From time to time, people write me to tell me of a particularly fond memory of Stephentown that they have. They are among my favorite things, because with each one, the families of Stephentown come to life, and cease to be just names and numbers in their family trees.
I ask that if you have a story or stories, please email them to me, and I will put them on this page, for everyone to read. The charm of these stories makes them worthy of a page all their own. Hope you enjoy them as much as I do.
If my memory serves me right my family and I lived in Stephentown sometime between 1947-1949. How or why we got there I have no idea. We may have been on vacation and just stayed on. During this time period we lived with Joe and Martha Rollenger (ph). Their farm, which if my memory serves me right was about 5-7 miles outside of town. The Rollenger's farm house had no central heat, electricity, running water and or an inside bathroom.
During the summer months the Rollenger's had a number (5-6) summer residents who stayed there while on vacation. The wood frame home with a stone cellar was I believe built in the 1700's,but was later stated to have perished due to a fire sometime in the 1950's or early 1960's. The house was located some distance off the main dirt road. I would estimate about 1/2 a mile or so.
My sister Patricia and I attended the school which is now the Stephentown Public Library. It was a one room school house with all the grades located in the same room. I may be mistaken I believe it had a big pot belly stove which was used to heat the room in the winter. The teacher for all six grades(I think I was in the first grade) was a Mrs. Fitzgerald. (During a visit to Stephentown circa 1969-1970 I visited Mrs. Fitzgerald, however, not surprisingly she did not remember me.)
My last vivid memories of the school was the fact that we could buy hot soup and milk for lunch at a cost of what I remember to be $0.03 for both items and that we often played outside on the swings during recess. Finally, one might find it of some additional interest to note that the school bus was I believe a Ford or Pontiac Station Wagon. However, since we lived "so far" from town, Joe Rollenger had to drive us to a road where I believe a Mr. O'Dell lived. This in turn was very near a very old house owned by a Mr. Diamond who would always provide us with a cup of delicious well water. In the afternoon, my mother would walk from the Rollenger farm to meet the "school bus by Mr. O'Dell's home and then walk my sister and I back to the farm. My dear mother did this in all types of weather come rain, shine or snow.
I believe Joe Rollenger (I am not sure of the spelling of his surname) died in the early 1950's from cancer and that his lovely wife Martha who was my second mother died some years after Joe's demise.
I only have the fondest memories of my short stay in Stephentown. I remember going to "Sikes" to buy candy and to the newly opened icecream parlor in town. The only real problem we ever had in life was that after we made our small purchases we had to walk all the way back to the farm after doing so. God, it was good to be young then.
(Joseph Rollinger was born 1882 and died 1954 and is buried in St. Joseph's Cemetery in Stephentown.)
Eugene T. Sampiei
My grandmother (Harriet Smith) lived near the train tracks when she was little. She used to take two pins (we called them common pins, but most people say straight pins), cross them, and put them on the train track. When the train ran over them, they had doll scissors! No Barbie dolls in those days.
My great-grandmother Auger lived near Montreal until she came to the USA in 1881 and got married in Cohoes. She must have come on a train, I wonder where it went.
There was a train that went from Pittsfield to New York when I was young, of course from a big old-fashioned train station. When my sister was in about third grade (1954 or so) her class went on a field trip. The school bus took them to the train station, they all got on, and took the train to the next stop (Lee) where the bus picked them up again. What a historical event.
I wanted to take a minute to tell you how much I enjoyed your Stephentown website. I stumbled across it on a yahoo search. My name is Scott Fagan and I was born in Pittsfield in 1966. I lived in Stephentown until I was 12 years old. My father was Ralph N. Fagan and my mother was Judy G. Fagan. We lived at 111 Main Street (Route 43). It was about 1/2 mile from the Massachusetts state line. I'm not sure if that house is still there. My father passed away in 1977 and the next year my mother and I moved to Atlanta, GA to be closer to her family. I've been here for the past 26 years.
Anyway, your comments about the Captain's Room on top of the Vanderbilt House really brought back some memories. I remember that building as the fire station, but it was used for a lot of different functions since it was about the biggest building in town. My father was a member of the volunteer fire department. I don't remember him actually going to any fires, but he did spend time hanging out and drinking coffee with his friends at the station. Sometimes, he would take me with him and I got to play in the Captain's Room. I always thought it was a really cool place to play. I'll never forget it and I'm sorry to hear that it's gone. One of my father's closest friends was very active with the fire department. His name was John Diggs and he lived across the street from us. His daughter Carol and I spent a lot of time playing together.
