Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Horse-and-Buggy Days in Hudson

Someone told me recently that parades used to be routed along Fifth Street and down Union because there was too much horse manure on Warren Street. My first inclination was to wonder why they didn't just clean up Warren Street in preparation for a parade, but maybe there wasn't a Department of Public Works back then.

The following story from the
Daily Register illustrates another disadvantage of horse-drawn carriages--besides serving as a cautionary tale about litter in the streets.

Frightful Runaway

Last evening about dusk, one of the most frightful runaways that has ever occurred in this city took place, resulting in badly injuring and the narrow escape from death, of a lady and gentleman. Mr. Wm. B. Coffin, of this city, with his wife was leisurely driving down Warren street, and, when in front of the City Hall, the wheels of the wagon struck a heap of stones, which had been left there in a very careless manner. Mr. Coffin was thrown from the wagon, and his horse taking fright, started down the street at a fearful pace. The gentleman clung to the rains until he was forced to leave go for fear of being killed. Freed from all restraint, the now thoroughly frightened animal redoubled its pace, and pursued his mad career with Mrs. Coffin in the wagon with nothing apparently between her and death. The horse turned toward Union street at Third street, and then again into Partition street, and Mrs. Coffin hoped that he would stop at the stable. Not so, for the mad animal kept on his frightful course down Partition street. At the corner of Partition and Front the wagon struck a post, breaking the box from the springs, and throwing it and Mrs. Coffin to the ground with such violence that the bystanders expected to pick her up dead.--The force with which Mrs. C. fell completely stunned her, and she was carried at once to her residence, where Dr. H. Lyle Smith was called. Upon examination she was found to be injured internally to quite an extent, and it is feared that some of her bones are fractured. That she escaped instant death or at least fatal injuries, is a most remarkable fact, for no one who saw her fall supposed that she would be found alive. Her escape may be attributed to the fact that the wagon box broke lose [sic] at the time she fell, and clinging to that the fall was broken.

The shock the wagon received did not stop the runaway, and he ran up Front street to Warren, and up Warren to Fifth, where he was stopped by Mr. Wm. H. Sluyter.

Mr. Coffin by being thrown out and dragged along, was quite severely bruised, but not to any dangerous extent. The wagon was made a perfect wreck, the box being smashed, the axles sprung, and the . . . springs broken. No damage was done to the horse.

All the circumstances of this affair being considered we can truly say that it was a remarkably narrow escape for the parties concerned. Regretting the injury Mr. and Mrs. Coffin have received, we congratulate them that the accident resulted no more seriously.

Note: Since the Coffins seem to have lived below Third Street, perhaps either on Union or Allen, I was curious to know exactly where. So I went to the History Room at the library to check the old Hudson directories. Strangely, no William Coffin is listed in the directories for 1867, 1868, or 1869, and, although there are several Coffins listed, none lived anywhere below Third.

In 1868, City Hall was, of course, situated in what is now the Hudson Opera House, at the corner of Warren and City Hall Place.

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