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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
In 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.
Dr. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Plenty of laughs are scattered throughout this year’s collection of letters (unedited) to Santa. Check out the first two for an idea of what to expect. Enjoy!
From 1901: Gloversville Daily Leader
Broadalbin. Dear Santa Claus: — I wish you would bring me a hand sleigh so I can ride down hill. We live close by a hill where all the girls and boys ride and it is awful aggravating to see all of them riding down hill when I cant ride. I will be very thankful if you will bring me a sleigh and I won’t ask for anything more play things till next Christmas. Yours With Best Wishes For a Merry Christmass And a Happy New Year, Beulah Fish. » Continue Reading.
In summer 1920, as he had done for at least 60 years, Charles Sherman was out on Pine Plains picking huckleberries. His usual tour of North Country fairs was in the works, a highly anticipated journey by Charlie and his admirers alike, but he began feeling poorly and decided not to go. He remained active until early October, but from that point forward was confined to the house as his health deteriorated. It was finally determined that cancer was gradually taking his life.
An outline of his unusual history was published in the Ogdensburg Republican-Journal, reviving fond memories of the good times had by all whenever Charlie came to town. » Continue Reading.
In June 1917, Charlie Sherman showed up as usual in Watertown to apprise his friends at the Daily Timeshow things were going. After discussing the blueberry crop, he mentioned his new cat, Snowball, who “could roll over three times without stopping.” A surprise once again was his attire, but not in the customary way: instead of a flashy, multicolored wardrobe, “his suit being of a sober, mixed gray, but to the sport type.”
The year played out in typical fashion, with Charlie selling berries during the summer and touring the fairs in the fall. As had become customary, he also played a role in Watertown’s Labor Day parade. “Charles Sherman, bedecked with emblems, lodge insignia, etc., was given a prominent place in the parade, and even preceded the Fourth Artillery band at times when he considered the occasion demanded. The parade was witnessed by a large crowd of Watertown people who lined the Square on all sides, as well as [seven] other streets taken in on the line of march.” » Continue Reading.
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