Much of what we know of Fred Hess is from the books by Joseph Grady (The Story of a Wilderness) and David Beetle (Up Old Forge Way): that he was born in 1840, came to the Fulton Chain in the 1870s with his family and built three lodges, one at Cedar Island and two on the shores of Fourth Lake. Successful as a builder and guide but a failure financially, Fred left Inlet and died years later in Augusta, Maine.
Using census data, the newspapers of his era and contemporary travel journals, I have constructed a life history of Fred Hess and his family which corrects some of the above. The biggest surprise for me was discovering his connection by marriage to three notable pioneering families of Boonville and the Fulton Chain region: Grant, Lawrence and Meeker.
Ashland, Aroostook County, Maine today is 88% forested and relies on an economy of forestry products, tourism and agriculture, primarily potatoes. There, in the Ashland Municipal Cemetery, is where Frederick and Ella Higby Blakeman Hess are buried. Fred Hess’s dates appear on his marker as 1843-1925 and Ella’s as 1852-1919. The accuracy of Fred’s birth year is questionable because Census Reports for 1850-1870 indicate a birth year no earlier than 1847, with June indicated on the 1900 Census for Morehouse before Inlet became a Town.
Fred (Frederick) Hess was the first child born to Robert and Mary Hess, farmers in the town of Martinsburg, Lewis Co. NY and appears on his first census, 1850. By 1860, the Hess family had added Fred’s (12) brothers Daniel (10), James (7) and Truman (5) and were now in Turin. Ten years later, Robert and Mary Hess located to Greig according to the 1870 census. The household still included remained Fred (22), Daniel (21), James F. (17) and Truman (15) but the Hess union had added daughters Martha Eveline (9) and Alma (1).
Fred’s brother Daniel, who also became a Brown’s Tract guide, and Daniel’s daughter Agnes Louisa both died only days apart in 1895 of pneumonia. Absent for the funeral of Brantingham Lake’s popular Pine Grove Hotel proprietor Truman Hess in 1917 were Truman’s brothers James “in the west” (meaning Michigan) and Fred in Maine.
Walking through Boonville Cemetery in the summer of 2009, I found the tombstone of Abner Lawrence and his two wives. A year later, I saw a similar monument for Alice C. Hess, “wife of Frederick Hess”, aged 19 years, 11 months and 3 days, not realizing it was the Lawrence monument. Taken by this information, I researched further and discovered that Fred Hess was a father and widower before marrying Ella Higby Blakeman Hess. His first wife, Alice Clistria Lawrence Hess was the first of two daughters of Abner Wood and Susan Meeker Lawrence.
Alice’s mother was Susan Meeker, the daughter of Livingston and Polly Gifford Meeker, who married Abner Lawrence in 1854. Susan’s brother was guide Jonathan Meeker who in 1883 would launch “The Hunter”, the first steamboat on the Fulton Chain, and later operated a camp on Fourth Lake. The steamer was built in the Boonville boatshop of Henry Dwight Grant, a popular guide as early as the 1850s and whose storied career included an escape and recapture from a Confederate prison during the Civil War, the personal guide for General Richard Sherman (who later founded the Bisby Club preserve) and builder of some of the first camps on the Fulton Chain lakes. Around the time he was an Assemblyman in 1880, H. D. Grant started building guideboats that became the standard for the Fulton Chain region for years and museum items today. Grant was married to Susan’s sister, Mary Jane Meeker.
Alice’s father was Abner Wood Lawrence, the son of Edward T. and Rebecca Wood Lawrence. After years of various trades (working at his father’s mill, proprietor of a hotel in Lee, NY, carriage painter) Abner opened Lawrence’s, later called the Moose River Inn, at Moose River Settlement about 12 miles from Boonville where the Brown’s Tract Road meets the Moose River. On the 1860 census, Abner and Susan had two daughters: Alice (3) and Stella, or Estella (7 months) and worked as a “day laborer”, living as neighbors to his wife’s siblings Jonathan, Livingston and Job Meeker. Around this time, 1859, Abner opened the hotel just mentioned and moved there with his family. In addition to providing dinners and lodging, Abner became one of the first generation of guides to the Adirondacks for travelers to the Fulton Chain from Port Leyden and Boonville. Lawrence’s is mentioned in several early Adirondack histories as the only stopover on the Brown’s Tract Road from Boonville and Port Leyden before arriving at Arnolds at today’s Thendara.
Unfortunately, Abner would suffer two family tragedies in seven years. His wife Susan died on August 17, 1869 and , apparently in short order, he married Jessie M. Hazzard who was part of the 1870 census household at Lawrence’s with Alice (12) and Estella(10), assisted by Ella and Mary Grant, sisters of H. D. Grant. Abner’s marriage with Jessie would produce two daughters (Loua May, J. Minnie) and a son (Edward T.).
