Tag Archives: Essex County

Thomas Symons: A Noted Western Engineer


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In 1847, Thomas Symons operated a book bindery in the village of Keeseville, offering ledgers, journals, receipt books, and similar products. Rebinding of materials was much in demand in those days, a service that helped expand his clientele. While Thomas, Sr., was successful in building a business, his son, Thomas, Jr., would play an important role in building a nation.

Thomas William Symons, Jr., was a Keeseville native, born there in 1849. When he was a few years old, the family moved to Flint, Michigan, where several members remained for the rest of their lives. His younger twin brothers, John and Samuel, operated Symons Brothers & Company, the second largest wholesale firm in the state. They became two of Michigan’s most prominent men in social, political, and business circles.

Thomas chose a different route, completing school and applying to the US Military Academy at West Point. After acceptance, he proved to be no ordinary student, graduating at the top of the Class of 1874. He was promoted to Second Lieutenant, Corps of Engineers, and served at Willett’s Point, about 50 miles south of West Point. After two years, he was ready for some field work, and his timing couldn’t have been better.

Symons was assigned to join the Wheeler Expedition under fellow West Point alumnus George Wheeler. The travels of explorers Lewis and Clark and Zeb Pike are better known, but the Wheeler Expedition is one of four that formed the nucleus of the US Geological Survey’s founding.

The engineers, Symons among them, not only explored, but recorded details of their findings. The land encompassing Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, and Utah was surveyed using triangulation, and more than 70 maps were created. Their studies on behalf of America’s government produced volumes on archaeology, astronomy, botany, geography, paleontology, and zoology. The possibilities of roads, railroads, agriculture, and settlement were addressed.

The experience Thomas gained during this work was invaluable. In 1878, he was promoted to First Lieutenant. In 1879, Symons was appointed Engineer Officer of the Department of the Columbia, and was promoted to captain in 1880. Similar to the work he had done under Wheeler, Thomas was now in charge of studying the area referred to as the “Inland Empire of the Pacific Northwest,” focusing on the upper Columbia River and its tributaries.

Much of the land was wilderness, and the job was not without danger. The American government was notorious for breaking treaties with Indians, and groups of surveyors in the region were driven off by angry natives who said they had never sold the rights to their land.

Symons was a surveyor, but he was also an officer of the military. Leading a company of the 21st Infantry from Portland, Oregon, into Washington, he faced off against 150 armed warriors. The situation was potentially disastrous, but Thomas listened to the concerns of the Indians, learning their histories and beliefs. Bloodshed was avoided as Symons skillfully negotiated a truce, allowing him to survey from the Snake River north to the Canadian border, unimpeded.

Much of the upper Columbia study was conducted in a small boat carrying Symons, two soldiers, and several Indians. His report provided details of the region’s geology and history, a review so thorough that it was published as a congressional document. Combined with his earlier surveys of Oregon, it made Symons the government’s number one man in the Northwest.

Whether or not his superiors agreed with him, Symons addressed the Indians’ issues in prominent magazine articles, sympathizing with their plight. Few knew the situation better than Thomas, and he freely expressed his opinions.

Besides exploring and mapping the Northwest, he chose locations for new army outposts, built roads, and carried out military duties. He also became a prominent citizen of Spokane, purchasing land from the Northern Pacific Railroad and erecting the Symons Building, a brick structure containing commercial outlets and housing units. (A third rendition of the Symons Block remains today an important historical building in downtown Spokane.)

Thomas’ proven abilities led to a number of important assignments. In 1882, he was placed on the Mississippi River Commission, taking charge of improvements on the waterway. In 1883, the Secretary of State asked Symons to lead the US side of the joint boundary commission redefining the border with Mexico. Surveying, checking and replacing border markers, and other work was conducted while averaging 30 miles per day on rough ground in intense heat. For his efforts, Thomas received formal thanks from the State Department.

He was then sent to Washington, D.C., where he worked for six years on city projects, principally the water supply, sewage system, and pavements. He also developed complete plans for a memorial bridge (honoring Lincoln and Grant) connecting Washington to Arlington, Virginia. (A modified version was built many years later.)

Symons’ next assignment took him back to familiar territory, the Northwest. Based in Portland, he was given charge of developing river and harbor facilities in Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington. He did primary engineering work on canals, including one in Seattle that remains a principal feature of the city, and planned the tideland areas for Ballard, Seattle, and Tacoma harbors. Seattle’s present railroad lines and manufacturing district were included in planning for the famed harbor facilities.

On the Pacific coast, Thomas’ work on the world-renowned jetty works at the mouth of the Columbia River was featured in Scientific American magazine. He also provided the War Department with surveys and estimates for harbor construction at Everett, Washington.

Next week: Even bigger and better things, including historic work in New York State.

Photos: Thomas Williams Symons, engineer; Modern version of the Symons Block in Spokane, Washington.
Lawrence Gooley has authored 11 books and more than 100 articles on the North Country’s past. He and his partner, Jill McKee, founded Bloated Toe Enterprises in 2004. Expanding their services in 2008, they have produced 24 titles to date, and are now offering web design. For information on book publishing, visit Bloated Toe Publishing.

Marking John Brown’s Struggle For Human Rights


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One hundred and fifty-three years ago this week John Brown led an anti-slavery raid on Harpers Ferry, Virginia, part of the radical movement of tens of thousands of Americans struggling to undermine the institution of slavery in America before the Civil War.

It’s often said that just one thing secured Brown’s place in the hearts of millions of Americans – his execution and martyrdom. But there is another more important reason to celebrate the life of John Brown – his courage in standing against unjust state and federal laws, the press, and popular culture in the cause of basic human rights. Continue reading

Adirondack History: A Whiteface Mountain Cog Railroad?


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In 1935, after years of planning, debate, and construction, the Whiteface Mountain Veterans Memorial Highway was completed. It was named in honor of America’s veterans of the so-called “Great War” (World War I), and was expected to be a major tourist attraction. Automobiles were becoming commonplace in the North Country at that time, and travelers to the region now had a thrilling view available to them at the press of a gas pedal.

Seventy-five years later, it remains a spectacular drive and a great family excursion. But the macadam highway to the summit almost never came to be, and New Hampshire’s Mount Washington nearly had a New York counterpart.

Since the mid-1800s, men had planned various strategies to access the top of Whiteface Mountain. There were footpaths, horse trails, and designs drawn for a carriage road. But on a much more ambitious scale, railroad access was once planned to the summit. Had it been completed, it’s possible the present highway would never have been built.

The idea for a rail line to the top of Whiteface surfaced regularly in the early 1890s, when the famed hostelries of Lake Placid catered to a growing clientele. Attractions were needed to ensure that visitors would return, and an easy view from atop Whiteface would be a great amenity for the growing tourism industry.

