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UPCOMING EVENTS

  • Thursday, November 27
    11th Annual Turkey Trot
    Thanksgiving morning 5K walk & fun run to benefit Family of New Paltz. 8am registration, 9am Mashed Potato Kids 1/4 Mile run, 9:30 Turkey Trot. Race begins and ends at Water Street Market. Url: http://newpaltzturkeytrot.com.

  • Thursday, November 27
    Town of Rochester Annual Thanksgiving Luncheon
    11:30am-2pm. The Community Center invites seniors, families, and anyone who may be spending the day alone to join the community family for a delicious Thanksgiving meal. Free, reserve your seat by Nov. 21. Donations & volunteers needed too! Phone: 845-626-2115. Url: http://townofrochester.net.

  • Thursday, November 27
    Free Community Thanksgiving Dinner
    The churches of Highland are providing a free Thanksgiving dinner for the community. Serving begins at 1pm, all are welcome.

  • Thursday, November 27
    2nd Annual Kingston Turkey Trot
    5K Run/2 Mile Walk. Race starts at 9am. Children under 5 are free. Sponsored by the Junior League of Kingston to benefit Kingston Kinderland II. Phone: 845-331-1682. Url: http://forsythnaturecenter.org.

  • Friday, November 28
    Sinterklaas Kingston
    Sinterklaas arrival day in the Kingston Rondout. 10:30am-7pm. A day of open houses, musical performances, workshops creating beautiful crowns and branches, a march down Broadway, a parade of stars, and puppets galore. Kingston sends off Sinterklaas and his white horse on a tugboat across the river. After his send off, there will a Sinterklaas Soiree, Tree Lighting Ceremony and plenty of specials at all of the local restaurants. sinterklaashudsonvalley.com

  • Friday, November 28 - Sunday, November 30
    Farm & Flea
    Showcase for the agricultural bounty & craft making richness of our region. Shop, hear music, taste local treats, attend a workshop or lecture. All day: 9am–7pm. Email: info@basilicahudson.com. Url: http://basilicahudson.com.

  • Friday, November 28
    Kingston Tree Lighting
    6-8:30pm. Local entertainment, refreshments, Santa & friends. Phone: 845-331-1216.

  • Friday, November 28 - Sunday, November 30
    Museum Shop Holiday Sale
    10am-4pm. Phone: 845-338-1661. Url: http://hurleyheritagesociety.org.

  • Friday, November 28
    2nd Annual Green Friday
    11am-2pm. This free, outdoor event will showcase a variety of ways to "green" your home this year. This will include rain barrels, home composting, solar energy, permeable pavers and asphalt and much more. For more information or to participate in this event, please contact Steve Noble at 845-481-7336. Phone: 845-331-1682. Email: recreation@kingston-ny.gov. Url: http://kingstonparksandrec.org.

  • Friday, November 28 - Sunday, November 30
    A Gilded Age Christmas
    Lavish holiday decoration, special programs & holiday shopping at the Mills Mansion 11/28–12/31.Tours Fri–Sun from noon–4pm; then every Thu–Sun in December; also every day 12/29–12/31. Phone: 845-889-8851 X300. Email: Donald.Fraser@parks.ny.gov . Url: http://staatsburgh.org.

  • Saturday, November 29
    ARTspace Holiday Gift Fair
    Opening reception 5–7pm. Continues Sat & Sun thru 12/13. Phone: 518-537-4469. Url: http://germantownartspace.com.

  • Saturday, November 29
    Holiday Show Opening
    2014 show opening from 5–7pm. Winter gallery hours: Thu–Sat 11–5pm; Sun 11am–4pm. Phone: 845-516-4435. Email: betsyjacaruso@gmail.com. Url: http://betsyjacarusoartist.com .

  • Saturday, November 29
    Magic, Mind Reading & Comedy
    llusionist David Garrity and mind reader Denny Corby present awesome illusions, magic and mind reading w/a comic twist. $20. Phone: 845-876-3080. Url: http://centerforperformingarts.org.

  • Saturday, November 29
    Introduction to Fermentation
    Learn how simple it is to make your own kimchi, kefir, and other fermented delicacies and watch Sandor make a simple sauerkraut. Learn about the healing qualities and nutritional importance of live-culture ferments, as well as their illustrious history and integral role in human cultural evolution. Empower yourself with simple techniques for fermenting these healthful foods in your home. Presented by Sandor Ellix Katz. 3-5:30pm. Phone: 845-255-1255. Url: http://gardinerlibrary.org.

