Adgate Schermerhorn was born in 1918 in the hamlet of Ausable Chasm, about a mile northeast of Keeseville. A horseman (he started riding at age five) and outdoorsman who loved the Adirondacks, he graduated from Keeseville High School in 1935 and worked as a lumberman in the North Country. He then attended the St. Lawrence School of Agriculture at Canton, earning a degree in 1939 from the Division of Technical Engineering. He worked as a refrigeration service man in the Plattsburgh area, but moved to Pennsylvania in December 1940 after securing a position with GE in Philadelphia. » Continue Reading.
One of the wonderful ways to study the gradual settlement of the Adirondacks is to study its early 19th century maps, especially the locally-surveyed county maps, maps of real and proposed railroads, and a great variety of state maps.
In most all cases, while the maps themselves may be obscure, or hard to find – and for some sections of the Adirondacks, incomplete or inaccurate – their principal authors are well known. A map that does not name its creator is about as common as a book that does not name its author. Yet, we came upon just such an Adirondack map. » Continue Reading.
History can be entertaining, educating, and eye-opening. For example, read the next two paragraphs, and insert the same term (singular or plural as appropriate) to fill in every blank, choosing one of two options: video game or computer.
“Give a child a ________ and he will sit with his nose in it instead of getting out and playing with other children, or entertaining himself by tinkering, building, or joining the family group at whatever they are doing. You can’t even make a dent on the consciousness of a child engrossed in a ________. He may hear the sound of your voice, but the words don’t sink in. He’s off in a dream world, where he isn’t learning anything or doing anything. And you can’t get at him.
“Sure, he’s quiet—and that seems to be enough for a lot of parents. But what is a boy or girl going to be like when he is grown if the greater part of his formative years is spent in a ________ dream world? The experts seem to differ on whether or not ________ are bad for children. But this much any parent knows. Give a child all the ________ he wants and he won’t be much interested in anything else. Like the satisfaction of any other appetite, overindulgence can lead to ill effects.” » Continue Reading.
The Malone Telegram, recently passing the 110th anniversary of its founding (December 9), was the brainchild of Charles M. Redfield, who was cautioned back in 1905 that starting a daily newspaper in a small city with two established weeklies (the Palladium and the Farmer) was foolhardy. But Redfield forged ahead, confident that the response received in advance from advertisers would support the venture — and he was right.
For those who probe newspaper archives while researching historical topics, people like Charles Redfield are important and much appreciated. In that regard, Redfield’s efforts were vital in a number of communities prior to his tenure in Malone.
Redfield was born in December 1859 in Woodville, about 20 miles southwest of Watertown in Jefferson County. The family lived in different locations, and at age 12, Charles became a newspaper delivery boy for the Watertown Times. While still in his teens, he joined the Times as a “printer’s devil,” an apprentice, which meant helper, trainee, and all-round go-fer. » Continue Reading.
During his years as a senior advisor to many younger Adirondack conservationists, Paul Schaefer told some interesting stories. He witnessed the following incident in the New York State Legislature in 1953, when he was about 45-years-old, at the height of his effectiveness as a conservation organizer. The following story is about passage of what was called the Ostrander Amendment, an amendment to Article 14, Section 1 – the “forever wild clause” – of the New York State Constitution.
In 1953, the Ostrander Amendment had been twice passed by the State Assembly and the bill was on the floor of the State Senate, then being chaired by Lieutenant Governor Frank Moore. The Clerk of the Senate began to read the bill when a State Senator came up to the Lt. Governor’s desk, grabbed the bill from the Clerk, and quickly left the Senate Chamber. The Lt. Governor sent one of his aides after him and as the aide rushed out of the Senate chamber, he saw the Senator headed into a washroom. Following him, the aide found the State Senator about to flush the bill down the toilet. The aide, a big man, grabs the Senator by the collar, snatches the bill from his grasp and takes it back to the Senate Chamber and hands it back to the Lt. Governor, who said, according to Paul, “the next man who tries to take this bill I will personally hit with this gavel.” » Continue Reading.
Of the many great stories about old country doctors, one of my favorites happened in the North Country just a few minutes south of Plattsburgh. The doctor’s name was Isaac Hutinac Patchen. His grandfather, Claude Hutinac, married a woman whose surname was Patchen. Their son, Stephen (Isaac’s father), fought in five Revolutionary War battles and endured the terrible suffering at Valley Forge. Following the war, he assumed his mother’s surname, and family members henceforth were known as Patchens.
Isaac Patchen was born around 1793, and at age 20 he began medical training. At the time, he lived in Vermont’s Lake Champlain Islands and in northern New York, where war was affecting locals on both sides of the lake. On September 11, 1814, during the Battle of Plattsburgh, he joined a militia force and volunteered to pursue fleeing enemy soldiers. More than twenty men were captured, and years later, Isaac received a land grant of 160 acres in return for a job well done. » Continue Reading.
