Tag Archives: Franklin County

Franklin County War Hero Without a Gun


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In the early 1900s, woodsman Oliver Lamora of Brandon, New York became somewhat of an Adirondack hero, earning coast-to-coast headlines with his ongoing battle against billionaire William Rockefeller. At the same time, just 20 miles north of Oliver’s homestead, a young man began a career destined to earn him international praise as a hero of two world wars—without ever hoisting a gun to his shoulder.

Darius Alton Davis was born in 1883 in Skerry, New York, and worked on the family farm about ten miles southwest of Malone in Franklin County. The Davis family was devoutly religious, following the lead of Darius’ father, Newton, who took an active role in the local church, Sunday school, and county Bible Society.

In 1903, Darius graduated from Franklin Academy in Malone. At the commencement, several students presented papers to the assembly. Darius chose as his subject David Livingstone, the legendary Scottish explorer and medical missionary. The audience heard details on Livingstone’s humble beginnings, hard work, civility, and desire to help others. What young Davis was presenting, in fact, was a blueprint for his own future.

Darius attended Syracuse University (1903–1907), where he studied theology and played a leadership role on campus. “Dri,” as he was known, was a top oarsman, guiding the crew team to many sensational victories, including one world-record effort that stood for five years.

In 1905, he was elected president of the university’s YMCA (recently renamed “the Y”), an event that would determine his life’s direction. Prior to graduation in 1907, Darius accepted a position as religious director for the YMCA in Washington, D.C. After marrying his college sweetheart, he worked three years in Washington while continuing his studies, attending four terms at the Silver Bay YMCA School on Lake George, New York.

His personality, intelligence, and work ethic made Darius a very capable leader, and in 1910, the International Committee of the YMCA assigned him to establish a presence in Constantinople, Turkey. From the position of general secretary of operations, Darius built a membership of nearly 600 in the first year.

In late 1912, the Balkan War broke out, and Davis assumed the organization of Red Cross aid. He also volunteered, serving for six months as an interpreter in a Turkish hospital. His selfless dedication to war victims did not go unnoticed. In appreciation, the Turkish sultan awarded him a medal, the prestigious Star of the Third Order of Medjidieh.

In 1915, within a year after World War I began, Darius was assigned to work with prisoners in France and Italy, both of which were unprepared for the mounting number of captured troops. The YMCA assumed the challenge of caring for the physical, mental, social, and spiritual needs of the men held captive. The organization’s efforts were based on Christian charity, but it mattered not what one’s beliefs were: the YMCA was simply there to help anyone.

Access to prison camps had been largely restricted, but Davis was a great negotiator and spokesman. Dealing with various government officials, he stressed the YMCA’s neutrality, which was a powerful argument.

The French were skeptical. They had recently developed a Foyer du Soldat (Soldiers’ Fireside) program featuring a series of buildings (small to large facilities, but often referred to as “huts”) where French soldiers could go to relax, read, snack, play games, and enjoy entertainment. Sensing an opportunity, Davis offered to support and expand the program while making it available to captives as well as troops. France’s war prisoner department finally relented.

They soon discovered the great value of Davis’ plan. Soldiers and prisoners alike were thrilled with the results, and within two years, 70 huts were established across the country. Eventually, more than 1500 were in place. In early 1917, when America entered the war, General Pershing requested that Davis provide the same program for the huge number of Allied troops destined for service in France. That meant quadrupling their efforts, which required enormous infrastructure.

Undaunted, Davis led the way, and within a year, the YMCA was operating what was once described as “the world’s largest grocery chain.” At a cost of over $50 million, it included more than 40 factories for producing cookies, candies, and other supplies, plus warehouses, banks, hotels, cafes, dorms, and garages for vehicle repair. Their own construction and repair departments built and maintained the facilities.

After the war, Davis was appointed the senior YMCA representative in Europe, and from that position, he organized YMCAs in several countries. In 1925, he became secretary of the National Council of Switzerland (a neutral country), and in 1931 was named associate general secretary of the World YMCA based in Geneva, a position he held as World War II began.

In that capacity, he worked with the War Prisoners’ Aid program, an advancement of the work he had done with prisoners during World War I. In late October 1940, Davis completed a three-week tour of POW camps in Germany. At the time, the YMCA was already providing recreational and educational services to millions of prisoners, but sought to do more.

Though many were well treated by their captors, they often lacked warm clothing, news from home, adequate food, and other daily needs. Books were one of the most desired and requested items in every camp. Many organizations (like the Red Cross) addressed that problem—the YMCA alone had distributed hundreds of thousands of books to prison camps across Europe.

Their aim was to provide the essentials to prisoners held in all countries, and Darius was relentless. By January 1941, negotiations had been conducted on behalf of an estimated 3 million POWs in Australia, England, France, Germany, Hungary, India, Palestine, Rumania, Sweden, and Switzerland. As the war continued, that number kept rising.

In a speech he gave in mid-1942, Davis spoke of the more than 6 million war prisoners they were helping to care for. It wasn’t a perfect system, but it gave the prisoners a voice and a connection to the outside world. It also allowed independent observation of the goings-on inside many prison camps, a comforting fact to both the prisoners and their families back home. One newspaper noted, “The YMCA already is conducting welfare work among the largest number of war prisoners in the history of mankind.”

After the war ended in 1945, Darius spent four years aiding refugees and citizens who had been displaced. In 1953, he was awarded the Officers Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany for his work with German POWs. Ten other European governments likewise honored Davis for his work on behalf of prisoners. The onetime farm boy from Skerry touched an untold number of lives. Darius Alton Davis died in 1970 at the age of 87.

