June 25 – Happy Birthday Cousin George Cassabonne

2cousingeorge“Cousin” George Cassabonne was born in Northville, NY on June 25, 1886 and lived most of his life on a farm in West Charlton until moving to Amsterdam during his later years to live in the home of his daughter, Georgianna Chirickio, on Lyons Street. Every season, Cousin George would make his way over to the Recorder offices to deliver his long-term weather forecasts, which the newspaper would publish with great fanfare. According to an article about him in Bob Cudmore’s excellent book “Hidden History of the Mohawk Valley,” Cassabonne said he based his predictions on the “sign of the moon like the Indians did.”

Cassabonne did have other occupations. In his younger days, he worked with his father as a stone cutter and one of the buildings they helped construct was the Montgomery County Courthouse in Fonda. He also drove a forklift at GE, retiring from there at the age of 65 in 1951. In addition, he worked his farm, called square dances, and played Santa Claus at all sorts of events. He was known to frequent the streets of downtown Amsterdam with his fiddle or guitar, serenading local shoppers. There were reports that he did the same at some of this City’s well-known adult watering holes. His popularity was not limited to the Amsterdam area. Several local papers published his predictions, he was a regular guest on a whole list of local radio shows and he even appeared on local television.

Cassabonne also did not invent this role. According to Cudmore’s book , there was a guy named Uncle George Van Derveer from the Town of Florida, who used to do a similar thing up until he died in the 1930’s. That’s when Cousin George stepped in to fill the void.

Cassabonne’s health really began to fail him in 1973 and he was forced to send his daughter to deliver what would be his final published forecast the following spring. Four days later, on the first day of Spring in 1974, Cousin George died at the age of 88. As Cudmore wrote in “Hidden History” , the snow which came early on that day later turned to rain, just as this treasured local personality’s final forecast had predicted it would.

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