Tag Archives: Hamilton County

A Backcountry Murder in Lake Pleasant


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In late 1928, the life of an Adirondack guide came to an unfortunate, premature end. Like many of his brethren who died from accidental shootings over the years, the victim succumbed to the effects of a serious gunshot wound. But the demise of Eula Davis was no accident. Clearly, this was a case of murder, and the beginning of a twisted saga that kept all eyes glued on the Lake Pleasant region for some time. Continue reading

Serial Killer Robert Garrow Talk Sunday


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On Sunday, September 30, 2012, the Virginia Hosley Free Library in Wells, NY, will host a talk by Adirondack Almanack contributor Lawrence P. Gooley, author of Terror in the Adirondacks. The chilling true story of Robert F. Garrow started in the summer of 1973 when Garrow went on a murder spree that spread alarm and fear through the Southern Adirondacks.

is crimes and much of the longest manhunt in Adirondack history took place in and around Wells and Speculator. Hear the true story of Robert F. Garrow, from his unfortunate childhood, his crimes and capture, his escape from prison, to his manipulation of legal, medical, and corrections professionals. Gooley’s authoritative book is based on official records, court transcripts, prison records, and more than 800 newspaper and magazine articles.

Due to the graphic criminal nature of this story, this program is not recommended for children. The presentation will start at 1:30 pm at the Wells Community Hall located on route 30 in the center of Wells, NY. The Wells Library is suggesting a donation of $5 to help defray the author’s speaking fee. Free refreshments will be served. For more information, contact M. E. Stofelano at 518-924-6358.

Lawrence Gooley has authored 11 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 24 titles to date, and are now offering web design. For information on book publishing, visit Bloated Toe Publishing.

A Hamilton County Jail Stand-Off


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Through a technicality in a poorly written election law, B. Frank Kathan was renamed Sheriff of Hamilton County in 1901, despite having lost by forty votes. Jim Locke, initially declared the winner, had already moved into the jail. When the decision was reversed, he stayed put, and the county had two men who claimed to be sheriff. Kathan pursued court options, while Locke armed his men and refused to surrender the jailhouse.
At the time, Hamilton County had two prisoners—one held by Locke in the jail, and one held by Kathan in his home. Kathan angrily demanded the right to take office, but Locke remained entrenched, defying anyone to remove him from the building.
If pushed further by the courts, Locke promised to subpoena all the voters in the county to confirm the intent of each individual ballot. The expense to poor, huge, and sparsely populated Hamilton County would be enormous.
On March 12, the judge issued a confusing order. He refused to impose punishment on Locke for taking over the jailhouse, but also ruled that Locke had no jurisdiction, no legal right to the office of sheriff, and no power to carry out civil or criminal processes.

 Still locked out of the jail under threat of violence, Kathan established a second sheriff’s office and bided his time. With further court action pending, he finally made his move a few weeks later. There are two variations of what happened next, but the violent version was recounted in May when the case went before the state supreme court.
On April 1, Kathan and a few of his men went to Lake Pleasant and staked out the county jail. When darkness arrived, he attempted to enter the building. Surprised to find the outside door unlocked, he stepped inside and faced off against Al Dunham, the lone jailer present.
Kathan, described as “a large and powerful man,” dropped Dunham with one punch and commandeered the office. (A second version of the story was much more benign. It claimed Kathan found the jailhouse unoccupied and simply took over.)
Now Locke was himself locked out. He countered by establishing a sheriff’s office in William Osborne’s hotel at Speculator—and the battle of the dueling sheriffs continued.
One of the sheriff’s duties was contacting jurors on behalf of the county. When the juror list was presented to Kathan (since he was the most recent court-approved sheriff), Locke obtained a certified copy from the county clerk’s office.
Jurors on the list received official notices from both Kathan and Locke, and both men submitted billing to the county board of supervisors for their work. To clear up the mess, the board tried to declare Locke the official county sheriff, but that directly violated the judge’s earlier order.
In response, the judge issued a summons demanding an explanation as to why the board itself should not be cited for contempt of court. It seemed like nobody agreed on anything (sounds suspiciously like today’s political environment).
Locke then filed a proceeding that required Kathan to prove he was entitled to the office. The significance of that move wasn’t lost on Kathan: Locke indeed planned to subpoena all of the county’s voters to court, where they could verify the intent of every single ballot cast.
Meanwhile, the state appellate court finally ruled on Kathan’s original filing and declared him the sheriff of Hamilton County. Locke, true to his word, remained in the courthouse and began sending subpoenas to hundreds of county residents.
However, just a few days after the appellate court’s ruling, an unexpected tragedy took much of the fight out of Jim Locke. His write-in candidacy had been initiated by William Osborne, and his sheriff’s office was in Osborne’s hotel. Will Osborne had a reputation as the most fearless man in Hamilton County, a title earned, in part, from suffering a head wound in an intense gun battle during which he shot and captured a very dangerous criminal.
In mid-August, Osborne had been injured in a baseball game. In September, during Locke’s struggle to remain as sheriff, came a stunning announcement—Osborne had died of his injuries. After burying his close friend, Locke resumed the fight, but soon decided on a compromise based on leverage he now held—more than half the county voters had already been subpoenaed.
To avoid the great expense of continued litigation, which one writer said, “would have almost swamped the county treasury,” Locke demanded compensation for having served as sheriff for the year since he was elected. The agreement also said, “It is understood that, in withdrawing from the case, Locke was not a loser through any previous legal proceedings.”
It was a confusing decision, but the county and Kathan agreed to the terms. Locke’s office was disbanded and the deputies he had appointed were dismissed. It had been a long, tempestuous year, but Hamilton County finally had one official sheriff. And, hopefully, a new set of rules governing write-in votes.
Photo: A few of the many wild headlines generated by the sheriff controversy.
Lawrence Gooley has authored 11 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 24 titles to date, and are now offering web design. For information on book publishing, visit Bloated Toe Publishing.