Photo Top: Darius Alton Davis.

Photo Middle: A Foyer du Soldat in France, 1918.

Photo Bottom: An appreciative WW II prison camp poster.

Lawrence Gooley has authored ten 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 19 titles to date, and are now offering web design. For information on book publishing, visit Bloated Toe Publishing.

Collaboration Nets Tech Funds for Adk Libraries


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A grand total of $95,000 has been granted to the Chazy Public Library and the Plattsburgh Public Library, thanks to a collaboration organized to help Adirondack libraries win state funding for technological upgrades.

The Charles R. Wood Foundation, the Lake Placid Education Foundation and the Adirondack Community Trust (ACT), worked together to support the expanding role of libraries in the Adirondack region.

Libraries exist to serve the public. In difficult economic times, they are a particularly valuable community resource, available to all residents regardless of economic status. “Our libraries are now called upon to support technological literacy and skills development,” said Bobby Wages, President of the Board of the Charles R. Wood Foundation. “That means they need electronic hardware and software, and librarians need to know how to use it and teach others to use it.”

”In May, ACT convened a meeting of the region’s library systems, the state’s library system, and these two regionally-focused foundations to explore the changing roles of libraries and what we could do to help,” said Cali Brooks, ACT Executive Director. As a result of the meeting, the Charles R. Wood Foundation and the Lake Placid Education Foundation offered funding for libraries already seeking funding for technological upgrades through the Public Library Construction Grant Program of New York State Public Library. The New York State Public Library had opened a $14 million competitive grant to regional library systems for a range building renovation projects. In order to qualify for a grant, a library would have to supply at least 50 percent of the funds that would be matched through the Public Library Construction Grant Program.

Working in partnership with the Clinton, Franklin and Essex County Library System, ACT reached out to libraries all over these counties to encourage them to apply for funds and offer assistance. Once a library’s technology project application was approved for the Public Library grant program, the Charles R. Wood and Lake Placid Education Foundations matched each other’s grants to qualify each library to receive the funds.

“Our goal is to strengthen the technological capacities of the Adirondack North Country libraries to make them even more vital community centers of initiative,” said Fred Calder, President of the Lake Placid Education Foundation. “We are committed to helping these libraries gather funds through matching grants and to do so in collaboration with the Charles R. Wood Foundation and others whenever possible.”

“Since ACT’s inception, we have considered libraries important community partners. We manage 12 library endowment funds and have made over $500,000 in grants to support Adirondack libraries,” Cali Brooks reported.

The Chazy Public Library is converting a former physician’s office building into a technologically sophisticated, rural public library. Grant funds will be used to transform the basement into a Community Room for multimedia applications and training/retraining for life skills. Many Chazy residents rely on the services of the public library to fulfill technological, academic, and leisure needs. With the new Community Room, the public will have access to state-of-the-art multimedia equipment for job-preparedness workshop presentations, special training sessions, tutoring by Literacy Volunteers, and more.

The Plattsburgh Public Library is the central library of the Clinton, Essex, Franklin County Library System, better known as CEF. It provides online reference help to residents throughout the three-county region. Grant funds will be used to create a private computer interviewing cubical in the public computer room for video and interviewing by residents searching for jobs. In recent years, Plattsburgh Public Library has become increasingly involved in literacy and skills development initiatives. The Library also provides a career center, where job seekers use technology and learn computer skills to obtain gainful employment. The computer interviewing cubical will enhance support to those patrons.

Photo: Kelly Sexton, Local History Librarian, and David Robinson, Library Page at the Plattsburgh Public Library.

Civilian Conservation Corps Reunions Planned


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On August 15, 2011, the Franklin County Historical & Museum Society will host the first of several reunions of Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) alumni, family, & friends at 6:30pm at the Schryer Center for Historical & Genealogical Research (the former carriage house) at the House of History, 51 Milwaukee Street, Malone. They will celebrate the 78th anniversary of the founding of the CCC by sharing their stories and pictures of the CCC camps. There will also be a book signing of Marty Podskoch’s new book on the CCC camps in the Adirondacks. The general public is invited to learn and hear stories of the CCC. There is no charge to attend.



The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) began on March 31, 1933 under President Roosevelt’s “New Deal” to relieve the poverty and unemployment of the Depression. Camps were set up in many New York towns, state parks, & forests. Workers built trails, roads, campsites & dams, stocked fish, built & maintained fire tower observer’s cabins & telephone lines, fought fires, and planted millions of trees. The CCC disbanded in 1942 due to the need for men in WW II.

At each upcoming event, author and historian Marty Podskoch will give a short Power Point presentation on the history, memories & legacy of the Civilian Conservation Corps camps in New York. CCC alumni will share stories of their days in CCC camps both in New York and other states.

Marty Podskoch will also have his new book: Adirondack Civilian Conservation Corps Camps: Its History, Memories and Legacy of the CCC available for purchase and signing. The 352-page book contains 185 interviews, over 50 charts & maps, and over 500 pictures & illustrations.

Podskoch is also the author of five other books: Fire Towers of the Catskills: Their History and Lore, two Adirondack fire tower books: Adirondack Fire Towers: Their History and Lore, the Southern Districts, and Northern Districts and two other books, Adirondack Stories: Historical Sketches and Adirondack Stories II: 101 More Historical Sketches from his weekly illustrated newspaper column.

