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After Sunday's Hocus Pocus Parade in Beacon, my family and I took a drive along the Hudson. Unfortunately we got stuck in traffic when we hit Cold Spring. We then realized that Cold Spring was also having their town parade and it was due to start any minute which explained the crazy traffic. We decided to kill some time by checking out the costumes on the pedestrians when my husband pointed out a 10 year old ghost. To my horror and complete dismay, that child was NOT dressed as a ghost. He was dressed as a KKK member. We were speechless. Who would teach their child such ignorance and hate?? What saddened me the most was the tolerance. Noone else seemed to give them a second look or even a disapproving glare. Nothing!

Today, after several conversations, we've been told that this is common and that there is no diversity in Cold Spring at all. Apparently the KKK had/has a big following there.

Who knew???

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I knew
I had heard this for a while (one reason I kept heading north when relocating from Brooklyn). But I had hoped "had/has" was now just "had."
I remember hearing they had a lodge on 301 in Nelsonville at one point.

From http://www.kimandreggie.com/steal_cd.htm
As precarious as life was for African Americans in this part of New York State in the mid-19th century, it declined further. Their families and lives disrupted as emancipation played out over decades and freedom was slow to take hold, many blacks chose to stay on as servants to their old masters after 1827. But conditions did not improve after slavery. Freed blacks faced discrimination in housing and employment. The Civil War corresponded with rise of the industrial revolution in New York, and blacks were increasingly displaced by immigrant workers. The Cold Spring Foundry was a center of manufacturing for Civil War cannon, and at its height employed thousands of men -- so many that they had to hot-bunk their barracks. These populations were largely Irish and Italian, and their communities took root in Philipstown, but the Foundry did not employ blacks.

By 1900, the Foundry was in decline. Its rise meant that Putnam County's waterfront became one of the first to industrialize, but it happened too early in the long, slow unfolding of emancipation to allow freed New York blacks a foothold in it. Its fall meant that Putnam County reverted to a rural, agricultural economy. In the early decades of the 20th century those blacks who stayed in this part of New York state migrated away from rural towns to nearby cities with waterfront manufacturing -- Peekskill, Beacon, Newburg, Ossining. They found work there until the Depression closed the factories. Many stayed on and weathered the Depression, and their descendants after them.

This is one reason why Putnam stands out today as a pocket of homogeneity in an otherwise racially integrated region: blacks left Putnam County by attrition.
The County census numbers tell a poignant story as they register the numbers of people of color, taxed (freed) and untaxed (slaves), dwindling steadily from a high in the mid-19th century to single numbers around the turn of the century. But blacks were also actively kept out. After World War I the Ku Klux Klan became powerful in the midwest and expanded rapidly north and east, especially into rural areas where there were few blacks. There were open, active Klan cells in many towns in this area, including Fishkill and Nelsonville, until the middle of the 20th century, some say until the 1970s. Very little about their activity is documented, although it survives in the memory of Putnam county residents, and an oral history project is now underway to study its role in local racial and ethnic history.

New York State's African American heritage is rich. Its complexity mirrors our national experience, and reflects the best and the worst of our history. The Underground Railroad ran through here, and giants of the abolition and civil rights movements walked here. Ogres of slavery, oppression, discrimination and persecution also thrived here. As Putnam County celebrates its various Civil War observances this year, a glance at the broad outlines of our complex history over the last 135 years begins to answer the demographic question of how ours came to be a virtually all-white county. But it does not begin to answer the question of why it was a century after the Civil War before Jackie Robinson could break baseball's color bar, why a performance by Paul Robeson sparked the Peekskill Riots of 1949, why race riots broke out in Ossining High School in 1973, why a black cemetary in Southeast was bulldozed and blacktopped in 198_ with little outcry, why cross burnings are within the living memory of Putnam County residents, or why, at this very, very late date, we in Putnam have yet to open our communities sufficiently to establish any significant residency by people of color. I believe that how my generation of Putnam County residents copes with its inheritance of de facto segregation will be a key criterion -- perhaps the key criterion -- by which history will judge us 135 years from now.
We lived in Cold Spring in the late 90's for a bit. Definitely heard about and felt a KKK subtext from some elements of the Springer population.
I'm afraid I might regret asking this, but exactly how did you know that it was a KKK costume, not just a misshapen ghost costume?
The letters KKK on his costume is what shocked me into realizing he was not a ghost.

Eric Gurna said:
I'm afraid I might regret asking this, but exactly how did you know that it was a KKK costume, not just a misshapen ghost costume?
bizarre and creepy, i had no clue
So Eric, please enlighten this transplanted Brooklynite. I have 2 teenaged sons with darker complexions. Should they avoid Cold Spring at all costs?? I moved to Beacon for the diversity which is comparable to Brooklyn. I refuse to expose my children to hate mongers and it makes me sick to think people in Cold Spring tolerate and live alongside this.

Eric Wilkerson said:
I knew. If you're not white and live in the hudson valley or have recently moved here it is like required knowledge. I tell visiting friends to bypass cold spring completely and if you must drive through, do so 5 miles under the speed limit just in case. It's a nasty little burg that you couldn't pay me money to visit.
Dear Millie,
You spread such ignorance and hate.
said the white lady from Cold Spring.

Lillian Rosengarten said:
Dear Millie,
You spread such ignorance and hate.
How exactly was she spreading ignorance and hate? She was simply reporting something she observed.



Lillian Rosengarten said:
Dear Millie,
You spread such ignorance and hate.
"Today, after several conversations, we've been told that this is common and that there is no diversity in Cold Spring at all. Apparently the KKK had/has a big following there."

I live in Cold Spring, a wonderful and diverse community.
It is the above statement that is troubling. A KKK costume would not be tolerated and the "conversations" are simply meeting hate with hate.

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