Tag Archives: Newburgh

New Book: Hudson River Steamboat Catastrophes


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Hudson River Steamboat AccidentsBeginning in the mid-1800s, steamboats carried people between New York City and the Albany area on the Hudson River. Romantic images lull us into believing it was a quiet means of travel, but a crowded river, faulty equipment and the bravado of the captains resulted in at least one major catastrophe every year. Night boats collided and sank, carelessness caused boiler explosions, races put passengers at risk and fires would quickly swallow the wooden vessels.

The grand Empire of Troy suffered many collisions. The Swallow broke in two on a rock, Reindeer’s explosion took forty lives at once and the Oregon and C. Vanderbilt entered into an epic and dangerous race. Collected from eyewitness accounts, these are some of the most exciting and frightening stories of peril aboard steamboats on the Hudson River. Now, local historian J. Thomas Allison has written Hudson River Steamboat Catastrophes: Contests and Collisions (History Press, 2013). Allison provides an entertaining look at the romantic but perilous age of steamboat travel on the Hudson River, including tales of reckless captains racing each other and passengers’ eyewitness accounts of collisions, crashes, explosions, and fires. Continue reading

Martha Washington Woman of History Awardees Named


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washingtons headquartersWashington’s Headquarters State Historic Site will present two Martha Washington Woman of History Awards. The 2014 Martha Washington Woman of History Award recipient is author/historian Mary Sudman Donovan.

This award is given each year in honor of Martha Washington, a perennially outstanding woman in history who resided in the Hudson Valley with her husband, General George Washington, during the last days of the Revolutionary War. Continue reading

Event to Mark 1960s “Battle of Newburgh”


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Battle of NewburghThe Historical Society of Newburgh Bay & the Highlands will host a fifty-year retrospective recalling the 1960’s conflict over a plan to curb welfare costs to help meet the city’s financial struggles. The decision sparked a national debate that became known as the “Battle of Newburgh.”

In August 1961 a national Gallup poll revealed 85% support for the Newburgh City Council’s 13 point plan to balance the city budget by reforming requirements for individuals to receive payments from the welfare relief program.  Two months later, the State of New York ordered a permanent injunction, effectively ending the City of Newburgh’s attempts to curb welfare costs. Continue reading

Preservation Failures: Newburgh’s Weigand Tavern


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Weigand's_Tavern-AuthorOne of the saddest stories I have ever tracked in the newspapers is the Martin Weigand Tavern in the City of Newburgh. It is the story of a property allowed to deteriorate to a point where today it is almost beyond repair.

Located on Liberty Street, it is a relic of the American Revolution where many Revolutionary notables spent time. The tavern was also the center of political life in early Newburgh. It stands today at the Northwest corner of the Old Town Cemetery as it has for over two centuries. Continue reading

The Story of Newburgh: A Creative Community Collaboration


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Newburgh SpanishThe Sound and Story Project whose mission is to strengthen community through the power of listening, and the Newburgh Free Library invites the community to participate in the making of a multimedia documentary featuring their personal impressions of Newburgh. “Our Story,” a collaborative multimedia program, will take place at the Library on June 1, 2013 from 10:00 – 4:00. Contact Chuck Thomas at 845-3614 to reserve a space.

Community members, assisted by local artists Eileen McAdam, Mia Lobel, Ilene Cutler, and Mariel Fiori, will record stories, take photos and shoot video to tell the story of Newburgh through their eyes. From the material collected and the participant’s impressions, The Sound and Story Project will produce a multimedia presentation that will premier during a public celebration at the Newburgh Free Library. Continue reading

Place-Based Education and the New Windsor Cantonment


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New Windsor CantonmentRecently, I was appointed a THVIP with Teaching the Hudson Valley. The role of a THVIP is to “find new and better ways to help reach Hudson Valley children and young people with place-based education,” both in and out of the classroom.

