The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has announced they are holding a public information session on Habitat Management Plans (HMPs) for three Jefferson County Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) from 6 to 8 pm, on Tuesday, March 19, at the Dulles State Office Building, Watertown.
The HMPs cover the Lakeview, Black Pond, and Honeyville WMAs, just outside the Adirodnacks. » Continue Reading.
In summer 1920, as he had done for at least 60 years, Charles Sherman was out on Pine Plains picking huckleberries. His usual tour of North Country fairs was in the works, a highly anticipated journey by Charlie and his admirers alike, but he began feeling poorly and decided not to go. He remained active until early October, but from that point forward was confined to the house as his health deteriorated. It was finally determined that cancer was gradually taking his life.
An outline of his unusual history was published in the Ogdensburg Republican-Journal, reviving fond memories of the good times had by all whenever Charlie came to town. » Continue Reading.
In June 1917, Charlie Sherman showed up as usual in Watertown to apprise his friends at the Daily Timeshow things were going. After discussing the blueberry crop, he mentioned his new cat, Snowball, who “could roll over three times without stopping.” A surprise once again was his attire, but not in the customary way: instead of a flashy, multicolored wardrobe, “his suit being of a sober, mixed gray, but to the sport type.”
The year played out in typical fashion, with Charlie selling berries during the summer and touring the fairs in the fall. As had become customary, he also played a role in Watertown’s Labor Day parade. “Charles Sherman, bedecked with emblems, lodge insignia, etc., was given a prominent place in the parade, and even preceded the Fourth Artillery band at times when he considered the occasion demanded. The parade was witnessed by a large crowd of Watertown people who lined the Square on all sides, as well as [seven] other streets taken in on the line of march.” » Continue Reading.
It had been a busy year, but if anything, Charlie Sherman was more active in 1915, receiving ample media coverage for his many exploits — and more than a few surprises. In January, the Ogdensburg Journal reported on his visit to Watertown’s relief kitchen located on Jackman Street. He dropped in, looked things over, was offered supper, and accepted, afterward offering effusive praise of the food, facility, and staff, and rewarding them with brief and witty speeches on a number of topics.
At the end of the month, he showed up at Watertown High School and was guided to the auditorium, where he took the stage to perform several songs and a clog dance. » Continue Reading.
In fall 1911, Sherman’s gardening skills, which had paved the way for decades of successful peddling, were credited with helping Woodville’s (near Lake Ontario) George Kring develop an especially prolific squash crop, including one vine that yielded 35 specimens. In a strong agrarian economy, such achievements were frequently touted in the press, a welcome bonus for a man with Charlie’s affinity for attention.
For someone who loved being the life of the party, 1913 proved to be a busy and pleasurable year for Charlie, who had entered his seventies. In early June, he joined the festivities as Carthage hosted the statewide convention of the Eagles, a fraternal organization. Said the Watertown Daily Times, “Huckleberry Charlie was much in evidence and was the center of attraction. Mounted on the bandstand and at the head of impromptu parades, he was everywhere to be seen.” » Continue Reading.
In January 1910, Charlie’s show-biz repertoire was further expanded with “a bunch of new songs and a new spiel” that he performed three times at the City Opera House when an amateur minstrel show came to town. Although he injured his hand working at the paper mill in Great Bend, Charlie continued to rehearse his songs and a monologue about the Pine Plains area, which proved to be a hit of the show. The Watertown Daily Times said, “One of the features not on the program, but which nevertheless called out perhaps a larger share of applause than any other number, was that of Charlie Sherman, Huckleberry Charlie.” Or as the man himself told it, “I made more people laugh than any other two numbers on the program.” » Continue Reading.
Charlie Sherman was in great demand and welcome at just about any event he favored, for attracting a crowd was the key to success, and few folks could attract a crowd like Charlie could. He followed an itinerary that lasted for decades, traveling from fair to fair, selling his wares (sometimes vegetables, berries, peanuts, or soda) and working as a huckster, promoting other vendors and exhibits. Roaming the grounds, he delivered spiels, sang, pontificated on everything from politics to local history, talked about his past, and spouted witty sayings, often in poetic fashion. It was a win-win situation, adding to an event’s atmosphere while putting the spotlight on Charlie — and the more attention he received, the more he liked it.
The Altona Flat Rock is a rare and spectacular site I’ve referenced here in the past, and was the subject of my first book written long ago (it was updated in 2005 with new glaciology information). Besides details on the unusual topography, glacial remnants, an incredibly persistent fire, and one of the world’s largest dams when it was built in the early 1900s, there was also a human history to tell.
