The ‘‘Our town’’ column is compiled each month for the New Paltz Times by Carol Johnson, coordinator of the Haviland-Heidgerd Historical Collection. The entries have been copied from the January 1912 issues of the Kingston Freeman. If you would like to get a closer look at these newspapers of the past, visit Carol Johnson and the staff of the Haviland-Heidgerd Historical Collection at the Elting Memorial Library, located at 93 Main Street, or call 255-5030. Meanwhile, enjoy these words from a century ago.
The season seems to have been just one week later than usual. New Year’s appeared very much like an ideal Christmas. The snow which fell Sunday night, made fair sleighing for New Year’s Day, especially for the young people with their small sleds. During the week there has been good skating where the snow was swept from the ice and the week was greatly enjoyed by our young people.
One of the most elaborate New Year’s balls ever held in New Paltz was given in the opera house [now Barnaby’s]. About 65 couples were in attendance and enjoyed dancing until an early hour. The hall was prettily trimmed in holiday attire with a large illuminated bell hanging in the center. Refreshments were served. Excellent music was rendered by Muller’s Orchestra of Kingston. Guests were present from New York, Poughkeepsie, Albany, Texas, Newburgh, Walden, Kingston, Highland, Wallkill and Gardiner.
Last Saturday morning was a record breaker for cold weather in New Paltz this winter, the thermometer dropping to 34 degrees below zero.
Sunday was the coldest day in Plutarch since the 5th of January 1904, when the thermometer registered 40 below zero. Last Saturday it stayed below zero all day.
There are many who think that the peach crop will be ruined. A.P. Wilklow, one of the largest fruit growers and who generally ships thousands-of-dollars worth of peaches, says he would be willing to take $50 for his next crop. Others concur in this opinion. But there are a few who think that as no buds have started, that the prospect is not so discouraging. The subject is the evening talk in the village stores.
The creamery company is harvesting ice from Deyo’s lake [Moriello Park]. The ice is 14 inches thick. A.A. Shafer is filling his ice house from the Wallkill River with 12-inch ice. The farmers also busy in ice harvest.
The ferry boat at Highland has quite some difficulty in crossing. The ice is heavy and people are walking over. Also, Bennie Duncan Jr. has sleighs on to convey people over and return, which is better than the long wait for the ferry boat.
A number of our people attended the automobile shows in New York the past week. Among them were Abram P. LeFevre, A. A. LeFevre, Philip Dubois, George F. Johnston, S.L. Johnston, Roelif E. Dubois, A.E. Jansen, O.B. Schmid, the Hon. F. LeFevre, Mr. & Mrs. I. D. Sutton of this village: Oscar M. Deyo of Springtown, William Ambrose of Clintondale.
One of the best games of basketball of the season was to have been played Friday evening between the Alpha Five of Catskill and the New Paltz Five, but owing to the West Shore train arriving late in Kingston the Catskill team did not get the Wallkill Valley train. They tried in vain to get a conveyance to bring them here, but were unable to do so. Manager George Terpening, not wanting to disappoint the large crowd that was in attendance, got up two teams in the town and a good game was witnessed. Dancing was enjoyed after the game. Good music was furnished by the New Paltz orchestra.
The members of Ulster Hook and Ladder Company are rehearsing weekly for their minstrel show to be given in the opera house on Feb. 29 and March 1. The past performances of this company in the theatrical line will assure our people of a fine evening of entertainment.
The Colonial Hotel at New Paltz was destroyed by a fire, which broke out Tuesday morning about 2 o’clock. The loss is about $6,000. The building was a three-story frame structure and burned so rapidly that it looked for a time that a part of the village was doomed. The firemen had three streams of water on the building for a long time and prevented the fire from spreading to adjoining buildings. The place was gutted and the furniture ruined. The hotel was one of the landmarks in the village, having been built by John Burger for John R. Wood in the early sixties. Among those who have conducted the hotel were B.D. Smedes, Abram Constable, Abel Saxton, J.C. Shafer, P.R. Elting, Wm. Ackerman, Henry DuBois, Luther Schoonmaker and George C. Purhan, the present owner.
H.O. Palen, one of Highland’s great chicken fanciers, is at present in Albany, where he will give interesting talks on poultry. Mr. Palen has a great deal to feel elated over as he has won silver cups, money and a number of Blue Ribbons from various places. He certainly is successful.
The Ladies Aid Society of Plutarch have planned to have a social on Tuesday evening, Jan. 30, at the home of Miss Elmira Terwilliger, near Ohioville, along the trolley line. A good supper will be served for 25 cents and homemade ice cream will be on sale. Come out and bring your friends.
The following officers of Jacob LeFevre Council, No 146, Junior Order of Mechanics, of New Paltz, have been installed: councilor, Harold Krom; vice councilor, Millard F. Palen; recording secretary, George F. Ackert; financial secretary, Glen A. Boyce; treasurer, Alonzo Simpson; conductor, Robert Yeaple; warden, Theodore Armstrong; inside guard, William Rugar; outside guard, Stanley Decker; J.P.C., Lewis T. Ackert; chaplain, Jacob Smith. The council now has 75 benefit members besides the honoraries and is increasing rapidly in membership.
About the photograph: William H. Ackerman was one of many proprietors of a hotel that was formerly located on the corner of North Front Street and North Chestnut Street. It replaced the old Budd Tavern that was demolished in 1861. In 1873, the hotel’s shed and overhead ballroom were removed from the south side of this building, turned sideways and made into the separate building next door [home to Kennedy’s Fried Chicken]. Besides being a popular hotel, over the years it was also the home of a bake shop, shoemaker, ice cream saloon, furniture store and vegetable market. In 1893, the Catholic parishioners of New Paltz held their first church services here. On Jan. 30, 1912 the building, owned by George Purhan and named the Colonial Hotel, was gutted by fire. The third and present building on the site was built in 1916 as an automobile showroom and garage and now houses Pegasus Shoes and Little Ones clothing store.