I’ve been thinking about some of the great historical sites around Orange and Ulster counties. A personal favorite, and not just because I once worked there, is the New Windsor Cantonment. Continue reading

Newburgh: Cradle of the American Lawn Mower Industry


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mower ad Abraham Levitt, the man who arguably built more suburban homes in the United States than anyone else in the years following World War II once said that: “No single feature of a suburban residential community contributes as much to the charm and beauty of the individual home and the locality as well-kept lawns”

The ubiquitous American suburban lawn in America began 100 years before in 1841 when a 25 year old resident of Newburg New York named Andrew Jackson Downing published a landscape-gardening book entitled, “Treatise on the Theory and Practice of Landscape Gardening.”

It counseled readers to improve themselves by improving their front yards and could well be the impetus of the self-help book craze of the later third of the 20th century. He believed that the perfect front yard had to have a large area of “grass mown into a softness like velvet.” Continue reading

Old Town Cemetery: Preserving A Newburgh Treasure


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The Old Town Cemetery is situated between Grand, Liberty, and South Streets, where it has sat for over two hundred years. It has borne witness to an ever-changing Newburgh, from a sleepy village to a bustling city. Many people are unaware of this gem in the heart of Newburgh and how close they came to losing it forever, but thanks to concerned citizens in Newburgh, its future is looking brighter. Continue reading

Conservancy Seeks Tower of Victory Contributions


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The Palisades Parks Conservancy has announced the launch of a capital campaign to raise funds for the restoration of the Tower of Victory at Washington’s Headquarters State Historic Site in Newburgh, NY.

For 125 years The Tower of Victory has stood as the nation’s only monument to the lasting peace that came after the end of the Revolutionary War.  Robert Todd Lincoln, the son of the President and then Secretary of War, commissioned John Hemingway Duncan, one of the nation’s most renowned architects at that time, to design the massive stone arched structure that hosts bronzes sculpted by William Rudolf O’Donovan, the pre-eminent monumental sculptor of the day. It stands on the property where General Washington created the “Badge of Military Merit” now called the Purple Heart.

“Unfortunately for the Tower, time and weather have not been kind,” a statement to the press says “Without intervention to restore the stone structure, replace the roof, and eliminate water penetration, this piece of the Hudson Valley’s – and the nation’s – history could be lost for good.”

To fully restore the Tower, the Conservancy is hoping to raise $1.5 million dollars. Already, the Conservancy has secured $450,000 through grants and individual donations, but is now seeking the public’s help. You can donate to the campaign by mail or by e-mail.

To donate by mail, print and mail the attached form to the Palisades Parks Conservancy, P.O. Box 427, 3006 Seven Lakes Drive, Bear Mountain, NY 10911.

To donate online, do so at www.palisadesparksconservancy.org/donate. Put the words Tower of Victory in the subject line.

The fundraising campaign is co-chaired by U.S. Congressman Maurice D. Hinchey and PIPC Commissioner Barnabas McHenry.

AJ Schenkman: The Hasbrouck Ledger


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One of the problems in researching the life of Colonel Jonathan Hasbrouck is that there are so few primary sources written by him left to us. We are fortunate that at least one of the treasures that give us a peek into his life, one of his account ledgers, has been preserved. It is a rich source for a researcher of not only Hasbrouck, but of others from his time period as well. Continue reading

Stella Bailey Honored with Woman of History Award


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On Saturday, March 31st, Washington’s Headquarters State Historic Site honored Stella Bailey, the 2012 Martha Washington Woman of History Award during their annual program “The General’s Lady.” Bailey was selected for her dedicated service in preserving Hudson Valley history over fifty years. The ceremony was held in the Ritz Theatre lobby located on Broadway in Newburgh, NY.

Elyse B. Goldberg, Historic Site Manager, said in her welcoming address and conferring of the award, that though time did not permit her to list all the organizations and positions that Ms. Bailey has held over the years to be mentioned, Stella is at present the Executive Director and Financial Officer of the Fort Montgomery Battle Site Association, President of the Town of Highlands Historical Society, and the Highland Falls Town/Village Historian.

