Station Masters

Station Masters at PIERMONT ON THE HILL – Opened 1883

1883 – 1887   James W. Bates — 4 years
1887 – 1897   Louis Knieriem — 10 years
1897 – 1908   Rose Callahan — 11 years
1908 – 1940   Marion ‘Belle’ Byram Kelly — 32 years total for Belle
1940 – 1958   Alexander Fell — 18 years
1958 – 1966   No Attendant 8 years

Following is all the information the Piermont Historical Society has been able to gather — searching the internet by name — regarding our Station Masters. In addition to basic information, included are all the times they have appeared in newspapers and journals over the years. Often tedious in their use of an out of date literary style, those interested will none the less enjoy the local Piermont history in all its daily minutia. 
Such as:

August 24, 1897 – Journal News:
Miss Callahan, the new statin agent, received orders Saturday morning to carry the U. S Mail! A fine job for a woman.’

JAMES W BATES — Station Master: 1883–1887

Genealogy Research:
• Birth Date: 18 Jun 1846
• Married to Mary Margaret Moissan; Children all born in Piermont
• 1910 census lists James in Jersey City; the censuses all say occupation ‘Painter’
• Death Date: 11 Apr 1917; Rockland Cemetery. Sparkill, NY
• Family tree dies out in the 1940’s.

1887 – The Rockland Journal Social:

‘The Lyceum, composed of the younger members of the M.E Church, hold their meetings as usual. … The next meeting will be held at Mrs. James Bates’s on the hill. The street lamps from the station on the hill to the village have again been lighted. There was a short time when they were neglected, owing to some improper management. They are now under the supervision of our station agent, Mr. Bates. We hope he will continue the good work, and that those who patronize this pathway will not hesitate to subscribe for the support of these lamps.”

September 30, 1944 — The Journal News, from a local social clipping:
“James W. Bates was the first station agent of the Northern R.R. of New Jersey at the Piermont station.”
No photos available.


LOUIS KNIERIEM — Station Master: 1887–1897

Genealogy Research:
• Birth Date: Jan 1866
• Spouse: Matilda Elizabeth Remick
• Louis’s Father: Henry Knieriem was born in 1835 in Germany and emigrated to the U.S and was
wounded in Civil War, in the battle of Bull Run.
• 1920 and 1925 living in Brooklyn as liquor salesman with wife only
• Children: Albert Louis Knieriem, born 1890 in NJ. Albert was shot tending bar at the age of 30 at his
uncle Henry’s bar ‘Free Lance Café’ Elsa born 1892 in Carlstadt, NJ married to Harry Nolan
• Death Date: 24 Jun 1928; Rockland Cemetery. Sparkill, NY.



