Pictured are Rosalie Fraleigh Losee on the left and Fanny Keyes Elmore Fraleigh on the telephone, probably at Rose Hill Farm in Red Hook, but possibly at the Thomas/Losee house in Upper Red Hook. My guess is Rose Hill, because there is a lot of paperwork in the secretary behind Fanny. Rosalie’s husband Dr. Harvey Losee had been dead for nine years when this photo was taken so I imagine that the farm would have generated the papers, not a widow in a house by herself.
Excerpt from a report from the Year Book of Dutchess County Historical Society, 1918 pages 21-27. This came from the semi-annual meeting in October of that year when the society visited several sites in and around Red Hook, including the Losee/Thomas/Red Tavern house. My notes and corrections are in italics. The house is located in Upper Red Hook on Spring Lake Road, click here for google maps to see exactly where. My great-grandfather Harvey Losee was born 30 Mar 1867 in the house Upper Red Hook and died 20 Feb 1931 in the same house after a 10-year illness.
“The next stop was at the famous Red Tavern in Upper Red Hook, where the present occupant, Dr. Harvey Losee (on the left) read the following paper:
Members of the Dutchess County Historical Society: It gives me great pleasure to extend to you a hearty welcome to ye ancient village of Red Hook, at present yelept (yclept-“called”) Upper Red Hook.
When Mr. Adams called upon me not long ago, and said that this burg was upon your itinerary for this year, and asked permission to see “The Old Red Tavern” I told him it would give me the greatest pleasure; but when he also asked me to make a “speech”, I demurred. There is something so formal and stage frighty about the term “speech”, that timid souls instinctively take fright. But upon questioning him, Mr. Adams hedged, and said I would not be expected to act the part of a Cicero, but rather a cicerone in the matter of “The Old Red Tavern”, and so, as the nervous young speaker said, I kindly consented.
“The Old Red Tavern” or “The Old Brick Tavern” or “The Thomas House” was, according to some authorities, the thing that gave the village and township its name, though this point is more or less disputed; but the thing is certainly very plausible as the old red Dutch tavern stood at the angle or hook where the great thoroughfare, to Connecticut and the East, branched from the Albany Post Road. Farms came by this road in great numbers from the East, bringing their produce to be shipped by sailing craft to New Amsterdam or New York, and “The Old Red Tavern” was one of their regular ports of call, and must have undoubtedly become in time a notable public landmark, than that it should have received it from a strawberry patch.
It is not possible to fix upon even an approximate date when the house was built. The custom which was employed in the building of many of the early houses, of inserting the date in the gable, was, unfortunately not observed in this case. The late Gen. de Peyster, a member of many historical societies, and an antiquarian of some note, showed me a map (see scan at right, click to enlarge) of the date 1789, in which this house is set down and spoken of as a very old house at that time. There seems little doubt that it is well over 200 years old at the present time (1918). The house was not built of Holland brick, as some have thought, but brick made of the clay from our own Hudson. But the brick is of such adamantine hardness, that the masons, in putting in a new window, or making repairs, encountered such a difficult task that they always maintained that such brick had never been made in this country. The house was built in the simple Dutch style, with gambrel roof and dormer windows. A good many years ago, when the house was renovated, this characteristic roof was removed, and a gable added, which of course was a great architectural error. The oak beans, as in all the old houses, are large and hand-hewn; one, the great trimmer on the third floor, being 17×17. The walls of the house today stand perfectly four square, but the floors, due to the very weight of the heavy timbers, show some slight sagging. The cellars which are rather dungeon-like, are crudely hewn out of the rock, and in them during Revolutionary days, were incarcerated British prisoners, as well as an occasional continental soldier who had proved rebellious to military discipline. It was the general saying among our old inhabitants, who had it from their parents or grandparents, that Washington had stopped at the Old Tavern on one occasion, while Lafayette was said to have spent two or three days there. Gen. Gates is also reported to have stopped once with his command while Gen. Putnam maintained it as his headquarters for a brief period while in this section of the Hudson. The late William H. Teator (b. 1817) told me that his father had told him that he was at “The Old Brick Tavern” one night while a regiment of Putnam’s soldiers were quartered in the vicinity, and on that occasion a hogshead of rum was broached and finished in the same evening. There was a large block and tackle, he said, by which the casks of rum were hauled up and tiered in the back part of the room.