After working on his father’s farms for two decades, Fred Hess by 1872 changed course and had become a paid guide and, along with H. D. Grant and Jonathan Meeker, appears on the Forge House Register in July and August 1872, working alongside such names as Jack Sheppard, Otis Arnold Jr. and Ed Arnold.
Abner was apparently impressed with young Fred Hess’s talents and perhaps mentored him in the guiding trade, though no hard evidence exists for this premise other then the family connection soon to happen. Abner’s daughter Alice married Fred which produced a daughter, Susan Alice Hess, on August 21, 1875.
Both Abner and Fred would both be saddened a year later by the premature death of young Alice from consumption just shy of age 20 on August 10, 1876, leaving Fred with an infant daughter. This is the Alice inscribed on the Lawrence marker at Boonville Cemetery. Whether the two events were connected or not, Abner would sell his hotel in 1875 and move to Boonville where he lived until his death in 1899. Fred and daughter Susan probably stayed briefly with his parents John and Mary Hess who were now in Greig and where Fred would soon marry Ella Higby Blakeman. By the time of the 1880 census, Fred and his daughter lived in separate households.
As Fred’s wife in the 1900 Morehouse Census, Ella listed her birth date as October, 1851. In the 1860 Greig Census, Ella (7) was one of five children of Wilson and Caroline Platts Higby, so 1852 on her tombstone is probably correct. On the same Greig 1870 census mentioned above listing Fred’s family, Ella was married to George M. Blakeman with two children: Fred (2) and Abner (1) joined by George’s mother Diana. A third child Alice (“Allie”), would be born in 1877, a year after the death of Fred’s wife Alice. Curious name coincidence since Ella’s marriage to George Blakeman may have dissolved by that time.
Between 1876 and 1880 life changes occurred for both Ella Blakeman and Susan Hess. Shortly after the birth of daughter Allie in 1877, George Blakeman’s marriage to Ella was over and she became Fred Hess’s wife between 1877 and 1880. On a 1880 census which Fred, Ella and Allie do not appear, George and son Abner are living in Greig with Diana (George’s mother), son Fred (12) lives with the Alonzo Burdick family and George’s estranged wife Ella is with Fred Hess and young Alice Blakeman at a new camp built at Cedar Island, Fourth Lake, land Fred did not own.
Grady wrote that when Lon Wood opened a hotel on Fourth Lake around 1880, Fred also had built a lodge on Cedar Island, the first Hess Camp. In August the next year, George Blakeman of Greig was reported visiting friends with his new bride in South Granby near Oswego. Almost thirty years would pass before his son Abner would see him again. According to the 1892 census, Abner again lived with his paternal grandmother, Diana Blakeman, in Greig.
After the death of Susan’s mother Alice, Fred evidently felt that, with Abner Lawrence starting a new family and with Ella already rearing one daughter close to Susan’s age in a wilderness environment, the best family upbringing for Susan would be with his folks Robert and Mary Hess. But this family also had their problems. The Hess family lost their farm property at a Sheriff’s Sale in 1878 and lived at Greig in 1880. The Hess Family now included, besides daughters Martha Eveline (19) and Alma (11), and granddaughter Susan (5). Three years later (1883) Susan moved with the Hess family, including Fred’s brother James Hess and wife, to Michigan where all except Susan would permanently reside.
Fred Hess would claim during his March 1896 deposition in favor of the Fulton Chain Railroad (2 mile line from today’s Thendara to Old Forge Pond) that he had lived in the Fulton Chain for 25 years (matching the Forge House Register entries). Later, Fred would state in July 1901 that, in addition to guiding and building camps for 25 years (perhaps a phrase often repeated to customers?) in the region, he also piloted the steamers “Hunter”, “Fulton” and “W. S. Webb”. This was during testimony against the Fulton Navigation Company not permitting the steamer “Adirondack” dockage at Old Forge.
Joseph Grady wrote that Fred traveled to the Moose River country in the 1860s and later built a shanty on Cedar Island in the 1870s for a sick friend. In the 1880s, Fred also built a camp on neighboring Dollar Island for Dr. Edward S. Gaylord, whose camp was “new and cosy (sic)” in 1885. Clara O’Brien’s research could not uncover if Fred owned either island. The two islands evidently were part of Township 8 lands purchased by Dr. W. Seward Webb in 1891. Dr. Webb sold Dollar Island to Dr. Gaylord and Cedar Island to J. W. Porter in 1894.
Guide Fred (“Jake”) Hess made the New York Times of November 17, 1879 as the finder of a badly decomposed, well dressed skeleton in the woods along Eagle Creek whose identity would never be learned and whose forensics were detailed by well known ornithologist C. Hart Merriam. The Boonville Herald in May 1881 listed Fred along with Bill Dart, the Arnolds, Jim Higby and others as competent Brown’s Tract guides. In July that year, George Washington Sears wrote in one of his “Nessmuk” letters to Forest and Stream that he stayed at the “good house and camp” on Cedar Island house belonging to Fred and his family. H. Dwight Grant’s Boonville boat shop recorded guideboats built during 1881 and 1884 for Fred Hess’s “boarding house” on Cedar Island and for neighbor Dr. Gaylord at Dollar Island in 1885.
