Tag Archives: Lake George

Last of the Mohicans Outdoor Drama Seeks Volunteers


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The non-profit Last of the Mohicans Outdoor Drama is seeking volunteers and interns to assist with a variety of short term and long term assignments for their annual theatrical production in Lake George, NY this summer. This outdoor drama, which recently garnered the “Tourism Excellence for Cultural Heritage” from the NYS Tourism & Vacation Association, brings alive the pages of history through James Fenimore Cooper’s classic novel.

Participants will have a chance to learn more about local history, support a local non-profit organization and assist in bringing the historical dramatic performance to audiences of all ages. This opportunity also provides a learning experience for college students seeking to enter careers in theater, design, fashion design, construction, tourism, public relations and marketing.

Volunteers and college interns are specifically being sought to assist with costume, scenery and set production, delivering of promotional flyers to surrounding businesses, etc., as well as some duties during the actual performance dates which would include ticket booth, ushers  and back stage helpers.

Training and supervision will be provided but experience with live performances is a plus. Any volunteers under the age of 16 must be accompanied by an adult. All volunteers will receive complimentary passes to a performance of the historical outdoor drama and will be recognized for their efforts. Performance
dates for 2012 are July 27 to August 18th, with nightly performances on Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday nights. There is one matinee performance on Saturday August 4th. Most volunteer assignments start in early June.

For more information about The Last of the Mohicans Outdoor Drama visit www.LastoftheMohicans.org. This summer’s production has received support in part by the Warren County Tourism Occupancy Tax Fund and with public funds from the New York Council on  the Arts Decentralization Program and administered by the Lower Adirondack Regional Arts Council.

Those interested in applying for volunteer work should email volunteer@LastoftheMohicans.
org or call 518-791-6342 or e-mail Maura Fox at volunteer@LastoftheMohicans.org by May 15.

Scholarships for Healing Retreats at Historic Adirondack Sites


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Creative Healing Connections has several full and partial scholarships available for two upcoming arts and healing retreats for women living with cancer and other chronic illnesses on September 21st to 23rd and September 28th to 30th, 2012 at Great Camp Sagamore National Historic Landmark in the Adirondacks.

Creative Healing Connections also offers scholarships for two arts and reintegration retreats for women veterans. Those retreats are August 6th to 8th and 13th to 15th, 2012. The retreat for female military spouses is sold out this year. Continue reading

Fort Ticonderoga’s War College of the Seven Years’ War


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Limited space is still available to attend Fort Ticonderoga’s Seventeenth Annual War College of the Seven Years’ War May 18-20, 2012. This annual seminar focuses on the French and Indian War in North America (1754-1763), bringing together a panel of distinguished historians from around the country and beyond. The War College takes place in the Deborah Clarke Mars Education Center and is open to the public; pre-registration is required.


Begun in 1996, the War College of the Seven Years’ War has become one of the premier seminars on the French & Indian War in the country. It features a mix of new and established scholars in an informal setting for a weekend of presentations related to the military, social, and cultural history of the French & Indian War. Speakers include:

De Witt Bailey, British author and 18th-century arms expert, on British weapons of the war.

Maria Alessandra Bollettino, Framingham State University, on slave revolts in the British Caribbean during the war.

Earl John Chapman, Canadian author and historian, on the experiences of James Thompson, a sergeant in the 78th Highlanders.

Christopher D. Fox, Fort Ticonderoga, on Colonel Abijah Willard’s Massachusetts Provincials in 1759.

Jean-François Lozier, Canadian Museum of Civilization, on the use of paints and cosmetics among Natives and Europeans.

Paul W. Mapp, College of William & Mary, on the role the vast western lands played in the battle for empire.

William P. Tatum III, David Library of the American Revolution, on the British military justice system, using ten courts-martial at Ticonderoga in 1759 as case studies.

Len Travers, University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth, on the “Lost Patrol of 1756” on Lake George. The weekend kicks of Friday evening with a presentation by Ticonderoga Town Historian William G. Dolback on “Historic Ticonderoga in Pictures.” Dolback is also President of the Ticonderoga Historical Society and leading local efforts to commemorate the 250th anniversary of the first settler in Ticonderoga in 1764.

