Railroad [1975]

Whitehall has been a railroad town since 1848 when the Saratoga and Whitehall line reached here from the south, and “railroaders” as the people in that occupation have been known are an important, community-minded group of citizens.

Delaware and Hudson Railway’s contribution to the Capture Days: The D&H Railway Spirit of Freedom engine and a 1916 baggage car proved an extremely popular display during Whitehall’s Capture Days, May 9 and 10.

The 1776 engine (Spirit of Freedom); painted red, white and blue, was detoured from its occasional duty tours and was open for inspection at the old freight depot. Not only youngsters thrilled at being allowed in the cab of the train engine but adults had a long standing desire to see the inside of an engine satisfied.

The baggage car, newly painted, had railway displays prepared by Special Services Chairperson Ellen Freeman of the D&H and her assistant, Lewis Wasserman. The exhibits contained a history of the company and many artifacts of railroad life — lanterns, keys, plaques, pictures.

Railroad retirees of Whitehall acted as hosts throughout the two days, being on hand to converse with the visitors, to explain the apparatus in the engine, and to set up and dismantle the exhibits from Skenesborough Museum. These men were Timothy Carroll, Adelbert Herron, Joseph Manell, Peter Sparano, Ralph Sparano and Charles Tinsley. Lurvey Rooker loaned two oil cans and a lantern for the display.

Through the interest generated by the D&H exhibit, additional gifts were made to the Skenesborough Museum. Mrs. Charles Tinsley gave a nickel plated oil can individually owned by her father Alexander Pratt. His name is engraved on the can. Among some other items given anonymously were railroad hats, service pins, buttons and keys.

This railway display was initiated by D&H Vice President James Colpoys, a former Whitehaller.

Doris B. Morton, Town Historian – The Whitehall Times – May 15, 1975

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Washington County Agricultural Fair [1975]

Many are now wending their way this week to Greenwich to attend the oldest chartered agricultural county fair in the Northeast. It also has the distinction of having the largest agricultural machinery display in New York State, second only to that of the New York State Fair.

One booth will be identified by its sign: Washington County Bicentennial 1975-1980. In it will be stressed arts and crafts of the County’s communities. Whitehall’s contribution this year is the Senior Citizens’ historical quilt with 48 blocks containing appliquéd and embroidered pictures and signs of Whitehall. Whitehall has long had displays at the county fair, especially those of the two Granges and the 4-H in the Grange Hall.

What about the very early years of this oldest chartered fair? Like many Organiza-tions it had its forerunner. In December, 1818, a group of interested citizens met at the Sandy Hill (Hudson Fa11s) Court House with the Hon. Asa Fitch, father of the historian, in the chair. They decided to form a constitu tion for an agricultural society and made a plan for its constitution. The first item of business was a plan to protect its members from horse thieves, Two months later, February, 1819, at the home of Joseph Rouse in Argyle, 40 members signed the constitution. Melanction Wheeler was the signer for Whitehall.

Wake up” meetings were held in various towns for the ‘Farmers’ Holiday” as they were called; really friendly gatherings for one day. In September, Whitehall Wiswell’s Tavern hosted this town’s fair.

During the following years special events were held. In 1822 there was a plowing match with the plowers in white frocks and spears of wheat in their hats. In 1825 in Union Village (Greenwich) five dollars was awarded to the female who shall appear in full dress, as far as practicable, of her own domestic manufacture.”

In 1826 in Argyle first place was given to one who could plow 1/8 of an acre in the best manner, turning a furrow four to five inches wide and nine to eleven inches deep in less than 45 minutes with horses or 60 minutes with oxen. One year a prize was given to a lady equestrienne but it was discontinued because more attention was paid to that than to the animals and produce.

On 4 August 1842 the Washington County Agricultural society was organized. This year it was held in Greenwich and for the first time the interest the ladies participated in the events of the day was noted in 1843. In I844 at Greenwich a subsoil plow was exhibited.

