The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has announced that emerald ash borer (EAB) has been confirmed in two locations in Jefferson County. A sample collected from a tree in the city of Watertown on South Massey Street was positively identified by the Cornell University Insect Diagnostic Lab.
The sample was taken in cooperation with the City of Watertown Planning Department and Department of Public Works. A second location was confirmed in the village of Clayton. » Continue Reading.
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.
In late July 1934, the average life of Watertown’s Vincent Sparacino took a sudden, drastic turn, becoming anything but humdrum. Vincent was an Italian immigrant who came to America in 1906 when he was 16 years old. The family settled in Watertown and operated Sparacino & Company, a fruit wholesaler that later branched out into vegetables. By the late 1920s Vincent and his brother Tony were partners in the business with other family members. Vince was a hands-on guy, frequently driving a delivery truck to customer sites around the city.
On many days after finishing work and taking supper, he drove to a nearby grocery store, parked outside, sat in the front passenger seat, and played the car radio. His good friend of many years, Patsy Carbone, ran the store, and whenever there was free time, Patsy came out to visit. » 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.
In 1903, after winning a national championship with the Michigan Wolverines college football team during the previous season, Fort Covington native Big Bill Palmer was working in Chester, Massachusetts. In subsequent years, homesickness, financial issues, and the supposed need to care for his ill mother were reasons cited by reporters seeking to explain his decision to leave the University of Michigan. The real issue, however, was his status as an amateur athlete. At the time, colleges were cracking down on the use of athletes who were considered professionals, and after winning the national title, Michigan discovered that Palmer, unbeknownst to them, had been paid to play football for Watertown in 1901. By the rules, any type of payment for play changed an athlete’s status from amateur to professional, so Michigan was unable to allow his return to the roster in 1903. » Continue Reading.
When presidential historians and scholars rate America’s greatest leaders, Franklin Delano Roosevelt is among the few who nearly always appear among the top five, along with Washington and Lincoln. While others certainly served admirably, those three achieved elevated status by facing stern tests of leadership during great crises in our history: the battle for independence, the fight to preserve the Union, and in FDR’s case, both the Great Depression and World War II.
It’s less well known that Roosevelt very nearly didn’t serve as President due to assassination attempts prior to his first inauguration. One of those stories brought ignominious headlines to the North Country over a period of several months.
Roosevelt first won the presidency in November 1932. The 20th Amendment was ratified on January 23, 1933, officially establishing January 20 as the new inauguration date for all future presidents, and making FDR the last President to be inaugurated on March 4. He very nearly didn’t survive the waiting period. » 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.
In 1920, Charles Giblyn produced his first film for William Fox. (If the name sounds familiar, William founded Fox Film Corporation in 1915, the forerunner of today’s Fox TV and movie units.) The film, Tiger’s Cub, allowed Giblyn a homecoming of sorts. With his lead actress, Pearl White, who reportedly had the widest following of any star worldwide at the time, he came north for filming in Port Henry, about an hour south of Plattsburgh, where he once lived.
After producing a few more movies, Charles was sent to the West Coast on behalf of Fox, where he continued working. For a brief period, he assumed leadership of the Motion Picture Directors’ Association, but when Fox re-assigned him to more movie projects back East, he surrendered the top spot with the MPDA and headed for New York. » Continue Reading.
By 1911, Charles Giblyn, now 40, had been acting for more than 20 years, receiving many great reviews for his theater work. That he often stood out was reflected in comments like the following, taken from the pages of the Los Angeles Herald: “Not Yet, But Soon, currently at the Grand Opera House, has just one thing to commend it to theater-goers. This is the acting of Charles Giblyn as a dope fiend. Apart from Mr. Giblyn’s work, the piece is silly, stupid, and boresome.”
He had also managed several stock companies, and in recent years directed many stage plays and vaudeville shows at LA’s Belasco and other theaters. The experience would serve him well as he plunged head-first into a new show-business medium: the world of movies.
The birth of the commercial film industry was at hand, and Charles quickly became a main player at the directorial level. By mid-July 1913, the New York Dramatic Mirror noted that “… Giblyn … is making quite a hit by his clever work in the moving picture field.” It was but a hint of what was to come. » Continue Reading.