I know my mother was involved in a lot of community stuff, but I really can't remember anything specific that she did. She passed away in 1994.
My mother and father were very close friends with Andy and Cynthia Pease and I spent a lot of time on their farm as a boy. They had a son named Stewart. He was several years older than me, but we played together a lot. I actually saw a picture of Cynthia in the "With this ring..." section of your site. I know Andy died in the early 80s and the last time I heard from Cynthia (6 or 7 years ago) she was living in Columbia, SC and married to a man named Robert Brailey. Robert also lived in Stephentown for a while.
The last time I was in Stephentown was in about 1992 for Stewart Pease's wedding. He got married at the Federated Church. I was baptized in that church and attended Sunday School there. The last I heard from Stewart, he was living in Pittsfield.
I attended school at Pine Cobble School in Williamstown, MA through fourth grade. I went to Stephentown Elementary in fifth grade and Cherry Plain Elementary in sixth grade. That was the year we moved to Atlanta. I remember my fifth grade teacher was Mr. Lewin and my sixth grade teacher was Mr. Metzger. Some of my closest friends were John Brady, Geoff Mohos, and David Marshik. I'm not sure what happened to those guys or if they are still in the area. If you are in touch with anyone that might remember me, please feel free to give them my email address and phone number.
Another thing on your site that really brought back some memories was Sykes Store. I remember shopping there with my parents. I think it was the Sykes family that plowed the snow off our driveway too. I also remember the post office that was in an old house on the corner next to Sykes Store. There was a car dealership across the street. I think it was called McClentock's. There was an Agway near there too. I also remember Carr's store on Route 22 just north of Route 43. Another little store that was close to my house was Dave's Mini Market. He also had a little coffee shop and the barber (Chet I think was his name) operated in the back of the coffee shop. Pease farm also had the produce stand that we went to a lot. That was about all there was in Stephentown and if you needed anything else you had to go to Pittsfield or Albany to get it.
I also remember a building that was call the Grange Hall (I think). When I was a Cub Scout we had our meetings there. It was also used as a voting precinct and the used to have rummage sales there.
There are so many more little things about Stephentown that your site made me think about, but I think I've rambled on enough. Stephentown will always hold a special place in my heart and I'm glad that someone is taking the time to preserve its history.
Memories of Stephentown
You may note that some of the information on the Stephentown genealogy site was sent by me. My father’s families (the Brown’s and the Fitzgerald’s) were early settlers in Stephentown dating back to the early 1800’s.
I grew up in Stephentown and visit regularly as my parents still reside there. I have witnessed many changes in Stephentown over the last 30 plus years but I will always call it home. My grandparent’s ran the post office for many years and it was located in the center of town and in the original Brown homestead. I recall spending many times in the post office with my grandparents and had an opportunity to meet many people, many of whom are now deceased but also many whom still live in Stephentown. The post office was a pretty cool place for my sisters (Lisa and Beth) and my cousin’s to spend time in and I can still see my grandfather operating the manual canceling machine and my grandmother working the window. Mrs. Marge Schmich also worked at the post office as did Mrs. Pat Spaniol.
Today the post office is located across the road in the building that was once the McClintock Chevrolet dealership. My dad bought his very first new car there, a 1966 Chevelle Super Sport with a 327 cubic inch engine and a four speed Hurst manual transmission; black vinyl interior with bucket seats. He traded it (at McClintock’s) for a tan 1969 Chevy Caprice Classic as the family began to grow. For the Chevelle, he paid $3,400.00. I remember the salesmen there, Ray Rose and Gary Bateman and the mechanics, one I recall was Charlie Stevens. As a kid living in the house right next to the post office (the Bateman House with the mansard roof and two marble fireplaces), I used to like to see the car haulers bring in the new cars. I also remember when McClintock’s sold gasoline and my first memory of that is during the gas crunch in 1973. I think it was every Tuesday that mom could go over and fill up the huge Caprice. That car was eventually traded in for a blue Chevy Malibu wagon, a 1974 model…hopefully it got better gas mileage but I seem to recall dad saying it had a 350 motor, so a mileage upgrade was probably not the case.
