Four New Posts


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So, I’m still here, but I’ve been mostly enmired with book-related stuff. But! There are three new posts at the “book blog” with additional information and photos of people and things in the book contributed by folks I’ve met since publishing The 1903 Jackson Corners Signature Quilt.

  1. Adam Edelman
  2. Edna Bathrick
  3. Eugene Ackert
  4. Jackson Corners Grange


The 1903 Jackson Corners Signature Quilt Book


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Oh hey I forgot to post here as well…

I finished the book! You can buy it! It’s real!

Go to Oblong Books in Millerton or Rhinebeck to get a copy, or order it from their online store! I also have a separate blog for the book which you can check out here:

I posted back in 2011 that I had gotten the quilt and was thinking that I should write a book about it. Took a decade, but it’s done. I’m speaking about it in various places and if I remember I’ll post about them. The first talk is tonight. I’m super nervous. If it doesn’t stink and they record it, I’ll try to remember to post a link here.

Who first said “Hold’er Newt”?


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Short answer: it’s rather hard to tell. 

However, though my (armchair) research cannot determine where the phrase first originated, I believe I have figured out why it’s so hard to find.

I didn’t find the phrase “Hold’er Newt!” (either on its own or followed by a subsequent phrase such as “she’s headed for the pea patch!”) printed in the newspapers I can search online earlier than 1922. This could mean that it’s a 20th century invention, however, vernacular turns-of-phrase are hard to find in official publications from over 100 years ago in general.

On an episode of the podcast A Way With Words they speculated that soldiers participating in WWI may have spread the phrase from its point of origin around the country, but this theory is unsourced. According to a woman who called in to their program, “Hold’er Newt, we’re goin’ round the corner” was a phrase regarding reckless driving used by a woman she knew from Cincinnati who was born in 1922. This woman also lived in Eastern NY State. The hosts noted that per a “dictionary of catchphrases” from 1922 “newt” was perhaps slang for dolt or idiot.

I believe that “Hold’er Newt” was 1) something one said when things were getting a little out of hand and needed to be reigned in, 2) spread around the country, obscuring its geographic origin, and 3) Newt, possibly a dumb-dumb, is the one being admonished to get a handle on “‘er.”

One evening in 2008 when I visited my late cousin Ron Losee at his home in Ennis, Montana we went outside and the screen door was about to bang closed behind us. I went to grab it, spontaneously calling out “Hold’er, Newt!.” This 93 year old man stopped in his tracks, looked at me and cried “now there’s an old Dutchess County saying I haven’t heard in a while!” He had relocated to Montana in the 1950s from the northeast and grew up in Upper Red Hook where he was born in 1919. 

Tim Sample, a humorist born in 1951, wrote about how he was familiar with the phrase from growing up in Maine in the Boothbay Register:

“Loosely translated it meant: “Just hang on awhile until we can get this situation under control.” If a gang of men was lifting a heavy load and it suddenly began to shift dangerously to one side, somebody would yell, “Hold ‘er Newt!” signaling the crew to stop and maintain a steady pressure (hold her) until help arrived.”

On searching through the newspaper archive website Old Fulton New York Post Cards, I found the phrase repeated hundreds of times in dozens of newspapers between 1922 and the 1930s and sporadically as late as 1983. In the body or in advertisements, I found it appearing mostly as a headline or tagline in the 1930s and a few times decades later. 

“Hold ‘er Newt.”—Newton P. Klemann had quite an experience last night near Olmito when his car plunged into the ditch and he found himself gliding through the air with nothing but the steering wheel in his hands. The car was not injured and after fixing the steering wheel Newt “reared” for home.  – Brownsville Texas Daily Herald, 16 Dec 1922

WHEN YOU’RE CASEY DRESSED YOU LOOK YOUR BEST… jackets, toppers, neckwear, handkerchiefs, but HOLD ‘ER NEWT, you’ve got to VISIT OUR EMPORIUM… – Penn Yan, NY Chronicle-Express 2 Aug 1951