The first story, at the time, he thought, being practically all in one room, with a large fire-place at each end (At right, Harvey’s parents John Eckart Losee and Mary Elizabeth Knickerbocker in the living room of the house c. 1890). And for some reason, which he said he didn’t understand, it was always the custom to broach the very topmost casks first. Possible there was some system of siphonage, or gravity arrangement by which the worthy Dutch burghers sitting around the big fire-place smoking their long nines, could obtain their liquor without even the exertion of crooking their elbows! Those were certainly rum days! I found an old day book (ach, where is it now, Harvey?) amongst some rubbish, which had evidently belonged to one of our early store-keepers, as the charges were in pounds, shillings and pence, and the chirography was characteristic of that period – for it was equal almost to our finest engraving, and the ink was as bright as if written but the day before. One customer, “a thirsty soul,” whose name appeared at most regular intervals of three or four weeks, was invariable charged with five gallons of rum at the rate of two shillings and six pence. And there would occasionally be entered upon the book what would seem might have been a sop to his better half, namely the purchase of a quarter or half pound of tea. Could the shades of those worthies look forth to-day upon this now almost entirely arid country, they would certainly see a great change in this respect. And in speaking of shades, we are reminded of the ghost or spook which haunts “The Old Red Tavern.” In reading our histories and manuscripts, while collecting material for this cicerone business, I noted that the History of Dutchess County, in the matter of the hanging on the Tory at the Old Tavern, says that the Albany stage coach drove up at just the critical moment, and Judge Yates descended and ordered the victim lowered, and threatened them all with hanging if they did not desist from their purpose. But the account of it which I prefer, is the one given me by my old friend Mr. Teator, before mentioned, who had the story from his father or grandfather, together with many other interesting stories of the early peoples and customs of this village. He said, that the person in question, was not only a Tory, but a spy, and had been caught red-handed in conveying information to the British concerning the disposition and strength of Putman’s forces, and that he was hung one night quite right and proper at “The Old Brick Tavern,” and they used the very tackle which hauled up the rum and other heavy commodities, for this purpose. And people, who in later days inhabited the house, said that upon certain moonless nights, when the wind was in a certain quarter in the East, one could hear the creaking of the old tackle as it was being drawn up, together with gasps and guttural groans, as if emitted by a strangling person; while occasionally, there would be bursts of demoniacal shouts and laughter, as from a rum-crazed crowd. And this part of the story I can vouch for, as I have heard it all myself many a time – with only the slight difference, however, that while I have never noted that it occurred upon nights when the wind was in any particular quarter, yet I had noticed that it was very apt to occur upon nights after the ladies of our community had served one of their famous suppers in these rooms below.
While having nothing to do with the history of the old house, there is an incident connected with it, which I am minded to give, as it was certainly a very odd coincidence. When I began my medical studies in New York, economy and companionship made it necessary for me to select a room-mate, and after a time I selected as such from among nearly 300 class-mates, a young Hobart graduate, whose home was upon the banks of Lake Ontario, and who had never been in this part of the country before (Photo at left of the NH Galusha paddle steamer taken by Harvey on a trip most likely to visit this classmate in Rochester c.1890). I had never heard his name before, nor had he ever heard mine. And yet, strange to relate, out in his own home he had a photograph of me. His sister had been the nurse in the last sickness of a distant relative; this relative (names, Harvey!) married a lady whose ancestors had lived in our old house, and one time upon a visit to this part of the country, they had come to see it, and my father had presented them with a photograph if it in which I, with other members of the family, figured. And upon the death of Mr. Rose, this photograph with other effects, came into the possession of my room-mates’s sister. The four walls of the old house to-day stand untouched by the hand of man or Time, but in the interior alterations have been of such a nature as to leave scarcely anything to suggest its venerable age.
