201-Year-Old Desk Returns to Chateaugay

March 22, 2023 | Mick Jarvis

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201 years after local resident, George Jordan, built this Butler's Secretary, it is back in Chateaugay! It was brought upstairs in the Town Hall to the Chateaugay Historical Society's Archival Center.

It was donated to our group by the Potsdam Public Museum, who offered us the piece so that it could return "home". We thank them for their generosity and thoughtfulness.

As you look through the images, you will notice the many intricate details of the desk. It features a drop-down drawer front that serves as the writing surface, storage drawers and cubbies. All drawers are assembled with dovetail or box joint corners. All of the fixtures and drop-down mechanism are brass. The ball and claw feet (which first appeared on furniture during the 1700s) are topped with a fluted crown.

There is also a small door in the center of the interior pigeonholes, with writing that reads: "This Secretary was made by George Jordan in the Town of Chateaugay in the year of 1822 and sold to James J. Jordan in 1909 (87 years from the time it was made)".

The desk appears to have been built of poplar. All exterior surfaces are covered with what looks to be a mahogany veneer.

More research on the desk and its construction is underway. The closer we look, the more detail we find...

News coverage about the piece returning home can be found in the following links:

WWNYTV - 7 News. “Potsdam museum donates 200-year-old desk”. 2023 Mar 14

The Malone Telegram. “Potsdam returns antique desk to Chateaugay”. 2023 Mar 24

Chateaugay Memories

January 7, 2023 | Mick Jarvis

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I was recently doing some local research using the issues of the Chateaugay Record from the mid-50s through the mid-60s. After reading through so many newspapers as I took notes, I found myself sitting back and thinking about being a kid during that time.

I think there was no better place for a kid to grow up. I remember so many great times like: sitting on Mose Humiston’s store steps and drinking the big Royal Crown Colas or buying some of his penny candy, Peterson’s and playing pitch in the booths while being yelled at by Evie Franklin for making too much noise and the way the place was always filled to bursting after basketball games, fishing, fishing, and more fishing, the original Jake’s Michigan stand down on West Main, the Skyliner and listening to the “Falcons” and so many other bands, Barnes’ at the Lake (most recently the Lakesider), the Valley Inn, Billy’s Grill, the Gay Bar, the hotel with Patsy Cline blasting on the juke box and all the other bars we were sometimes thrown out of for not having “proof” (and other times not even being checked), Larry Cook and I sitting in Peterson's and drinking Mountain Dew the first day it was ever available here after we had finished work for the day with the "Youth Corps", putting coins on the railroad tracks for the train to flatten as it passed through town, Bernie Mills' diner in the rail car next to the bank, Paulie Jackson’s Pool Hall, tentatively exploring the Old School which sat cold and empty at the end of Church Street, riding our bikes up to Doug Bova’s store and eating a Sealtest ice cream sandwich while we watched the train go through, the Teen Center, parties at the Dew Drop Inn at the Chasm, camping and building forts up along the Boardman, Quinlan’s with the best meals and pie around, Joe Rovelle running the bowling alley and setting pins there (for a short while), endless baseball games each summer up at the “Old School” after the building was torn down, swimming in “Devil’s Hole”, movies at the theater and Pug McCarthy patrolling the aisles with his flashlight, and so many other great memories.

On Friday and Saturday nights in the ‘50s and early ‘60s, people came to town to do their weekly shopping. Many would park downtown just to sit in their cars with the windows rolled down and visit with all the folks on the street as they moved from store to store. Those things really cemented the bonds between people and made for a tight-knit little community.

Practically everybody had a nickname, like: Hambone, Gizmo, Mose, Bugsy, Sky, Fish, Cannonball, Pug, Gramp, Red, Tarzan, Doc, Pin, Puddy, Didi, Frenchie, Chief, Twine, and, literally, hundreds of others… Back then communities were much less transient than today. With the Lyon Mountain mines, the milk plant, family farms and all of the local businesses, employment was always available and many generations remained where they were raised and there seemed to be so much more connectedness and strong sense of community. In a town like Chateaugay, which tends to foster strong, heartfelt connections anyway, that sense of belonging and “connectedness” led to longstanding familiarity and the nicknames just followed.

The way Chateaugay always has and always will connect so deeply with people is proof of how special it is. This is the ideal hometown…guess that’s why I’m still here.

Chateaugay definitely has changed from the “old days”; lots of vacant buildings, much less activity in the center of the village and new, sometimes more transient, families. But at its core, it still is the same small town that created so many great memories. There are some who live here now that don't know of the memories we carry but there are still many more who do. At its heart, Chateaugay remains pretty special with lots of stories to be remembered, appreciated and told…

Here Comes Winter

November 14, 2022 | Mick Jarvis

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With a bit of snow forecast for the middle of the week, I thought we would look a little farther into winter. This photo was brought into the Archival Center by Edith Lopardo.

It is undated but was taken at the rink on River Street before the new school was built.

Note how the ladies are clad in dress coats and hats as they watch the skaters.

Remembering Father Donald Gallagher

October 9, 2022 | Mick Jarvis

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Father Donald Gallagher was pastor of St. Patrick's Church from 1954, following the untimely death of Father Ambrose Hyland, until his death in 1959.

He graduated from Notre Dame University. He was the Senior Class president there. He was ordained in Rome and served throughout the North Country before coming to Chateaugay.

He served in the Pacific Theater in the US Navy during WWII.

I remember he lay in state in St. Patrick's Church prior to his funeral and we school kids were allowed to attend to pay our respects.

The images included in this post are his official pastoral portrait from St. Patrick's, the page of tribute in the CCS yearbook from the spring of 1960, photos from his Notre Dame yearbook, and a photo taken 20 years after his Notre Dame graduation and just before his commission as a First Lieutenant in the US Navy.

I remember him to have been very kind and caring. He and Father Igo were my favorites as a kid.

