Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Author Glenn Pearsall to lead April 18 discussion at Union College

Union College Academy for Lifelong Learning (UCALL) and the Kelly Adirondack Center are pleased to present a presentation featuring author Glenn Pearsall who will lead a discussion on his book, When Men and Mountains Meet: Stories of Hope and Despair in the Adirondack Wilderness after the American Revolution. The event will take place at the Old Chapel on Thursday, April 18, 2024 at 5:30 p.m., with refreshments available beginning at 5 p.m. This presentation is free and open to the public.

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Monday, April 8, 2024

Like Father, like Daughter: Harris Stearns’ war memoir a must-read for history buffs

Memories from the Forgotten War book cover

My father (Elwyn “Pete” Bellinger) recently called to say hello and then to reminisce about Garoga, where he grew up with three brothers and one sister.  My Dad’s father, Frank, and brother, Frank (“Sonny,”) helped build the first Rockwood-Garoga-Lasselsville firehouse. During our conversation, my father asked if I had ever heard of Harris Stearns, or his book, Memories From The Forgotten War. My father knew Stearns and seeing him walking one night, gave him a ride home on his motorcycle.

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Sunday, April 7, 2024

The Fulton County Desperado: Charles “Eddie” Baker

It was a bitterly cold day in February of 1907 when Edward Lofts walked out of his home at Blue Corners on the Western edge of Saratoga County, hitched up his team, and started for Amsterdam with a load of wood. Little did he know that as he urged his horses westward the peaceful scene he left behind would soon be transformed into one of tragedy and horror. Six weeks earlier Edward and his wife Cornelia had taken in their sixteen-year-old nephew, Charles Edward “Eddie” Baker. All had been going well with Eddie in the home, with everyone getting along and the young man even assisting with work on the farm. 

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Sunday, March 24, 2024

Elizabeth Cady Stanton Hometown Assoc. offers walking tour through Johnstown

Johnstown, NY – To celebrate Women’s History Month, the Elizabeth Cady Stanton Hometown Association (ECSHA) has installed an educational poster campaign on Main Street in Johnstown. The campaign celebrates some of Fulton County’s trailblazing women of the past and present.  Those with the Elizabeth Cady Stanton Hometown Association also encourage all to take part in a 1-mile (about 1 hour) walking tour through historic Johnstown. Use the map on the Walking Tour card (click here) or pick up a rack card at the Sunshine Shoppe or the tourist kiosk at Sir William Johnson Park.

“Of course we like to celebrate Elizabeth, Molly Brandt, and Rose Knox this month, but we  have so many female firsts in Fulton County; we wanted to honor some of our current trailblazers as well,” stated Bonnie Valachovic, ECSHA Board Member.

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Monday, March 4, 2024

Willett Randall and the Music of the Adirondacks

When most people think of Adirondack Music, they usually think of a lively fiddle at a square dance or a guitar strumming an old folksong around a campfire, but to Willett Randall the true music of the Adirondacks was the sound of a pack of beagles. To him the sharp throaty yelps of an America Patch Beagle on the scent, nose to the ground, running the trail was a joyful symphony.  To him, it was the music of the mountains themselves. 

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Thursday, February 29, 2024

Rev. Robert Howard Wallace Jr., Fulton Chain Missionary

On August 24, 2023, I presented a program about Inlet’s 1901 Church of the Lakes at the church. Its video is on the Inlet Historical Society’s Facebook page. I included a photograph of its steeple bell inscribed with the motto “Come Let Us Worship” and the name of its first pastor, “Rev. R. Howard Wallace, Jr. “

During my research, I learned that Rev. Wallace directed the founding of other churches in the region, including the precursor to the present Niccolls Memorial Church in Old Forge. Contemporary newspapers reported his efforts and his impact on the communities he served during almost nine years in the area. I now wanted to learn about this little-known former pastor from a small parish in Orange County who came to the Fulton Chain at age 68 and founded religious organizations for two population centers in their infancy.

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Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Rattlesnake Hunters of Lake George

Timber rattlesnake illustration

Two creatures that most people go out of their way to avoid are poisonous spiders and venomous snakes. While such spiders are uncommon in Warren County, there are snakes in our area with a lethal bite. Since before early settlers came to the area timber rattlesnakes have inhabited certain spots along the rocky slopes of Lake George. For generations, they were considered creatures that were best eliminated, and it was only forty years ago that rattlesnakes in New York were designated a threatened species and protected by law. For over one hundred years before this law was enacted a bounty hung over the head of every rattlesnake in Warren County, and for a few brave souls, seeking out this dangerous prey became a lucrative occupation.

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Saturday, February 24, 2024

John Sasso publishes first ‘History and Legends’ book

john sasso book cover

“These mountains have seen things’”

Ever since he began hiking the mountains of the  Adirondacks, John Sasso has been intrigued with the artifacts he would stumble upon, such as iron bolts from  old land surveys, remnants of long-gone logging camps,  mysterious woods roads, and stone foundations.  

The questions those finds provoked: “What was here?” “What was their purpose?” and “Where did the name come from?” led him to research and write about the often-surprising and always entertaining answers he’s found over the years. 

The first volume in a planned series, this book shares the fascinating stories behind the mountains of the Northern Adirondacks and, it is hoped, will lead to a deeper appreciation of this unique and remarkable area. 

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Monday, February 19, 2024

Prohibition’s most audacious con

old newspaper headline

By Dave Waite

In October of 1919, Congress passed the Volstead Act, legislation enforcing the ban on alcohol in the United States. With Prohibition enacted, enforcement became a part of the daily work of state and federal police across the country. In New York, the sixty-four-mile land border with Canada offered nearly unlimited opportunity for those on foot, horseback, and motorized vehicles to transport illegal alcohol for delivery to major cities through New York and the East Coast. Called Bootleggers, a term first used during the Civil War for soldiers sneaking liquor in their boots, these men, and occasionally women, risked fines, jail, and even death to carry their cargo south.

