On Saturday, October 21 from 10 am to 4 pm, the St. Lawrence County Historical Association and St. Lawrence Valley Genealogical Society will co-host a Local History and Genealogy Fair at the St. Lawrence County Historical Association (SLCHA) Museum and Archives, 3 East Main Street, Canton.
Seasoned researchers will teach attendees how to research their own family’s history and how to preserve that information. Learn about various records available for local research and where to find them. Meet representatives from organizations around the county who help preserve historical materials. » Continue Reading.
Traditional Arts in Upstate New York (TAUNY) is inviting members of communities around Northern New York to attend programs focusing on French-American Heritage called “Share Your French Heritage! Stories from Quebec.”
Local residents with Quebecois and/or French ancestry are invited to share their stories about how their families came to the North Country and how they maintain a connection to their cultural identity. Participants are encouraged to bring their own photos of family members and homesteads, objects that represent family traditions, and other artifacts and heirlooms that tell the story of their French heritage. The program will be led by TAUNY’s Executive Director, Jill Breit.
A frugal business owner who loved his community has left a bequest to support it in perpetuity.
Marvin Bissell, who owned and operated Bissell’s Store in Newcomb until July 2013, passed away that November. Before his death, he established the Bissell Fund for Grave Markers at Adirondack Foundation, which will provide support for cemeteries and historic preservation in the Essex County town of Newcomb. The fund recently awarded its first grant to the town: $25,000 for the Newcomb Cemetery project and other revitalization efforts. » Continue Reading.
Much of what we know of Fred Hess is from the books by Joseph Grady (The Story of aWilderness) and David Beetle (Up Old Forge Way): that he was born in 1840, came to the Fulton Chain in the 1870s with his family and built three lodges, one at Cedar Island and two on the shores of Fourth Lake. Successful as a builder and guide but a failure financially, Fred left Inlet and died years later in Augusta, Maine.
Using census data, the newspapers of his era and contemporary travel journals, I have constructed a life history of Fred Hess and his family which corrects some of the above. The biggest surprise for me was discovering his connection by marriage to three notable pioneering families of Boonville and the Fulton Chain region: Grant, Lawrence and Meeker. » Continue Reading.
The most obvious attraction to the settlement of Adirondac in its current state is that is is a ghost town, crumbling and abandoned. It is no wonder that people find ghost towns appealing, being as they are romantic places tinged with loneliness and even sadness. Most of all they are landscapes of mystery, places where the imagination can run with little limit, wondering at the lives and stories echoed within.
Like any ghost town and perhaps even more than most owing to its wild, forbidding setting, Adirondac invites mystery. To the knowledgeable visitor some of that mystery requires little imagination, merely some history. Where was the earliest furnace? Where and what was the nature of the house in which legendary guide John Cheney resided? How many families lived in the settlement at its peak? These and many other questions have no answer.
When I first became obsessed with Adirondac in the 1980’s I entered into a mystery adventure of my own. I assumed that there must be a cemetery associated with the settlement and I resolved to find it. It was more than fifteen years before my wife Amy succeeded. » Continue Reading.
Last week’s coverage here of Airdmore, that unusual camping colony at Elizabethtown in 1922, prompted a number of questions for me, particularly about the unusual surname of the main player, Henry Aird. The name was familiar to me in only one regard―from the plumbing supply company, Aird Dorrance, based in Morrisonville, near Plattsburgh, and with facilities in Ballston Lake and Clifton Park. I wanted to know: could there be a connection between the modern company and the business founded more than a century ago by Henry Aird?
If so, then he left a remarkable and lasting impact on North Country history in an economic sense, creating jobs for more than a hundred years, all of them resulting from choices he made in his business career long ago.
So I started digging. Early on, the effort was plagued by the usual problems that require clarification, especially regarding early records. As uncommon as the name Aird is, there were Airds and Bairds in Elizabethtown at the same time, led by men with the same first name―Henry. Both were among the moneyed class of visitors who frequented the village. Keeping their stories separate was easy enough, but the Airds’ reuse of given names and middle names, and the inconsistent use of middle initials in identifying them in legal papers and newspapers, was another story. » Continue Reading.
A “Notice!” was placed in the June 22, 1949 issue of the North Creek News by the Water District Superintendent Kenneth Davis and Supervisor Charles Kenwell informing local residence about the drought situation facing them over 60 years ago. » Continue Reading.