The place it was most frequently repeated was as a line delivered in a comic called The Old Home Town by Lee Stanley. The comic (as far as my search can tell) began in 1921 and the phrase was first seen in 1922 and throughout the 1920s, and occasionally in later comics. This one-panel comic always presented a busy Richard-Scarry-esque scene from the titular Home Town where some silliness or other was befalling its residents. Often in the background one can spy a horse or mule behaving badly, rearing up and kicking, while a man with a tuft of curly hair atop his head attempts to rein it in and someone shouts at him “Hold’er Newt, she’s a rearin’!”

The Old Home Town by Lee Stanley, Niagara Falls Gazette, 17 Jul 1922

This was repeated in dozens of individual comics between 1922 and 1944 that I found online and was printed in newspapers in Niagara Falls, NY, Brownsville, TX, Athens, GA, and Perth Amboy, NJ and probably all over the country wherever it was syndicated. According to Stanely’s obituary in the Chicago Tribune of February 13, 1970 it was printed in over 400 publications. Newspaper readers in this time would surely have had this phrase compounded into their lexicon by The Old Home Town if it wasn’t there already.

In 1932, country recording artist (and two-time governor of Louisiana known for his recording of “You Are My Sunshine”) Jimmie Davis recorded a goofy little song called “Hold’er Newt.” The phrase “Hold’er Newt, she’s rarin’!” is called out because “that old grey mule” is misbehaving. 

The phrase and variants of it were used to advertise used cars, menswear, and in one instance for a welder in newspapers of the 40s and 50s. 

Hold ’Er Newt was also the title of a long-forgotten short-lived 1950’s children’s puppet TV show that ran opposite Howdy Doody in some northeast markets. According to Tim Hollis in his 2010 book Hi There, Boys and Girls! America’s Local Children’s TV Programs, the plot “took place in the Figg Center general store, where a group of old geezers gathered to swap whoppers with the owner, Newt Figg.” In one episode, a character called Mr. Nosegay tried to buy a cravat from a puzzled Newt who didn’t know what he was after. It would seem 1950s kids didn’t get the reference, either. It had a very brief run on ABC at 5:30 PM in 1950. The title and subject matter are lifted straight from Stanley’s The Old Home Town comic.

I could not find video or even still images of the TV show and it’s doubtful any are extant, but you can go to YouTube and listen to this goofy song. The chorus is the best part.  

Hold’er Newt, hold’er! Hold’er Newt, I say!

Hold’er Newt, hold’er! Don’t let her get away.

Hold’er Newt, she’s rarin’ Hold’er rar’, she’s newtin’!

Hold’er, hold’er, hold’er, hold’er!

Woop woop woop woop woop!

Books, Books, Books…


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I’m wrapping up the 1903 Jackson Corners Signature Quilt book hopefully by the end of the year.

I’m also working on a small booklet about the Red Hook Methodist Cemetery on Cherry St., TBA

And since 2012 I’ve had The Illustrated Life & Times of John Losee of Upper Red Hook on the backburner.

Once the Jackson Corners book is in my hands, I’ll pick the Losee book back up.

Happy Birthday, Grampa!

John Losee, born July 7th, 1907, 114 years ago today.

The Mystery of Amnesiac Dr. H.H. Cate


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This story came to my attention while researching something else and reading the Pine Plains Register newspaper of September 25th, 1903.

“Dr. H. H. Cate, who was found by his brother in law at the Morgan House in Po’keepsie in a demented condition and taken to his home at Lakewood, N.J., several weeks ago, was removed to a sanitarium at Goshen, Thursday morning. The doctor was examined by a physician, and is thought to have a clot of blood on his brain, said to have been caused by a blow, which apparently accounts for his loss of memory. The doctor remembers receiving the blow, but cannot recollect when and where he received it. He is somewhat improved physically, but mentally his condition remains the same. He fails to recognize any of his friends or surroundings and will probably remain at the sanitarium until an operation can be safely performed.”

