Almanack Contributor Glenn Pearsall

Glenn Pearsall

Adirondack historian Glenn Pearsall is the author of Echoes in these Mountains (2008), When Men and Mountains Meet (2013), and the Adirondack novel, Leaves Torn Asunder (2016).
In 2000, Glenn Pearsall and his wife Carol established and funded the Glenn and Carol Pearsall Adirondack Foundation dedicated to improving the quality of life of year round residents of the Adirondack Park.

When not pursuing a passion for history and philanthropy, Pearsall is a senior partner and Portfolio Manager for a wealth management team in Glens Falls, NY. He and his wife Carol live near the base of Crane Mountain in Johnsburg.


Wednesday, July 26, 2017

French & Indian War Bayonet Discovered Near Loon Lake

Loon Lake - Johnsburg Area in 1805Last fall a rusted old military bayonet was unearthed on private property just east of Loon Lake in Warren County. It was taken to David Starbuck, a noted local historical and industrial archeologist who has written extensively on Fort William Henry on Lake George.

Coincidentally, on that day Jesse Zuccaro, a student who has focused his studies on early bayonets, happened to be visiting Starbuck. Together they inspected this new find. After careful examination they concluded it was French in design and probably dated between 1728 and the 1740s. Twenty thousand of these bayonets were made and sent to New France prior to the American Revolution. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, October 29, 2016

Mid-19th Century Adirondack Farm Life

An early 19th century scene at Wisconsin’s Living Museum (photo by Glenn L. Pearsall).While researching and writing my latest book, Leaves Torn Asunder: A Novel of the Adirondacks and the American Civil War, I knew I wanted it as historically accurate regarding Adirondack farm life in the mid-1800s as it was about the movement and moods of the soldiers during the war.

Getting good information on the soldiers was relatively easy; there are a multitude of letters, diaries, and many books on the subject. Researching Adirondack farm life of the time proved to be more of a challenge. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, October 8, 2016

Wevertown Farm Is A Microcosm of Adirondack History

kenwell farmTravelling on NYS Rt 28 just north of Wevertown, you may have taken little notice of the old abandoned farm on your right. If you did, you’ll probably gave it little thought; it is, after all, just a few run down barns and pasture overgrown with weeds and “poverty grass”. Yet this farm is a microcosm of Adirondack History.

Andrus Wever and his family were the first to open up the forest and to settle and farm on this site. Andrus was a Revolutionary War veteran who had served with the 6th Albany County Militia. At that time, Albany County included most all of Northern New York, the present state of Vermont and theoretically extended west all the way to the Pacific Ocean. The 6th was called up when General Burgoyne’s Army invaded from the north and Andrus likely saw combat at the battle of Saratoga in 1777. The 6th Albany County Militia was also part of the pursuit party that chased Sir John Johnson and his Royal New Yorkers back north after Johnson’s raid of Johnstown in 1780. It’s unclear if Andrus was a member of that pursuing party, but it’s intriguing to speculate he first came through the wilderness of what is today Wevertown during that pursuit. Andrus’ father, William, was also a patriot and apparently served in the American Revolution on Long Island. He was captured and died of small pox on a British prison ship in Boston Harbor. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, September 11, 2016

The Big Boom: Old Hudson River Chain Recalls Logging History

courtesy Adam PearsallRecently my son Adam and his seven-year-old daughter Mckenna were canoeing on the Hudson River above the Feeder Dam in Glens Falls when they noticed a small tree growing atop an old stone pier about 30 feet from shore – and something more. Tangled in the roots, they found a large old rusted chain with links 4 inches wide by 6 inches long.

Sharing pictures with Richard “Dick” Nason, the unofficial Finch Pruyn historian and an authority on river log drives, it appears likely the chain was left over from the heyday of log drives on the Hudson River. The chain was found in the Big Boom sorting area. Logs were released from the Big Boom upriver and floated down to the sorting area where they were tallied by owners, identified by the owner’s mark stamped on the butt end of each log. The sorting area was used from 1851 to 1929. Dick suspects the chain may be from the late 1800s. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, August 11, 2016

Adirondack History: Old Wooden Water Pipes

wooden water pipes 1 When you turn on your kitchen faucet you probably don’t give it much thought, yet it’s a marvel of modern history.