While I mostly write about North Country history in one form or another, I’ll digress this week, but only slightly: the history I’d like to mention is personal, and the impetus is yesterday, Father’s Day. I’ve never really had the opportunity to write about my dad, who at age 88 is still with us. He has changed, certainly, but the core man is still there, and I’m luckier than many folks who lost their dads and moms early in life. My mom is 90.
As you get older, you’ll often recognize parts of yourself or your behavior that came from one of your parents. It might be good or it might be bad, but it’s always an awakening to suddenly realize who we sound like and who we act like. It’s also an opportunity to change. One of my children once told me I yelled too much. That was so frustrating because the one thing that really got me fired-up when I was young was my dad’s yelling. I didn’t want my children to remember me that way, so I changed. » Continue Reading.
Few mothers as a group have seen more Mother’s Day celebrations than my own mother and her immediate ancestors. My mom turned 90 last September 5, an amazing milestone. Her mom, Mary Franklin Lagree, of hardy Churubusco farm stock (as they all were), lived to 96. Mary’s mom, Julia Toohey Franklin, was 93. And Mom’s paternal grandmother, Matilda Lagree, was 92.
Those four women collectively saw close to 300 Mothers Day celebrations. For good measure, I could include my mom’s Aunt Alice Silver (her father’s sister), who died in 2007 at 103, and was still active. » Continue Reading.
Glenn L. Pearsall’s Echoes in these Mountains, is subtitled “Historic Sites and Stories Disappearing in Johnsburg, an Adirondack Community,” but thanks to Pearsall, a tireless advocate for local history, those historic sites and stories are being remembered.
The geography of Johnsburg, the largest township in New York State, is central to Echoes in these Mountains. The book is arranged in chapters highlighting various historic sites, all with handy maps to help locate them on the landscape. That approach – locating historical stories around town on the landscape – is part of what drives Pearsall’s personal exploration of his town’s history, and what led to the answer to an interesting historical question. » Continue Reading.
Card of Thanks entries were routine fare in newspapers of years past. They were commonly used by families acknowledging those who provided aid and comfort during times of bereavement. The “Cards” shared a standard format—citing doctors, nurses, and friends, followed by the names of the immediate family who were doing the thanking—but some stood out as unusual. The death of Crown Point’s Enos Dudley in 1950 is a case in point.
Shortly after he passed, a Card of Thanks noted “the death of our beloved father, Enos J. Dudley” and featured the names of seven family members. Below it was a second Card of Thanks referring to Enos as “our beloved husband and father.” It ended with the names of six other family members. » Continue Reading.
There’s a new blog from the Franklin County Historical & Museum Society. Executive Director Anne Werley Smallman has been making regular posts on county history and the collections of the society, which was founded in 1903 and is located in Malone. I asked Ms. Werley Smallman a few questions about the society and the new online presence: AA: Could you tell me about yourself? How did you come to be the Executive Director of the Society?
AWS: Although I did not do most of my growing up in the North Country, I did graduate from Franklin Academy in Malone and subsequently married a Malone boy. We lived ‘away’ for a goodly while, but have been back for a little over five years now. I’m a museum professional by training and by wont, and have been the Executive Director of the Franklin County Historical Society since we returned. In fact, the position was one of the many catalysts for our return to the North Country. My husband and I are building a log home by hand, which makes us feel very superior – and poor.
AA: What is the Franklin County Historical and Museum Society all about?
AWS: The Society was initially founded in 1903, and was reinvigorated in the 1960s. It is housed in the 1864 House of History museum in Malone, with a recently renovated carriage house behind that which is now the Schryer Center for Historical & Genealogical Research.
The collections are comprehensive and specific to Franklin County history and we are bursting at the seams with everything from silver tea service to dental equipment to wooden water pipes. We attempt to collect equally from all parts of the county, but there was an unfortunate collecting bias toward the northern end for many years, most especially on Malone, and that is reflected in our overall collection. We have an annual (print) historical journal The Franklin Historical Review that has been published since 1964.
Fourth graders from all over Franklin County have been visiting the House of History for Museum Day tours and hands-on activities (like spinning and candle-dipping) for over 35 years. We currently have one half-time staff member (me) and a strong corps of volunteers (50+). The museum and Schryer center are open Tuesday and Thursday 1-4pm (and by appointment). The Society is funded by a combination of membership dues, federal and state grants, county funding, and private donations.
