Total Solar Eclipse of Chateaugay

April 14, 2024 | Mick Jarvis

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

Last Monday's total eclipse certainly was a "once in a lifetime" event. Here is a selection of photos I took here in Chateaugay or were sent to me (in no particular order).

I know there are many more photos out there that are much more spectacular than the ones below, but these are a sampling of what people saw...

"The Little Bulldog Leads the Way" into our Local Author's Collection

December 8, 2023 | Katelyn Legacy-Roulston

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

Chateaugay Central School senior, Luke Dalton, joined the Historical Society's December meeting to personally present a signed copy of a children's book he wrote and published for his senior project titled "The Little Bulldog Leads the Way".

Dalton shared his inspiration for writing the book in a post on the School's Facebook page, dated November 6, 2023: "I have a passion for writing and equally a pride for being a Bulldog, I thought what better way to use them both to write a book for the elementary students at our school. I will be reading this book to each of the [elementary] classes in January."

The book, penned by Dalton and illustrated by Tina Vanderhoef, contains messages about being a positive example in your school and community. It is a wonderful addition to our local author's collection. Great work and thank you, Luke!

Chateauguay Valley Antique Association's 36th Annual Show

August 27, 2023 | Mick Jarvis

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

I am finishing an article for our Society Newsletter on the J.C. Cook General Store that once straddled the border in Earlville. The store building was later moved about a mile, to the Rennie farm in Rockburn, Quebec.

Mr. Rennie made the store one of the buildings in his “living museum” on the First Concession.

The Rennie property is now the site of an annual Antiques Show hosted by the Chateauguay Valley Antique Association. Since its beginnings following the death of Mr. Rennie, the antique show has grown to include a flea market complete with craftspeople, a classic car show, antique farm implements, many, many food vendors, and all of Mr. Rennie’s collection of buildings (a school, a church, Mr. Cook’s general store and more) and their displays of historic objects.

The annual show was this weekend (Aug. 26 and 27), so I paid it two visits. I wanted to take photos and finish off a few details for my article. Mission accomplished! Had a great time (both times)!

Watch for this event next August! It is an interesting and enjoyable way to spend a summer day!

Also, the complete story of the J.C. Cook General Store will be in the upcoming issue of the Chateaugay Historical Society’s newsletter, complete with some interesting historical photos.

Members, start watching your mailboxes for this issue beginning around the middle of September.

Here are some of the photos I took this weekend at the CVAA show…

2023 Update - Newsletter, Summer Exhibit, New Collections, & More

August 14, 2023 | Mick Jarvis

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

The Chateaugay Historical Society has begun work on our next newsletter. We will be mailing it during September. Another 28 pages of articles and photographs which will include: the Home Guild, the covered bridge that spanned the Chateaugay River for over ninety years, the story of J.C. Cook's store on "the lines" in Churubusco, another reminiscence from Royal Nadeau, and the beginning of a new recurring series "Notable Chateaugay Citizens".

In addition, our summer exhibit: "Chateaugay Lake 1900-1950" is open every Wednesday and Saturday morning from 9am until noon until the end of September. It has been well-attended thus far and has resulted in many donations to our growing archival collection. Folks have been very eager to help our group to continue saving and preserving artifacts, photos, documents and relics from Chateaugay's past.

Speaking of our archival collection, we have had a very busy year with donations coming in weekly. Some major pieces we have acquired recently have been: a Butler's Secretary built here in 1822, the barber chair that was in Lopardo's for many, many years, and a maple drop-leaf dining table that was originally part of the Home Economics room in the Old School at the end of Church Street.

We have been able to add to our photo archives with significant donations of Chateaugay Lake photos, a collection of studio portraits from local photographers, and hundreds of historical photographs from two local estates.

Our document collection has also grown. A number of early business ledgers and records have arrived. Also, we are now the repository of the papers of Gates Hoit - a very early Chateaugay settler who was the Governor's land agent for many early property sales, a participant in the War of 1812, and was the local citizen that spearheaded the construction of a blockhouse where the Marble River enters the Chateaugay.

Speaking of the War of 1812, we are working with metal detectorist, Peter Sorrell of Adirondack Detecting, to uncover relics from that time period. Pete approached us and asked if we might like to acquire any artifacts he might find for our collection. Every landowner he approached was glad to grant permission for him to search on their property. So far, our small collection of war artifacts includes: uniform buttons, musket balls, small tools, coins and other items.