Of the people who lived in it, in its earlier days, when it was maintained as s hostelry and high wassail was held in its ancient hall, we have but little record; but later is was the abode of the law, and next came a good Dutch domine, (dominie) who established his parsonage here (Dominie-“Reverand” Andrew N. Kittle 1785 – 1864 and wife Eliza Gosman, on the right). And now for nearly one hundred years Medicine has had here its home. And fie upon thee! Sir Pessimist, if thou canst not see in this steady evolution, that the world doth move apace towards better things, when we progress from the rum-seller to the lawyer, to the domine, (dominie) to the doctor!
May the four walls of the old house weather the blasts of another centuries storms, and long eye that very like, the zenith of progress will be attained by its being the abode of the lady mayor, or other high official of a thoroughly evolutionized village!
Losee/Thomas house from an unpaved Spring Lake Road c.1930
“A SHOW WEEK AFTER NEXT MARCH 11TH 1876 IT WILL BE AT HARVEY LOSEES. IT WILL PERFORM WITH MAGIC LANTERN. IT WILL BE SEVEN OCLOCK AT NIGHT. IT WILL BE A GOOD SHOW. AD MISSION ONLY 2 CENTS. DO. NOT. FAIL TO ATTEND”
This invitation is from my mother’s collection of family items. Harvey Losee was my great-grandfather. He was John Losee’s father (the gentleman who took the Kodachrome images I post here, remember him?) Harvey’s house was and still is located in Upper Red Hook on Spring Lake Road, click here for google maps to see exactly where. The home was called the Thomas House and has a history of its own that will be featured in our next post.
Harvey (on the right c. 1876) was born 30 Mar 1867 in Upper Red Hook to Dr. John Eckart Losee and Mary Elizabeth Knickerbocker. He attended Rutgers (class of 1889) and like his father before him took on the profession of country doctor. Raised with a bit of country wealth, Harvey thought very highly of himself as the essay I’ll post tomorrow will probably affirm.
I don’t know if the Losees owned a magic lantern or if it was borrowed or rented for the amusement of their friends for an evening. I imagine the one used on this March evening in the countryside in Dutchess County was a small device powered by a candle rather than the larger, multiple-lensed varieties used to put on shows for large public crowds. On researching what exactly a magic lantern is I learned something new. The larger, more complex lanterns used limelight for the light source. On googling further, I learned that “before the advent of electric lighting, white stage lighting was produced by heating lime in the flame of a torch, and this light was called limelight” (source: Chemical of the Week click the link for more science). The term “in the limelight” comes from this compound being used in theaters before electric lighting. Neat! Dangerous, but neat!
The Randall-Slater Collection website has great examples of Victorian magic lantern show material featuring what you could call the forerunner of the animated .gif – multiple glass slides moved through the lantern to produce a effect of motion. Sadly, my family has neither the lantern Harvey used nor any of the slides to show you what he might have shown his friends in Upper Red Hook.
When I went away to school I was given my grandfather’s WWII pea-coat to wear. It was and is quite honestly one of my prize possessions. I wore it for many years until I noticed it was getting quite a bit threadbare. Too anxious that it should be ruined beyond repair, I stopped wearing it and it has hung in my closet ever since.
After he passed away, I also came into possession of one of his navy shirts (behind the coat, above). Though, probably not the one he’s wearing below, it does have his name and serial number in it. I wore it to work just the other day!
Honorable Discharge, 1 Apr 1946
Seaman Second Class, Walter Clayton Hermans
Post Office, Copake Falls, Columbia Co NY
Occupation, Park Superintendant, Taconic State Park Commission.
Below is a transcription of an undated letter from my grandfather, Walter Hermans to his wife Helen Pulver Hermans. The letter is written on a scrap paper labeled “Taconic State Park Commission Weekly Record of Telephone Calls”. He was the superintendent at Rudd Pond in Millerton in the 1940’s.
