Warren County Historical Society Presents …

The Digital Version “REWIND”

January 15, 2018

 

 

 

Local Man Recalls Events from the Mid-Late 1800s

 

The following article appeared in the Thursday, May 21, 1931 edition of the ‘Glens Falls Times.’  Many important events are covered in Mr. Chitty’s remembrances:  his father – Riding with Civil War General Sheridan, the 1864 fire that devastated downtown Glens Falls, and working for the Delaware and Hudson Railroad for over thirty years.  Portions of the article as they appeared are reprinted here with some minor editing.

 

FORMER GLENS FALLS MAN RECALLS FAMOUS

RIDE OF SHERIDAN IN CIVIL WAR

Frederick J. Chitty Was Then Student in Glens Falls Academy and Father Was Captain Under Noted General – – – Three Decades with Delaware and Hudson Railroad

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          When General Sheridan made his memorable ride, it brought a thrill to eight-year old Frederick J. Chitty, Jr., for his father was a Captain on the staff of General Sheridan.

 

          Frederick was then a student at the Glens Falls Academy.  His family moved to the area from near Pickway, Ohio.

 

          At seventy-five year of age, Mr. Chitty retains many vivid memories of the Civil War period.  The first companies to join the Union Army enlisted for short terms, varying in length from three months to one year.  When their enlistments were up, many men returned home.  The marching columns of soldiers, some bearing wounded comrades, their clothing torn and faded by encounters with the Confederates at Bull Run and in other engagements, gave him a mingled feeling of pride and fear for the safety of his father whom he had last seen marching away in command of Glens Falls own Company ‘K.’

 

          During the closing days of the war an event at home made an equally distinct impression on Frederick’s memory:  half the business section of the town was destroyed by a conflagration.  School was dismissed early that afternoon when it was learned that a fire, in a downtown store, fanned by a strong wind, was rapidly consuming all the business establishments on one side of Warren Street, one of the main thoroughfares of the town.  One frame structure after another, among them his uncle’s store, was consumed by the uncontrollable blaze.

 

Construction After Fire

          Mr. Chitty’s recollection of the reconstruction in Glens Falls after the fire, a number of years’ experience in stores in that town and the city of Troy, and the eight years he was employed in a foundry on Green Island before beginning his 40-year career as a timekeeper for the Delaware and Hudson, combine to give him an optimistic outlook on the current business depression.  During those sixty years, Mr. Chitty asserts, the country has passed through many similar experiences.  Perhaps none of them have been quite so prolonged or noticeable, yet it is  his opinion that business will again reach, and eventually surpass, conditions obtaining in the post prosperous days of the past decade.  In 1889, a similar depression in business caused him to be temporarily laid off by the Torrance Iron Company of Green Island, where he had been employed as a moulder for eight years.  Many men were thrown out of work by the nationwide depression, so he decided to attempt to locate with some growing establishment where the future would be more certain.

 

          When the timekeeping of firemen and enginemen was taken over by the Transportation Department in 1898, Superintendent C. D. Hammond appointed Mr. Chitty Timekeeper.  The office was moved to the Delaware and Hudson’s North Pearl Street office building in 1907, and in 1910 he was placed in charge of the timekeeping of all train and engine crews, station agents, and their forces on the Saratoga and Champlain Divisions.  Except for a few years during and immediately after World War, when the timekeeping was handled by the Accounting Department, he continued as Division Timekeeper, until he retired on July 1, 1930.

 

          Frederick Chitty, interviewed by someone for the ‘Delaware and Hudson Bulletin’ and picked up by the ‘Glens Falls Times,’ highlights some very important points in history:  a connection to the Civil War, the fire that destroyed much of downtown Glens Falls, the Great Depression.  At the time of the interview, Mr. Chitty had retired and was living at the home of his daughter, Mrs. Charles Dix, in Troy, NY).

This column was prepared by Stan Cianfarano, Warren County Historian, for the Warren County Historical Society.

 

 

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