Registration for the War College is $145 for the weekend ($125 for members of the Friends of Fort Ticonderoga). Registration forms can be downloaded from the Fort’s website under the “Explore and Learn” tab by selecting “Life Long Learning” on the drop down menu and then clicking on the War College. A printed copy is also available upon request by contacting Rich Strum, Director of Education, at 518-585-6370.

Fort Ti to Host Conference on Lake George, Champlain


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Fort Ticonderoga will a conference on Lake George and Lake Champlain on August 11-12, 2012 that will explore the history, geography, culture, ecology, and current issues related to the Lake George and Lake Champlain region.

The conference will include sessions exploring the 18th-, 19th-, and 20th-century history of Lake George-Lake Champlain region, examining the works of 19th- and 20th-century photographers, and detailing current issues of concern related to the ecological well-being of these two important lakes.

Programs include a history strand looking at the 1758 “Sunken Fleet” in Lake George by noted underwater archaeologist Joseph Zarzynski and the Steamer Ticonderoga that sailed on Lake Champlain from 1906-1953 by Curator Chip Stulen from Shelburne Museum. Chapman Museum Director Timothy Weidner will discuss the works of Seneca Ray Stoddard related to Lake Champlain while photographer Mark Bowie talks about the photographic works of his grandfather Richard Dean of Dean Color.

SUNY Plattsburgh geologist David Franzi will talk about how the glaciers of the last ice age formed today’s Lake Champlain Basin. Meg Modley, from the Lake Champlain Basin Program, provides an update on the current battle against invasive species in both lakes, and Emily DeBolt from the Lake George Association, talks about lake-friendly landscaping techniques.

Fort Ticonderoga recently received a grant from the South Lake Champlain Fund of the Vermont Community Foundation to support the conference and has also received programming support from the Lake George Association.

Registration for the conference is now open. A downloadable conference brochure is available online.

You can also receive a printed version by contacting Rich Strum, Director of Education, at Fort Ticonderoga, at rstrum@fort-ticonderoga.org or at 518-585-6370.

The Battle on Snowshoes Event at Fort Ticonderoga


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A living history event at Fort Ticonderoga highlighting Major Robert Rogers and the Battle of Snowshoes will be held on Saturday, March 10 from 10 am – 4 pm. Visitors will be able to encounter the French Garrison in the middle of winter inside Fort Ticonderoga and tour through opposing pickets of British rangers and French soldiers adapted to frontier, winter warfare. At 1 pm on Saturday, visitors will experience the hectic tree to tree fighting in a recreated battle during which the rangers make a stand against superior numbers, only to retreat through the deep woods.

Visitors will be invited to tour Fort Ticonderoga as it appeared in the winter of 1758, meet the French and Indians who overwhelmed Roger’s experienced woodsmen, and see how native and French soldiers survived the deep winter at this remote military post. More adventurous visitors can take a hike led by a historic interpreter through the opposed pickets of soldiers in the deep woods. In these tours visitors can see how rangers kept a vigilant watch for subtle signs that might reveal their ferocious enemy.

“The Battle on Snowshoes event recreates the savage fight between Robert Roger’s rangers, and a mixed French force of regular soldiers, milice, and allied native warriors on March 13, 1758,” said Stuart Lilie, Director of Interpretation at Fort Ticonderoga. “This event is designed to be a rich experience for both participants and visitors alike.”

Re-enactors portraying French soldiers and native allies will live inside the period furnished barracks rooms of Fort Ticonderoga. They will recreate the winter garrison for Fort Carillon, as it was known until 1759. Just as in the March of 1758 these re-enactors will sortie out from the Fort to meet and overwhelm Roger’s men.