Tom Meyering, President of the 5th New York Regiment, James K. Burr, Adjutant, 5th New York Regiment, and Joseph D’Onofrio, Mayor of Highland Falls each independently nominated her for the honor and made remarks to commend Bailey for her commitment and dedication in preserving Hudson River Valley history.

Family and friends of Ms. Bailey were in the audience along with some previous recipients of the Woman of History Award. They included author/historian Patricia Favata, City of Newburgh Historian Mary McTamaney, City of Newburgh Records Management Director Elizabeth McKean, and community activist Mara Farrell.

Dressed in their Revolutionary War military attire, members of the 5th New York Regiment led the audience cheer at the completion of the award presentation and Bailey’s acceptance speech.

The event was sponsored by the Palisades Parks Conservancy and the Friends of the State Historic Sites of the Hudson Highlands.

Photo: 2012 Winner Stella Bailey, third from left surrounded by past winners Mary McTamaney, Elizabeth McKean, and Mara Farrell along with Historic Site Manager Elyse Goldberg (provided).

New Director for Newburgh Bay, Highlands Historical


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The Historical Society of Newburgh Bay and the Highlands has announced that lifelong Newburgh resident Johanna Porr will serve as the organization’s new director. Porr assumed the position last week.

“To be able to study the largest historic district in New York State is certainly fun, but to be entrusted with a role to use that understanding to help rebuild this city is an honor,” she said in a statement release to the press.

As director, Porr’s duties include fundraising, directing future research and programs, overseeing the remaining renovations to the Captain David Crawford House, creating useful networks in the fields of public history and academic history and increasing membership within the group the statement said.

“The Historical Society has been and will continue to be a resource for people who want to learn more about Newburgh’s history or those who are interested in restoring homes here,” she said.

Porr “wants to establish an inspiring new direction for the Historical Society of Newburgh Bay and the Highlands while maintaining everything Newburgh has come to love about the organization. Her goals are to keep up with the current trends in the academic world, exchange information and ideas with other historical societies in New York and beyond and to use the society’s resources to make Newburgh’s history
more relevant to today’s citizens,” the press statement said.

“It’s important to find the academics who are already doing the research and connect them with the people on the ground who have a better idea of the questions the public is interested in,” said Porr. “I’d like to see more serious focus on scholarly research being done in the Hudson Valley.”

Porr has been an historical interpreter at Washington’s Headquarters, where she has both volunteered and been employed for nearly a decade. She attended Franklin College in Switzerland where she studied European history, earned an M.P.A. from Marist College and recently spent time in Virginia doing archaeology at Historic Jamestown and historic-trades research at Colonial Williamsburg.

“Newburgh is a fascinating place,” said Johanna, who grew up in city. “We call it ‘History City’ because you can take any major movement and tie it back here somehow; you can always find a way to understand the scope of American history through the narratives that are available in Newburgh.”

The new director is the daughter of former Newburgh city manager Harold Porr and Joan Mauriello, who volunteered as a preservationist and historical activist while Johanna was growing up.

“This society is one of the earliest and we’ve been building a collection and archive since 1884,” Johanna said. “I’m proud to be part of such a strong institution, especially since the viability of Newburgh’s future is inseparable from its legacy.”

New Windsor Revolutionary War Encampment


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New Windsor Cantonment State Historic Site will host a weekend of Revolutionary War military firing demonstrations and period activities on Saturday April 28 and Sunday April 29, presented by the Brigade of the American Revolution, an international organization dedicated to recreating the life and times of the common soldier of the War for Independence, 1775-1783. Formed in 1962, the BAR celebrates its 50th anniversary this year.

A battle demonstration takes place at 2:00 PM each day with colorfully uniformed soldiers firing muskets and maneuvering to the music of fifes and drums. The soldiers will also set up tents, prepare cooking fires and demonstrate other aspects of 18th century life.