The fairs were now rotated from town to town, the choice being the town that would donate the most money. In 1848 the 8th annual Fair and Cattle Show was held in Argyle. The report of the New York State Agricultural society for 1849 stated that the annual meeting of the society was held at Phoenix Hotel in Whitehall with John H. Boyd president. Unfortunately the report of the county fair was not given, though awards were made to Isaac Wood for 373/4 bushels per acre of wheat, to Nathan Jackson for corn, 92 bushels, and to Andrew Wilson for corn, 91 bushels, all of Whitehall.

In 1860 there was a three day fair because of the Civil War. The fair was omitted in the next two years. In 1863 Salem promised to furnish ground and buildings if the fair would be held there regularly for eight years. In 1865 the fair continued for four days and Horace Greeley was the speaker. A main feature at all the early fairs was an oration.

This year prizes were offered for the fastest trotting horses. In 1971 an agreement was made for the next ten years for the fair to be held on ground between Sandy Hill and Fort Edward with the society receiving the benefit of 25 acres of ground, the buildings, and $2500 bonus. Thus were the seeds of the present Washington County Agricultural Fair sown.

Doris B. Morton, Town Historian – The Whitehall Times – August 21, 1975

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Whitehall in 1815 – 1816

This map of Whitehall came from the National Archives in Washington. It was drawn by John Anderson and Isaac Roberdeau, U.S.A. in late 1815, early 1816. It was a year before the Champlain Canal was started here in 1817, long before the land between Skene Mountain and the Island was cut by a canal that took traffic from the natural lake and around Fiddler’s Elbow and before the Whitehall lithograph of 1819.

During the War of 1812 the Port of Whitehall was an entry port through which military materials and troops passed. A fort, called of other maps Fort Comfort or Fort Diamond, was constructed. Barracks were placed near the rise and entrenchments, which were never used, were dug. The powder magazine remnants were still in evidence in the first part of the twentieth century, remembered by older Whitehallers.

From this map may be seen the reason some early mapmakers called the narrow stretch of water an extension of Wood Creek rather than the head of Lake Champlain. After the battle of Lake Champlain in September 1814 Commodore MacDonough brought to this port some of the American fleet and some of the British prize fleet. The ships were moored on the west side of the Lake in December 1814. In apprehension that the British might strike from the north the guns were taken from the ships and mounted on land.

After the hostilities had ceased Whitehall was a naval depot for many years. The old storehouse on the east side of the harbor was constructed in 1816. When Stillman, the noted traveler, went through Whitehall (visiting Henry Francisco) he saw the sailors looking out the portholes of the ships. In the decade of the 20’s the ships were sold, stripped of valuables and moored in East Bay-Poultney River area. The location of some is known where they are preserved under water for scientific examination of historic artifacts. Two have had such study, TICONDEROGA and EAGLE. One other is waiting it, the British LINNET. The story of this study has been published in the book entitled “History and Construction of the United States Schooner, Ticonderoga” by Kevin Crissman who made the study at Skenesborough Museum of the Ticonderoga, researched its history from primary sources, dived in the river, and wrote his thesis at the University of Texas. He is presently working on the EAGLE.

Doris B. Morton, Town Historian – Whitehall Independent – April 23, 1986

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When Did They Die? 85 Years Plus

Obituaries are interesting reading when read as a source of information on industries and events of earlier days. It would seem that women are the hardier of the sexes as their numbers reaching the 85-plus outnumber males.

These entries, taken at random from .Scrapbook 21 of the late Arthur Gordon, point out the information, or lack of it, that can be entered in an obituary.

Mrs. Elmira Latour Bebo, 94, was the widow of Dennis Bebo, a Civil War veteran. Born in Sorel, Canada, she came to Whitehall in 1862. She and her husband conducted a business on Canal Street between the old Gaylord Building which stood on the south corner of Clinton Avenue and Canal Street in the present roadway north of Stiles Meeting Place and owned a secondhand store on North Main streets.

Mrs. J. Sanford Potter, 88, was Miss Ann Webster who came to Whitehall from Pittsburgh. She attended Fort Edward Collegiate Institute at a time after the demise of the second Whitehall Academy on Williams Street. She lived at the Terrace on Skene Mountain where were located the Potter brother mansions.

Mrs. Ann O’Brien Walsh, 89, came from Ireland via Granville. Her first husband was John Barrett. They were the parents of Mrs. Henry Neddo. Her second husband was Peter Walsh.