For centuries, to get water into the house it was necessary to fill your buckets from a fast moving stream and lug them home. Later, you might have filled them from a well or cistern, but still had the chore of lugging them back to the house. Every drop of water you wanted for drinking, cooking or washing had to be transported this way and it was a seemingly endless task. In winter, you might have to carry an axe with you so you could break through the ice that had formed overnight. Here in the Adirondacks, wells were sometimes dug right under the house so getting water wouldn’t be quite so arduous, especially in winter. Common indoor plumbing with water to a faucet didn’t arrive in most homes in the Adirondacks until the 20th century. But there were exceptions, one of which was the LeRay Mansion near the town of Leraysville in Jefferson County. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Gouverneur, The U.S. Constitution And The Adirondacks

13We all know that Thomas Jefferson gets credit for writing the Declaration Of Independence. As important as that historical document is however, it’s the Constitution that dictates how democracy works in the United States. But who was its author?

James Madison of Virginia has been called the “Father of the U.S. Constitution”.  Some historians say no other delegate was better prepared for the Constitutional Convention, and no one contributed more to shaping the final document. It was Gouverneur Morris, the New York City native and Pennsylvania delegate (at 36, the youngest), who the Rutledge Committee asked to pull together the disparate ideas and thoughts of the convention and mold them into a single document.  Morris immediately went to work – in four days he had a full draft ready. » Continue Reading.


Monday, August 17, 2015

Fish House: Great Sacandaga Lake’s Underwater Mysteries

47One of the real pleasures in researching and writing When Men and Mountain Meet was exploring the actual sites of the historic places mentioned in my book: the little town of Castorland on the Black River, the LeRay Mansion at Fort Drum, Gouverneur Morris’ Mansion at Natural Dam and David Parish’s house, now the Remington Art Museum, in Ogdensburg. And then there was finding Zephaniah Platt’s grave in the Riverside Cemetery in Plattsburgh, in Lake Placid the site of the 1813 Elba Iron and Steel Manufacturing works , Charles Herreshoff’s flooded iron ore mine in Old Forge and the complex of building foundations that made up John Thurman’s 1790 development at Elm Hill.

There was one site, however, that was a little harder to locate than the others; Sir William Johnson’s fishing camp “Fish House”. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, June 30, 2015

New Evidence About A Cannon Found In Johnsburg

Johnsburg Revolutionary War CannonThe story goes that, in the summer of 1970, a Town of Johnsburg highway crew was straightening a Garnet Lake Road near Crane Mountain. While removing some of the ancient corduroy logs that once carried the road across a swampy section, they discovered what appeared to be an old cannon.

Vincent Schaefer had the cannon dated at the Watervliet Arsenal and it was determined that it was a swivel gun of the type probably used by Benedict Arnold’s troops during the battle of Valcour Island. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, June 14, 2015

The Battle of Waterloo’s Adirondack Legacy

Napoleon on Board the Bellerophon Two hundred years ago this week, Napoléon Bonaparte was defeated at the Battle of Waterloo. With the collapse of his army, Bonaparte abdicated and made his way to the French port of Rochefort where he was met by his oldest brother, Joseph Bonaparte.

At Rochefort Joseph had dinner with Jacques-Donatien Le Ray de Chaumont (known in America as James LeRay de Chaumont, founder of the Town of LeRay, NY), who had been in Paris promoting his land development scheme in the Adirondacks. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, May 5, 2015

An Adirondack Mystery: What Is It?

Danker Farm  Foundation 1Hiking through any abandoned “working landscape” in the Adirondacks you are likely to come across evidence of the people that were here before: a lilac bush deep in the forest, an old butternut tree, perhaps an odd patch of daylilies, and, of course, old cellar holes and stonewalls.

