Ellen C. Roosevelt: An Early Legend of Tennis

Ellen C. Roosevelt: An Early Legend of Tennis It’s Women’s History Month, so we thought we would spotlight a local lady who inspired young women to get out and play tennis in the 19th century. Even if you don’t know anything about tennis, you’ve probably heard of some of the big names of female players today, like Venus and Serena Williams, or Billie Jean King. These women are powerhouses on the court, but they have the benefit of wearing modern day shoes and light attire. Now, if you were hitting the tennis ball around in 1890, you played on grass, your shoes had a bit more of a heel, and you wore things like a corset and a long skirt. Ellen C. Roosevelt not only accomplished this feat, but she won her share of championships. Ellen was born into wealth in 1868 as the daughter of John and Ellen Roosevelt. Ellen and her older sister Grace learned how to play tennis in the 1870s after their father had a tennis court built on their family’s estate. They lived in Rosedale, a beautiful mansion located on the border of Hyde Park and the Town of Poughkeepsie on the North Road. Both of

Ellen C. Roosevelt: An Early Legend of Tennis2023-03-17T10:33:14-04:00

The Stove: Center of the Home

The Stove: Center of the Home If you enjoy cooking or baking, then you understand the importance of having a good stove. We live in a time of modern conveniences and technologies that help make our cooking experiences easier. We have so many gadgets to choose from: crockpots, air-fryers, toaster ovens, electric and gas stoves, induction stoves, various forms of outdoor grills and (for lazy folks) microwaves. These devices are designed to cook our food faster, or with little effort so that we can enjoy our meals and carry on with the rest of our day. Now imagine living in the 19th century. Whether you were a housewife, a servant, or a cook in a restaurant, making the daily meals would not just keep you busy, it would take up much of your day. Prior to 1790, households relied mostly on open hearths or large indoor fireplaces, with bake ovens cut into the brickwork alongside. Smoke in the household was a common annoyance until the invention of the kitchen range by Sir Benjamin Thompson. Thompson discovered that by adding a choke to the chimney, the smoke would exit the chimney faster while the heat lingered longer, thus changing the chimney design.

The Stove: Center of the Home2023-03-03T12:47:48-05:00

LaMar Turpin: A Profile of Service

LaMar Turpin: A Profile of Service World War II ushered in many changes for women of all backgrounds. As you might have heard, women had the chance to do everything, from working in factories to playing on baseball teams. Women who wanted to do their part to serve their country in the military finally had their chance. Organizations like the WACS (Women Army Corps), WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service), and WASPS (Women's Airforce Service Pilots) were popping up in the early 1940s, which allowed women to join the military effort. African American women had fewer chances of being accepted into these branches, as the military only allowed 10% of black enlistments. For Poughkeepsie native LaMar Turpin, it was no doubt exciting to be accepted into the WACS officer training school. LaMar Turpin was born LaMar Yvonne Wood in 1914. She was the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Wood of Pershing Avenue. She attended Poughkeepsie schools and had a great interest in athletics and poetry. She excelled at tennis and joined the Poughkeepsie Net Club, where she won several trophies. Some of her poetry was published in the World’s Fair Anthology in 1938. In 1935 she married Raymond Turpin, who

LaMar Turpin: A Profile of Service2023-02-16T10:54:35-05:00

Vincent A. Walker: Black, White, or Passing?

Vincent A. Walker: Black, White, or Passing? The term passing has made its way back into our modern vocabulary thanks in part to Netflix producing a film based on the 1929 novel of the same name. The act of passing has historically been described as a black, brown, or multiracial individual who can be accepted into a white racial group due to having light-skinned features. The practice of passing was a way to avoid racial segregation and the stereotypes that plagued society. In the 1930s, if one could pass as white, they would be more likely to get a good job, rent an apartment in a good part of town, or even receive a loan to buy a home. Vincent Walker was likely aware of these conditions when he immigrated from Jamaica to Canada, and then to Poughkeepsie in May of 1927. He referenced his race as “West Indian” rather than “Black” on his naturalization papers, which later translated to “White” on all of his documents. Vincent Alexander Walker was born in St. Ann’s in Jamaica on April 19, 1902. He and his mother (who wrote on her naturalization papers that she was “African black”) immigrated to Toronto, Canada in 1920,

