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 22 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, was a regional best-seller for four years running.

With his partner, Jill Jones, Gooley founded Bloated Toe Enterprises in 2004, which has published 83 titles to date. They also offer editing/proofreading services, web design, and a range of PowerPoint presentations based on Gooley's books.

Bloated Toe’s unusual business model was featured in Publishers 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.



Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Gouverneur’s Rhoda Fox Graves, NYS Political Trailblazer (Conclusion)

The Ogdensburg Journal-Republican, forced to eat crow after rejecting Rhoda Graves’ claims of Warren Thayer’s corruption, applied twisted logic to justify their stance and the senator’s behavior. They opened with: “Senator Thayer has retired…. It was found that he was on the payroll of a utility corporation and, we feel, working against the interests of the average resident of this district who has been forced to pay unjust rates.” The words “we feel” simply did not apply. There was no question he had been putting the financial screws to his voters while protecting a power company and lining his own pockets.

And then came the kicker, a painful contortion of words—possibly the weakest excuse they could have drummed up—to justify years of unethical, anti-constituent acts by the man they supported. “Senator Thayer was at least consistent. During his entire political life, he has been a close ally of the power groups, a fact that he has never denied. Head of a power company, he was elected to the Assembly and then the Senate, and could not have been expected to change his views.” In any day and age, no matter what your politics are, that’s a sign of having drunk the Kool-Aid. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, April 6, 2019

Rhoda Fox Graves, NYS Political Trailblazer (Part 4)

During Rhoda Fox’s efforts on behalf of the Republican Party from 1918 through 1923, there was plenty of praise for her in the media and no criticism, but she was a non-office holder. When she decided in 1924 to run for an Assembly seat, anti-woman resistance was evident, gently discouraging the idea by praising her activism but insisting the job was best done by a man. When she surprised most people and won, the anti-woman factions maintained their stance but were forced to grudgingly accepted her.

Now, with the announcement of a run for the Senate, the kid gloves were off. The party split, evidenced by the strong support she received from the Watertown Daily Times and the virulent attacks emanating from Ogdensburg, especially in the Republican-Journal, when Rhoda’s opening salvo went right to the heart of the matter. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, March 30, 2019

Gouverneur’s Rhoda Fox Graves, NYS Political Trailblazer (Part 3)

After a year in office, Rhoda Graves won reelection to the New York State Assembly, while five other female GOP candidates elsewhere in the state lost. In January 1926, she sought the chairmanship of the social welfare committee, a position already held by a senior member (from Niagara) who was unwilling to surrender it. She was instead given charge of public institutions — not her preference, for sure — but chairing any committee was another historic first for New York women.

Rhoda’s second year in office was an active one. She pushed a bill restricting the slaughter of tubercular cows to their home county rather than performing the job at a central location; was in a serious train derailment that killed the engineer, but she and Perle emerged relatively unscathed; argued for higher tariffs on incoming farm goods to protect locals; was reelected vice-chairman of the County Republican Committee; and won reelection to the Assembly. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, March 21, 2019

1921: Rhoda Fox Graves Runs For Assembly

Rhoda Graves was active in Republican politics in 1917 when New York passed women’s suffrage. When it became the law of the land in 1920, it made the possibility of holding elective office an attractive option for some women.

In 1921, Rhoda’s close friend, ten-year assemblyman Frank Seaker, retired from public office, and William Laidlaw, nominated to replace him, served for the next three years. It’s not clear what the machinations were behind Laidlaw’s decision not to run for another term, but there’s no doubt the big announcement that followed was the work of Rhoda, Perle (her husband), Frank Seaker, and supporters among party leaders. Seeking the GOP nomination for an Assembly position was none other than Rhoda Graves of Gouverneur — a woman! » Continue Reading.


Thursday, March 14, 2019

Gouverneur’s Rhoda Fox Graves, NYS Political Trailblazer

Bucking the odds is a common theme of Walter-Mitty-type fantasies — overcoming daunting obstacles to become a winner, or a hero at some level. Few of us actually live the dream, but sometimes it happens, and during Women’s History Month, an incredible North Country example comes to mind: Rhoda F. Graves of Gouverneur in St. Lawrence County.

The extreme unlikelihood of her becoming a historic figure in state politics makes her story all the more compelling. And the details are amazing. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, March 9, 2019

Remembering Jackie Archer: A North Country Inspiration (Conclusion)

At Plattsburgh’s Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Celebration in 1990, Chairperson Vivian Papson shared a personal recollection of Jackie Archer with the Press-Republican’s Anne Smith:

“The first time I made contact with Jackie was in 1987. My introduction to her was a firm yet musical voice on the phone saying, ‘I’m Jacqueline Archer. I live in Plattsburgh and I think that this community needs to have a way to celebrate Dr. King’s birthday. I would like to organize a commemorative gathering; would you be interested in working with me?’ Everyone is very proud of Jackie. She is confined to a wheelchair but has tremendous spirit and interest in the community. She is unbelievably active.” » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Jackie Archer: A North Country Inspiration (Part 3)

Jackie Archer In early 1967, Jackie Archer, president of Plattsburgh’s NAACP chapter, twice addressed the Beekmantown PTA, once on the subject of teen drinking, and later about the importance of maintaining mental health.