Political History: A Hamilton County Write-in Campaign


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It’s relatively rare for a write-in candidate to win an election. A recent, high-profile example occurred in Alaska’s senate race when Lisa Murkowski bested Joe Miller, the Tea Party candidate.

Miller took to the courts, claiming that misspellings of Murkowski’s name on many ballots disqualified those votes. The ridiculous charge—it’s an election, not a spelling contest—was dismissed. Otherwise, candidates with easy-to-spell names (like Miller, as opposed to Murkowski) would enjoy a considerable write-in advantage.

A precedent for that situation had long been established, but it wasn’t always followed. More than a century ago, an Adirondack election was decided based on the electorate’s inability to spell a candidate’s name and to record it with consistency. The result? Across the state, headlines of potential bloodshed made the news. It was a year before the issue was finally resolved.

It all began prior to the election of fall 1901 in Hamilton County, where the Republicans chose B. Frank Kathan as their candidate for sheriff. The Democrats offered no opposition, yet Kathan lost the election. Say what? Yep, it’s true. He lost, even with no opponent on the ballot.

Leading up to November, a few dedicated Democrats, including some deputy sheriffs (led by William Osborne), felt the party should have offered a candidate. They began urging voters to support a certain write-in candidate, the very popular Jim Locke.

By all accounts, it came as a total shock on Election Day when the ballots were examined and Jim Locke had triumphed by 40 votes (326–286). He was declared the winner and was issued a Certificate of Election, verifying the outcome.

When Locke took over the office of sheriff, Kathan took off for court. Despite opposition, he obtained a show-cause order requiring the Board of Canvassers to recount the votes (Kathan’s claim was that some ballots were “defective”). The judge ordered that the votes be counted exactly as they were cast, and that presented a problem for James Nathan “Jim” Locke.

Though the voters’ intentions were clear, Locke’s name had been written in many forms. In some settlements he was known as Jim, and in others as Nat. On the ballots, there appeared Jim, James, James N., James Nathan, J. N., Nat, and other variations. The recount revealed new totals: Nat Locke–223; J. N. Locke–32; James N. Locke–24; and a number of other smaller groupings.

Since Frank Kathan had garnered 286 votes, he was declared the winner and was issued a Certificate of Election. Hamilton County now had a new sheriff. Well … let me rephrase that. Hamilton County now had two sheriffs. Jim Locke had already taken up residency in the county jail at Lake Pleasant, and he wasn’t going anywhere. Suddenly, the county had a big problem, and the entire state was waiting to see how it would play out.

It wasn’t pretty. Locke soon made his position clear—he expected to remain sheriff. To that end, headlines from Albany to Buffalo proclaimed that the Hamilton County Jail was under siege, and that violence might well play a role in the outcome. As one article noted, “Kathan demanded possession of the keys to the jail, but Locke had three guards on duty, armed to the teeth with revolvers and Winchesters. Kathan’s demands were refused.”

Adding drama to the situation, it was noted that Arietta sharpshooter Jim Higgins was among those defending the jail. A set of Albany headlines in mid-February said it all: “Crack Shot Guards Jail at Lake Pleasant—Supreme Court Defied—May be Necessary to Call Out Troops to Oust Locke.”

With the state militia already mentioned, Kathan turned again to the courts. A few days later, Locke was ordered to show cause why he should not be punished for contempt of court.

Next week: 2nd of two parts: High drama and a jailhouse coup at Lake Pleasant.

Photo: At Lake Pleasant, old jail and courthouse on left, modern courthouse on right.

Lawrence Gooley has authored 11 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 24 titles to date, and are now offering web design. For information on book publishing, visit Bloated Toe Publishing.

Auburn Prison, Gillette Case Documentary, Lecture


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A North Woods Elegy: Incident at Big Moose Lake is a documentary feature film that explores one of the most famous American murder cases. Grace Brown, a pregnant young woman from upstate New York, was killed in the Adirondacks on July 11, 1906 [watch the trailer].

