Almanack Contributor Lawrence P. Gooley

Lawrence P. Gooley

Lawrence Gooley, of Clinton County, is an award-winning author who has hiked, bushwhacked, climbed, bicycled, explored, and canoed in the Adirondack Mountains for 45 years. With a lifetime love of research, writing, and history, he has authored 21 books and more than 200 articles on the region's past, and in 2009 organized the North Country Authors in the Plattsburgh area.

His book Oliver’s War: An Adirondack Rebel Battles the Rockefeller Fortune won the Adirondack Literary Award for Best Book of Nonfiction in 2008. Another title, Terror in the Adirondacks: The True Story of Serial Killer Robert F. Garrow, has been a regional best-seller for four years running.

With his partner, Jill Jones, Gooley founded Bloated Toe Enterprises in 2004. They have published 75 titles and are now offering web design.

Bloated Toe’s unusual business model was featured in Publisher’s Weekly in April 2011. The company also operates an online store to support the work of other regional folks. The North Country Store features more than 100 book titles and 60 CDs and DVDs, along with a variety of other area products.



Monday, February 23, 2015

Adirondack Poet Cornelius Carter (Conclusion)

HdlineComboConCarterAdkAlmIn 1891, at age 73, Cornelius Carter was still providing justice and attorney services to the town of Edwards. His name was highly respected across the North Country as a public servant and a knowledgeable outdoorsman. That reputation made state officials take notice when he chimed in on important issues, which Con did for the next ten years despite his advancing age.

In June 1893, responding to a newspaper account of a Lewis County hunter’s claim that deer in the region had wintered well, Carter wrote, “Never was there a time in my remembrance when the forest presented such a luxuriant growth. Every living shrub and tree is robed in living green; the scene is nature in her beauty and her loveliness.” » Continue Reading.


Monday, February 16, 2015

Carthage Inventor Edward Shortt (Conclusion)

02ShorttDuplexEngineTwo creations of Jefferson County’s Edward Shortt were very successful in the 1880s, but like most inventors, he was always thinking, always innovating. Commercial success was important for funding future projects, but his steam pump and award-winning duplex engine, along with the backing of wealthy men like Charles Emery, ensured Edward of a comfortable living standard.

In the early 1990s, as Shortt’s duplex engines began mass production, he delved into designing a better braking system for trains. Other than for financial profit, there were many reasons to do so. Frequent and horrible rail accidents involved great loss of life, particularly in collision situations. The inability to effectively slow and stop such large, moving vehicles often played a role in catastrophic crashes. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Edward Shortt: Notable Jefferson Co Inventor

01ShorttSteamPumpHistorically, the northwestern foothills of the Adirondacks have been home to a number of inventors.

Among the most notable from Jefferson County is a man whose work had a tremendous impact on products used widely by many industries.

One of his inventions is credited with preventing many accidents, thus avoiding an untold number of deaths and injuries.

Edward G. Shortt was just one year old when his family emigrated from Ireland to the United States in 1847. John and Esther Shortt settled in Redwood, about 20 miles north of Watertown, finding work in several nearby communities. Edward, the oldest of about a half-dozen children, attended schools in Redwood and Philadelphia. At about the age of 14, he began working with his father in John’s carriage-making shop, where the young boy’s aptitude for invention and problem solving was revealed. » Continue Reading.


Monday, February 2, 2015

Cornelius Carter: Poet of the Adirondacks

CornCarter1AdkAlm500A few regional authors have been designated at one time or another as “the Poet of the Adirondacks,” able to rhyme rich prose while describing events that speak to us on a personal level. In recalling things we may have experienced, the writer also speaks for us, but with an eloquence that escapes the average pen. Among the earliest to wear the mantle of Adirondack poet was Cornelius Carter.

Although he was among the earliest, Carter’s talent only became widely known late in the game, as a sketch of his life reveals. Cornelius was born in 1816 in Martinsburg (Lewis County). When he was about eight, the family moved to Philadelphia in Jefferson County. At about age twenty, he earned a teaching certificate and taught locally for the next six years, three at Philadelphia and three at Antwerp, both in Jefferson County. » Continue Reading.