2022 Exhibit Addendum: Arthur F. Tait, Artist

August 26, 2022 | Mick Jarvis

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As many of you know, the Historical Society’s summer exhibit, “Early Chateaugay Lake”, is currently on display each Wednesday and Saturday morning from 9:00am until noon in the Archival Center in the Town Hall. We have been gratified by the large numbers of folks who have stopped in and offered kind words for our efforts.

We have covered several topics, including: the Natural History of the Lakes, the Native American presence on the Sand Bar and Indian Point, Early Schools, Early Transportation Development, The Bellows House (later the Banner House), the Earliest Settlers and more.

One of the larger parts of the display are the paintings and lithographs of scenes captured by Arthur Fitzwilliam Tait that are set in the area around the Upper and Lower Lakes (see the first photo above).

Tait did hundreds of paintings throughout his long career. Many were done when he was a guest at the Bellows House (later the Banner House) each summer from 1851 to 1855. The seven shown in our exhibit were always identified as being set in the Lakes area.

As shown in the exhibit and in the photo, they are from left to right: “A Second Shot: Still Hunting in the First Snow in the Chateaugay Forest” (lithograph below it), “A Tight Fix” (lithograph below it), “Arguing the Point—Settling the Presidency” (lithograph below it), “Return from Hunting: the Halt in the Woods: a Scene near Chateaugay Lake, Franklin County, N. Y” and “With Great Care” (both of these images are of Tait’s original oil paintings, no lithographs were ever made of these two works), “Winter Sports: Trout Fishing on Chateaugay Lake” (lithograph below it), and last, on the far right is the lithograph of “Sugaring Off: Forest Scene in Early Spring” (We were unable to find an image of Tait’s original oil painting of this scene, only the lithograph. The original oil is most likely in a private collection somewhere.)

I have been continuing my research on Tait and believe I have come upon one more of his scenes from the Lakes. More on that painting shortly…

Tait was unusual, some might call him eccentric, in his approach to his paintings. He is known to have painted several versions of the same scene. For example, there is one work of two men in a canoe entitled “Deer Driving-A Good Chance” (and other variations of the title), that he painted twelve different versions of—each subtly different from the other. He was also known to have done preliminary sketches of scenes but not to have done a completed painting until several years later.

Some of his works were reproduced as lithographs by Currier and Ives and some were not. The lithograph could be very true to the painted image or it could be an interpretation of his work with dramatic changes in scene, tone, and content. The framed scenes in our exhibit clearly show the differences between his paintings and the lithographic prints. And, sometimes, Currier and Ives produced several lithographic versions of the same scene. They also reproduced some of their lithographs with noticeable differences in color or tinting.

One of my favorite Tait paintings is not set at the lakes but I wanted to share it here. This work was painted in the mid-1870s and his notes never identified its inspiration nor location. This original oil painting of freshly caught Brook (or Speckled) trout and the subsequent lithographs done of it have always appealed to me.

Following the photo of the wall of our exhibit in this post, is a group of images that show his original trout painting, followed by three versions of the same scene done by Currier and Ives. In one case, they only changed the color tint from lithograph to lithograph, and in the other, they changed up the images of the trout, keeping a sense of the original image composition but making the fish look quite different.

Incidentally, this trout image is thought to have been the last painting Tait allowed Currier and Ives to lithograph, as he had come to believe that the availability of the lithographic versions was devaluing his original works.

Now back to Chateaugay Lake… The last group of images above were done in the early to mid-1850s, when Tait was staying at the Bellows House. They are set in the lakes area. The first three images appear to be exactly the same. However, when examined closely, they all have subtle differences; there is a slight change in the man’s features in some of the three and, if you look at the dead tree tops at the left center of the three images, you can see small differences in the way he painted the branches. These images were all entitled: “A Hunter’s Dilemma” and were painted between 1851 and 1853. Then, in 1854, he took the theme of the first three versions and changed it up. He retitled it “Huntsman with Deer, Horse and Rifle” and set his hunter in much the same setting; with a deer on a rock face, but with a horse for transportation instead of the hunter seemingly being on foot in the other versions. All four of these variations were oil on canvas paintings but the last was larger than the first three. The respective sizes were: 31” x 44”, 34” x 44”, 35’ x 45” and 44” x 54”.

In any event, I believe this final scene (or scenes) were set at Chateaugay Lake. So, whether looking at one of the versions of “A Hunter’s Dilemma” or at “A Huntsman with Deer, Horse and Rifle”, you are looking at what, I think, becomes the eighth Tait work set in the Chateaugay Lakes area.

AF Tait was a prolific artist with a wide range of preferred subjects, from hunting and fishing scenes, to landscapes, game animals, farm animals, and images of the west (where he also spent much time over the years).

The British-born Tait became an American citizen and embraced the availability of natural-world imagery his new homeland had to offer.

Remembering William Cullen

June 15, 2022 | Mick Jarvis

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We learned that Mr. William Cullen passed away on May 21. He taught English at CCS from 1947 through 1964. He will be remembered by his Chateaugay students from those years as an excellent teacher and exemplary man.

Rest in peace, sir.

View Online Obituary Here

Population Changes in Chateaugay

April 24, 2022 | Mick Jarvis

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Just looking through the 2020 US Census data for Chateaugay…

Village population was recorded as 735. That is down from 833 in 2010 (a 12.4% decrease). The entire Town's population was recorded as 1,743. That is down from 2,155 in 2010 (a 19% drop).

A Few Notes:

The population decreases since 2010 are not particularly surprising in light of lower resident numbers throughout the entire North Country.

735 residents represents the Village's lowest number of residents since 1880. The village was incorporated in 1868 with an estimated population of 1100. It was at its largest in 1920, when 1291 people lived inside the Village limits.

The 19% drop in the Town's population is deceptive. For the 2010 count, the Correctional Facility in Chateaugay was operating with approximately 250 inmates counted in the 2010 total. The facility, which was opened in 1990 as a drug treatment facility, was closed on July 24, 2014. Therefore, the 2020 count shows the loss of the inmate numbers (which inflates the percentage of the decrease) but also represents an additional, approximate population drop of 160 local residents.

