In this Place: April 16, 2014
By Trish Adams
April: Whatever Weather Wends Our Way
Easter comes late this year, and so will my Easter column. Instead I thought we'd enjoy a good old-fashioned olio of thises and thats. When trying to attract the reader’s eye, it never hurts to start with true crime or have “murder” in the headline, even if one didn’t occur. In this “crime most dog-gone foul,” the only real tragedy seems to have been the loyal family pet (what kind of coward shoots a dog?) This murderous gang was so inept they didn’t even have their victim’s first name down pat. And three of them chickened out.
April 13, 1906 – PLOTTED WHOLESALE MURDER.
Four Otsego County Men Made Plans to Wipe Out Burnside Family.
Horace S. Burnside, a respected and prosperous farmer, living at Maryland, a village above Oneonta was coming out of his barn 7 o’clock Saturday evening when an unknown man with a gun, and without any warning whatever, leveled the piece and fired at Mr. Burnside. Feeling the sting of the shot in his face, Mr. Burnside, with whom was his dog, sent the animal after the retreating figure. The faithfulness of the dog cost the animal its life, for finding him at his heels the would be murderer turned and shot the noble beast dead.
Gaining his home Mr. Burnside immediately sent for Dr. Parish. It was found, fortunately, that his injuries were not very serious, but two shot having taken effect, both in the face. One had passed entirely through the nose while the second had passed through the left cheek and lodged in the mouth.
There is no known cause for the attack on Mr. Burnside, as he enjoys the confidence and esteem of the entire community.
Stephen Craft, a dissolute fellow who has been employed by Burnside, has been arrested for the crime. It is said that he was angered because Burnside had not allowed him to pay attention to a woman who worked at the Burnside home.
Craft confessed to the crime Wednesday and also admitted that he and three associates had plotted to kill the entire Burnside family, “you kill Hiram and we will get rid of the rest of the Burnsides” was the last message his companions give him. All the men are under arrest. There appears to have been a red handed band in the quiet rural district about Crumhorn mountain with intent as villainous as ever was conceived by the most daring wild west desperado.
From murderous to mercenary. Can you imagine the days when five dollars was so substantive a sum that it was deemed worthy of not only a court case but an appeal as well? And that the court costs amounted to a crushing $2.70?
April 19, 1918 — Got the Five
Judge Raymond Approves Ownership of a Bill that has Aroused Excitement at Shavertown
Monday Judge Raymond handed down his decision in the matter of the battle for a five dollar bill which was lost and found and two men claimed the same.
Nearly a year ago, an eight-year-old boy found a bill of that denomination in the road at Shavertown and David C. Hoag promptly alleged it was his for he had lost a bill in that vicinity while going to church. Charles Dutcher heard of the find and also laid claim to it. The boy got the bill changed by Dr. Wakeman of Andes. The teacher of the public school took the money from the boy and when Mr. Dutcher claimed it was his the teacher turned it over to him.
Mr. Hoag then brought an action against Dutcher for recovery of the money and the jury awarded it to him. E. E. Conlon, attorney for Dutcher, appealed the case to the county court, and now comes the decision of that court sustaining the judgment for five dollars and costs which amounted to $7.70.
Here’s one that we’d love to be able to research, but no doubt any “requests” for these fair maidens has long since gone to dust, or the dust bin. In those days, it was probably beyond the pale for two young, unmarried women to simply pick up and head for the hills in search of work unchaperoned. But they did probably read about the elegant hotels, parties and summer-long amusements enjoyed by girls of the “social” class, and wondered if — willing to work — they could get a little of that action themselves.
April 23, 1923 — Who Wants Two Girls
The News is in receipt of the following. The young women addressing us are of course unknown and we are left to conjecture as to whether the girls are looking for experience, are willing to sacrifice for an ideal environment for the summer or have heard of a promising crop of unpicked bachelors hereabouts. At any rate, any interested parties can obtain their names and address by applying at the office.
New York, April 4, 1923
Another young lady and I are very desirous of securing outdoor work, be it farming, planting, gardening or fruit picking for the spring, summer and autumn months. Perhaps you can assist us in this through the medium of your wide circulation. We are both nineteen, strong, white and willing and are not adverse towards getting food and lodging as only payment. We are available immediately. You will be making two humans very happy if you can assist them directly or indirectly in procuring such employment. Sincerely, X.
April is the cruelest month, famously wrote T.S. Eliot. It can also be the coldest …
April 19, 1935 — Lilac Blossoms Replaced by Snow and Unusual Cold
Impassable Highways – Colored Lights Would Make Easter Look like Christmas
Lilac blossoms, apples trees in bloom, trout jumping, all of which might occur at this season were as remote yesterday as in February.
In the place of those spring time joys we have frozen auto radiators, six inches of snow, impassable highways and a low thermometer.
Snow covered the frozen slush and motorists, caught without chains found the wheeling treacherous. Defrosters had been removed from windshields and alcohol from radiators, and drivers discovered themselves suddenly missing those adjuncts of winter driving.
“All you would have to do to make yourself think this was Christmas would be to string a few colored lights,” was one comment.
With continued cold weather this month many of the roads are beginning to break up. Dirt roads are reported almost impassable. A rural mail carrier said that conditions now “are worse than they have been all winter.”