Mrs. Mary Mulholland Duncan, 89, was a Whitehall girl. She was the mother of nine children. She and husband James lived near the southern end of Cliff Street.

Mrs. Celestia Mitchell DeKalb, 86, was a Whitehall girl. She attended Whitehall Academy. She became a charter member of the Whitehall Grange, the Civic Improvement League and the Rural Charity Club. She was a correspondent of The Whitehall Times under editors Franklin Fishier, Milo C. Reynolds and Edward F. Roche. Her daughter, Mary DeKalb, taught in Whitehall High School.

Joseph Brown, 94, came to Whitehall from Ireland via, Granville. He followed his father in farming, living on his own farm on the Whitehall-Poultney road for 67 years. His wife was Anna Powers.

Mrs. Rebecca Ferguson Bates, 87, was a resident of Whitehall for 70 years. She was the widow of Charles Bates, a prominent Episcopalian worker and an operator of hotels in and around Whitehall.

Mrs. Rose Raino Hurtubis, 87, came to Whitehall from Essex, N.Y., at seven years of age. She attended the old Bell School at corner of Blount and Lamb streets.

Mrs. Mary Aiken Ryon, 86, was the widow of Franklin C. Ryon. They lived on Canal Street near his coal yard, which was north of the firehouse before that building was moved to its present site in 1933.

Mrs. Margaret Mooney McCarthy, 87, was the widow of John McCarthy. She came from St. Antonie, Canada. She was a charter member of the Whitehall Democratic club. Her son, Edward McCarthy, was one of Whitehall’s postmasters.

Francis M. Bartholomew was called the Youngest Vet as he entered service, in the Civil War at the age of 13. Born in Howard, Steuben County, he came to Dresden at six years of age. He drove on the canal in summer and did chores in the winter. He was a member of the American Legion post in Whitehall.

Mrs. Adline LaVia Doty, 88, came from Sorel, Canada, as a young woman.

Walter D. Travis, 98, was one of the oldest Masons when he died in 1934. He was a member of Phoenix Lodge, 96, F. and A.M. He was in the hardware and ice business.

Mrs. Marion Pratt, 91, died on New Year’s Day in North Whitehall.

Doris B. Morton, Town Historian – Whitehall Independent – April 24, 1980

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How Not and How to Choose a Mate

A woman with a sudden nervous gait – whose feet turn in – when on a trot she interferes with both feet, as well as interferes with everybody’s bizziness — whose countenance looks as if she washes it every morning with vinegar or ile of vitrol – her nose looks as if mortification had sot in from too much snuff taking; who looks on the beast man as a dog does on a piece of meat, only good to be torn to pieces and then devoured. Boys, if in the course of human events such a conglomerate human mass gets after you, your goose is cooked. If you get wedded to a female of this sort you want to hunt up the most approved method of washing dishes, tending baby and doing a general assortment of household duties, for such a woman will be off attending women’s nite conventions, and kicking up a mess generally until Lucifer arrives with his ferry boots to tow her across the river Styxz.

Boys, having told you the wrong gait, let me tell you the right one. If the promenader steps off with a gentle movement with the lower extremities, her toes turned out just sufficiently to fit between her feet, when standing still, a five inch piece of pie, as she steps off redolent with smiles, as if she thought the world was made for all human beings and it was a duty we owe each other to shed as much sunshine about us as the maker of nature had endowed us with word for all the afflicted and needy, a proper respect for the aged; with a heart so tender she would rather step into the gutter than tread upon a worm that was crawling in her path; with her habiliments neat but not gaudy; the roses on her cheeks sparkling as if they were color and warranted to wash bowing as polite to the thread-bare passer-by as to the queen in silks. Boys, when you see such a treasure, mark my words, her price is above roobies and fine gold. My advice is get her if you can, with such a woman your house will be paradise. Every button will be in its place; your pudding free from nite cap strings and waste hair. Instead of your wife being off attending conventions and others; she will settle down to her legitiment bizziness in building a hearthstone that will make the mouth of all henpeck husbands water like a thunderstorm in Jewly.

Get such a wife, and after business hours go home to her and not pass your time hanging about corners and making a confounded beast of yourself generally.