As you can see, we have been very busy in the last several years. We are encouraged when folks come in with donations and express their gratitude that we represent a place where their items will be properly catalogued, stored in appropriate archival conditions, and made available for display or research. One couple came in earlier this summer with items and photos for us and summed up our Society's mission with one statement: "We were so glad that your group was available to take these items and preserve them. Otherwise, we would have thrown them out." Anything donated to our group is always properly stored and preserved and used to tell Chateaugay's story from its founding in 1796 in our displays and exhibits. As we have always said from day one: “Everything in our Archival Collection represents pieces of Chateaugay history that will always stay in Chateaugay.”

We have upgraded our computer system, added more high quality scanners, new document and photo printers, and have greatly strengthened our cyber security protocols.

A local cabinetmaker has built two new locking display cases, which we immediately put to use with our current exhibit.

We have rearranged and added to our public research area, adding new printers and many additional resources.

In any event, we stay busy. If you have never been to our Archival Center on the second floor of the Town Hall, stop in any Wednesday or Saturday morning and see what we are up to. We love to have visitors.

We have around 325 annual members (which I think is pretty remarkable for a small town). An annual membership comes with all four 28-page newsletters. Since we began the newsletter in 2007, we have published over 1,300 pages of articles about Chateaugay's history. If you are not a member, a form can be under the "Membership" section of our "About" page.

Anyway, so much for tooting our horn, but this update about the next newsletter kind of grew into a much more involved summary of what we've been up to. I didn't plan on it being so lengthy when I sat down at the keyboard... But, we always feel it is so important to keep everyone informed about our activities.

Enjoy the rest of the summer!

Summer 2023 Exhibit Sneak Peek

June 23, 2023 | Mick Jarvis

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


Two hundred years ago, in 1823, Paul and Hannah Shepard Merrill arrived in the Chateaugay Lake/Belmont area from Gilmanton, New Hampshire. They had been preceded by Samuel and Judith Drew in 1816 and by the Jackson brothers – Joseph and John – in 1820.

Thus began the era of Chateaugay Lakes recorded history.

Last summer, we presented an exhibit that chronicled the natural history and the early recorded history of the Lakes and surrounding area. This year, we continue the Chateaugay Lakes story as our display illustrated life on and around the Lakes from 1900 to 1950.

Within this period, the stories of both the Lower and Upper Lakes emerge as the historic places and enthralling people who made up the Lakes “experience” are presented. You will find hotels (large and small), interesting and captivating personalities, summer camps filled with laughing kids enjoying all the Lakes area had to offer, places to find a full meal or a quick snack, a thriving “Arts” community led and fueled powerful and supremely talented personalities, and a wide variety of notable camps built by a wide spectrum of those who found the Lakes a wonderful place to visit and enjoy.

The photos show the Archival Center on this eve of the exhibit opening. It shows the layout of the panels of text and photos. Our two new display cases filled with Lake related objects are also featured. The cases were designed and crafted by local Industrial Arts teacher and cabinet maker, Paul LaPlante. They are exquisitely done and add so much to our display capabilities!

The photos here won’t enlarge enough to allow for each panel to be read – more on another photo album that will allow for that in the next few paragraphs.

The selection of photos also shows our public research area, our office space, and other features of the Archival Center. This is what each exhibit visitor will see around them as they arrive to take in “Chateaugay Lakes 1900-1950”.

For those who will be unable to visit in person this summer, we will be posting a second, more in-depth photo essay/album of each piece of the exhibit display later. In that upcoming photo tour later this exhibit season, each and every object, text board, and photo or illustration will be photographed individually and will be able to be enlarged and read in detail.

For now, we hope this set of photos serves as a general introduction of what we have researched, assembled and readied for our visitors.

Stop in and see us. We will be open every Wednesday and Saturday Morning from 9 until noon from tomorrow, June 24, through September 30.

Check out the great feature article that appeared in the local paper about the exhibit:

The Malone Telegram. "Chateaugay Historical Society explores history of area lakes". 2023 Jun 21

201-Year-Old Desk Returns to Chateaugay

March 22, 2023 | Mick Jarvis

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

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

The Importance of Hometown Newspapers

December 18, 2022 | Mick Jarvis

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

My last few weeks have been filled with research about St. Patrick’s Church and its early history. Thank you for the positive comments about my two blog posts. Much of what I used to write the two posts came either from my library and the Society Archives or from the past issues of the Chateaugay Record.

This week, I was asked a question about the beginnings of the present American Legion building on West Main Street. I checked my files and then went to work in the issues of the Chateaugay Record to fill in some gaps in the information I did have (it was built in 1983 and the west addition was completed in 1988 – more on this organization in a future Blog Post or article in the newsletter).

