Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Mob Rule: The Murder Of Orrando Dexter

William_RockefellerThe village of Brandon, in the town of Santa Clara, Franklin County, was built by a lumber company for its workers.   When the company and the lumber industry declined, most of the people left.  John D. Rockefeller’s brother, Standard Oil co-founder William Avery Rockefeller Jr., bought the land surrounding the village, fenced it in, and posted it. Woods located on private property that had been open for years to sportsmen and other residents were suddenly closed.

William Rockefeller made offers to the villagers for their houses and in the end just a few residents remained. One was Civil War veteran Oliver Lamora, with whom Rockefeller would battle over access to his new property for years. The full story of Lamora’s battles, financial and legal, against Rockefeller is given in Lawrence Gooley’s excellent 2007 book Oliver’s War (I wrote this article several years before Gooley’s book). » Continue Reading.


Monday, March 9, 2015

The Doanes: Bishops Against Women’s Rights

P2A GWDoaneLast week’s coverage here of Albany’s first Episcopalian Bishop, William Croswell Doane (1832–1913), focused on his opposition to women’s rights, particularly the suffrage movement. There’s much more to his story, including humanitarian works, but the intent was to address his role in thwarting those battling for women’s rights. This is, after all, Women’s History Month.

Although he was a famous man of the cloth, Doane’s comments on suffragettes were sometimes described by the media as caustic, hostile, and vitriolic. But as I discovered, like many other components of his life, they were hardly original. This was an extreme case of the apple not falling far from the tree.

William’s father, George Washington Doane (1799–1859), was the guiding force in his life. The parallels between the two are uncanny. They were either the same age or less than a year different for graduation from college, ordination as deacons, and ordination as priests. Both exerted great influence in the cities where they became bishops, George at Burlington, New Jersey, when he was 33, and William in Albany when he was 37. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Women’s History: Battling Bishop Doane

P1A WCDoane1896“Woman cannot do man’s work. There is not, in my opinion, any mental equality between the sexes…. Women are just as bright as men, but they are less logical, more moved by impulses and instincts…. Each sex must confine itself to certain sorts of occupation, men being unable to do much of women’s work, as women are unable to do much of men’s.”

What a great quotation to open with during Women’s History Month. As you may have guessed, those words were spoken long ago—1909, in fact. The statement alone was disturbing enough, even back then, but what made it worse was the source: not an illiterate, but one of the most powerful and influential men in upstate New York. » Continue Reading.


Monday, March 2, 2015

2 Notorious Guides In Adirondack History

P326ABefore railroads and automobiles, travelers depended on the quality and skills of North Woods guides to show them the region’s natural beauty, to feed them and provide the best in hunting and fishing.  Often, guides were entrusted with taking ladies in the woods.

The guides, especially those not aligned with large hotels, depended on per diem fees for subsistence and quality reputations for honesty, dependability and woodcraft benefited all guides.  So when two guides brought dishonor to the profession, guides hoped people realized these two were the exception. » Continue Reading.


Friday, February 27, 2015

7 Adirondack Stories For Black History Month


Thursday, February 26, 2015

Friday Declared ‘French Louie’ Seymour Day

young-louie-300The Herkimer County Legislature has named Friday “French Louie Day” in honor of the noted French-Canadian Adirondacker Louis Seymour. A celebration is planned for Saturday in the Town of Inlet.

Friday marks the 100th anniversary of the death of Seymour, who made the wilderness between Inlet and Lake Pleasant his home from the 1860s until his death in Newton’s Corners (now Speculator) on February 27, 1915.  Seymour’s name became legend after the 1952 biography Adirondack French Louie: Life in the North Woods by Utica author Harvey Dunham, which portrayed him as a man of hard work, determination and humor.  » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, February 24, 2015

History Seventh Lake, Inlet and Its Hotel (Part II)

0 0 0 1 1910 a d 1910 seventh lake houseThis is part two of my look at the History of Seventh Lake.

According to a deed dated May 2, 1898, Duane Norton purchased sublots 48,49, 50, 51 & 52, lots 49-50 and part of 51 in Great Lot 8 and part of lot 51 and all of 52 in Great Lot 19, all being still then referred to as the “Munn Tract” purchased by James Galvin’s group in 1889.

An additional 5 acres were purchased by Norton to the rear of these lots.  Who was Duane Norton? » Continue Reading.


Sunday, February 22, 2015

The Triangulation of Verplanck Colvin

Screen Shot 2015-02-16 at 4.08.49 PM“Few fully understand what the Adirondack wilderness really is. It is a mystery even to those who have crossed and recrossed it by boats along it avenues, the lakes; and on foot through its vast and silent recesses…In this remote section, filed with the most rugged mountains, where unnamed waterfalls pour in snowy tresses from the dark overhanging cliffs…the adventurous trapper or explorer must carry upon his back his blankets and heavy stock of food. Yet, though the woodsman may pass his lifetime in some of the wilderness, it is still a mystery to him.”