Her lover, Chester Gillette, was eventually tried and convicted of her murder. Gillette died in the Auburn Prison electric chair on March 30, 1908. The case became the basis for Theodore Dreiser’s 1925 novel, An American Tragedy.

A North Woods Elegy explores the fascination America had, and still has, with the case, encompassing issues of class, jurisprudence in America at the turn of the 20th century and ethics and sensationalism in news reporting.

The documentary film will be shown in Theater Mack at the Cayuga Museum, twice on Saturday, September 15, at 1:00 pm. and again at 4:00,. Derek Taylor, the film’s producer, director and editor, will answer questions after each screening.

At 3:00 p.m., there will be a lecture on “Gillette in Auburn” by Tompkins County Judge Jack Sherman, editor of The Prison Diaries and Letters of Chester Gillette. Gillette spent more than a year in Auburn Prison before his execution; his diary from that time is today in the collection of Hamilton College. Both the film screenings and the lecture are free and open to the public.

Adirondack Fabric and Fiber Arts Festival Saturday


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Join the Adirondack Museum for the Adirondack Fabric and Fiber Arts Festival on Saturday, September 15, 2012. Celebrate all things fiber during this annual event with fabulous and unique fabrics, regional artists, spinning, weaving, quilting, knitting, knotting and more.

Demonstrations throughout the weekend include: quilting with the Adirondack Regional Textile Artists association, mixed media with Louisa Woodworth and Julie Branch, recycled fiber items with Maria Wulf, Northern Needles quilting demonstration and displays, and wool arts demonstrations with The Serendipity Spinners. Aaron Bush, Jane Mackintosh, and Carol Wilson demonstrate a variety of knitting techniques and will also lead a knit-in for visitors who bring a project.

A special display, “Upcycling Fabric: Ideas from the Past” provides a chance for visitors to talk with Curator Hallie Bond and discover the frugality and creativity of our forebears.

The Festival will also include a vendor market where you can shop for locally made fabric and fiber treasures. Vendors for this year’s Festival include: Baskets by Linda, Keller Country, Liberty Fibers, Heirlooms, Cat in the Window Weaving, Icy Acres, Patridge Run Farm, Kalieidoscope Kolors, Ewe’ll Love the Weather, Color My Loom, Nana Joanne, Kirbside Gardens, 2nd Time Around, The Silver Studio, Harvest Herb Company, Adirondack Handmade, Adirondack Doll Co.
and Laura’s Quality Knits.

Singer and songwriter, Peggy Lynn, will provide music throughout the day.

25th Rustic Furniture Fair at Adirondack Museum


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The Adirondack Museum will host its 25th Annual Rustic Furniture Fair on Saturday, September 8 and Sunday, September 9 in Blue Mountain Lake. Renowned artisans from throughout the United States will showcase and sell their one-of-a-kind pieces of furniture, furnishings, and artwork.

The show will be open from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. Saturday and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. Visitors interested in an early buying opportunity can visit on Saturday, September 8 from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. Tickets will be available at the door, and are available now online.

The Adirondack Museum’s Rustic Furniture Fair is recognized as the premier event of its kind in the country. This gathering of talented artisans includes both traditional and contemporary styles of furniture design, handcrafted from natural materials. A list of the sixty participating artisans can be found on the museum’s website. Demonstrations of furniture making and painting will take place throughout the weekend. Exhibitors will answer questions about their work, or discuss custom made pieces.

In celebration of the 25th or Silver Anniversary of the Rustic Fair, more than twenty-five artisans have elected to design and create a unique commemorative piece for this year’s show. Each piece will bear a tribute plaque. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of the commemorative pieces will benefit the museum.

In addition, there will be a very special silent auction happening during the Fair featuring the works of Barney Bellinger, Randy Holden, Larry Post, Russ DeFonce, Jonathan Swartwout, Bill Perkins, Rick Pratt and Bob Jones. Winners will be announced Sunday, September 9 at 3 p.m. Proceeds will benefit the Adirondack Museum.

Music throughout the weekend will be provided by Intermountain Trio. They will be releasing their second album “Can’t Find the Words” at the Rustic Fair this year. Intermountain Trio will be playing starting at 9 a.m. on Saturday, September 8, and at 10 a.m. on September 9.

Hochschild Award Presented at Adirondack Museum


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The Board of Trustees of the Adirondack Museum formally presented the Harold K. Hochschild Award to John and Margot Ernst at their annual Gala Benefit on July 28, 2012.

The Harold K. Hochschild Award is dedicated to the memory of the museum’s founder, whose passion for the Adirondacks, its people, and environment inspired the creation of the Adirondack Museum. Since 1990 the museum has presented the award to a wide range of intellectual and community leaders throughout the Adirondack Park, highlighting their contributions to the region’s culture and quality of life.
“On behalf of the Adirondack Museum, I would like to congratulate John and Margot Ernst on receiving this prestigious honor for their commitment and service to the Adirondack region,” said David M. Kahn, Executive Director of the Adirondack Museum.

