Port Jervis' Second Mayor (1910-1911) Dr. Charles Nelson Knapp
Updated: Oct 8, 2022
By Sharon E. Siegel
Dr. Charles N. (Nelson) Knapp (Republican) 1910-1911
Second Mayor of the City of Port Jervis
Dr. Charles N. (Nelson) Knapp: On November 2, 1909, Charles N. Knapp was elected as the second mayor of Port Jervis.
Knapp's election was headlined in the November 3, 1909 Boston Globe as “Overturn in Port Jervis, NY” by “nominally democratic voters.” The article reported that Knapp, a Republican, had defeated the city’s incumbent first mayor, Henry B. Swartwout, a Democrat. Swartwout had been the Village of Port Jervis’ last President (serving two terms as President), through July 26, 1907. Swartwout became the first Mayor of Port Jervis on July 26, 1907 and was officially elected later that year. Swartwout served through 1909, when Knapp took over as the second Port Jervis Mayor.
The Common Council makeup, as a result of the 1909 election, changed from a Democratic majority to Republican, with seven Republicans and two Democrats comprising the formerly Democratic city leadership.
Knapp, like his predecessor, was a very well-known physician. Knapp was a man noted for his practical approach to municipal problems, and he had a very successful term of office.
Dr. Knapp was born on March 23, 1868 in Spring Glen, Ulster County, NY. He died January 29, 1925 in Port Jervis, Orange County, NY. He is buried with other family members at Overlook Cemetery, Damascus, Wayne County, PA.
Knapp’s parents were Dewitt Knapp (9/15/1839-9/23/1895) and Susan Campbell Knapp (9/15/1832-1/15/1911). His parents married May 9, 1868. Dr. Knapp's father, Dewitt, was very active in elected positions and community undertakings in his own community throughout his life.
Dr./Mayor Knapp had three siblings.
1. Knapp's older sister was Harriet “Hattie” B. Knapp (1854-9/8/1945) m. Andrew Inderlied (1851-1925). The couple had one daughter, Edith Lisle Inderlied (6/23/18880-12/10/1895. Edith’s middle name was the same as the town the family lived in, Lisle, NY. Edith died at age 15. A newspaper notice reports dangerous behavior and sympathy for her parents’ affliction with her prior to her death. The clipping says she died December 11, but her headstone matches other reports as December 10, 1895. Harriet had no grandchildren.
2. Knapp’s younger sister was Susan F. Knapp McCullough (1871-1900) at age 15, in 1886, married John J. McCullough 10/1865-10/9/1955). J. McCullough died (1955) at age 90 in Honesdale, PA (Peck Convalescent Home), interment Overlook Cemetery, Damascus. Susan and John had two children.
A. H. Kingsley McCullough (12/6/1895, born Cochecton, NY, died 9/28/1945, m. Dorothy L. Gages (born 1903). H. Kingsley and Dorothy had two daughters, Sue Elizabeth McCullough (4/12/1926, born Binghamton, NY, died 4/26/1998) and Margery R. McCullough (born 1928, died 5/7/2014). Sue had no record of marriage or children. Margery married (6/21/1953) Francis Charlese Secrest (8/19/1924 Deposit, NY-1/6/2002 Oneonta, NY). Margery and Francis had no children.
B. Gladys N. McCullough Rosenberg (9/11/1889-5/16/1969 d. Los Angeles, CA)
Gladys had two children, three grandchildren.
3. Knapp's younger brother was Edson Dewitt Knapp (1/17/1875-1936) (m. E. Gertrude Jackson in 1896) (E. Gertrude Jackson 1877-1964). No children.
In Census records, Dr. Knapp is listed as living at 151 Pike Street in 1900 (now 10/2022 a bank parking lot), 28 Coleman Street in 1910, and 5 Hammond Street in 1920, and then-newly built Hotel Minisink at the time of his death, January 1925. Dr. Charles N. Knapp had no wife or children.
As a physician, Dr. Knapp practiced “allopath” (modern traditional) medicine in Port Jervis, Ny. He graduated from Clarenack College, and then Bellevue Hospital Medical College, New York (1894).
