Saturday, June 19, 2021

The Story of a Hat

Back in April, this appeal appeared on the Hudson, NY--Public Community Board Facebook page.

Someone on the Hudson Area Library Board saw the post on Facebook and alerted Brenda Shufelt, coordinator of the library's History Room. After doing some initial research herself, Shufelt turned the task over to John Craig, the History Room's indefatigable volunteer researcher. It is at their invitation that Gossips shares what Shufelt and Craig discovered about the hat and its owner.

L. S. Moore, the owner of the hat, was determined to have been Lewis Sheldon Moore, who was born in Hudson on January 26, 1883. Census records for 1900 list him as the son of Charles and Jennie F. Moore. In 1899, the date written inside the hat, Lewis Sheldon Moore would have been 16 years old. The hat is considered to be a military hat, but there is no evidence that Moore served in the military, although he could have. The Spanish-American War ended in February 1899, followed almost immediately after by the Philippine Insurrection, and the range of ages for servicemen in both conflicts was between 16 and 60. Draft registration cards found for Moore, from 1918 and 1942, give no indication of prior service, but that is not information that was required on the cards.

The Hudson city directories for 1888 and 1900 indicate that Charles Moore, Lewis's father, was employed at H. Sheldon & Company, grocers & bakers. The business was located at 606 Warren Street, and Charles Moore's home was at 751 Warren Street. (Later records give 749 Warren Street as the address of the house.) H. Sheldon was Henry Sheldon, and Craig's research discovered that Charles Moore's wife, Jenny, was Henry Sheldon's daughter. The home address for Henry Sheldon in both those city directories is also 751 Warren Street. The house where the extended family lived can be seen at the right in the first picture below and at the far left in the second picture. 

The last Moore listed in the city directories as residing in the house was Lewis Moore in 1949, but other records show he had died two years earlier. The DPW Water Tap Book indicates that on July 15, 1949, the water was shut off to the house. It was subsequently demolished. The building that is now 751 Warren Street, where the Social Security office is located and the Hudson Code Enforcement Office is soon to be, was constructed in 1953, as a First National (Finast) supermarket. The parking lot to the west of the building is the site of the Sheldon-Moore home.

On June 10, 1906, the Columbia Republican reported that Charles Moore, Lewis's father, "dropped dead on the street." He was 52 years old. Lewis would have been 23 when his father died.

Not much has been discovered about Lewis's life except, according to his 1918 draft registration card, he was at that time, at the age of 35, employed as a traveling salesman for the Diamond Match Company. Some records suggest that Lewis moved to Tivoli and married a woman named Hattie in 1909, but his draft registration card from 1918 gives his address as 749 Warren Street and lists his mother as his nearest relative. The 1920 census lists Lewis Moore, now 37, living as a boarder in Dutchess County, and the 1940 census lists Lewis Moore, now 57 and widowed, as a servant in a household in Pine Plains. His draft registration card for 1942, when he was 59, gives his address once again as 749 Warren Street and lists Mrs. Mary Akin, housekeeper at 749 Warren, as the "person who will always know your address." Lewis Moore died in Hudson on July 17, 1947, at the age of 64.

Ed Petty, who, when he was a teenager, bought L. S. Moore's hat in an antique shop in Pennsylvania and now wanted to return it to Moore's descendants, has given the hat to the History Room at the library, where it now resides in its very own archival box wrapped in acid free tissue paper.

Gratitude to Brenda Shufelt and John Craig for inviting me to share their research.

Addendum:  Neal Van Deusen, a former assistant chief of the Hudson Fire Department and now a member of the FASNY Museum Board of Directors, contacted Gossips to suggest that the hat might not be a military hat but rather a "firematic" hat. He said HFD records show the Lewis S. Moore joined C. H. Evans Hook & Ladder Company, No. 3, on April 10, 1905. That, however, does not explain why the hat has the year 1899 written inside. There is no record that Lewis's father, Charles Moore, was ever a member of the Hudson Fire Department.


  1. Fantastic community blogging, thank you!

  2. Looks like a Spanish-American War 1895 "Kepi" or "forage hat."

  3. As usual, the super powers of the Hudson Library on full display. History can soothe the mind and the city. Great work Library. Ken Sheffer

  4. It appears that the three buildings in the forefront of that Warren St. photo are all still standing and in relatively good shape. The second from the front did have the "Neefus Studio" business added in the 50's or 60's. Also it should be noted by all that whined and complained about wearing a mask for the past year the late age you were still required to register for the draft during WWII. Those were the days of true sacrifice.