Let Loose the Dogs of War: New York in the Civil War

Photo Courtesy of Historic Huguenot Street

New York supplied more men, money, and material in the Civil War than any other state North or South, but New Yorkers responded to the Civil War in diverse and often contradictory fashions. Presented by Robert W. Arnold III (Public Historian, Adjunct Professor of History, College of Saint Rose and Excelsior College), this presentation will examine a sample of those responses and some individuals who exemplify them, put in the political, social and military contexts of the war. It will look at the social costs of the war as they played out in the farms and cities of the Empire State, in families, workplaces and neighborhoods and the transition that went with it from an era of reform to the Gilded Age.

This talk, hosted by Historic Huguenot Street in New Paltz, is free to the public, made possible by the New York Council for the Humanities. It will be held in Deyo Hall, 6 Broadhead Ave., on Saturday, September 20, 2014 at 7:00 pm. For more information call:  (845) 255-1660 or visit their website at: http://www.huguenotstreet.org



Posted in Civil War, Education, Museums, Ulster County, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Cadwallder Colden

Cadwallder Colden (1688-1776)-NYSED

Coldenham, NY-The Coldengham Preservation and Historical Society in association with the Josephine-Louis Public Library will host a lecture and book signing by Seymour I Schwartz, MD. Schwartz is the author of Caddwallder Colden: A Biography.

This is the first complete biography of Cadwallder Colden (1688-1776), one of the most accomplished intellectuals and political figures in the American colonies before the Revolution. As the longest-serving Lt. Governor of New York he was intimately involved in the tumultuous political life of the times. His History of the Five Nations (1727) was the first English history of the Iroquois and a popular book both in the colonies and in Europe.

Colden was also a trained physician. Though he never practiced, he significantly improved the public health of the colony. Furthermore, he was an internationally recognized botanist, the author of the first scientific paper published in the colonies, and an accomplished cartographer who published the first map in the colony of New York.

A prolific writer, Colden corresponded with many of the major intellectuals of his day, including Benjamin Franklin and Samuel Johnson. In addition, he wrote extensively on a wide range of topics, including philosophy, history, the natural sciences, and mathematics.

Join the Coldengham Preservation and Historical Society on Sunday, September 21 at 2:00 PM when Dr. Schwartz will discuss his book Caddwallder Colden: A Biography in the Bradley Assembly Room, 3rdfloor, Walden Municipal Building. This program is free and open to the public. For more information contact Mary Ellen Matise at 845-778-1369

Posted in Education, Historic Sites, Landmarks, Lost Landmarks, Museums, Orange County, Revolutionary War, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Seeking Resources to Include in Heritage Series Program

The Historical Society of Newburgh Bay and the Highalnds

Newburgh, New York-The Historical Society of Newburgh Bay and the Highlands will continue its popular Heritage Series this year with a day to enjoy the story of local Irish heritage on Sunday, September 21st. To enhance a display of local Irish-American achievements, people are asked to submit the names of past and present citizens of Irish heritage who have made positive contributions to the community.

Save the Date and join ‘An Irish Experience’ on September 21, 2014 at the Newburgh Heritage Center starting at 3 PM.

For more information
please call:

(845) 561-2585http://www.newburghhistoricalsociety.com/

Posted in City of Newburgh, Education, Museums, Orange County, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Killed by His Boarder

"Old Sparky"- Library of Congress

One of the 10 Commandments is number 10. It commands that “thou shalt not covet they neighbor’s house, wife or possessions.” However, not only did Albert Koepping brake the 10th Commandment, in the winter of 1903, he also broke number 6; “thou shalt not kill.”

John Martine originally was from Brooklyn. He was a glove cutter who relocated to Port Jervis, New York. Martine lived on Rumsey Street with his wife Rosa and his four year old daughter named Hazel. In order to offset his meager earnings, Martine rented out rooms to boarders. One of those boarders was a twenty-one year old who worked for the Deerpark Brewing Company named Albert Koepping. Originally from New York City, newspapers later reported that Koepping had a wife there, and that he had abandoned her. He was sentenced to six months in prison for robbing her just before he left.

The Kingston Daily Freeman reported in February 1903, that after falling behind in his rent, Mr. Martine decided to evict Koepping. There was another reason that Martine evicted Koepping on February 18, 1903. Newspapers alleged that Koepping had too familiar of a relationship with Rosa Martine. In fact, it had become a frequent topic of arguments between Koepping and Mrs. Martine’s husband. He finally had enough and threw Koepping out of the house under the pretext that his boarder was late with rent. Koepping returned the following day.

