Tag Archives: Adirondacks

Soviet Leaders’ Drownings in Long Lake Being Recalled


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Leon Trotsky and Ephraim Sklyansky Red Square review of Moscow troops October 14 1918On Saturday evening, August 22, 2015, at 7:30 pm, at the Long Lake Town Hall, Abbie Verner, Long Lake Town Archivist and President of the Long Lake Historical Society will present a program with slides and music about two men from the Soviet Union who drowned in Long Lake in 1925.

The two men, Isaiah Khurgin, and his colleague Ephraim Skliansky, were prominent Soviet citizens and active in the politics of Soviet Russia. The program outlines their backgrounds, their family information and the possible reason for their visit. Continue reading

The Dannemora Prison Break of 1928


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dannemora prison before 1930sOn July 29, 1928, Herbert R. Mackie, an inmate at what was then known as Clinton Prison (today called the Clinton Correctional Facility) in Dannemora was being escorted to a practice session for the prison’s band. He told an officer that he had forgotten something, and asked for permission to return to his cell. He was not seen again by prison staff for six weeks.

He was not at liberty during most of that time, however. He was still within the facility, busily digging a tunnel that would be a key part in what seems to have been a carefully planned plot for Mackie to escape the prison with fellow inmate Otto Sanford. Continue reading

The Mystery of William Johnson’s ‘Fish House’


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47One of the real pleasures in researching and writing When Men and Mountain Meet was exploring the actual sites of the historic places mentioned in my book: the little town of Castorland on the Black River, the LeRay Mansion at Fort Drum, Gouverneur Morris’ Mansion at Natural Dam and David Parish’s house, now the Remington Art Museum, in Ogdensburg. And then there was finding Zephaniah Platt’s grave in the Riverside Cemetery in Plattsburgh, in Lake Placid the site of the 1813 Elba Iron and Steel Manufacturing works , Charles Herreshoff’s flooded iron ore mine in Old Forge and the complex of building foundations that made up John Thurman’s 1790 development at Elm Hill.

There was one site, however, that was a little harder to locate than the others; Sir William Johnson’s fishing camp “Fish House”. Continue reading

Prison History Lectures Planned For Adirondacks


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moriah-prison-600x381The freedom education and human rights project John Brown Lives! (JBL!) is sponsoring a series of summertime lectures by prison historian C. Jefferson Hall on the historical backdrop, the role of nature, and some of the broader implications of the June 2015 escape of Richard Matt and David Sweat from Dannemora’s Clinton Correctional Facility.

Hall’s talks are part of The Correction, JBL!’s ongoing series of programs and events designed to engage North Country communities in conversation about the impacts of mass incarceration and the need to re-imagine the criminal justice system and local economies. Continue reading

Ella Lynch: Learning How to Learn


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2aEFLynch1925Ella Frances Lynch – well spoken, thoughtful, and passionate in defining the problems with America’s public school system – refused to back down from proposed reforms. She was right and she knew it. Newspapers featured Ella’s editorials regularly, but the biggest attention-getter was a series of articles she wrote for Ladies Home Journal beginning in 1912. The title: “Is the Public School a Failure? It Is; the Most Momentous Failure in Our American life Today.”

Said Lynch, “Can you imagine a more grossly stupid, a more genuinely asinine system tenaciously persisted in to the fearful detriment of over 17 million children, and at a cost to you of over $403 million each year—a system that not only is absolutely ineffective in its results, but also actually harmful in that it throws each year 93 out of every 100 children into the world of action absolutely unfitted for even the simplest tasks of life? … The public school system is not something to be proud of, but a system that is today the shame of America.” Continue reading

Ella Frances Lynch: Adirondack Maven of Early Education


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1aEFLynchBeginning here is the story of an unknown but truly remarkable woman, an educator from Adirondack history. But first, some related information is helpful for perspective. For starters, here’s a sampling of complaints about our educational system: low graduation rates; undeserved diplomas; graduates lacking in real-world skills; students woefully unprepared for college; students without self-discipline, and more. Those are all issues today, but the very same items were also cited in 1970.

