History has done a poor job of defining and interpreting Gerrit Smith’s 1846 land grants and the Timbucto settlers in North Elba. More recently, scholars have been exploring and telling this rich and fascinating black history of the Adirondacks. However, confusion, fiction, and exaggerations have crept into some narratives. As an independent scholar of history, I believe we need to be vigilant to keep history factual, especially given the current attacks on re-writing and re-framing history. Conjecture and opinions should be stated as such, facts should be backed up by reliable sources and verified by evidence.
Many historical accounts about the land grants and Timbucto are chocked full of errors and myths rather than historical facts. Among these are Alfred Donaldson’s chapter on John Brown in A History of the Adirondacks, Volume II (1921), Mary Lee’s article in New York Times (1929), Beatrice Hughes article in New York State Conservationist (1921), Richard Henry Dana’s article in Atlantic (1871), and various narratives quoting Lyman Epps Jr. These are not reliable sources.
Timbuctoo Institute would build opportunity in the Adirondacks
By Aaron Mair
The Adirondack Park is a national treasure because our ancestors had the foresight in the 1880s and 1890s to protect its forests and waters as a legacy for future generations to inherit and enjoy. Creating the Forest Preserve and the “forever wild” clause of the state constitution were bold, new ideas.
Now, more than 120 years later, we can see how smart our ancestors were. The Adirondack Park was transformed in less than a century from a smoldering mess of wildfires, clear-cut forests and muddy rivers into the world’s largest intact, temperate deciduous forest. Today, it hosts most of the rare forest wildlife, wilderness and old-growth forest remaining in the Northeast.
What caused people as far away as New York City to act?
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