For those unable to attend this first reunion in Malone, there are four other reunions planned:

- August 15, 2011 at 10:00 am Schenectady County Historical Society, 32 Washington Ave., Schenectady, NY (518) 374-0263

- August 26, 2011 at 10 am Crandall Library, 251 Glen Street, Glens Falls, NY (518) 792-6508

- August 26, 2011 at 6 pm Hamilton County Historical Society, at the former Speculator CCC camp and 4-H Camp, Lake Pleasant, NY; 7 pm the group will go to the Lake Pleasant School. 518) 648-5377

- September 23, 2011 at 1 pm Oneida Historical Society, 1608 Genesee St., Utica, NY (315) 735-3642

For more information on the reunion, contact Anne Werley Smallman, Director of the Franklin County Historical & Museum Society at: (518)483-2750 or fchms@franklinhistory.org.

If any one has information or pictures of relatives or friends who worked at one of the CCC camps, please contact Marty Podskoch at: 36 Waterhole Rd., Colchester, CT 06415 or 860-267-2442, or podskoch@comcast.net

Schryer Center Historical and Genealogical Research


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The Franklin County Historical & Museum Society welcomes the public for genealogy research or casual use of the reading room during the summer open hours for the Schryer Center for Historical and Genealogical Research.

The Schryer Center, now open Tuesday-Saturday, 1-4pm, is located in the renovated carriage house behind the House of History Museum on 51 Milwaukee Street, Malone.

Members of the Historical Society have free use of the Schryer Center as a benefit of membership, and non-members can use the genealogical resources of the Society for $10/day. Memberships start at $20/year and forms can be found online or picked up at the Society offices. Remote research requests for genealogical inquiry are also welcomed, at a cost of $10/half-hour.

The House of History Museum is open for tours Tuesday and Thursday, 1-4 pm and by appointment.

Visit the Society’s website or call 518-483-2750 for more information.

Historic Saranac Lake Unveiling Photo Exhibit


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On June 22, 2011, Historic Saranac Lake will unveil a new John Black Room Exhibit, “The Little City in the Adirondacks: Historic Photographs of Saranac Lake.” Created in collaboration with the Adirondack Room of the Saranac Lake Free Library, the exhibit features almost fifty framed historic photographs of Saranac Lake residents and buildings during the early part of the twentieth century.

The exhibit portrays a vibrant little city with a prospering and diverse economy. Saranac Lake grew quickly in the early 1900s to accommodate thousands of health seekers that came to the village seeking the fresh air cure for tuberculosis, made famous by Dr. Edward Livingston Trudeau. The exhibit features the unique architecture of the village as well as photos of local residents at play and at work.

The photographs represent only small portion of the rich photo collection of the Adirondack Room of the Saranac Lake Free Library. Library curator, Michele Tucker graciously loaned the photos to Historic Saranac Lake, and a team of dedicated volunteers has worked to install the exhibit. Many of the photos were originally printed and framed by the late Barbara Parnass, who was one of the founding Board Members of Historic Saranac Lake in 1980.

The photograph exhibit replaces an earlier exhibit on World War I in Saranac Lake. The exhibit will be on display for twelve months. Plans are underway for a new, comprehensive exhibit on Saranac Lake history to be installed in the John Black Room in 2012.

The Saranac Laboratory Museum opens June 22. The public is invited to visit the new photo exhibit and the laboratory museum space during regular hours through October 7, Wednesday through Friday from 10:00 to 2:00, or any time by appointment. Admission is $5 per person, members and children free of charge.

Photo courtesy of the Adirondack Room, Saranac Lake Free Library.

Former Northern NY Military Rifle Range Inspections Set


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The National Guard Bureau will surveying old National Guard rifle range in Ticonderoga, Malone, Glens Falls, and Saratoga Springs for the presence of environmental poisons this summer. The ranges are among 23 former New York Army National Guard training sites used between 1873 and 1994 that the National Guard Bureau will be inspecting for potential environmental hazards.

The program is being conducted worldwide to address human health, safety, and environmental concerns at former non-operational defense sites. This includes over 400 sites in 48 states and two territories formerly used by the National Guard. The training sites in New York vary in size from 3.7 to 939 acres.

Currently, the New York National Guard has three training sites located in Guilderland, Youngstown and at Camp Smith, near Peekskill. Soldiers also train regularly at Ft. Drum, near Watertown.

Current property owners are in the process of being asked to allow contractors on their property to conduct this check which although mandated by the Department of Defense Military Munitions Response Program, will only include soil samples from a depth “less than two to three inches.” The survey will also a visual inspection and checks with hand-held metal detectors. According to a press release issued by the Guard, “the inspectors will collect the samples with disposable plastic spoons, which are about the size of an ice cream scoop.”

A preliminary assessment to identify locations, research historical records, land usage and past incident(s) in the area was completed in 2008; this summer’s site inspections are expected to collect additional information, data and samples necessary to determine if following actions are warranted.

About the sites:

The Malone Small Arms Range was used from about 1895 to 1985. The range was approximately 43 acres; the range layout and boundary are unknown, as are the types of ammunition used there. The former range is located on state land, redeveloped for a correctional facility, northwest of Malone.

An older Ticonderoga Small Arms Range measured about 406 acres and was used from about 1950 to 1973; the newer one measured 105 acres and was used from about 1986 to 1994. The layouts and boundaries of the ranges are unknown, as are the types of ammunition used at them. The former ranges are located between Vineyard Road and Corduroy Road.

The Glens Falls Small Arms Range was used from about 1878 to 1955. The range was approximately 876 acres; the range layout has been verified, but the types of ammunition used there are unknown. The former range is located on forested, municipal property north of Peggy Ann Road.

The Saratoga Springs Small Arms Range was used from about 1878 to 1951. The range was approximately 100 acres; the range layout has been verified, but the types of ammunition used there are unknown. The former range is located on residential properties and forested land east of Weibel Avenue.