Major Robert Rogers force of both volunteers from the 27th foot, and his own rangers headed out on an extended scout from Fort Edward along Lake George, following an attack on a similar patrol from Captain Israel Putnam’s Connecticut rangers. Hiking on snowshoes due to the three feet of snow, the tracks of Roger’s force were spotted on its march up the west side of Lake George. Near the north end of Lake George, Major Rogers, advanced scouts spotted their French counterparts. Rogers and his Rangers took up positions in a ravine, setting his force in ambuscade to await whatever French patrol would come to meet him.

The French patrol that met Roger’s men proved far larger than he imagined, and in this Battle on Snowshoes, the rangers’ ambush was itself surrounded and overwhelmed. In deep woods on deep snow, the rangers were forced to retreat with heavy casualties as the French regulars, malice, and natives pressed home their attack. Despite stands along the way, this retreat quickly became chaotic as rangers, Roger’s included, ran for their lives from superior numbers of French.

Illustration from Gary S Zaboly‘s “A True Ranger: The Life and Many Wars of Major Robert Rogers” (Garden City Park, NY: Royal Blockhouse, 2004).

The Hulett Hotel Fire on Lake George


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The rise of local and specialist history publishers such as Arcadia and History Press has been a boon to local history and an opportunity part-time writers and historians to have their work published outside the vanity press. One of those part-timers is George Kapusinski, long time denizen of Huletts Landing on Lake George and publisher of The Huletts Current blog. His second effort for History Press (his previous work Huletts Landing on Lake George was published by Arcadia) has just been published, and it’s a fascinating and well-written account of the devastating fire at the Hulett Hotel 1915. Even more revealing is the well-researched tale of the trial held in the aftermath of the fire.

Broken into 12 chapters, which include short, readable and informative sub-chapters, The Hulett Hotel Fire on Lake George (History Press, 2012) features a set of unique photos of the events surrounding the fire and the fire’s aftermath, only recently discovered taped to the back of an Abe Lincoln lithograph. But this is more than the tale of the fire and the rebuilt hotel’s preeminence among early 20th century Lake George resorts. After the hotel was rebuilt, a mysterious figure claimed that the hotel’s owner, William H. Wyatt, had paid him to start the fire. Kapusinski investigates the resultant arson trial in detail, including the burning of Wyatt’s former Glenwood Hotel just three years earlier at Lake Bomoseen.

In a wide ranging narrative, Kapusinski takes us into the time period, explores the places (including Wyatt’s Trojan Hotel in Troy where he was arrested), and explores the motives and character of the those involved. A great read.

Note: Books noticed on this site have been provided by the publishers. Purchases made through this Amazon link help support this site.

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.

Lake George Shipwrecks and Sunken History


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A new book, Lake George Shipwrecks and Sunken History, was published this spring by The History Press. Written by Joseph W. Zarzynski and Bob Benway, the book is a collection their columns previously published in the Lake George Mirror along with additional material. Zarzynski and Benway helped establish Bateaux Below, which works to preserve shipwreck sites in Lake George.

The depths of Lake George hold an incredible world of shipwrecks and lost history. Zarzynski and archeological diver Bob Benway present the most intriguing discoveries among more than two hundred known shipwreck sites. Entombed are remnants of Lake George’s important naval heritage, such as the 1758 Land Tortoise radeau, considered America’s oldest intact warship. Other wrecks include the steam yacht Ellide, and excursion boat Scioto, and the first Minne-Ha-Ha (including some new findings). Additional stories include an explanation behind the 1926 disappearance of two hunters, John J. Eden and L. D. Greene, of Middletown, and pieces on the lake’s logging history and marine railways.

Note: Books noticed on this site have been provided by the publishers. Purchases made through this Amazon link help support this site.

New NY Military History: Empires in the Mountains


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Meeting Russell Bellico, as I did briefly several years ago, you’d think you were in the presence of an old sea captain spending his retirement in the softer wind and spray of Lake George. You’d be surprised to know that he spent 35 years in the economics department at Westfield State College in Massachusetts.

