Peekskill Herald

Peekskill Herald

Peekskill Herald

July 4th celebrations bring history alive

1st Rhode Island Regiment re-enactment & patriotic service at Mekeel’s Corner Chapel

There are plenty of other events on July 4th that will get your patriotism flowing. Just 12 minutes south of Peekskill in Croton, at the historic Van Cortlandt Manor, which dates back to 1732, 44 years before the American Revolution, there will be a living history presentation that brings people back in time to what it was like to live as a domestic family during colonial times and the Revolutionary Period.

Just 12 minutes to the north of Peekskill in Cold Spring, there will be an Independence Day Celebration for the community full of patriotic songs and hymns at the historic Mekeel’s Corner Chapel dating back to 1867, just 6 years after President-elect Abraham Lincoln stopped in Peekskill in 1861 and only a few years before the Civil War. The chapel is only open 1 day a year and July 4th is the day. 

Revolutionary War Living History presentation at the historic Van Cortlandt Manor 

Phot credit: The National Museum of American History

On July 4th from 10am – 12pm at the Van Cortlandt Manor in Croton by the Croton ShopRite, kids and adults can experience what the domestic life of a patriot family living in the years just after the American Revolution was like in an engaging and educational Revolutionary War Living History Presentation. 

The event will begin with an exploration of the origin and history of the First Rhode Island Regiment. The 1st Rhode Island Regiment was an integrated unit composed of African American, Native American, and white soldiers, who served together from 1778 through the end of the war in 1783. In 1781, the groundbreaking Black military unit took position on the Croton River to hold Loyalist marauders at bay, protect residents, and guard critical lines of communication and transportation. 

Photo Credit: American Battlefield Trust.

The Living History Presentation will highlight the formation, challenges, and legacy of this distinguished Rhode Island Regiment. Attendees will learn about the pivotal Battle of Rhode Island and the heroic role played by the Regiment, followed by a fascinating account of the Battle of Pines Bridge, fought in Yorktown Heights, NY.

Historian Duane Jackson and Joe Cerrito will provide an overview of the Continental Army, offering insights into its structure, strategies, and significance in the fight for American independence. They will delve into the history of the 2nd New York Regiment, uncovering the stories and contributions of this important unit in the Revolutionary War.

Attendees will also learn what soldiers wore, how they lived, and how they fought, culminating in a live demonstration of musket firing techniques used during the war. 

To learn more about the 1st Rhode Island Regiment, check out the book From Slaves to Soldiers: The 1st Rhode Island Regiment in the American Revolution by Robert Geake that can be found by checking out local bookstores in the area, or by buying it from the Fort Ticonderoga Museum Store or on Amazon.


Independence Day Celebration at the historic Mekeel’s Corner Chapel 

Mekeel’s Corner circa 1870
Photo Credit: Putnam History Museum

In keeping with a long standing tradition, Mekeel’s Corners Chapel at the corner of Route 9 and Route 301 in Cold Spring will offer an Independence Day Celebration for the community on July 4th, 2024 at 10 am.

The non-denominational program will include musicians leading attendees in the singing of patriotic songs and hymns. There will also be a reading of select passages from the United State’s most important founding documents.

In the mid-nineteenth century the Route 9 and Route 301 area of Putnam County was called Griffin’s Corners and the crossroads were known as the Post Road and Carmel Road. The hamlet consisted of a small cluster of buildings including Griffin’s Hotel, a school and a blacksmith’s shop.

By the 1870s the name of this small community had been changed to Mekeel’s Corners on Reed’s Putnam County map. Construction of the Mekeel’s Corner Chapel began in September 1867 and it took three months to build. Originally called the Union Chapel, it was in January of 1868, that the chapel was officially dedicated. The chapel has no electricity or plumbing, although it does have an old wood stove. It is not clear when the chapel assumed the Mekeel’s Corners Chapel name but it was likely sometime in the 1870’s. 

For more information or to donate to the Mekeel’s Corner Chapel for the preservation and maintenance of the building, contact the Putnam History Museum or email the museum at [email protected]. 

Visit the Peekskill Herald Events Calendar Features and the Peekskill Herald Event Calendar to see more local events.

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About the Contributor
Dave Mueller
As a Peekskill native, Dave is thrilled to be working with the Peekskill Herald showcasing featured calendar events. A 1999 graduate of PHS, he remembers reading and enjoying the original weekly print edition of the Peekskill Herald every Thursday. He especially liked the political stories, local features and sports coverage when it was written by Peekskill Runner columnist Jack Burns who always managed to weave history into the running times. An avid hiker, he enjoys exploring the local trails as well as the concrete ones in his job as a conductor for Metro North Railroad. He’s a former teacher and co-founder of the Friends of the Peekskill Dog Park, where he frequently can be found with his Koda. He’s happy to be part of the Herald’s growth as the source of local news for Peekskill and looks forward to highlighting a few of many of the events and happenings in Peekskill and the surrounding communities. Reach Dave at [email protected]