Albert Koepping returned to the house, he later testified, to pick up some of his belongings that he had left in his room. Before he left Koepping stopped to have a few words with Rosa Martine. Her husband sat in a rocking chair cleaning his finger nails with a pocket knife. Accounts differ, but one thing is agreed on, that there was some kind of altercation between the two men. The topic again was Mrs. Martine. Koepping later claimed that Mr. Martine flew at him in a rage attempting to stab his former boarder with the knife. Koepping shot Martine four times with Mrs. Martine’s “.34 caliber revolver.” Martine died instantly with two slugs in his back and one in his chest. The only other witness besides Rosa Martine was Hazel. She testified that after Koepping shot her father, “he followed mama and fell down.”

After the shooting, Koepping surrendered to Chief of Police Westbrook. Along with some other officers, Westbrook went over to investigate. Once inside the Martine house he found John Martine dead. Koepping was sent to the Goshen jail where he was examined on February 25, 1903. During that examination Koepping claimed that the shooting was in self-defense. The case went to trial four months later, before of Judge Wilmot M. Smith.

Albert Koepping was convicted of first degree murder and sentenced to death by electrocution in Sing-Sing prison. He was scheduled to be executed the week of August 2, 1903. However, a last minute appeal put off the execution. Koepping claimed that he took the blame for the shooting John Martine in order to protect Rosa Martine. It was Mrs. Martine who was the actual shooter. She, in turn, agreed to testify that Koepping shot in self-defense. This is not how she testified. Koepping’s laywer  Wilton Benett, in April 1904, appealed for clemency from Governor Higgins of New York. Higgins, according to a Monticello newspaper, refused to intervene saying, “saying the condemned man’s story was absurd and against all the evidence in the case.”

The Brooklyn Daily Eagle reported that Albert Koepping died calmly on June 13, 1904, in the electric chair known as “Old Sparky” in Sing-Sing Prison. Rev. Smith of Port Jervis administered the last rites to Koepping; remaining with the prisoner until the appointed time of execution. Warden Johnson stated that “ it was the quickest execution he had seen since being in charge of the prison.” No one claimed Koepping’s body, so he was buried in a prisoner’s cemetery in the back of the prison.

Posted in Bringing the Wicked to Justice, Orange County, Strange Stories, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Book Talk and Signing with Acclaimed Author Russell Shorto

Historic Huguenot Street

NEW PALTZ, NY – Historic Huguenot Street recently announced they will be hosting Russell Shorto, the acclaimed author of the best selling book The Island at the Center of the World, a narrative history of the founding of Manhattan and New Netherlands. Shorto’s lecture, on October 10 at 6:00 pm, will be touching on the struggles that helped shape both the colony, and the founding of the United States. The book has helped bring a revival in interest concerning the role of those who lived in the Hudson River Valley in influencing the founding of America. It will be part of Historic Huguenot Street’s weekend long celebration, from October 10-12, 2014, called “The Gathering.”

Join Huguenot Street for a celebration of the Huguenots and their descendants – the stories of the Patentees and the families that continue to share these stories all around the world. A wine-and-cheese reception will follow after the book talk and signing.

In addition to the lecture, special vignettes depicting important moments of  Historic Huguenot Street’s continued history, special programs and performances, and children’s programming will continue throughout the weekend, and are open to the public.

Family Association members are eligible for special day and weekend passes; non-members pay for daily tour passes, and can purchase tickets to each of the special programs separately.

For more information: http://www.huguenotstreet.org/thegatheringor call  (845) 255-1660

Historic Huguenot Street









Posted in Education, Historic Sites, Hudson River, Orange County, Ulster County, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Ulster County Schoolhouses: A Look Back, Part III

A few more historic images of Ulster County schools in celebration of the first week of school.

(All images from author’s collection unless otherwise noted.)

The Ruby School (Town of Saugerties).

Public School and the Bridge, The Corners (Town of Shandaken). Postmarked 1909.

Highmount School House, Town of Shandaken.

Town of Olive - Shokan Public School.

Town of Esopus - Public School, St. Remy, NY.

An undated stereoview image of the Union Center School in Esopus.

Walker Valley Public School, Town of Shawangunk. Postmarked 1924.