Vincent A. Walker: Black, White, or Passing?2023-03-01T13:26:35-05:00

Murder in Poughkeepsie’s Little Italy

Murder in Poughkeepsie’s Little Italy Did you know that card games can be deadly? Of course you did. If you have ever seen a western film you know that the guns start flying out whenever someone drinks too much liquor and loses too much money. Well, this sort of thing doesn’t just happen in Hollywood folks, it happened right here in Poughkeepsie! Some games can get you so hot and bothered that friendships can end, or people can, well, die. Have you ever played the game of “Big Boss and Little Boss” also known as “Brisque?” Well that was the game that was played when tempers got too high and someone lost their life in 1935. Fifty-two year old Phillip Nuzzi lived on the second floor apartment at 91 North Bridge Street right in the center of the area known as Little Italy. He was the father of nine and had been the “Italian Boss” for Spoor and Lasher Company. Nuzzi’s friend and hot dog vendor, John Matera lived in the apartment on the first floor. On the evening of May 5, 1935, these men along with Andrew Digilio and Joseph DiCosmo were sitting together in Matera’s apartment, drinking wine and

Murder in Poughkeepsie’s Little Italy2023-01-20T10:58:30-05:00

A Murder and a Suicide in the Tower Family

A Murder and a Suicide in the Tower Family Albert Edward Tower Sr. had done well for himself and his family. He had made himself a millionaire with his iron industry here in the City of Poughkeepsie. The Falkill and Poughkeepsie Iron works were both operated by him in the mid-19th century, and cranked out thousands of pounds of “pig iron and projects thereof.” His work in the iron industry allowed him to raise a large family, own lots of property, and donate large sums of money to his place of worship, Christ Church. However, wealth does not always equal happiness for all within the family, and in this case there were deadly issues lying under the surface. Albert Tower Jr. had taken over the iron business and fortune after his father’s death in 1891. He also took control of the family’s mansion, which once stood on the west side of North Road (roughly the modern location of the Dutchess Care Assisted Living facility). In 1885, he married Nina Carpenter, daughter of Benjamin Platt Carpenter, a prominent political figure in Dutchess County. In 1887, Nina gave birth to their one and only child, Albert E. Tower III and by all appearances

A Murder and a Suicide in the Tower Family2023-01-10T14:25:09-05:00

Herman’s Christmas Wonderland

Herman’s Christmas Wonderland If you grew up in the Poughkeepsie area between the 1960s and the 1990s, it’s possible that you visited Herman’s Christmas Wonderland display as a child (that is, if you’re into the whole Christmas thing). There was something special about getting the family together in the minivan and driving down Route 44 to the Pleasant Valley nursery where you could stroll through the “Christmas tunnel.” There you would see handmade displays like, the North Pole, ski slopes, Eskimos, and of course, the Nativity scene. As we are all getting older and feeling a bit nostalgic, we thought this would be the perfect time to revisit an old holiday favorite that is now sadly a thing of the past. In 1960, William Herman opened a nursery and garden center in Pleasant Valley. The business was very successful with their slogan, “For every Bloomin’ thing” that attracted everyone from beginner gardeners to professional landscapers. In 1962, the store set up their first Nativity scene with live animals and “2 of Santa’s real live reindeer,” Dancer and Prancer. The following year the store planned an even bigger display and placed advertisements in the papers that proclaimed that Herman’s Christmas Land had

Herman’s Christmas Wonderland2023-01-10T14:25:33-05:00

Christmas Card Time!

Christmas Card Time! Are you a big fan of giving and receiving Christmas cards this time of year? Sometimes it feels like the only thing we get in the mail anymore is bills and random coupons we never asked for. However, this time of year, it is always a pleasure to receive a special card, hand-picked and signed with a warm greeting of the season. In our modern era, we can snap family photos with our smartphones and send the images off to be made into personalized cards or grab a giant box of various mass produced cards that we think look pretty. Or how about getting a local artist to make you some personalized cards? Plenty of locals in Poughkeepsie did this in the 1920s and 30s with our local artist, Thomas W. Barrett Jr. As we have mentioned in previous posts, Thomas W. Barrett Jr. was born in Poughkeepsie in 1902 and studied art in Boston at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts. He lived and worked for a short time in New York City in the mid 1920s, before coming home to Poughkeepsie and moving back in with his family in their home at 55 Noxon

Christmas Card Time!2023-01-10T14:25:43-05:00

Time to Shop!