You’d be glad to hear that Bellico spent his time away from Westfield at Lake George, where as a summer resident he invested himself in local history. He has spent over three decades photographing shipwrecks and historic sites on Lake George and Lake Champlain. He served as a consultant on the National Park Service’s Champlain Valley Heritage Corridor, a trustee of the Lake George Battlefield Park Alliance, and a board member of Bateaux Below, the organization founded by the archaeological team (which included Bellico) that documented the 1758 radeau Land Tortoise which lies underwater at the southern end of Lake George.

Bellico is the author of a score or more articles and five books on the maritime and military history of Lake George and Lake Champlain published by Purple Mountain Press. His first two projects were Chronicles of Lake George (1995) and Chronicles of Lake Champlain (1999). Both were aptly subtitled Journeys in War and Peace, as they were mostly drawn from primary sources by diaries, journals, and other early first hand accounts.
His third major effort, Sails and Steam in the Mountains: A Maritime and Military History of Lake George and Lake Champlain, earned a place as the go-to resource on the region’s maritime history.

His interest in boots on the ground history has no doubt contributed to some of Bellico’s most unique contributions to the region’s history – his careful looks at what remains. For example, Bellico weaves together histories of not just the events (through archaeology, primary sources, and first hand accounts) but of what remains of those events on the landscape.

Bellico’s latest effort, Empires in the Mountains: French and Indian War Campaigns and Forts in the Lake Champlain, Lake George, and Hudson River Corridor, is the fruit of three decades of the author’s work to understand the military and maritime importance of the region. His first volume to focus entirely on the campaigns and forts of the Great Warpath during the French & Indian War (1754-1763), Empires in the Mountains covers the epic battles of the war in the lake valleys, as well as the building of the fortresses and battleships in Northern New York’s wilderness.

And true to his authoritative and thorough style, Bellico explores this history with one eye toward what happened after those great events of 350 years ago. He reviews the history of the abandonment, the excavations, and the exploitation of French and Indian War sites from Bloody Pond (which Bellico seems to suggest may in fact be correctly marked on Route 9 south of Lake George) and Fort Gage (bulldozed by a local developer avoiding APA oversight) to the more popular spots like Fort Ticonderoga, Fort Edward, Fort William Henry, and Fort George.

It’s that concluding epilogue, “Forts Revisited” that is perhaps the most valuable chapter of the book for local historians, and those interested in how we remember, and exploit, local history. For that chapter alone, this book belongs on the shelf of those interested in local history, regardless of your particular interest in the French and Indian War.

Note: Books noticed on this site have been provided by the publishers. Purchases made through this Amazon link help support this site.

The Two Hendricks: A Mohawk Indian Mystery


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In September 1755 the most famous Indian in the world was killed in the Bloody Morning Scout that launched the Battle of Lake George. His name was Henderick Peters Theyanooguin in English, but he was widely known as King Hendrick. In an unfortunate twist of linguistic and historical fate, he shared the same first name as another famous Native American, Hendrick Tejonihokarawa, who although about 30 years his senior, was also famous in his own right. He was one of the “Four Indian Kings” who became a sensation in London in 1710, meet Queen Anne, and was wined and dined as an international celebrity.

Both Hendricks were Mohawk warriors. Both were Christians who aided Great Britain against France in their struggles for empire. Both served as important sachems who stressed cooperation instead of bloody confrontation and who helped negotiate the relationship between their fellow Mohawks and European colonials who recognized that the Iroquois Confederacy was critical to the balance of power in early 18th century America. Both Hendricks, were later confused by historians into one man. Eric Hinderaker’s The Two Hendricks: Unraveling a Mohawk Mystery sets out to unearth the lives of these two important Mohawk men and untangle their stories from a confused history of colonial Native American relations.

King Hendrick (1692-1755), whose death in battle and burial place are memorialized in almost forgotten ground along the highway between Glens Falls and Lake George Village, was already famous at the time of the Bloody Morning Scout (the same attack that claimed the life of Ephraim Williams, founder of Williams College). The year before he died he gave an important speech at the Albany Congress of 1754. His death during the French and Indian War in the cause of British Empire however, propelled his fame and ships and taverns were named in his honor abroad.

