This Week in Rockland: Newspaper Excerpts: Flashback Friday: Week of August 18

2023-08-18 TWIR Image-Paulding Sparkill Fire House

August 16, 1873 – 150 YEARS AGO
Rockland County Journal

       Warm-blooded gentlemen who are disposed to cool off in the river, in a nude state, between 7 am and 8p m will do well to peruse a little notice just issued by the board of trustees.

       About two o’clock on Thursday afternoon an undue excitement among a number of boys, on Burd street, near Michael Kline’s blacksmith shop, attracted the attention of Mr. Jerry Martine, and he proceeded to investigate the cause of the agitation. On arriving at the scene of the excitement he found to his surprise that the front half of a human foot, in a partial state of decomposition, had been found. Mr. Kline informed us that when first discovered, a dog was playing with it; and to Mr. Martine it looked as if it had been sawed off at or near the instep, at the second joint. The flesh on the great toe was well preserved, but the sinews and tendons leading to the other toes were exposed. The fragment found was a part of a left foot and appeared to be that of a boy about fourteen years old or a woman’s. The excitement becoming momentarily greater, Mr. Martine deemed it best to bury the foot, which he did in the rear of Mr. Kline’s shop.
       We think that an investigation ought to be instituted at once, and a clue if possible be found as to where this portion of a human body came from.

August 18, 1923 100 YEARS AGO
Nyack Evening Journal

[Image: Paulding Fire Engine Company of Sparkill, ca. 1914. Courtesy of Please note that South of the Mountains identifies the founders of the Paulding Fire Company as Stephen Haire and Henry Voss (South of the Mountains, vol. 4, no. 2, 1960).]
       And now comes the Sparkill Fire Department and announces through its assistant chief, Henry Boss, that it will produce in Chief Stephen Hare the oldest active fire chief in the world at the fireman’s contests to be held at Bay Shore, L.I., August 29. Hare was of voting age in the Civil War and attained his fire fighting training as a charter member of the New York Fire Department.
       Sparkill firemen are willing to wager ten to one that Chief Hare will walk away with the ‘Oldest Active Chief’ contest. Hare has not missed a fire in southern Rockland County in fifteen years and now has the added responsibility of protecting the new $2,000,000 export plant of the Standard Oil Company which is being built on the river front south of Sparkill.
       In 1862, Hare, with George W. Tyson, book publisher, was in the front row of witnesses at the first drawing of names in New York for the Civil War draft army. Hare’s name was the second drawn, but he was rejected because of “weak lungs” and was told he would not live two years.
       At odds with the world, Steve jumped a sailing vessel for New Orleans and gained twenty-one pounds on the trip. “Just a trip to sea, no gew-gaws,” he said last night, “an I ain’t been sick since.”
       In 1890 the chief joined the Flatbush Fire Department. In 1895 a paid department was installed there and for two years the volunteer firemen were allowed to work with the “professionals,” during which time Steve learned the latest wrinkles in putting out stubborn fires.
       In 1900 he returned to this county and formed a fire company at Piermont. A few years later he organized the John Paulding Engine Company at Sparkill named after one of the captors of Major Andre. This was the start of the Sparkill Fire Department, which has known no other chief except Stephen Hare.
       Henry Boss said last night that Chief Hare’s age would not be announced until the day of the Bay Shore contest but that the Sparkill vamps defied any village to produce an older active fire chief who attends all fires and can shout louder orders through a silver trumpet.

August 17, 1973 50 YEARS AGO
The Journal News

       Lawrence DePaolis of Stony Point, a police officer in the anti-crime unit of the 47th Precinct in the Bronx, read of an arrest in Wednesday’s Journal-News, and ended up proving that computers don’t know everything.
       The article reported that Peter J. Bantz, 31, had been arrested in Stony Point after being discovered in an unoccupied house. He was charged with criminal trespass in the fourth degree, possession of a forged instrument, and criminal impersonation.
DePaolis remembered the name of the man as a suspect he had arrested in the Bronx for unlawful imprisonment, burglary in the first degree, and two other criminal counts, but who had allegedly skipped bail.
       DePaolis then called Stony Point police to inform them that Bantz was wanted for jumping bail. He also called city police to check on the suspect’s record.
       But when reports came from the computer that the suspect had no record, the officer, along with Joseph Denise of the Stony Point police, began to make calls to the Bureau of Criminal Investigation to check on the subject.
       A check through the new state computer showed that the suspect had no record of arrests. DePaolis and Denise, convinced that they had the right man, continued making calls until Bronx District Attorney Mario Merolla stated that Bantz had been rearrested on the Bronx charges and was due in court Aug. 30.
       But DePaolis also remembered that he had seen a poster for the wanted man in Yonkers. He then called Yonkers police, who indeed were looking for Bantz, and they arrived Thursday afternoon with a warrant for the suspect
       DePaolis is still wondering why the new master computer could not locate the previous arrests on Bantz, including the one he had made in December of last year. The officer stated he felt that the computer simply cannot handle the load it is required to and several checks with the machine have still not produced the records of Bantz’s arrests, despite positive identification.

This Week in Rockland (#FBF Flashback Friday) is prepared by Clare Sheridan on behalf of the Historical Society of Rockland County. © 2023 by The Historical Society of Rockland County. #FBF Flashback Friday may not be reprinted without written permission from the HSRC. To learn about the HSRC’s mission, upcoming events or programs, visit or call (845) 634-9629.


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