Walker Valley Schoolhouse, Town of Shawangunk.

District School, West Hurley, NY. Postmarked 1909.

Posted in Education, Landmarks, Town of Esopus, Town of Hurley, Town of Olive, Town of Saugerties, Town of Shandaken, Town of Shawangunk, Ulster County | Leave a comment

Ulster County Schoolhouses: A Look Back, Part II

More images of Ulster County schools to celebrate the start of a new school year.

(All images from author’s collection unless otherwise noted.)

Kingston, NY, School No. 5.

Kingston, NY, School No. 7.

Marlborough High School - postmarked 1918.

Marlborough Union Free High School, 1905.

The Sands Avenue School in Milton, Town of Marlborough.

Students at the Modena School - 1934. Courtesy of Town of Plattekill Historian files.

A 1974 image of the former Modena School in the Town of Plattekill. Today this is the Plattekill Library and Senior Center.

New Paltz Central High School, circa 1939 (today the New Paltz Middle School).

Rifton School (Town of Esopus)

Ruby School (Saugerties). Students identified in picture are Jim Scheffel (front row, first student on left), Bill Hardt (front row, second from left), Jake Scheffel (second row, first student on right) and Helen Vrooman, (second row, second student from right). Undated.

Posted in City of Kingston, Education, Landmarks, Town of Esopus, Town of Marlborough, Town of Plattekill, Town of Saugerties, Town/Village of New Paltz | Leave a comment

Ulster County Schoolhouses: A Look Back, Part I

To welcome the start of a new school year, I’ll be posting historic images of various Ulster County schools here throughout the week. Enjoy!

(All images from author’s collection unless otherwise noted.)

Alligerville, N.Y. Schoolhouse (Town of Rochester).

The Ardonia School, Town of Plattekill. Circa 1910.

Brigham School, Kingston, NY. Postmarked 1911.

Students at the Creek Locks School (Town of Rosendale), 1928.

A postcard of the Eltings Corners School in Lloyd (courtesy of Sue Coy Doyle).

The Public School, High Falls (Town of Marbletown).

Ellenville High School, postmarked 1913.

Union Free High School, Highland (Town of Lloyd)

Kerhonkson High School (Town of Wawarsing).

Public School, Kerhonkson (Town of Wawarsing), postmarked 1908.

Kingston High School, circa 1945.

Posted in City of Kingston, Education, Landmarks, Town of Lloyd, Town of Marbletown, Town of Marbletown, Town of Plattekill, Town of Rochester, Town of Rosendale, Town of Wawarsing, Ulster County | Leave a comment

Doc Waterbury

Dr. Sahler's Sanitarium in Kingston- A.J. Schenkman

Dr. C. O. Sahler ran a private sanatorium located at 61 Wall Street in Kingston. According to James Sullivan he had started the sanatorium in 1896. It was created to help “nervous and mental diseases and all forms of invalidism.” In 1914, Dr. Sahler had a thriving practice, usually treating over 100 patients. It is the same year he was contacted by an individual claiming to be from The New York Times. Unbeknownst to Sahler the man on the phone was “Doc” Waterbury, an internationally known confidence man.

Waterbury was not a doctor, and his real name was Jules Ford. He called Dr. Sahler introducing himself as D.C. Russell, a retired editor for The New York Times, who was now independently wealthy. The reason he was calling was two-fold. He was hoping to send the well-known newspaper humorist Irvin Cobb to interview Sahler. “Russell,” also wished to pay for several newspapers reporters to stay at the sanatorium. They suffered from exhaustion and hitting the bottle one too many days. He assured Sahler that Cobb would call on him in a few days.

“Irving Cobb,” who was actually Waterbury, arrived at the sanatorium shortly after speaking with Sahler.  “Cobb” convinced the doctor that he not only wanted an interview, but would publish a full page advertisement for Sahler. It would appear in the paper’s popular Sunday supplement.  The hook came when Sahler was told his picture would be featured prominently in the newspaper. However, since pictures were so expensive to reproduce, he would need some financial help. Further appealing to the ego of the doctor “Cobb” explained that he also wanted to run the feature in The New York Tribune. This of course required more money. Sahler forked over the money requested by “Cobb.” After taking a few pictures and interviewing Sahler, “Cobb” exited the sanatorium. A short-time after the interaction with the reporter, Sahler saw a picture of the real Cobb and realized that he had been taken for as a sucker. He contacted the police. A warrant was sworn out for the arrest of Doc Waterbury in February 1914.