The earlier Hendrick (c.1660-c.1735) took part in King Williams War, including the failed attempt to launch an all-out invasion of Canada in retaliation for Frontiac’s raid in February 1690 which destroyed Schenectady. He was among the Mohawks of Tiononderoge (the Lower Castle), who were swindled out of their lands along the Mohawk by their colonial neighbors.

Part of the value of The Two Hendricks, however, lies not only in its untangling of the two men, but also in coming to grips with the ways in which the swindling often worked both ways. Hendrick, a common Dutch name equivalent to Henry, was just one part of their names, but Mohawk names comprise the other part. Hinderaker demonstrates that both Hendricks gave as well as they got in building alliances, fame, and power that left them among the most famous Native Americans in history.

Photo Above: Henderick Peters Theyanooguin (King Hendrick), wearing the English coat he wore on public occasions and his distinctive facial tattoo. This print published just after his death and titled “The brave old Hendrick, the great Sachem or Chief of the Mohawk Indians” is considered the most accurate likeness of the man.

Photo Below: Hendrick Tejonihokarawa, one of the “Four Indian Kings” who traveled to London in 1710 The print, by John Verelst, is entitled “Tee Yee Neen Ho Ga Row, Emperor of the Six Nations.” The title “Emperor” was a bit of a stretch, he belonged to the council of the Mohawk tribe, but not to that of the Iroquois Confederacy as a whole.

Note: Books noticed on this site have been provided by the publishers. Purchases made through this Amazon link help support this site.

Rogers Rangers Challenge Set For June 13th


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The Rogers Rangers Challenge has been resurrected by its original co-founder, Dr. Dave Bannon and Rogers Island Visitors Center. The original Challenge began in 1991 and ended in 2001. The run, paddle, bike triathlon starts at the Hogtown trailhead on Buck Mountain in the Town of Fort Ann at 8:00 am on Sunday June 13th. Registration for the Challenge is due by May 23rd. This race is dedicated to the memory of Major Robert Rogers and his Independent Company of Rangers who lived on Rogers Island at Fort Edward during the French and Indian War.

A 7-½ mile run starts at the Hogtown trailhead over Buck Mountain and ends at the Fort Ann Beach on Lake George. The 3-mile canoe/kayak goes from the beach to Dome Island on the lake and back to the beach where the bike trek starts. The bike portion of the race winds through beautiful Washington County and ends at Rogers Island Visitors Center on Rogers Island in Fort Edward.

This event can be done as a team or individually. Although it is not required entrants are encouraged to dress in period clothing. Eileen Hannay, manager of Rogers Island Visitors Center, explains: “The event is quite unique. Racers will find French & Indian War and Native American reenactors along the route as they experience some of the challenges the terrain offered Rogers Rangers more than 250 years ago.”

Mark Wright, one of the original co-founders and an Army Major will be coming from Maine to participate in the challenging event. Dr. Bannon explains: “The most difficult part of this triathlon is the run down Buck Mountain towards Fort Ann Beach. The going is steep and rough with many obstacles.”

Registration forms can be found at www.rogersisland.org. For more information call Rogers Island Visitors Center at 518-747-3693.

The Rogers Rangers Challenge is sponsored by: Adirondack Trust Company, Ferring Pharmaceuticals, Glens Falls National Bank and The Anvil Inn Restaurant. Proceeds for this event benefit Rogers Island Visitors Center.

Candidate Forum For Historic Abenaki Election


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Denise Watso, a descendant of the legendary Abenaki Chief Louis Watso who lived in Lake George Village for a time and figures prominently in Native American life there in the 19th century, sent the following press release about an upcoming candidate forum in Albany tomorrow, October 24th.

This is a significant event in the history of the Abenaki Nation. It was only within this decade that the substantial membership of the Odanak Abenaki First Nation living in the Albany metro area have been able to vote for their chief and council members. This is the first election in which off-reserve Abenaki are able to run for office as well as vote.