When federal and state enforcement agencies endeavored to stem the tide of this illicit activity, the criminals would attempt to outrun the law or simply abandon their vehicles and flee on foot. Rarely did they put up violent or deadly resistance when cornered. This changed over the years as criminals realized that waylaying the bootleggers and relieving them of their load was more profitable than carrying them across the border themselves. The country even took up a slang term for these thieves: High Jacker, likely a shortening of “Highway” combined with the word Jack, which carried the meaning of “one who robs.” These criminals, sometimes posing as law enforcement officers, were willing to use violence and had no concern over endangering innocent lives.

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Thursday, February 15, 2024

Snow Trains of the 1930s

People exit a snow train at the North Creek station

By James M Schaefer, Schenectady Wintersports Club 

This year, 2024 will be the 90th Anniversary of the Snow Trains that took many skiers and winter sports enthusiasts from Schenectady to North Creek in the southern Adirondacks! But that Snow Train had to wait until March 4th, 1934 to make its historic run. A lack of natural snow was the reason!

Following the 1932 Olympics in Lake Placid, the Schenectady Wintersports Club was organized to spur efforts to get trains to transport skiers to snowy destinations. My father, Vincent Schaefer and his friends, were leaders of the Club. Their 1932-1933 effort started with getting hundreds of Schenectadians, to sign petitions showing interest in a Snow Train.

They convinced the passenger agent of the Boston & Maine Railroad to run several day-trips from Schenectady to the mountains around Wilmington, Vermont. But Old Man Winter did not cooperate!

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Sunday, February 11, 2024

Quoting King: The Time is Always Right to Do What is Right

MLK photo

By Melanie Reding, Adirondack Diversity Initiative Associate Director

On Monday, January 15, people across the United States celebrated Martin Luther King (MLK) Day. Our social media channels were full of feel-good MLK Jr. quotes about love and light and doing the right things. Few posts and shares contained words from his Letter from a Birmingham Jail.

In that letter, the lines written are uncomfortable for most. It takes us — specifically the White us and religious us — to task. He calls us out on our silence, slow progress, and our inability to acknowledge the genocide, slavery and White Supremacy our nation’s institutions and systems were built on. That’s not what we want to experience and feel on a “holiday.” It’s not what we want to feel in the face of a world that seems more chaotic than calm.

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Friday, February 9, 2024

The Roosevelts of Johnsburg

The 1858 Chace map of Warren County has all three of Nicholas4 children. Catharine is living with husband J. D. Dunn; Nicholas V is N. Roosevelt north of Nobels Corners and Robert is R. G. Roosevelt to the south at the old Elm Hill estate.

Amid the obscure graves in the Johnsburg Methodist Church cemetery just south of Route 8, are four markers bearing one of the most famous last names in U.S. history. The interred – Nicholas, a second Nicholas, Robert, and Catharine – were all Roosevelts. But were these the Roosevelts, related to two American presidents? And, if they were, how did they end up in the North Country?
By tracing the lineage of these Johnsburg Roosevelts, we discover something surprising. Not only did our local branch have ties to national politics, but they also have an outsized impact on politics, real estate, and even the economy of the Adirondacks.

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Wednesday, February 7, 2024

When The Ghost Whispers “Dig”

This story is my salute to Black History Month. Written as historical fiction, this tale actually represents an intensive, one might even say possessed, multi-year endeavor of excavation, research, analysis and discovery.

I have long been fascinated by the fact that my land and home here in Jefferson County, on a long, low plateau nestled between Watertown and the War of 1812 stronghold at Sackets Harbor, has direct links to the home I grew up in in Saranac Lake.

Not only were both part and parcel of “Macomb’s Purchase”, but the “Military Road” that runs past my current home’s property was originally planned as a military supply route linking Sacket’s Harbor to Plattsburgh, which would have taken it directly past my boyhood home in Saranac Lake.

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Thursday, February 1, 2024

Again?

Punxsutawney Phil

I watched the 1993 film Groundhog Day featuring Bill Murray at least a dozen times. Or maybe it just felt that way. Just as February 2 was on a nonstop loop in the film, this year’s iteration of Groundhog Day is likely to feel roughly the same as all the previous ones. I think it’s a good metaphor for this time of year, as we stumble out each morning in the semi-dark to defrost the car, not even sure what day of the week it is. We probably don’t have the energy for an exciting holiday right now.

The notion that sunshine on the second day in February portends a late spring is an idea that began in ancient Europe. The date marks the pagan festival of Imbolc , halfway between the winter solstice and spring equinox. In the Celtic world, Imbolc was dedicated to the goddess Brigid (Brigit), the traditional patroness of healing, poetry, hearth and home, agriculture and fertility. She was also a fierce warrior who killed adversaries like a champ. As Christianity spread, Imbolc was supplanted by Candlemas Day , but both traditions embrace the “sunnyequals more winter, and cloudy means spring” theme. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, February 1, 2024

New exhibit of Seneca Ray Stoddard photographs

black and white photo by seneca ray stoddard

Fort William Henry Hotel and Chapman Museum team up to exhibit Seneca Ray Stoddard photographs

LAKE GEORGE – Famed Adirondack photographer Seneca Ray Stoddard (1843-1917) didn’t spend all his time in the deep woods. He was also a visitor to the grand Fort William Henry Hotel, where he captured images of its architecture and well-dressed guests. 

A collection of Stoddard’s images now grace the lobby of the hotel, the result of a partnership between the Chapman Museum in Glens Falls, which has more than 4,000 of Stoddard’s photographs, and Fort William Henry

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