From his Cedar Island home, Fred Hess would make the news in various ways. Assisting the state’s Game Protector in 1882, Fred and fellow guide Chris Goodsell tracked down hunters from Blue Mountain led by Raquette Lake’s Jerome Wood who were hunting deer out of season at Twitchell Lake. In February 1887, Fred Hess with Jim Higby killed possibly the last wolf in the region. They took the skull to Long Lake for its bounty.
Elizabeth Klinck of Lyons Falls spent the summer of 1886 on Cedar Island and met Will Sperry. At age 10, “Willie” had sadly watched his father Sanford Sperry (first Forge House proprietor) drown in Limekiln Lake. Elizabeth married Will and returned the next spring permanently. Fred took in consumptive boarders. In addition to the Grady reference above, Boonville native Earl Jones stayed at the camp in June 1889 as a last resort but died on the island.
Ella Hess would be known for her venison meals from Fred’s hunting expeditions. Other members of the Hess family hunted. The Utica papers reported in September 1889 that Ella and her son (Abner) spotted a buck off Cedar Island. Jumping into a boat, she called him to get a rifle and, when she maneuvered to keep the deer in the lake, Abner shot it. The antlered buck reportedly weighed 250 lbs.
With the Fourth Lake region becoming increasingly accessible with transportation provided by the “Peg Leg Railroad” originating at Moose River Settlement (formerly Lawrence’s) and its partnering Moose River steamer “Fawn”, followed by a seat on Jonathan Meeker’s “Hunter” or Jack Sheppard’s “ Fulton” steamers, Lon Wood’s and Fred Hess’s camps were attracting more visitors. In July 1889, the Utica Daily Press correspondent remarked how the black flies were tolerable at HESS CAMP, the first Hess Camp, on Cedar Island and praised Mr. and Mrs. Hess for providing “an excellent table, and during the season their house is always full”.
But a real estate transaction occurred in 1889 that dramatically changed Fred Hess’s ambitions and ultimately caused the birth of the Town of Inlet.
On March 13, 1889, E. H. Myers, A. E. Kilby, James A. Galvin of Carthage, Charles Emery of Calumet Island on the St. Lawrence and lumber baron Theodore Basselin of Croghan formed an association that would soon be called the Fulton Chain Club. The investors purchased a contiguous block of 6500 acres from Fourth Lake to Seventh Lake over to Limekiln Lake from the heirs of land speculator Permelia Munn of Talcottville. They intended to establish a preserve funded by investors who would build lakeside camps and share profits from the tract’s lumber with rules similar to the neighboring Adirondack League Club.
The Lowville Journal and Republican later reported in February 1890 that the association agreed that, for the convenience of the individual trustees, James Galvin would sign the deed for the Munn Tract purchase as a trustee for the members except for his 1/5 share. This practice continued for future land sales by the association during the 1890s and 1900s. Maps of the region would be termed the “Galvin Allotment”. But in future sales discussed below, I will use the term “association” in place of Galvin. For the construction of camps and the milling of the timber, the association chose a man of competent skills and first-hand knowledge of the tract as its superintendent: Fred Hess.
For Fred and Ella Hess, the 1890 season began in March with Boonville town trustee Harvey Lewis sleighing them over land and lakes to Cedar Island Camp, taking 7 hours one way for the 40 mile trip. Fred was probably contemplating his future workload when he decided in May 1890 to hire W. C. Augur as his Cedar Island Hess Camp business manager. Joseph Porter, a meat packer from New Haven, Connecticut was a lodger that month. Perhaps Augur was Porter’s business manager. By September, Fred had sold his Cedar Island camp to Porter. The Watertown Times reported inaccurately that Fred “is not yet decided about his future business”, but that was already known.
A month later, a series of transactions occurred that could arguably be termed the seminal building of Inlet. In late 1890, the Boonville Herald reported that Fred Hess was buying 30 acres from the association and that he intended to build a new camp on the Fourth Lake shoreline and a sawmill at the head of Fifth Lake. For his second Hess Camp, Fred Hess purchased 30 acres at the “head of Fourth Lake” for $3100 from the association in a transaction dated October 28, 1890.
In a transaction dated one day later, Fred sold an 18 acre northern division of his tract to Henry E. Bostwick. Bostwick and his brother Walter operated a “vegetable ivory” (replica ivory from plants, not elephant tusks) button firm in their home town, New Milford, Connecticut. In several adjacent real estate transactions throughout the 1890s, this tract would be known as the “H. E. Bostwick Line”. In future transactions involving the 12 acre southern division kept by Hess, its deed description would repeatedly contain the original 30 acre dimensions and reference the 18 acre extraction as an exception. Hess received two dollars, which means other present or future considerations would occur to benefit Hess, probably the use of the lumber for the absent landowner’s land.