The idea gained momentum in 1892 when a group of New York City financiers, led by Mirror Lake Hotel manager Charles Martin, purchased the summit of Whiteface. Martin’s plan included a carriage road to the top, and facilities providing for overnight stays. The carriage road, he said, would follow “French’s old route,” a reference to Samuel and Russell French, who operated a hotel at the village of “French’s,” later known as Forestdale, northwest of Whiteface.

In the following year, Albert Putnam, a member of the same syndicate, confirmed those plans, adding that a railroad would be built to the summit from the Lake Placid side. The goal was to match the success of Mount Washington’s cog railway, the only such line east of the Rockies. Construction was set for spring 1894, but an economic depression (the Panic of 1893) ended the ambitious, expensive venture.

The Panic was a terrible time, rated by many economists as second in severity only to the 1930s. While the Great Depression was linked to bank failures, the financial problems in the 1890s stemmed from massive railroad failures (which toppled many banks as well). It was not a great time to be looking for funding to create a tourism-related rail line.

In 1898, upper management of the Delaware & Hudson Company prepared a cost estimate for running a cog railway up the Lake Placid side of the mountain, a much steeper grade than the motor road that exists today. The plans called for a small hotel at the summit; terminal depots at the mountain’s base and at Lake Placid village five and a half miles away; and two steamers on the lake for carrying passengers from the village dock to the mountain-base terminal.

A cog railway is the only safe train option for steep ascents and descents. The motor drives a cog gear, and the gear’s teeth catch in a toothed rail that lies between the two outer rails, controlling the train’s movement and preventing wheel slippage on steep inclines. The total cost for the special line was estimated at $100,000 ($2.7 million in 2012). The scheme never got beyond the planning stage, however, and was subsequently abandoned.

In 1901, the resurgent economy brought renewed interest in the project, but with revisions. Instead of focusing solely on visitors already in the Wilmington area, the new idea was to develop a regional transportation system beginning on the shores of Lake Champlain. A trolley was planned from Port Kent to Lake Placid, with a second line leading to the top of Whiteface.

Leases were secured on the mountain, providing a circuitous four-mile route to the summit for the cog-wheel road. The cost was again estimated at $100,000. But problems arise with any project, and this one was no different. Not all of the mountain’s owners were enthusiastic about a rail line to Lake Champlain, instead favoring local connections between Lake Placid village and the mountain’s summit.

Those who conceived the original project saw steamboat and rail traffic along Lake Champlain as the keys to success, providing easy access for tourists. Successfully establishing leases for linking to the lake might convince the mountain owners to climb aboard for the entire project.

But the proposed trolley line ran into unforeseen difficulties. Electricity was needed to operate it, and planners were unable to secure waterpower rights through the Ausable Valley. After several efforts, that part of the plan was scrapped.

The mountain’s owners still envisioned a rail line up Whiteface, but the plan that was halted by financial conditions in the 1890s now fell victim to time and technology. Though the railroad idea was frequently revisited, the growing popularity of automobiles suggested an alternative plan better aligned with the future. Through the 1920s, the rail concept gradually morphed into a paved-highway initiative, culminating in the memorial highway to the summit.

Photos: Mount Washington’s cog railway; ferry dock at Port Kent (1907); cog railway across the ridges of Mount Washington.

Lawrence Gooley has authored 11 books and more than 100 articles on the North Country’s past. He and his partner, Jill McKee, founded Bloated Toe Enterprises in 2004. Expanding their services in 2008, they have produced 24 titles to date, and are now offering web design. For information on book publishing, visit Bloated Toe Publishing.

Program Focusing Rockwell Kent’s Art, Life


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The SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry’s (ESF) Adirondack Interpretive Center will celebrate the work of Adirondack artist Rockwell Kent with a daylong event on October 20, 2012.

Caroline Welsh, director emeritus of the Adirondack Museum, will present a program on Kent’s artistic legacy, including many images of his work. Paul Hai, program director for ESF’s Northern Forest Institute, which manages the Interpretive Center, and Marianne Patinelli-Dubay, environmental philosopher with NFI, will provide readings and insights on Kent’s physical and personal adventures.

Kent was born in New York City in 1882. He was a painter, illustrator, architect, author, traveler, and humanist whose reputation was widely known in the early 20th century. In his mid-40s, he moved to an Adirondack farm he named Asgaard near Ausable Forks, where he designed and built a home and artist’s studio. Kent died at Asgaard in 1971.

In addition to the presentation about Kent, the AIC will host two regional artists, Diane Leifheit of Gabriels and William Elkins of Syracuse, who will be painting and drawing along the trails. Participants are invited to see the artists’ work, talk with them about tips and techniques, and bring a journal to practice alongside them.

The day will conclude with an informal art show and light reception.

The program, titled, “They Broke the Mold after Making Him,” will run from 10 am to 4 pm. There is no charge to attend the event but participants are encouraged to register in advance by calling the Adirondack Interpretive Center at 518-582-2000 or by sending an email to aic@esf.edu. To see a schedule of events, visit the AIC online.

Photo: Rockwell Kent’s studio at Asgaard (courtesy Wikipedia user Mwanner).

New John Brown Portrait Unveiling, Education Event Set


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John Brown Lives! and North Country Community College have announced that Maine artist Robert Shetterly will be present for the unveiling of his portrait of abolitionist John Brown during Freedom Now, Freedom Then: The Long History of Emancipation, a two-day program designed for students, educators and the general public on November 30-December 1, 2012. The events will take place in Saranac Lake and Lake Placid, New York.

Brown is one of the newest additions to the Americans Who Tell the Truth project that Shetterly began 10 years ago using portraits of contemporary and historical figures and their own words to offer a “link between a community of people who struggled for justice in our past and a community of people who are doing it now.”

With this portrait, Brown joins Shetterly’s pantheon of more than 180 Truth Tellers that includes Abraham Lincoln, Sojourner Truth and Mark Twain from the nation’s past, and Bill McKibben, James Baldwin, Michelle Alexander, and Jonathan Kozol who are addressing some of humanity’s gravest concerns today.

Shetterly’s portraits have been exhibited across the country. His painting of Brown will be unveiled on Friday 30 November at North Country Community College, Saranac Lake campus, at the opening program of “Freedom Now, Freedom Then: The Long History of Emancipation”. Several other Shetterly paintings will also be exhibited at the college and at the other venues where events will be taking place.

Geared for area high school and college students, their teachers and professors, the Friday program of “Freedom Now, Freedom Then” will also feature independent scholar Amy Godine and Kenneth Morris, Jr., the great-great-great grandson of Frederick Douglass.

Godine will talk about young men and women with North Country roots who have heeded the call for human freedman, including slain civil rights worker Andrew Goodman and criminal justice reformer Alice Green. A poster including Goodman, Green and four other civil rights champions done by Lake Placid artist Nip Rogers will also be on display.

