of a line that stretched from Albany down to New York City. The land between Poughkeepsie and Columbia county along the river’s edge is quite rocky and interestingly, the original plan involved surveying land outside of Poughkeepsie and heading north into the countryside, as far as seven miles away from the river to see if the tracks should take that route instead. However, as we know, that plan was abandoned and the trains [...]

Poughkeepsie Architecture: The Poughkeepsie Station2022-01-07T09:23:21-05:00

Poughkeepsie Architecture: The Cast Iron Building

By Shannon Butler On December 26, 1870, a fire broke out in the saloon that had been operated by George W. Cannon at 301 Main Street. Within moments of the fire’s first sparks, an explosion occurred, sending flames, glass, and smoke almost to the other side of Main Street. The alarm was sounded and the firemen were soon on the scene but the fire was spreading quickly into the next place of business, a drug store operated by Morgan Farnum. What seemed like mere minutes later, the fire moved into the bookstore of Archibald Wilson. The flames ripped through the block so quickly that there was nothing the firemen could do except prevent the fire from crossing Main and Garden streets. The next morning, there was nothing left but a hole in the ground. That block on the corner of Garden and Main Streets, which was made up almost entirely of old wooden buildings, belonged to Mrs. Josephine Pardee (the widow of Enoch Pardee) and she had taken quite a loss. The reports from both the Poughkeepsie Eagle News and the New York Times showed that several of the tenants who owned shops in these buildings had lost a considerable amount [...]

Poughkeepsie Architecture: The Cast Iron Building2024-05-07T10:53:00-04:00

Christmas Shopping for Deals at Luckey, Platt, and Company

By Shannon Butler Well folks, it's that time of the year - Christmas Eve is here! Perhaps you are on top of your game and you have completed your holiday shopping. Or perhaps not. You might not even have time to read this blog post as you are frantically trying to hunt down those last minute gift ideas at rock bottom prices (it's okay, we don’t judge). We thought we would take a look at Poughkeepsie's once-famous superstore Luckey, Platt, and Company to see what deals they had to offer. To do this, we are digging into the Poughkeepsie Journal Archives and picking through the thousands of advertisements to find the hot items at the best prices (for the time period).  For those who didn’t know what to buy, we found a very helpful advertisement from December of 1877 where the store showcases an entire alphabet of possibilities. For example, A is for “Aprons and Afghan yarns” and U is for “Umbrellas and Undergarments” (you get the idea). In their ad for the Christmas of 1880, they decided to separate the gifts into categories: for gentlemen, for ladies, for children, or for home use (which is also basically for ladies in [...]

Christmas Shopping for Deals at Luckey, Platt, and Company2024-05-07T10:44:56-04:00

Most Borrowed Books of 2021

Adult Fiction Books: The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah Daylight: An Atlee Pine Thriller by David Baldacci The Midnight Library: A Novel by Matt Haig A Gambling Man: An Aloysius Archer Novel by David Baldacci Serpentine: An Alex Delaware Novel by Jonathan Kellerman Win: A Novel by Harlan Coben The Law of Innocence by Michael Connelly 21st Birthday by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro Deadly Cross: An Alex Cross Novel by James Patterson The Last Thing He Told Me: A Novel by Laura Dave Adult Nonfiction Books: Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson I Alone Can Fix It: Donald J. Trump’s Catastrophic Final Year by Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants by Robin Wall Kimmerer Peril by Bob Woodward and Robert Costa Till Murder Do Us Part: True-Crime Thrillers by James Patterson with Andrew Bourelle and Max Dilallo Zero Fail: the Rise and Fall of the Secret Service by Carol Leonnig The Hudson Valley: The First 250 Million Years by David Levine Eat Better, Feel Better: My Recipes for Wellness and Healing, Inside and Out by Giada De Laurentiis The Barbizon: The Hotel That Set [...]

Most Borrowed Books of 20212024-01-23T15:30:46-05:00

The Monitor Cannon

By Shannon Butler If you've ever entered our library on the Market Street side, perhaps you've taken a moment to notice that there is a small cannon standing guard in front. A plaque on the cannon reads:  THE MONITOR of 1863 fame the invention of Capt. John Ericsson was the first war vessel carrying an armored turret. It was made through the efforts of John F. Winslow and John A. Griswold and with money furnished by them. This cannon made for the Monitor was presented to the CITY OF POUGHKEEPSIE by Mary C. W. Black Mr. Winslow's daughter 1926.  That all sounds very official, but there's a slight problem: there were only two cannons on the Monitor and they both went down with the ship (they are now being preserved in a museum in Virginia). So what's the real story behind this particular cannon? First, what is the Monitor? Perhaps you remember learning in school about the famous Civil War battle between the two ironclad ships, the USS Monitor and the CSS Virginia (also known as the Merrimac when it was a Union ship). This battle, which took place in March of 1862, was the first of its kind, with the [...]