Here is the press release:

The Capitol District will host one of three forums for Abenaki voters to hear directly from candidates for Chief and Council of the Odanak Abenaki First Nation. The forum will be held from 12-4 PM, Saturday, October 24 at the German-American Club, 32 Cherry Street, Albany, NY 12205. This is an exciting time in the history of the Abenaki people – all Abenaki enrolled at Odanak are invited and encouraged to attend with their families.

Two additional forums will be held during the election season at Sudbury, Ontario, and on-reserve at Odanak. Elections will be held Saturday, November 28, 2009, although voters may also cast their ballots by mail.

The Abenaki are the aboriginal people associated with homelands in much of northern New England and adjacent parts of New York, Massachusetts and Quebec, as well as with the Odanak (Saint Francis) and Wôlinak (Becancour) reserves in central Quebec (and historically with the Penobscot Nation in Maine, too). Abenaki derives from Wabanaki (“people from where the sun rises,” “people of the east,” or “people of the dawn”), and this latter term is often used in a general sense to refer collectively to the Mi’kmaq, Malecite, Passamaquoddy, Penobscot and Abenaki peoples.

While many Abenaki have been thought of as “Saint Francis Indians,” living at Odanak, in truth many Abenaki families have maintained part-time or full-time residence within their homelands south of the border continuously since the American Revolution. In fact, the first election held by the Odanak First Nation under the Indian Act, the legislation regulating aboriginal affairs in Canada, occurred January 18, 1876, after many Abenaki (and their Indian Agent) complained that the three chiefs serving the community at the time – Louis Watso, Solomon Benedict and Jean Hannis – were away from the reserve so often that two additional chiefs were required to ensure adequate representation. (The aged chief Louis Watso was actually living at Lake George, where a good deal of his family resided.) Samuel Watso and Lazare Wawanolett were chosen from a field of six candidates, and elections for office have been held at regular intervals ever since.

Abenaki history on the upper Hudson dates to at least the late 17th century when many ancestors of the modern Abenaki people lived at Schaghticoke, near the mouth of the Hoosic River. Continuing Abenaki presence in New York State is attested to by such notable 19th century Adirondack Abenaki as Sabael Benedict, Mitchell Sabattis, and the late 19th/early 20th century Indian Encampments at Saratoga Springs, Lake George and Lake Luzerne were primarily occupied by Abenaki. Despite a lack of recognition by the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs, these Abenaki families have persisted within and beyond their homelands: today, the Albany metro region is a major Abenaki population center. Other significant concentrations of Abenaki people are located in Waterbury, CT; Newport, VT; and Sudbury, Ontario.

This will be the second time that a formal forum for candidates for Chief and Council has been held in Albany. Approximately 60 people attended a similar event two years ago, and an even higher turn-out is expected this weekend. Off-reserve Abenaki were not allowed to vote in Odanak’s election until after the Supreme Court of Canada’s 1999 Corbiere ruling struck down the voter residency requirement of Canada’s Indian Act.

The importance of the off-reserve vote has been increasing with each passing election. This election, however, may bring about even greater change as it will be the first time since the Indian Act was enacted that off-reserve Abenaki will be eligible to accept a nomination for office (per the 2007 Federal Court of Appeals’ Esquega decision). The potential impact of this development places an even greater spotlight on the role of off-reserve voters in the civic affairs of the Abenaki Nation.

It is also a point of pride for many Abenaki who think of both Odanak and the Albany area as home. Susan Marshall, a lifelong resident of Albany and Rensselaer, is looking forward to attending the candidate’s forum and voting for her first time. “I just wish my mom (Mary Jane Nagazoa) was here to see this, knowing how proud she would be.”

Fort Ticonderoga Facing Financial Ruin


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Fort Ticonderoga President Peter S. Paine Jr. has suggested in a memo forwarded to the Plattsburgh Press Republican that the historic site (a veteran of the French and Indian and American Revolutionary wars as well as the War of 1812) has seven options to avoid permanent closure, none of them good.

Paine wrote in the memo that “the fort is running through its available endowment funds to pay the Mars Education Center bills, and, in the absence of a major infusion of funds, the fort will be essentially broke by the end of 2008.”