Doc Waterbury was well known to police with a record dating back to 1899. According to The New York Times, his first brush with the law was when he was locked up in Atlanta for representing the Associated Press(AP). As an “AP” reporter, he swindled several U.S. Congressmen promising, if they gave him money, write-ups in a biography of prominent U.S. Congressmen that the AP was working on for publication. It of course never happened. Shortly after marrying Edna Weed, while on his honeymoon, Waterbury was busted while trying to pull a job. He was sent jail for the con involving the Congressmen. Once released, the con-man continued his ways.

The real Irvin S. Cobb-Library of Congress

The long arm of the law caught up, again, with Waterbury on March 5, 1914, when he was arrested for the fifth time at the Biltmore Hotel by detectives from the 30th Precinct. He was arrested in New York City where he was sent to The Tombs to await extradition to New Jersey on a warrant for grand larceny. Waterbury had swindled the William A. Necker Undertaking Company, promising an advertisement in a local paper. There still was the outstanding warrant in Kingston from February 1914, and because of this warrant, Kingston was promised Waterbury if he was released for any reason. He eventually jumped bail which had been set at $1,500. Waterbury secured the bail by mortgaging his parent’s home in Enfield, New York near Ithaca. He did not own the house at the time.

After a short jail sentence in New Jersey, he was out again. In 1916 E.D. Easton of the Columbia Phonograph Company was his next victim. Once the United States became involved in World War I, Waterbury saw a cash cow. Waterbury, in 1918, took advantage of the doughboys fighting in France. This time he posed not as a newspaper reporter, but an intelligence officer. He explained to his victims that the American’s fighting in France suffered because they could not speak or understand French. He explained to the unsuspecting that he was in the process of creating a program to teach them French, and of course was short on funds. Still later, he also claimed that he had attended Yale, and was taking up a collection for a memorial statue for those who attended the school, and died in World War I.

Finally, in 1919, Waterbury, according to The Kingston Daily Freeman, was charged with attacking a 15 year old girl. She had answered an advertisement for a stenographer. He was arrested and eventually convicted of the crime. Waterbury would emerge from prison five years later only to be re-arrested for selling memberships to the Gridiron Club in Washington, D.C. This time when he appeared before the judge, he pleaded for mercy. He promised the judge that he was going to go straight.

There is no indication that Sahler ever recovered the money that was swindled from him or that Waterbury ever saw the inside of an Ulster County Jail for the crime. It does appear after his last arrest for selling memberships to the Gridiron Club that he made good on his promise to the judge. Waterbury did walk a straight path. However, by this time he suffered from heart disease, as well as, kidney disease. Doc Waterbury died on March 18, 1925, on his parent’s farm in Enfield, New York. “The suave internationally known confidence man, who for years strolled a careless, dangerous path across the United States and Europe,” died penniless at 50 years of age.

Posted in Bringing the Wicked to Justice, City of Kingston, Ulster County, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

An Unforgiving Land: The Trapps Mountain Hamlet

At first glance, the quiet, forested lands of the Mohonk Preserve and Minnewaska State Park belie the presence of a once active community. However, traces of the Trapps mountain hamlet, a community located in the in the towns of Gardiner and Rochester in Ulster County that dates back to the late 1700s, still survive in the Shawangunk Mountains. Residents of the Trapps lived a “hardscrabble” existence, getting by through subsistence farming and mountain trades such as milling wood and grain, carving millstones, charcoal-making and shaving barrel hoops.

Courtesy of Robi Josephson.

According to researchers Robi Josephson and Bob Larsen, most of the area that formed the Trapps hamlet is now reforested and protected by the Mohonk Preserve and Minnewaska State Park Preserve, or privately owned. Hints of the former community can be found in “cellar holes (stone foundations) of former buildings, water-powered sawmills, bridge abutments, stone walls, stone quarries, charcoal pits, and burying grounds (cemeteries)” that have been identified throughout the area. Even more telling than those structures, however, are the stories of those who once made the Trapps Mountain hamlet their home. Larsen and Josephson capture the spirit of the former hamlet in their recently published book, An Unforgiving Land: Hardscrabble Life in the Trapps, a Vanished Mountain Hamlet (Black Dome Press), where they explore the community, businesses and everyday lives of those who called the mountain hamlet their home.