Since that time, our spending on education has risen by about 85 percent, but we’ve improved very little, still stymied by the same problems. In the meantime, we’ve fallen far behind many other countries, while still spouting that we’re the greatest country in the world. If we don’t find the answers soon, the hollow ring of that claim might well become deafening. Continue reading

Adirondack Philosophers’ Camp Talk In Saratoga Springs


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The Story of the Philosophers CampIn 1858 some of the leading lights of American art, literature, and science camped together on Follensby Pond near Tupper Lake at what is now known as the Philosophers’ Camp.

The gathering was organized by Willam James Stillman, artist and editor of acclaimed art magazine of the time, The Crayon. It included transcendental philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson, the poet James Russel Lowell, Harvard scientist Jean Louis Agassiz, and others.

The meeting at Follensby was widely covered in the popular press of the time and fueled an interest in the Adirondacks and retreating into the wilderness to write, make art and discuss the issues of the day. Continue reading

This Week’s New York History Web Highlights


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Adirondack Architectural Heritage Celebrating 25 Yrs


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Stone Mill VisionsAdirondack Architectural Heritage (AARCH) will transform its historic 1849 National Register-listed Stone Mill with lights, linens, great food, and music to host its 25th Anniversary “rustic-elegant” Gala event on Saturday August 1, 2015.

Located behind AARCH’s office building, this 11,000-square-foot mill overlooking the Ausable River once produced horseshoe nails for the Ausable Horse Nail Company and was at the center of the village’s economy for more than eighty years. The company’s success resulted from a number of forces and factors that all came together here. Iron from local mines, smelted with local charcoal, provided the raw material for the nails. Keeseville blacksmith Daniel Dodge invented a machine to mass produce horse nails and the Ausable River provided the power to run the mill’s machinery. After the company closed in 1923, the building became part of the R. Prescott and Sons complex, a furniture company that made radio and television cabinets in the 20th century. That company closed in the 1960s. Continue reading

This Week’s New York History Web Highlights


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New Evidence About Cannon Found In Adirondacks


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Johnsburg Revolutionary War CannonThe story goes that, in the summer of 1970, a Town of Johnsburg highway crew was straightening a Garnet Lake Road near Crane Mountain in Northern Warren County in the Adirondacks. While removing some of the ancient corduroy logs that once carried the road across a swampy section, they discovered what appeared to be an old cannon.

Vincent Schaefer had the cannon dated at the Watervliet Arsenal and it was determined that it was a swivel gun of the type probably used by Benedict Arnold’s troops during the battle of Valcour Island. Continue reading

This Week’s New York History Web Highlights


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Medical History: Saranac Lake’s Mirror Girl


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NYH02AColonel Walter ScottHis work with children’s hospitals convinced Colonel Walter Scott that there might be help for Jessica Ferguson despite her negative prognosis and seemingly hopeless situation.

New and exciting progress had been made, especially by Dr. Russell Hibbs of New York City, whose surgical innovations helped change the face of medicine. Hibbs was the first to perform a spinal fusion, and made great advances in treating tuberculosis of the spine and hip. Continue reading

The Mirror Girl of Saranac Lake


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NYH01AColonel Walter ScottMirror Girl. What an intriguing term. In the past it has been applied to the prettiest coeds in sororities, cute girls in general, and particularly vain women. But in this case, it addresses one of my favorite historical stories linked to the Northern New York’s years as a tuberculosis treatment center. The patient was a young woman, Jessica “Jessie” Ferguson, born in 1895 in Mount Pleasant, New York, north of Tarrytown on the Hudson River. Her parents, James and Anna, were both natives of Scotland, a fact that becomes key to the story.

The young girl’s difficulties began in her early twenties when her father died, and Jessica was diagnosed with tuberculosis of the bone, affecting her spine. In 1918, she lost the ability to walk. Doctors placed her in a cast that forced Jessica into a permanent reclining position. Continue reading

Adirondack History Museum 2015 Exhibits, Events


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IMG_0310The Adirondack History Museum in Elizabethtown, Essex County, NY (formerly known as the Adirondack History Center Museum), is open for its 2015 season which runs until October 12th.

This Saturday, June 13th, the museum’s new exhibits will open. “Essex County’s Immigrants: Names, Places, and Stories” is this year’s seasonal exhibit. Drawing on the ancestry of present day Essex County residents, the exhibit uses individual stories to explore the broad immigration patterns that changed Essex County in the mid-1800s. Continue reading