Anyone who has documents, records or photographs of the range are encouraged to contact Master Sgt. Corine Lombardo at corine.lombardo@us.army.mil or (518) 786-4579.

Photo: New York Army National Guard Soldiers from the 2nd Battalion, 108th Infantry, conduct weapons training at the Guilderland Weekend Training Center.

Fort La Présentation to Develop Schools Project


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A grant of $10,000 has been awarded to the Fort La Présentation Association by the telecom giant AT&T to develop and implement a five-year educational outreach project to elementary schools in the St. Lawrence Valley region.

The curriculum-based Hands-On-History project will provide reproduction 18th- and 19th- century heritage items, interpretive materials and lesson plans which will intrigue students and help teachers meet state and national standards for history and social studies.

Hands-On-History will run as the name suggests. Students will be able to handle, hold or try on the clothes, tools and other gear which will help them explore the history of Fort de la Présentation under the flags of France, Great Britain and the United States from 1749 to 1813.

“We are very grateful to AT&T for the generous funding,” said Barbara O’Keefe, President of the Fort La Présentation Association. “The donation significantly maximizes the Fort Association’s modest financial and in-kind resources to allow us to reach a major goal of our educational strategy.”

“Our thanks also go to our long-time supporter, former State Senator Darrel Aubertine,” O’Keefe continued, “who drew the attention of AT&T to our plans to enrich our children’s learning.”

To ensure the project continues beyond the first year, the Fort Association’s contribution is $4,700. Fort Association board is committing $300 annually in year’s two to five. The $1,200 investment is to maintain printed materials and replace lost or damaged items.

In-kind services worth $3,500 – volunteered by museum, history and education professionals affiliated with the Fort Association – will help develop evaluation criteria, meet curricular goals and promote the new education opportunity to schools across the region.

“By autumn 2011, Hands-on-History should be available to teachers,” said O’Keefe. “We look forward to students experiencing their local history and discovering a first-hand connection to early days in the St. Lawrence Valley region.”

Franklin County Historical Hosts Christmas Tea


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The Franklin County Historical and Museum Society invites the community to its annual Christmas Tea and Open House on Saturday, December 4, 2010 from 12:00-4:00pm at the House of History Museum, 51 Milwaukee St., Malone. The museum will be decorated for the holiday and visitors will be treated to formal tea service, including delicacies, hot tea, cofee, and cider.

Tours of the museum will be available, as well as a gift raffle of items from local businesses. The gift shop will be open, with its wide selection of local history books that makes Christmas shopping easy for the history buff on your list. There is no cost to attend the tea and open house. For your convenience, membership dues for 2011 are welcome and will be accepted.

The Franklin County Historical and Museum Society, founded in 1903, is a membership organization dedicated to collecting, exhibiting and preserving the history of Franklin County, NY. The House of History museum is housed in an 1864 Italianate style building, most recently the home of the F. Roy and Elizabeth Crooks Kirk family. A museum since 1973, the House of History is home to the headquarters of the Franklin County Historical & Museum Society and its historic collections pertaining to the history of Franklin County. The recently renovated carriage house behind the museum is the beautiful Schryer Center for Historical & Genealogical Research, which opened in 2006. The Schryer Center contains archival materials and a library of family history information and is open to the public. FCHMS is supported by its members and donors and the generous support of Franklin County.

The House of History is open for tours on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1-4pm through December 31, 2010; admission is $5/adults, $3/seniors, $2/children, and free for members. The Schryer Center for Historical & Genealogical Research is open for research Wednesday-Friday from 1-4pm October 13-May 1, weather permitting. The fee to use the research library is $10/day and free to members.

Information about Franklin County History, the collections of the museum and links to interesting historical information can be found at the Historical Society’s website.

Contact the Historical Society with questions at 518-483-2750 or fchms@franklinhistory.org.

Photo: Volunteer Pennie Sansone pours tea at the formal tea table at the Franklin County Historical & Museum Society’s annual Christmas Tea and Open House

Historic Saranac Lake to Hold Annual Meeting


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Historic Saranac Lake will hold its Annual Meeting on November 9 at 7:00 PM, in the John Black Room of the Saranac Laboratory Museum. The meeting marks the organization’s 30th year, and will feature a talk by Caperton Tissot on her new book, Adirondack Ice: a Cultural and Natural History.

Ice has determined the course of Adirondack history in many surprising ways. This book traces the evolution of that influence, touching on everything from ice industries and transportation to recreation and accidents. In 360 pages of personal stories, observations and over 200 historic and contemporary photos, the author pays tribute to a fast disappearing era.

Ms. Tissot will be available to sign books afterward, and will donate a portion of the profits sold at the meeting to Historic Saranac Lake.

Historic Saranac Lake is a not-for-profit architectural preservation organization that captures and presents local history from its center at the Saranac Laboratory Museum.

The meeting is open to all members of Historic Saranac Lake and the public at large. Light refreshments will be served.

Former Trudeau Sanatorium Patient Publishes Novel


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Annapolis, Maryland resident, Florence Mulhern, will be at The Saranac Laboratory, 89 Church Street, on October 23rd, 2010, at 2:00 for a book signing of her just published novel, The Last Lambs on the Mountain. Ryerson University Scholar Dr. Jean Mason will introduce the author.

Mulhern spent two years at Trudeau Sanatorium while a tuberculosis patient. She has written a riveting and absorbing novel bringing her fictional characters together, sharing their varied backgrounds, living with constant hope, despair and uncertain futures. Her character’s lives intertwine as they are forced to live through difficult surgeries and experimental medicines always with the unceasing hope a cure is found allowing their lives will return to normal.

