Sunday, April 9, 2017

Infamous Adirondack Murder Revisited

Chester GilletteIt’s been over one hundred years since a search party found Grace Brown’s body in the bottom of Big Moose Lake, an overturned rowboat floating nearby. In 1906 the face of the man who walked away from that remote bay would become familiar to many Americans as he sat slouched in a chair at his murder trial in Herkimer. The local and national press wrote front-page stories about Chester Gillette, the handsome young man who murdered his pregnant girlfriend so he could rise up the social ladder.

Craig Brandon has a section in the new edition of his book called The Murder That Will Never Die, and certainly for him as a writer this is true. Brandon first published Murder in the Adirondacks in 1986, and the book sold well. When North Country Books asked if he’d be interested in writing a revised edition he jumped at the chance. » Continue Reading.


Friday, April 7, 2017

Ti Fort Fever Series Sunday: Gribeauval’s Guns

Gribeauval’s Guns: French Artillery Fort Ticonderoga’s “Fort Fever Series” concludes on Sunday, April 9th, at 2 pm with “Gribeauval’s Guns: French Artillery Reforms from Montcalm to Napoleon” presented by Curator Matthew Keagle.

This Fort Fever presentation will take participants on a tour using the rare examples in Fort Ticonderoga’s collections of reforms of the French artillery in the wake of the French and Indian War, one of the most important technological and tactical developments in artillery during the 18th century.

Matthew Keagle is the Curator of the Fort Ticonderoga Museum and holds degrees from Cornell University, the Winterthur Program in American Material Culture, and the Bard Graduate Center. He has researched and spoken widely on topics related to the material culture of the military in the long 18th century in the US, Canada, and Europe. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, April 6, 2017

Hudson River Whitewater Derby Set To Celebrate 60 Years

Hudson Whitewater DerbyResidents of Manhattan are accustomed to seeing a somewhat polluted mile-wide Hudson dotted with commuter ferries and cruise ships. Here in the North Country, we see a different face of the Hudson. During spring, as the river swells with crystal-clear snow melt and April showers, the Upper Hudson has some of the best whitewater runs in the East.

Each year since 1958, the Hudson River Whitewater Derby is held on the first full weekend of May from North River to Riparius. This year’s event, on May 6-7, will mark its 60th anniversary, making it one of the oldest continuously run whitewater events in the country. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, April 6, 2017

Ida Blanchard: Heroic Switchboard Operator

Fire! … Please send help — there’s been a car accident! … We found our son in the pool … please help us! … We need an ambulance … I think my husband’s having a heart attack! … My wife can’t breathe and she’s turning blue! Many of us have experienced terrifying moments like those at one time or another. In modern times, amazingly quick responses are the norm from fire and EMS personnel directed by information received at county emergency service centers.

Until several decades ago, those positions were nearly all filled by men. But for much of the twentieth century, most rural areas lacked coordination of services. A vital cog in emergency situations back then was the local switchboard operator, who was nearly always a woman. In almost every instance where policemen and/or firemen were needed, the telephone operator was key to obtaining a good outcome. She was the de facto emergency services coordinator of yesteryear.

Her importance during times of crisis was often overlooked, with most of the glory going to policemen and firemen capturing criminals, rescuing victims, and saving lives. But emergency personnel and telephone-company executives were aware of the vital role operators played on a daily basis. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, April 2, 2017

Cooper’s Cave: America’s First Roadside Attraction

19th century tourists visiting Cooper’s CaveJames Fenimore Cooper’s knowledge of the French and Indian War may have been sketchy, but he was interested enough in its history to contemplate a visit to Lake George, which he finally did with a party of Englishmen in August, 1824.

Lord Edward Stanley,  who would later become the 14th Earl of Derby and  Great Britain’s Prime Minister during the reign of Queen Victoria, was a member of the party. As they crossed the Hudson River at Glens Falls on the return trip to Saratoga, Stanley noted in his journal, “Cooper… was much struck with the scenery which he had not before seen; and exclaimed, ‘I must place one of my old Indians here.” » Continue Reading.


Saturday, April 1, 2017

Tim Rowland’s Project Farmhouse

tim rowlands project farmhouseThe preachers have never had much luck getting their tenterhooks into me because I’m not all that enamored with the idea of everlasting life. Everlasting life is like Moose Tracks ice cream: After the first bite you never want it to end, but by the time you pack away a quart and a half you start to see a down side.

And everlasting life is about the only arrow the preachers have in their quiver. They never say, “If you lead a wholesome, righteous existence you will have everlasting life — plus you get to date Emma Stone.”

Still, it has to be acknowledged that Ponce de Leon wasn’t the only fan of perpetual youth, and when I was younger I confess to feeling the same way, largely due to a curiosity of what will happen next—tomorrow, and 2,000 years from tomorrow. I have, however, discovered that it is a simple task to live well beyond the average, 78.2-year lifespan. It is no great effort to live for a hundred, five hundred or even a thousand years. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, March 30, 2017

Some Local Media Was Reluctant to Support Women’s Rights

North Country newspapers, the only media during the 1800s, were slow to come around and at times downright resistant to women’s rights. Their job was to report the news, but in order to maintain readership, they also had to cater to their customers — like the old adage says, “give ’em what they want.”  That atmosphere made it difficult for new and progressive ideas, like women’s rights, to make headway.