Two months later in January 1891, the association sold Fred Hess two 160 acre tracts and a 10 acre tract, referred to in later deeds as the “mill lot”, at the inlet to Fifth Lake for $3400. For travelers and developers, the year 1891 brought plenty of news about Fred Hess.
Fred Hess began the building of his sawmill on the 10 acre tract between Fifth and Sixth Lakes at the end of June 1891. According to Joseph Grady, after leasing the Crosby & Garmon mill at the Old Forge dam, George Deis assisted Fred in the building of this “first water power sawmill”.
By July, newspapers reported that Fred was building cottages at the “Head” and planned a “large hotel”. These cottages were probably for his family and mill workers. August newspapers reported that Fred would be building his hotel during the coming 1891-1892 winter. Citing past history, the article stated that “Fred made Cedar Island what it is” and was making a new beginning. The article made special mention that it was “fortunate” that Fred owned the land this time.
While Joseph W. Porter was staying there in May 1891, seven mechanics were working on the island’s buildings. The same August reports mentioned above also announced that Porter was now the owner with W. C. Augur as proprietor. Almost 10 years later, it was reported that Augur had built the place up from a “small camp, with rude furnishings and meager appointments”. A bowling alley and chapel for services were added in July 1891. Connecticut folks seemed to be invading the region; Dr. Edward Gaylord, a New Haven dentist, was at the Dollar Island camp and Bostwick owned the lot next to Hess. Both Porter and Gaylord would purchase onshore water rights from Dr. Webb in 1894.
Fred’s new hotel was apparently not finished during 1892, though he ran a boarding house out of his camp. Ella continued to reward guests with her venison dinners. The newspapers reported in November that Fred “contemplates putting up the main part of his hotel this winter” (1892-1893). The association published a Fulton Chain Club prospectus for 1891-1892, detailing the region and membership benefits. The brochure informed investors that the sawmill at Fifth Lake was already operational and that Fred’s hotel, still under construction, would be using its lumber. The new hotel would supposedly resemble “The Antlers” at Raquette Lake. The prospectus called his hotel HESS CAMP, the second Hess Camp.
In September 1892, Ella’s son Abner Blakeman married Katie Scrafford and both lived in Greig with Abner’s grandmother. They moved to the Inlet area a few years later. In Mackinac, Michigan where they are buried, Fred’s mother Mary Hess died in 1892, his father Robert in 1893 and his sister Alma (Peck) in 1894.
In June 1893, the association, now composed of Galvin, Myers, Kilby and Emery, sold 20 acres to Ella Halliday, Emeline Crawford and James Niles who would build Rocky Point Inn. Clara O’Brien wrote that the native pine, hemlock and spruce for the main building came from Fred’s sawmill. Also, June saw the opening of Fred’s new hotel, described as 3 stories high, 30 x 60 feet, with a smaller guide/boat house, also 3 stories, according to the newspapers. William McConnell of Greig and Frank Tiffany of Glendale were the announced clerks for Fred. Fred called his hotel FULTON CHAIN HOTEL.
Fred Hess’s newspaper ads encouraged those interested in “Going to the Woods” to stay at his FULTON CHAIN HOTEL, that the growing number of steamers on the Chain stopped there, and excellent meals of fish and venison awaited lodgers. Fred admitted having done a “life study of the haunts of fish and game.” With Dr. Webb’s new railroad resulting in increased tourist traffic, Fred was reported adding a cottage annex to the hotel in September 1894.
In the following spring, Fred was constructing an addition to the hotel itself. Newspapers during 1895 would continue to mention the locale as Fulton Chain Hotel, but also Hess Camp. In July 1895, the cottage addition was completed. The increased traffic and efforts to satisfy the customers would not satisfy all customers. Arpad Gerster described his September 1895 stay as noisy, crowded, hounds baying, uncovered baggage soaked from the rains and broken promises about early breakfast. Ella, apparently the hotel’s manager, was described as “stout and resolute”, Fred in fear of her. Gerster did enjoy his broiled venison breakfast when finally served.
But hotel expansion and sawmill operations were not profitable for Fred, who was still in debt for the purchase of his lands from the association. Fred had mortgaged the sawmill to Christian M. Rohr, a director of the Carthage Savings Bank, for $1000. In November 1895, Fred severed his ties to the Fifth Lake sawmill by selling the operation to association member and Carthage First National Bank president E. H. Myers and Thomas Hickey.
In 1896 Fred changed the advertised name of his hotel from Fulton Chain Hotel to HESS’S INN, though the newspapers would occasionally call it Hess Camp. Fred Hess was the proprietor named in the ads though Ella was probably the true manager. It was advertised as being on the route to Raquette Lake. Transportation services were provided by association member E. H. Myers’s new Fulton Chain & Raquette Lake Steamboat Company which offered a series of stages and steamer relays ( today’s 90 Miler Route) from the hotel to Brown’s Tract Inlet, competing with Charles Bennett’s line.