Monday, January 26, 2015

Buy Local: A Long History and Familiar Themes

18741219 OgdDailyJournal 02A sense of community is important to most of us. We join clubs, sports teams, civic and arts organizations, historical associations—groups that represent our interests. There’s strength in numbers and satisfaction in knowing that we’re part of something significant. The push to buy local, heightened recently by an economy where average Americans still struggle, is another example. Supporting small local businesses helps your neighbor, keeps money in the community, and benefits us all.

The ideas behind Buy Local movements seem new, exciting, sensible—and two out of three ain’t bad. Exciting and sensible, for sure. But new? New-ish, maybe? Not even close.

Pleading, begging, encouraging, cajoling, and instructing the public on why buying local is important have been components of the “movement” for well over a century. And for most of that time, the reasons given for buying local have remain unchanged. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, January 22, 2015

Adventures in Snow Shoveling

BuscoPlowAdkAlmAbout a year ago on these pages, I shared a secret “illness”—snow shoveling—that has been with me since childhood. Besides the interesting and very funny comments that followed on Adirondack Almanack, personal emails arrived from those similarly afflicted. I did mention that more would come in the future, so here goes. Shoveling and keeping a 1500-foot path open for a decade of winters was the highlight of last year’s piece. That probably can’t be topped, but there is more insanity to report. » Continue Reading.


Monday, January 12, 2015

Correcting The Record On Randy Douglas

Willis-WellsOn Tuesday, January 6, the Press-Republican reported a remarkable achievement of Essex County Board of Supervisors Chair Randy Douglas.

Here’s how the newspaper’s article began: “Jay Town Supervisor Randy Douglas was sworn in Monday for an unprecedented sixth term as chairman of the Essex County Board of Supervisors.” The italics are mine. Their claim is wrong.

Among the subjects I’ve covered on Adirondack Almanack is Willis Wells, a shining star of Essex County’s past and a member of the Lake Placid Hall of Fame. I recently discovered that the articles about his great career, and even his obituary (he died in 1949), were in error. Both sources noted that Wells had served eight terms as chairman of the Essex County Board of Supervisors, including six consecutive. Actually, he served nine terms, including seven consecutively. Bold headlines pronounced his election each year. » Continue Reading.


Monday, January 5, 2015

Publishing Advice for New Authors

BooksImageJW01If the past few years are any indication, we’ll see a variety of new Adirondack books by regional authors in 2015. For those considering writing a book, a family history, or perhaps reviving an old project like a cookbook fundraiser, a few pointers might well save you some headaches and dollars, especially if you’re planning to self-publish. (Self-publishing involves funding the production costs and then marketing and selling your own work—a tough job, but with far greater potential profit for the author than traditional publishing.)

As publishers, my partner and I receive queries on what we call “rescue projects,” those reaching us only after lots of mistakes have been made and lots of money has already been spent, but with poor results. We in fact started our business back in 2004 specifically to help others avoid the pitfalls we encountered while self-publishing. The way to prevent yours from becoming a rescue project is, first and foremost, do your homework. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Benny Rolfe: Inspiring the Great Satchmo

6A  BARNewEdisonPhonoDuring his contract with Lucky Strike, which lasted several years, Brasher Falls native Benny Rolfe’s reach was expanded to more time slots and more stations, reaching virtually every part of America. Rival CBS Radio came up with the “Old Gold Hour”, also sponsored by tobacco, to compete with Rolfe’s great success, but it was a tough assignment. A survey of radio programs in 1931 to determine the popularity of orchestras around the world found Duke Ellington in the number two position—second to B. A. Rolfe. » Continue Reading.


Monday, December 22, 2014

Benny Rolfe: A Pioneer of Radio

5A BAROpensAtPalaisIn the 1920s, pioneer of silent films and legendary trumpeter Benny Rolfe was in great demand. The Amalgamated Vaudeville Exchange gave him office space to organize and produce band acts. The Edison Company signed him as their “ace band attraction” and sought a recording deal.

Benny also scored big at the Palais d’Or, signing a four-week contract to play for the patrons of New York’s most successful restaurant. The Palais announced the new venture with a splash of advertising for “Twelve men, led by the greatest trumpet virtuoso of all time, who has organized more successful dance orchestras than any other man in the music world.”