1891, November 21, 1891 –  Rockland County Journal:
‘The Hoisting Machine on the Pier Partially Wrecked and the Trestle Badly Damaged. Piermont Tuesday had a
boisterous, unruly visitor whose absence was more to be desired than its presence. It came in the form of a powerful tornado which swept past the village and then turned about, struck the eastern extremity of the long pier, and made a sad wreck of the appliances employed there in the reception and shipment of coal.
The tornado was first seen at about 2:30 o’clock. At that time Conductor Abram Blauvelt was coming up on his train this side of Closter, when, looking back, be saw a heavy, black cloud which looked like a huge monster bent on doing evil. He realized that it was a tornado and (was greatly pleased when he saw it suddenly turn eastward and go with tremendous speed over the Palisades.
Louis Knieriem, the genial station ‘agent at Piermont-on-the-hill, was standing outside the station when a black cloud came over the mountain to the river, and he says that when it struck it sent the water many feet up into the air. “The tornado rushed up the river,” said Mr. Knieriem to a Journal reporter, “and passed Piermont village. Then, when about half a mile above, it turned rapidly about and shot directly for the pier, where it struck the Brown hoisting machines and wrecked the south side, a part of the machines and a portion of the ( trestle falling in. I tell you it was a great sight.”
It is when the tornado struck the pier it caused a loud crash which was heard by many persons, and the roar of the wind was terrific. To make things still more interesting, a lively hail storm was in progress at the same time. There were nearly 100,000 tons, or over $300,000 worth of coal on the pier at the time, and for two weeks past about eighty men have been employed their receiving it from the (mines and shipping it away by boats. The coal comes from Carbondale. Owing to the storm Tuesday the men were not working, and none were injured by the tornado.
The engineer of the hoisting machines was on shore, but Joseph Fleming, a “checker,” was in the engine room when the pier was t struck. He was frightened as well as surprised by the crash, but soon recovered his presence of mind sufficiently to look around and see what had been damaged.
When the crash was heard many of the residents of Piermont went hurriedly out to the end of the pier, a mile distant, through the driving rain storm to see the wrecked property. It was impossible during the afternoon to ascertain the exact amount of damage that had been done, but old railroad men in the village said that it would cost several thousands of dollars to make the necessary repairs. The hoisting machines were badly wrecked. Large bars of iron, ten or twelve inches in thickness, were twisted and broken, and much of the woodwork was terribly shattered and broken. About forty or fifty feet of the trestle were damaged, but the greatest loss will be in the hoisters.
It is said that the tornado created consternation all along its course before it reached the river. It roared loudly and threateningly as it came up the Northern Railroad valley in New Jersey, and people who lived along that route are congratulating themselves now that they were not victims of its relentless fury. The men employed in the shipment of coal will be out of work for a doubly unfortunate that the disaster should come at this season, at the beginning of cold weather, and that, too, right at the threshold of what promised to be a good long spell of work.”

July 9, 1892 — Rockland County Journal:
DOG WENT MAD. Louis Knieriem’s Dog Had to Be Shot Dead.
Louis Knieriem, the station agent at Piermont-on-the-hill, owned a valuable bull dog to which he was greatly attached. At an early hour on Sunday morning Mr. Knieriem was awakened by the animal, which was making an unusual noise in the yard. He got up and found the dog exhibiting all the symptoms of hydrophobia. Mr. Knieriem thought he would take time to satisfy himself that the dog was mad, so he kept him until 10 a. m. The animal went into a terrible state at the sight of water, and at the hour named he was shot dead. The dog was a valuable one and the owner regretted to part with him, but the circumstances made it necessary for him to do so.

September 3, 1892 – Rockland County Journal:
This place has two enterprising newsboys, Hartman and Murphy, who supply many Piermont people with the Evening Journal as well oh the Now York papers. Anyone who desires the Journal or either of the Metropolitan dailies may secure them by leaving their orders with Postmaster Storms or Station Agent Louis Knieriem.

February 4, 1893 – Rockland County, Journal:
Railroad Officials and Employees from All Along the Line of the Road.
Among those present from other places down the line were: John C. Haring, Charles and William Haring, R. H. Wyatt, A, X. Fallon, S. Krieriem and SI. Kennedy (?), of Piermont; Station.

August 12, 1893 – Rockland County Journal:
Louis Knieriem has been appointed by the Guardian Assurance Company, of London, as their agent for Piermont and vicinity. Mr. Knieriem is a thoroughly trustworthy and reliable gentleman, and the company could not have put their affairs here into better hands.

July 14, 1894 – Rockland County Journal:
Albert Knieriem’s horse got caught in the stall on Saturday last and wrenched himself
A veterinary surgeon was called, but the animal died on
Monday morning. Mr. Louis Knieriem, of Piermont has been appointed local agent for the Hartford Insurance Co., of Hartford, Conn. The security of this company is too well known to give details and Mr. Knieriem is a hustler who looks after the interests of his patrons. Anyone
having business of this kind should give it to him.

March 16, 1895 – Rockland County Journal:
The Piermont citizens have put an opposition ticket in the field for officers of that village. A meeting for that purpose was held at Hiker’s drug store on Tuesday evening and was well attended. S. Van Wagner was made Chairman of ‘the meeting, and he appointed Frank Quinlan and Louis Knieriem tellers.