In March 1896, Fred testified in favor of the Old Forge Company’s planned 2 mile railroad from Fulton Chain Station to the Forge House navigation dock. He described his expansion plans, the only instance I have found of his place being called HESS HOUSE. Though the association seemed to be lagging in sales of shares and lots, Fred stated that the trustees still planned to build a $6000 lodge on Limekiln Lake and a $12,000 lodge on Seventh Lake.
A new Fred Hess venture mentioned in this deposition was now confirmed in the April newspapers. Fred was partnering with Burton Brothers, William and Robert, to build a large steamer in Rome, N.Y. He traveled to Rome in the middle of March to check on construction arrangements. It was being built in Rome during 1896 at the Sherman dry dock in Rome by Charles Havens. However, rumors were already brewing that the new Crosby Transportation Company planned to purchase this new competitor for their stable of acquired steamers.
In June 1896, Fred was still trying to complete an appropriately sized hotel with the projected name of HESS HOTEL. The family of Charles Moshier, of the Moshier Brothers Utica merchants, was staying at HESS’S INN, the official name Fred used in his newspaper ads that year.
But in August, the financially strapped Fred Hess suffered a catastrophe that was spinned in the August 18, 1896 Utica Morning Herald as a fire in the “laundry building”, the oldest on the location. If it was built six years earlier as the article suggests, it could have been the cottages for mill workers now used to lodge guests. The uninsured losses included guest clothes, valuable papers, personal property and other family belongings, apparently more than a laundry. Dr. Gerster’s comment in his September 10 entry was that Fred’s log building where he had lodged previously had been “consumed by fire”. The damage must have been far worse; perhaps the fire damaged the new structure also. Only the boat house was reported saved. I was unable to find any reports about lodgings after August. Gerster never mentioned a large Hess hotel in his journals for 1895 and 1896.
Fred decided to cut losses again and, in a transaction dated October 15, 1896, he sold two lots purchased from the association in 1891, one from another purchase in 1895 and his 12 acre hotel tract. The buyers were the Moshier Brothers Utica coffee and spice firm owned by Charles and William Moshier. Albert C. Boshart was married to their sister, Caroline. The price was $1 in that the Moshiers would assume Fred’s debts of a $4000 mortgage on the property and $1120 outstanding to Christian M. Rohr from Fred’s land purchase from the association in 1891. The newspaper articles announcing the purchase referred to Fred’s hotel alternately as HESS CAMP, HESS’ INN or HESS HOTEL. Though the newspapers announced the purchase price as $25,000 and that it included the steamer under construction, these terms were not in the deed of conveyance.
During the 1896 year, Miss Allie Blakeman Hess attended a wedding of a Higby cousin in Greig. Fred celebrated the sale of his second Hess Camp by going on a hunting trip to Maine with James Higby, the father of Roy Higby. They returned with two moose heads which were given to the local taxidermist and cartographer, Artemus Church.
In the spring of 1897, Moshier’s brother-in-law Boshart and workmen arrived at the hotel site and made “extensive repairs and improvements”. The building would now be the 3 story structure seen in early Arrowhead Hotel postcards. It included “three cozy cottages” nearby, today’s The Birches property. Ella Hess signed a five year lease with the Moshiers and provided stages to the Sixth Lake steamers, part of the Myers transportation company that now included the Moshier Brothers. The ads in the newspapers called the hotel HESS’ INN with Boshart initially as manager. Lodgers would be greeted by famous guide Fred Hess.
In April 1897, Ella arranged a 20th birthday party for her daughter Allie, bringing a crowd of “young people” up from Old Forge on the steamer Zip and inviting them to a dance party at the Hess’ Inn. When the ice went out at the end of May, the steamer “Webb” was the first steamer to make the trips through the lakes. The new steamer was launched on the lakes so the hotel could be accountable for customer transport from Old Forge. The Crosby Transportation Company soon erected barriers at their Forge House dock to prevent the steamer from landing there, which locals would repeatedly knock down. This forced the steamer to dock on the state land surrounding the dam. In July, the company filed a court injunction. Newspapers called it the “Steamboat War”.
While the battle moved to the courts, Boshart and Ella Hess parted their ways by June. Boshart moved to his Seventh Lake camp on Goff Island and Ella became the listed manager starting in July. In August, the injunction was lifted when the Crosby Transportation Company leased the steamer from its owners, the Burton Brothers, for the remainder of the 1897 season, mooring it unused at its dock. At the end of 1897, Fred decided to try a new hotel venture.