Following in his forebear’s footsteps, Morris will talk with students about slavery in Douglass’ time and today, when more people are trafficked and held in slavery than at any other time in human history. Twenty-seven million people are enslaved in nearly every country on Earth, including the United States where State Department estimates that 15,000 women, men and children are trafficked each year. Morris will also discuss service-learning opportunities for students to join the 21st century abolitionist movement to end slavery once and for all.

Glory, the Edward Zwick film starring Denzel Washington and Matthew Broderick, will be shown on Friday night (venue to be determined). Civil War Memory blogger Kevin Levin will lead a discussion immediately following the screening.

A cornerstone of John Brown Lives!’ work is to provide teachers in and outside of the classroom with high-caliber opportunities to engage with historians, scholars, anti-slavery activists and artists in an intimate setting. Heaven Hill Farm in Lake Placid will be the venue for a full day of workshops, presentations and conversations on the complex history of emancipation for educators, librarians, and the general public and will feature: Dr. Gloria Marshall-Browne on freedom and the Founding Documents; Dr. Margaret Washington on women and emancipation; Civil War Memory blogger Kevin Levin on film and emancipation; Magpie, the folk duo, on emancipation in song; Artist Robert Shetterly on art to promote courageous citizenship; Kenneth Morris, President of the Frederick Douglass Family Foundation, on engaging youth, congregations and communities in emancipation today; and Dr. Franny Nudelman on emancipation our texts and textbooks.

David W. Blight, preeminent scholar on the U.S. Civil War, will give the closing keynote address, “The Historical Memory of the Civil War and Emancipation at 150” on Saturday night in Lake Placid (venue to be determined). Dr. Blight is the Director of the Center for Slavery, Resistance and Abolition at Yale University and the author of numerous award-winning books and publications including American Oracle: The Civil War in the Civil Rights Era; A Slave No More: Two Men Who Escaped to Freedom, Including Their Narratives of Emancipation; and Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory.

For more information, presenter bios, and a complete schedule of workshops, film and music programs, visit John Brown Lives! on Facebook or contact either Martha Swan, Executive Director John Brown Lives!, or Cammy Sheridan, Assistant Professor of Social Sciences at North Country Community College. Swan may be reached at 518-962-4798 or info@johnbrownlives.org. Sheridan is available at 518-891-2915, ext. 1271 or csheridan@nccc.edu.

The Season’s Last Crown Bridge History Tour


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On Sunday, September 30, 2012, state historic site managers Thomas Hughes at Crown Point, New York, and Elsa Gilbertson at Chimney Point, Vermont, will lead a guided round-trip walk across the new Lake Champlain Bridge connecting New York and Vermont.

For centuries, this crossing has been used by Woodlands Indians, the French, the British, and Americans. The narrow channel passage for water vessels and the peninsulas, or points, on either side made this one of the most strategic military locations along Lake Champlain, especially during the 1700s.

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Fort Ticonderoga’s Chocolate History Symposium


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A weekend-long celebration of chocolate, wine, and spirits, will be held October 12-13 at Fort Ticonderoga’s “Chocolate Covered History” Symposium. Participants will have the opportunity to learn about the origins of chocolate and its role in the 18th century military history of Fort Ticonderoga.

The weekend event combines wines, spirits, chocolate, and history and includes a Veuve Clicquot Champagne and dessert reception, full day symposium, and gala dinner. Breakout sessions will provide opportunities to taste various foods prepared using American Heritage Chocolate, an authentic colonial chocolate recipe made only from ingredients available in the 18th century, made by Mars Chocolate.

Following a Friday evening champagne-dessert reception at The Sagamore Resort, October 12, the symposium will begin on Saturday, October 13, at Fort Ticonderoga with Chocolate in the Americas: Connecting History from the Amazon to New England presented by Rodney Snyder, Chocolate History Research, Director for Mars Chocolate, NA, Mars Incorporated. Christopher Fox, Curator of Collections at Fort Ticonderoga, will present the second session entitled Breakfasting on Chocolate: Chocolate in the Military During the French & Indian War and American Revolution. Afternoon breakout sessions include Wine and Chocolate: Perfect Pairing led by Janine Stowell of Banfi Vintners; Baking with American Heritage Chocolate with Chef Gail Sokol; Tuthilltown Spirits Whiskey Seminar with Ralph Erenzo, Co-Founder of Tuthilltown Spirits; and A Revolution in Chocolate: 18th-Century Energy Drink, led by Fort Ticonderoga’s Director of Interpretation, Stuart Lilie.

“Chocolate Covered History” will be topped off with a Saturday evening gala at The Sagamore Resort and will include a cocktail reception and four course meal integrating chocolate into every recipe. Guests will have a once in a life-time opportunity to enjoy dishes such as Native Corn Stew paired with Chocolate Dusted Pine Island Oysters; Preserved Ducking, Pickled Fall Vegetables, Dandelion Greens with Chocolate Huckleberry Conserve; and Lavender and Knotweed Honey Marinated Lamb Chops with Roasted Rutabaga Mash and Chocolate Sassafras Sauce. Rum Spiked Chocolate Cake with Bergamot Tea Infused Pumpkin Custard and Mulled Cider Glaze will complete the meal. Each dish will be paired with appropriate wines.

Monies raised through the “Chocolate Covered History” symposium and gala will support Fort Ticonderoga’s educational and interpretive programs. Fort Ticonderoga is a not-for-profit historic site and museum whose mission is to ensure that present and future generations learn from the struggles, sacrifices, and victories that shaped the nations of North America and changed world history.

More about this event can be found online or by calling 518-585-2821.

Illustration: An 18th Century Chocolate Mill from Denis Diderot’s L’Encyclopédie (courtesy the Confectioners Mill Preservation Society).

Fort Ti: 1777 British Living History Weekend


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Immerse yourself in the year 1777 at Fort Ticonderoga during the British 1777 Campaign March living history weekend, September 8-9. Meet the soldiers of the Fort’s British, German, and Loyalist garrison and hear how they defended the Fort during a three-day raid led by American commander Colonel John Brown with his 1000-man force. Highlighted program offered throughout the weekend includes tours, musket demonstrations, and military patrols.

On Saturday evening return to Fort Ticonderoga as an eerie calm settles over the Champlain Valley. As darkness falls the nervous British garrison will be faced with an alarm. With the flash and roar of musketry firing into darkness you will experience first-hand the confusion of nighttime battle as the Fort’s garrison responds to an alarm after sunset.

“With the bulk of General Burgoyne’s Army at Saratoga, a small garrison of British, German, and Loyalist soldiers, kept watch at Fort Ticonderoga in early September 1777,” said Stuart Lilie, Director of Interpretation. “This living history weekend highlights the mixed garrison at the Fort in the aftermath of John Brown’s Raid as they await news from Saratoga or Canada at what would become the turning point of the American Revolution.”