John and Margot Ernst split their time between New York City and Elk Lake Lodge, a family owned resort near North Hudson, N.Y., located in the 12,000 acre Elk Lake-Clear Pond private preserve, which National Geographic called “the jewel of the Adirondacks.” John and Margot are involved in public service through their work with non-profit organizations in New York State and the North Country.

The Adirondack Museum, accredited by the American Association of Museums, offers 65,000 square feet of exciting exhibitions housed in twenty-two modern and historic buildings. Visitors can explore how people have lived, worked, traveled, and played in the Adirondacks from the 19th century up to today. The museum is supported in part by public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts, a State Agency. For additional information, visit www.adirondackmuseum.org or call (518) 352-7311.

Photo: (l-r) John Ernst; Nancy Keet – Chair, Harold K. Hochschild Award Committee; and Margot Ernst.

Mountain Men Encampment at the Adirondack Museum


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The fur trade comes to life at the Adirondack Museum this weekend, Friday, August 17 and Saturday, August 18. Join the museum and educational interpreters in period dress as they showcase a variety of survival skills at the annual American Mountain Men Encampment.

Visitors will see colorful demonstrations of tomahawk and knife throwing, campfire cooking, firearms and shooting, and fire starting. There will be displays of pelts and furs, clothing of eastern and western mountain styles, period firearms and much more.
Mountain men are powerful symbols of America’s wild frontier. Legends about the mountain man continue to fascinate because many of the tales are true: the life of the mountain man was rough, and despite an amazing ability to survive in the wilderness, it brought him face to face with death on a regular basis.

The American Mountain Men group was founded in 1968. The association researches and studies the history, traditions, tools, and mode of living of the trappers, explorers, and traders known as the mountain men. Members continuously work for mastery of the primitive skills of both the original mountain men and Native Americans. The group prides itself on the accuracy and authenticity of its interpretation and shares the knowledge they have gained with all who are interested.

Participants in the museum encampment are from the Brothers of the New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts segment of the national American Mountain Men organization. Participation in the encampment is by invitation only.

All of the American Mountain Men activities and demonstrations are included in the price of Adirondack Museum admission. There is no charge for museum members. The Adirondack Museum is open 7 days a week, from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., through October 14. The museum will close at 3 p.m. September 7 for special event preparations.

Part Two: The Homing Pigeon in NY History


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Homing pigeons have long been used for racing and for their unique ability to navigate, an asset once capitalized upon by the military. As noted in last week’s entry here, “Their use during World Wars I and II is legendary, and many were decorated with medals. In 1918, pigeon racing was temporarily banned in the United States to ensure that all birds were available for the use of the military.”
Domestically, homing pigeons were an accepted form of communications, and thus enjoyed legal protection. The public shared the responsibility of nurturing any pigeon found in distress, and if need be, contacting the owner via information from the bird’s leg band.
For more than a century, the pigeons were regularly encountered in the North Country. “Homers” were often used for races from 100 to 500 miles, and they didn’t always alight where the owner intended, usually due to stormy weather.
Many of the birds that landed in the Adirondack region came from Montreal, where their use for racing and message carrying was common. In 1912, one such Canadian visitor settled inside the walls of Clinton Prison at Dannemora. The warden dutifully cared for the bird and attempted to contact its owner.
In 1898, little Miss Gertrude Hough of Lowville received a letter by US Mail from the Los Angeles post office. It had arrived in LA attached to a pigeon that had been released by Gertrude’s father from Catalina Island, more than 20 miles offshore.
And in 1936, a homing pigeon landed on the window sill of a Malone home, where it was treated to the proper care. Well beyond the norm, the bird’s journey had begun in Montana.
Invariably, efficient systems like bank accounts, credit cards, the internet, and homing pigeons are usurped for other purposes. In recent years, pigeons have been used by ingenious crooks to smuggle drugs from Colombia and diamonds from African mines.
In both cases, the North Country was light-years ahead of them. In 1881, an elaborate case of diamond smuggling from Canada into St. Lawrence County was uncovered. A Rensselaer Falls farmer brought to customs authorities a dead “carrier pigeon” with part of a turkey feather, filled with diamonds, attached to the bird’s leg.
During the investigation, two more diamond-carrying birds were shot. It was discovered that baskets of birds were being mailed to locations in Canada, and other flocks were located south of the border, awaiting duty. Shipments of pigeons had originated at DeKalb Junction, Heuvelton, Rensselaer Falls, and Richville, and the value of diamonds successfully smuggled was estimated at $800,000 (equal to about $17 million today).

