The 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 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
Beginning 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
In 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
Adirondack 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
The hunt by law enforcement officials for two escaped convicts from the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora became a nonstop reality show in the media. For several weeks, each and every movement of the convict hunters was chronicled. When one was killed and the other wounded and captures, the show was over. So was the economic windfall. Continue reading
This week “The Historians” podcast features an interview with Sheila Myers, author of the novel, Imaginary Brightness: A Durant Family Saga. William West Durant is the focus of her novel; Durant marketed Adirondack great camps as vacation homes for super wealthy American industrialists. You can listen at “The Historians” online archive here. Continue reading
The 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 “The Historians” podcast features an interview with Steven Engelhart of Adirondack Architectural Heritage. Steven has fascinating comments on Adirondack structures – bridges, fire towers, great camps and even prisons. You can listen to the show here. Continue reading
His 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
Mirror 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
The 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
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has released an updated draft unit management plan (UMP) for the Camp Santanoni Historic Area, located on the NYS Forest Preserve in Newcomb, NY, in the heart of the Adirondack Park. Continue reading
The 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
Adirondack Architectural Heritage (AARCH) is seeking nominations for their 2015 Historic Preservation awards. The organization looks to recognize historic buildings that have been well-cared for over time, or brought back to life.
Projects, large and small, completed in the Adirondack region during the past two years are eligible for consideration. Continue reading
A 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