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This Week in Port Jervis History

On December 12, 1894 the Clarendon Hotel proprietor, James P. Joyce received a kinetoscope for visitors to use at his hotel. The Clarendon Hotel was located on the south side of Sussex Street west of Front Street. The novel machine was first exhibited to the public the previous spring at Chicago World’s Fair and by this time there were about sixty other locations around the country exhibiting Edison’s invention. The machine at the Clarendon first showed the Blacksmith Scene (1893) for ten cents per viewer. This 34-second movie was the first kinetoscope movie shown to the public. It is believed to be the first movie that ever included actors. Prior to its filming, most early movies displayed authentic events and people, but Edison staged this scene in his new studio, the Black Maria, in West Orange. The short movie was filmed by William Heise and directed by William K.L. Dickson and featured Charles Kayser (the blacksmith) and John Ott (an assistant) and another unknown actor (second assistant). The actors in the short clip were employees in Edison’s laboratory. The Clarendon’s kinetoscope would later show a boxing match filmed at Edison’s studio in West Orange by William Heise in 1894. These short clips of actual fighters were the first sporting events ever filmed. Although they were staged events, that didn’t stop them from becoming incredibly popular or from the Newark Circuit Court calling a grand jury to investigate one of the illegal matches. After the James Corbett and Peter Courtney fight was produced (second only to the Leonard-Cushing Fight), Corbett, Courtney, Edison and Dickson were all subpoenaed. Edison told reporters at the time that he would never "permit any fight to a finish in my place" and no charges were filed against Edison, Dickson or the fighters.

On December 18, 1869, Peter Ezekiel Gumaer, farmer, surveyor, teacher and writer, died in his 98th year. Gumaer was born in 1771 at or near Fort Gumaer (built in 1758 and demolished in 1828), one mile southwest of the Gumaer Stone House, which he would purchase from the DePuy’s in 1803. Gumaer studied surveying under Moses DeWitt, the cousin of Simeon DeWitt, Surveyor General of the Continental Army. Gumaer studied at Fort Dewitt at the foot of Prospect Hill Road, where it is believed Governor De Witt Clinton was born. Gumaer surveyed most of the lands in Deerpark and the adjacent towns. He was an avid reader and wrote several books during his lifetime including a History of Deerpark in Orange County and Thoughts and Contemplations in Relation to the Motions of the Heavenly Bodies.

Peter Ezekiel Gumaer

Dewitt House

Gumaer Stone House

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