Doris B. Morton, Town Historian – Whitehall Independent – July 20, 1988

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Anniversary Dates

A collector of some years ago wrote down Whitehall events in day by day entries. Here are some anniversaries:

In April, 1803, the congregational rector, Rev. Cornelius Jones, died, he was the pastor of the White Church and was buried in the old Bartholomew cemetery, the one the local DAR has had cleaned.

In May, 1803, Daniel Lyon was born. He became a noted captain on Lake Champlain steamers.

In December, 1823, William Hannas and Charity Benjamin, daughter of Joseph Drake Benjamin, were married. Their home is the1827 building of the Barkleys on Broadway.

In December, 1823, there was a public meeting to express sympathy and raise funds for the Greeks in their struggle for Independence.

In the same month a Thanksgiving service was held in the school house, the Academy on Division Street. A service for the next Sabbath was planned for the same place.

The first burial in Boardman Cemetery took place with that of Nancy Boardman. The cemetery was formally opened four months later in June, 1853.

In June, 1853, an act was passed by the village authorizing a sum not to exceed $20,000 for the purpose of improving the water system.

Many of our local leaders were immigrants. In April, 1853, William B. Inglee came to Whitehall from Machias, Maine. In July, Dr. A. J. Long settled here and opened his office.

The George Brett Hose Company No. 2 was organized in January, 1878, and Robert H. Cook was appointed Receiver of the Whitehall Transportation in July.

In November, 1878, the new fire .alarm bell in the village building was dedicated with a great celebration.

In December, 1878, a village ordinance forbade the pitching of quoits in the streets.

Doris B. Morton, Town Historian – Whitehall Independent – August 31, 1978

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June 1881 Obituary of John Brown

In the obituary of John Brown, 1813-1881, is additional information of personnel of lake boats. Mr. Brown was commander of sloop Industry and pilot at times on Saranac, Francis Saultus, Canada, America, Montreal and United States. He married Lucinda Burt and their daughter was N.Z. Baker.

Doris B. Morton, Town Historian – Whitehall Times – June 25, 1981

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Marriages & Obituaries 1870’s – 1920’s

Ways of expression and description change with generations. What was quite ordinary at one time becomes quaint at another. These are some wordings I have culled from a scrapbook of obituaries and marriages given to the Historical Society by Mrs. Ursula Pray. The entries span years between the 1870’s and 1920’s.

A beautiful and accomplished young lady of well-to-do parentage was quietly and secretly married.

Both of the young couple were popular and held in high esteem by all their friends and all wish them the greatest’ success in life.

She possessed an active mind, was well informed and always genial and entertaining in conversation.

Seemingly she was stricken from the roll of the living when in the height of her usefulness.

No expense was spared to speed her recovery.

We often wonder why it is that, the dread Angel of Death in his baleful flight of destruction should so ruthlessly cut down with his sword the best fruits.

To his noble manly qualities he added a genial nature and boyish sweetness that endeared him to all who knew him.

A quiet and beautiful matrimonial was performed when the couple was united in holy wedlock.

Too much cannot be said in praise of his loving companion who was his constant attendant in ministering to all his wants and wishes.

The good work in our cemetery on Monday last 14 teams besides and number of hand laborers put a beautiful gravel road through the yard. What can we do for our dear friends that are gone but to beautify their lasting resting place? What can give us more pleasure than to work and plan for them?

During the long residence here the deceased was prominent here because of his business standing, his interest in public affairs, his force and activity, stalwart physical characteristics, and genial disposition in social affairs.

She had been active in good works. Her life reflected the Christian spirit and teachings. She reared a large family – all good citizens and greatly respected in the community.

For some hours before the bell rang for the nuptial Mass, friends of the popular couple had been combining nature’s fair products of the woods and floral gardens into arches and forms of adornment within the sanctuary,

There was much jollification at the house, but it was only a primer compared with what followed. Friends of the newly wedded couple determined to give them a send off that would go down in history. Consequently when they came out of the house they found a motley combination of quadrupeds and vehicles waiting to give them the most spectacular transportation possible through the streets to the station. Into the dump truck climbed the smiling couple. The entire vehicle had been rimmed. Attached to it were one horse and two cadaverous Line mules, a la tandem.