The Harrietstown Town Board voted Thursday night in favor of keeping the local railroad tracks in place, but it’s uncertain what effect the resolution will have on a state proposal to remove the tracks between Tupper Lake and Lake Placid.
On a motion by Councilman Howard Riley, the board voted 4-0 to support keeping the tracks. The resolution says the rail line provides “a positive impact on the area.”
Harrietstown includes the village of Saranac Lake, whose depot is used by two local businesses: Adirondack Scenic Railroad, which runs tourist trains to and from Lake Placid, and Rail Explorers USA, which runs pedal-power excursions to and from Lake Clear.
Rail Explorers, which began operations in July, says it attracted almost 15,000 riders in its first season, which ended in the fall. » Continue Reading.
On December 15, 1973, Canadian Charbot Germain attempted to drive his tractor-trailer from Stony Creek to Utica on a snowmobile trail. It didn’t go well.
It started out as tales of lost Adirondack visitors often do, with directions from a local. It was suggested that Germain could shorten his trip by taking Route 8 from the Northway toward North Creek. He found himself instead in Stony Creek, headed down the rough Harrisburg Road in the dark. » Continue Reading.
Camp Santanoni, the National Historic Landmark Great Camp in Newcomb, is the recipient of a 2015 New York State Historic Preservation Award from the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. Three organizations that have worked together to preserve it – Adirondack Architectural Heritage (AARCH), the Town of Newcomb, and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) – accepted the award at a recent ceremony at the State Capitol.
The annual New York State Historic Preservation Awards honor excellence in the preservation and revitalization of New York’s historic and cultural resources. » Continue Reading.
“Pearl, Pearl, Pearl, come be my loving girl; Don’t you marry Lester Flatt, He slicks his hair with possum fat, Change your name to Mrs. Earl Scruggs.”
Trivia question #2: What is the term applied to doilies that once appeared so often on the backs of chairs and sofas? (Or for you old-timers, on the backs of davenports.) Trivia question #3: What was the purpose of those doilies?
The three questions and two of the answers are tenuously related to last week’s piece on Allen’s famous bear fight up in Keene, and are linked to a world-famous product that was widely touted for preventing baldness, restoring hair growth, softening leather, cooking, hair styling, predicting the weather, thwarting attacks by all manner of biting insects, preventing frostbite, treating and healing skin injuries, sealing out the elements, and a bunch of other uses. » Continue Reading.
If you love Adirondack legend and lore, you’ll love this gem of a poem that first appeared in 1846. Since then it has appeared in print several times, often with revisions, and with the removal of certain stanzas. It’s the exciting story of a man-versus-bear encounter. The man was Anson Allen, whose colorful past included a fifteen-year stint as owner/editor of the Keeseville Herald, the village’s first newspaper. After moving to Westport in the early 1840s, he edited the Essex Co. Times and Westport Herald for four years.
He later published a monthly titled The Old Settler, covering stories and reminiscences from the region’s earliest history. The paper literally defined him, for Allen became known widely as “the old settler.” » Continue Reading.
If you’re obsessed with cats, you might not find what follows very funny – but I thought it was pretty amusing, and I’ve been owned by cats before. It has to do with a very efficient business plan offered periodically to folks around the country, including the readers of several North Country newspapers. Entrepreneurs sought financing for a slam-dunk proposal, the 1918 version of which targeted northern New York investors for a company based in Ontario.
The plan was to establish a Cat Ranch to supply furs for market. Clothing made from cat pelts?! Decidedly insensitive in modern times, but not so unusual when a single advertisement of the day in the Ogdensburg Republican-Journal offered coats using skins from beaver, seal, raccoon, muskrat, opossum, marmot (woodchuck), caracul (sheep), viscasha (chinchilla), fox, mink, skunk, panther, calf, and gray squirrel. » Continue Reading.
The program will begin with a 7 pm presentation, “Escape From Dannemora: Breakouts, Tortures, and Violence in Clinton Prison’s Past” featuring an overview of Clinton Prison’s history including details of numerous escapes and attempts, routine punishments and profiles of famous and infamous inmates. » Continue Reading.
After Gar Wood won the 1915 Gold Cup Race on Long Island and carried the cup home to Detroit, A.L. Judson said, “I’m going to bring the Gold Cup back east. That’s where it belongs.” Judson meant that it belonged on Lake George.
A president of the American Power Boat Association (APBA) and a commodore of the Lake George Regatta, the sponsor of the lake’s first motor boat races on the lake, Judson is, nevertheless, a relatively obscure figure. » Continue Reading.
This year the Glens Falls – Queensbury Historical Association, which operates the Chapman Museum, celebrates its founding 50 years ago. To kick off the occasion the museum will host a free open house on Saturday, December 5, from 10 am to 4 pm, and a special reception Saturday evening from 5 to 7:30 pm for members and other supporters. Guests are also invited to explore the Holiday Display in the historic DeLong House, which this year will feature a 1912 Christmas. » Continue Reading.
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