The forbidding landscape, similar to expanses in Maine, was conducive to the growth of blueberries, the harvest of which evolved into a phenomenon. Entire families established temporary villages of tents and shacks on the Flat Rock from July into September, picking thousands of quarts for sale to local customers and East Coast markets, including Boston and New York City.
A similar business was conducted at the same time on what today is known as Fort Drum in Jefferson County. It was originally known as Pine Camp, located on a several-thousand-acre area that historically bore the name of Pine Plains. While the Altona site in Clinton County was known locally as the Blueberry Rock, Pine Plains near Watertown was known for producing great quantities of huckleberries, a close “cousin” fruit that provided the nickname for our subject, Charles Sherman. » Continue Reading.
A study published in the journal Science Advances demonstrates how decorations on ancient pottery can be used to discover new evidence for how groups interacted across large regions. The research, conducted by John P. Hart, Director of Research and Collections at the New York State Museum; Jennifer Birch, Assistant Professor at the University of Georgia; and Christian Gates St-Pierre, Assistant Professor at the University of Montreal, sheds new light on the importance of a little-understood Iroquoian population in upstate New York and its impact on relations between two emerging Native American political powers in the 16th century.
Iroquoians in northeastern North America are best known for the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) and Wendat (Huron) confederacies in upstate New York and southern Ontario. There are extensive early historic records of both groups. Descendants of these confederacies and their respective nations that remain in these areas today have rich oral traditions that speak to their histories before and after European contact. Archaeology fills out these records through the excavation and analyses of ancestral communities. » Continue Reading.
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.
“The Republican Party is the ship, all else is the sea.”
This famous statement by Frederick Douglass was more than a casual observation. Douglass was a Republican in a time before the realignment of American political parties. After the American Civil War, he became one of the Party’s busiest, and strongest, campaigners, especially in New York.
Republican candidates counted on his oration skills to inspire voters – both black and white – through Reconstruction and after. In fact, in the late 1870s, the Republican State Committee relied on his campaign talents. This was the case in Jefferson County when Douglass rallied large gatherings in Adams in 1879, and Theresa in 1880, near the city of Watertown. » Continue Reading.
A century ago, an emerging North Country artist made a name for herself in Jefferson County, but it was the many names she wore through seven decades that made her story so difficult to trace. She began life in North Dakota in 1883 as Phoebe Alice Weeks. During her marriage (around 1910) to Carl Warren, she was known as Phoebe W. Warren. During her second marriage, to Lewis Perry Hazlewood of Sackets Harbor in 1916, she was known as Phoebe Hazlewood (often misspelled as Hazelwood), but her middle name appeared variously as Alice, Weeks, and Warren, or the initials “A” or “W.” Decades later, there was a third marriage to Henry Morse, during which she again was described by various names, the most common of which were Phoebe Hazlewood Morse and Phoebe Weeks Morse.
What’s most important of course, is that she did in fact make a name for herself in the art world. From the time she was very young, Phoebe gravitated towards artwork created by cutting out paper shapes, which were then displayed over an offsetting background. For instance, a cutout from black paper was presented over a background of white paper. The method was known generally as silhouette. » Continue Reading.
When you turn on your kitchen faucet you probably don’t give it much thought, yet it’s a marvel of modern history.
For centuries, to get water into the house it was necessary to fill your buckets from a fast moving stream and lug them home. Later, you might have filled them from a well or cistern, but still had the chore of lugging them back to the house. Every drop of water you wanted for drinking, cooking or washing had to be transported this way and it was a seemingly endless task. In winter, you might have to carry an axe with you so you could break through the ice that had formed overnight. Here in the Adirondacks, wells were sometimes dug right under the house so getting water wouldn’t be quite so arduous, especially in winter. Common indoor plumbing with water to a faucet didn’t arrive in most homes in the Adirondacks until the 20th century. But there were exceptions, one of which was the LeRay Mansion near the town of Leraysville in Jefferson County. » Continue Reading.
A pair of North Country men, born just a few miles apart in Jefferson County, left New York in their adult years and settled about 65 miles apart in Illinois, where each left his lasting mark. Together, their names were also attached to an institution in Arkansas that lives on nearly a century and a half later.
John Budlong was born in February 1833 in Rodman, New York, about eight miles south of Watertown. The Budlong family has many historical connections dating back to the Revolutionary War. John attended several of the best schools in the region: the Rodman Seminary, the Jefferson County Institute at Watertown, the Adams Institute, and Falley Seminary at Fulton in Oswego County. At the age of 18 he began a wide-ranging teaching career, working in North Carolina, Texas, and Missouri before returning to Rodman, where he continued teaching and began studying law. » Continue Reading.
Historically, 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.
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