September 2, 2014 | 2:48pm    area forecast: Today: Chance Thunderstorms High 90°F, Low 62°F

Quick Search

UPCOMING EVENTS

  • Saturday, August 30 - Monday, September 1
    Woodstock-New Paltz Art and Crafts Fair
    Sat & Sun 10am-5:30pm, Mon 10am-4pm. Over 300 artists and craftspeople. Exhibitions, demonstrations, children’s center, furniture, supplies, entertainment, specialty foods and health care products. $8, $7 seniors, 12 & under free. Url: http://quailhollow.com.

  • Monday, September 1
    Hike The Long Way to Rainbow Falls
    10am-2pm. Awesome panoramic views passing nearly beneath Rainbow Falls. 6 miles recommended for experienced and agile hikers. Meet at the Awosting Parking Area. Phone: 845-255-0752. Url: http://nysparks.com.

  • Monday, September 1
    Mad Dash Race
    5K run/walk starts 8:30am; 10K run 9:15am. Starts at Church of the Messiah, Rhinebeck. Phone: 845-876-3533. Email: rhinebeck.episcopal@gmail.com. Url: http://rhinebeck-episcopal.org.

  • Tuesday, September 2 - Sunday, September 7
    Healthy Ulster Autumn at Mohonk Preserve sign up
    10am-4pm. Free one month membership for Ulster County residents. Membership lasts through Oct 2. Bring proof of residence to the Visitor Center. Phone: 845-255-0919. Url: http://mohonkpreserve.org.

  • Tuesday, September 2
    Canning & Pickling Workshop: Pickles
    6-9pm. Learn from the experts at Cornell Cooperative Extension. $25. Url: http://cceulster.org.

  • Wednesday, September 3
    "Death and Donuts"
    Gather for discussion about death and dying in a safe open forum, inspired by the good work of the "Death Cafe" movement. Led by Pastor Will Starkweather. Phone: 845-876-8180. Url: http://rhinebecklutheran.org.

  • Thursday, September 4
    Film: Roosevelt Homes
    7pm. 50 minute documentary. Registration suggested. Phone: 845-691-2275. Url: http://highlandlibrary.org.

  • Thursday, September 4
    18th Annual "Fall for Art"
    Juried art show/sale & cocktail reception. 6–9pm. $45/$40 in advance. Benefit for Jewish Federation of Ulster Cty. Phone: 845-338-8131. Email: info@fallforart.org. Url: http://fallforart.org .

  • Thursday, September 4 - Sunday, September 7
    Honky Tonk Highway
    This foot-stomping country western romp was an Award winning Off Broadway hit. There’s something for everyone in this fantastic musical journey! Thu-Sat 8pm: $39, Sun 2pm: $34. Phone: 845-647-5511. Url: http://shadowlandtheatre.org.

  • Thursday, September 4
    18th Annual Fall for Art
    6-9pm. Art show, sale and cocktail reception showcasing the work of Hudson Valley artists and benefiting the Jewish Federation of Ulster County and community programs it supports. A portion of this year’s proceeds will go to the "Emerging Artists of the Hudson Valley" high school art competition. $40 in advance, $45 at the door. Url: http://fallforart.org.

  • Thursday, September 4
    Pot Luck Dinner
    Bring a dish and get to know the Rhinebeck Grange. Bring a canned good to support local food pantries. 5–7pm. Phone: 845-876-5738. Email: CSProductions@aol.com.

  • Friday, September 5 - Sunday, September 7
    Grease
    Castaway Players Theatre Co. & in The CENTER stage this upbeat & beloved American musical. Fri & Sat at 8pm; Sun at 3pm. $26/$24. Phone: 845-876-3080. Url: http://centerforperformingarts.org.

  • Friday, September 5
    Harvest Moon Stroll
    Join educator Fran Martino & enjoy the almost-full moon from the top of the hill cherished by landscape artist Frederic Church. Register by 9/4. All ages. $5. 8–9:30pm. Phone: 518-828-1872 x109. Email: shasbrook@olana.org. Url: http://olana.org.

  • Saturday, September 6
    The Garden Conservancy’s Open Days Program
    10am-4pm. Take the opportunity to visit any or all of four private gardens in the Saugerties area. No reservations required; rain or shine, $5 per garden, children 12 & under free. Complete info: opendaysprogram.org

  • Saturday, September 6 - Sunday, September 28
    Hudson River Valley Ramble
    Weekends in September; Annual event series that celebrates the history, culture and natural resources of the Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area, as well as the amazing landscape, communities, and trails throughout the region. See the full schedule at hudsonrivervalleyramble.com

  • Saturday, September 6
    Classical and Tango Evening
    Launch of new Classics on Hudson series featuring violinist Helena Baillie and guitarist Alexander Henry. 6–9pm. Phone: 518-822-1438. Email: info@hudsonoperahouse.org. Url: http://hudsonoperahouse.org.

  • Saturday, September 6
    "Local Color" Art Opening
    Paintings by Sally Lyon and Rosemary Hanson. 5–7pm. Phone: 845-876-6670. Url: http://montgomeryrow.com.

  • Saturday, September 6
    Essential Moments Opening
    Opening reception for exhibit of works by award-winning Hudson Valley photographer B. Doktor. 5–8pm. Phone: 845-331-5300. Email: communications@lgbtqcenter.org. Url: http://LGBTQCenter.org.

