Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Inlet History:
The Contributions of William D. Moshier

Moshier Fam cir1902Any discussion of Inlet’s early history brings to mind the names of those who sold land, who built the hotels, and who lived in the first dwellings that later became Inlet.  We often read about Tiffany, O’Hara, Kirch, Harwood, Kenwell, Delmarsh, Hess, Boshart, and others when speaking of the pioneers who were the building blocks of the village at the “head of Fourth Lake”.

An unheralded individual often encountered when examining the history of the Fifth Lake sawmill, the Arrowhead Hotel, the death of Burt Murdock when the “Marjorie” sank and even Inlet’s Chapel of the Lakes is William D. Moshier.  Your response may be – “Who”?

According to the 1900 Morehouse Census, William Davison Moshier was born in September, 1856.  “Willie” was the son of John G. and Sarah Merriman Moshier, farmers in Martinsburg, N.Y.  According to that town’s 1870 census, the household also included a sister, Sarah, and two brothers, Charles and Isaac.  Another sister, Caroline, had already married Albert C. Boshart of Lowville and another brother, John, Jr., lived in the Midwest.

William and his older brother Charles began the Moshier Brothers Extracts Co., a local tea and coffee business in 1877 at Salisbury Center, N.Y.  With the business expanding to producing extracts and spices, they moved to Utica in 1882 and to 224-228 Bleeker Street, known as the “Moshier Block,” in 1886.

The Fulton Chain Club

As commercially successful merchants, the Moshiers joined business organizations and made investments.  In the early 1890s, one popular type of recreational investment was chartering forest preserves to protect forest land and game.  The Bisby Club and soon the Adirondack League Club were organized.  Dr. Webb established the Nehasane Park Preserve and Mrs. Julia deCamp had Wilderness Park surrounding her Moose River lands.  A group of Carthage business men and others planned the Fulton Chain Club preserve on lands which would become the Town of Inlet.

In February 1893, a group of Syracuse and Mohawk Valley merchants established the Beaver River Club.  Two months earlier, the group had purchased James Dunbar’s hotel at the Stillwater of Beaver River, whose dad had purchased it from Bill Wardwell.  Both Dunbar and later Monroe Bullock would be proprietors of the Hotel, newly renamed the Clubhouse.  The Stillwater location was close to the new state dam.  The Beaver River Club also signed a multiyear lease of 8000 acres from Mary Lyon Fisher, sister to Mrs. Julia Lyon deCamp.  Membership, limited to 50, included the Moshier Brothers, their dad and brother-in-law Albert C. Boshart.  They soon built cottages on the club’s lands.

During the 1890s, development activity was emerging on the Fulton Chain Club lands.  Fred Hess, with George Deis’ assistance, finished his sawmill along the inlet to Fifth Lake and was using its output for his Fulton Chain Hotel, later called Hess’ Inn, and for newly built Rocky Point Inn.  In July 1896, Ephraim Myers and others (including local men Fred Kirch and Frank Tiffany) started the Fulton Chain and Raquette Lake Steamboat Company to compete with Charlie Bennett’s line of stages and steamers.  These lines transported travelers to Raquette Lake on a series of stages and steamers from Sixth Lake to Brown’s Tract Inlet using a route now part of the annual “90 Miler Canoe Classic”.  During these developments, the brothers stayed at Hess’s hotel in 1895 and 1896 and probably crunched numbers on the area’s business opportunities.  Maybe they also projected expansion to this market area.

Then Hess’s hotel suffered a fire in August 1896.  Already heavily mortgaged, Fred Hess sold the Hess’ Inn property and two 160 acre lots to the Moshier Brothers in a transaction dated October 15, 1896.  The brothers assumed mortgages over $5100 owed by Hess.  A week before Christmas, William married Gertrude E. Phipps (younger by 16 years) at her home in Brooklyn and embarked on a “bridal tour” to “Washington and the South”.  They planned to reside in Utica.

In the spring, Boshart and a crew of workmen repaired and constructed the hotel in the version we now see in vintage postcards.  They also built new cottages to the north of Hess Inn along the shoreline.  These rustic cottages are today known as The Birches.  After the work was done, Ellen Hess signed a five year lease with the Moshiers to operate the hotel and Boshart signed on temporarily as manager.  Two months later, Boshart left the operation to enjoy his new camp on Seventh Lake.  Mrs. Hess conducted the hotel and arranged stages to carry guests to the Sixth Lake steamers.