I had to know more. Here’s his story.

Dr. Henry Hamilton Cate (“Harry” to his friends) was born in January 1859 in either New Hampshire or Massachusetts to Dr. Hamilton H. Cate (1825–1898) and Mary Delicia Plant (1829–1866). He and his father removed to New Jersey at some point and they both practiced medicine there. Cate was described as a “homeopathic physician” and took over their medical practice in Lakewood, NJ from his father. 

According to his own testimony, this New Jersey doctor was in New York City on April 21st, 1903 to do some unnamed business and visit a former patient, a Mrs. Barker of 49 W 57th St. He left her residence around 9 pm and went for a walk that took him through Grand Central Station and down to a construction site near 38th St. and 5th Ave. By the report in the New York Sun of October 25th, 1903, he was trying to get up on a scaffolding to get a better look at the site when someone shouted “Quick!” and he was struck on the back of the head.

The papers said he had between $2000 and $2500 in cash on his person at the time, though he would later claim it was $3000. His wallet was found the following day near the site with his calling card, a business card for his insurance company, but surprise, no cash. 

The police told the New York papers that they thought that perhaps he’d gone temporarily insane, though there’s nothing in the reporting that supports that idea. The papers were sure he’d been mugged for the large amount of cash he’d been carrying and probably murdered. A later account said he was having some financial difficulties at the time. 

Cate claimed he remembered nothing but briefly came to his senses in Kansas City. Supposedly suffering from amnesia, he had somehow managed to travel out west and lived like a hobo with no idea who he was before returning to the Hudson Valley months later. Cate was identified in August while staying at the Morgan House in Poughkeepsie by his sister-in-law Mary Canfield Wilkinson (Mrs. John G., sister of Cate’s first wife Tassie) from Newburg. He was calling himself G. Foster and it could be that he also identified himself as a Mason. Because Cate was a Mason, the brothers in area lodges had circulated a photo of him and it was through this photo that he was identified. Cate claimed not to know Mary and was offended when she called him “Harry”. They sent him to the Interpines Sanitarium in Goshen, NY, which is a funny coincidence, because he himself owned his own mental hospital back in Jersey.

Cate’s account of his wanderings while suffering from amnesia were printed in Dr Joe Shelby Riley’s book Conquering Units or The Mastery of Disease in 1921. In it (and in newspaper reports of the time), he claims he had no idea how he found himself in Kansas City and later in Indiana. He said “I had no recollection of my name, family, or friends, nor any of the old ties, and the strange part of it all is that I did not care. I was happy and as free as a bird.” More than once he stressed that because he had forgotten his family and past he was blissfully happy. Newspaper reports of his disappearance stressed that he had all that money on him, but he was quoted in Conquering Units that as a hobo he had $200 in fifties “pinned on the inside of my vest, so I think it was hardly probably my assailant robbed me.” 

Riley noted in Conquering Units that Cate had aphasia (the loss of ability to understand or express speech caused by brain damage). Though Cate was found in Poughkeepsie in August, he had trouble speaking and it wasn’t until October that enough of his memories came back in order that he could fully understand who he was. Riley wondered “what became of Dr. Cate, or Dr. Cate’s soul, during those six months, from April to October, 1903? Such a question might be answered by the psychologists theologists, but it is doubtful.”

But was Cate suffering from a mental illness, perhaps brought on by a trigger, or was he simply using his knowledge of psychiatry to escape his problems? He “was known to have certain peculiarities” per the NY Post of April 29th, 1903 and might have been having financial problems when he suddenly lost a great deal of cash and went AWOL for six months. His in-laws could not be bothered to help find him. 

And in 1905, he did it again.