The Town's largest population ever, was in 1850 when 3,728 residents were counted in the Census. That coincided with the opening of the Northern Railroad (later known as the Ogdensburg and Lake Champlain RR, and later, as the Rutland RR). The 30 years following the opening of the train route represented Chateaugay's heyday as the economic fallout from the railroad led to a time of increased business activity and rising employment opportunities. At one time, the Chateaugay freight depot was the busiest on the entire line which stretched from Ogdensburg to Rouses Point.

Above are images of the village and surrounding area. The first is from an 1876 map. The second is from Google Earth in 2022.

Pine Lodge

February 13, 2022 | Mick Jarvis

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Chateaugay Lake was noted for several resorts during the 1800s. The Banner House, the Merrill House, Indian Point, the Sunset Inn and the Owlyout were the most recognized names (they were known by other labels over the years, as well).

In addition to those well-known, major hotels, there were a number of private camps that became quite familiar to the public and were frequently referred to, both in conversation and in writings about the Lake.

One of those prominent camps was built by John M. Humphrey, a leading citizen of Churubusco. He was one of the earlier settlers of that area and became a prominent businessman. In addition to his own businesses, he formed a partnership with Albert D. Boomhower. Together they ran mercantile and creamery operations.

In 1884, their partnership extended to the construction of a large camp on the eastern shore of Upper Chateaugay Lake. Shortly after, a falling out between the two, led Humphrey to sell his share to Boomhower.

In 1886, Humphrey bought property on the back side of the Upper Lake from the Chateaugay Ore and Iron Company. This land was near the south inlet and the building materials had to be brought over the ice in the winter as no roads were ever (nor are now) extended that far down the back side of the Upper Lake.

The camp had six rooms, all finished and trimmed out. It had lath and plaster walls and was as “modern” and well-appointed as any 1886 home would be.

He called the camp “Pine Lodge” and that name remains on it today.

Pictured above: a portrait of John M. Humphrey and two photos I took of the camp while ice fishing on the Upper Lake in 2006. The photos clearly show how well maintained the camp has been over the years.

I believe Pine Lodge is still owned by the Humphrey family.

Admiral Theodorus Bailey

January 7, 2022 | Mick Jarvis

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While I was researching in the Library of Congress archives yesterday, I came across a photograph of Chateaugay native, Theodorus Bailey (I have several Bailey portrait images in my files but had never seen this particular one).

He was born in Chateaugay on April 12, 1805. The family lived in the small farmhouse that is now behind Wendy’s Quick Stop on Depot Street. Theodorus was the son of early Chateaugay settler and land speculator, Judge William Bailey. He joined the US Navy at the age of thirteen, and was warranted as a midshipman.

He served for forty-eight years, rising to the rank of Rear Admiral. He sailed around the world several times during his career and was the military official designated to accept the surrender of the city of New Orleans during the Civil War.

He is buried in Oak Hill Cemetery in Georgetown, Washington D.C.

The Chateaugay post of Civil War veterans, the Grand Army of the Republic or GAR, was renamed in his honor in 1890.

The first photo above is the one I came across while looking through the LOC archives. It was taken by renowned Civil War photographer, Matthew Brady. The second image is of the oil portrait of the Admiral that hangs in the Chateaugay American Legion Post #875. This portrait was done by U.D. Tenney. The third photo is of the Bailey monument in Oak Hill Cemetery in Washington, D.C.

This is actually the second Tenney portrait presented to the local GAR post. The first was destroyed in the fire in January, 1893 which wiped out the north side of East Main Street between River and John Streets, including the meeting rooms of the GAR. Following the fire, one of the Admiral’s sons asked the artist for another portrait to present to the GAR post. The portrait below, which had been painted in 1892, was immediately packed up by Tenney and shipped to Chateaugay.

In 1929 when the local GAR post was disbanded (because only two very elderly Civil War veterans remained), the portrait was passed on to the local Legion.

This local oil painting was recently repaired and restored through a cooperative effort of the American Legion, the Chateaugay Rotary Club and the Chateaugay Historical Society.

Chateaugay’s history is surely filled with interesting personalities and events. Who knew there was a peripheral Chateaugay connection to Matthew Brady and a local-born Admiral in Chateaugay’s past?...

Church of St. Dismas

December 27, 2021 | Mick Jarvis

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I came across this photo (photo 1) of the Church of St. Dismas , or the Church of the Good Thief, which is behind the walls of Clinton Correctional Facility (perhaps more commonly known as the Dannemora Prison). It has a direct connection to Chateaugay. It was built under the leadership of Father Ambrose Hyland, a Chateaugay native and one-time pastor at St. Patrick's Church. It was built with inmate labor against strong odds. However, Father Hyland prevailed, and the construction was begun in 1939 and completed in 1941. It is the only freestanding church inside a prison in the U.S.

Two books tell the story of the church's creation (images 2 and 3). Unfortunately, both are out of print but can be found at used book shops and on eBay. The first is the Gates of Dannemora and the other is The Convict and the Stained Glass Windows about the inmate that crafted the church's windows.

The fourth image shows construction, the fifth is the interior, the sixth is the outside of the building and the last is the prayer grotto that was placed outside the church.

Here is a link to a YouTube video about the Church of St. Dismas...

Dominican Nuns in Chateaugay

December 8, 2021 | Mick Jarvis

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While Chateaugay did not have a Catholic school, there was a small convent of the Dominican Nuns (4-6 nuns at any one time) that were active in the community from 1953 to 1965. The nuns taught released-time religious classes, organized church activities, assisted the priests with church programs and services, and left quite a mark on the community.

The first Mother Superior was Sister Margaret Mary.

In working on research for an eventual article, we sought out local memories of the Dominicans. The following are what members of the Chateaugay community had to share on Facebook.