On September 13, 1777 a mission was launched against Ticonderoga whereby two American detachments of about 500 men each under the command of Brigadier General Jonathan Warner and Colonel John Brown were sent to Ticonderoga with the goal of securing the release of American prisoners, destroy British provisions, and if possible to attack the Fort. On the morning of September 18, the forces converged on Ticonderoga. Over the next few days Colonel John Brown’s force captured the British blockhouse at the top of Mount Defiance, secured the release of 118 American prisoners and captured nearly 300 British soldiers.

 Brown’s men also burned several of the Fort’s outbuildings and destroyed about 150 batteaux. However the American forces soon realized that without reinforcements and additional supplies, a direct attack on the Fort would not be successful. On September 22 Colonel Brown’s force called off the attack. Less than a month later, the British army capitulated at Saratoga and by early November, the small British garrison remaining at Ticonderoga burned the Fort’s remaining structures and retreated to Canada.

Admission to this living history weekend is included with Fort Ticonderoga’s general admission ticket. Fort Ticonderoga is open from 9:30 am until 5 pm daily. For a complete event schedule visit http://www.fortticonderoga.org/learn/re-enactors/1777_march/visitor or call 518-585-2821. Advanced reservations are required for the Saturday evening program. Tickets are $35 each and space is limited. Call 518-585-2821 for details.

Battle of Plattsburgh: Countdown to Invasion (Sept 5)


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On September 5, 1814, the massive British Army advancing on Plattsbugh again continued its march south after strategically splitting into two large groups, known as the left and right wing. The right wing of the British Army marched on a route through West Chazy before encamping about two miles north of Beekmantown Corners.

The left wing took the “State Road” (present day Route 9 North) and advanced as far as Sampson’s Tavern (Ingraham) where they made camp. The American forces awaiting the enemy’s arrival on the Beekmantown Road was steadily being increased by the arrival of New York State Militia, streaming in from Clinton and Essex Counties, and 250 U.S. Regulars under Major John E. Wool

The photograph shows Major Wool in 1850, by which time he was a Brigadier General. He went on to serve in the American Civil War and at 77 years of age, was the oldest active duty General on either side. He died in 1869 and is buried in Troy, New York.

This Battle of Plattsburgh Countdown to Invasion fact is brought to you by the Greater Adirondack Ghost and Tour Company. If you enjoyed this fascinating snippet of North Country history, find them on Facebook

Saranac Lake’s Hobofest Set For Sunday


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The Fourth Annual Hobofest, an all-day music festival “at-the-tracks” in Saranac Lake NY celebrating railroad culture and the “hobo spirit,” is happening on Sunday, September 2nd. This year’s Hobofest will take place under the “big top,” to assure against the variables of weather, from noon until 11pm. Eat and Meet Grill & Larder will serve local fare, also a children’s activities booth and festival & artist merchandise tables.

This year’s special guest is Washington State legend, Baby Gramps. A former street musician and train buff, Gramps plays antique resonator National Steel guitars, and sings his own unique arrangements of rags, jazz, & blues songs from the 20′s & 30′s, and many originals with wordplay, humor, and throat singing. His appeal is to a wide range of audiences from “jam-band” – having toured with Phish and the Flecktones- to punk to old timey traditional and to kids of all ages. He has performed across the States, Canada, Europe, and Australia.

Several unsigned, fully-realized ensembles, all “invested” in Hobofest, offer distinct takes on roots music: The intricate groove-grass pulse of Big Slyde, this year with the smoky vocals of Hanna Doan. The Adirondack-Brooklyn hybrid, Frankenpine, craft a modern take on bluegrass, with a colorful palette and original voicing. Crackin’ Foxy distinguish themselves with a post-vaudeville vintage of styled song, elegant female three-part harmony, and swinging arrangements. This year’s appearance of the young and grizzled Blind Owl Band, follows their recent romp through the Northeast, diving headlong into the mosh-pit of old-time as dance music.

The day traditionally kicks off with bluesman Steve Langdon hollerin’ and pickin’ ala John Henry against the din of the first arriving train. New to this stage this year are Eddy and Kim Lawrence, with their wry sense of humor, and deft fretwork from the Canadian border, Keene resident Stan Oliva, and Quinn Sands from Cleveland, OH.

Invasion of Canada Living History Weekend Sept 1-2


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Visitors can explore the Continental Army’s first major initiative during the Revolutionary War at Fort Ticonderoga’s upcoming living history weekend “Onward to Canada: Reinforcements Head North to Join the Attack on St. John.” The September 1-2 event will recreate how the American army prepared to invade Canada in the fall of 1775.

Special programming offered throughout the weekend will recreate a unique and busy moment in Fort Ticonderoga’s history when the “Old French Fort” served as hub of activity for the fledging American Army and a launching point for an invasion into Canada. Programs will highlight close-order marching; the issuing of muskets, supplies, and clothing to the troops; special tours, weapons demonstrations; and regimental training exercises.

The objective of the invasion of Canada was to gain military control of the British province of Québec, and convince the French-speaking Canadians to join the Revolution on the side of the thirteen American colonies. In the fall of 1775 two invasion forces were launched with the goal of meeting in Québec. One expedition under the command of Brigadier-General Richard Montgomery set out from Fort Ticonderoga, besieged and captured Fort St. John, and very nearly captured British General Guy Carleton when taking Montreal. The other expedition left Cambridge, Massachusetts, under Colonel Benedict Arnold, and traveled with great difficulty through the wilderness of Maine to Québec City. The two forces joined there, but were defeated at the Battle of Québec in December 1775.

“Visitors can watch as Colonel Seth Warner’s Green Mountain Boys are transformed from recruits into a regiment to join Brigadier-General Richard Montgomery’s invasion of Canada. Learn about the practical concerns of getting soldiers and supplies to the front lines during a military campaign in a land of expansive lakes and dense woods. See bateaux in action as they move men and materiel to and from Fort Ticonderoga as we celebrate 1775 and Vermont’s military history,” said Stuart Lilie, Fort Ticonderoga’s Director of Interpretation. “The event will explore how new soldiers learned to move, think, and fight together as a team as they evolved into disciplined soldiers committed to defending the fledgling cause of liberty.”

Admission to “Onward to Canada” is included with Fort Ticonderoga’s general admission ticket. Fort Ticonderoga is open from 9:30 am until 5 pm daily. A complete event schedule is available online.

Lake Placid Olympics 1932 Rink Renovation Underway


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Renovation to the facade of the Lake Placid Olympic Center’s 1932 rink is underway. The contractors, J.T. Erectors, are restoring the structure to its original appearance in the 1930’s. Some of the work includes the installation of windows that have been enclosed by brink since prior to the 1980 Olympic Winter Games.

The revitalization project is being financed through the remaining funds from a grant through Empire State Development, which funded the construction of the newly completed Conference Center at Lake Placid.