Mrs. Mulhern began her writing career many years ago and is the author of numerous published articles and two historical books. The book is now available for purchase in the Museum Store of the Saranac Laboratory, operated and major book sellers. All proceeds benefit Historic Saranac Lake.

Photo: Saranac Lake (Church Street from River Street). Courtesy Historic Saranac Lake.


Historic Saranac Lake Offers Cemetery Tour


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On Saturday, October 16 at 1:00 pm, local storyteller Bob Seidenstein will lead a tour through St. Bernard’s Cemetery in Saranac Lake to benefit Historic Saranac Lake.

The cemetery of St. Bernard’s Church in Saranac Lake is located on Ampersand Avenue at the intersection with Forest Home Road. Stones date to 1918. Roman Catholics were also buried in the Catholic section of Pine Ridge Cemetery. Among those buried here are long-time Saranac Lake mayor Charles Keough; village historian John Duquette; skating champion Edmund Lamy; baseball great Larry Doyle, New York Giants second baseman, the last patient to leave Trudeau Sanatorium; and Herbert Clark, the first 46er.

Bob Seidenstein grew up in Saranac Lake and has worked as a professor of English at Paul Smith’s College since 1973. A local storyteller, he writes a weekly column for the Adirondack Daily Enterprise, “The InSeide Dope.”

Bob has loosely titled this tour, “Helping the Dead Come Alive.” He offers as an explanation, “I look at my role as not letting the people and their lives fade into obscurity. While, objectively, all of us are “average” people, none of us live average lives. And I like to discover, share, and celebrate the uniqueness of the people of My Home Town.”

This is the first tour of the Catholic Cemetery sponsored by Historic Saranac Lake. Mr. Seidenstein has provided memorable tours in the past of Pine Ridge Cemetery. Admission for the tour is $5 per person to benefit Historic Saranac Lake. Please call HSL at 891-4606 to reserve a spot, or email mail@historicsaranaclake.org. The tour will meet at 1:00 at the cemetery gates.

Franklin Co. Society Meeting to Feature Dutch Schultz


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The Franklin County Historical and Museum Society invites its members and friends to the annual meeting of the Society on Thursday, October 7, 2010 at the First Congregational Church of Malone, corner of Clay and Main Streets. The annual meeting begins with a social hour at 5:30 pm, dish-to-pass supper at 6 pm, followed by the reports to the membership and culminating with a program on notorious beer baron Dutch Schultz. Please bring a dish to share and table service. Members are encouraged to make ‘old fashioned’ recipes and to bring copies of the recipe to share. There is no cost to attend, but membership dues for 2010 and 2011 are welcome.

The Franklin County Historical and Museum Society, founded in 1903, is a membership organization dedicated to collecting, exhibiting and preserving the history of Franklin County, NY. The House of History museum is housed in an 1864 Italianate style building, most recently the home of the F. Roy and Elizabeth Crooks Kirk family. A museum since 1973, the House of History is home to the headquarters of the Franklin County Historical & Museum Society and its historic collections pertaining to the history of Franklin County. The recently renovated carriage house behind the museum is the beautiful Schryer Center for Historical & Genealogical Research, which opened in 2006. The Schryer Center contains archival materials and a library of family history information and is open to the public. FCHMS is supported by its members and donors and the generous support of Franklin County.

The House of History is open for tours on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1-4pm through December 31, 2010; admission is $5/adults, $3/seniors, $2/children, and free for members. The Schryer Center for Historical & Genealogical Reseach is open for research Wednesday-Friday from 1-4 pm October 13-May 1, weather permitting. The fee to use the research library is $10/day and free to members.

Information about Franklin County History, the collections of the museum and links to interesting historical information can be found at the Historical Society’s website: http://www.franklinhistory.org

Please contact the Historical Society with questions at: 518-483-2750 or fchms@franklinhistory.org.

Photo: Gangster “Dutch” Schultz, the subject of the program at the Franklin County Historical and Museum Society’s Annual Meeting.

Franklin Historical’s Antique Appraisal Event


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Curious what your great-grand-mother’s shawl or old family Bible is worth? The Franklin County Historical and Museum Society will be holding an Antiques Appraisal fund-raising event on September 22, 2010, from 4:00-7:00pm at the Knights of Columbus Hall at 41 Elm St., Malone. Saranac Lake resident Ted Comstock, former curator at the Adirondack Museum at Blue Mountain Lake, will be providing verbal appraisals of antiques for the community. Members of the public are encouraged to bring objects from their attics and display cases to the K of C to obtain an independent appraisal of the value of their family heirlooms.

Unlike for-profit ventures which seek to purchase valuables for resale, this appraisal event is independent and for the benefit of the community. Attendees are encouraged to stay to hear Ted Comstock’s fascinating explanations of the objects and their history as it relates to the area. Ted graciously donated his time and expertise in September 2009 for a similar event, which drew a capacity crowd.

The cost to have your antiques appraised is $5 per object or 3 for $12 (limit 3 objects, please). All proceeds go to support the work of the Society. Please call the museum at: 518-483-2750 for more details or for directions to the Knights of Columbus building.

Please omit coins, stamps and jewelry.

The House of History museum is housed in an 1864 Italianate style building, most recently the home of the F. Roy and Elizabeth Crooks Kirk family. A museum since 1973, the House of History is home to the headquarters of the Franklin County Historical & Museum Society and its historic collections pertaining to the history of Franklin County. The recently renovated carriage house behind the museum is the beautiful Schryer Center for Historical & Genealogical Research, which opened in 2006. The Schryer Center contains archival materials and a library of family history information and is open to the public. FCHMS is supported by its members and donors and the generous support of Franklin County.