  • “Sadly I don't remember their names. My favorite sister had an artificial leg and a good sense of humor.”
  • “I remember sister Margaret Mary very well. I learned how to knit from the Dominican nuns!”
  • “I remember knitting lessons also, sitting on the stairs in the front entryway of the convent.”
  • “I remember them very well. I attended ‘summer ccd classes’ every summer at St Patrick’s. We would sometimes have art classes in their convent kitchen. I believe the house was on Depot Street but we always went there by taking a path from St Pat’s up through back yards to their house. Ironically, that same group of Dominican nuns ended up in Fall River, MA where they ran a school for kindergarten through eighth grade that was open until the late 1980’s. I belonged to a local glee club in Fall River and we rehearsed in their auditorium for many years. One of the singers in the Glee Club had been in the novitiate and spent a summer in Chateaugay with the sisters.”
  • “They were my across the street neighbors. My grandmother went to their evening knitting sessions once a week. While knitting everyone sampled the wine the sisters had received as Christmas presents. The next day there was a lot of ripping out to pick up dropped stitches.”
  • “I loved the nuns. They taught me how to knit.”
  • “I also remembered the Nuns when they lived on Depot Street.”
  • “I learned how to knit from the nuns too. And it is still one of my favorite pastime. I always looked forward to going there.”
  • “We attended religious classes 1/2 day during summer and at least once a week during the school sessions some in summer were outside”
  • “Spent many a day at the convent with the nuns. I also took knitting classes there and made slippers, and they taught me how to make pom poms.”
  • CCS 2021 Pearl Harbor Exhibit

    December 7, 2021 | Mick Jarvis

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    80 years ago, on December 7, 1941, Pearl Harbor was attacked by Japanese planes.

    To mark this anniversary, Mrs. Shannon McArdle and the Advanced English class at CCS have designed and placed an exhibit in the windows of the Library at the school.

    This annual commemoration was begun three years ago thanks to the sponsorship of Joseph Ryan, former Chateaugay resident and son of Pearl Harbor survivor, Joseph J. Ryan. The Historical Society is proud to collaborate with the students and staff in producing this exhibit each fall.

    If you are attending any events at the school during December, be sure to stop by the library and take in the display.

    Nathan Beman and the American Revolution

    December 2, 2021 | Mick Jarvis

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    This post is about the American Revolution but has a peripheral connection to Chateaugay. I have just finished rereading a book about Henry Knox entitled: General Henry Knox - Visionary General of the American Revolution by Mark Puls.

    Knox was a clerk in a Boston bookstore as a young man and developed an avid interest in military affairs. He read extensively and became very knowledgeable about artillery and its role in effective warfare. He eventually served in the colonial army and rose to the rank of general, having impressed General Washington with his mastery of military science.

    The Chateaugay connection to all this:

    On May 10, 1775, American troops commanded by Ethan Allen and Benedict Arnold, had captured Fort Ticonderoga from the English. Their guide was Nathan Beman, a young man from Shoreham, Vermont, just across Lake Champlain. Beman had spent much time at the fort, wandering through the grounds and visiting with the small contingent of British troops stationed there. Because of this familiarity with the grounds and the fort, his father, Samuel Beman, offered Nathan’s services to the colonial troops who were using the Beman tavern as a meeting place to plan the takeover of the fort.

    Nathan Beman would eventually become one of Chateaugay’s founders (along with his brother-in-law, Benjamin Roberts) in 1796.

    Beman described the takeover of Ticonderoga in a letter he sent to the Malone Palladium newspaper in May of 1835.

    Now, back to General Knox:

    Following the capture of the fort, Knox was tasked by General Washington with transporting the fifty-nine pieces of artillery from Ticonderoga to the highlands overlooking Boston. The British occupied the city and Washington believed if the cannon should be installed on Dorchester heights overlooking the city, the British would be forced to retreat.

    Knox directed his small contingent of men to dissemble the cannon and transport them over 300 miles to Boston. Using eighty teams of oxen and sleds, the men struggled with brutal cold and snow but made it to Boston over the next several weeks. The pieces were reassembled, positioned on the heights and the English departed the city. Knox’s “Noble Train of Artillery” had succeeded in its task.

    If you have an interest in Revolutionary War history, this book is an interesting and entertaining read. It illustrates both the extent of the American determination and George Washington’s skill at recognizing the abilities of the men in his command and utilizing those skills to the patriot advantage.

    This represents a Chateaugay-related story in the sense that one of our founders, Nathan Beman, played a very small role when the artillery was secured as Fort Ticonderoga was retaken by the Americans. This made the big pieces of armament available to drive the British from Boston early in the Revolution.

    Summer of '61

    October 2, 2021 | Mick Jarvis

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    June 1961 In Chateaugay

    Aside from Christmas, the last day of school each June was the most eagerly awaited day of the year when I was growing up. The sheer joy of peddling away from the CCS building and into the two months of summer vacation was very special. Like today, we were dismissed during the morning of that last day, so we began our vacation with almost a full day left to dive into summer activities and set the tone for the next two months.

    I had a summer job every year beginning the summer I turned fourteen, but my summer vacation in 1961 was an amazing time.

    As I left school on June 23, 1961, report card tucked in my back pocket, I peddled my 24” Schwinn as fast as I could. When I raced home to change from my “school clothes” into what my mother called my “play clothes”, I was already getting myself ready for the remainder of the day ahead.

    I remember mowing the lawn that day (that was only one of my jobs at home which also included taking my turn washing the dishes, making my bed and keeping my room picked up every day, shaking all the scatter rugs each week when my mother cleaned the house, shoveling in the winter, raking the yard in the fall, along with weeding the garden, all of which earned me an allowance). I was almost running as I pushed that old mower, trying to get it finished before I ate lunch.

    I scarfed down my sandwich, glass of milk and four Fig Newtons (that was the house limit when cookies were the dessert). I grabbed my fishing pole, some tackle, and worm can and headed out into the sunny afternoon. It had rained the day before and that evening I had grabbed my dad’s flashlight and had picked night crawlers which now filled the worm can.