 When complete the 1932 facility, along with its conventional use for skating and hockey and akin to the 1980 Herb Brooks Arena, will join the conference center to provide nearly 100,000 square feet of convention space. The fresh look will complement the conference center, which opened for business May 2011.

Crown Point: The Remarkable Life of Enos Dudley


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“Card of Thanks” entries were routine fare in newspapers of years past. They were commonly used by families acknowledging those who provided aid and comfort during times of bereavement. The “Cards” shared a standard formatciting doctors, nurses, and friends, followed by the names of the immediate-family members who were doing the thanking—but some stood out as unusual. The death of Crown Point’s Enos Dudley in 1950 is a case in point.
Shortly after he passed, a Card of Thanks noted “the death of our beloved father, Enos J. Dudley” and featured the names of seven family members. Below it was a second Card of Thanks referring to Enos as “our beloved husband and father.” It ended with the names of six other family members.

Intriguing, for sure. My suspicion was that there had to be a story there somewhere, so I began digging. As it turns out, Enos led a pretty normal life, spent almost entirely within a few miles of his birthplace. A few details about his family, however, proved to be anything but ordinary.
He was born in 1869 and married Frances Kinney of Ticonderoga in 1888. Within a year they began raising a family. Sons Roy, Jerry, and John came in quick succession, followed by twins Ella and Della. By 1902, Walter, Greta, and Keith had brought the count up to eight children.
At that same time, newspaper mention was made of the ninth daughter (unusual in itself) born to the Evangelist Cassina family of Ticonderoga, a fact that will tie in to Enos’ story later.
In the early 1900s, typhoid fever was the scourge of many North Country communities. Deaths were common, and in 1909, the family of Enos Dudley was hard-hit. His wife, Frances, after frequent illnesses, succumbed to the disease in late June.
The Dudley children, beset by sickness, were tended to by local doctors. Various women in the community looked after the family’s everyday needs as Enos struggled with the loss of his wife. In September, tragedy struck again when 20-year-old Roy, the oldest child, died.
A few months later, six of the Dudley children were stricken with scarlet fever, but all survived and were on their way to recovery by spring, thanks once again to community support.
In late 1912, Enos, 43, was engaged to marry 21-year-old Christina Cassina (second daughter of the aforementioned all-girl Ticonderoga family). They were joined on November 28 in Montreal.
Nine months later, both of Enos’ families expanded. On August 7, he welcomed a grandson (his son Jerry was the father), and on August 10, Enos himself became a father again when Florence was born. There were two numerical twists associated with the births: Enos’s new wife (Christina) was one year younger than his son (Jerry), and Enos’ new daughter was three days younger than his new grandson!
Unusual, certainly, but perhaps not qualified for the upper stratosphere of rarities. Still, Enos and Christina weren’t finished just yet. In 1915, when he was 46 and she was 24, they had a son, Roy. (This was Enos’ second Roy. His first Roy had died in 1909 from typhoid fever.)
A series of health issues—back pain, a serious logging injury, and disabling bouts of sciatic rheumatism (sciatica)—plagued Enos as he aged, but in 1924, when he was 55 (life expectancy for a man then was 58), Christina gave birth to daughter Frances (named after Enos’ first wife).
There was certainly no lack of drama or trauma in the life of Enos Dudley. Six months after Frances was born, Enos was buried beneath a load of wood that tipped over. He was hospitalized in critical condition with kidney damage and two broken ribs, but eventually recovered.
In 1927, while working on road construction, he suffered serious injuries that almost resulted in the loss of an eye. Again, Enos survived, damaged but intact.
In 1929, he nearly lost 14-year-old Roy in a winter sledding accident on Sugar Hill at Crown Point. On a roadway seldom used by automobiles, Roy was seated behind a 12-year-old friend when their speeding sled collided with a passing car. The younger boy was killed instantly, but his body cushioned the impact for Roy, who escaped with only minor injuries.
Enos also suffered recurring bouts of severe rheumatism that required hospitalization. After one such incident, he was released from the hospital in spring 1930.
Maybe it was the remarkable curative powers of the folks at the Moses-Ludington Hospital in Ticonderoga that kept him going. Whatever it was, apparently Enos felt realbetter real soon. In January 1931, nine months after his release, wife Christina gave birth to a daughter, Bernice. Already a grandfather many times over, the proud new dad was now 62 years old.
Over the years, Enos worked many jobs to support his families, including farming, logging, operating an apartment building, driving a school bus, and working construction. In 1931 he ran one of the 20 gas stations (another very unusual number) that existed in Crown Point, and took a second job as night watchman at the Crown Point State Historic Site.
Soon he returned to farming in the daytime while still maintaining the watchman job at night. Meanwhile, the family continued to grow, and within a few years, Enos was twice made a great-grandfather. Clearly his golden years would be filled with children of all ages.
Perhaps that’s a bit of an understatement. On June 23, 1936, grandson William Enos Meldon was born to Enos’ daughter, Florence. And 20 days later, on July 13—if you haven’t already guessed—Enos and Christina welcomed their sixth child, Hugh.
As crazy as it seems, this new son was younger than all of Enos’ grandchildren—and younger than his two great-grandchildren! Now THAT might qualify for any list of rare occurrences.
Hugh was his 14th offspring. One child of Enos and Christina’s six children had not survived, so when Hugh was born, seven of eight children from Enos’ first marriage and five of six from his second marriage were all alive.
In an interview, Enos said he worked two jobs and slept only four to five hours a day (and that any more sleep than that was a waste of time). Through hard times and near-fatal accidents, he had endured. No one would be questioning Enos Dudley’s stamina for those reasons, and perhaps one other: his youngest (Hugh) and oldest (the first Roy) children were born over 47 years apart … and long before the development of little blue pills.
Another interesting coincidence: at that point, Enos’ wife Christina was 45, and he had been married for 45 years—21 to Frances and 24 to Christina.
In 1939, Enos was hospitalized for heart problems and high blood pressure, but as tough as he was, two more years passed before he finally retired from the watchman job at age 72.
Enos was finished having children of his own, but the family continued to grow, and the ups and downs of life continued. Daughter Frances was valedictorian of her class; son Roy served two years in Europe during World War Two; and wife Christina fell and broke her shoulder in 1948.
Enos required more hospital stays and eventually moved to the Wells Nursing Home in Ticonderoga. In 1950, his grandson, Kenneth, 39, died following surgery. Three months later, Enos, 82, passed away, prompting two Cards of Thanks from two very appreciative families.
Photo L to R: Daughter Florence Meldon, grandson William Meldon, son Hugh Dudley, and Enos Dudleygreat-grandfather, proud new grandfather, and proud new father (1936).
Lawrence Gooley has authored eleven books and dozens of articles on the North Country’s past. He and his partner, Jill McKee, founded Bloated Toe Enterprises in 2004. Expanding their services in 2008, they have produced 23 titles to date, and are now offering web design. For information on book publishing, visit Bloated Toe Publishing.