1897, July 27,1897 – Nyack Evening Star:
Louis Knieriem. Station agent, on the Northern R.R. at Piermont, will be succeeded on Sunday,
August 1st. He has been the agent there for ten years. It is understood that he will be promoted.

1897, October 23, 1897 – Nyack Evening Star:
Recalling Past Glories Story about the Piermont Fire Department.
Treasurer – Louis Knieriem, Financial Secretary – John Hennion (Hey! This is Station Master (1897–1908) Rose Callahan’s future husband!) Active Members – Louis & Albert Knieriem.

November 9, 18-97 – Nyack Evening Star:
Mr. Louis Knieriem, formerly agent at Piermont-on-the-Hill and lately -watchman on the Pier has been transferred as night watchman at the Nyack Depot. David Clark has been returned as watchman at the Pier.

December 18, 1897 – Rockland County Journal News about the Nyack Station … Louis Knieriem has recovered from his recent illness and is performing his duties as night watchman at the (Nyack) station.

1898, June 15 , 1898
Mr. & Mrs. Louis Knieriem and (brother) Mr. & Mrs. Albert Knieriem attended (a wedding 1907 Many Advertisement entries in the Nyack Papers Louis Knieriem – Wine Merchant at 137 Main St, Nyack, N. Y. Wines, Liquors, Beers, Cordials, Etc. FAMILY TRADE

June 29, 1912 –  Rockland County Journal:
Nolan – Knieriem Wedding
The home of Mr. and .Mrs. Louis Knieriem, .Main Street, was the scene of a pretty but quiet wedding on Wednesday, at 4 PM., when their daughter, .Miss Elsa E. Knieriem, was married to Harry L Nolan. The Rev. Francis Moore, assistant rector of Grace Church, performed the ceremony.

October 15, 1912 – Nyack Evening Star:
TO INSTALL OFFICERS OF ROCKLAND ENCAMPMENT Rockland Encampment. No. 37will hold a meeting next Friday evening at which the following officers will be installed: Chief patriarch. C. A. Remsen; high priest, J. W. Lydecker; senior warden, Louis Knieriem: junior warden, Edward Haring; scribe, A. G. Garrison;

1929, February 27,1929 – Rockland County Evening Journal: 
Mrs. Elizabeth M. Knieriem, widow of the late Louis Knieriem, died early this morning at the Nyack Hospital following a short illness. Mrs. Knieriem was 62 years of age. The deceased is survived by a son, Albert Knieriem of Brooklyn, and a daughter, Mrs. Elsie Nolan of Nyack. Funeral services for Mrs. Knieriem will be held from the Fender Funeral Parlors Friday afternoon at 2:30 o’clock. Rev. S. Ralston, pastor of the First Reformed Church of Piermont will officiate. Interment will take place at Rockland Cemetery, Sparkill.

ROSE ANN CALLAHAN — Station Master:  1897 – 1908 

Genealogy Research:
• Birth Date: 1876 NY
• parents from Ireland, living with a priest George Nicholas and family (Buffalo)
• 1900 census lists Rose as a Boarder in Piermont Village, job Telegraph Operator
• 1905 census on Hudson Terrace, Railroad Agent, Boarder with James Murphy and family
Married c 1916 to John J Hennion,
• Husband: John Joseph Hennion born Feb 1878 in Piermont.
• In 1897 John Hennion was a financial secretary of the Union Hose Company’s Piermont Fire
Dept. with Louis Knieriem as Secretary, the previous Station Agent.
• 1919 Rose and John have son John F Hennion Jr.
• 1950 census shows Rose living in Piermont with husband.
• Death 21 Apr 1955 (aged 78–79), Burial Rockland Cemetery Sparkill,

A bit more: son John F Hennion; born 1918. Marriage Date: 14 Aug 1952 in Orangetown, New
York to Anna Theresa Ronan. Buried Oak Hill Cemetery, Nyack.

