Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Exploring Hudson History Through Newspapers

This morning, I resumed my exploration of the Hudson Weekly Star and found, on the front page of the issue for November 25, 1858, this little anecdote about life in Hudson more than 150 years ago.

By a strange coincidence, the news of the death of Peter G. Coffin, for whom the steamboat was named, appeared two weeks later, on December 9, 1858, in the Hudson Weekly Star.

The obituary in the Hudson Evening Register for Coffin's daughter Emily, who died in 1923 at that age of ninety-two, provides more information about Peter G. Coffin and his role in the history of Hudson.
She came from a family that was among the original settlers and proprietors of Hudson, her father coming here with the settlers from Nantucket. He was Peter G. Coffin, who in the days before steamboats navigated a line of sloops on the river, and later ran a steamboat line between Catskill and Albany, one of the earlier river steamboats bearing his name.
This item, which appeared in the Register-Star in 1856, gives insight into how the steamboats of the mid-19th century were used for transporting both freight and passengers.

In his reminiscences, published in the Sun and New York Herald for September 19, 1920, on the occasion of his eighty-sixth birthday, Captain John Lyon, who may well have been one of the crew on the P. G. Coffin when it stopped for the lady who arrived late at the dock in Hudson, tells how the steamboat's name was changed in 1871.
I also sailed on the Peter G. Coffin. She was a good boat, but her name became the topic of so many jokes that in 1871, when the Grand Duke Alexis of Russia visited this county, the Coffin's owners seized upon the popularity of the Duke's visit and changed the name of the boat to Alexis. I sailed on her under that name, too.

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