Fort Ticonderoga 1759 Living History Weekend


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Join General Amherst’s British and provincial army at Fort Ticonderoga this Saturday and Sunday, August 4 and 5 and experience the daily life of a soldier in the aftermath of the destruction of France’s southernmost stronghold on Lake Champlain.

Hear the roar of musketry as these well-trained soldiers continue to prepare for conflict. Lend a hand as these soldiers move men and material from Lake Champlain to supply the army encamped around the Fort. Meet British staff officers and learn about their overall strategy in the French and Indian War in 1759.


Highlighted programming will be offered throughout the weekend including musket drills and firing demonstrations, activities on the shores of Lake Champlain as troops unload supplies, Fife & Drum Corps performances, and even an 18th-century Sunday morning Divine Service. Admission to “1759 Relief & Refit” is included with FortTiconderoga’s general admission ticket. Fort Ticonderoga is open from 9:30 am until 5 pm daily. A complete event schedule can be found online or by calling 518-585-2821.

“’Relief & Refit’ will take place on the very ground where General Amherst’s troops secured this strategic victory,” said Stuart Lilie, Director of Interpretation. “This weekend-long program will dramatically bring to life the experience of the British and American provincial soldiers who were part of the 1759 campaign. In this British living history weekend event, we will recreate and practice the regular, naval, and ranging elements of this Army as it prepared to move on towards Canada in August of 1759.”

“Fort Ticonderoga offers an unparalleled and unique experience for visitors to be immersed in a dramatic moment in time,” said Beth Hill, Fort Ticonderoga’s Executive Director. “What took place at Fort Ticonderoga determined in part the fate of North America. The capture of the Fort in 1759 was critical to the overall British strategy which ultimately led to their victory during the French and Indian War.”

This living history weekend will include a Friday evening program at the site of the 18th-century French saw mill, located in present-day Historic Ticonderoga. Visitors will watch as a detachment of Massachusetts Provincial soldiers haul timber back to the Fort with a bateau. Talk with men from Rogers’ Rangers, fresh from a scout up Mount Defiance. The French & Indian War history ofTiconderoga will come to life in this fascinating evening program located in the town park from 5:30 – 7:30 pm.

Recent Fort Ti Acquisition Reveals New Rev War Details


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“The Care of the Fortresses of Tyonderoga and Mount Independence being committed to you as commanding Officer…” begins a letter written by General Philip Schyler as he turns over command of Ticonderoga to Colonel Anthony Wayne in the fall of 1776 was recently acquired by Fort Ticonderoga through generous donor support.

This letter provides unique documentation of the minute details Ticonderoga’s officer’s had to be concerned with in order to protect the post from attack and properly care for its troops. “Letters like these are amazing resources that enable historians to better understand how people lived at Ticonderoga during the American Revolution,” said Christopher D. Fox, Fort Ticonderoga’s Curator of Collections. “The information contained within this letter will help museum staff develop accurate and engaging programs for the public.”

Written November 23, 1776, this important letter relays orders to Wayne regarding the security and maintenance of Ticonderoga through the winter. Colonel Wayne is given specific instructions to “continually keep scouting parties on the Lake as long as the Season will permit it to be navigated” and to “pay the strictest Attention to your Guards & Centinels and punish severely the least Remissness in Duty” in order to keep the fortresses secure through the winter. In making sure that the forts can be properly defended in case of attack, Schuyler orders that “All Huts & Buildings that may in the least obstruct the Defense of your posts must be levelled.”

Keeping the winter garrison healthy is also a chief concern on which General Schuyler instructs Colonel Wayne. He writes that a considerable quantity of provisions, livestock, and vegetables are being forwarded to supply the men for three months stating that “You will know of what Importance it is that the greatest attention should be paid to the Health of the Men” and that “having their Victuals properly dressed are capital points and greatly tend to the preservation of the Men.” In addition to provisions being forwarded for the troops, Colonel Wayne is also notified that to help keep the men healthy through the winter “Bedding… will be sent as soon as possible together with a Number of Iron Stoves… to be put up in your Barracks for the greater Conveniencey of the Men” and instructs that barracks chimneys be swept every two weeks.

Fort Ticonderoga’s archival collections consist of thousands of manuscripts, diaries, orderly books, maps, and photographs. The manuscript collections include correspondence of both officers and common soldiers who served at Fort Ticonderoga in the 18th century. Found within the collection are the letters, reports, and returns of Ethan Allen, George Washington, Benedict Arnold, James Abercromby, the Marquis de Montcalm, Robert Rogers, John Burgoyne, Philip Skene, and Jonathan Potts, surgeon to the Northern Department of the Continental Army. Thirty journals and orderly books contain first-hand accounts and day-to-day orders of an army at Fort Ticonderoga and the Lake George / Champlain Valleys during the Seven Years’ War and War for American Independence.

The Fort Ticonderoga Association is a not-for-profit historic site and museum whose mission is to ensure that present and future generations learn from the struggles, sacrifices, and victories that shaped the nations of North America and changed world history. Serving the public since 1909, Fort Ticonderoga engages more than 70,000 visitors annually and is dedicated to the preservation and interpretation of Fort Ticonderoga’s history. The historic site and museum includes the restored fort, museum galleries, Thompson PellResearch Center, and approximately two-thousand acres of land including the King’s Garden, Carillon Battlefield, Mount Defiance, Mount Hope and the northern end of Mount Independence. Fort Ticonderoga is home to one of America’s largest collections of 18th-century military material culture and its research library contains nearly 14,000 published works focusing on the military history of northeastern North America and New France during the 18th century. Philanthropic support by individuals, corporations, and foundations benefits the educational mission of Fort Ticonderoga.

Photo:  General Philip Schyler letter to Colonel Anthony Wayne, 1776, acquired by Fort Ticonderoga.

Defiance & Independence Battle Re-enactment at Ticonderoga


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Fort Ticonderoga will hold a two-day battle re-enactment highlighting the climatic summer of 1777 as the Fort’s American garrison was outflanked by a British invasion force descending from Canada. The event takes place this Saturday and Sunday, July 21-22, 9:30 am to 5 pm.

Highlighted programming featured throughout the weekend is planned to bring to life the surprising American retreat and British capture of Fort Ticonderoga in early July 1777.  American and British armies will maneuver across Fort Ticonderoga’s historic landscape at 1:30 pm each day. This two-day battle re-enactment will dramatically show how General Arthur St. Clair’s decision to evacuate Ticonderoga set the stage for British General John Burgoyne’s advance towards Albany.
“‘Defiance and Independence’ will take place on the actual ground where the events of early July 1777 took place,” said Stuart Lilie,Fort Ticonderoga’s Director of Interpretation. “British artillery officer, General William Phillips’, brilliant decision to place cannon atop Mount Defiance will be recreated in historic downtown Ticonderoga Saturday evening as Fort Ticonderoga staff and volunteers haul artillery up Montcalm and Defiance Streets on their way to the mount’s summit.” Sunday morning visitors and re-enactors will experience shock and chaos as General Phillips’ heavy guns break the dawn over Ticonderoga.