The Development of Fourth Lake

Around the time of their hotel purchase, the Moshier Brothers must have also acquired shares in Myers’ steamboat company.  When the company’s brand new steamer burned at its Sixth Lake dock in June 1897, William was listed among the directors.  The next year would see William dedicating himself to Fourth Lake development.

Charles, now the steamboat company’s treasurer, brought charges in March 1898 against fellow director Fred Kirch for selling the company’s steamboats and stages to in-law Frank Tiffany over the winter for a note.  Though Kirch had authority due to defects in the company’s corporation papers making the company in effect a partnership and due to his majority of shares, the note received from Tiffany did not enable Kirch to distribute any sale proceeds to the “partners”.  Herbert C. Sholes and Charles testified on behalf of the company in the case.  At the beginning of May, the courts dissolved the corporation and ordered a receiver to auction the company’s property, reversing the sale to Tiffany.

hesss inn now arrowhead_0

April 1898 newspapers reported that Fred Hess was building a new hotel (today’s Woods Inn) to the north of Hess’ Inn and that his wife would join him in its operation.  But this was overshadowed by newspaper accounts at the end of April about President Ephraim Myers of the Carthage First National Bank fleeing Carthage with over $6000 in depositors’ funds.  Carthage citizens would soon learn about Myers’ holdings in the Fulton Chain Club, the steamboat company and the Fulton Chain Lumber Company.

May 1898 would be historically active regarding Inlet area businesses.  In May, William and Charles dissolved their partnership, with the company retaining its name.  The Utica Daily Press reported that the brothers’ parting was amicable, that “it was for their interest that one of them should give personal attention to the conducting of the business upon the Fulton Chain”.  William would attend to that business in that his health “has been such that a more permanent residence there would be beneficial to him”.  Charles took over the Utica wholesale firm and William became sole owner of the Fourth Lake investments.  They also sold their Beaver River Club cottages.

On May 24, the steamboat company’s stages and steamers were auctioned and acquired by William through an agent.  Two months later, William partnered with Charlie Bennett of Raquette Lake and announced schedules under the same name of the dissolved steamboat company.

At the beginning of July, “Hess’ New Hotel” was about to open and William changed the name of his hotel to “The Arrow Head”.  William personally operated the hotel for the 1898 season.

For the 1899 season, William signed Forge House proprietor F. E. Schenck to run the Arrow Head.  Schenck hired Charles A. Moll to manage the Arrow Head with Fred Warner as clerk.  To replace the steamer lost in June 1897, William launched a new steamer “J. G. Moshier” at Sixth Lake with Angus Morrison as pilot and Louis Corbett as captain.  The steamer “Gazelle” ran on Eighth Lake.  William personally managed the Fulton Chain and Raquette Lake Steamboat Company during 1899.  During this period, he began leasing the steamer “Caprice” in connection with the hotel.

On September 18, 1899, William’s brother Charles died suddenly at a Utica hotel after enjoying a long delayed vacation with his family.  The estate was not legally settled when in January 1900 William’s father, John G. Moshier, also died.  Boshart and heirs collaborated to continue the Moshier Brothers’ operations until Boshart acquired the Moshier Block around 1901.

6g 662d_InletChurchIn November 1899, the Lowville papers announced that a new chapel would be built at the “head of Fourth Lake”.  William donated a 2600 square foot lot to the Utica Presbytery in a transaction dated August 29, 1900 for the building of a church.  William required that the building be used for at least 10 religious services a year or the lot would be returned.  Utica papers announced that the church was built by April 1901 and was called “Chapel of the Lakes”.  The papers in July reported a bell from Meneely & Company of Troy would be placed in the tower.  In September, it was said to be “completed, furnished and dedicated without debt”.  In September 1902, Mrs. William Bailey of Utica arranged for placement of a memorial window in memory of her daughter.  In 1913, Boshart would provide land for a manse.

The 1900 season saw William splitting the transportation route with Bennett and Moshier renamed his portion the Seventh Lake Transportation Company.  The “J. G. Moshier” on Seventh Lake sank in September, landing near camp docks without injury to passengers.  It may have been repaired.  With J. V. McIntyre leasing the hotel for 1900 and 1901, the Arrowhead underwent improvements to the grounds and buildings.  In May 1901, William purchased the steamer “Caprice” from a Mr. Merrell and soon renamed it “Marjorie” after his three year old daughter.  This boat and two lots purchased from Hess in 1896 would be transferred to his new venture at Fifth Lake, the Adirondack Cooperage Company.