    I rode my bike down Church Street and met up with David Sorrell at Doug Bova’s store next to the train station. Leaving our bikes there, we walked up the sidewalk, across the tracks to Benny Benjamin’s store on the corner of Lake and Collins Streets.

    Dave and I were always going on fishing adventures and that day we had a plan to fish the culvert that fed the Bailey Brook under the street. We fished the Bailey regularly where it ran through the village and we figured that there were some nice trout under that long, cool, stretch of water in the culvert. We could have stooped down and walked through it to fish but that would have spooked the trout.

    We had a plan that day. Dave had brought two cedar shakes off the roof of the shed in his back yard and we had a few small nails. The scheme was pretty simple, and probably against the fish and game regulations, but we put it into motion.

    The plan was to bait a hook and tack the line to the cedar shingle so that the worm trailed behind it by about a foot. One of us was to stay at the mouth of the culvert by Bennie’s and set the cedar shingle into the current. Then, with the reel bail open, line would be let out as the worm was carried through the culvert, past the huge trout we imagined were lurking there. The other one of us was to be at the other end of the culvert down by Bob Oliver’s Ford garage to intercept the shingle as it emerged from the culvert and, we hoped, a large fish on the hook.

    We used a rock to drive the small nail into the cedar and then bend it over to hold the line. After a few tries, we got the line secured and we were set to try it. I was to be the “receiver” at the other end for this first try, so off I raced across the street to get ready. The plan was that after I unhooked the line, Dave would reel it back in and set a line on the second shingle and repeat the process.

    Eventually, the cedar shake emerged from the culvert but no fish! I pried the nail off the line, scrambled up the bank and waved my arms to let him know he could reel it back and set it up a second time.

    We did this all afternoon, switching places at the ends of the culvert, and we only caught one fish. It was a nice one but, unfortunately, it slipped off the hook as Dave was trying to get hold of it. We got hung up on rocks in the culvert a couple times and broke the line a few times as well.

    Eventually, we tired of the project and packed up our poles and stuff. We walked back over to Bova’s and each bought an ice cream sandwich to take the sting off the pretty-much failed grand fishing expedition.

    I got home in time for supper and then met up with Stephen Wood and Craig Murray. We were headed to the movies in the Town Hall.

    So, downtown we went, eager to take in the latest monster movie: Caltiki – The Immortal Monster. This was the latest movie masterpiece to come out of Europe; Italy in this case. It involved a Blob-type monster discovered at the bottom of an ancient Aztec well. It feasted on human flesh. Once it was released from the well and placed in a lab, it quickly escaped and began to wreak havoc on the public. It was finally destroyed with fire and the world was saved from sure destruction. Not a classic but great fun for thirteen year old boys just beginning a two month break from school.

    We didn’t stay for the second movie but headed out for Jake’s Red Hots to have some michigans. We left the movies with a couple other friends and headed down Main Street. One of the guys, I don’t remember who it was, dropped back from the group and quietly reached out and touched one of the others on the back of his neck while making the sounds Caltiki had made in the movie. Of course, the victim jumped, yelled and cursed out his tormentor. We all laughed and teased him and had a grand time headed to Jake’s. No one ever said thirteen year boys were the sharpest pencils in the jar!

    In any event, we had our michigans and each headed home (before curfew), the first day of summer vacation 1961 in the books.

    It proved to be a great summer break. We played uncounted games of baseball at the field near the old school at the end of Church Street, with not an adult in sight. We chose teams, umpired our own games and worked out any disputes ourselves. We went to more movies, rode our bikes all over the place, camped at the Boardman, fished the Bailey, the Boardman, the Marble and the Chateaugay Rivers, and generally goofed around that summer.

    Most of us were Yankee fans and we followed the team closely as they were having an historic season with Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle chasing Babe Ruth’s home run record. They won 109 games and beat Cincinnati in the World Series. To this day, this remains my all-time favorite Yankee Season and every so often, I reread the book, “Season of Glory” just to take it all in once again.

    As long as I did my chores at home, showed up for meals on time and was in by curfew each night, I was allowed to be off on my bike with playing and exploring as my full-time “jobs” that summer.

    It was truly a safe, carefree, and fun-filled summer before I became a fourteen year old “working man” with the Neighborhood Youth Corps starting in July and August of 1962.

    Memories of Soft Drinks From the 1960s

    September 19, 2021 | Mick Jarvis

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    Humiston’s Grocery – Penny Candy, “Houns”, and a Great Front Step…

    Humiston’s Grocery, next to the Lumberyard, on East Main St. was a fixture in the business district for many years.

    The first image above that shows Clarence “Mose” Humiston in his store is cropped from a larger photo that shows my dad, who was working in the grocery store in 1940. At the bottom left of this first image is just part of a corner of the penny candy case that was a must-do stop for kids. The inside of the store didn't look much different in the '50s and '60s and through until it closed.

    When we bought the penny candy, Mose would always ask if we wanted a "pouche", which he pronounced as "pussh", the French word for a small bag or, literally, a pouch.

    The outside step was where we sat drinking 20 oz. Royal Crown Colas that Stephen Wood christened as "houns". The second image is of the 16 oz. version of the glass bottle of Royal Crown Cola.

    The third photo shows the complete image from inside the store. From left to right: Clarence "Mose" Humiston, his wife Kathleen, and my father, Gerald Jarvis (who was 16 when this photo was taken). The fourth photo shows Mose (on the right) on the outside of the grocery. I believe this was taken in the early 1960s.

    Who knows how many uncounted kids sat on the edge of the front deck and chugged sodas over the years?

    Speaking of Soft Drinks in the 1960s…

    As I added the final two photos to the Humiston’s Grocery information, I suddenly remembered the very first day Mountain Dew was sold in the North Country.

