In this episode of A New York Minute In History Podcast, State Historian Devin Lander and Saratoga County Historian Lauren Roberts tell the story of Boston Corners, also known as Hell’s Acres, which once belonged to Massachusetts, but was ceded to New York State by an act of Congress in 1855. [Read more…] about Hell’s Acres in the Taconic Mountains
1840s Troy: Blacksmith Dan, John Morrissey & Friends
Throughout the 19th century the blacksmith’s shop was a central part of American life. Even the smallest forge was kept busy mending and making the variety of tools and implements for home and garden, for workshop and industry, and tack and shoes for mules, horses and oxen. Blacksmiths were critical to transportation, manufacturing and home life. Like today’s auto garage, nearly every substantial crossroads had a blacksmith’s shop.
Better shops included the blacksmith, a fireman, a helper, and sometimes a furrier. In 1850 there were more than 150 blacksmiths in Troy, NY, a city of about 30,000 people, including one woman, Canadian Cyrilla Turcott. About half of these smithies were born in Ireland. More blacksmiths of all skill levels could be found in the city’s wagon, carriage and wheelwright shops, or employed in the city’s booming iron industry. [Read more…] about 1840s Troy: Blacksmith Dan, John Morrissey & Friends
Taffy Dumbleton: Troy’s ‘Terror of the Town’
You could see Charles F. Dumbleton coming for blocks. Although he wasn’t exactly well-dressed, he held his head high and had a swagger that said “I’m coming to YOU.” This despite his uncertain gait, a limp supported by his ever present crutches, which confirmed from a distance it was Taffy – the name given to one of the most notorious men in the city of Troy in the mid-nineteenth century.
He wasn’t always notorious. He had built that reputation over years of street fights, petty thievery and bullying his betters. He was a frequenter of bawdy houses, a bartender, a saloon operator, a gambler and political operative. He was one of the leaders of a band of men. Newspapers and night watchmen called them a gang – “a terror of the town,” but loyal friends on the make is a more accurate description. [Read more…] about Taffy Dumbleton: Troy’s ‘Terror of the Town’
John Morrissey: Toward Setting The Record Straight
John Morrissey was born in Ireland on February 12th, in 1831.
As a result of bigoted attacks by his political enemies being carried forward by later writers like Herbert Asbury in Gangs of New York (1928), he’s been falsely accused of being in criminal league with Tammany Hall, for leading “the dead rabbits gang,” and for being involved in the killing of the nativist William “Bill the Butcher” Poole. [Read more…] about John Morrissey: Toward Setting The Record Straight