“Visitors will experience the excitement as mounted command staff gallop into the Fort announcing its imminent capture,” said Beth Hill, Fort Ticonderoga’s Executive Director. “They will be immersed in the moment when American Continental command staff assess their dire situation and debate whether or not to abandon America’s critical stronghold on Lake Champlain. Meanwhile in the British camp, visitors can explore General Burgoyne’s battle-hardened army of British, German, and Loyalist troops and discover the sights and sounds of an army on campaign as soldiers cook their rations, clean their muskets, and enjoy the humble comforts of a bed of straw and canvas tent.”

Schedule for “Defiance & Independence” Battle Re-enactment, July 21-22

Saturday, July 21

9:30 am: Fort Opens to Visitors

10 am: Inspection (British Army in the King’s Garden, Continental Army on the Fort’s Parade)

See General Arthur St. Clair’s Continental soldiers and militia muster together to defend Fort Ticonderoga and the vital waterways it guards. Meanwhile General John Burgoyne’s Army parades before maneuvering to surround the American fortifications.

10:30 am -1 pm: British & American Guards and Pickets Posted (Along the Recreated French Lines)

Watch the scouts skirmishes that happened along the front lines, as advanced scouts of two armies worked to lift the fog of war that could cloud each general’s battle plan.

11 am: Mapping Ticonderoga, Surveying the Northern Army (Inside Fort Ticonderoga)

11:30 am: Artillery Demonstration (Adjacent to the British Camp)

1 pm: Alarm, Assembly & Inspection (British Army in the King’s Garden, Continental Army on the Fort’s Parade)

With a few quick shots in an expected place along the front lines messages rush back to the headquarters of each Army. Staff officers and generals alike take this message from the front lines and a slew of others to make a decision. Alarm! The orders go out; soldiers assemble and are inspected before marching off to their place in the battle line.

1:30 pm: Skirmish at Recreated French Lines

Watch as General Burgoyne’s advanced guard of soldiers probe the American Fortifications rebuilt from the famous French Lines of 1758. Unlikely to assault these Fortifications, British soldiers keep up a hot fire as they probe around these lines, finding out where to flank them, and valuable information about the American soldiers facing them 100 yards away.

2:30 pm: Program: The Northern Army of 1777: The Northern Department General Staff (Inside Fort Ticonderoga)

General Arthur St. Clair and the senior officers of his staff, discuss the British attack, their situation, and even evacuating Fort Ticonderoga, the great American bulwark to protect Albany and certain British victory.

3:30 pm: Program: People of the Brigade – Soldiers and Citizens in July of 1777. (Adjacent the Fort)

Meet some of the average people and soldiers you would have met in the Armies of the Northern Campaign in 1777.

4 pm: Program: British Engineers Discuss and Demonstrate the Science of their Trade. (Inside the British Camp)

4:30 pm: Program: Sutlers for the Army – Phil Dunning explains the role of sutlers within the Continental and British Armies. (Inside the British Camp)

5 pm: Fort Closes to Visitors

6:30 pm: Royal Artillery Gun crews haul their cannons through downtown Ticonderoga, on their way to the summit of MountDefiance. (Downtown Ticonderoga)

Sunday, July 22

9:30 am: Fort Opens to Visitors

9:30 am: Guns on Mount Defiance Open Fire

Discovered by an errant shot, General Burgoyne’s cannons atop Mount Defiance announce their presence to a baffled Continental Army.

10 am: Continental Musick Beats the “General”

General Arthur St. Clair prepares his Army for what he hopes will be an orderly retreat. American soldiers break camp. They prepare for what will at best be a fighting withdrawal, at worst a panicked retreat. Veterans and green soldiers alike ready themselves to live on the march.

10:30 am: Guards and Pickets Posted (Along the Recreated French Lines)

Watch the scouts skirmishes that happened along the front lines, as advanced scouts of two armies worked to lift the fog of war that could cloud each general’s battle plan.

11:00 am-12:00 pm: Program: Joel Anderson, Fort Ticonderoga Artificer Superviser, describes the flight of the Continental Army from the Fort.

Learn about the brave actions and misadventures of General Arthur St. Clair’s army as it began its retreat south from FortTiconderoga to fight another day.

11:30 am: Artillery Demonstration (Adjacent to the British Camp)

1 pm: Alarm, Assembly & Inspection (British Army in the King’s Garden, Continental Army on the Fort’s Parade)

With a few quick shots in an expected place along the front lines messages rushes back to the headquarters of each Army. Staff officers and generals alike, take this information and a slough of others to make a decision. Alarm! The orders go out; soldiers assemble and are inspected before marching off to their place in the battle line.

1:30 pm: Skirmish at Recreated French Lines

Hemmed in from the north, east and west, the Continental Army holds their lines against the advances of the British army, emboldened by its advantageous position.

2:30 pm: Program: The Northern Army of 1777- The Northern Department General Staff (Inside Fort Ticonderoga)

General Arthur St. Clair and his senior officers discuss their desperate situation and attempt to bring some order to what no doubt will be a rushed evacuation of the Army. With supplies to salvage, wounded to transport and a bridge across the lake to destroy behind them, these officers attempt to make the best preparations to fight another day.

3 pm: Continental Army Evacuation

See the Continental Army packing up tents, supplies, loading up their wagons to save what they can for what will be another long campaign.

5 pm: Site Closes to Visitors

Admission to “Defiance & Independence” is included with Fort Ticonderoga’s general admission ticket. A complete highlighted event schedule can be found online, or call 518-585-2821 for more information.

Photo provided. 

Historic Local Recordings Now Available in Plattsburgh


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Access to hundreds of audio recordings that reveal the rich histories of Clinton, Essex, and Franklin Counties are now available at SUNY Plattsburgh’s Feinberg Library’s Special Collections.

Recordings include Adirondack Folk Music; Clinton, Essex, and Franklin County oral histories, including those by local residents born prior to the American Civil War; SUNY Plattsburgh concerts; a 1963 recording of Edward “Doc” Redcay on piano and Junior Barber on dobro; and four-time Pulitzer Prize winner Robert Frost reading his works.

The collection of recordings is the result of a collaborative effort by SUNY Plattsburgh Communications Professor Timothy Clukey and Feinberg Library’s Special Collections staff. According to a statement released to the press “copyright restrictions require that researchers visit Special Collections during open hours to listen to any of these recordings.” The recordings are available as mp3 files on a new Audio Station computer kiosk.