P738 JG Moshier 6th Lake steamerThe Hess Sawmill

Ownership of the Hess sawmill at the inlet to Fifth Lake seemed to be a hot potato during the 1890s.  The 10 acre “mill lot” was originally purchased by Fred Hess with two tracts from the Fulton Chain Club in January 1891.  With George Deis’ help, Fred built the water powered sawmill to manufacture lumber for hotels and camps.  The mill would also process timber from Fulton Chain Club lands.  Wanting to concentrate on his Fulton Chain Hotel, Fred Hess sold the mortgaged sawmill to Thomas Hickey and Ephraim Myers on November 15, 1895.  They named it the Fulton Chain Lumber Company.  When banker Myers later absconded in 1898, the papers would say that Myers had bought the mill to settle his spendthrift son Henry in a job.

Hickey and Myers signed a note to obtain funding for mill operations.  In July 1896, Hickey sold his 50% interest to Myers’ son Henry who agreed to pay all debts of the firm, especially the note held by Ephraim’s First National Bank.  In October, Ephraim Myers sold his 50% interest to Edwin Cropsey.  In November 1897, Cropsey sold his 50% share to Peter Rohr.  Cropsey and Henry acquired the right to build a dam raising the level of Fifth Lake.  On February 24, 1899, Ephraim’s son Henry sold his 50% interest in the sawmill to Peter J. Rohr and immediately fled the Fulton Chain mysteriously with company books and without receiving payment from Rohr.  Hickey had papers served on Rohr to recover payments he made on Henry’s note from 1896.  Peter Rohr informed the server that Henry fled with his family, a move presumably related to Ephraim’s flight from Carthage in 1898.  Hickey’s note and the sawmill received focus in the newspapers because notes on behalf of the sawmill and other documents handled by Ephraim were being audited by the failed bank’s examiners.  On March 19, 1900, Peter Rohr sold the sawmill and its debts to Albert E. Brown.

1a P740 5th lake lumber mill066Passing the languishing mill on his repeated stage trips with passengers to the Sixth Lake dam portage, Moshier had a new idea for the mill.  He thought that, if given proper equipment, it could be profitable as a cooperage making barrels, tubs and casks out of the waste mill lumber probably lying around the present mill.  He interested Edward C. Meyer and Myers Thompson.  Meyer’s sawmill and barrel-stave establishment in Rochester had burned in May 1900 and he would be manager of the mill’s makeover.  Myers Thompson, with Carthage banking and Washington D.C.  hotel experience, would be treasurer.

Adirondack Cooperage Company

On May 20, 1901, Moshier, Meyer and Thompson incorporated the Adirondack Cooperage Company.  In June, William Moshier transferred to the new company the stumpage on his two 160 acre lots and the right to construct a mill on the property for $10,000.  In September, the Cooperage Company acquired the sawmill from Albert Brown.  This was part of a complicated agreement whereby Brown would contract with a jobber named Charles Swanson who would fell trees  from 10 Fulton Chain Club-owned lots leased by Brown and bring the logs to the sawmill banking grounds.  The Company would buy the logs at a specified price from Swanson who would split the payment with Brown.  The arrangement was for 2 years.  Another addition that year was William and Gertrude’s new son, Phipps, born during 1901.

In March 1902, William hired former clerk Fred Warner as the Arrowhead Hotel’s proprietor.  About this time Albert C. Boshart had acquired the Moshier Block in Utica and leased it to merchants.

All of William’s visions of profitably running the Hotel, the steamboat line and the new cooperage industry evaporated in debt by the end of the 1902 year.  The lack of profits and the loss of banking support spelled the end of William’s Inlet days.  Also, the Raquette Lake Railroad Company opening in 1900 ended any need for a stage/steamer transportation line to Brown’s Tract Inlet.

On November 22, 1902, an unusually strong storm caused a heavily laden “Marjorie” with freight from Old Forge to sink on Fourth Lake.  Manager Edward C. Meyer and three others were saved by Arch and Eri Delmarsh arriving from Cedar Island.  Burt Murdock went down and remained in Fourth Lake with the ship when it was raised in August 1904.  At the end of the year 1902, newspapers announced that A. F. Bascom of the Bascom & Spicer veneering firm would invest in the cooperage firm.

Also in November 1902, the Moshier Brothers Extracts Company went into receivership, partly due to loss of Charles’ leadership, but also due to the continuance of Charles’ business by family members not entirely according to state estate settlement laws.  Its stock would be sold on assignment at the end of 1902.