During Prohibition, both booze and drug smuggling were rampant. In 1930, US officials were tipped off that a number of homing pigeons were routinely being shipped north into Quebec. Upon release, they crossed back into northern New York.

Authorities at Ogdensburg were put on the case when it was found that each pigeon bore a payload of about one ounce of cocaine. At times, it was literally a fly-by-night operation—some of the birds had been trained to fly under cover of darkness.
Homing pigeons also played a role in regional historical events. In 1920, a military balloon launched from Rockaway Point in New York City sailed across the Adirondacks. Last sighted above Wells in Hamilton County, it then vanished. Extended high-profile searches turned up nothing, and three men aboard the balloon were lost.
Such missions routinely carried homing pigeons for air-to-ground communication. It was believed that an injured pigeon found on a Parishville (St. Lawrence County) farm had been launched from the balloon, and that its message had been lost during the accident that had broken the bird’s leg. This led to the belief that the balloon had gone down over Lake Ontario.
One of the most famous kidnapping cases in American history occurred in 1932 when the Lindbergh baby disappeared. When the body was found, nearly every newspaper in the land covered the story the next day with multiple articles.
Among the first stories was one emanating from Lowville, New York, where a homing pigeon had landed at the home of Arthur Jones. The bird’s leg had a non-traditional attachmenta piece of twine holding a paper tag bearing the inscription, “William Allen, New Jersey.” It was William Allen of New Jersey who found the Lindbergh child’s corpse.
Lead investigator Colonel H. Norman Schwarzkopf (Stormin’ Norman’s father) followed up on the information and then issued a statement: “Reports from Lowville show that no registry tag was found on the carrier pigeon. This practically precludes the possibility of further tracing the pigeon unless the owner of the same voluntarily reports its absence.”
In June, 1936, before more than two dozen reporters and celebrities, former World Heavyweight Champion Jack Dempsey and his wife released a homing pigeon from the tower of the Empire State Building at 11:20 am. Less than five hours later, it arrived at Scaroon Manor on Schroon Lake, bearing the first honeymoon reservation of the season.
It wasn’t for Dempsey’s honeymoonit was just a publicity stunt to keep his name active in the media, and certainly raised the manor’s profile as well.
Photos: TopHoming pigeon with message in tube. BottomUS Naval Station pigeon houses (1925).

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 22 titles to date, and are now offering web design. For information on book publishing, visit Bloated Toe Publishing.

Annual Fulton Chain of Lakes House Tour by Boat


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Whether a historic site or a spectacular new design, individuals with noteworthy homes will host tours during the Annual Fulton Chain of Lakes House Tour by Boat to benefit View, the former Old Forge Arts Center.

Beginning in Old Forge, participants will ride party barges from house to house as they explore local waterways and get the rare chance to view inside the beautiful homes along them. The House Tour will be held on Saturday August 18. Departure will be from the Old Forge Town Docks, at Lake View Ave, in Old Forge, NY promptly at 10am and will return in the middle of the afternoon. To ensure a smooth departure, guests should arrive early, beginning at 9am.
This year’s House Tour By Boat will feature six great camps and homes including Berkeley Lodge, which was once President Benjamin Harrison’s Adirondack Residence. What appears to be just a boathouse from the lake is actually just the beginning of Berkeley Lodge. Former President Benjamin Harrison (of Indianapolis) purchased the 20 acre peninsula between First and Second Lakes in 1895 from Dr. William Sweard Webb.

Berkeley Lodge was designed by a Herkimer architect, Charles E. Cronk, and built in time for Harrison’s return in the summer of 1896 after his 2nd marriage to Mrs. Mary Lord Dimmick. The Lodge living room is flanked by twin octagonal towers at either end. The exterior of Berkeley was sheathed with spruce logs at the bottom and shingles below the eaves. Attached to Berkeley was a cottage containing a kitchen, dining room, and office. The camp also had a house for guides and a boathouse.

In 1910 the property was sold to a New Yorker and then later in 1915, it was purchased by Horace S. deCamp. Horace owned the Harrison property until his death in 1954 and the property was sold at auction and purchased by the Cohen family. The Cohen family sub-divided the property into several parcels before selling Berkeley Lodge. The Lodge, and several other buildings survive to this day. The great camp is owned by Bob and Diane Wallingford, who have renovated a portion of the lodge that was added on in the 1950′s by the Cohens, made the icehouse/carriage house into a bunkhouse, added a garage and renovated the boathouse keeping all of the same flooring and beams.

Tickets must be purchased in advance. Tickets are $65/$50 for View members. This is a rain or shine event which typically sells out, so call View to reserve your ticket at 315-369-6411. For further questions email Info@ViewArts.org, or visit www.ViewArts.org.



Photos: Above, Berkely Lodge today, and below, at the time Harrison owned it.