  • Saturday, September 6
    Battle of the Books
    Trivia competition with 300 student competitors, grades 6–9 from more than 20 mid-Hudson libraries. 9:30am–2pm. Free. Phone: 518-822-2027. Email: kovler@sunycgcc.edu. Url: http://sunycgcc.edu.

  • Saturday, September 6
    Age & Beauty: Part 2
    Open rehearsal for award winning choreographer Miguel Guttierrez's tragicomic dance meditation on middle age, youthful hopefulness, and the politics of queer performance. 2pm. Free; reservations required. Suitable for ages 18 and up. Phone: 845-758-7900. Email: fishercenterboxoffice@bard.edu. Url: http://fishercenter.bard.edu.

Browse The All AboutTown Articles:

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.

 
Banner

Featured Community Businesses

For over 26 years, systems technical & project management professionals providing support for IBM Big Iron, experts in large systems infrastructure, and mainframe operating systems that run Western Civilization. Supporting legacy application modernization & transformation; Green Data Center Initiatives; Healthcare IT conversions from ICD9 to ICD10 & server virtualization on System z. Been there, done that - so you can avoid repeating yesterday's mistakes. Contact us - we can help.

New Paltz
845-256-1010

Your Bank. Our Community. Mortgage rates remain at all time record lows. Great rates and terms. Personal service throughout the life of your loan. Call or click today to consult with Tracy Mackey-Preferred Mortgage Consultant. Eleven Hudson Valley branches.

845-532-7090

Jazz up your property with a freshly paved drive. In our second generation, with over 40 years experience, we specialize in driveways, parking lots, tennis courts, and private roads, all built to last. Ask about our ornamental finish options. Residential & commercial. Call today for a complimentary consultation or request an estimate on our website.

518-479-1400 or 518-794-0490

Dr. Elinor B. Descovich, Optometrist

Eye Examinations, Contact Lenses, No Line Bifocals,Prescriptions Filled

in Dedrick's Pharmacy Plaza 188 Main St, New Paltz
845-255-8370

Simplify your process! Maximize quality and efficiency. We offer fully integrated services, design, consulting, and construction for your landscape and home. Completely insured, significant references. BBB member, A+ rated.

845-758-4088

Repair, refine, reconfigure, or replace. Reliable service 24-7, reasonable rates, references. Serving the Mid Hudson region.

New Paltz
845-773-9234

Our agency works with you to manage the risks of everyday life, recover from unexpected events, and realize your dreams by developing a personalized portfolio of insurance and financial services products.

3669 Route 9W, Highland
845-691-6123

Located in Rhinebeck, Hill offers full service brokerage based on a tradition of listing and selling fine homes, farms and land in No. Dutchess and So. Columbia Counties for over 15 years.

6808 Montgomery St., Rhinebeck
845-876-8888

Our beautiful Victorian castle resort is the perfect backdrop for the perfect wedding. Celebrate your wedding in our spectacular gardens, or in our grand Victorian Parlor.  With  meals prepared by award-winning chefs and an experienced on-site wedding planner, your wedding will be magnificent! Winner of Best of Hudson Valley 2013—“Best Place for a Wedding.” Special values also available.

1000 Mountain Rest Rd, New Paltz
888-974-0491

Kathryn Whitman Architecture specializes in residential design—new construction, renovations and restorations. Combining overall design strength and fine detailing, we offer architectural and interior design services in the Hudson Valley and New York City. Let us collaborate on your vision for your home.

845-640-1636 or 845-640-1636

The Red Devon's menu celebrates local food with the best that Hudson Valley farms have to offer. Enjoy breakfast and lunch in the market café or on the porch, dinner in the bar, restaurant or on the terrace. The weekly specials honor the seasons with inspired creations from the chef, but you can always find your local favorites as well! Red Devon supports local farmers, heritage breeds and artisanal producers.

108 Hunns Lake Rd., Stanfordville
845-868-3175

The most progressive florist in the area carrying local and imported flowers from globally responsible farms. Specializing in making your everyday floral needs an enjoyable, creative experience. Worth the visit.

2356 Rte 44-55 in Gardiner and 10 Church St. in New Paltz
845-255-3866

Rachel Collet Photography provides wedding, portrait, event, and fine art photography services. Rachel and her staff pride themselves on creating contemporary and timeless images that capture your personality and your occasion. Also ask about our elegant photo booths for parties and celebrations of all kinds.

845-554-3443

A 19th Century Victorian in a peaceful village setting with large lawn and mature trees. Located near the Mid-Hudson Bridge, Hudson Valley attractions and colleges (Vassar, Marist, New Paltz). Four guest rooms each with private bath, TV/VCR, AC and queen size beds. Rooms tastefully decorated and restored: Room with fireplace available. Breakfast served in dining room. On-line reservations.

34 North Road, Highland
845-834-3183

Whether for practical application or aesthetic collaboration with your home or sculptural elements in the landscape, simplify the process, enhance the outcome. We offer consulting, design, and construction services for the landscape and home. Fully Insured, significant references. BBB member, A+ rated.

845-758-4088

AboutTown Ulster: PO Box 474, New Paltz, NY 12561, 845-691-2089  EMAIL US
AboutTown Dutchess/Columbia: The Chocolate Factory, 54 Elizabeth Street, Suite 11, Red Hook, NY 12571, 845-758-3616  EMAIL US
  Privacy Policy
Terms & Conditions