Visitors will also see women and children, the family members of the soldiers who traveled with the army. Members of the Brigade of the American Revolution use this weekend to teach the latest knowledge in recreating life from that era. The presentations are an enjoyable experience, something to be long remembered. Through lectures and demonstrations, a wide variety of 18th century period life is revealed. New Windsor Cantonment site staff is present to perform blacksmithing, and military medicine throughout the weekend. The new exhibit galleries provide an overview of life at the New Windsor Cantonment and 18th century artillery.

The variety of dress worn by participates provides a living window to the past. Green-coated Loyalists, Germans in blue, collectively called Hessians and British regulars in red, stand poised to defend the interests of the King and Parliament. Among the Patriot forces, you will find not only Continentals, like the Light Infantry, dressed in blue coats as they would have been at the Battle of Yorktown, Virginia, in 1781, but also regiments in gray, brown or whatever color happened to be available at the time.

In addition to the special programs and activities, the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor and the New Windsor Cantonment Visitor Center are open. These buildings feature the story of the Purple Heart, the history of the New Windsor Cantonment, Revolutionary War artifacts and the exhibit The Last Argument of Kings, Revolutionary War Artillery. A picnic grove is available and there is free parking.

The site is open to the public Saturday April 28 and Sunday April 29 from 10:00 to 5:00 PM. On Sunday the visitor center does not open until 1:00 PM. For more information please call (845) 561-1765 ext. 22. Admission is free. The New Windsor Cantonment is co-located with the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor on Route 300 (Temple Hill Road) in the Town of New Windsor, four miles east of Stewart Airport and three miles from the intersection of I-87 and I-84 in Newburgh, New York.

Knox HQ: Newburgh Addresses Crisis Event Sunday


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Written at the Ellison House in early March 1783, the two letters that came to be known as the Newburgh Addresses stirred passions within the Army. The author called for the officers of the Continental Army to threaten a march on Philadelphia and use military force to compel Congress to redress their longstanding grievances. Had the conspirators been able to make good on this threat the United States, considered the beacon of freedom and democracy for the world, might have developed quite differently.

Whether this threat was real or just an elaborate bluff, the implications of the letter shocked George Washington. Throughout its long troubled history the Continental Army had been kept together by its officers despite dreadful conditions, bitter defeats, and soldier mutinies. If the officer corps turned against the country, who could prevent the military from dictating to its civilian masters?

Washington countered the first letter by expressing his “disapprobation of such disorderly proceedings” and directed that the officers meet in the Temple Building on March 15th to hear the latest report of the Committee of the Army to Congress. In the second letter dated March 12th, the author argued that Washington by not banning further meetings actually supported their tough rhetoric. They could not have been more wrong.

Unexpectedly and certainly not welcomed by the conspirators, General Washington appeared at the meeting and he addressed the esteemed gathering. The Commander-in-Chief poured out his heart to the officers but so deep was their resentment that most of them were still unmoved. In a fit of desperation he reached into his coat pocket and pulled out a letter from Congressman Joseph Jones, one of the Army’s staunchest supporters. He struggled to read it to them because his eyesight was failing. His speech, in his own hand, was in large letters but the Jones letter was written in smaller script making it very difficult to read. He finally set the letter down and pulled from a pocket his new spectacles. Just a few at headquarters had ever seen him wearing them. This was his first use of them in public. Washington put on his spectacles and in a self-effacing manner said:

“Gentlemen, you will permit me to put on my spectacles, for I have not only grown gray but almost blind in the service of my country.”

Gone for that poignant moment was the iconic great captain on horseback and in his place was revealed a fellow sufferer, aged beyond his years. This humble admission of human frailty unleashed a tidal wave of emotion. Some openly wept. Others felt the burn as the feelings of shame increased the flow of blood to their faces. Overcome by this compassionate response, Washington quickly gathered his papers and left as unceremoniously as he arrived.