Performing for the lunch-hour crowd, Benny was an immediate sensation. Edison moved quickly with plans to broadcast the show live on five radio stations. A week later, the Rolfe orchestra was being heard far and wide during three lunch sessions and two evenings. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Benny Rolfe: ‘World’s Greatest’ Trumpeter

4A  BARolfeHatIn 1918, pioneer of silent films Benny Rolfe left Metro Pictures (later MGM) and formed his own Rolfe Productions, quickly scoring a coup by signing Harry Houdini to a film contract. The hugely popular escape artist was featured by Benny in The Master Mystery, a “super-serial” produced in fifteen parts. After viewing the first installment, Billboard reported: “This enthralling picture will be followed eagerly from week to week and will draw like a house afire. Has unlimited advertising possibilities. Grab it quick.” » Continue Reading.


Monday, December 8, 2014

Benny Rolfe of Brasher Falls: Pioneer of Silent Films

3A RolfeHdlineJolsonIn early 1910, Benny Rolfe‘s latest vaudeville release, The Rolfonians, received high praise from the New York Dramatic Mirror. “B. A Rolfe has given vaudeville several entertaining productions, but his latest, which be has named after himself, and in which he appears, is the best he has yet turned out. The Rolfonians is novel if nothing else, while it is decidedly refined and of a truly high-class order.… Mr. Rolfe is to be sincerely congratulated. The Rolfonians is … so admirably staged, and so entirely harmonious from a musical viewpoint, that it will undoubtedly become one of vaudeville’s most sought for acts.” » Continue Reading.


Monday, December 1, 2014

Vaudeville Star Benny Rolfe of Brasher Falls

2A BARolfeBandHatIn April 1900, the 24-piece Brasher Falls Military Band was organized, with Benny Rolfe as leader. He also served as manager of the Rolfe family business. Life was looking pretty good for the Boy Trumpet Wonder of Brasher Falls.

Within a month, he received an offer of $30 a week ($860 in 2014) to lead the famous military band of Lowville, about 100 miles southwest of Brasher Falls. For the time being, Benny remained in his hometown, performing locally, playing solos in appearances with area town and city bands, and perfecting the laundry business.

But in early January 1901, it was announced that Benny had purchased the Lowville Steam Laundry, and would soon become the leader of Lowville’s popular band. What’s more, his father, mother, and Nellie Morse were all accompanying him and would be welcome additions to the band. After moving some laundry equipment to Lowville, Benny sold the Brasher Falls business and completed the move in April, becoming the most famous bandleader in Lewis County at the grand old age of 21. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Benny Rolfe: Boy Trumpet Wonder of Brasher Falls

1A BARolfe01The community of Brasher Falls, located on the St. Regis River in northern St. Lawrence County, can be described as “in the middle of nowhere,” defined here as about halfway between Potsdam and Hogansburg. No insult intended. Remoteness, after all, is a desirable attribute for many North Country folks, and at just a couple miles north of Route 11, it’s not really the boondocks. It’s a small community, and in 1880 had a population of about 240, making it all the more remarkable that a nationally famous musician and a true pioneer of vaudeville, movies, and radio is a Brasher Falls native.

Benjamin Albert Rolfe was born on October 24, 1879, to Albert Benjamin and Emma (Ballard) Rolfe. Both of his parents were interested in the performing arts, taking part in local theater productions. Both were also musically inclined, providing entertainment regionally as Rolfe’s Full Orchestra, and introducing their young son to the joys of playing musical instruments. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The End of Adirondack Horse Thief Alonzo Clark

B1LonClarkHdlineAfter release from prison, Alonzo Clark returned to New York and married a young girl in Brandon, south of Malone, where he worked as a farmhand. It wasn’t long before he returned to crime, stealing horses prior to engaging in a high-profile scam at Helena, a hamlet in northern St. Lawrence County. In early 1885, posing as a salesman and tinware repairman, Clark ingratiated himself to Adam Knapp, 69, and his wife, Susan, 50, claiming to be a cousin of Luella, their adopted 16-year-old daughter.

After several nights of reading from the Bible with the family and turning on the charm, Alonzo won them over, particularly Luella. He courted her for several days, using Adam Knapp’s own horse and cutter to woo her on country rides. Within about two weeks’ time, they married. » Continue Reading.


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