by Shannon Butler

Did you know that we have a pair of Civil War drum sticks in our collection? They are on display in a glass case in the genealogy room. Somehow, wanting to know more about these sticks sent this historian down a rabbit hole which went from a major Presidential funeral, to the baseball diamond! Now it is very easy for us here in the Local History Room to take on a research request and find ourselves searching (for what feels like hours) for interesting stories. For this week’s blog, the pieces all seemed to come together pretty quickly and in the process, we have learned some cool history!

Alonzo Daley was 18 (but more likely 15 based on census records) when he decided to join the Union army. He enlisted here in Poughkeepsie on September 29th 1862 as a private with the 150th N.Y.V. Dutchess County Regiment. In 1864 he was transferred to the 22nd Regiment V.R.C. Based on the pension records, he appears to have served for 3 years and was discharged in July of 1865. Apparently, the drumsticks that we have in the display case were used by Alonzo when Lincoln’s funeral train stopped briefly here in Poughkeepsie on April 25th, 1865. He played a drum roll to signal for the Eastman Band to play Lincoln’s Funeral Dirge (music seen in Library of Congress link below) as Poughkeepsie’s people mourned the loss of the President. After the war he worked as a chair maker and varnisher. He married a girl named Sara and they had a few children including a young talented boy named William Henry.

William Henry was born here in Poughkeepsie in 1868 and it is quite likely that he had witnessed his father play the popular new sport of baseball. Alonzo was a member of the “Union First Nine club” made up of veterans who had discovered baseball during the war. Alonzo no doubt showed William how to toss a ball around and he quickly got the hang of it. He was discovered by Bill McCabe, the manager of the Poughkeepsie Club in 1887 and was signed to play with the Jersey City Team where he amazed everyone with his accuracy and speed. This left-handed pitcher then moved to the Boston Beaneaters and was bought by the Boston Nationals for $2,500 where he won a Silver Baseball for best pitcher in 1890. He was the first Poughkeepsie-born player in the major leagues.

Sadly, he fell from grace just as quickly as he rose and was back playing in the minor leagues within a few years. Some claimed that it was because he never received proper training to keep up a proper condition. By the mid 1890s he had dropped out of baseball entirely and moved back to Poughkeepsie to work a normal job and raise a family. He died in May of 1922 at the age of 53. So in the end, a pair of drumsticks somehow led to the discovery (at least for this curious historian) of a fun connection to Baseball’s past.

Poughkeepsie Eagle News – 26 Apr 1865
Poughkeepsie Eagle News – 13 Jul 1889
Poughkeepsie Eagle News – 8 May 1922
Baseball in Dutchess County: when it was a game by Joseph V. Poillucci LH 796.357 POI

01 – Photo of the drumsticks in our collections
02 – Copy of Lincoln’s Funeral Dirge from the Library of Congress –
03 – Photo of Bill Daley’s baseball card –
04 – Image of the 1890 Boston Beaneaters Team – Bill Daley is in the top row, second from the right –