As mentioned above, Fred had divided his newly purchased 30 acre lot and sold the northerly 18 acre tract in 1890 to Henry Bostwick. Perhaps for Fred the consideration not mentioned was Bostwick hiring Fred to clear the land and saw the lumber at his mill. Perhaps Fred would be hired to build a camp as Bostwick’s Connecticut neighbors Dr. Gaylord and Joseph Porter did. But Henry had died in December 1893. In a deed dated January 4, 1897, Fred bought back this 18 acre tract from Alice G. Bostwick, Henry’s widow, for $4500. Then Fred waited a year.
While the snows melted from the 1897-1898 winter, the public read the news in April 1898 that Fred Hess, assisted by Robert Burton, was building a new hotel to the north of his former place. The partnership owning the HESS’ INN, the Moshier Brothers, dissolved in April, with William purchasing Charles’ interests in both Hess’ Inn and Myers’ steamboat company. The Utica business needed undivided attention from Charles. The announcement mentioned that William’s bad health would benefit from permanent residence at Fourth Lake and that he planned to conduct Hess’ Inn personally.
The steamboat company also dissolved and William obtained the company’s steamers and stages at a May auction held at the Hess’ Inn. The Crosby Transportation Company still operating the Burtons’ steamer, Moshier leased the steamer “Caprice” to transport customers and to move products from the hotel dairy. Seeing the construction nearby, Moshier also upgraded Hess’ Inn, adding telephone, telephone and stenographic services and an on-site doctor, as well as new skiffs at the boat house. Moshier wanted a first class hotel and Fourth Lake clientele were no longer just hunters and trappers.
With Ella leaving for Hess’s new hotel, Albert C. Boshart returned as manager of Hess Inn. In the Utica Daily Press during the 1898 year, the name provided in all summer ads by Fred for his new hotel was….HESS’ NEW HOTEL (not kidding, folks). Fred’s ads listed Fred Hess as proprietor. July and August ads stated it was “now being constructed” and completion was expected by July 1. Though not “entirely completed” by “Burton & Hess” in August, listings of guests appeared in the papers that month. Moshier made a business decision and beginning July 1898, the first ads appeared with the name “THE ARROW HEAD, site of the late ‘Hess’ Inn’”. W. D. Moshier’s name replaced Boshart’s as the contact in the ad.
During the first week of January 1899, Miss Allie Blakeman Hess married her stepfather’s partner, Robert Burton, whose residence was listed as Greig. Burton evidently moved to the new hotel. The 1899 ads for the hotel, the third HESS’ CAMP, listed Robert Burton as the manager, with Arthur Riggs as clerk. One newspaper said Ella was “conducting” the hotel. Though there was no confusion over the name of Moshier’s hotel, the newspapers would alternately call Fred’s hotel THE NEW HESS INN or HESS CAMP. It seems that HESS CAMP may have been preferred since someone ordered its stationery. I have a letter from James Galvin to A. E. Kilby written on Hess Camp letterhead dated August 31, 1899 describing his progress in selling association lots. During 1899, Fred also bought an additional tract from the association to use for extracting maple syrup from its “sugar bush” for his guests.
After operating it during 1898, the Crosby Transportation Company purchased the “Webb” from the Burtons in June 1899 ending Fred’s steamboat venture. They later refurbished it, calling it the “J. L. Connell” in August 1900 after a Scranton (PA) wholesale grocer whose family stayed at the Forge House in July, then included it with the steamers sold to the Fulton Navigation Company who renamed it “Uncas” ten months later in May 1901.
The 1900 Morehouse Census indicates a daughter named Laura born in November 1899 to Allie and Robert Burton. This was an error; the child was a son, James Burton, who was born on November 11, 1899. The Burtons resided during the summer at the hotel and at Greig in the winter.
With the deaths of her paternal grandparents in the early 1890s, apparently Fred’s daughter Susan Hess still lived in Michigan which is mentioned as her home when the papers announced her visiting her father and Uncle Truman at their hotels at Fourth and Brantingham Lakes in the summer of 1896. She included visits to her grandfather Abner in Boonville. In 1898, she married Elberta George of Erie County, PA, whose mother was Rosinna (Rosanna) Blair who had married to Robert D. Blair of Constableville after the death of her first husband John Grant George. Residing in Cedar Township, Michigan, on the 1900 census, the Georges had a son Elfred born in May that year.
I could not find much additional news at the second and third Hess Camp hotels during 1900 other than the taking care of business. Fred replaced Burton as proprietor though Ella probably was the manager. Moshier hired J. V. McIntyre as the proprietor of the Arrow Head for 1900 and 1901. Fred ended the 1900 year with another expedition to Maine, bringing home a huge moose head, measuring 54 inches and 25 points according to the Utica Sunday Journal.