His options include applying for new short-term loans (perhaps from the Essex County Industrial Development Agency), banking on a new capital campaign to raise $3 million to $5 million (Paine had said the Fort needed 2.5 million), asking the state for a bailout or to take over ownership of the fort, selling some of the fort’s property or collections (it holds paintings worth millions, including Thomas Cole’s 1831 “Ruins of Fort Ticonderoga,” but its ownership is in dispute) or closing for an indefinite period until the finances are sorted out.

Paine’s proposals come after a year of chaos at the fort began when Deborah Mars, a Ticonderoga native married to the billionaire co-owner of the Mars candy company Forrest Mars Jr., bailed on their long-time support for the fort just before completion of the new $23 million Deborah Clarke Mars Education Center. The Mars paid for nearly all of the new building’s construction but left before it was finished leaving Fort Ti about a million dollars in debt. When the building bearing their name opened this month, they didn’t show. Mr. Mars said disagreements with fort’s Executive Director Nicholas Westbrook were the reason why. Paine replaced Deborah Mars as the fort’s president.

A newly released study of Revolution War and War of 1812 sites by the National Park Service [pdf] points to the problem of private ownership of some America’s most important heritage sites:

Nonprofit organizations dedicated to preserving, maintaining, and interpreting their historic properties own all or portions of 100 Principal Sites [identified by the report]. Ownership of four Principal Sites is unknown currently. Private owners still control most of the Principal Sites, especially the battlefields and associated properties made up of large land areas. Privately owned sites or portions of sites are without any known form of enforceable legal protection. Many private owners maintain and care for their historic properties, but without legally mandated protection, the properties could be damaged or destroyed at any time.

Fort Ticonderoga had already been identified in the report as a Priority I (“these sites need immediate preservation or may be lost by 2017″) facing a “medium” level of threat. The threat is real for the already economically depressed Adirondack region of New York State, and the locals are restless.

A Short History of Fort Carillon / Fort Ticonderoga

The fort located at the north-south choke-point between Lake George and Lake Champlain was ordered built by French Governor-General Vaudreuil (the French Governor of Canada) as the southernmost fort of the French Empire in the New World as a bulwark in anticipation of attacks on Fort St. Frederic and the French settlements at today’s Crown Point, New York (currently being excavated) and Chimney Point, Vermont. Named Fort Carillon, it was built by soldiers and settlers in 1755-56. The following year French General Montcalm used Carillon as a base to attack British Fort William Henry at the southern end of Lake George. In 1758, British General Abercromby led an overwhelming British and Colonial Army in a attack on the fort that ended disastrously. American colonial forces under Benedict Arnold and Ethan Allen took the poorly manned fort in the opening engagements of the American Revolution without a fight in 1775. It was retaken by Gentleman Johnny Burgoyne in 1777. Native Americans from the Algonquin, French Mohawk, Huron, and Nippissings are among those associated with the history of the fort.

It is considered one of America’s oldest heritage tourism sites with tourists arriving in numbers in the 1830s (by way of comparison, the Hasbrouck House, George Washington’s headquarters at Newburgh, NY, became the first historic house museum in the United States in 1850). In 1783, George Washington visited the Fort with New York’s Governor Clinton. Following the Revolution New York State granted the Fort and its surrounding grounds to Columbia and Union Colleges. In 1791 future presidents Thomas Jefferson and James Madison both visited the fort.

William Ferris Pell purchased 546 acres containing the ruined fort in 1820, but it wasn’t opened to the public until 1908. The non-profit Fort Ticonderoga Association took control in the 1930s and members of the Pell family formally loaned many of the paintings and artifacts to the fort in the 1940s. Mount Independence, the high ground on the Vermont side of Lake Champlain where many colonial troops were encamped during occupation of the fort is under the care of the Vermont Division for Historic Preservation. The ruins at nearby Crown Point are a New York State Historic Site.

This post also appeared at Adirondack Almanack, the premiere blog of the culture, politics, history, and environment of the Adirondacks.