Dr. Cate had signed a death certificate for Carrie Brouwer, the wife of Dr. Frank R. Brouwer, a doctor in his mid-thirties of Toms River, NJ, who had died after complaining of headaches and severe indigestion. Cate ascertained that she had suffered from Bright’s disease (an antiquated term for kidney disease). Her family suspected foul play and her life insurance company began to investigate. As the investigation moved forward, it was thought that Dr. Brower asked Dr. Cate to falsify the death certificate to cover his alleged crime as Brouwer was accused of poisoning her. Before he could appear in court to testify, on December 9th, 1905, Dr. Cate went missing once more. 

He resurfaced on December 26th, wandering into a police station in Springfield, MA, again in an amnesiac state. The papers said he had become confused in Albany and had been travelling from city to city since then hoping to jog his memory. Why did he wait until the 26th to try to see if the police could help him? He recognized a photo of himself but when questioned about the Brouwer case or anything else, he was mum or answered with “I don’t know.” The New York Sun reported that he gave the police the name “George Avery” because “someone called him by it on the street.” Luckily, “H.H. Cate” was written in or stitched inside his jacket. Had he not taken his coat off for almost a month? Was he lying, or was he truly temporarily insane? His new brother-in-law, Mr. Shinn went to Springfield and shepherded him to the same asylum he was committed to in 1903 in Goshen to recover. After a while he recovered his memory and did give testimony in the case, defending Brouwer who was acquitted in 1906. 

Frank Brouwer remarried in 1910 to a woman with the maiden name of Shinn, the same as Henry Cate’s second wife, Rachel (though a relation could not be determined, it can be presumed they were related). Perhaps Brouwer was innocent as the court determined and Miss Shinn was enamoured enough with him that she also fully believed that he hadn’t poisoned his previous wife.

Henry Cate went on to buy an asylum in New Mexico and moved with his family out there for a little while, but returned to NJ where he died in 1931. He is buried in the Evergreen Cemetery in Lakewood, NJ. His first wife Tasmania Canfield who was from a Newburg, NY family was born either in Australia or “at sea”. Perhaps her parents were missionaries or merchants. She died before 1900. Their son Carleton Cate died young in 1913. Cate and his second wife Rachel Shinn’s daughter Doris L. Cate married Arthur Riedel and had three children. Rachel Shinn Cate died in 1950, and Doris Cate Riedel in 2009.


Dr. Henry Hamilton Cate was born January 1859 in either New Hampshire or Massachusetts to Dr. Hamilton H. Cate (1825–1898) and Mary Delicia Plant (1829–1866).

He married at least twice. First on 28 Apr 1888 in Newburgh, NY he married Tasmania Canfield (born c.1855 either in Australia or at sea) who died sometime between 1895 and 1900 and second, sometime after 1900 he married Rachel Shinn (1876–1950).

With Tasmania (or “Tassie”) he had at least one child, Carleton H. Cate born June 1889 (died 27 Aug 1913 presumably with no children or wife) and with Rachel he had a daughter Doris L. Cate (6 Jan 1916–1 Oct 2009, who married Arthur Riedel and had three children).

Dr. H.H. Cate died in 1931 and is buried in the Evergreen Cemetery in Lakewood, NJ.

Log of Earl W Baker, July 1918



July 2018

The 3rd German drive started 7/14/18 & was speedily halted. Foch has finally struck using 200,000 Americans. The Crown Prince’s army is finding hard work to extricate itself intact from the Marne to the Aisne. Loissons is on the verge of capture & Rheims is still held. Chateau Thearry on the Marne was taken by our troops on the 21st. The steadily growing depression of the Allies in the face of the previously successful attacks has now been swept away. The first French drive of the year & developed from a counter-attack. This 2nd battle of the Marne may mark the high water mark of Prussian success (ie penetration) & at the same time the turning point of the balance of power.

Spend a week’s vacation at Aunt Teens. Geo. B canot (sic) get farm labor – a universal condition – & consequently has difficulty in harvesting any crops. Uncle Harry’s farm – now the Gun Clubs – the chestnut timber (which had mostly died off) was being sawed up at Springside. Mitchell was killed during my stay – our first great loss in the War. He was only 39 years old & was N.Y. City’s youngest mayor. Col. Roosevelt’s son Quentin was killed the other day – in aviation in France.

