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Turning Back the Pages

Grand old man dies

John Hart, 106 years old, known as Troy’s grand old man, and probably the oldest resident of New York State, died Jan. 31, 1913 at his home in North Troy after a long illness. Mr. Hart was a veteran of the Mexican and Civil wars and even recalled incidents of the war of 1812. He received injuries in the Civil War where he served in “A” company, 18th Regiment, New York Volunteers after the fall of Fort Sumter and was not mustered out until after Lee’s surrender and during his later years became childish, constantly telling of his wartime experiences. He returned to Schenectady after the war and resumed his trade as a carpenter.

Because of his devotion to the flag which he defended in more than a dozen battles, he painted his North Troy cottage in the colors of red, white and blue. For miles around, it was known as “the little red, white and blue house of Troy’s grand old man.”

Mr. Hart was born April 14, 1806 in New York City, but after the Mexican War in 1848, he went to Schenectady to search for a daughter by his second wife, Virginia Hart. After searching for a long time he finally located her about nine years ago in Troy and has since resided there with her. He received a double pension for his service in the Mexican and Civil wars and until a couple of months ago, when he was confined to his bed, he did most all of the housework.

President prepares to leave office

U.S. President William Howard Taft is preparing to become a private citizen. With a smile that was as genuine as his life, on March 4, 1913 at the presidential inauguration, he will turn over the honors and the responsibilities of the office to his successor Woodrow Wilson, who is destined to become our 28th president. Taft will take a few days vacation in the south and then go to New Haven, Conn., where he will get ready to become Professor Taft. (Note: Taft, a Republican, was a solid 354 pounds. It was said that Taft reminded people of “a bison or a battleship.” Politically inexpedient words occasionally came out of his mouth, such as the time in 1900 when he was governor general of the Philippine Islands, he referred to the Filipinos as “little brown brothers.” Teddy Roosevelt once said of him, “Taft has the most lovable personality I have ever come in contact with — One loves him at first sight.”)

Readers are welcome to contact Adirondack Journal correspondent Jean Hadden at jhadden1@nycap.rr.com or 623-2210.

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