The Monitor Cannon2024-05-07T10:40:38-04:00

Bring Out Your Dead: Locations of Old Burial Grounds in the City of Poughkeepsie: Part Two

By Shannon Butler Last week, we talked about the old burial grounds that were once within the city limits. This week, we will continue our search using old maps and newspaper articles to help us locate more of these forgotten sites. We have learned thus far that there were burial grounds from several different denominations and families throughout the city. By the 1870s, the city of Poughkeepsie determined that there would be no more interments of human remains in city soil. Also, as the city expanded and a need for new buildings for both business and residential became clear, several of these old graveyards were moved to the newly formed Poughkeepsie Rural Cemetery. On the east side of Jefferson Street, there once was a large graveyard that was owned by the Methodist Church. The ground was originally acquired in 1806 and a church was built there. In 1826, the church was torn down and moved elsewhere, but the land continued to be used as a burial ground. It appears that the first burial was not even a member of the congregation, but someone from out of town. 27-year-old Rev. Lansford Whiting had just attended the Methodist conference of 1811 in New [...]

Bring Out Your Dead: Locations of Old Burial Grounds in the City of Poughkeepsie: Part Two2024-05-07T10:37:38-04:00

Bring Out Your Dead: Locations of Old Burial Grounds in the City of Poughkeepsie

By Shannon Butler Have you ever walked along our city’s streets and wondered to yourself what might have been in that spot over a century ago? Did it ever occur to you that the playground or the parking lot might be someone’s grave? Or at least, it used to be. In the 18th century, as this city was being formed, people were beginning to build their lives here. However, that means that people were also finishing their lives here (“get busy living or get busy dying,” as the saying goes). So when people start dying in your new settlement, that means you have to find a place to bury them. Typically, when you died you could be buried in your church’s graveyard. Or perhaps your family had established its own burial ground. On the 1834 map of Poughkeepsie, there were six burial grounds within the city. Today, those sites are all used for other purposes. What was perhaps one of the oldest burial grounds once stood on the northwest corner of Vassar and Mill Streets. This would have been the final resting place of the Van Kleeck family. In 1702, Baltus Van Kleeck built a house nearby, which would have been [...]

Bring Out Your Dead: Locations of Old Burial Grounds in the City of Poughkeepsie2024-05-07T10:35:14-04:00

The Cost of Thanksgiving

By Shannon Butler We’ve all seen the news stories and we have all felt it in our wallets. The cost of Thanksgiving has certainly gone up! Everything from cranberries to roasting pans, from coffee to the big bird at the center of it all, this year’s holiday is going to be historic on all of our bank accounts. Whether you are making food for the family or heading out for a fine dining experience, it's going to cost you more than it ever has. So it begs the question, how much did it cost to enjoy Thanksgiving over a century ago? How much did you spend per pound on a turkey this year? Well, the market shows that prices range from $2 to $5 per pound depending on the quality. In 1890, the price was 16 cents a pound as advertised in the Poughkeepsie Eagle News. Based on inflation, that’s about $4.86 in today’s dollars. Over a century ago, it took quite a bit of time to prepare your traditional Thanksgiving feast. It was said that “during the week preceding Thanksgiving the New England housekeeper is a busy woman” (I mean, I feel like this is still true, but maybe I [...]

The Cost of Thanksgiving2024-05-07T10:29:21-04:00

A Murder on Thanksgiving

By Shannon Butler With Thanksgiving approaching, we thought now would be a good time to talk about a fascinating local true crime case that took place right around this time of year (but we didn’t want to do it on Thanksgiving because, well...that would be a bummer). But it's right about now when we all try to think of something that we are thankful for, and one thing we can all be thankful for is that we haven’t been brutally murdered on a dairy farm, on Thanksgiving (well, technically, it was Thanksgiving eve). Sadly, this was the fate of the four members of the Germond Family of Stanford in 1930. This case caused such a stir in Dutchess County and across the country that it even got the attention of fellow Dutchess County resident and Governor of New York, Franklin D. Roosevelt. It was a quiet evening on November 26th, and 18-year-old Bernice Germond was sitting on a bus traveling from Poughkeepsie, where she was studying at the Eastman Business College. Bernice was headed home to her family’s farm in Stanford, on the Salt Point road. When the bus stopped in front of the property, Bernice mentioned to the driver, Mr. [...]

A Murder on Thanksgiving2024-05-07T10:27:59-04:00
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