When Black Power stories filled the media, she gave interviews to the press, explaining that whites needn’t fear violence. “They think Negroes want to take over, but they only want the rights that have been promised them.” she was quoted saying. “Some laws have helped the status of the Negro… but are only a scratch on the surface. If the men in Newark or Detroit had jobs they would not be rioting.” » Continue Reading.


Saturday, February 23, 2019

Jackie Archer: North Country Civil Rights Leader (1964)

Jackie ArcherIn 1964, Jackie Archer had several irons in the fire. She was a member of the Beekmantown PTA and was very active in several religious capacities as secretary of the Board of Christian Education of the First Baptist Church; a member of the church’s Guild and Missionary Society; a substitute Sunday school teacher; and, in June, she became Recording Secretary for the Clinton County Council of Churches.

Much of her time, however, was devoted ongoing issues of concerned to the local branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and its leader Paul Lewis: job and housing discrimination. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, February 16, 2019

Jackie Archer: A North Country Civil Rights Inspiration

Jackie ArcherDr. Martin Luther King Jr. inspired a national movement and remains a catalyst for peaceful change after he was martyred for the cause. He was hardly beloved by all: many felt threatened by him, and when he protested against the war in Vietnam, many criticized him for losing focus and supposedly deserting the primary goal of addressing racial inequality.

Millions supported his efforts, but it was a chaotic time, filled with uncertainty about the future. With the bitterness, hatred, and violence that was revealed, even on the nightly TV news, it sometimes seemed doubtful that true change could ever be achieved.

But Dr. King wasn’t alone as a leader. Others took up the mantle at all levels of society, and when someone did in Clinton County, I found renewed hope that substantive change could be achieved. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Disappointing Personal Lessons in Racism

The arrival of Black History Month (also known as African American History Month in the US) is a time to discuss and celebrate the achievements and lives of many brave souls who came before us. On a personal level, my thoughts turn to a dichotomy of experiences: pride that historically, New Yorkers in general have stood on the side of civil rights and equality for all, but dismay at several personal recollections when racism unexpectedly reared its head right before my eyes. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, February 2, 2019

Nonpareil Athlete Babe Didrikson’s North Country Visit

During the first half of the 20th century, traveling basketball and baseball teams were part of America’s social fabric, providing great entertainment for millions of appreciative fans. Mostly visiting cities and surrounding communities, the famous and near-famous made the rounds each year. Their competition consisted of locally organized squads that often recruited one or more talented college or semi-pro players.

In New York, the most popular routes for traveling teams were from New York City north to Albany, and west to Buffalo. It was uncommon to find nationally known stars straying from those paths to visit the state’s northernmost regions, but in 1934 — 85 years ago this week — Plattsburgh and other lucky sites played host to sports royalty in the person of Mildred “Babe” Didrikson. At the very least, she was the equal of most men in several sports. Invariably, she is listed among the greatest female athletes of the 20th century. Compilations, like this one by Sports Illustrated, usually place her at the top among athletes who specialized in single disciplines, but when it comes to all-round talents and achievements, there are few if any challengers to Didrikson. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, January 23, 2019

John W. Taylor: New York’s (Almost Only) Speaker of the House

The title Speaker of the House of Representatives has received lots of attention during the past few years. It’s hard to believe that the nation’s fourth-most-populous state (New York—nearly always number one, and in the top five since 1790) has only one native who served in that position.

Well, technically, there are two, but one of them served 99.82 percent of the pair’s total time in office—to be explained later. If you’re from Northern New York and dislike the idea of people owning people, you’ll be pleased at his strong stance for freedom during one of our nation’s most turbulent times. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, January 19, 2019

Murder in Troy: The Welshman And William Wesson (Conclusion)

What follows is the conclusion of the murder story that was begun here last week, ending with testimony from several witnesses, including the defendant. This picks up in the trial’s final phase.

During closing statements, defense attorney Jeremiah K. Long pleaded for his client’s life: “The charge of murder in the first degree is a fearful one. To condemn this aged man to death will be a fearful responsibility for every individual juror. The facts did not warrant a conclusion of deliberate killing. The ends of justice might be satisfied by the infliction of a lighter penalty than death…. None of the circumstances showed that the crime was premeditated. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Murder in Troy: Thomas Jones Kills William Wesson

On the evening of June 27, 1892, in a St. John’s Street boarding house in South Troy, New York, 66-year-old Thomas Jones was nearing the end of a three-day bender. He was fond of drawing a .32-caliber pistol and showing it off, something Jones had done repeatedly that day, much to the alarm of others. He hadn’t been on the job for several days at the Burden iron works, and had argued repeatedly with a coworker and co-resident of the boarding house, 22-year-old William Wesson, even offering to fight him in a duel. It was dismissed as nothing more than the ramblings of an old, annoying drunk. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Community Xmas Trees: Historically Rooted in the Adirondacks

Community Christmas trees are an American tradition that bring people together regardless of income, faith, political persuasion, or pretty much anything that divides us. Whether sponsored by a city, town, church, or civic organization, community trees are placed in an outdoor public setting for anyone to enjoy.

It’s a rare treat to share something so nonpartisan: whatever you might personally like about the holidays is what you’ll take away from viewing the tree or sharing in song and merrymaking with fellow citizens. And it’s nice to know that America’s first community Christmas tree, the one that spawned a movement still going strong more than a century later, was an Adirondack balsam. » Continue Reading.