Adirondack Museum Dog Days Features ‘Marley and Me’ Author


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New York Times Bestselling Author John Grogan will headline the Adirondack Museum’s annual Dog Days of Summer event with a public program called “Marley &Me: What Man’s Best Friend Can Teach Us About Being Human.” The program will begin at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, August 4 the museum’s center campus. Dogs are welcome. In addition to the public program, there will be a question and answer session, and a book signing. Copies of Grogan’s bestselling books will be available at the Museum Store. Continue reading

The Civil War And The Adirondacks: 1861-1865


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One hundred fifty years ago this country was torn apart by a great civil war. The Adirondack Museum will host a weekend dedicated to remembering the Civil War in the Adirondacks, the men who fought it and their loved ones at home, this Saturday, July 21 and Sunday, July 22.

Visitors will be able to meet the members of the 118th Volunteer Infantry (the “Adirondack” Regiment”) and President Lincoln at a Civil War Encampment and learn the fate of Adirondack Civil War soldiers of the 118th themselves at a specially produced  presentation by author Glenn Pearsall on Saturday (7:00 p.m.) entitled “The Adirondacks Go To War: 1861 – 1865.”

In the Adirondacks many young men, boys really, left their hard scrabble farms and small towns for the first time in their lives to enlist. Learn what their thoughts were as they marched off to war and how they reacted to the horrors of war. Hear what it was like for the wives, children, mothers and father that they left behind, as well as the lasting impact of the war on the small towns in the Adirondacks following the war.

Pearsall spent two years researching the Civil War veterans from Johnsburg in the southeastern Adirondacks before preparing this special program based on letters and journals (which will be read by a Civil War re-enactors in uniform). The presentation will also include over 100 historic photographs of soldiers and battlefield scenes. “Each member of the audience will be given a name of a soldier from the Adirondacks who fought in the war and will ultimately find out if they survived the war,”  he told the New York History.

Pearsall’s presentation will focus on men serving with the 22nd New York (one of the first to respond to President Lincoln’s call to arms and recruited in Warren and Saratoga Counties), the 93rd (recruited from Essex, Fulton, Hamilton and Warren Counties who suffered horrific losses in the contest between U.S. Grant and Robert E. Lee), the 96th or “Plattsburgh Regiment” (recruited primarily from Clinton County), the 115th (recruited from Hamilton and Fulton Counties) and the 118th or “Adirondack Regiment” (recruited from Clinton, Essex and Warren Counties, the first regiment to enter the Confederate capital in Richmond on its fall). Pearsall will also explain a special Adirondack link to the capture of John Wilkes Booth, assassin of President Abraham Lincoln.

The “Adirondack Regiment” will also be the focus of the weekend-long encampment at the Museum.  Mustered into service in August 1862, over one thousand North Country men served in the unit. Re-enactors will camp at the museum and share stories of camp life, and what it was like to be a soldier in the Civil War. Visitors will learn about the 118th assignments and movements, the battles they fought in, and the historic moment when General Robert E. Lee surrendered at the Appomattox Court House.

President Lincoln will be portrayed by John R. Baylis, who has appeared as the 16th President of the United States at Gettysburg, Antietam, Cedar Creek, Ottawa, and as far south as Key West.

Pearsall’s presentation will be held in the Auditorium at 7:00 p.m. The program will be offered at no charge to museum members; the fee for non-members is $5.00. For additional information, please visit www.adirondackmuseum.org or call (518) 352-7311.


Photo: A volunteer infantry soldier of the  118th “Adirondack Regiment” (circa 1863, courtesy Adirondack Museum). 

Adirondack Museum Monday Evening Lecture Series Set


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The Adirondack Museum has announced the presenters and lecture topics for the annual Monday Evening Lecture Series. Join the museum for the lecture series Monday nights at 7:30 p.m. in July and August.

The first evening, July 9, will be spent with Wildlife Conservation Society senior conservationist Bill Weber. Weber will present “Out of Africa and Into the Adirondacks: A Conservation Journey” lecture.

Lectures continue on July 16 with Charles Yaple and “Foxey Brown: The Story of an Adirondack Outlaw, Hermit, and Guide” lecture; July 23 with photographer Eric Dresser and “Capturing Adirondack Wildlife in Pictures;” July 30 with Environmental Historian Phil Terrie and “Green Fire: Aldo Leopold and A Land Ethic for our Time” a film, commentary and discussion.

August begins with author Harvey Kaiser and “Great Camps of the Adirondacks: Second Edition” on August 6; August 13 with senior art historian Caroline M. Welsh and “A.F. Tait: Artist of the Adirondacks;” and will end on August 20 with rustic furniture artisan and painter, Barney Bellinger’s “Art, Furniture and Sculpture: Influenced by Nature” lecture.

The presentations will be offered at no charge to museum members; the fee for non-members is $5.00. For full descriptions of the lectures, visit www.adirondackmuseum.org.

The Adirondack Museum is open 7 days a week, from 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., through October 14. The museum will close at 3 p.m. on August 10 and September 7 for special event preparations.