According to the Lewis County Democrat, Fred Hess leased the Hess Camp to Wellington Kenwell of the South Branch, Moose River, effective October 1, 1900. Kenwell added an acetylene plant, installing gas lights in the rooms, and enlarged the hotel dock. A post office was built on the shore just off the dock for new postmaster George Delmarsh who had succeeded the resigning Charles O’Hara. Kenwell also advertised the hotel under different names: HESS INN or HESS’S HOTEL. Moshier built a boardwalk along the shoreline and graded the lawns between the Arrowhead and Charles O’Hara’s Inlet Inn for croquet and tennis. Moshier also purchased the steamer “Caprice” from its owner, a Mr. Merrill, and renamed it “Marjorie” after his three year old daughter.
At the end of 1901, Fred Hess and Ella moved temporarily to Maine, though a February 1902 newspaper stated that he was in Gaspe, Quebec at a private preserve.
Wellington Kenwell remained proprietor of HESS’ HOTEL, as he named it, for 1902 and 1903. Fred Warner would return to be William Moshier’s manager of the Arrowhead in 1902. An event that later writers would claim as the reason for the Arrowhead’s name occurred during the summer of 1902 when its gardener O. H. Phelps dug up 50 arrowheads and several tomahawks on the grounds. While arrowheads were probably found earlier on the grounds, Phelps’ find occurred four years after the 1898 name change.
Absent from Inlet for two years, Fred would return in January 1903 “after a sojourn in the Maine woods”. It appears from newspaper references mentioning Fred and his family being “of Fulton Chain” that Fred remained in Inlet that year. Probably one of Fred’s final guiding jobs was joining fellow guides, Raymond D. Norton, Artemus Church, Everett Van Arnam and Eri Delmarsh in ensuring “nine gentleman” had a wonderful stay at Miller’s Manhattan Camp on Seventh Lake in June 1903.
At year’s end, Fred, his wife and the Burtons, including the young James, left Inlet. Fred stayed long enough to execute a transaction dated September 8, 1903 in which he sold Hess Camp and the 18 acre tract to friend Henry Covey of Camp Crag, Big Moose. Henry Covey agreed to pay outstanding mortgages, including one for $1500 to Robert Burton, and would leave Kenwell as proprietor until April 1904. According to Frank Tiffany’s diary, Fred Hess left Inlet on September 24, 1903 for the ultimate destination of Aroostook County, Maine. Hess Camp would be acquired from Covey by Philo Clark Wood who expanded the hotel in 1908, calling it THE WOOD. Today that hotel in Inlet is the Woods Inn.
But before leaving upstate New York, Fred stayed briefly at Constableville at the home of Robert D. Blair visiting his daughter Susan and her husband Elberta. Two newspapers reporting the visit did not mention if Ella had joined him. December 10, 1903: “Mrs. Adelbert George, who with her husband, is residing at the home of the latter’s mother. Mrs. R. D. Blair entertained her father, Fred Hess of Fourth Lake, during a day of last week” (Boonville Herald) and “Fred Hess, of Fourth Lake, was last week entertained by his daughter, Mrs. Adelbert George, at R. D. Blair’s.” (Lowville Journal and Republican). I did not initially realize that these were clues to Fred’s first marriage. Susan Hess George died in Erie, PA on December 15, 1948 and her remains were shipped to Boonville for burial two days later.
The years from 1904 to 1924 can be termed the lost years of Fred Hess. But two newspaper reports from the New York Sun in 1917 and 1919 provided additional vignettes on Fred Hess’s career in Maine. Fred and his hunting friends had made several trips to Maine for caribou and Moose trophies prior to his permanent move in 1904. In 1883, Maine limited the shooting of moose, caribou and deer and by 1889 had outlawed the shooting of caribou. But illegal hunting continued. With the concentration on hunting moose on the increase, the population of this species rapidly declined and numerous hunting camps were sold because their owners saw the future hunting of moose near an end as moose were leaving the region. Into this environment, Fred Hess purchased hunting camps at Big Machias and Pratt Lakes in Ashland, Maine and advertised hunting, being “formerly of Fulton Chain, Adirondacks, N.Y.”. His camps were known as Moosehorn and Machias Lake Camps, 20 and 13 miles, respectively, by carriage from the Portage train station.
The writer “Tamarack” in the New York Sun adds an interesting description of Fred Hess. “Fred roved there to hunt moose and falling under the spell of the place afterward gathered up his Adirondack chattels, including the arklike buckboard (guideboat), and returning to Maine has since located respectively at Big Machias Lake, Ashland and Portage.” This must have been closer to the permanent move in 1904. “Prompted by loyalty to his former surroundings he sought to change the established terminology of the logging camps so as to have an axe handle known as a ‘helve’. And he undertook to ascend the Aroostook and the brawling Mooseleuk with oars instead of with wonted settng pole. But barring Bill Atkins (popular Maine guide) alone Fred on a long trail could back the heftiest load of any of them Other oddities he failed to live down. Yet he made good.”