1897 Journal News

Miss Callahan, of Buffalo, will succeed Louis Knieriem as Station Agent on the hill tomorrow. Louis will be provided for in a few days. All regret to miss his familiar face, which has been beaming on the station for the last few years.

August 24, 1897 – Journal News:
Miss Callahan, the new statin agent, received orders Saturday
morning to carry the U. S Mail! A fine job for a woman.’

1898 – Journal News:
Miss Rose Callahan visiting NYC. Jacob Parcell’s to act as agent.

September 18, 1901 – Journal News:
Miss Rose Callahan, agent in the depot, has gone on a vacation up the State and will visit the Pan-American’ (Exposition in Buffalo).
(Note: President William McKinley had been assassinated at the Temple of Music at the Fair, dying on September 14, 1901, eight days after being shot.)

September 18, 1903 – Journal News
Miss R. Callahan, station agent at Piermont on the Hill, is away visiting her home in Buffalo for a couple of weeks.

August 24, 1908 – Journal News:
The Committees in Charge of Union Event of Baptists and Methodists. ‘Thursday afternoon and evening the union picnic of the Methodist and Baptist Sunday Schools will be held on the Nyack baseball ground and the event promises to be one of rare enjoyment. One of the features will be entertainments in magic and a Punch and Judy show… A band will also discourse fine music. The committees are: .. . Soda and Lemonade – .. Miss Callahan….’

Journal News, date unknown:
Sale at Piermont – (the left side of the clipping is missing) ‘… a sale will take place at St. John’s …Piermont. Tickets can be bought at the stores of …and from Miss Callahan, station agent at Piermont-on-the-Hill….’

MARION "BELLE" BYRAM KELLY — Station Master 1908 – 1940   

Genealogy Research:
• Birth Date: Jan 1866;
• Marian Belle Byram came to Piermont in 1908 from Watkins Glen;
• Spouse: Thomas Kelly, married on March 26, 1913;
• Belle gave birth to her son Tom (on the second floor of the train station) in September 1915;
• Tom senior died leaving Belle a widow and single parent;
• 1940 (after 32 years in Piermont) Belle Kelly moved to a new position as ticket agent for the Erie’s Main Line in Rutherford, N.J.;
• 1959 Belle’s retirement ;
• 1966 Northern Railroad closes the line through Piermont;
• 1969 Belle and Tom Jr rent the former train station in Piermont;
• 1971 Belle and Tom Jr purchase Station;
• Death Date: May of 1976, Rockland Cemetery. Sparkill, NY;
• 1996 Tom Jr dies;
• 2006 Station purchased by the Village of  Piermont

A bit of the story of Belle and Tom Kelly
Thomas Kelly came from a railroad family who settled in Piermont when the Erie line and Western Union were both booming. Belle grew up in Watkins Glen, the daughter of Henry J. Byram and Mary Dowling. She “always liked telegraphy,” and once she finished telegraph school in Elmira, she got a job in Piermont on the Northern Railroad. Telegraphy was one of the first occupations open to women in the early 20th century, and Belle took full advantage of the opportunity.

How exactly the two made contact online or met face-to-face is not recorded, but they surely recognized each other’s telegraphic “fist.” Presumably, Thomas was living in Piermont not far from Belle, so an in-person meeting was easily arranged. Their online communication bore actual fruit when they met, since they were married on March 26, 1913.

Life at the Piermont Station
Thomas transferred to the Piermont Station after they were married, sharing the work and the upstairs apartment. They had a son, Thomas Jr., in 1915. Their jobs were 24/7. In the early days of the 20th century, the station had no running water. Young Thomas remembered coming home from school “to make kindling and haul water from a nearby house.” As station managers, Belle and Thomas were responsible for selling tickets and keeping track of incoming and outgoing baggage, including for many who visited the Fort Comfort Resort in Piermont.

The couple were noted for preventing a train wreck when Thomas noticed that an inexperienced operator had sent a 12-car passenger train southbound on a collision course with a northbound train. The two went out, one in each direction, to flag down the trains and avert a collision.