In 1900, Dr. Charles N. Knapp ran for Village Trustee. Others on that year's slate were Fred A. Knapp, George A. Proctor, Wm. B. Lent, For Treasurer Jeremiah B. Thorpe, For Inspectors of Election C.E. Homes, E. A. Zieres, N. B. Mondon (later became Port’s first official firefighter), and Stephen Campbell. (Tri-States Union, Port Jervis, NY March 15, 1900). This article also provided a profile of Dr. Charles N. Knapp, noting him as "standing as the head” of the Republican ticket nominations, as Trustee. It notes him as a physician who readily gave freely of his expertise and providing care to anyone in need:
“Dr. Charles N. Knapp is a son of Dewitt Knapp of Cochecton, Sullivan County, who was prominent for many years in this Republican party of Sullivan County and long represented his town in the board of supervisors. His name was the synonym of probity and integrity wherever it was known and his son, who is an honored citizen of Port Jervis, has inherited in full measure the qualities for which his father was so highly esteemed. After graduating at the College of Physicians and Surgeons about eight years ago, Dr. Knapp settled in Port Jervis, where his professional skill speedily gained him a large practice and his estimable personal qualities made him a host of friends. The popular admiration and respect for Dr. Knapp is not diminished by a knowledge of the fact that his time and services as a physician have been freely and ungrudgingly given to the poor and needy from whom compensation was neither required or expected. Dr. Knapp is a man of good sense and sound judgment, and if elected will be an intelligent, public spirited and faithful trustee.”
Just a few months later, an article in the Tri-States Union, Port Jervis, NY (July 5, 1900) congratulated Dr. Charles N. Knapp of the Village of Port Jervis for being appointed by Commissioner of Pensions H. Clay Evans, of Washington, DC, as Pension Examiner of the Middletown District, as of June 28, 1900, to fill the vacancy on the board caused by the recent death of Dr. Burke Pillsbury, of Middletown. “The appointment is a very important one and is a handsome recognition of Dr. Knapp’s professional ability. We congratulate him upon the appointment.”
Over his many years of service as a doctor, many newspaper articles report various responses, many routine, by Dr. Knapp and his treatments and care to people throughout the region.
Two articles reported in the Tri-State Union, Port Jervis, NY, give details of a young girl being injured twice, and both times treated by Dr. Knapp.
The first, January 31, 1901, reports, “Pearl Carroll, the seven-year-old daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Edward F. Carroll, of 19 Prospect Street, fell on the ice while returning from school, Wednesday afternoon, and broke her left arm below the elbow. Dr. Charles N. Knapp was called and is treating the injury.”
The second, a year-and-a-half later, August 14, 1902, reads, “Miss Pearl Carroll, daughter of Erie Baggagemaster Edward Carroll, fell from her bicycle while riding near her home on Prospect Street, at about 7 o’clock last Friday evening, and broke her left arm just below the elbow. Dr. Charles N. Knapp was called and reduced the fracture. She is resting somewhat easier today. Last winter she slipped on an icy sidewalk and broke the same arm, but in a different place.”
Smallpox was an issue doctors of the time had to deal with. An article in the Tri-State Union, Port Jervis, NY (April 17, 1902) reports Dr. Knapp fumigating furniture that was transported by train to Port Jervis. The article chastises Newark health officials for “another case of laxity” in allowing the furniture to leave their city. In part, the article states, “A car containing furniture, which had been in a house in Newark, where there had been smallpox, was shipped from that city to Port Jervis. Dr. Skinner notified President John M. Snook, of the Board of Health, who had Dr. Charles N. Knapp, the town health physician, fumigate the furniture before it was removed to the residence of Wm. Miller “across the track” and there it is quarantined with the family.”
Less than a year later, another article in the Tri-States Union, Port Jervis, NY (January 8, 1903) reports The Deerpark Sanitarium as being incorporated under the Laws of New York State at Albany, with a capital stock of $1,000 and directors being Drs. B.J. Leahy, F.W. Best, E.B. Lambert, F.C. Coddington, W.B. Kelley, C.N. Skinner, and Charles N. Knapp. It states that “the institution will be conducted the same as formerly, with officers not yet elected.”
