Rewind: January 15, 2021 – “Chestertown’s Only Hatless Man”

Rewind:  January 15, 2021

Chestertown’s Only Hatless Man

by David Waite


We have an interesting article written by one of our new contributors, David Waite.  David’s family has connections  to Stony Creek.

Even after one hundred years, this banner headline from 1914 could still draw in a reader to investigate:

Glens Falls Times, March 11, 1914

The subjects of this story were from three places: New York City, Ballston Spa and Chestertown. All of them far removed and completely unknown to each other.

Today the story itself might seem foolish, but to those living in that era it was important news, as the trio were likely the only men in all of New York State who routinely went hatless.

None of these men were attempting to steer society down new paths of fashion, nor were they anything more than normal members of their local communities. Except, that is, for their unwillingness to cover their heads. While the man from New York City is never identified, the other two were Fred Armer, a Ballston Spa hardware dealer, and Charles T. Smock of Chestertown here in Warren County. Mr. Armer is said to have made the decision to not cover his head following direction from his doctor for unspecified reasons. Charles Smock’s reason was never clear, yet the choice seemed to work well for him as we will see as we follow the story of his life and learn what sort of man would live hatless. [1]

Can you find one man without a hat?

Charles Throckmorton Smock was born February 19, 1851 in Manhattan, New York, the son of Daniel P. Smock, a sporting goods dealer in the city and his wife Catherine Elizabeth. Charles graduated from the College of the City of New York in 1868, and afterward furthered his education in England. From 1872 to 1880 he was a clerk and exchange teller at the 4th National Bank in New York City.

When exactly he came into Warren county is unclear, and the first record of his presence is in November 21, 1884 when the Glens Falls Times announced that he had visited Horicon with a friend. He must have been well enough known even then, as the thirty-three-year-old Charles was noted “for his admiration of the fairer sex,” during his time there. It is likely that he had vacationed there with his parents in those previous years, as in March of 1897 he and his mother had been staying at the Chester House when she was stricken with paralysis and passed away. [2]


1926 Advertisement for the Chester House


By the 1900 he had moved to Chestertown and was a boarder with Harry Downs, proprietor of the Chester House in that village. He did not list an occupation in that year’s census, but it was said that he possessed sufficient means to lead a life of leisure if he desired. By 1910 he was renting a house in Chestertown and working as a manager of an estate. [3]

In January of the next year he was appointed Warren County Court Crier for the county and supreme courts, a position he would hold for the next ten years. A crier was an officer of the court, whose duty was to open and adjourn the court, maintain order and provide the judge with assistance in the courtroom. [4]

Charles enjoyed travel, with news of his trips to visit local towns or tour the north county frequently reported in the Glens Falls Times. During one trip to Glens Falls to take in the local entertainment, he was stopped by a reporter who took down this story that Smock said described how quiet Chestertown was during the winter. The tale went that a native of the place dropped dead on the front steps of the post office. It was three  days before he was found, not discovered by someone getting mail, but the janitor who was making his weekly visit to oil the hinges and lock on the front door to make sure they did not rust shut. [5] [6]

Glens Falls Times, May 2, 1916


Charles Smock was well-known in the Chestertown community for his hat lessness. During all his years in that town he was never known to have any sort of head gear, rain or shine, summer or winter. His only cover was his thick head of hair, which by the time he had turned sixty-five had turned an iron gray. The Glens Falls Times, reporting on his unusual activity made it clear that he was not in any way eccentric, especially when he went to Glens Falls and turned heads because of his bare head. It was said that this reaction did not bother him one bit, he simply passed by unruffled by the stares and remarks of those with whom he was not acquainted. [7]

Mr. Smock never married, was noted as being a well-educated, and refined gentlemen. During his years in Chestertown he gave freely of his time to benefit the local community and its inhabitants. He was a driving force in establishing and maintaining the village library, worked with members of the community in keeping up the local cemetery and was always willing to aid the public when necessary to have clerical work accomplished. Having become well-known in Chestertown during the 30 years he lived there, he became prominent in business, social and civic circles. He was a member of the Chestertown board of education for several years and service the school district as collector and treasurer. He was a member of Glens Falls lodge of Elks. [8]

Charles Throckmorton Smock, Chestertown’s only hatless citizen, died August 22, 1921 at age 70, in the home of Mrs. John Force in Chestertown. After his funeral held in the Force house, he was buried in Brooklyn’s Greenwood Cemetery.


Three Hatless Men, Glens Falls Times, March 11, 1914

Can you find the one man without a hat?

1926 Advertisement for the Chester House from The Adirondacks Guide and History, Arthur S. Knight, 1926.

Smock is out for a Good Time, Glens Falls Times, May 2, 1916



Turn of the Century Scrapbook of Jonathan Streeter Gates, William Preston Gates, Charles Smock census and genealogy records online newspaper archives online newspaper archives


[1] William Preston Gates, Turn of the Century Scrapbook of Jonathan Streeter Gates (Glens Falls: Gates Publishing Company 1999) p 176

[2] Glens Falls Times, March 31, 1897

[3] Gates, p 176

[4] Glens Falls Daily Times, January 3, 1911

[5] Glens Falls Daily Times, May 2, 1916

[6] Gates, p 240

[7] Gates, p 176

[8] Warrensburg News, August 25, 1921