The House of History is open for tours on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1-4pm through December 31, 2010; admission is $5/adults, $3/seniors, $2/children, and free for members. The Schryer Center for Historical & Genealogical Reseach is open for research Tuesday-Friday from 1-4pm through October 8, 2010 and Wednesday-Friday from 1-4pm October 13-May 1, weather permitting. The fee to use the research library is $10/day and free to members.

Information about Franklin County History, the collections of the museum and links to interesting historical information can be found at the Historical Society’s website.

Please contact the Historical Society with questions at 518-483-2750 or via e-mail at fchms@franklinhistory.org.

Franklin Co. Historical Offers Loon Lake Lecture


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Northern New York history buffs will enjoy the upcoming discussion of the history of Loon Lake in Franklin County, on Friday September 3 at 6:30 pm. The presentation and discussion of Loon Lake history, especially the era of the famous Loon Lake House hotel and resort, will feature Joseph LeMay, who is writing a book on the subject. Admission is free and the public is encouraged to attend. Members of the greater Loon Lake community are invited to share their memories and photographs and participate in the discussion, which will be held at the Schryer Center at the Franklin County Historical & Museum Society, 51 Milwaukee St., Malone.

The House of History museum is housed in an 1864 Italianate style building, most recently the home of the F. Roy and Elizabeth Crooks Kirk family. A museum since 1973, the House of History is home to the headquarters of the Franklin County Historical & Museum Society and its historic collections pertaining to the history of Franklin County. The recently renovated carriage house behind the museum is the beautiful Schryer Center for Historical & Genealogical Research, which opened in 2006. The Schryer Center contains archival materials and a library of family history information and is open to the public. FCHMS is supported by its members and donors and the generous support of Franklin County.

The House of History is open for tours on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1-4pm through December 31, 2010; admission is $5/adults, $3/seniors, $2/children, and free for members. The Schryer Center for Historical & Genealogical Reseach is open for research Tuesday-Friday from 1-4pm through October 8, 2010 and Wednesday-Friday from 1-4pm October 13-May 1, weather permitting. The fee to use the research library is $10/day and free to members.

Information about Franklin County History, the collections of the museum and links to interesting historical information can be found on the Society’s blog.

Contact the Historical Society with questions at 518-483-2750 or fchms@franklinhistory.org.

Photo: Loon Lake Hotel Staff, ca. 1896. From the collection of the Franklin County Historical & Museum Society.

New Website Features Franklin County Mill Town


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There is a new website about the Reynolds Brothers Mill and Logging operation in the community of Reynoldston in the Township of Brandon (Franklin County) which was in operation from 1870 – 1940.

“We have created this website to document the history of this small community using oral history tapes and transcripts we created in 1969/70 as well as with historical photographs and a range of related historical documentation,” according to local historian and website volunteer Bill Langlois.

Reynoldston is one of the many logging centered communities in the Adirondacks that prospered during the cutting of local forests but disappeared when those same forests were clear cut.

The site already features oral history interviews, photographs and documents and is expected to expand to include material on Skerry in the Township of Brandon and the Bowen Mill as well as a wide range of other tapes and transcripts on the early history of Franklin County.

Mark Twain in the Adirondacks


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As fans of Mark Twain the world ‘round await the fall release of his unexpurgated autobiography a century after his death, scholars, authors, teachers, and other admirers of Twain will gather on the time-carved shores of Lower Saranac Lake to draw a more intimate portrait of the writer and humorist and explore his indelible contributions to American life and letters.

On Saturday, August 14, Dr. Charles Alexander of Paul Smith’s College, Dr. Margaret Washington, Associate Professor of History at Cornell University, and beloved children’s author Steven Kellogg of Essex, NY, will headline the day-long “Mark Twain in the Adirondacks” program at Guggenheim Camp on Lower Saranac Lake.

Doors will open at 9:30 a.m. At 10:00 a.m., Dr. Alexander will explore Twain’s surprising connections to the Adirondacks, focusing on his retreat from the outside world to the Kane Camp on Lower Saranac Lake in 1901 and the little-known essay, “The United States of Lyncherdom”, Twain wrote when the news of lynchings in Missouri reached him there. So incendiary, Twain allowed publication of the essay only after his death.

At 11:00 a.m., Steven Kellogg will read passages from Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and share why he counts it among his favorite books. Dr. Washington will continue the focus on Huck Finn, guiding the audience through critical debates over the work since its publication in 1885 and Twain’s straightforward treatment of slavery and race.

Following their formal presentations, Kellogg, Washington and Alexander will invite the audience to participate with them in an open-ended conversation about Twain and his lasting influence and power to provoke even today, 100 years after his death.

In November, the University of California Press will publish the first of three volumes of Twain’s half-million word autobiography, most of which the author dictated to a stenographer over the course of the four years before he died in 1910. According to New York Times reviewer Larry Rother, “a very different Twain emerges, more pointedly political and willing to play the angry prophet” (NYT 10 Jul 2010).

“Mark Twain in the Adirondacks” will be held at the rustic Guggenheim. Complimentary coffee, tea and pastries will be provided in the morning and ice cream donated by Stewart’s Shops will be served during the afternoon conversation. People are encouraged to pack a lunch.

A $5 donation is requested for Guggenheim program. Optional hour-long boat tours to the privately-owned Kane Camp where Twain stayed will be offered in the afternoon, starting at 2:00 p.m. Sign-up for the tours is on a first come, first serve basis, beginning when the doors open at 9:30 am. Tickets for the boat tours are $20 each, which includes entrance to the talks at Guggenheim Camp.