It appears that Robert, Allie and infant James Burton lived seasonally in Greig and Inlet until at least April 1904. At the end of 1904, they moved to Maine to the Hess camps. Robert returned to Greig in March 1905 for his mother’s death and remained. In 1905, Robert declared bankruptcy in Greig and got a summer job in Inlet. But soon the Burtons were also divorced. Allie returned with brother James to Ashland and would be known as Miss Allie Hess of Maine when visiting in March 1907 and as Allie Blakeman the next year. When she returned in March 1908, she was accompanied by James Neil, described as a noted Adirondack guide engaged with Fred’s Maine business, whom she married May 20 that year in Ashland, Maine. They lived with the Hess’s in Ashland where James continued helping Fred with his hunting camps.
After the divorce from Allie, Robert soon married a widow with whom he had two daughters, the first being born in 1909, and lived in Port Leyden. Counting this marriage, Burton would eventually remarry three times, each bride being a widow. The third occurred in December 1934 when he remarried within weeks after her daughter became a bride. James Burton married Ruth Satterley in 1923, lived in Carthage and visited with his mother Allie frequently. James died in February 1983.
In 1907, Earl Covey, Charles Kirch and James H. Anderson of Seneca Falls hunted with Fred at the “Allegash Mountains”, Maine, where they secured 3 moose and 11 deer. Ella Hess returned to spend portions of the 1906, 1910 and 1912 winters with friends in Greig.
The Neils and son James Burton visited Inlet in 1914 but by around 1918 James and Allie divorced; Allie retained his last name. Allie’s 1968 obituary said the Neils had lived in Ilion though the 1910 and 1920 censuses, and the 1914 article about their visit, had the family living in Ashland. After Fred’s death in 1925, Alice Neil returned to Inlet frequently, was a pastry cook at Fourth Lake hotels and later lived in Carthage near her son, dying in 1968 at the age of 91.
By 1917, the New York Sun article reported that “The restraint of camp proprietorship was too much for the old Adirondacker and Will McNally became the owner” of Fred’s operations. It also mentioned a partner who may have been James Neal who was married at the time to his stepdaughter Allie. Fred’s wife Ella Higby Blakeman Hess died in 1919. At this time, Allie Neil wrote Frank Tiffany of Inlet that Fred needed a new home and asked him to contact his son James in Michigan.
In February 1924, widower Fred Hess and Allie Neil returned together to visit the Fourth Lake region. Fred and Allie visited Charles and May Brown, whose wedding she had attended in 1896. While in Inlet, Fred wondered at the changes that “time had wrought” during his absence of twenty years: railroads, automobiles, more hotels and a village commercial district.
Frances Alden Covey described the surprise visit Fred made on foot to see Henry Covey and her husband Earl. Fred stayed at their Rose Cottage for several days. Joseph Grady wrote that Fred trapped beaver on the North and South Moose River Branches and snow shoed south of Inlet during this visit. Grady added that Fred intended to follow water routes back to Maine and was stopped by log jams at Lyons Falls before friends convinced the aged guide to return to Maine via train. This was why Allie returned to Maine without Fred in April. In August, Frank Tiffany accompanied Fred Hess to St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Utica for an undisclosed infirmity. On October 22, Frank took Fred to the Eagle Bay station and Al Murdock accompanied Fred on the train to Maine. Fred died the next year in Ashland and was buried next to Ella in 1919.
Ella’s son Abner Blakeman’s life would be marred and ended by tragedy. Abner’s daughter Mrs. Florence Leonard died without warning on January 4, 1914 at age 20, leaving an infant daughter and a husband of one year. His wife Katherine died in 1922. His father George Blakeman, Ella’s first husband, had returned to Inlet in 1909 after 30 years’ absence; his family and friends had thought him dead. After 1920, he moved from Greig to live with Abner but died two years later in 1923. Then in 1925, Abner and his crippled granddaughter Irene Bohling died when a tree landed on them in Inlet while being given a lift in a friend’s automobile. Abner was the grandfather of Irene Lerdahl, named after the youthful victim, who presently (2011) lives in Utah and has been a valuable resource to me on early Hess and Blakeman family history.
I would like to thank readers’ patience and persistence in following the above narrative which contains many dates, names and events. But I thought Fred Hess deserved an effort to put together a story of his life. Maybe someone will uncover the mysteries of Fred Hess’s hidden twenty some years. Do letters written from the Hess family to friends about their experiences in Maine exist somewhere in Inlet today? Did any of Fred Hess’ listeners write down his tales of life at the three Hess Camps?
Photographs: Fred Hess at Cedar Island (courtesy Inlet Historian Letty Haynes); Alice Hess and Fred/Ellen Hess cemetery monuments (courtesy findagrave.com); Forge House Register Page (Adirondack Museum Library); Hess Lumber Mill (Town of Webb Historical Association); Cedar Island Camp, Hess Camp, Hess Inn (now Arrowhead) from The James Blain Publishing Co., 1901; Boat Landing postcard and Woods Inn , (authors collection).