A Soundscriber Recorder was used in the mid-20th century by Marjorie Lansing Porter, historian for Clinton and Essex counties. Porter recorded 456 interviews with elderly local residents telling stories and singing traditional Adirondack folk music.

Among the folk music examples, Granma Delorme sang more than one hundred folk songs for Porter, including a Battle of Plattsburgh ballad composed by General Alexander Macomb’s wife. Included also is “Yankee” John Galusha singing “The Three Hunters,” “A Lumbering We Shall Go,” and “Adirondack Eagle.” Francis Delong sings “My Adirondack Home,” and “Peddler Jack.”

Many of the recorded songs deal with mining, lumbering, Adirondack folk tales, and other subjects, as well as traditional Irish and French folk music handed down through generations. The Porter Oral History Interviews cover many topics of historical interest in Clinton and Essex Counties, such as ferry boats, Redford glass, mining, and lumbering.

The Audio Station also includes 96 interviews conducted by William Langlois and Robert McGowan with elder Franklin County residents in the 1970s.

Plans in the works for additions to the Audio Station include:

Rockwell Kent audio recordings (now on reel-to-reel tapes in Special Collections’ Rockwell Kent Collection);

SUNY Plattsburgh Past President Dr. George Angell speaking on antiwar action in 1967—“Protest is Not Enough”;
The 1965 SUNY Plattsburgh Students for a Democratic Society and S.E.A.N.Y.S. teach-in, “The Vietnam Question,” with introduction by Dr. Angell; 
A1964 speech by Senator-Elect Robert Kennedy on the Plattsburgh campus; and a 1964 meeting between Senator-Elect Kennedy and Dr. Angell, discussing various local and county concerns and other topics.
For more information, contact Debra Kimok, Special Collections Librarian (email: debra.kimok@plattsburgh.edu; telephone: 518-564-5206).

During the summer, the Feinberg Special Collections will be open on Mondays and Tuesdays, from 1 pm – 4 pm, and on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, from 10 am – noon and 1 pm – 4 pm. Saturday appointments can be arranged with the Special Collections Librarian.

Henry Markham: NY’s Governor of California (Part 2)


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Henry Harrison Markham, a native of Wilmington, New York, expanded his California business connections beyond the Pasadena area’s mines. He was president of the Los Angeles Furniture Company, and a director on the boards of two banks and the Southern California Oil Supply Company. Others like him led a surge of financial prosperity and population growth in southern California. In the upcoming political campaign, the south was hoping to wrest control from the northern power base at San Francisco.
Once again, the party turned to Markham, nominating him as the candidate for governor to avoid a party split. In a bitter, hard-fought battle, he defeated San Francisco Mayor E. B. Pond by 8,000 votes to become California’s 18th governor. The victory was attributed partly to Henry’s manner of personally greeting thousands of voters who became well acquainted with the “Markham Glad-hand.” It was his signature move—a firm, hearty handshake evoking sincerity.

While holding office from Jan. 1891–Jan. 1895, Markham did much to advance business in the state. When the Panic of 1893 struck (considered second-worst only to the Great Depression of the 1930s), he backed the idea for the California Midwinter International Exposition (a World’s Fair). With San Francisco as the host city, a massive parade was held. Represented were many businesses, civic organizations, and military groups. A work-holiday was imposed by the governor, to great effect. On the first day alone, more than 72,000 people attended.
During his tenure, Markham also handled the effects of a national railroad strike; led the second-largest fundraising effort among states represented at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893; secured military facilities that brought millions of dollars to California; forced a railroad company to pay $1.3 million it owed the state; helped bring trolley service to Pasadena; backed the building of the Santa Fe Railroad; and worked towards establishing a harbor facility in southern California.
Early in his tenure, an interesting meeting occurred when Governor Markham welcomed President Benjamin Harrison on a tour of California. The president was the grandson of another president, William Henry Harrison, and during the trip, California’s new governor revealed a personal connection to the First Family.
The elder Harrison’s election platform in 1840 had included tariffs that were meant to protect American businesses. Nathan Markham, an iron manufacturer at Wilmington, was so delighted when William Henry Harrison won the election in 1840, he named his newborn son Henry Harrison Markham. (Unfortunately, the president died after a month in office, the shortest term of any US chief executive.)
After a successful four-year stint as governor, Henry Markham decided not to seek a second term, returning to private life and the world of business, where he did well for more than two decades. He died of a stroke in 1923 at the age of 83, but was certainly not forgotten.

His impressive home was torn down in 1939, but through the years, the Markham Mansion had played host to many grand social occasions, both during his tenure and after his death. The family name also remained a fixture on streets, buildings, and other locations in Pasadena.

In 1963, forty years after the governor’s death, Markham Place was honored by the Pasadena Beautiful Foundation as its first Banner Block. The neighborhood was near Henry’s former mansion and orchard, where many old, beautiful homes had been restored. In 2010, popular tourist destinations include the Governor Markham Victorian District.
Was the old neighborhood really that impressive? Next door to Markham was Adolphus Busch (Budweiser, etc.). Nearby was the Gamble family (Procter & Gamble) and Bill Wrigley (Wrigley’s gum). Others locating in that vicinity over the years include the Maxwells (coffee), the Cox family (communications), and the Spaldings (sporting goods). The area was once known as “Millionaire’s Row” in the days when a million dollars suggested exclusivity.
And what of that wonderful playhouse so lovingly built by Henry Markham for his daughters? In 1970, the California State Historical Society became aware that after 85 years, it still existed. The family had passed it down so that subsequent generations of children could enjoy it.
Wishing to do the same, the owner contacted Governor Markham’s fourth daughter, Hildreth, 81 (born in 1889), obtaining permission to donate it to the Pacific Oaks Children’s School. Soon after, the house (which had been refurbished regularly in the past), was placed in a corner of the children’s play yard at the school, a memento of California’s governor from Wilmington, New York.
Photos: Top―Henry Harrison Markham. Bottom―California Midwinter International Exposition, 1894.
The story of Henry Markham is one of 51 original North Country history pieces appearing in Adirondack & North Country Gold: 50+ New & True Stories You’re Sure to Love (352 pp.), a recent release by author Lawrence Gooley, owner of Bloated Toe Publishing.

The Champlain Memorial Lighthouse Centennial


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What follows is a guest essay by Thomas Hughes, Director of the Crown Point State Historic Site on Lake Champlain in Essex County, NY. The site includes two National Historic Landmarks: the ruins of French-built Fort St. Frédéric (1734-59) and the ruins of Crown Point’s British fort (1759-73).

Dedicated 100 years ago this month on July 5, 1912, and located at a prominent site that is steeped in history, the Champlain Memorial Lighthouse serves as a monument to the 1609 voyage on Lake Champlain by French explorer Samuel Champlain. Continue reading