The bride has lived around Java for several, years and her splendid disposition has won for her the love of all those who know her and no doubt she will make an ideal housewife and helpmate to the groom.

The newly wedded young couple is socially prominent throughout this section and their friends in the various towns hope that they may realize in the fullest measure the happiness of domestic tranquility.

At ten o’clock a sumptuous wedding supper was served the couple were the recipients of a large number of beautiful and costly gifts, which alone speak of the high esteem in which they are held by their friends.

The clergyman, with elegance of manner and language which gave evidence of his proficiency in that line of work, uttered the words of that most significant, impressive and solemn service which unites in bonds indissoluble the hearts and fortunes of man and
woman

Doris B. Morton, Town Historian – Whitehall Times – January 11, 1979

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Weddings in the “Old Times”

Home weddings were different from the usual stylized church ones. This was the case when Florence S. Dale of Poultney Street was married to Edward Clark of Poultney. Florence was the daughter of Frederick S. Dale who brought the silk industry to Whitehall. She had lived in Meyers Castle on West Hill when her father operated the silk mill and was used to ostentation.

Like the Terrytown boys and their social club, the young ladies of the community formed such a club called the Theta Delta Club. Unlike the “Boys”, however, their aim was to assist the first member to “embark on the sea of matrimony with every aid in their power.”

Miss Dale was the first to marry. It followed that the group attended the bride on the eve of her wedding and for several days before in decorating the large parlors of her parents with festoons of evergreen, palms, potted plants, ferns and flowers.

At the end of the south parlor they erected an enclosure to be used for the ceremony. At the top was placed a large white bell of white flowers and on the back a ground of evergreens with the initials “D. C.” also in white flowers. A white cord and tassel marked the entrance. From the gas fixtures in the center of the room to its corners were ropes of evergreen, as well as along the stair railing. Plants and flowers around the room added to the festive look.

A different musical during the ceremony was the singing of the entire musical score of the “Bridal Chorus” from Wagner’s “Lohengrin”. This was followed by the music of the Episcopal Church boys’ choir under the direction of L. D. Tefft and Herman Sullivan the accompanist. The era in which this wedding took place can be recognized by the names of the boys in the choir: Harry Dalton, Kenneth Newcomb, Timothy Inglee, Buell Ames, William Kelly, and David Inglee.

Fifty guests attended the wedding. The bridesmaids were four in number besides the maid of honor: Clara Bascom, Alena Manville, Katherine Burdett and Libbie Carr. The maid of honor was Lulu Dale. The bride carried a large bouquet of white roses which was made up of five separate bouquets containing emblems that were to show the fortunes of the bridesmaids. (Were all married next?) Master Dalton then sang DeKoven’s “O! Promise Me” and after congratulations a well prepared and well served collation was served in the dining room decorated with white and gold ribbons and flowers.

Usually the account of a wedding ended with a long list of the wedding gifts to the couple with the names of the donors. They were omitted in this account or perhaps the scrapbook maker ran out of space or time.

Doris B. Morton, Town Historian – Whitehall Times – August 8, 1984

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War of 1812 Ships

From many sources we learn that the story of the ships of the War of 1812 in East Bay has spread over the United States, south to Florida and west to California. Capping the experience is the telephone call received from London from a diver who wishes to participate in next year’s archeological diving if possible. Another writer tells of a renewed interest in life’s affairs when he read the story, and the Kiwanis of Ticonderoga would like the history of these ships. All inquirers were surprised to learn that Whitehallers knew of the existence of the ships that need to be protected from amateurish exploration.

The fifth U.S. Ticonderoga, CG47, will be commissioned 22 January 1983 at Ingalls Shipbuilding, West Bank Facility, Pascagoula, Miss. This town and village historian has received an invitation to be present at the commissioning and the reception afterwards from the captain, officers and crew. It will be remembered that Skenesborough Museum sent a plaque with a piece of the first Ticonderoga and a nail to the christening of this ship last spring, presented for Whitehall by the president of the Ticonderoga Chamber of Commerce and the village mayor.

Doris B. Morton, Town Historian – Whitehall Times – January 6, 1983

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