– Verplanck Colvin, Superintendent of the Adirondack Survey » Continue Reading.


Thursday, February 19, 2015

Tracing Northern Warren County’s Earliest Roads

Warren County NY AtlasIn my book Echoes in These Mountains, I suggested two possible routes for the old military road used by Sir William Johnson during the French and Indian War, and later used by his son Sir John Johnson in his raids on the Mohawk Valley. In recent years however, I’ve given this historical problem more thought as new evidence has come forward.

For example, I’ve seen the swivel cannon said to have been left by Sir John Johnson’s raiders near Bartman Road in Bakers Mills. Also, Tom Askens has shared with me that he has found small “cannon balls” in his garden at the intersection of Bartman Road and Coulter/Armstrong Road.  » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The Early History Of Seventh Lake

1909 ffg raquette lake (2000x1551)Until Robert Maloney’s 1989 history, A Backward Look at 6th and 7th Lakes, local histories of the Fulton Chain region had mostly concentrated on the growth and development of the more populated First through Fourth Lakes of the chain.

Though my primary subject here is the popular hotel that existed on the north shore of Seventh Lake, I wanted to also supplement Mr. Maloney’s information with additional early history about Seventh Lake itself.  » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Battle on Snowshoes Event at Fort Ticonderoga

snowshoes13troupe2A living history event and battle re-enactment at Fort Ticonderoga will highlight Major Robert Rogers and the Battle on Snowshoes on Saturday, February 21, from 10 am – 4 pm. Visitors can experience the French Garrison in the middle of winter inside Fort Ticonderoga and tour through opposing pickets of British rangers and French soldiers, both well-trained and adapted to frontier, winter warfare.

At 2 pm on Saturday, visitors will experience the hectic tree to tree fighting in a recreated battle as the rangers make a stand against superior odds, only to retreat through deep woods. » Continue Reading.


Monday, February 16, 2015

Carthage Inventor Edward Shortt (Conclusion)

02ShorttDuplexEngineTwo creations of Jefferson County’s Edward Shortt were very successful in the 1880s, but like most inventors, he was always thinking, always innovating. Commercial success was important for funding future projects, but his steam pump and award-winning duplex engine, along with the backing of wealthy men like Charles Emery, ensured Edward of a comfortable living standard.

In the early 1990s, as Shortt’s duplex engines began mass production, he delved into designing a better braking system for trains. Other than for financial profit, there were many reasons to do so. Frequent and horrible rail accidents involved great loss of life, particularly in collision situations. The inability to effectively slow and stop such large, moving vehicles often played a role in catastrophic crashes. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Architectural Preservation Award Nominees Sought

014 Preservation Award Winners at the Woods Inn, InletAdirondack Architectural Heritage (AARCH) is seeking nominations for its 2015 Historic Preservation Awards.  The organization looks to recognize sensitive restoration and rehabilitative projects, large and small, completed in the Adirondack region during the past two years.

The AARCH Preservation Awards annually recognize projects which help revive the historic character of a building or structure, through restoration or adaptive reuse, as well as those that have been consistently cared for over time. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Edward Shortt: Notable Jefferson Co Inventor

01ShorttSteamPumpHistorically, the northwestern foothills of the Adirondacks have been home to a number of inventors.

Among the most notable from Jefferson County is a man whose work had a tremendous impact on products used widely by many industries.

One of his inventions is credited with preventing many accidents, thus avoiding an untold number of deaths and injuries.

Edward G. Shortt was just one year old when his family emigrated from Ireland to the United States in 1847. John and Esther Shortt settled in Redwood, about 20 miles north of Watertown, finding work in several nearby communities. Edward, the oldest of about a half-dozen children, attended schools in Redwood and Philadelphia. At about the age of 14, he began working with his father in John’s carriage-making shop, where the young boy’s aptitude for invention and problem solving was revealed. » Continue Reading.


Monday, January 26, 2015

Buy Local: A Long History and Familiar Themes

18741219 OgdDailyJournal 02A sense of community is important to most of us. We join clubs, sports teams, civic and arts organizations, historical associations—groups that represent our interests. There’s strength in numbers and satisfaction in knowing that we’re part of something significant. The push to buy local, heightened recently by an economy where average Americans still struggle, is another example. Supporting small local businesses helps your neighbor, keeps money in the community, and benefits us all.

The ideas behind Buy Local movements seem new, exciting, sensible—and two out of three ain’t bad. Exciting and sensible, for sure. But new? New-ish, maybe? Not even close.

Pleading, begging, encouraging, cajoling, and instructing the public on why buying local is important have been components of the “movement” for well over a century. And for most of that time, the reasons given for buying local have remain unchanged. » Continue Reading.



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