The old Danker Farm in Johnsburg is just such a place. It probably hasn’t been used for any real farming for almost a century now. Like most abandoned farms in the Adirondacks, its pastures and fields have grown up to a chaotic mixture of poplar, white pine, fir, maple, beech and white birch. And, like most old farmland, the property is littered with old stone foundations and crumbling stonewalls. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Maple Syrup Production and Slavery

Native Woman collecting sapThe sight of maple sap bubbling away in an evaporator pan, the sweet smell in the air and the camaraderie of sugarin’ season are welcomed signs of spring here in the Adirondacks. It also has an interesting history; there is a connection between maple sugar production, slavery in the United States, and socially responsible investing.

Early settlers watched Native Americans slash the bark of mature maple trees during the “sugar month” (even today the full moon in March is called the “Sugaring Moon”). As the trees released their sap from these gashes the clear sweet liquid would be funneled through a series of concave pieces of birch bark stitched together with reeds to the base of each tree where a sealed birch bark basket stored the sap. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, February 19, 2015

Tracing Northern Warren County’s Earliest Roads

Warren County NY AtlasIn my book Echoes in These Mountains, I suggested two possible routes for the old military road used by Sir William Johnson during the French and Indian War, and later used by his son Sir John Johnson in his raids on the Mohawk Valley. In recent years however, I’ve given this historical problem more thought as new evidence has come forward.

For example, I’ve seen the swivel cannon said to have been left by Sir John Johnson’s raiders near Bartman Road in Bakers Mills. Also, Tom Askens has shared with me that he has found small “cannon balls” in his garden at the intersection of Bartman Road and Coulter/Armstrong Road.  » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, November 25, 2014

1816: An Adirondack Year Without Summer

Caldera_Mt_Tambora_Sumbawa_IndonesiaLast week’s cold snap, news reports about the Polar Vortex, and a November snowfall of historic proportions in Buffalo and Watertown has some folks teasing that they could use a little global warming about now. Adding to the concern is a recent book by John L. Casey, former space shuttle engineer and NASA consultant. Casey claims that it is solar activity, namely sunspot eruptions – and not carbon emissions – that trigger climate changes here on earth. The recent diminished solar activity, he claims, will cause the earth to rapidity grow colder. Casey’s book Dark Winter predicts the worst of the cooling cycle will hit in the late 2020s and a shortened growing season will trigger food riots around the world. His thesis is sure to trigger heated responses (sorry, couldn’t resist) from global climatologists around the world, many of which have been measuring the loss of ice at the poles and warming global temperatures.

All of this has reminded me of a time two hundred years ago when the Adirondacks were, at least for a while, unusually cold. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, November 13, 2014

Johnsburg: A Rich, Mostly Under-Appreciated History

IMGP4846The sparsely populated towns in the Adirondacks often hold a particularly rich and intriguing history, but it often lies undiscovered and under-appreciated. The Township of Johnsburg, in the southeastern corner of the Adirondack Park is a prime example.

It appears that Sir William Johnson used a Native American trail through Johnsburg to sneak north to terrify and murder the French during the French & Indian War. It is likely too that his son, Sir John Johnson, used that same trail to lead a band of 528 loyalist New Yorkers south in 1780 to rescue 143 Loyalists and then burn 120 barns, mills and houses in his home town of Johnstown during the American Revolution. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, September 7, 2014

Glenn Pearsall On John Thurman And Elm Hill

Thurman Marker sign 2The Townships of Johnsburg and Thurman were named for John Thurman when Warren County was split off from Washington County in 1816. Beyond the boundaries of these two townships, however, few have heard of him or his accomplishments.

The story of John Thurman is an important chapter in the history of the Adirondacks. For too many, Adirondack history is limited to the great camps, guide boats, and environmental protection. Yet there is so much more.

For hundreds of years the Adirondacks were a dark and dangerous place; anyone traveling through the area had best be well-armed. However, after the American Revolution the Adirondacks became, for the first time, a land of great opportunity, ready for exploration and commercial enterprises. » Continue Reading.


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