  • Sunday, November 30
    Village Tree Lighting & Activities
    Family fun throughout the day w/ tree lighting taking place at Rhinebeck Bank parking lot on East Market St around 5:30. Phone: 845-876-5904. Email: info@rhinebeckchamber.com. Url: http://rhinebeckchamber.com.

  • Sunday, November 30
    Naughty Sweeties
    A 1920s cabaret: Molly Parker-Myers (w/Joel Flowers on piano) presents an afternoon of songs and stories from the Roaring 20s. $20. Phone: 845-876-3080. Url: http://centerforperformingarts.org.

  • Sunday, November 30
    Families: Nature Collages
    Come join other families at Minnewaska to make art, using materials from the natural world. First, we will look at examples of collage and explore a few assembly techniques. Then, we will search nearby trails to gather items to use in our art project. The fun begins when we return to the Nature Center and we create our collages. This program is recommended for children aged six to twelve years old accompanied by a parent or guardian at least 18 years old. Pre-registration required. 10-11:30am. Phone: 845-255-0752. Url: http://nysparks.com.

  • Wednesday, December 3
    Bard College Symphonic Chorus
    Handel, Esther; chamber singers, and baroque ensemble. Directed by Alexander Bonus, conducted by James Bagwell. Phone: 845-758-7900. Email: fishercenterboxoffice@bard.edu. Url: http://fishercenter.bard.edu.

  • Wednesday, December 3
    RB Honor Society Induction
    National Honor Society Induction Ceremony in auditorium at 7pm. Phone: 845-871-5500. Url: http://rhinebeckcsd.org.

  • Wednesday, December 3 - Thursday, December 4
    ND Hospital Poinsettia & Wreath Sale
    Holiday décor available to purchase including poinsettias, wreaths, swags, kissing balls and handmade decorations. To benefit ND Auxiliary. Phone: 845-871-1720 ext. 4.. Url: http://health-quest.org.

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General Interest  |  Local History  |  Building & Home  |  Food & Wine  |  Health & Wellness

credit Green River Gallery, Columbia County, 1976

The Battle of Boston Corners

Winter 2002   

If you take a long view at a map of Columbia County, you will notice in the extreme southeastern corner, just above the Dutchess County "Oblong," an appendage that looks like the proverbial sore thumb. Like the proverbial sore thumb it was not always there. Unlike the sore thumb, it took an Act of Congress to put it there. The little area consists of 1,000 acres of farmland and is known as Boston Corners.

Today there is nothing very remarkable about Boston Corners, it is a serene little community nestled in the Taconic Hills. It consists of farms, a few roads and was once a stop on the New York Harlem Railroad.

Boston Corners may be a peaceful and tranquil setting today but that was not always the case. There was a time in the nineteenth century when it could rival the legendary "Hole in the Wall" made famous by Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. That was a time when it was not part of New York State, much less Columbia County. It was part of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Boston Corners sits above "the Oblong" of the Town of Northeast like a pointed dunce’s cap. (See the map.) Historically it lay in the southwestern part of Massachusetts and was as far removed from its namesake capital as its geographical situation would allow. Besides that, Massachusetts was unable to enforce its jurisdiction on the little community. The highest peaks of the Taconic Hills on the west and the Connecticut line to the south made it inaccessible to that state’s law-enforcement authorities as well as its courts and jails.

This was not all bad for Boston Corners; due to lack of law-enforcement the good citizens ran things as they saw fit. Because of their isolation, they did not vote in state elections, nor did they pay state taxes, they supported their own schools. Having neither jail, judge nor jury, they felt they were getting on all right as things were.

In his 1909 History of Dutchess County Frank Hasbrouck said, "Had they been left to themselves their escutcheon might have remained untarnished." But that was not the case which accounted for a stain on their escutcheon.

An enterprising gentleman from New York City, by the name of Samuel Black, came into their midst. This gentleman saw all kinds of possibilities in Boston Corners. The New York Harlem Railroad was under construction from Amenia and Millerton, and there were stations planned for Boston Corners and Copake. A little above Copake, Mr. Black opened "Black’s Grocery" to accommodate the local people, also an inn and tavern for the benefit of out-of-towners. The inn and tavern did a better business than the grocery as the visitors from the seedier side of the tracks found their way to Mr. Black’s establishment; and Mr. Black prospered. With the coming of the railroad many of his guests came from New York City. In his History of Dutchess County Frank Hasbrouck referred to Black’s clientele as "refugees from the constables of three commonwealths."