This was written when Walter was in the Navy. He never went overseas, but was stationed domestically. His job was to guard the bridge he mentions in the letter as being only 5 minutes away: the Taconic Parkway bridge that runs over the Croton reservoir. Today there are two bridges for each direction of the parkway. Pleasantville, NY is about 5 miles from Millwood. The ‘Puddy’ he refers to is his first child, my aunt Linda. He calls Helen ‘Punky’ and signs the letter ‘Punky’ as well.
Well I got settled here this morning about 7:30 and got in bed at 8:15, slept until 5:30 this afternoon. Now I feel like a million dollars. It is plenty warm down here in the building.
The post office is Millwood, NY c/o T.S.P.C. The phone number is Briarcliff 2185.
It seems quite a relief not to have to drive all the way up to Rudd Pond as it only takes about five minutes to get to the bridge. They are going to put in a phone at the bridge and I will give you the number as soon as it is put in.
I got my radio hooked up and so far it plays good.
I me most of the fellows here this morning and they seem to be a pretty good lot, mostly Sweeds and Dutchmen.
I hope you don’t miss me too much but if I get as much rest the next few nights I may take a run up early in the week. But I will be home Wednesday a m anyway.
The night man just came in and is going to take me over to Pleasantville to show me a good place to eat. I’ll follow him over and then hope I can find my way back. I’ll mail this over there.
I broke a shoe lace tonight so I’ll have to invest 5$ for a new pair.
Well darling you take good care of Puddy and tell her that her daddy will be home soon. Good night Punky be a good punky cause I love you
Good night little Punky.
The below poem, written sometime between 1924 and 1942, is an ode to my grandfather’s family and the family farm on Academy Hill Rd. in Jackson Corners, Town of Milan, Dutchess County NY. I’ve transcribed it from the hand-written copy in my possession.
The author, William K Munro was born c. 1880 in Australia. He immigrated to New York State in 1874 and married Florence Kilmer, half-sister to Bertha Mae Kilmer, my great-grandmother. (1930 census Albany, Albany Co NY page #5A, ed. #1-51, fam. #88 & 1920 same location page #6B, ed #94, fam. #120)
Bertha is ‘Mom’ in this poem. She married Clayton Hermans (‘Pop’), son of Jacob Luther Hermans 1841-1924, the ‘Grampy’ and ‘Uncle Jake’ of the poem. William and Florence did not have any children of their own (1920 & 1930 census) as did many of Florence’s siblings, which might explain why he doted on his nieces and nephew so much.
My grandfather Walter Clayton Hermans 1915-1994 and his sisters Madge Julia Hermans Snedeker Petty and Louise Hermans Johnson Weiss are the ‘cute little tots’.
One Beautiful Dream
I am dreaming of a homestead upon a little hill
Where I visited very often, but seldom against my will
A mother standing by the door and shading eyes with hands
Peering up and down the sunny roads and across the woody lands
Those actions as I saw her, knew they were a mother’s love
Always a prayer upon her lips to one who is above
Ever anxious to see or hear the pattering of small feet
All the time worrying that an accident they should meet
And when the twilight’s ended and those shadows come again
I can hear those childish chatters, just before the sandman came
When suddenly as if by magic you couldn’t hear a peep
Then Mom’s cares are over, as they all are fast asleep
When the dawn did come at last with cloudy skies once more
Again was heard the pattering feet upon the bed-room floor
Not dreaming of the outside world, which sure was a sight
When looking out upon the ground, it was their great delight
Nature’s mantle so fine and soft lay there, yes, ’tis but a dream
Spreading oe’r the woody lands and that hilly road did screen
Oh Mom, where’s our rubbers and our sleds we cannot find
Oh dear, please hurry Mom this weather is divine
In Mom’s haste to find those things in nooks and places galore
Some squeals or childish laughter were coming thru the door
When looking out into the snow, goodness, lo and behold
Stood Louise in snow up to her knees and Madge and Walt as bold
Walt was out without his hat, Madge without her rubbers
Louise was stunting in the snow which that night did cause some blubbers
Mom was getting desperate, she didn’t know what to say
So took a chance upon them once and outside they did play
Great fun they were having scampering to and fro with glee
Not thinking of the night of sniffles and coughs that would surely be
What a busy night for Mom and Dad, including Grampy too.