Sykes’ Store was another place of business. Still going today, it doesn’t seem to have the hustle and bustle it once did, but nevertheless, it was definetly the center place of activity in Stephentown for many years. Noted for selling just about everything anyone needed, it was the scene of constant tractor trailers coming in to drop off goods at the loading dock behind the store. Also behind the store, you could buy furniture, carpeting, lumber, and even have family portraits taken. My sisters and I had our first holiday portrait taken there and we are leaning on an orange carpeted stand. I don’t know who took the photos, but I am sure that many had them taken there. My cousins Shaun, Tara, and Joey Mahoney (the grandkids of George and Lois Fitzgerald) also had there picture taken there the same day, probably around 1971 or 1972. Sykes’ basement was the place where you could get your tools and parts for just about every project. I remember spending many Saturday’s there with my dad where he would have paint mixed, buy plumbing fittings, electrical supplies, you name it, he bought it there. If I was good while I was there, I might be able to get a toy (Tonka trucks and Ertl steel trucks and tractors). Or, I could dream about that next bike or maybe even pick out a new Radio Flyer wagon. Harold Hager and Frank Bott manned the basement and you could always bet that they would find what you needed. Mike Ward (my Godfather) was the appliance man for Sykes’ and he also worked the counter in the basement with Frank and Harold. I seem to recall Bob Herrick also working there. Paul and Rita Sykes and their kids Paul Allen, Terry, and Eileen also worked the store and I even remember Carrie Sykes, the wife of the store’s founder Walt Sykes, being on hand to help out too. Clara worked in the meat room with Clyde and sometimes even Rita Sykes’ brother Eddie Sweet could be found working there. I never failed at being able to strong-arm a piece of rolled-up bologna while mom did her shopping. In the front heading up the registers were Ed Siek, Mrs. Walther, and Mrs. Lemuth. If you needed your groceries bagged (or even boxed) and carried to the car, Aldy Goodermote was there to help. Sykes’ even offered carts, big ones and small ones, depending of course on the amount of groceries you were buying. You could also get fishing equipment at the store too. My dad often tells of when he was a kid and Walt would go to NYC to buy toys for display and sale. The backroom area (where you could buy appliances) was decorated every Christmas and those toys could be bought. He equated what he saw as what you would see in the Santa visit scene in the movie “A Christmas Story”, maybe not as vast, but a very magical place for a kid growing up in Stephentown during the 1940’s and 50’s. Of course, he and his brothers could only see the display after they were outfitted with new Red Ball sneakers that were also on sale at the store. Going back to the appliances, those boxes that refrigerators came in made for some very good (but temporary) play forts! I used to hear my grandmother tell that every Friday night, they would have to have there car and the Jeep in the barn by 5 PM because cars belonging to shoppers who came from literally miles around (Vermont, Massachusetts) would often be parked in their driveway. Sykes was well-known. My late uncle was a fellow named Tom Mahoney who lived in Lansingburgh and was employed by Oviatt Plumbing and Heating as a salesman. Walt Sykes bought plumbing and heating systems from Oviatt and uncle Tom always looked forward to going to Sykes’ for business because while there, he always bought what he said were the finest cuts of meat around.
Mr. Don Ant and his wife ran Valley Pharmacy. My memory of Mr. Ant is him wearing the white lab coat and always having the prescription that Dr. Wildman (from Pittsfield) prescribed or the one you could get from the town’s very own Medical Center which was run by Dr. Roe, his brother the other Dr. Roe, Dr. Chung, and Dr. Lee. I also remember a (very dusty) ceramic Pinnochio doll for sale in the big pharmacy window.