Experience a dramatic reading of the events culminating with the conspiracy to force Congress to redress longstanding army grievances this Sunday March 11, 2012 at 2 PM at Knox’s Headquarters State Historic Site. Call (845) 561-1765 ext. 22 for more information or to make reservations.

Photo: The 1754 John Ellison house, Knox’s Headquarters, viewed from the 18th century bridge over Silver Stream (provided).

Stella Bailey to Receive 2012 Woman of History Award


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Washington’s Headquarters State Historic Site announced that this year’s recipient of the Martha Washington Woman of History Award is history advocate Stella Bailey.

Bailey, co-founder of the Fort Montgomery Battle Site Association, has been involved and dedicated to preserving Hudson Valley History for over 50 years. She has worked in over 20 different organizations. At present, she is the Executive Director and Financial Officer of the Fort Montgomery Battle Site Association, President of the Town of Highlands Historical Society for 32 years, and Town/Village Historian for 19 years. Bailey also finds time to write “Then and Now” columns for the News of the Highlands while busy with community projects such as the Senior Citizen’s Group and the Local Development Corporation for Main Street revitalization.

The Fort Montgomery Battle Site Association is the non profit friends group that supports the preservation and restoration of the Revolutionary War battle site. Opened to the public in 2001, the Battle site features a media room, conference room, and museum.

Bailey will be added to the list of previous winners of this award, including local historian and author Janet Dempsey, Times-Herald Record columnist Barbara Bedell, City of Newburgh Historian Mary McTamaney, City of Newburgh Record Keeper Betsy McKean, and last year’s recipient community activist Mara Farrell.

Washington’s Headquarters State Historic Site presents the “Martha Washington Woman of History Award” as part of their annual Woman’s History Month program, “The General’s Lady”. This event will take place on March 31st starting at 1:00 PM at the Ritz Theatre lobby in Newburgh, NY. In addition to presenting this prestigious award, “The General’s Lady” program includes a reception and a special speaker.

The program is open to the public. For more information, please call 845-562-1195.

Washington’s Birthday Celebration at Headquarters


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It’s George Washington’s 280th birthday this year and in honor of the occasion, Washington’s Headquarters in Newburgh will be hosting a three-day celebration this weekend, February 18th, 19th and 20th, from 12:00 until 4:30 PM.

There will be a variety of activities and presentations for all ages. To add to the “back in time” atmosphere, each day, re-enactors will be performing military drills – Lamb’s Artillery on Saturday, the 5th New York Regiment on Sunday and the 5th Connecticut Regiment on Monday. In true birthday fashion, there will be cake all three days and music by Thaddeus MacGregor in the Headquarters. Since it’s General Washington’s birthday, guess who will be showing up every day to blow out his candles? Admission is by donation.

Washington’s Headquarters State Historic Site is a registered national landmark. It is located at the corner of Liberty and Washington Streets, within the city of Newburgh’s East End Historical District. For more information call (845) 562-1195.

Colonel Jonathan Hasbrouck’s Tory Son Cornelius?


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Governor George Clinton of New York sat down at his desk, in January 1781, to read a painful letter from Judge Robert Yates. The letter concerned the son of a now deceased acquaintance, Colonel Jonathan Hasbrouck. It involved his oldest son, Cornelius Hasbrouck, who as Clinton read the letter, sat in a Kingston jail tried, convicted, and branded for stealing “sundry oxen and goods and chattels of the United States of America”. Continue reading

Our Newest Contributor A.J. Schenkman


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Please join all of us here at New York History in welcoming our newest contributor A.J. Schenkman. Schenkman teaches in the Lower Hudson Valley and has a particular fondness for teaching history to hard to reach or at-risk adolescents.

He writes about the history of Ulster and Orange counties (which he’ll be covering here on this site) and is the author of two books and numerous articles on Washington’s Headquarters in Newburgh. He writes a monthly column for the Shawangunk Journal focusing on places such as Kerhonkson, Stone Ridge, Shawangunk, Rosendale, Ellenville, and Cragsmore.