“Mark Twain in the Adirondacks” is a joint project of Historic Saranac Lake, John Brown Lives!, Paul Smith’s College, Keene Valley Library, and Saranac Lake Free Library. On July 23, Keene Valley Library hosted Huck Finn Out Loud—a twelve-hour marathon reading of the novel. Volunteer readers and listeners from all walks of life hailed from across the North Country and from Paris, France.

North Country Public Radio is media sponsor of “Mark Twain in the Adirondacks”. Funding has been provided by New York Council for the Humanities, Stewart’s Shops, Cape Air, Paul Smith’s College, and International Paper-Ticonderoga Mill. For more information, contact Amy Catania, Director of Historic Saranac Lake at 518-891-4606 or Martha Swan, Director of John Brown Lives! at 518-962-4758.

History of American Musical Theater Program


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The Franklin County Historical & Museum Society presents “America’s Song: A History of American Musical Theater in Word and Music,” a collaboration between Drew Benware and members of the Ithaca College School of Music, on Tuesday, July 13, 2010 at 7 pm. Admission is $10.00 per person, to benefit the Franklin County Historical Society. The program of toe-tapping favorites will be held in the Bobcat Cafe in the Joan Weill Student Center at Paul Smith’s College.

Drew Benware is a native of the North Country, having grown up in Malone, New York. Upon graduation from Franklin Academy, he enrolled at the Ithaca College School of Music where he received a degree in Music Education with a concentration on Trumpet in 2003. For the next three years, Drew served as the Director of Instrumental Music at Saranac Lake High School where he worked with the Concert Band, Jazz Ensemble, Pep Band, Parade Band, and annual Musical Theater Productions. Drew returned to Ithaca College to pursue a Master of Music degree in Choral Conducting, working with the renowned Larry Doebler and Janet Galvan. Among the high points of this period was a performance of Verdi’s “Requiem” at Alice Tully Hall in Lincoln Center in New York City. Drew’s choral degree was put to use during the 2008-9 academic year during which he served as Director of Choral Activities at the Peru Middle/High School. Since that
time, he has been on the faculty at the Ithaca College School of Music as an Assistant Professor of Music Education, instructing courses in woodwind and brass techniques, instrumental conducting, wind instrument pedagogy, and acting as supervisor to both Junior and Senior level teachers. Drew also works closely with the nationally acclaimed Ithaca College Department of Theatre Arts, serving as faculty accompanist for the Musical Theater Workshop and performing in Pit Ensembles. Drew continues to serve as an active pianist, performing as music minister at All Saints’ Church in Lansing and as a frequent artist-collaborator including the 2009 Saranac Lake First Night Celebration. He
is active as a singer also, performing with the Saranac Lake Madrigal Singers and the Cayuga Vocal Ensemble, Ithaca’s only professional choir. He has provided musical direction or pit performances for several works of Musical Theater, among them “Children of Eden,” “Parade,” “A Little Night Music,” “Once On This Island,” “The Music Man,” and “Les Miserables.”

The program will also feature performers from the Ithaca College School of Music and Department of Theatre Arts.

“America’s Song” is co-sponsored by The Franklin County Historical & Museum Society and Paul Smith’s College. The Franklin County Historical & Museum Society, founded in 1903, preserves the history of Franklin County, NY through its House of History Museum and Schryer Center for Historical & Genealogical Reseach, located in Malone. It is supported by membership dues and donations, grants, and municipal support. Paul Smith’s College, the College of the Adirondacks is the only four-year private college in the Adirondack Park and is commited to experiential, hands-on learning.

For more information, please contact Anne Werley Smallman at 518-483-2750. Visit the Paul Smith’s College website for directions.

19th Vice President William Wheeler to be Honored


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The public is invited to Celebrate the life of Franklin County native and U.S. Vice President William A. Wheeler with the Franklin County Historical & Museum Society and the Malone Lodge of Elks on Saturday, June 19 at 10am.

The annual Wheeler memorial event will be held at Morningside Cemetery, Raymond St., Malone, and will feature a gun salute, wreath-laying and tribute by Felix Miller. Follow the signs to the Wheeler gravesite. Refreshments to follow at the House of History Museum, 51 Milwaukee St., Malone. Free and open to the public.

William Almon Wheeler was born in Malone, NY, a son of Almon Wheeler, a pioneer of Northern New York. Having worked his way through Franklin Academy, Wheeler entered the University of Vermont, where he spent two years. He returned to Malone where he studied law, and was admitted to the bar as an attorney. Wheeler became town clerk at the age of 21, Superintendent of Schools and, in 1846, Franklin County District Attorney.

In 1849 he was elected as a Whig to the NYS Assembly, where he served successfully two terms. Refusing a third term, he entered business in Malone. In 1857 Wheeler was elected to the NYS Senate as a Republican. In 1860 he was elected to the U.S. Congress, where he gave unswerving support to President Lincoln. In 1867 Wheeler was a delegate to the NYS Constitutional Convention, of which he was President. When Rutherford B. Hayes was nominated for the Presidency in 1876, Wheeler was chosen unanimously as his running mate. Wheeler served as Vice President of the United States from 1877-1881.

Contact FCHMS at 518-483-2750 for more information.