The Block Dance was always a huge thing for us kids who lived downtown because we could walk there with our parents. Every August on a Saturday, the firemen would begin preparations for a big night early in the morning. My sisters and cousins and I used to look out the big picture window in my grandparent’s den and watch them get the site ready. The cars at McClintock’s would be relocated so that the rock band and prize area could be accommodated. People just mingled and ate really good food, and drank really good beverages from 7 to 12 PM on the night of the Block Dance. Across the street, the firetrucks would be moved out of the fire station to accommodate the country band. If you needed to use the bathroom, the Vanderbilt House had those. I can still see the line of people around the old pool table. You could also win prizes. In one year, both my sister and I each won something: Beth a case of Cott canned soda (“It’s Cott to be Good”), and me a belt sander (what every four year old dreams of) which I am proud to say remains in my tool collection. The Vanderbilt House was also where I received my first education, Nursery School taught by Mrs. Diggs and Mrs. Foody. Jerry Brown used to come in and collect the garbage twice a week when Nursery School operated.
Our house was directly across from Gardner’s trailer park so many of my very first friends lived there. The Dunn kids: Joe, Patty, Sammy, and Brian were all playmates of ours, as were Colleen and Roxanne Heath, and Brian and Mary Jo Allen. Right next to my house was the house where Ed and Sara Siek lived. There kids grew up with my dad and his brothers, and my sisters and I grew up with Ed and Sara’s grandkids, Wayne, Brian, Darren, and Mike Williams. Behind our house was Sykes’ trailer park and that was where I knew Francis and Cyril Grant. Though they were older than me, I used to enjoy spending time with them and they were sort of like having older brothers. There mom was the librarian at Stephentown Elementary School, Jan Grant. There dad is Frank Grant whom I recall once owning a really nice black Chevy El Camino.
The Muster and Parade was always a load of fun. We used to decorate our bikes and ride them in the parades that back then seemed to go for miles and miles. Fire companies from all over would come to Stephentown in mid-September for a day of firematic competition. Sometimes, we could ride on floats too. I remember the year they honored my great grandmother Marie Fitzgerald on a float that resembled a school room. As her great-grandkids, we called her Nana. My dad, his brothers, and his cousin (Patty Fitzgerald) were among the hundreds that Nana taught during her career from 1915 to 1965. What is funny is that even though they were her grandkids, they, like all the other kids, had to call her Mrs. Fitzgerald during school hours! The parade was a big deal for a kid growing up in Stephentown. Other kids I remember being in those parades were my sisters Lisa and Beth Brown, Faye Sweener, Lauren, Peter, Brad, and Megan McClave, David and Lisa Marshak, Cassie and Geoff Mohos, Matt and Dutch Carr, Ronnie Berry, the Dunn kids, the Heath kids, Chad and Heather Atwater, Brian Atwater, Jason Cooper, Kelly Beebe, Keith McKeon, Bobby and Matt Schultz, Keith Manns, Kim and Kelly Sullivan, my cousins Darice and Kiersten Brown, Johnny Esposito, Dave and Kim Corlew, Wayne and Glenn Sharpe, Phillip and Joe Demick, Todd McQuade, Rhoda Pace, Scott and Tracy Roberts, Mace Salterelli, Jennifer Mayer, Ronnie and Jennifer Staples, Jackie and Jarrid Brazie, Maria Rieger, Brian and Chris Hespelein, Cheri Hespelien, Cheri and Darryl Durlack, Cathy, Sharon, and Jimmy Spaniol, Chris Zwinge, Hjarl and Kirk Zwinge, Stacy and Jason Barratto, Jean Close, George and Cheri Fudge, Gretchen and Scott Barry, Denise and Danny Dette, Walter and David Stevens, Chris Demick, Heather and Erik Madden, Scott Fagan, Carol Diggs, David, Kevin, Karen, and Tammy Tatum (maybe even Doug too), Joey Conklin, Russell House and his younger brother, the DeMeo kids, Damon Caryofilles, Mike and Kim Ellis, Dominick Carlino, Jackie, Mike and Pat Wheeler, Brian and Carrie McMillan, David and Liz Carr, Brian and T.A. MacVeigh, Marie, Michele, and Marlene Desormeaux; Who did I forget??? The review stand for the parade was always in Sykes’ parking lot and I remember my uncle George Fitzgerald and Carl O’Brien being judges.