    On a sunny afternoon in August of 1964, Larry Cook and I had just finished our work day with the summer Youth Corps program. We knew that the brand new soda, called Mountain Dew, was being delivered to businesses nation-wide for the first time that day. So, we left the Town Garage and walked up to East Main. We stopped in Peterson’s, sat down at the counter, and each ordered one. Sam pulled two out of the cooler behind the fountain counter. That ice cold drink tasted pretty good after cutting brush all day on the roadside.

    Turns out, Mountain Dew was invented (formulated?) by two guys in Tennessee in 1940 as a mixer for bar drinks. The recipe was purchased by a regional distributor, and it was available in isolated areas of the country over the next 20+ years.

    The reason it went nation-wide and appeared locally in 1964 was because the national rights were bought by the Pepsi Company, and they began to deliver to all of their customers.

    The final three photos [images 5-7] posted above, show: Peterson’s exterior in the 1960s, the interior of the store in 1937 (shown are Georgie Peterson [on the left] and Evie Franklin), and the final image is of the original Mountain Dew Bottles from 1964.

    Being a kid in Chateaugay in the late 50s and early 60s was filled with tons of great times and many, many very sweet memories…

    The Sunset Inn 1872-1945

    September 10, 2021 | Mick Jarvis

    To view full size images and read captions, click on an image.

    The histories of Chateaugay and the Chateaugay Lakes have been very much intertwined from the earliest days of settlements at each place. The Chateaugay Historical Society has regularly included articles about Chateaugay Lake in our quarterly newsletter. Stories of both communities help to weave the story of our area over the last 200+ years.

    This blog post began when a friend of mine, Jesse Kaska, posted a photo on the “Lyon Mountain, Ny” Facebook page. The image he shared is the first one posted below. It shows a sign directing people to the “Sunset Inn on Chateaugay Lake”.

    Jesse’s post immediately set off a flurry of comments and questions about the hotel. I wrote a very brief sketch of the inn’s history for the Lyon Mountain page but quickly decided that this week’s blog post should be the story of the Sunset Inn. Here is a profile of the hotel in a bit more detail.

    In the early 1870s, Captain W.R. Tupper bought lakefront land on what is now the Sunset Road. In 1872 he built a small hotel on the site and hosted visitors to the Lake. He also operated a side-wheeled motor launch which would ferry his guests from the stagecoach stop at the north end of the lower lake up to his hotel. The paddle wheeler would motor the length of the Lower Lake, its two side mounted paddlewheels churning the water, and make its way up the Narrows, emerge on the Upper Lake and eventually arrive at Tupper’s hostelry (which he called the “Adirondack House” and later, “Tupper’s Hotel”). The captain even referred to the dining room at the hotel as “Tupper’s Hall” where he hosted banquets and dances. This side wheeler, by the way, is said to have been the first of many motor launches to ply the waters of the Upper and Lower Lakes.

    The story goes that on weekends, miners who worked for the Chateaugay Ore and Iron Company would frequent Tupper’s to enjoy the drinks he had in stock. Evidently, the president of the company, Andrew Williams, didn’t think much of his employees’ weekend activities there and thought it an unnecessary distraction for the workers, so he bought the property from Tupper and had thoughts of tearing down the small hotel.

    Shortly after, Williams was approached by Dr. M.D. Ralph of Malone with the idea for a larger, more upscale hotel to cater to the growing summer clientele on the Lakes. Eventually, a more refined hotel emerged as the Tupper building was renovated and enlarged. It was leased by Dr. Ralph. Understandably, as it was named by the doctor, it quickly became known as “Ralph’s” and was the largest and one of the most popular resorts on the Upper Lake.

    Under Williams’ ownership, the main hotel had four levels with expansive verandas. The main floor contained the office, a reading room, a parlor and a huge dining room. The upper three floors held the guest rooms. There was also a two story annex and two two-story guest cottages. The entire facility could accommodate 125 guests, which made it the largest hotel on both lakes. To illustrate the extensive nature of the renovations, the main hotel refrigerator was so large that it could hold eighty tons of ice to keep the kitchen’s food supply adequately cooled. All of the facility’s grounds were also expanded and developed to include croquet, tennis grounds, new docks, larger boat house containing all new boats for the guests (and guest rooms above it), and other amenities.

    In 1878, Dr. Ralph became the much-expanded hotel’s owner. He owned it for the next several decades and hired various managers to oversee the day-to-day operations. The hotel became known as the most posh on the lake. In fact, in the early years, guests were expected to “dress” for dinner each evening.

    In 1907, it was purchased by Andrew Morrison who renamed it "Morrison’s". He was an experienced hotel man who immediately upgraded the facility. Gas lights were installed to light the entire hotel complex and indoor plumbing was upgraded with the installation of several bathrooms throughout the guest spaces. Morrison would operate the hotel for the next several years. In 1917, Morrison sold to William Dalenz who only remained for three years.

    In 1920, Arthur T. Smith of Montreal bought it from Dalenz and named it the "Sunset Inn". Smith had managed and owned restaurants and hotels in Montreal and brought a great deal of experience to the Chateaugay Lake resort.

    In 1923, Chateaugay businessman, C.W. Sprague, bought the hotel but only operated it for one season. The Sunset was closed for the 1924 and 1925 seasons. In 1926, Arthur Smith resumed ownership of the hotel (presumably Sprague had defaulted on the mortgage held by Smith).

    Smith ran the inn for the next decade. Two factors began to work against him. The roaring “Resort Era” on Chateaugay Lake was waning. The summer visitor traffic that had descended on the Lake for over ninety years was slowing. All of the hotels were feeling the pinch. In addition, the stock market crash on October 24th 1929 and the beginning of what would come to be called “The Great Depression” caused even less visitors to the resorts.

    Henry Cook of Chateaugay managed and ran the hotel for the 1935 season; Smith’s last as owner. That year, Smith began to fall behind in his mortgage payments and the die was cast as his ownership was destined to end.