In the office  – nightingale – our cost expert has entered the Ordnance Dept. Rowe goes in a few days – as will Wacker & Masten. Some 25 in all from the office. Doughty left to for a position in exporting Co. in N. Y. City. Spent the 4th at Mt. Beacon with Miss Duryea.

U Boat sank the San Diego (7/20th) & also a tow off Boston after some hr & ½ poor shooting & 3 torpedoes (3 barques were empty, one filled with stone).

Log of Earl W Baker, June 1918



June 10th, 1918

The 2nd drive is now approaching the close – apparently. About ten miles more loss for the allies. The Browning gun and the aereoplane (sic) situation are beginning to loom up as encouraging possibilities.

Some 15 coastwise vessels have been sunk this first ten days of June by subs. So far no transports on this side.

The film “Gerard’s 4 Years in Germany”* is an accurate & powerful indictment of the Teutors or more properly the Prussian ideals – Cruelty rapacity & greed. Took Agnes Clark.

Arthur Brisbane in the June American calls attention to the 3 motivating influences in life

1 Instinct for self preservation

2 Instinct for reproduction

3 Instinct for power, betterment – ambition.

& dwells on the 3rd as the highest and most potent dynamic for the future man.

*”My Four Years In Germany”

June 1918

Am taking a fresh start.

Having just finished “An American in the Making” by Ravage – a Roumanian jew who writes a strong account of his growth & final acceptance of the American plan. The startling part is the keenness & devotion of his people in the sweatshops to knowledge – classical, modern & more particularly radical theories of all sorts – which they are first to welcome. Nazinova – before she spoke Eng. etc. Ibsen – Shaw – are first read there – payed there & discussed. They remain exampled however thru sheer narrowness of their life & consequent outlook. Either socialists or anarchists – irreligious & therefore continually groping for the mirage of truth.

Am beginning Lord Morley’s “Recollections”

Saw Wm. Faversham – Maxine Elliot – Macklyn Arbuckle & Irene Fenwick in “Lord & Lady Algy” a week or so ago. Faversham especially is immense – perfect poise – strength – voiced – control insight – depth & virility.

Dad has found employment at DeLaval.

The aeroplane situation in U.S. is sustaining severe criticism as the results are nill.

Railroads are still congested (now in hands of U.S.) & motor trucks are being suggested to east the situation.

U-boats have appeared off Atlantic coast & sunk some 15 coastwise vessells (sic).

The Hun forte lately has been shelling Red Cross Hospitals & Hospital boats. Unfortunately (?) they mistook a prison camp for a camp recently & killed several of their countrymen – our prisoners.

Situation on Western front is tense but very quiet – unexpectedly so.

Log of Earl W Baker, May 1918


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May 5th, 1918

Third Liberty Loan greatly oversubscribed & not all returns in.

Have been for the last week off the books – checking all bills & acting as ass’i to the office head. Believe I am getting along fairly well.

Sunday morning I attended the class of Prof. Shear whose talks are remarkably strong and helpful. Re. the war, he asserted that regardless of seeming defeat and disappointment, he never had any fear or the slightest doubt as to the outcome for the reason that “the truth will always eventually prevail.” If we are without this belief, we are without any religious convictions whatsoever.

Regarding the wealth of which we are all so covetous, he assured us that whatever ephemeral possession & money might buy, it could purchase not one of the eternal values, which are character, honor, love, truth and integrity. And without these eternal values how may we find happiness.

Last Friday I saw the film Materlink’s “Blue Bird” and it was beautifully presented. Took miss HIll and enjoyed her company.

The German drive has been renewed for the third time. Ireland is bitterly resenting threatened conscription of manpower.

E Hunt, on furlough, tanned & rugged, after 4 weeks training dropped in this P.M.