AA: What is your plan for the Society’s blog? How does it fit with your mission?
AWS: The blog attempts to mitigate our lack of extensive open hours and exhibit space and to provide a platform to showcase the collections of the Society by taking advantage of technology. I view the blog as a sort of ‘virtual exhibit’ — a way for the public to be able to peek into the historic collections of the museum and take away some Franklin County History in manageable bites. The collections are extensive and many wonderful items will likely not be put on exhibit soon; through the blog I hope to give access to the public to these items, at least virtually and in small measure.
Photo: The Franklin County Historical and Museum Society’s House of History, 51 Milwaukee Street, Malone.
The Library of Congress has launched the beta version of a new online searchable newspaper collection, Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers, in beta at http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/. The site currently contains newspapers from 1880 to 1910 (more are coming) plus a directory for newspapers published in the United States since 1690 (a look there turns up over 11,000 New York newspapers). Results from Essex County include 85 newspapers once published there. Research Buzz has all the tips on searching, but suffice it to say that along with the Brooklyn Daily Eagle online, Northern New York Library Network’s vast online collection of Northern New York newspapers, and the Digital Librarian’s Adirondack History Links, online Adirondack research just got a whole lot better. The Library of Congress site includes papers that have heretofore been unavailable for free. These include New York City / National papers The Evening World, Horace Greeley’s The New York Tribune, and the The Sun, plus other major dailies from across the nation.
The collection includes reports from Adirondack travelers, social notes from local resorts, and hundreds of advertisements like the one above by the Delaware & Hudson Railroad from 1908. Genealogists are going to find a lot of great stuff here, as well as political historians, and folks interested in the creation of the Adirondack Park, the 1903 and 1908 fires, and a lot more like a long report on the 1900 New York Sportsman Show, including the Adirondack Guide exhibit photo shown here.
Take a look at Adirondack Almanack’s Adirondack History Search Tools more more online sources of local history. All of our stories about history can be found here, and those interested in New York History should take a look at my “other project,” New York History.
The Clinton-Essex Counties Roundtable will be held from 9:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, May 9, 2009 at the Northern New York American Canadian Genealogy Society, Keeseville Civic Center, 1802 Main St., Keeseville. The topic will be “Community Scholars Training: Interviewing & Oral History” and will be presented by Traditional Arts in Upstate New York (TAUNY) Executive Director Jill Breit. Breit will share examples of successful oral history projects and demonstrate the many ways interviews can be used for different outcomes. She will focus on how to organize an oral history project, the basics of an oral history interview, the importance of field notes and follow-up interviews, recorders and other equipment for collecting oral history.
The roundtable is provided free of charge to the public on behalf of the Northern New York Library Network, Potsdam, and Documentary Heritage Program. To register for this event contact the NNYLN at 315-265-1119, or sign up on-line at www.nnyln.org and click on “Classes.”
Just three years after its founding, the Northern New York Historical Newspapers Web site now has 1,004,000 pages available from 28 newspapers in seven counties.
The millionth page was among 84,000 pages added from the former Potsdam Courier-Freeman, published from 1861 to 1989. Its addition was supported by the Friends of the Potsdam Public Museum, which helped finance the microfilming of issues from 1946 to the mid-1980s.
This part should interest local media who still charge for access to their own digital archives (attn: Albany Times Union and Glens Falls Post Star – even the New York Times has begun opening theirs).
Since the Potsdam publication was added, more than 24,000 searches have been conducted on the online Courier-Freeman archive, said Thomas J. Blauvelt, library network systems administrator.
At the NNLN’s page you can look at scanned copies of the originals and search their index – ads and all. They are going to add the Tupper Lake Free Press and the Massena Observer next.
SOME TIPS Search for full or last names of people you know, famous people you’re interested in, places, industries, ideas.
Instead of viewing the pages in the built-in online viewer, download all the pages for a single search term into their own folder and view them later in your pdf program (like the free Adobe Acrobat).
The Adirondack Almanack's contributors include veteran local writers, historians, naturalists, and outdoor enthusiasts from around the Adirondack region. The Almanack is the online news journal of Adirondack Explorer. Both are nonprofits supported by contributors, readers, and advertisers, and devoted to exploring, protecting, and unifying the Adirondack Park.
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