Rubbing goose-oil and mustard on some chests and praying they’d pull thru
After their troubles were over and the doctor went his way
Once more Mom’s heart beats quieted down as in the house they play
Cutting funny pictures from books and placing blocks in stacks
Dressing dolls, scribbling in books and mauling those poor cats
The days were getting longer now and outside they again did roam
Traveling over the woods and fields, but at meal-time sure came home
Pestering the chickens and turkeys, poking at a pig
If they saw a ground-hog, boy, wouldn’t he have to dig
Climbing rickety old fences, tearing stockings and shoes
Rushing around that farm at anything they choose
Teasing the fat old gobbler, making him puff and swell
Raising the dickens all over till Mom gave her famous yell
Madge you come right in this house, you also Louise
Now Walter’s crying, is it right of you girls to tease
Oh Mom, we didn’t bother him, just wanted him to play
But he had to go and beller because he slipped from off the hay
Helping Grampy feed the chickens, then those eggs they’d steal
Mooing to the pig pen when those pigs let out a squeal
Shooing pigeons from the roof, as they take their rest
But keeping their distance from hornets, which they knew was best
Wading in the creek, coming home with wet feet
Doing the most impossible stunts, most people wouldn’t seek
Chasing grass-hoppers and butterflies, sliding down the cellar door
Going to Mom with splintered fingers, next day they’d have some more
Finding of old dead sparrows, burying them with pomp
Crying over an old rag-doll that a picker wouldn’t want
Leaving carts and dolly carriages out in the path
Along comes Pop, hits one, then shows a little wrath
Riding horses down the road just for their usual drink
Making guinea-fowls noisy and things you wouldn’t think
Hugging and pinching the puppy’s tails until they set up wails
Doing everything imaginable, probably cans attached to tails
Playing hide and seek around the house, shed and barn
Stepping on the kitten’s tails and didn’t give a darn
Leaving the screen door open, throwing sand in each others eyes
When Mom comes down from the up-stairs, the house was full of flies
Romping around the homestead, just doing as they please
Running close to hives out front, then getting stung by bees
Climbing that old apple-tree, skinning a few shins
The crawling home again at night with all but broken limbs
Chasing chickens from the road, sliding down the hay
Punching holes in screen-doors so flies could have their say
Tramping over to the woods, gathering nuts and flowers
Sneaking upon setting hens and getting soak in showers
No they didn’t hunt for snakes, but they might have stoned some frogs
Then coming home with sloppy clothes, in trying to cross those bogs
Twisting the calves’ tails so as to hear them bawl
They were afraid of nothing, these kids sure had gall
I know there were a bunch of sheep down on that farm
And I think they were the only ones that didn’t come to harm
The reason no harm came to them was on account of their lope
But if they couldn’t get a sheep they’d surely get your goat
Now remember folks some of this, ‘tis not a dream
I used to go there sometimes and this is what I’d seen
You see at that time they were such cute little tots
You couldn’t help but like them and I did lots
When I used to visit them, mornings I’d lay late in bed
They used to come like crazy Indians and leap upon your head
Sleep then was a thing of the past, you sure would get your digs
And then on top of all of that, Uncle Jake would feed the pigs
And when I speak of Uncle Jake, who long has passed away
And his love he had for others, I remember to this day
We are all slipping just like he, we’ll have no used for skids
He was devoted to you all, when you were little kids
My thoughts are often about him, I can see him on his farm
That good old soul was as fine as gold and with a certain charm
If you got into trouble, some scrape or some jams
No matter how it came out, you were his blessed little lambs
Now Mom and Pop are getting along, Mom’s hair retains its hue
While Pop’s is getting silvery, no doubt t’will happen to you
Time changes everything, but nothing really to cause any alarm
But did change three pair of pattering feet that echoed on that farm
– William K Munro