Stephentown Elementary School was where I got my primary education. Mr. Lyons and Mr. Keopp were the custodians; Mrs. Grant was the librarian; the teachers were Mrs. Lindsay, Mrs.Walter, Mrs. Hayes, Mrs. French, Miss Keopp, Mr. Breithaupt, and Mr. Lewin. Mrs. Hoffman and Mrs. Demick worked in the main office; Mrs. Barber was the music teacher; Mr. Laws and Miss Bazan were the art teachers, Marilyn Roberts and Mrs. Weber were the school nurses. Hot Lunch was one day a week. For 30 cents a week you could get your pint of milk daily. We used to have a swish program. We used to have assemblies in the HUGE gym and one I remember most well is the day the first space shuttle, The Columbia, was launched. We got to watch the coverage of that historic day on a 19 inch TV screen in the gym. Stephentown Elementary was a place to make good friends, and those I remember are Chad Atwater, Brad McClave, Danny Dette, Dave Corlew, Mike Ellis, Jason Sykes, Jarrid Brazie, Bryan McMillan, Mike Wheeler, Duane Adams, the Tatum’s, Kyle Brady, Ronnie Staples, Owen Flint, Greg Hoffman, Pat Hogue, Paul Walter, Craig Sweener, Jill VanSluyters, Michelle Olsen, Amy Maguire, Sara Demick, Carrie McMillan, Gretchen Barry, Kiersten Brown, Caryn Gerstel, Billy Hayes, Jerry Crandall, Lee McDonald, Cindy McCauley, Charlie Farnham, Chris Demick, Johnny Esposito, Matt Carr, Ronnie Berry, George Fudge, David Ricker, Sammy Dunn, Brian Dunn, Marlene Desormeaux, David Cameron, Kevin Sweener, again, I know I have forgotten many here. Stephentown Elementary School was the site where many of us had a chance to be basketball stars at the outdoor courts. Jason Sykes was by far one of the best hoopers I ever saw play the game and he was the first person I ever saw slam dunk the ball in person. The only problem was that the rims had steel chains for nets. I would like to thank the school officials for changing them over to nylon. We would spend countless hours in the warm months shooting hoops, playing HORSE, and pick-up games. I remember when Chip, Mike, and Bill Shumway moved to Stephentown. They were city-guys and they could play some serious ball. The school was also the site for Friday night dances and the summer Arts and Crafts program which ran Monday through Friday from 9 AM to 12 PM. The best part was the lunch menu and everyday a big truck from Albany would bring out airplane lunches we could have for free. You also had a choice of chocolate or regular milk. After we would spend our mornings there, many of us then participated in the swimming lessons program at the CCC Dam (Cherry Plain State Park). This ran for three weeks. Mrs. Jeanne Atwater and Mrs. Schindler ran the program. Your skill level was determined by the color swim cap you wore; if you made it to white caps, you were ready to swim the English Channel. However, I seem to recall the water at CCC Dam being very cold and murky so maybe we really were swimming in the English Channel afterall. We rode Berlin school buses to and from the park. We used to get the bus at my grandparent’s house (the post office). It was a long ride and I remember our route including Main Street to Dave’s Mini Market, then to Madden Road then to Jones Road, then to East Road, then to Giles Road, then to Route 22 to that really long and winding dirt road to the park. Forget about getting the bends once in the water; the ride to the park was enough!
We had Little League in Stephentown once too and now I believe most kids play in New Lebanon. Still, it was a big deal in Stephentown for my generation. We had four teams A, B, C, and D. The coaches I remember were Paul Allen Sykes, Jim Hogue, and John Brady. Bert Manns was the umpire. Our home field was at Stephentown Elementary School and if you were lucky, you got to play at the Big Backstop. We traveled to Berlin, Petersburgh and Grafton to play night games and Saturday morning games were always played at the home field. Grafton and Berlin offered school grounds to play on; Petersburgh offered a pasture which I believe was on the grounds of the Broken Wheel Campground. We used to travel to away games in Mr. Brady’s grey Chevy pick-up. If we won on the road, we were treated to ice cream at Stewart’s in Berlin. At the end of every season, Mr. Jack Brazie always hosted a pool party for the players. I was a pitcher and a first baseman. Highlights of my career were striking out power hitters like Mike Wheeler only once (my dad has a photo of that one), pitching a no-hitter against Berlin, getting my one and only home run off of a Jaime Thomas fastball, being called a scum-bum only once by one particular coach, and pitching a ball to a batter one time who fouled the ball directly into Tommy Wheeler, Jr.’s jacket pocket. We were the Stephentown Mets and I wore numbers 63 and 18.
