This Week in Rockland: Newspaper Excerpts: Flashback Friday: Week of April 23

2021-04-23 TWIR Image-Van Wart House Tappan

April 22, 1871 – 150 YEARS AGO
Rockland County Journal

       A barn was destroyed by fire on Friday night about 12 o’clock, near Grassy Point. The barn was owned by A. B. Conger.
       An Irish woman died very suddenly in this village [Nyack], in confinement, this week. An inquest was held by coroner S. S. Sloat, and after hearing all the evidence, the jury, we learn, censured the woman who was with her and acted as midwife. We understand that this is the second case which has thus terminated fatally, where this person has acted in this capacity. If people will place themselves for treatment in the care of quacks and ignoramuses, they must expect to reap the consequences of their folly. We believe that it is highly proper for women to be midwives, but let them educate themselves for this work and not recklessly and ignorantly experiment with the lives of their fellows. H. D. B.

[Image: Van Wart House, c. 1852. 83 Main Street, Tappan. Courtesy of the Tappantown Historical Society.]

To the Editor of the Journal:—
       With the awakening of spring, Tappan, also seems to be awakening. The erection of new buildings, the repairing of old ones, and painting and repairing generally, we notice to be the order of the day.
       Mr. Thomas Smith has built a neat cottage just north of the old brick church. It stands in a pleasant spot, between the road and the clear and pebbly Sparkill. From appearances, we judge it will be ready for occupants soon.
       Mr. Lehn has nearly completed a good-sized building, opposite Van Blarcom’s blacksmith shop, in which he intends to reside, and also to carry on harness-making and repairing in its various branches.
       Our irrepressible Van Wart has also been giving the finishing touch to his buildings, three in number. The one west of his present residence looks nicely since its transformation.
       Mr. Conklin is putting an addition to his dwelling, part of which has been occupied by Mr. A. C. Mabie as a store and post-office. Mr. Mabie, we believe, intends to move to upper Piermont sometime during this year.
       The neat picket fence around the house and lot just north of the ’76 House gives a decidedly new and pleasant appearance to the substantial brick residence of Dr. Bartow.
       Capt. Dearborn will probably soon commence his building in earnest, and we shall see, by fall, a fine mansion crowning the hill, just north of the school-house. The school-house, by-the-way, reminds me of a remark made by the teacher some time ago. He said the people of the district seem to leave him entirely alone. They send their children, but they themselves do not come to visit the school to encourage the teacher and scholars. This ought not to be. Take an interest in your school, inhabitants of Tappan.
       The changes in real estate hereabouts, noticed a few weeks ago in the JOURNAL, are indicative of a growth such as Tappan has not yet seen.
       Auryansen, Sherwood & Co.’s brick-yard is now in prime working order for the season. — They have disposed of all their surplus brick of last year, and so have a clear yard to begin with. They intend to do their very best.
       No more now. Yours, again, PINXIT

April 22, 1921 – 100 YEARS AGO
Rockland News

       Mrs. Mary Armsted colored was badly scalded Tuesday while doing washing at the home of Mr. and Mrs. E. E. Moran, in Sickles avenue.
       Mrs. Armsted was using an electric washer when there was an explosion and boiling water spurted up suddenly, scalding her neck and breast. She refused to be taken to the hospital and was attended by Miss Peters, Red Cross nurse.

       One of the olden fashions which the passage of the years has undone is the doorplate. The engraved name plate of silver, nickel or brass on the front door was a symbol of family importance, and notice to all passersby that people of “quality” lived within. And if the house, in addition to a burnished doorplate, had two lamps before the entrance, these symbols were notification to the public that a plutocrat sat inside, that the floors were covered with Brussels carpet, that marble topped furniture was there, and that there was a cut glass punch bowl in the tall sideboard.
       While the doorplate has become extinct the door knocker holds its own, although the real work of making announcement that somebody is at the door is now done by an electric bell. There has been a revival of interest in many antique things, and one of these is the door knocker. It is often found on new homes built in imitation of Colonial houses.

April 22, 1971 – 50 YEARS AGO
The Journal News

       For the first time since Rockland County’s 23-year-old free-wheeling race became an official Soap Box Derby in 1964, girls have registered to compete and will be allowed to do so under a change in the national rules.
       Mary Ann Thiesing of Spring Valley and Anne Theresa Bertussi of Pearl River, freshmen classmates at Rosary Academy, Sparkill, and Maureen Brennan of Pearl River, have signed to compete against 10 boys on June 13 in Pearl River in the county’s 23rd annual event.
       Mary Ann and Anne Theresa wrote to National Derby headquarters in Akron, Ohio, complaining of discrimination, and National rules were changed to permit girls to race. If there is a female winner anywhere in the country, it will be the first time in the 34-year-history of the All-American Derby in Akron.
       Soon after the Pearl River Coaster Car Derby was originally run in 1949, girls were permitted to participate. Sandra Konazewski of Pearl River was the first female to win the title in 1956. In 1958 Linda Cattell of Pearl River tied the late Gary Gorton for the championship. After the event became an official Soap Box Derby, girls were not permitted to compete for the next seven years. Now the door has opened.
       Mary Anne Thiesing is the 14-year-old daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Ernest Thiesing of 4 Inwood Lane, Spring Valley. She is a member of the Forensic Society and Science Club at Rosary Academy; was a member of the championship CYO basketball team at St. Joseph’s Church, Spring Valley; and belongs to Cadet Girl Scout Troop 16 at the Hillcrest School.
       Her mother said, “Mary Anne is very good at doing things with her hands and should be able to construct a good racing car. It isn’t just a fad; she’s really interested in competing.”
       Anne Theresa is the 14-year-old daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Louis B. Bertussi of 64 Center St., Pearl River. She is an “A” student, plays in the girls’ softball league, and is a member of the Teen Club at St. Margaret’s Church, Pearl River.
       “She is talented and handy, has started her racer with advice from her father, and will be sponsored by her grandfather, John Hogan, interior decorator of Pearl River,” said Mrs. Bertussi.
       Maureen Brennan, the third girl to sign, is the 11-year-old daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Jeremiah J. Brennan of 212 Old Pascack Road, Pearl River. She is a sixth grader at St. Margaret’s School, Pearl River. She is a girl scout, plays basketball, and is in the girls’ softball league.
       “Her 13-year-old brother Thomas raced last year, losing his second heat, and will race again this year,” said Mrs., Brennan. “That is how Maureen became interested, and is anxious to get busy building her racer.”
       And where are the two female champs of yesteryear’s Coaster Car Derbies?
       Sandra Konazewski graduated from Nursing School at Mt. Alloyisus College, Pa., is now Mrs. Thomas Collins, the mother of two daughters, and lives in Blauvelt.
       Linda Catell, who tied Gary Gorton for the title in 1958, graduated from Pearl River High School, is now Mrs. Frederick H. Brettman, is the mother of two children, and lives in New City. Gary Gorton was killed in an auto accident in 1966.
       This year the Misses Thiesing, Bertussi and Brennan will compete against 40 boys from 16 Rockland County communities and Ted Isoldi from Plainview, L.I., for the county championship and the right to go to the All-American finals in Akron.
       Rockland County’s 23rd annual free-wheeling race is sponsored by The Journal-News, Pearl River Jaycees, Pearl River Board of Trade, and Schmidt Chevrolet of West Haverstraw.

This Week in Rockland (#FBF Flashback Friday) is prepared by Clare Sheridan on behalf of the Historical Society of Rockland County. To learn about the HSRC’s mission, upcoming events or programs, visit or call (845) 634-9629.


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