February 28, 2015 | 11:22pm    area forecast: Tomorrow: Snow High 25°F, Low 2°F

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UPCOMING EVENTS

  • Thursday, February 26 - Sunday, March 1
    The Trojan Women
    Written by Euripides & directed by Nancy Saklad. Classical Greek tragedy relays the horrors of war as told by the women who survive the ploy of the Trojan horse and the battle of Troy. Thu-Sat 8pm, Sun 2pm. Phone: 845-257-3880. Url: http://newpaltz.edu.

  • Friday, February 27 - Sunday, March 1
    La Cage Aux Folles
    Diana di Grandi directs this Up In One Production of Tony Award-winning Broadway musical. This show is of an outrageously funny and touching story—one of family values, love, diversity and acceptance. Fri & Sat at 8pm; Sun at 3pm. Tkts: $27/ $25. Phone: 845-876-3080. Email: upinoneprod@aol.com. Url: http://centerforperformingarts.org.

  • Saturday, February 28
    Film Screening: Hudson Valley Regional Artists
    7-9pm. Stephen Blauweiss presents 30 of his short films about HV artists. Phone: 845-255-1255. Url: http://gardinerlibrary.org.

  • Saturday, February 28
    18th Annual Women’s Studio Workshop Chili Bowl Fiesta
    2-7pm. Local Art & Area Chefs. $5 admission, free after 4pm. Phone: 845-658-9133. Url: http://wsworkshop.org.

  • Saturday, February 28
    Snowshoe Walk at Olana
    Enjoy the beauty of winter along the scenic carriage drives. Break in your new snowshoes, or test out a pair of ours. 1–3pm. $10/adult, $5/child; All Ages; Snowdate: Sunday, March 1. Phone: 518-828-1872 x109. Email: shasbrook@olana.org. Url: http://olana.org.

  • Saturday, February 28
    Opening, Works on Paper
    Reception 6–8 pm. Phone: 845-757-2667. Url: http://www.tivoliartistsgallery.com. .

  • Sunday, March 1
    Toy & Train Show
    34th annual event. 10am–3pm. $3/under 6 free. In gymnasium & student dining hall. Sponsored by the CGC Foundation, Inc. Phone: 518-828-4181. Url: http://sunycgcc.edu.

  • Sunday, March 1
    Conservatory Orchestra
    Guest conducter Jeffrey Milarsky. Program: Adams’ Dr. Atomic Symphony, Barber’s First Essay for Orchestra, and two world premieres by Bard students. 3pm. $15/$20, free w/Bard ID. Phone: 845-758-7900. Email: fishercenterboxoffice@bard.edu. Url: http://fishercenter.bard.edu.

  • Sunday, March 1
    WWI & the End of the Gilded Age
    Special 1 & 1/2 hour tour explores the Mills's extravagance withering away in the cataclysm of the Great War. Pls.reserve. $10/$8/ under 12 free. At 1pm. Phone: 845-889-8851 X300. Email: Donald.Fraser@parks.ny.gov . Url: http://staatsburgh.org.

  • Sunday, March 1
    CSA Fair
    Hudson River Exchange's first-ever CSA Fair: sign up for a seasonal CSA share—from fruits and vegetables to herbs, meat and dairy. Check web for vendor list. 11am–2pm. Phone: 310-867-0372. Url: http://Hudsonriverexchange.com.

  • Sunday, March 1
    Conversation About Climate
    All viewpoints welcome and respected. Moderated by Lawrence Miller. 4:30pm. Phone: 845-876-4030. Email: starrdirector@starrlibrary.org. Url: http://starrlibrary.org.

  • Monday, March 2
    Conservatory Faculty Recital
    Jeffrey Kahane on piano and Joseph Swensen, violin, present Arvo Pärt's Fratres, Prokofiev's Sonata No. 1, Brahms's Sonata No. 1, and Gershwin's Three Preludes. 8pm. Phone: 845-758-7196. Email: conservatoryconcerts@bard.edu. Url: http://bard.edu/conservatory/events.

  • Wednesday, March 4
    Philadelphia Flower Show Trip
    Book reservation for CCE's annual bus trip to the Philadelphia Flower Show. This year’s theme: Lights, Camera, BLOOM! $70 inc transportation and admission. Leaving Millbrook promptly 8am, returning around 9:30pm. Pre-registration required. Phone: 845-677-8223 x115. Email: nh26@cornell.edu. Url: http://cce.cornell.edu.

  • Wednesday, March 4
    "Death and Doughnuts"
    Safe open forum about death and dying, led by Pastor Will Starkweather; guest speaker from Hospice. 2–3:30pm. Free. Phone: 845-876-4471. Url: http://rhinebecklutheran.org.

  • Wednesday, March 4
    Backyard Chickens for Beginners
    6-8pm. $10, $5 members, 12 & under free with adult. Registration available online. Phone: 845-340-3990. Url: http://cceulster.org.

  • Thursday, March 5
    Jack Kelly Talk
    From the author of Band of Giants, on the American Revolutionary War. 7pm. Refreshments, free. Phone: 845-757-3771. Email: tivolilibrary@gmail.com. Url: http://tivolilibrary.org.

  • Thursday, March 5
    Story time at Mohonk Preserve
    10am. Nature themed story and activity for ages 2-5 and their parents. Free. Phone: 845-255-0919. Url: http://mohonkpreserve.org.

  • Thursday, March 5 - Sunday, March 8
    The Trojan Women
    The classical ancient Greek tragedy relays the horrors of war as told by the women who survive the ploy of the Trojan horse and the battle of Troy.Thu-Sat 8pm, Sun 2pm. Phone: 845-257-3880. Url: http://newpaltz.edu.

  • Friday, March 6 - Sunday, March 8
    La Cage Aux Folles
    Diana di Grandi directs this Up In One Production of Tony Award-winning Broadway musical. This show is of an outrageously funny and touching story—one of family values, love, diversity and acceptance. Fri & Sat at 8pm; Sun at 3pm. Tkts: $27/ $25. Phone: 845-876-3080. Email: upinoneprod@aol.com. Url: http://centerforperformingarts.org.

  • Friday, March 6 - Saturday, March 7
    Haydn's The Creation
    Conducted by Leon Botstein, chorus directed by James Bagwell. W/members of American Symphony Orchestra, Bard Conservatory Orchestra & Festival Chorale & Chamber Singers &Graduate Vocal Arts Program, and Longy Chorale. 8pm. $25–40. Phone: 845-758-7900. Email: fishercenterboxoffice@bard.edu. Url: http://fishercenter.bard.edu.

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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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A full service architecture firm in the beautiful Hudson Valley workng with clients to realize their vision for residential and commercial projects, including site planning and landscape design. Architect for the first Zero-net Energy development in America (located in New Paltz), with experience in deep energy retrofits and historic renovations and enhancements. Clients are typically very pleased with the quality, speed, cost, and value of services provided, enjoying the process as well as the final result. Builders, building inspectors, and clients appreciate the clarity of the drawings and the ease of the working relationship. See website for testimonials. David Toder, RA, LEED AP.

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fax: 845-255-2548

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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.

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