One article reports Dr. Knapp's need for medical treatment himself following an accident he and another doctor were involved in while responding to the home of a patient in Rio, NY. An article in The Citizen, Honesdale, PA (November 26, 1909) reported Drs. Knapp and W.E. Kelley, of Port Jervis as being involved in the accident, It reads, “An automobile collided with a laundry wagon in the Erie Railroad subway of Sparrowbush, two miles west of Port Jervis, Saturday evening and was overturned. Dr. Chas. N. Knapp, Mayor-elect of Port Jervis, and Dr. W.E. Kelly, of Port Jervis, the occupants of the automobile, were seriously injured. They were on their way in Dr. Knapp’s machine to visit a patient of Dr. Kelley’s at Rio. Dr. Knapp, who was at the wheel, received a scalp wound and some bruises. Dr. Kelley’s injuries were a compound fracture of the right foot and spine badly wrenched. His condition is serious. Fred Long was first to their assistance. He attempted to move the physician’s medicine cases to another automobile, when the machine started forward and he was dragged quite a distance and was badly lacerated and bruised. It developed Monday morning that Kelley sustained a broken pelvis in addition to his other injuries and he will be laid up for a long time. Despite his injuries, Dr. Knapp was able to get to his office the morning after the accident, but was unable to do any business.”
This incident was also in The New York Times, November 21, 1909: “Dr. Charles N. Knapp, Mayor-elect of the City of Port Jervis, and Dr. W.B. Kelley, also of this town, were seriously injured in an automobile accident at Sparrowbush, two miles west of here, this evening” (Nov. 20, 1909). “In the subway the car met a laundry wagon. In the attempt to get around the horse-drawn vehicle the machine was upset. Dr. Knapp, who was at the steering wheel, got a scalp wound and several bruises. Dr. Kelley received a compound fracture of the right foot and a badly wrenched spine, and is in serious condition. The injured were taken to a hotel.”
A decade-plus later article in the Port Jervis Daily Union, Port Jervis, NY (June 11, 1920) reported the purchase of Dr. Charles N. Knapp’s dwelling house at 12 Prospect Street by Deerpark Sanitarium in order provide additional needed space. It notes, “The purchase was made necessary by the increasing demand for rooms. The dwelling will be remodeled and used by the Sanitarium.”
A few years later, an article (The Evening Gazette, Port Jervis, NY April 12, 1923) reported the Kiwanis Club's appointment of Dr. Chas. N. Knapp to the Classification and Membership Committee. That same year, Port Jervis Daily Union, Port Jervis, NY (August 20, 1923) reported Dr. Charles N. Knapp as a candidate for Second Ward, 1st District, Republican County Committee.
Having lived a very active and service-based life, former Mayor Charles N. Knapp died on the morning of January 29, 1925, age 56, from pneumonia. He was just a few months shy of turning 57. The day before (January 28, 1925) he had signed a Will in his Hotel Minisink (newly built the year before, in 1924) 154 Pike Street apartment. This signing was witnessed by Fred W. Best and Knapp's attorney William A. Parshall. Dr. Knapp’s brother Edson Knapp was listed as the executor/beneficiary of the doctor/past mayor’s Will. Also mentioned as relatives in Dr. Knapp's Will were Hattie Inderlied ("sister"), Kingsley McCullough ("nephew") and Gladys Budlong ("niece").
In reports of his death, an article published on January 29, 1925, Port Jervis, notes Jervis Knapp’s death as attributed to pneumonia and heart trouble. It lists Dr. Knapp as “one of the founders of the Deerpark Sanitarium, mayor of Port Jervis during 1910 and 1911, vice-president of the Port Jervis Telephone Company, member of the Board of Health prior to election as mayor, member of Port Jervis Lodge 645, B. P.O.E.
On January 29, the same day that Dr. Knapp died, his close friend, Judge/former Port Jervis Mayor Frank Lybolt, also died of pneumonia, at age 57. Like Knapp, Lybolt was also just a few months away from his birthday. Knapp and Lybolt were both former mayors, prominent Republicans, friends, and longtime professionals since the 1890s; Knapp being a physician in medical practice for 30-years and Lybolt an attorney for 35-years.
Knapp is buried in Overlook Cemetery, Wayne County, PA. Lybolt is buried in Laurel Grove Cemetery, Port Jervis.
(Dr. Charles N. (Nelson) Knapp: March 27, 1868-January 29, 1925)
1910-1911 Common Council of the City of Port Jervis
Mayor Dr. Charles N. Knapp, Alderman-at-Large Joseph Johnson, First Ward Alderman John Flanagan, Thomas Eagan, Second Ward Alderman James A. Orr, A.T. Brown, Third Ward Alderman Willis B. Glass, David M. McCathie, Fourth Ward Alderman Lester W. Woolsey, Edward V. Swinton
First Ward Supervisor S. Emmet Garriss, Second Ward Supervisor Peter J. Gaudy, Third Ward Supervisor John J. Toth, Fourth Ward Supervisor James Bennet