The push for women’s rights exposed many inequities early on, but it was difficult to establish a foothold among other important stories of the day. The powerful anti-slavery movement of the 1800s presented an opportunity, for although women and slaves were at opposite ends of the spectrum in the popular imagination — women on a pedestal and slaves treated terribly — they sought many of te same goals: freedom to speak out on their own behalf, the right to vote, and equal pay for equal work. Women passionate about those subjects joined anti-slavery organizations to seek freedom and equal rights for all, regardless of race or sex. » Continue Reading.


Monday, March 27, 2017

Sandra Weber: Lessons from Suffrage Movement

For decades, history books have fed us the simplistic notion that women struggled for the vote while men opposed them. Hogwash! Some women opposed suffrage and some men supported it. The issue was a battle about the sexes; the battle itself was fought by women and men against other women and men.

The North Country region resembled most of upstate New York in the 1800s, rural and a hotbed for reform movements: abolition, prohibition, forest preservation, women’s rights. Of course, there was also opposition to some of these changes. The major reason for resistance to women’s rights had to do with long-held conventional notions about the roles of men and women, the roles of blacks and whites, and the interpretation of the Bible. In general, these views supported a white patriarchy and contested any threat to the perpetuation of its authority. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, March 26, 2017

Lake George and the Invention of the Auto-Boat

The Winnish, owned by LeGrand Cramer, one of Lake George’s first Auto-BoatsThe fusion of automobile and boat reached its apotheosis in 1959, when Chris Craft released its Silver Arrow in the same shade of metallic blue that Chevrolet applied to its Corvette and added a flared fin copied from a Buick.

That’s what boat builder Everett Smith told an audience last summer when discussing the evolution of the Auto-boat at the Tumblehome Boatshop in Warrensburg, which hosts evening talks about boats and boating throughout the year. » Continue Reading.


Friday, March 24, 2017

1757 Attack on Fort William Henry Event Saturday

living history eventFort Ticonderoga will hold a one-day living history event on Saturday, March 25th. Attendees will witness how French soldiers, Canadians, and Native warriors prepared for an attack on Fort William Henry on March 16, 1757.

Programs include tours, living history demonstrations, historic trades, weapons demonstrations, and fife and drum corps performances throughout the day. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, March 19, 2017

The Origin and Impact of the Adirondack Northway

i87When my parents came to the Adirondacks in 1956, they believed they were moving to a place far removed – culturally and politically as well as geographically – from the cities in which they had worked as left-wing journalists.

Beyond the Adirondacks lay “the big world,” as our neighbor Peggy Hamilton called it. (It was a world she was familiar with, having been the companion of Vida Mulholland and, like Vida and her more famous sister Inez, an early advocate of women’s rights.) » Continue Reading.


Sunday, March 19, 2017

Tugboat Shipwreck to Become Underwater Historic Preserve

Steam tug U.S. La ValleeThe 1880 tugboat U.S. La Vallee shipwreck in Lake Champlain will become a Underwater Historic Preserve and will open for divers this summer, thanks to a 2017 Corridor of Commerce Grant from the Champlain Valley National Heritage Partnership.

The Lake Champlain Maritime Museum (LCMM) plans to use the grant funds to establish the infrastructure that makes it possible for divers to safely visit the wreck site, as well as providing public interpretation of the wreck. The U.S. La Vallee is an example of the small, steam-powered commercial tugs that operated along the east coast and inland waterways of the United States in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Spruce Beer: An Old Adirondack Favorite

In keeping with last week’s spruce theme — Sprucelets: An Original Adirondack Medicine — is a look at one of the most common drinks in early Adirondack history: spruce beer. Like the aforementioned Sprucelets, it was believed to be of medicinal value due in part to its vitamin C content. Several evergreens share those same properties, and their use dates back centuries.

In one of the earliest mentions of evergreens used as a health aid in North America, there remains disagreement as to which tree along the St. Lawrence River (at today’s Quebec City) was used by Jacques Cartier in 1536 to cure scurvy. His voyage journal says that after learning nearby natives were quite ill with an unknown disease, Cartier quarantined his men on their ships, which were frozen in the ice.

As he noted, the precaution didn’t work. “Not withstanding these defences, the disease begun inside our group, in an unknown manner, as some of us were getting weak, their legs were becoming big and swollen, the nerves as black as coal. The sailors were dotted with drops of blood, and then the disease went to their hips, thighs, shoulders, arms and neck. Their mouths were so infected and rotten that all the flesh fell to the level of the roots of the teeth which had fallen out.” » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, March 8, 2017

‘Votes for Women’ Exhibit Opening Ticonderoga Historical Season

inez milhollandThe Ticonderoga Historical Society will unveil ‘Votes for Women,’ the first of three new exhibits being installed at the Hancock House on Friday, March 31 at 7 pm. Historical Society Programs Assistant and former Essex County Historian Diane O’Connor will present the opening talk, which is free and open to the public.

Votes for Women looks at the fight for women’s suffrage in New York State, where women won the right to vote in 1917, more than two years before the national amendment to the Constitution was ratified. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, March 7, 2017

The Underground Railroad’s Lake Champlain Route

The Lake Champlain Basin Program will host Don Papson, co-founder of the North Star Underground Railroad Museum, as he presents “The Champlain Line of the Underground Railroad” on Thursday, March 9, 2017 at the LCBP office in Grand Isle.

Papson, a historian and author from the Adirondack North Country, will discuss the history of the Underground Railroad along Lake Champlain’s western shore. » Continue Reading.


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