The Adirondack Cooperage Company went into receivership at the start of 1903 and Bascom quickly changed his mind.  The Utica Daily Press reported that the Company could not obtain money from the banks to pay Swanson and warned that the lumber already banked would be ruined if not milled quickly.  T. Harvey Ferris of Herbert Sholes’ firm was receiver and eventually the firm was sold by a bank in 1906 and incorporated as the Inlet Lumber Company by William McKee and John Richards.  The site of the mill today is unrecognizable along the falls from Sixth Lake to Fifth Lake in an area to the left of the Jaspar Day Trail.

Albert Boshart’s Contributions

William Moshier’s run in Inlet formally ended officially on March 17, 1903 when he placed all assets and financial affairs in trust to his lawyer Herbert C. Sholes.  The assignment of trust did not list his debts but charged Sholes with paying employees’ wages first.  In October 1903, the Company’s mill was sold with no buyer listed.  Sholes leased the Arrow Head Hotel for 1903 to three-time Forge House proprietor Alexander Briggs.  Briggs was also running the Eagle Bay Hotel.  In December 1903, Sholes auctioned the hotel and its lot to Charles Millington; mortgage liens on the property exceeded $25000.  Problems with the deal arose and a new auction in April 1904 resulted in Albert Boshart becoming the new owner.

Boshart’s contribution as an Inlet pioneer was that he subdivided the Arrowhead lot into village lots for stores along the highway from Eagle Bay to Sixth Lake dam.  The highway lots and cottages were retained by Boshart when he sold the Arrowhead property to Charles O’Hara in 1907.

William Moshier and his family moved to Hopkinton, Massachusetts sometime after visiting his widowed mother, Sarah Merriman Moshier, in Utica in May 1904.  Gertrude Moshier’s parents, the Phipps, had moved there from Brooklyn some time after her marriage to William.  William reincarnated the Moshier Brothers Extracts Company that year in Ashland, Massachusetts, and would participate in its operations until the 1920s when son Phipps took over.  The Moshier Brothers Extracts Company ceased operations in the 1960s.  The above information is courtesy of Marjorie’s son Davison Moshier Welch.

The Utica extract business, which had moved from the Moshier Block to Hotel Street, was reborn as first, Heffron, Cooper & Company, assuming the Moshier Brothers Utica operations, in February, 1903.  Then in August, William Trimbey purchased the stock from the 1902 assignees and controlling interest in the company recently formed and renamed it the William Trimbey Company.  This Company carried on the Moshier’s trade until its dissolution on March 1, 1958.

It is possible that William’s financial situation required that Marjorie and Phipps stay with his mother Sarah.  Seven months after Sarah’s death in June 1910, letters of guardianship were issued to William D. Moshier by the surrogate court.  Moshier’s relatives would visit him occasionally in Massachusetts.  After attending his mother’s funeral in 1910, I could not find evidence of William returning to the Fulton Chain or Utica.

In March 1907, Albert Boshart’s Moshier Block in Utica burned in one of Utica’s biggest fires and was soon rebuilt from the ashes due to Boshart’s efforts.  This concern may have resulted in Boshart’s selling the Arrowhead to Charles O’Hara later that year.

Information regarding William and Gertrude lives after their Inlet days, as well as family photographs, was received from Davison Moshier Welch, William’s grandson.  Davison was raised by his grandparents after his mother, Marjorie, passed away when he was six.

William D. Moshier died at age 85 on April 24, 1942.  His wife Gertrude died on September 8, 1956.  Both are buried in a Hopkinton cemetery.  I thank Ann Click of the Hopkinton town clerk’s office for this information.

Photographs: Moshier Family at The Birches (courtesy Davison Moshier); Church of the Lakes, Hess Lumber Mill, Hess Inn Now Arrowhead, and Steamer John G. Moshier (Town of Webb Historical Association).

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Since the early 1980s when Charles Herr purchased a camp in Inlet he has been interested in the history of the Fulton Chain region of the Adirondacks. He has been contributing history articles about the times and people of the Fulton Chain, covering transportation, steamboats, hotels and most importantly, the people to the Weekly Adirondack of Old Forge since November 2006.

His ambition is to uncover local and regional Fulton Chain history about people and events prior to 1930 and little covered in the histories of the region. He is the president of the Inlet Historical Society and presents summer programs on Inlet history at the Town Hall in Arrowhead Park in Inlet, NY. His book, The Fulton Chain-Early Settlement, Roads, Steamboats, Railroads and Hotels, was published in May 2017. More information is available at www.facebook.com/herrstory .

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