What the New Paltz newspapers said 100 years ago

Flora Schoonmaker (left) with her sister Ida. (Courtesy of the Haviland-Heidgerd Historical Collection)

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 February issues of the New Paltz Independent. 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. 

Realizing the importance of the motor vehicle to almost every phase of life these days, Secretary of State Francis E. Hugo, has announced that automobiles will be allowed to run with last year’s plates until February 15, at which time new plates will be absolutely necessary.


At a recent conference in Syracuse, it was stated that the attendance in Normal schools, which furnish our teachers, was hardly one half in 1919 of what it was three years before, and ten percent less than in 1918; also that the time must come shortly when states will insist upon a minimum professional standard and personal qualification for entering the teaching profession just as they do for medicine, law and other professions.

The price of shaving in our village has been advanced to 20 cents and hair cutting to 40 cents.

Sunday morning the mercury registered 26 below zero in our village. It is said to have been the coldest February 1st on record.

Miss Flora Schoonmaker died on Tuesday morning at the Benedictine Sanitarium in Kingston whither she had been taken about four days previously. Death was caused by pneumonia. No woman in our village, perhaps, will be so much missed as Miss Schoonmaker. She had been assistant postmaster at New Paltz for several years. The duties of the position were always performed in the most thorough manner. She was always cheerful, always seemed in the best of spirits and was extremely obliging. She was the first librarian of the New Paltz Free Library and her enthusiasm did much in those early days to win many readers. She will be greatly missed, not only by the associates in the post office, but by many, many others for whom she had a kindly greeting. Miss Schoonmaker was a member of the Methodist Church. She leaves one brother, Judson B. Schoonmaker, and one sister, Mrs. H. G. Gregory. On account of the storm today, the funeral of Flora Schoonmaker is postponed until Saturday, February 7, 1920, at 2 p.m. at the residence of H. G. Gregory. Friends and relatives are invited.

Not in a number of years has there been such a heavy snow storm as visited all this part of the country the last part of last week. Thursday morning it was in full swing and all day long the snow was driven by the wind as it fell. There was little business done in our village or elsewhere on Thursday. It was not worthwhile to attempt to open paths through the snow, for they were speedily drifted shut. On Friday, the work of opening the paths and roads was pushed as rapidly as possible. It was heavy work, for the snow had been saturated to some extent with moisture and packed hard by the wind. The trains on the Wallkill Valley road could not run on scheduled time, but they managed to get through. 

The shed at the New Paltz Hotel collapsed from the weight of the snow on Saturday afternoon. There were three teams of horses under the shed at the time. Some difficulty was experienced in getting the horses out. The sleds were broken, but the horses escaped without injury.

The tide in the Hudson was so high the latter part of last week that getting on the ice over the bridges at the dock was like driving up hill.

It was an evidence of the bad condition of the roads that only one sleigh got out to the Reformed Church on Sunday morning. Mr. and Mrs. Isaac LeFevre came in that sleigh.

Several members of the editor’s family have been getting around on snow shoes and found them very useful. James O. LeFevre has found that they have saved a great amount of labor which would have been required in shoveling paths in order to get around to the poultry.

Mrs. Abram L. DuBois, aged 83 years, traveled from Tillson to Middletown when it was 12 below zero. She started with a horse and sleigh and reached Middletown at 9 o’clock at night to visit her daughter, Mrs. Billings, with whom she will make her home for a time.

The automobile show in Poughkeepsie is to be put off till March 1, the reason for the postponement is that not all of the dealers could get the cars to exhibit on account of bad weather conditions and the slow delivery of the railroads.

There are still hopes of the peach crop; but when the mercury has been over 20 below zero, the prospect for a crop is poor. In digging a grave lately in the New Paltz cemetery, in a place not covered by snow in the ground was found frozen to a depth of about five feet.

It has been a matter of much delay and difficulty for the doctors to get liquor for medicinal purposes. A permit has to be obtained through the health officer. An Ellenville paper relates that a man from Newburgh who had a prescription for his wife, could not get it filled in Newburgh and spent a day in a trip to Ellenville where he obtained the liquor. Both the physician who prescribes and the druggist who sells liquor for medicinal purposes must have a permit. Application for the permits must be made to Roscoe Irwin, Collector of Internal Revenue, Albany, N.Y.

Dr. Coddington has had an extraordinary number of cases to attend to of late. He has been making calls day and night.

Philip Hasbrouck, usually called “Flip Murphy,” one of the oldest and best known colored men in the town, died on Saturday. He had been all his life a resident of this town. His father, John Hasbrouck, owned a small place, north of Put Corners and was, about 60 years ago, the only colored man in this town having a vote, for at that time no colored man could vote unless assessed for at least $250 worth of property.

The New Paltz Progressive Reading Club has resumed its meetings. All the members are enjoying the intellectual exercises.

Some 16 carloads of cement for the dam at Dashville Falls arrived at New Paltz some time ago. A quantity of soft coal also came to hand. Van Pine had had about a dozen teams and a number of men, hauling the cement and coal to Dashville Falls. The work of mixing the concrete for the foundation of the dam has been in progress.

E. C. Elmore, John Denzlinger, George Beebe and C. C. Ward braved the terrors of this artic region and went fishing at Chodikee Lake last week. John cut some 37 holes through four-foot ice to place the tip-ups in position. After waiting patiently some eight hours, more or less, Ed caught a pickerel and John followed suit. Messrs. Ward and Beebe, getting disgusted with the fishing game went hunting without a gun and almost caught a rabbit. Mr. Beebe waited patiently before the hole while Mr. Ward tramped down an acre of snow trying to scare the rabbit into Mr. Beebe’s waiting hands. However, the rabbit was watching the hunters in the rear and nearly laughed itself to death at their heroic efforts to locate him. 

Washington’s birthday was specially celebrated on Sunday morning in St. Andrew’s Church.

Two burglars recently entered the office of the Central Hudson Steamboat Company at Highland and stole a $50 Victrola and four fountain pens.

Cyrus D. Freer, our local weather historian says that there have been 23 snow storms so far this winter, the first one on December 6. The trolley is now making regular trips to the [Hudson] River. It is still necessary to cross the river by auto or on foot.

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