Robbery at the Piermont Station
In May of 1913, two months after Belle and Tom were married, Alfred Banker of Bridge Street, in Nyack, was seen in local saloons spending money that others thought the father of two children didn’t have. In fact, Banker and Frank Smith, who had been arrested for robbery once before, were soon arrested for robbing the Piermont station.

Belle had visited Thomas in Nyack and returned to her apartment by a late train, finding her apartment broken into and robbed during her absence. She reported the robbery to Officer Hickey who learned the two men had been in Piermont that evening. By midnight, the two were arrested, pled guilty, and returned the money. Smith had been arrested a few weeks before after robbing the station and stealing some $20.

A Sad Ending, a Reunion, & a Renovation
Unfortunately, the marriage kindled by an online romance did not last long. Thomas died as a young man of 30. Belle and her son Tom continued to live in the station house while Belle worked as station agent and telegraph operator. In the late 1930s, she transferred to the Englewood station on the Erie line and then worked for 19 years at the Rutherford, NJ station.

In 1966, the Northern Railroad line to Nyack was shut down and the tracks were taken up. The Piermont station was empty. In 1969, Belle and the younger Tom Kelly rented the empty train station, never having lost their affinity for another time. Belle purchased the station in 1971 and transferred full ownership to Tom in 1974. Tom renovated the downstairs waiting room for his aging mother. Belle lived there until she died in May of 1976.

Tom lived in the station house until he died in 1996. The station was purchased by the Village of Piermont in 2006. The Piermont Historical Society completed a masterful renovation of the station. Their museum is now housed in the station. The renovated station is the lone surviving station of the old Northern Railroad that once carried so many people from the riverside villages to New York City. A walking path along the old trail line begins with Nyack’s Esposito Trail and passes the Piermont station.

A Lasting Romance
In today’s world, we may think we discovered pretty much everything, including online dating. Technologies come and go but love remains forever. Our very own early Orangetown romance between Belle and Thomas brought a wired cupid to our county. Their romance became forever linked to Piermont, telegraphy, and the railroad. The lovingly renovated Piermont train station is a fit memorial to their online romance.

Station Master 1940 – 1950   ?

ALEXANDER FELL — Station Master 1950 – 1958

Genealogy Research:
• Alexander Fell was a long time resident of Tenafly, NJ.
• 1930 Census – Occupation RR Telegrapher.
• 1940 Census – neither he nor wife listed in Tenafly or anywhere else.
• 1940 listed in news as secretary-registrar at Department of Health in Tenafly.
• 1942 Draft Card – Employer is Department of Health
• 1950 News mentions his service in Tenafly Auxiliary Police
• 1950 Census – Occupation – Freight Agent
• 1951 Journal News article with Piermont mayor where Fell is Station Agent.


It is quite possible that Fell was agent at the Piermont on the Hill station starting around 1950 – perhaps earlier. The news that mentions a station from this time in Piermont talks about freight prices and business with Robert Gair Co. His photo with Hogan is at the Gair plant. The centennial celebration is for 1851 the opening of the Erie at the Pier (even though it says Fell is
agent for the Northern branch).
Everything seems to revolve around freight and Gair. Perhaps Fell’s real job was with freight at
the pier and he had little connection with the station on the hill. Or maybe his formal job was on the hill and he did both?

• Alexander Fell was Piermont’s last Station Master

February 22, 1951 – Journal News:

The Erie (Railroad) is planning a centennial celebration to be held in Piermont on May 14. Piermont was the eastern terminus of the Erie Railroad when it opening 1831 and the long pier at Piermont was built by the railroad, so that railroad passengers could continue their journey to New York by train.
(Caption to photo above: Mayor Dennis Hogan of Piermont accept(s) a birthday cake marking the centennial of the Erie Railroad from Alexander Fell, station agent for the Northern Branch at Piermont, in Mayor Hogan’s office at the Robert Gair plant, Piermont.)

1958 – 1966  No Attendant at Piermont Station

1966 – Train service at Piermont on the Hill station discontinued.

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