Having “driven” (I use that term loosely) backwards, in neutral gear, down more than one freshly “slushed” unplowed road, I can well imagine how such driving, in a 1930s vehicle, might literally scare a man to death. From the same April 19, 1935 front page:
Heart Failure Follows Scare on Slippery Trail
Frightened by the slippery highway on the winding and precipitous Rip Van Winkle trail down Palenville mountain, George F. Garrabrandt, 54, of Cedar Grove, N.J., died from heart failure Wednesday morning at the wheel of his car.
The car was being operated in second gear and had traveled only part way down the trail when death overtook the driver.
The auto skidded around sideways in the snow-covered road and stalled along the side of the highway. Motorists passing the machine noticed that the man had apparently expired and informed authorities at Haines Falls. It was impossible to start many of the cars which had stopped on the steep icy trail. Motorists, not equipped with chains, were compelled to be pushed by a chain equipped car to start.
Mr. Garrabrant [sic] was an employee of the Lumber Mutual Insurance Company of New York and had been at the site of a school being built at Tannersville. He was identified through the papers in the pockets of his clothes.
Don’t like the snow stories? Fine, then just wait . . .
April 14, 1945 – Summer Weather in Mid-April Breaks Records
No Change in Sight
The continual temperatures of 80-plus throughout the mountains bring no hints of cooler days by the weather bureau. Comes one hot day after another, unknown by the present generation and not indicated by any weather reports that can be unearthed.
Every day simulates the weather of late June, graduation time hotness. Summer has come before the middle of April. Trees usually naked in April and May are affording shade, winter clothes are in the discard. Last Saturday, the first day of the 1945 fishing in local streams, began with a dip of the mercury to 28 above. But a bright sun soon took the mittens and sheepskin coats off the fishermen.
Another bumbling criminal, this one a chicken rustler in the days when WWII meat rationing might have played a role in his desperate measures. And maybe he wasn’t so very incompetent, seeing as how he and his relatives dined on more that two dozen hens before getting caught. If only he’d stolen a rooster, they could have been in business for themselves.
April 17, 1942 – George Frey Confesses to Theft of 30 Hens
George Frey, 29, told Justice of the Peace Lester DePuy last Saturday that he had stolen 30 hens from Mrs. George Leyden of this village, taken some of them home where they were eaten, and some of them to the home of relatives at Arkville for a good meal there.
Mrs. Leyden had employed George to work in her coops. While he was employed there last Saturday Mrs. Leyden came home and saw him in the act of putting two hens in an empty burlap bag. He was arrested by Troopers McGarvey and Taylor and admitted before the officers and the justice that the temptation had been too much for him. He found some empty bags which had been used to carry sawdust. He put two hens in a bag in the adjacent forest and picked them up after dark. When the troopers were called into the matter they went to the Frey home in Huckleberry brook and found the sawdust bags. This was too much evidence for George to deny and he told what had happened.
Justice of the Peace DePuy sentenced him to six months in Onondaga but suspends the sentence on the provision that George pay Mrs. Leyden $10 on a certain day of each month for six months. The first time the money is not paid George takes a ride.
Despite the enthusiasm and hope expressed here that air transportation will be the next big thing, flying to the hills never really seems to have taken off. Anyone know what became of this airfield or its pilot? Women in the Air Transport divisions, both American and English, flew some incredibly dangerous missions during World War II, ferrying cargo, fighter pilots, planes and sometimes spies to their destinations.
April 19, 1946 – Halcott Opens First Air Field In The Catskills
Crowds Attest Interest Community Has in Air Transportation
Might be Forerunner of Way to Come to Catskills From Metropolis
Last Sunday seven enrolled aviation students and a number passengers enjoyed flights from Halcott's new airfield, which is located on the property of Garold Johnson and adjoins the farm of W. D. Griffin.
The plane in use is a new two-place Piper Cub, which was delivered last week. Miss Ruth Frankling, who holds commercial and flight instructor ratings, is the pilot. She is a former member of the Air Transport command, ferrying fighter planes during the war, and has come here from the Kingston airport, where she did instructing and charter flying.
Much enthusiasm has been shown by the scores of visitors from Fleischmanns, Margaretville and Pine Hill. There will be flying every favorable day. Halcott Center expects a traffic director will soon be necessary to control the automobiles along the local highway on weekends. — Halcott Center Cor.
[Editor’s Note: Transportation, both by air and highways, is the greatest need of the beautiful Catskills. The Halcott Center airfield may be the forerunner of a development which will bring thousands to the mountains. Halcott is within short automobile runs from Fleischmanns, Pine Hill, Arkville, Margaretville. Here is to planes and more planes for Halcott.]
So much for the adage, “no news is too local.” Perhaps we will take our revenge and print a column that is nothing but neighborhood visits. How else are we to keep up with the local gossip?
April 17, 1953 – Please Send Personal Items to Regular Correspondent
The News often has personal items sent to the office from folks in various sections which are to be included in the weekly news letter from the vicinity correspondent. It happens each week that such notices arrive after the regular correspondence has been printed. Then there is not place for them. This refers only to the personal items. A story which can be printed by itself can be used any time up to going to press.
The News can best serve if local items from the various communities can be sent to the correspondent in that community. The names of correspondents are printed at the head of the columns.
Correspondents are asked not to include neighborhood visits in their weekly letters. Neighborhood visits are not news.