Guests came and went; duels were common; gambling was the order of the day and lawlessness inhabited the land. At this time the sport of boxing was illegal. Prize fights were held in such places as barges, warehouses or any place that seemed to be beyond the law. The location of Boston Corners being ideal for the illicit side of life was a perfect place, and well-suited for prize fighting.

On Wednesday, October 12, 1853, an event took place that would change the face of Boston Corners forever. On that date a brash young fighter from Troy, N.Y., by the name of John Morrissey challenged the famed Yankee Sullivan. Sullivan, age 40, weighed 145 pounds, giving away 30 pounds to the younger Morrissey. Morrissey who was 22 years old, stood 6 foot 2 inches and weighed 175 pounds. The purse for the winner was $2,000 and the fight was held in an abandoned brickyard. Today there is a historic marker at the site, on Undermountain Road just north of the Dutchess County line. Unfortunately the date on the marker—1883—is incorrect.

It was estimated that between three and five thousand fight fans converged on Boston Corners the day of the fight. They came from New York City, Albany, Troy and all points in between. Little thought was paid to the fact that the population of Boston Corners was less than 150 people and had only one inn. The fans came; they came by train, by stage, by horse and on foot; all converging on the little hamlet to see what was hoped to be the fight of the century. By fight time many of the fans were well tanked up from liquor they either brought with them or bought on their way south from Black’s Inn. They were not considered the most genteel crowd that ever assembled. An aura of rowdiness hung over the event.

Morrissey was not a skilled boxer but a brawler who was considered a favorite over Sullivan. From the beginning of the fight Sullivan displayed his boxing skill against his young and bigger opponent. By the end of the first round Morrissey’s left eye was blackened and blood was coming from his nose. Each of the following rounds were repeats of the first with Sullivan badly punishing Morrissey. For thirty-six grueling rounds Sullivan beat his heavier opponent, but Morrissey refused to stay down. In the 37th round, as Sullivan tried to throw Morrissey to the floor, both fighters’ handlers charged into the ring and there was a free-for-all. In an attempt to restore order, the referee called the fighters to the center of the ring to resume the fight. Morrissey responded, but in the confusion Sullivan failed to answer the referee’s call. The referee declared Morrissey the winner with the title of "Champion of America."

What happened next has become known as "The Sack of Millerton" (though it all took place several miles north of that benighted village). A melee broke out in the crowd at the referee’s decision. The riot spilled out of the brickyard into neighboring farms. The rioters started looting on their way back to the train. Farms were ransacked, pantries were looted for food, hogs were slaughtered and roasted along the road. The Boston Corners community was stripped of every edible thing that could be found. Some local people managed to flag down a freight train to take them to a safer location.

New York authorities moved in to restore order and arrested the most innocent of the crowd, the two boxers. The boxers were held on $1,500 bail each. Sullivan jumped bail and was last heard of on the West Coast. Morrissey paid a $1,200 fine and became the toast of New York. He made friends with the Tammany Hall politicians who controlled New York City politics.

The "famous fight" changed Boston Corners forever. The good citizens petitioned to New York State and the U.S. Congress to bring them into the jurisdiction of New York. On January 3, 1855 an Act of Congress changed the state line and made Boston Corners officially part of New York.

Meanwhile, John Morrissey became a respected citizen. He married a highly-educated young lady who urged him to change his ways and develop good personal habits. He fought once more in 1858, when he successfully defended his title against John Heenan.

After the birth of his son, Morrissey moved with his family back to Troy, where he entered politics. He was twice elected to the U.S. House of Representatives and twice to the U.S. Senate. He was a gambler and was involved in gambling establishments in New York City and Saratoga including the famous Saratoga race track.

In 1877 Morrissey became ill during his second campaign for the U.S. Senate. He won the election but never took his seat. He died at the Adelphi Hotel in Saratoga Springs on May 1, 1878, at the age of 47. An estimated crowd of 12,000 stood outside the church in Troy to pay their respects to an American Champion.

 
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