“Melancholy Occurrence” was a fairly common expression for a tragic event in the middle of the 19th century. A search of historic newspapers revealed the phrase was used some 250 times from 1820 to 1870. Several of these were murder cases, such as the son of the Spanish Consul being stabbed through the heart with a cane sword by an angry neighbor. But most were unexpected events such as a fatal strike by lightening, a young fire victim, or a drowning.
One occurred at Twitchell Lake. In a December 3, 1856 article titled “Melancholy Occurrence,” The Lewis County Banner reported that Briggs Wightman stepped onto ice while hunting, crashed through, and drowned. Adirondack Guide named Amos Spafford (1824-1897) came out on the north shore of Twitchell Lake and observed a hat and a gun lying next to a large hole in the ice. » Continue Reading.