Tag Archives: Adirondacks

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

Adirondack Museum Reopens Friday


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Adirondack MuseumThe Adirondack Museum opens for its 58th season on Friday, May 22, with new exhibitions, programs, family activities, and events.

The museum invites year-round residents of the Adirondack Park to visit free of charge every Sunday during the open season, and every day the museum is open in May and October. (Proof of year-round residency – such as a driver’s license, passport, or voter registration card – is required). Continue reading

John Brown Day Being Celebrated May 9th


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John Brown DayA biographer who has written extensively about John Brown, a civil rights activist who marched in Selma and a memorial honoring a youth leader who introduced countless city youth to the Adirondacks will highlight John Brown Day 2015.

The annual event will be held Saturday, May 9, from 2 to 4 pm at the John Brown Farm State Historic Site in Lake Placid. It is free and open to the public. Continue reading

Fun with Old Advertisements


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1Cascarets1898While researching in old newspapers, I often find entertainment in skimming the advertisements, some of which are clearly the forerunners of promotions in today’s media. Medicines and cure-alls distributed nationally were once regularly advertised in local newspapers, urging readers to try products that were available in nearby drugstores. One of the most common of these treatments was Cascarets, claiming to be different from Castor Oil and other meds that “irritate and lash the bowels into action, but do not thoroughly cleanse, freshen, and purify these drainage organs.” Continue reading

Auction To Benefit Essex County History


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museumStarting on May 1st and ending on May 10th, the Essex County Historical Society will auction a variety of local items to raise $8,000 to support the Adirondack History Center Museum’s collections, exhibits, education, and outreach programs.

The catalog of items ranges from golf at the Ausable Club, original art and prints from local artists, camp tuition at Camp Pok-O-MacCready, lodging packages, gift certificates to local stores, concert venues, and restaurants, and more. Continue reading

New York’s War on Animals (Conclusion)


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Vermin02 WhiteList1919After a “Black List” of animals was promulgated by New York State officials and an all-out war against these “vermin” was launched in the early 20th century, a competition grew among fish and game clubs across the state. Some clubs were founded for the specific purpose of complying with the state’s plea for help in eradicating unwanted animals.

Many clubs held contests, applying point systems to each animal on the list and awarding prizes to the winners. “Contest” was in some cases a misnomer: in many cases, it was a year-round process punctuated by periodic awards. Continue reading

Abenaki History At Adirondack Museum Sunday


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AdirondackMuseum_CabinFeverSundays_Apr19_SabattisSketchNo account of the history of the Adirondacks is complete without a consideration of its Abenaki residents, and the Adirondack Museum houses an impressive collection of artifacts that help illustrate the story of Abenaki culture and its significance in the Adirondack region.

In the final installment of the Adirondack Museum’s Cabin Fever Sundays series, anthropologist Christopher Roy and an Abenaki panel including Andree Newton, Diane Cubit, and James Watsaw, will discuss the experiences of Abenaki families in the Adirondack region and throughout the Northeast for the past several centuries.  Continue reading

A Century Ago: New York’s War on Animals


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Vermin01 BlackList1919Beware! Pictured here are your adversaries – the official enemies of the state. Don’t be distracted by the pretty colors, lovely feathers, or furry critters. These are vermin, and citizens are urged to kill them at every opportunity. The poster, by the way, represents only the top nine targets from a group of notorious killers, presented here alphabetically: bobcat, Cooper’s hawk, crow, English sparrow, goshawk, gray fox, great gray owl, great horned owl, house rat, “hunting” house cat, lynx, porcupine, red fox, red squirrel, sharp-shinned hawk, snowy owl, starling, weasel, and woodchuck. Kingfishers and a number of snakes were later added, and osprey were fair game as well.

While some of the phrases used above – “official enemies … kill them at every opportunity … new job requirement” – might sound like exaggerations, they were, in fact, official conservation policies of New York State a century ago. Continue reading

The Diaries of Theodore Roosevelt 1877-1886


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Theodore Roosevelt DiariesA Most Glorious Ride: The Diaries of Theodore Roosevelt 1877-1886 (SUNY Press, 2015) covers the formative years of TR’s life, and show the transformation of a sickly and solitary Harvard freshman into a confident and increasingly robust young adult. He writes about his grief over the premature death of his father, his courtship and marriage to his first wife, Alice Hathaway Lee, and later the death of Alice and his mother on the same day.

The diaries also chronicle his burgeoning political career in New York City and his election to the New York State Assembly. With his descriptions of balls, dinner parties, and nights at the opera, they offer a glimpse into life among the Gilded Age elite in Boston and New York. Continue reading

‘French Louie Day’ Recalls Adirondack Folk Hero


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young-louie-300The Herkimer County Legislature has named Friday “French Louie Day” in honor of the noted French-Canadian Adirondacker Louis Seymour. A celebration is planned for Saturday in the Town of Inlet.

Friday marks the 100th anniversary of the death of Seymour, who made the wilderness between Inlet and Lake Pleasant his home from the 1860s until his death in Newton’s Corners (now Speculator) on February 27, 1915. Seymour’s name became legend after the 1952 biography Adirondack French Louie: Life in the North Woods by Utica author Harvey Dunham, which portrayed him as a man of hard work, determination and humor. Continue reading

Robert Fulton Lecture At Adirondack Museum


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AdirondackMuseum-CabinFeverSundays_Feb22_SteamboatFulton(OldForge)In the fourth installment of the Adirondack Museum’s Cabin Fever Sundays series, New York Council for the Humanities speaker Robert Arnold III will explore the legacy of Robert Fulton, the creator of the first commercially successful steamboat.

Arnold will address the ways Fulton’s steamboat helped to catalyze the expansion of steam power into the energy source that propelled America’s Industrial Revolution.  Fulton was a talented artist and inventor who also devised canal locks used in Britain, and the first workable submarine (for Napoleon Bonaparte). Continue reading

One of America’s Most Prominent Doctors


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Alfred Loomis Oval (1)It was Saturday, January 26, 1895, and throngs of mourners were gathered at the Church of the Incarnation in Manhattan for the funeral of one of America’s most prominent doctors.

Dr. Alfred Lebbeus Loomis, who had revolutionized the way tuberculosis was treated in this country, had died on January 23rd, just two days after his own personal physician had ordered him confined to bed because of a spiking fever.   Dr. Loomis, diagnosed with tuberculosis some thirty years earlier, had contracted pneumonia, and would never recover.  Continue reading

Saranac: Life and Times of an Adirondack Town


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Clinton County Historical SocietyThe Clinton County Historical Association (CCHA) will open a new exhibit from 12 to 3 pm on Saturday, January 24th: Saranac: Life and Times of an Adirondack Town.  Since 2010, the CCHA has invited Clinton County Historians to take part in the Museum’s I Love Clinton County Exhibition Series.  The Town of Saranac is being highlighted in this year’s series focusing on town history.

Jan Couture, Town of Saranac Historian and the Seney family of the Saranac Family History and Research Group curated the exhibit which highlights Saranac’s history as a mining, manufacturing, logging and farming town. The exhibit which will be on display at the Museum until October 2015.  Continue reading