Adirondack Museum Reopens Friday:New Audio Tour Features Locals, Free Residents Days


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The Adirondack Museum will launch a new audio tour when museum reopens for its 55th season on Friday, May 25, 2012. Year-round residents of the Adirondack Park are invited to visit free of charge every Sunday, and on all open days in May and October. Proof of residency such as a driver’s license, passport, or voter registration card is required.

This year, visitors will be invited to take a fresh look at the Adirondack Museum using the new audio tour. The voices of real people who live in the Adirondacks today will guide visitors to a deeper understanding of the museum’s exhibitions, it dramatic setting, and what makes the Adirondacks unique.

Adirondackers’ personal stories will be related by many including: Kevin Bacon, actor; John Collins, Blue Mountain Lake Resident; Martha Foley, News Director, NCPR; Allison Warner, boat builder; Dan Moore, logger; Steven Tucker, farmer; John Fadden, Six Nations Indian Museum; Marty Podskoch, author; Phillip Terrie, author and Environmental Historian, and many more. You can preview the tour online.

The audio tour will be offered free of charge to visitors with museum admission. The tour will be available via Acoustiguide Audio portable devices and as a downloadable app for smartphones.

The Adirondack Museum is open 7 days a week, from 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., through October 14. The museum will close at 3 p.m. on August 10 and September 7 for special event preparations. The museum, accredited by the American Association of Museums, offers 65,000 square feet of exciting exhibitions housed in twenty-two modern and historic buildings.

Visitors can explore how people have lived, worked, traveled, and played in the Adirondacks from the 19th century up to today. The museum is supported in part by public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts, a State Agency. For additional information, visit www.adirondackmuseum.org or call (518) 352-7311.

Lawrence Gooley Presenting Robert Garrow Lecture


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The next lecture in the Adirondack Museum’s 2012 Cabin Fever Sunday, “Tracking Robert Garrow” with author and New York History contributor Lawrence Gooley, will be held on Sunday, April 15, 2012.

In the summer of 1973, serial killer Robert F. Garrow went on a murderous rampage that changed the Adirondack region forever. However, there was much more to Garrow’s story than the murders. From his unfortunate childhood to escapes from the law, the longest manhunt in Adirondack history, and his manipulation of legal, medical and corrections professionals, hear the full story of Garrow’s life from author Lawrence Gooley. Due to graphic content, this program is suitable for adult audiences.

Lawrence P. Gooley is a proponent of the North Country, a lover of books, and a history enthusiast. He operates Bloated Toe Enterprises, an internet-based business that currently includes Bloated Toe Publishing and The North Country Store. Gooley has also organized a North Country Authors group to help raise the profile of area authors and their works. Gooley’s writings have appeared in various magazines and newspapers. He has contributed to other works, including a recent piece in an annual book series, the Franklin County Review, and has provided editing services for several other titles. He has also authored nine books including Terror in the Adirondacks: The True Story of Serial Killer Robert F. Garrow.

This program will be held at the Adirondack Lakes Center for the Arts at Blue Mountain Lake, and will begin at 1:30 p.m. Cabin Fever Sundays are offered at no charge to museum members or children of elementary school age and younger. The fee for non-members is $5.00. For additional information, please call (518) 352-7311, ext. 128 or visit www.adirondackmuseum.org.

John, Margot Ernst Receiving Adk Museum Award


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The Board of Trustees of the Adirondack Museum has announced the selection of John and Margot Ernst as the recipients of the 2012 Harold K. Hochschild Award. The Adirondack Museum will formally present the Ernsts with the award at the annual Gala Benefit on July 28, 2012.

The Harold K. Hochschild Award is dedicated to the memory of the museum’s founder, whose passion for the Adirondacks, its people, and environment inspired the creation of the Adirondack Museum. Since 1990 the museum has presented the award to a wide range of intellectual and community leaders throughout the Adirondack Park, highlighting their contributions to the region’s culture and quality of life.

“On behalf of the Adirondack Museum, I would like to congratulate John and Margot Ernst on receiving this prestigious honor for their commitment and service to the Adirondack region,” said David M. Kahn, Executive Director of the Adirondack Museum.

John and Margot Ernst split their time between New York City and Elk Lake Lodge, a family owned resort near North Hudson, N.Y., located in the 12,000 acre Elk Lake-Clear Pond private preserve, which National Geographic called “the jewel of the Adirondacks.” John and Margot are involved in public service through their work with non-profit organizations in New York State and the North Country.

Margot was co-chair of the committee to establish an endowment for the newly created News Bureau at North Country Public Radio. She is on the Board of Directors of the New York State Audubon Society and Secretary of the Board of Directors of the National Audubon Society. She is a member of the Rachel Carson Awards Council, which selects awardees and promotes education and information on the environment. Margot is co-chairman, with John, of the Board of Directors of the George Gustav Heye Center of the National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian Institution. She has served on the Board of Trustees of the Adirondack Museum and is a retired curator and Associate Director of the Japan Society Gallery.