Getting older, many of my friends and I were introduced to the world of three-wheelers and dirt bikes. Today, you can’t buy three-wheelers from dealers but back in the 80’s you could. They were known then as ATC’s, today they are ATV’s. Chris Demick had the coolest ATC that I can remember, a Honda 200X. I had a Honda 200M which was one step below the original Honda Big Red. Dave Corlew, Jeff Brokalis, and Johnny Esposito were dirt bike riders; Jason Sykes and Ronnie Staples and I rode three-wheelers; Chad Atwater began on a dirt-bike but changed over to the ranks of the 4-wheeler riders which included Mike Ellis and the first girl to our riding group, Miss Laurie Honiker. We rode on trails that had been made by the generation before us that consisted of mostly dirt-bikers and snowmobilers. Our trails included the railroad tracks off of Grange Hall Road, trails along the side of Route 22, trails up and down the fields of Grange Hall Road and Ward’s Hill (also an awesome place for sledding in the winter), trails up to Round Top, and trails to Mr. Cogan’s gravel pit behind Pease Farm. You could literally ride all day and that is what we did. We also used to camp on the railroad tracks and the big thrill was to ride all night. Up on Route 22 there were tunnels we could ride through without having to cross the Route 22 roadway. These tunnels were put there originally for farmers to pass cows and other livestock through. Al Silvernail’s grandson Mark Stubbs came from California to live in Stephentown for one school year while his dad worked as a visiting professor at RPI in Troy. Al bought Mark a three-wheeler so he could ride with his new friends, which was our group. This was how I was first introduced to ice-riding as we used to slide our ATC’s across a pond on the Silvernail farm. My cousin Joey Mahoney also rode with us and he owned a Yamaha Tri-moto 200 and a Kawasaki Tecate 250, both three-wheelers. I never could keep up with him.
Sledding was always a great thing in Stephentown and we had a few good places. Most noteworthy is Ward’s Hill behind Mike and Madeline Ward’s (my Godparents) house on Route 22. You could get to it via Route 22 or via Grange Hall Road. This was a steep and long hill that provided many hours of serious sledding for us kids. For the more experienced and fearless sledders, you could opt to ride the wooded trail known as Dead Man’s Curve which descended from the top of Ward’s Hill and down to the old railroad bed. If you didn’t smash into an old junk car that was at the very bottom, you could deem yourself experienced and fearless. It seems they used to come from miles around to ride. One group that did so was the Schmelkin boys (Allan, Neil, Martin, and Steven) who spent vacations at there home here when not going to school in NYC. I think even the two older boys (Joel and Ira) were present for late night sledding on the hill at times. They had a big station wagon and I remember all of them piling out of that car to sled with us. They even came from Southampton, Pennsylvania and Westbury, Long Island to sled the monster slope at Ward’s Hill. Mike and Madeline Ward’s grandkids were Mike, Chris, Alyce, and Tommy Miller (from Pennsylvania). Mrs. Summa lived right next to the Hill and her grandkids from Long Island (I seem to remember a Joey and Richard Summa) used to join us there, too. This area was so rich with sledding opportunity that we even were known to sled the dirt roadway that began at the back end of Mike Ward’s barn and descend all the way down to the steel bridge just below Mrs. Summa’s house. If you had access to a runner sled (and most all of us did), you could steer that roadway as if you were navigating the NYS Thruway. This path was even lighted, the Hill however, was not.
I know that there is much I have missed but perhaps someone reading this will pick up where I left off. Recalling an innocent time in my life offers a way to share a fraction of the things I remember about growing up in Stephentown. It’s therapeutic and good for the spirit to remember very good times. My parent’s still live in Stephentown and every time I go there, I like to see how different things really are today. I spent nearly twenty years of my life in the “Only Stephentown on Earth” but it would have never been possible had my dad’s families not settled there years ago. I can go back to my great-great grandfather Mike Fitzgerald and the Brown’s who came from Stonington, Connecticut. There are no more Fitzgerald’s living in Stephentown and the only Brown’s still there are my dad and my uncle Joe. Many of the people I mentioned still live there, while others, well, I don’t know whatever became of them. I remain good friends with Dave Corlew, whom I consider my oldest friend ever because he is one week older than me and there is a photo of the two of us in our strollers together taken the summer after we were born, Dave in November and me in December. Chad Atwater also resides in Stephentown and I speak with him regularly. Jason Sykes is also there and after many years of not seeing him, I did get the chance to earlier this year. I tell you this because to me, these are among the guys from my childhood group of close friends who could relate to many of the things I have shared here and because they still call Stephentown home. What’s more, Dave is now the town Fire Chief. If we all have done well and I think we all have, it’s because of where we came from, a good place called Stephentown.