Time to Shop! It's the most wonderful time of the year folks! It's Black Friday and everyone is going to be starting their Christmas Shopping! Perhaps you are heading down to the Poughkeepsie Galleria, or you’re shopping small by hitting some local “Mom and Pop” establishments. Maybe you prefer to stay on the couch and surf the web for online deals. Either way, people have been searching for the best Christmas gifts for over a century. While the tradition of “Black Friday” shopping is fairly new, we’ve been doing it since at least the mid-20th century, and with less than a month to shop, this time of year has always been crunch-time for finding the right Christmas gift. In 1871, the Poughkeepsie Daily Eagle proclaimed that giving your family members a subscription to the paper was the best Christmas gift (well, obviously!), but there were several other organizations that also claimed they had the best gifts for your loved ones. Lucky, Platt, & Company, which was Poughkeepsie’s very own department store for over a century, made sure to attract their customers with large ads in the newspaper with slogans like “Our assortment of goods is large! Our prices are Way Down!

Time to Shop!2023-01-10T14:26:07-05:00

General Custer was here! (well, parts of him)

General Custer was here! (well, parts of him) There are several battle names that everyone has heard of. Even if you don’t know when or why it was fought, or even who won it, you’ve heard the name. Names like the Battle of Gettysburg, or the Battle of Waterloo, or the Battle of Okinawa, and so on. One of the big names that is mentioned a lot is the Battle of Little Bighorn. Why? It was a major victory for the Plains Indians during the Great Sioux War of 1876, and it would be the location of the last stand and death of the famous General George Armstrong Custer. You may be wondering, how does this have anything to do with Poughkeepsie? When George Armstrong Custer went into battle on June 25, 1876, his goal was to round up all of the Plains Indians in the Black Hills and bring them to reservations. Anyone who didn’t come willingly was considered hostile and would be killed. Thousands of members of the Lakota, Dakota, and Cheyenne tribes had followed leaders like, Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse, to lands around the Little Bighorn River; this is where Custer and about 700 members of the

General Custer was here! (well, parts of him)2022-11-10T12:09:47-05:00

Thomas Weeks Barrett Jr. (1902-1947)

Poughkeepsie Public Library District Presents: Local History Discussion Thomas Weeks Barrett Jr.  (1902-1947) It's that time of year again! Halloween is here and we are super excited. After all, here in the Local History room we hang around with the dead all day long (well, at least the documents and photos of the dead). One of those deceased individuals apparently liked Halloween almost as much as we do, and was so inspired that he decided to paint a scene of trick-or-treaters walking down the street. In fact, we have a lot of his artwork thanks to the folks at the Barrett Art Center, who recently donated Thomas Weeks Barrett Jr.’s collection of paintings, photographs, documents, and more. We have decided to devote a lecture to his life and work on November 16, along with an exhibit of his art which will run through December 31. Thomas Weeks Barrett Jr. was born in Poughkeepsie on September 12, 1902. He was the son of Thomas Weeks Barrett Sr., a local prominent banker, and Kate Stoutenburgh, a descendant of some of the area's earliest settlers. The family, which included a little sister named Elizabeth, lived in a lovely Greek Revival house on 55 Noxon

Thomas Weeks Barrett Jr. (1902-1947)2022-10-28T10:22:22-04:00

The Trial and Execution of Lucy Ann Hoag

The Trial and Execution of Lucy Ann Hoag If you missed our Historic Murders in Dutchess County program, fear not, we will do it again in February. In the meantime, we thought we would share an interesting story that was uncovered in the midst of researching some of the characters who committed evil crimes. Did you know that the fourth woman to be executed in New York State’s history was put to death in Poughkeepsie? Did you also know that this method of justice being served took place inside the Dutchess County Courthouse just down the road from this very library? Lucy Ann Hoag was not able to recall much of her childhood when men came to interview her in her prison cell in 1852. She did not know her real parents and was adopted by the Fulton family in Red Hook, where she remembered being treated as if she were a servant and field worker. Nelson Hoag, a man from Dover, on the eastern edge of Dutchess County, came calling when his sister was marrying into the Fulton family. The 32 year old fell in love with the 18 year old Lucy and proposed marriage. The Fulton family must have

The Trial and Execution of Lucy Ann Hoag2022-10-14T09:48:03-04:00
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