May 1918

The last Sunday in May “Bab” Hill” Alice Duryea, Paul Weiss and myself went to Mohonk by trolley to New Paltz & carriage to Mt. Rest. We had a delightful day tho’ a dry one.  Sometime ago I had spoken to A. D re. reading Hugh Walpole & I was pleased to hear her enthuse over his “Fortitude”. Am beginning to approve of Alice.

The Huns are finally stopped after a 12 mile lunge into France.

Log of Earl W Baker, March 2018



March 4th, 1918

Was raised to 3rd° of Masonry Wed. last. Booth’s comments on the chief role is interesting & true. The Boys of the Naval Militia are having a great time. Eng. France, the Mediterranean – some experience for a young chap.

Have no boy friends and keep my girl friends from 2 to 5 weeks. Cut Frances – jealous.

Went out some with Virginia Duncan – cut her – she broke a date. (Sore head!)

Balanced 2 out of 3 ledgers today.

Been reading Conrad – Young – End of the Tether. Immense good psychology, and character analysis.

Tues. March 5th 1918

Received the official examination returns.

Class A – 1. Rather glad of it – oddly enough! Have all ledgers in balance  – 2 posted up. Rec’d raise from 18.00 to 20.50 plus 10% bonus. (decidedly less than I at first expected – PAB three a crimp in the G Ex.)

Am preparing for a drive on the Coml Cas. for the sake of the $25 return for completion. Attended lecture on Japan.

Log of Earl W Baker, February 1918


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February 1918

The facts and dates of the important events of this war are a matter of record. I will not attempt to duplicate them.

My impressions however, I will record. The men in our cantonements (sic) reaped the harvest of a hand to mouth-inert and little visioned govt. Policy. In its defense it has been said, with some accuracy, that the most radical of the war-preparationist advocates could not have made in the two years before our entrance to the war, a by any means suitable conception of our actual needs. We lacked the imagination. Our soldiers passed a severe fall and winter in the cantonements. Thousands died of pneumonia. Clothing as well as weapons were inadequate. Sect. of War Baker has thus far successfully maintained a position of confidence despite much adverse criticism.  He presents the strides taken – in glowing vein, and is far more clever than his critics and investigations leave him unruffled. He and the Pres. however are making some changes.

Pres. Wilson is making his position stronger than ever and has an immense hold on the people and even after some fighting (Overman Bill) on Congress. It is felt that Austria is under his influence and Count Czernin’s speach (sic) give some assurance to the view.*

The coal situation has been sever. For three successive Mondays, businesses have closed down – with one 5 day period.

The Gas & Elec have bad 2 to 5 men out – to keep track of, and trace coal shipments.

*Minister of Foreign Affairs, Austria-Hungary. Resigned April 1918 due to his “disclosure of peace activities of the monarch”. Oops.

Feb 17, 1918

Coal situation is now somewhat relieved. It was caused entirely to RR congestion – aided by snow storms and blizzards.

Sugar shortage is not over yet. Price is ten or tess, canada getting plenty for 15 c.

Took draft examination. Found I had a hernia. Within last month have kept work up at office and expect a considerable increase.

Met Francis Griffin. V. Hos. and have taken her to dances at Rutherfords and D of I. She is very lively, a flirtatious person and we quarrel constantly. I’ve found myself to be jealous, exacting, and sulky. We’re a bad match.

Have been going to choir practice and hope to improve my voice. Miss Harlow is good to me in playing whenever I ask her. We disagree in everything else. Dad is fine – but out of work. Sold two of my bonds for $214. And applied them on my bond acc’t.

Am trying to goad myself into writing a short story – conceited about my untried capabilities.

Was raised as a Mason in Jan. and have been initiated as Apprentice and Fellowcraft. Am working on my 2nd degree.

Sunday mornings before church, I go over to Trinity to hear Prof. Shear, an unusual and clever speaker of conviction. Wed evenings I go to YMCA for the supper & Dr. Lloyd’s bible class.

Thursdays I go to Rutherfords and Tuesdays to Vassar Institute.

But I am not preparing myself in a business or social way, whatever.