On Aug. 26 a male white named Whiting Sweeting of Stephentown, Rensselaer County, N.Y., was
hanged for the murder of Albany County Constable Darius Quimby who was killed Jan. 3, 1791,
while attempting to make an arrest on a warrant for trespass.
Sweeting was tried and convicted in the New York State Supreme Court of Judicature during the
July term. He was executed the following month.
Whiting was a member of the well-regarded Sweeting family in the Stephentown region. His
first name was his mother's maiden family name: Whiting. His father was a prominent doctor.
Dr. Lewis Sweeting and his sons played leading roles in the Revolutionary war effort. The
physician performed as an army surgeon. His sons saw military action. After the war ended,
some members of family moved to other counties including Onondaga and Oneida.
Stephentown, N.Y. was once Jericho Hallow, Ma. The Sweetings served with patriot units of
Massachusetts. Later that western part of Massachusetts became the eastern part of New York
State, first within Albany County and later within Rensselaer County when that was carved out
of Albany County March 24, 1791, the same year as the Whiting Sweeting case.
While incarcerated, Sweeting was visited frequently by William Carter who thereafter authored
a small book entitled:
The remarkable narrative of Whiting Sweeting who was executed. . . for the murder of Darius
Quimby. . . written by himself, and published for the benefit of precious souls, at his
particular and dying request. --To which are added--an account of the behaviour of the
unhappy sufferer, from his confinement to execution, and the substance of his address at the
gallows. By one who had free access to, and frequent conversation with him.
While the text is not available on-line, descriptions of printed and microfilm copies can be
found on the special collection pages of the Cornell University and New Hampshire University
libraries' web sites.
Constable Quimby seems also have lived in the Stephentown area. A 1790 census lists a Darius
in the family of Ephraim Quimby there and of an age eligible to be a constable.
Constable Quimby's name is the earliest dated entry on the NYS Police Officers Memorial in
Civilian members of the Albany Police Pipes and Drums wear badges honoring the names of
decease officers killed in the line of duty. Piper Ron Racicot wears the Memorial Shield for
The Finchburg (MA) Daily Sentinel, 4 June 1891 ---
Fatal Shooting at North Adams.
The Mysterious Death of a Youth of 16---
His Young Brother-in-Law the Only Per-
son who can give Light.
David G. Houghtling, 16, of 179 State
Street at North Adams, died Wednesday
about 11 a. m. , from a pistol wound at the
base of the neck in front. Houghtaling
had been feeling unwell and stayed home
from work. His brother-in-law, Charles
Reed, 22, who was alone in the house with
him at the time of the affair, states that
he stood outside the house smoking while
Houghtaling was in the sitting-room clean-
ing two revolvers. Later, he heard the
report of a pistol, and rushing in, he found
Houghtaling lying on the floor. He im-
mediately ran for a doctor, but on his ar-
riving, the boy was dead.
An autopsy was held by Medical Exam-
imer Brown, assisted by Drs. Rice, Bush-
nell, Curran and Wright. The medical
examiner's report was that the boy came
to his death by a pistol shot, whether in-
flictd by his own hand or another's
he was at present unable to de-
termine. Suspicion pointed strongly
to Reed and he was arrested and locked
up, bail being refused. The two youths
had been quarreling all the morning. In
the room were found two revolvers, one
on the floor containing an empty shell,
while the other on the sofa was not loaded.
There was also an old pair of hand-cuffs
on the floor. Reed tells two or three dif-
ferent stories of the affair, one being that
he was in the room when the pistol went
off in Houghtaling's hand.
Reed had worked as hostler for Fay-
ette Northrup for some time and always
bore a good character. Those who know
him scout the idea of his shooting youn
Houghtaling, and think that if he had shot
him accidentally he would have confessed.
The affair is very mysterious.