Last week in this space, I addressed the subject of cross-burnings in the North Country, which became common in the 1920s during a resurgence of the Ku Klux Klan. Throughout the region, meetings were conducted by Klan leaders, and thousands of followers were added to their ranks. For many of us, it’s an uncomfortable part of Adirondack history, but there is another side to the story. Despite widespread intimidation spawned by secret meetings, robed figures, and fiery crosses, New York’s citizenry rose in opposition to the Klan policies of bigotry and exclusion. » Continue Reading.
Posts Tagged ‘Ku Klux Klan’
Last week the Watertown Daily Times reported a story that was disturbing on many levels. Knowing that it wasn’t equally disturbing to everyone (rest assured that bigotry is alive and well even in our lovely North Country) makes it even more unsettling. A snippet from the article said, “A Gouverneur man is worried about the safety of his family after he claims he was threatened by a Hammond man …. Ryann A. Wilson burned a cross and threatened to lynch Nigel A. Spahr, a black man ….”
If that is indeed what happened, it’s sickening in my opinion, but Wilson’s case will be settled by the courts. The point here instead is to address how we perceive ourselves in the Adirondack region. At the end of the article was this: “Sheriff Kevin M. Wells said the cross-burning was an isolated event. ‘It’s not something that occurs here.’ ” If only. » Continue Reading.
The Wilmington Historical Society will be hosting a program with historian and author Amy Godine entitled “Have You Seen That Vigilante Man?” to be held on Friday, July 30th at 7 pm at the Wilmington Community Center on Springfield Road in Wilmington.
Night riders, white cappers and vigilante strikes; the darker side of American mob justice was not confined to the Deep South or the Far West. Adirondack history is ablaze with flashes of “frontier justice,” from farmers giving chase to horse thieves to “townie” raids on striking immigrant miners to the anti-Catholic rallies of the KKK. Amy Godine’s anecdotal history of Adirondack vigilantism plumbs a regional legacy with deep, enduring roots, and considers what about the North Country made it fertile and forgiving ground for outlaw activity. » Continue Reading.
It’s February and that means a post on some aspect of African American history in the Adirondacks.
Here is last year’s popular list of stories.
I recently discovered that one of the Almanack‘s posts, The Ku Klux Klan in the Adirondacks, had been used for the companion website of the new PBS documentary film Banished: American Ethnic Cleansings. As a result of the attention, I thought I’d dig a little deeper on the issue of racial cleansing and the Adirondacks. » Continue Reading.
For Black History Month, the Adirondack Almanack presents a list of stories of African-American history in the Adirondacks.
The first slaves arrived in New Netherlands in the 1620s and before slavery was finally, albeit gradually, abolished in New York in 1827, we have numerous examples of slaves in the Adirondacks. Several were taken captive by French and Indian raiders who attacked the Schuyler plantation (then Old Saratoga, now present day Schuylerville) in 1745. They were transported along the Lake George, Lake Champlain corridor to Canada. Black slaves (and some free blacks) were at the siege of Fort William Henry by Montcalm in 1757 and at the Fort George in 1780. At Whitehall, slaves owned by Philip Skene (who had a daughter that was half African American) probably mined the iron for cannonballs used by Benedict Arnold at Valcour Island in 1776. William Gilliland’s diary frequently mentioned “my negro Ireland” who cleared Gilliland’s land and planted his crops. Census records of the poor house in Warrensburgh noted two former female slaves were residents in 1850. » Continue Reading.
We recently received a note from a reader about the Ku Klux Klan presence in the Adirondack region. A Wilmington (Essex County) woman had the following story to tell. She believes it dates from the 1930s –
My mom had told me how when she was a little girl the kkk had burned a house down just up a ways on the Whiteface Memorial Highway, and had run the family out of town. » Continue Reading.
Over at eBay, there is a unique item of Adirondack history for sale. A 24-page advertising pamphlet from 1910 for Taylor’s on Schroon (photo above). And there it is, one simple line: “Gentile trade solicited” – in other words Jews need not apply. In the first decades of the 1900s anti-Semitism and nativism were rampant in the Adirondacks as in the rest of the country. The Ku Klux Klan worked hard from its local base in Schenectady to establish Klan groups in Ticonderoga, Glens Falls, Saranac Lake, and elsewhere – some were quite successful. This tidbit, written by C.F. Taylor Jr., is one of the more rare blatant examples. » Continue Reading.