In addition, John and Margot have been active for some time in the future of the Adirondacks. In the early 1960s John’s grandfather donated the first conservation easement in New York State on the land surrounding their property on Elk Lake, preserving public access on trails to the Dixes and Panther Gorge and on to Mount Marcy.

John was Treasurer of the New York League of Conservation Voters, is past President of the Adirondack Landowners Association and Treasurer of the Board Directors of the Adirondack Community Trust. John is a former chair and current Director of the Adirondack Council. He is on the Executive Council of North Country Radio, is a board member of the Adirondack Center for Writing, of the Open Space Institute and Adirondack Lakes Survey Corporation, a not-for-profit corporation formed to monitor and document the effects of pollution in the Adirondack waterways. John is also a board member of the National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian Institution.

The Open Space Institute awarded its 2009 Land Conservation Award to John and Margot Ernst for their “outstanding contributions in the fields of land conservation and environmental protection. ” John Ernst received a 2011 Advocate Award from Environmental Advocates of New York.

For tickets to the Adirondack Museum’s Gala Benefit, call (518) 352-7311 ext. 119.

Dannemora: Love So Strong, It’s Criminal


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Ah, Valentine’s Day. Love is in the air. Chocolates, flowers, and special cards are a must. Maybe a family meal, or perhaps a romantic dinner for two. Jewelry? Diamonds? The sky’s the limit when it comes to making your sweetheart happy and showing true dedication. But it’s all pretty amateurish compared to real commitment. Which brings us to Fred Roderick and Agnes Austin. Their love is one for the history books.

Here’s the story as described in 1883 in a couple of newspapers. Without hard facts, I can’t account for all the details, but you have to admire the sense of purpose, focus, and ingenuity this couple used to achieve togetherness.

At Sageville (now Lake Pleasant, a few miles southeast of Speculator), Fred Roderick, about 25 years old, had been jailed for stealing a pair of horses, which had since been returned. In those days, a convicted horse thief could expect to do time in prison. Next to murder, it was one of the most serious crimes—horses were a key component to survival in the North Country.

In rural Hamilton County, it was no simple task to organize a trial, so for several months the county jail served as Roderick’s home. It was lonely at times, but he wasn’t entirely without company. Every Sunday, the local Methodist pastor brought a dozen or so members of his congregation to the jail, where they sang songs and held a prayer meeting.

For a couple of years, young Agnes Austin was among the church goers who participated. Shortly after Roderick’s incarceration, parish members noticed that, instead of lending her voice to the choir at all times, she seemed to have taken a personal interest in Fred’s salvation.

Soon Agnes gained special permission from the sheriff for weekday visits which, she assured him, would lead Roderick down the straight and narrow. But it seemed to work in the reverse. Agnes began showing up at the jail less often on Sundays and more frequently during the week. Imagine the whispers among her church brethren. Their pretty little friend was consorting with a criminal!

Or maybe her missionary efforts were sincere after all. Fred Roderick finally came forward and accepted religious salvation, owing it all, he said, to young Agnes. People being as they are, tongues wagged more frantically than ever about the supposed scandalous goings-on. Mr. Austin forbade (what was he thinking?) Agnes from making any more jail visits. Taking it one step further, he spoke to the sheriff, hoping to kill a tryst in the making.

It wasn’t long after that Agnes disappeared. With her supposed lover lingering hopelessly in jail, why would she run away? Well, as it turns out, she didn’t. Agnes and Fred had made plans. She was told to hide out at his father’s camp, where he would join her after his escape. (Country jails were often loosely kept, and escapes were common.)

After waiting more than a week for her sweetheart, Agnes took matters into her own hands, which led to a sight that shocked the residents of Sageville. A constable rode into town, and behind him trailed Aggie Austin. The charge? Horse theft. In broad daylight, she had taken not just any horse, but one of the very same horses Fred had stolen!

Because she was female, and because she made no effort to run when pursued, bail was set at $600—which Agnes immediately refused. To the puzzled bondsman and the sheriff, she explained: if Fred couldn’t be with her, then she would be with Fred. To that end, she had left the camp, stolen a horse, made sure she was caught, and now refused to be bailed out of jail.

It gets better. The next morning, Fred informed the sheriff that he wished to marry Miss Austin, and Agnes confirmed the same. Papa Austin most certainly would have objected, but Agnes was 19, of legal age to make her own choice. And that choice was Fred.

The judge was summoned, and the sheriff and his deputies stood witness to the joining. The district attorney weighed in as well, contributing what he could to the couple’s happiness.

Though separate trials were required, he promised to “bring both cases before the same term of court, and thus allow the pair to make their bridal journey together to their future mountain home at Clinton Prison.”

Now THAT’s commitment.

Photo: Clinton Prison at Dannemora, notorious North Country honeymoon site.

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.