    Mrs. Isabelle Shufelt became the new owner when she bought the property at a mortgage foreclosure sale in early 1936. Her son-in-law, Henry Cook, took over long-term management of the hotel at that point. He later owned and ran the hotel until 1940 when it closed for good.

    During the years the hotel was known as the “Sunset Inn”, it became the site of area meetings and annual banquets. The pleasant surroundings and first-class facility made it the preferred destination for many groups and organizations. Among those groups regularly scheduling events at the hotel were: the Chateaugay Rotary Club, the Franklin County Veterinarian Association, the Chateaugay Court of Catholic Daughters, various bowling leagues, Lyon Mountain Miners baseball team, and many others.

    The main building of the Sunset Inn was demolished in 1945. The Cook family had sold off portions of the large property over the years but kept the two cottages. Carolyn Cook Campbell made one of the cottages her camp on the Lake.

    The long and event-filled history of this property on the Sunset Road is a major part of the story of the "Resort Era" on Chateaugay Lake.

    Carrying the Mail in the Olden Days

    August 15, 2021 | Mick Jarvis

    To view full size images and read captions, click on an image.

    I have been researching the Hoit/McCoy home that sat on West Main Street. It was built in by Jonathan Hoit in the 1830s. Before beginning research on the house itself and its actual construction, etc., I began by looking at what life was like back then in our hometown.

    I am looking into how the community looked back then and what businesses had been established, etc. I have also spent time looking for information about the mail at that time: when was it delivered, how was it delivered and what the entire process was like. Here is part of the story of the US Mail in Chateaugay and the North Country almost a two hundred years ago.

    For example, the mail was carried between communities by the stage coaches that plied the dirt roads that wound across northern New York. The mail arrived at the Chateaugay Post Office at the four corners six times a week. It arrived from the west at five pm on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays and from points east at noon on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. (Eventually the mail would be carried by the railroad beginning shortly after it opened in 1850.)

    Mail delivery was one of the main ways the community kept abreast of the national and world news as newspapers were often part of the mail bag contents. Some local citizens subscribed to newspapers from Albany, New York City or other large cities like Chicago and Washington, DC.

    The roads that the stages travelled were all unpaved and very rough. They could be muddy or dry and dusty depending on the weather and the seasons. Paved roads would only begin to appear in the US in the late 1800s, and even then, they appeared in the larger cities first. By 1904, only about one sixth of rural roads were paved and that total was only up to about one half of rural roads by 1935 or so.

    So, the stage drivers/mail carriers had to contend with terrible road conditions in the 1830s and 40s. This was one of the reasons for so many taverns and inns along the main roads. Horses tired quickly in such demanding road conditions, and the stops allowed for a change of teams and a chance for the stage driver and any passengers to get out and try to shake off some of the discomfort and monotony of the ride and get something to eat.

    Chateaugay had its own legendary stage driver. Josiah “Bone” Selleck drove routes in the North Country for many, many years. His home was on the main road, a few miles east of the four corners. He died in 1891 at the age of 82 and is buried in Smith Cemetery, just east of the village.

    The first photo here is of his headstone in Smith Cemetery. (Another long-time stage driver, who came along later than Bone Selleck and spanned the turn of the last century, was Pratt Hill. The photo included here shows Hill on his Tally-Ho coach. The stages of the 1830s and 40s would have looked much like the coach driven by Hill but this later version had much better suspension which made for a somewhat “smoother” ride than the earlier versions.)

    But, back to the early 1800s. Chateaugay and northern New York were not immune to another danger associated with the stagecoach mail carriers; robbers, highwaymen, hold-up men—were among the terms used to describe them. They were looking for anything valuable that might be carried by the passengers, but the mail also represented a potential source of booty.

    The following story of a mail carrier in the “Chateaugay Woods” took place in the 1830s. This printing came from the February 17, 1867 edition of the Daily Alta California, a San Francisco paper. This same account also appeared in many local and area papers, as well as others throughout the US over the years. I used this particular version as this scan was the clearest and the easiest to transcribe.

    It is true? Who knows? It could be gospel. We will never know. All I can attest to is that it appeared in scores of newspapers in the 1800s. Even the US Mail produced interesting stories 150 years ago!

    Here’s the story of mail delivery and a wheat bran holdup in the Chateaugay Woods:

    In the early annals of our country, many instances of mail robbery are found, some of which occasioned the display of great intrepidity and daring, as the perusal of the following pages will show.

    While the country was yet thinly settled, and the mails were transported on horseback, or in different kinds of vehicles, from the gig to the stage-coach, often through extensive forests, which afforded every facility for robbery, the office of stage-driver or mail carrier was no sinecure (easy job). Resolute men were required for the service, who could handle a pistol as well as a whip.

    Some thirty or forty years ago [in the 1830s], a mail coach ran in the northern part of the State of New York, through the famous “Chateaugay Woods.” The forest was many miles in extent, and common fame and many legends gave it the reputation of a noted place for freebooters and highwaymen.

    One morning the stage driver on this route had occasion to examine his pistols, and found, instead of the usual charge, that they were loaded with wheat bran! A daring villain had, through an accomplice, disarmed the driver preparatory to waylaying him. He drew the charges, cleaned the weapons, and carefully loaded them with powder and ball.

    That afternoon he mounted his stage for his drive through the Chateaugay Woods. Whistling as he went, he “cracked up” his leaders and drove into the forest. Just about at the center of the woods, a man sprang out from behind a tree and took the lead horse by the bit.

    “I say, driver,” said the footpad [a robber who had no horse], with consummate coolness, “I want to take a look at that mail.”

    “Yes, you do, no doubt, want to overhaul my mails,” replies the driver; “but I can’t be so free, unless you show me your commission. I’m the driver here, and I never give up my mails except to one regularly authorized.”

    “Oh, you don’t, eh? Well, here’s my authority,” showing the butt of a large pistol partly concealed in his bosom. “Now, dismount and bear a hand, my fine fellow, for you see I’ve got some documents about me.”