An Unforgiving Land was a book decades in the making. According to Josephson, Bob Larsen “found much evidence in the Shawangunks of former human occupation, such as building foundations, burying grounds, and stone walls” while working as a ranger for the Mohonk Preserve. Upon finding such unexpected hints of community life on the mountain, Larsen began researching the cultural history of the area. Josephson also notes that Larsen played an integral role in preserving remnants of the Trapps hamlet. Most notably, he was involved in the Preserve’s restoration of the Van Leuven Cabin, the last remaining structure of the Trapps on Preserve lands, and in facilitating the placement of the former hamlet on the Federal and State Registers of Historic Places. This designation marked the first time New York State officially recognized the historic importance of a vanished, hardscrabble community.

Josephson has also been actively involved with the Mohonk Preserve. She began working as the publications editor for the Preserve in the mid-1990s. In 2012, she published the book Images of America: Mohonk Mountain House and Preserve (Arcadia Publishing). In addition, she has spent years researching the history of the Hudson Valley, with a special focus on naturalist John Burroughs.

Robi Josephson and Bob Larsen, authors of An Unforgiving Land: Hardscrabble Life in the Trapps, a Vanished Mountain Hamlet. Courtesy of Robi Josephson.

Larsen and Robison have collaborated on various projects for the Mohonk Preserve, including articles for the Preserve’s newsletters and the creation of an interpretive guide for a trail to the Eli Van Leuven Cabin that Larsen had designed and installed. As their research continued, the duo realized that they had enough information on the Trapps hamlet for a book. An Unforgiving Land, which features previously unpublished images of the hamlet as well as a detailed look at its extensive history, was released in the fall of 2013.

Larsen retired in 2013 after a 40-year career with the Mohonk Preserve. This year, he celebrated his 90th birthday and is enjoying his retirement. Josephson is currently researching the life of John F. Stokes, who established the mountain tradition at Lake Mohonk more than 150 years ago, and volunteers for the history collection at Elting Memorial Library in New Paltz. She and Larsen continue to be guest speakers at many area historical sites, where they present a digital slide show and virtual walk through the Trapps.

For those wishing to explore the former Trapps hamlet, Josephson recommends starting with two places that she and Larsen list among their favorites: the West Trapps Trailhead and the Coxing Trailhead. From the West Trapps Trailhead, a moderate trail (not handicapped accessible) leads 1.5 miles past an abandoned millstone quarry and burying ground to the Van Leuven Cabin. Visitors can pick up the interpretive brochure (described above) at the trailhead or at the Preserve Visitor Center and explore the area on their own, but Larsen and Josephson encourage guests to “take a walk back in time” by contacting the Mohonk Preserve to sign up for an interpretive walk and/or tour of the Van Leuven Cabin. From the Coxing Trailhead, the former farm and sawmill site of the Enderly family can be viewed. (Today, this area is popularly known as Split Rock.) The Enderly family burying ground is located a few steps behind the trailhead. (Contact the Mohonk Preserve for directions and parking. Day passes or annual memberships are available.)

An Unforgiving Land: Hardscrabble Life in the Trapps, a Vanished Mountain Hamlet is available for purchase at the Mohonk Preserve, the Mohonk Mountain House, online at Amazon and Barnes and Noble and at a number of Hudson Valley bookstores. More information on author Robi Josephson, including a number of articles on the Trapps and the Mohonk Preserve, as well as upcoming speaking dates, can be found on her website: www.robijosephson.com Additional information about the Trapps Hamlet can be found on Josephson and Larsen’s “Trapps Mountain Hamlet” Facebook page.

Posted in Appalachian Mountains, Cemeteries, Historic Sites, Landmarks, Shawangunk Mountains, Town of Gardiner, Town of Rochester, Ulster County | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment
  • Blog Author

    AJ Schenkman

    A.J. Schenkman teaches history in the Lower Hudson Valley. He is the author of numerous books and articles. His most recent books Include Murder and Mayhem in Ulster County and Wicked Ulster County: Tales of Desperadoes, Gangs & More, and ... Read Full

    Elizabeth Werlau

    Elizabeth Werlau is an English teacher in the Hudson Valley and is the historian for the Town of Plattekill in Ulster County. She has authored and contributed to several books on regional history, including her most recent publication, Murder and ... Read Full
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