Photo: U.S. Vice President William A. Wheeler (1819-1887)

Wild Center Museum Puts Money Where Its Mouth Is


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The Wild Center, the innovative natural history museum in the Adirondacks, demonstrated its commitment again to sustainable practices by making components of the building part of the exhibition. A new heating and hot water systems, fueled by renewable resources and part of the ‘New Path’ exhibition, will explore and test the technology that decreases our dependence on fossil fuels. First announced in July 2009, the highly efficient wood pellet boiler is integrated with a solar hot water system that will supply much of the hot water required to heat the 54,000-square-foot facility in Tupper Lake.

The new boiler system is the first highly efficient, commercial-sized, gasification wood-pellet boiler of its kind and size manufactured and installed in New York State. Additionally, the solar hot water collection system is the first of its kind used in a commercial application in the Adirondack region. The project just won the Best Building Integrated/Innovative category in the 6KC Awards, recognizing the best and brightest solar projects and industry champions in the Empire State, by the New York Solar Energy Industries Association (NYSEIA).

The project is supported by a $350,000 contract award by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) in response to a competitive solicitation, “Energy and Environmental Performance of High-Efficiency Wood-fired Heating Equipment.” Francis J. Murray, Jr., NYSERDA President and CEO, noted NYSERDA’s interest in this demonstration installation: “We commend The Wild Center for its commitment to incorporating renewable energy into its operations. Their use of pioneering made-in-New York technology will help promote high-efficiency, renewable-fuel boilers that reduce harmful emissions, burn local fuel, and further New York’s efforts to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, while helping to build New York’s clean energy economy. We look forward to the installation’s benefits, savings and economic efficiency,” he said.

A key component of the project is that Clarkson University will conduct a rigorous scientific evaluation of the energy-efficiency and emissions performance of the boiler as well as the integrated heating system and report its findings to NYSERDA. It is anticipated that this evaluation will provide objective scientific information to be used by decision makers developing renewable energy strategies. It will also serve as a model for others looking to evaluate ways to heat with renewable fuels in an efficient manner.

“We are eager to see the results of Clarkson’s evaluation,” said Stephanie Ratcliffe, Executive Director of The Wild Center. “We know that since the system has been online our propane consumption has decreased, but we’re very interested to see how much of our heating and hot water needs will be met by this system. Positive results could prove to be immensely beneficial for the Adirondacks, New York State and the country, encouraging others to implement similar technology.”

In New York State, renewable energy for heating is gaining increased interest as it addresses the goals of reducing fuel costs, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, stimulating local economic development and reducing dependence on foreign sources by replacing imported fossil fuels with locally available renewable fuels. In the Adirondacks, the most abundant and inexpensive renewable fuel is wood. However, traditional wood burning stoves, some common commercial wood boilers and, more recently, outdoor wood boilers suffer from low efficiency and high levels of pollution from incomplete combustion. The planned project offers a very clean-burning, highly efficient alternative use of wood fuel.

The Wild Center is the first museum in New York to receive a LEED certification, with a Silver distinction, from the United States Green Building Council (USGBC). The LEED standard is considered to be the international benchmark for green building. In selecting The Wild Center as the site for this project, backers pointed to the Center’s position as a leader in sustainable operational practices.

The successful installation and usage of the boiler system has the potential for a positive economic impact on the Adirondacks. By harvesting the “waste” in logging and sawmill operations to create wood pellets and then selling that back to local institutions the money that is currently sent abroad for the purchase of fossil fuels is kept in the Adirondacks where it can potentially lead to job creation.

The 1.7 million BTU boiler unit is in The Wild Center’s basement boiler room, next to the Museum’s existing propane boiler. The pellets are stored in an outdoor recycled shipping container next to the Administration wing of the Museum. The storage vessel also supports the solar thermal array to preheat water for the system. Pellets are augured through a series of pipes into the basement and directly into the boiler. Hot water from the solar thermal array is piped into the boiler through underground pipes.

The Wild Center’s high rate of visitation means the new project will be explained to a large audience that will be able to see the heating technology up close. Visitors will be able to see the pellets on their journey from the storage vessel to the boiler. The interpretation of the system will be added to the Museum’s ‘New Path’ Exhibit, which showcases elements of green design and how these features benefit the health of the human and natural world.

The wood gasification boiler was fabricated by Advanced Climate Technologies of Schenectady, NY. The solar thermal heating system was designed and installed by E2G Solar and APEX Thermal Services. Similar projects, supported by NYSERDA, are taking place within the Saranac Lake Central School District and North Country School.

Do You Recognize These Adirondack Faces?


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All bundled up and ready for fun and perhaps just a little mischief! Saranac Lake, New York photographer William F. Kollecker snapped a shot of these adorable children in 1935. The image is now in the collection of the Adirondack Museum at Blue Mountain Lake, N.Y. Sadly, the names of the kids were not recorded on the photo.

The museum will use the photograph in advertising for the 2010 Cabin Fever Sunday Series. The happy little faces will smile out from posters and newspaper ads throughout the North Country. Do you know who they are?

The Adirondack Museum would like to complete the historical record connected with this photo, and learn the names of the children if possible.

If you recognize your mother, grandfather, or even yourself in the photograph, please contact Susan Dineen, Director of Marketing at (518) 352-7311, ext. 121 or email info@adkmuseum.org.

William F. Kollecker produced a rich collection of photographs of the Saranac Lake area. The photos are largely preserved in the Adirondack Collection of the Saranac Lake Free Library. He is recognized today as the most successful and prolific photographer in the village’s history.

According to Historic Saranac Lake, “No other photographer captured the face and feeling of Saranac Lake or portrayed the lives and lifestyles of its citizens with greater accuracy or artistry for a comparable time period.” Among the many faces he captured were those of these children.

Photo: Photograph by William F. Kollecker, ca. 1935 from the collections of the Adirondack Museum.