Hoosick Falls Seeks to Restore Landmark Figure
For more than 70 years, a cigar store Indian stood guard in the village of Hoosick Falls, N.Y. The Chief, affectionately called Chief Poke in the Nose due to his missing nose, was a nod to the town’s Native American past (Hoosick means ‘place of stones’ in Algonquin).
Over the years, people traveling through town would stop to take pictures of the Chief, and he became a celebrated village attraction, recognized in several high-profile magazines and newspapers, including Sunset and The Boston Globe.
The hand-carved and painted wooden figure stood over seven feet tall, and was created in New York City before traveling up the Hudson River to arrive in Hoosick Falls in 1894, where he stood guard in front of the Moses Schweizer Cigar Store at 55 Church Street.
The Chief left his post of duty on more than one occasion, but never by his own volition. One unfortunate move resulted in the loss of his nose and right arm, which were grafted back on, but never permanently restored. In 1932, he was the victim of a kidnapping and later found in a fraternity house on the Williams College campus. In the 1960s, the cigar store closed and the Chief disappeared, leaving residents to wonder what happened to him.
It was later discovered that he was auctioned off for $62,150 in 2011. Efforts are now underway to restore the Chief – or a close replica – to his rightful place on the sidewalks of Hoosick Falls. Donations can be mailed to the Hoosick Township Historical Society at P.O. Box 536, Hoosick Falls, N.Y. 12090. For more information visit facebook.com/pokeinthenose.