    “Yes, and so’ve I,” says the driver, instantly leveling his own trusty weapon at the highwaymen.

    “Oh, you won’t hurt nobody, I guess: I’ve seen boys playing soger [soldier] before now.”

    “Just drop those reins,” says the keeper of Uncle Sam’s mail bags, “or I take the consequences.”

    Oh, now you’re joking, my fine lad! But come, look alive, for I’m in a hurry, it’s nearly night.

    A sharp report echoed through the forests and the disciple of Dick Turpin [a famous English highwayman of the mid 1700s] was stretched upon the ground. One groan and all was over. The ball had entered his temple.

    The driver lifted the body into the coach, drove to the next stopping place, related the circumstances, and gave himself up. A brief examination before a magistrate resulted in his acquittal, and the highwaymen about the Chateaugay Woods learned that pistols can be dangerous weapons, even if they were loaded with wheat bran, provided they were in the hands of one who knew how to use them.

    Local Names on Wall that Heals

    June 25, 2021 | Mick Jarvis

    To view full size images and read captions, click on an image.

    The Wall that Heals, the Moving Vietnam Wall was in Champlain, NY the weekend of June 26-27, 2021. Included on the wall are two local men who made the ultimate sacrifice: Spec 4 Gary Lee Wilcox US Army and 1st Lieutenant Jerry Furman Clark US Army. Further details about these men can be found in the provided images.

    If you ever get a chance, a visit is a way to pay tribute and one of the most moving things one can do in memory of these veterans.

    Smith / Alvord / Cook Home on East Main

    June 13, 2021 | Mick Jarvis

    To view full size images and read captions, click on an image.

    More Transitions

    Another of Chateaugay’s earliest and most note-worthy homes is transitioning. I refer to this house as the Smith/Alvord/Cook Home. It has been owned only by these three families since it was built by Colonel Thomas Smith in 1818.

    The Smith family had come to Chateaugay the year after it was originally settled in 1796. Col. Smith’s father, Jacob Smith had served in the American Revolution. He and his family arrived in Chateaugay in 1797. He lived on what we now refer to as the Earlville Road and began a small tannery operation on his property.

    Thomas Smith served as an officer during the War of 1812. He operated a tavern at the Four Corners which served as the headquarters for American General Wade Hampton during the war. He was one of the most influential local citizens, serving in various capacities in local government. The Colonel had this home built of locally quarried stone.

    The first photo shows a drawing of the original structure. It still serves as the main part of the house.

    This is really a three story house which was very unusual in this area in 1818.

    Servants’ quarters were on the basement level. Half of space was their living quarters, half of the space was the kitchen. The servants’ quarters were very comfortable with plaster and lath walls which were even wallpapered.

    All the local grocers were informed that any kitchen deliveries were to be made to the basement level and not the main or upper floors, which were the family’s spaces. There were two doorways to enter and exit the basement.

    The second photo shows a part of the cooking ovens and fireplaces in the basement.

    The Smith family sold to W.S. Alvord in the 1840s. Alvord family owned it for the next 80 years.

    It was purchased by the E. D. Cook family in 1923. Edwin Cook renovated the interior, adding modern plumbing and wiring. He also added the front porch of matching stone and the dormer across the north facing roof line. The original configuration of the interior framing and room sizes, etc. was left essentially unchanged.

    The third photo shows the house as it appears today. If you imagine the dormer and front porch not being there, it is easy to see that the main portion of the house is still the same as the original drawing.

    This is truly an historically significant home in the village. It resembles the original structure as much as possible considering that it has been continuously occupied for the last two hundred years. The only structural changes have been the porch and dormer. The inside is laid out much as it was when it was built.

    Because of the recent passings of Olin “Odie” and Barbara Cook, the house is now for sale. Odie and Barb were founding members of the Chateaugay Historical Society and were each named as a “Trustee Emeritus” when they retired from our Board. They were fiercely proud of their home and its historical significance. They treasured its ambiance and were protective of its legacy.

    The fourth photo shows the home this morning (June 13, 2021).

    Jake's Red Hots

    April 24, 2021 | Mick Jarvis

    To view full size images and read captions, click on an image.

    Jake’s Red Hots were sold in the little stand on West Main Street from the summer of 1948 through the summer of 1966. The michigans sold at the stand during that time all had the original sauce developed by Jake LaPage. Beginning in the summer of 1967, the Furnia family rented the West Main Street stand and used their own recipe as Jake’s recipe was not included in the rental arrangement.

    In the mid-70s, the Furnias built the Whistle Stop on Depot Street in front of the RR Passenger Depot. The Whistle Stop remained open for about ten years.

    Today, excellent michigans are available locally at Wendy’s Quick Stop, Harrigan’s Soft Ice Cream and Fast Food, The Cherry Knoll and Dick’s Country Store. Each uses their own recipe for the sauce.

    The original Jake’s michigan sauce recipe was included in the article I wrote for the Historical Society newsletter. The long held family secret was printed in that article with the permission of Jake’s daughter, Linda LePage Orsborn. When I inquired about including the recipe, here is the note she sent me:

    "When my Mom ran the stand she needed the recipe to be private, so did my Nanny and Gramps. I hope you will include the recipe in the article. So many people enjoyed the michigans and remember them after so many years. I think we should keep the Chateaugay tradition going. I would like to think that a new generation of Chateaugay will start to enjoy the recipe and have them at their summer gatherings."

    A photo of the stand on West Main and Jake’s original sauce recipe are featured here. Enjoy!

    Chateaugay Dairy's Delivery Driver Owen Murray

    April 18, 2021 | Mick Jarvis

    To view full size images and read captions, click on an image.

    Did you know Chateaugay had its own door to door delivery service back in the 1950s? This 1955 image shows one of Chateaugay Dairy's deilvery drivers, Owen Murray.

    The first image shows an overview of the photograph while the second shows a close up of Owen.