As I was reading through all those newspaper issues, I was reminded for the millionth time how important a hometown paper is to local historians.

The surviving issues of the Chateaugay Journal (1867-1872), the Chateaugay Record (1878-1995), and the second Chateaugay Journal (1896-1909) seem to document everything that happened in Chateaugay and the surrounding area, week after week.

For over one hundred years, Chateaugay’s daily life was reflected in the pages of its newspapers: businesses, birthdays, obituaries, marriages, celebrations, disasters, triumphs – any kind of event, good or bad, appeared in the papers’ pages.

As we research and write our articles, so much information from the pages of the local papers makes its way into the final product. We fully realize the importance of those Chateaugay papers and the role they play in our mission. We use them just about every day.

But, I wondered this week about Chateaugay’s local historians fifty or a hundred years from now. What will they use for research? What will they depend on for a detailed accounting of Chateaugay from 1995 and forward?

Area newspapers routinely publish Chateaugay-related articles, and will continue to do so. However, there is no way that their reporting can approach the detail and completeness of a dedicated staff of local citizens who composed a paper every week filed with all manner of detail about life and the goings-on of our hometown.

We appreciate the area news people who produce those regional newspapers. For example, we clip and file EVERY news article about Chateaugay from the surrounding papers in an attempt to record our present-day local story for those who will follow us. It won’t be anywhere as extensive as the Chateaugay newspapers were able to be up until 1995, but perhaps the clipping files and binders we are assembling will still provide information valuable to local researchers who are working on articles many, many years from now.

We are continually amazed at the breadth and depth of the community history left for us by all of those local newspaper people and we frequently comment about how indebted we are to them and the newspapers they have left behind.

What will future historians say about us and the contemporary history we leave behind for them?

The Chateaugay newspapers we use all the time are that important to local history and research.

Above are images of two of the oldest newspapers in our Archival Collection. They came to us from the McCoy estate.

2022 Exhibit Addendum: Arthur F. Tait, Artist

August 26, 2022 | Mick Jarvis

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

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.

2022 Update - Newsletter & Summer Exhibit

March 12, 2022 | Mick Jarvis

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

Our first newsletter issue of 2022 will be mailed this coming Tuesday. This issue contains articles about: the two airplanes built in Chateaugay during the 60s and 70s, a history of all the businesses in the Jackson/Mitchell block (where Jimmy Mills moved to, on the corner of East Main and Depot) over the years since its construction in 1876, a reminiscence by Royal Nadeau of threshing day in the 40s, and the story of the Smith/Alvord/Cook house (Odie and Barb Cook's stone house) on East Main, from its construction in 1818, to the present.

Lots to read and see (we have again included many, many illustrations and photos throughout the 28 pages). Members, watch your mailboxes!

Also, planning continues for the summer exhibit. It will tell the story of the early years on Chateaugay Lake, from the first settlers through the later 1800s and the construction of the Forge dam, which changed the surface area of the Lakes and the Narrows and helped both the tourist and the iron mining industries thrive.

The exhibit will highlight the early settlers, the earliest sporting visitors, the first schoolhouses, methods of transportation - on the lakes as well as to and from them, the seasonal Native American presence, as well as the Native legends of the Lakes, and a full-color, framed, and matted display of the seven A.F. Tait paintings and lithographs set in the Chateaugay Lakes area. Tait produced these works in the mid-1800s, when he was a frequent visitor to the Bellows House (later, the Banner House).

Plan on visiting the Archival Center this summer to take it in! Opening date to be published here soon...

As you can see, we have been (and will continue to be) busy producing content for both members and the general public - all made possible by your continued memberships and support.

Thank you so much!

Above is an image of the first page from the upcoming issue. Also shown is an illustration a friend sent me. I think it's good for a chuckle or two.

Think spring!!

2022 Update - Newsletter & Summer Exhibit

February 21, 2022 | Mick Jarvis

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

At first glance, the photos above don’t seem to be Chateaugay history-related. But, they are actually a part of the two major projects we are working on right now.

First, is our newsletter preparation; which is an on-going process. We are editing our next issue, which will be mailed to members next month. We think you will enjoy the upcoming articles – everything from airplane building in Chateaugay, to an historic home in the village, to a very notable business block on East Main and also a memory of farming in the 1940s.

Our second project is our upcoming summer exhibit. The research and development necessary for the display has begun in earnest. It will open on June 29th and will be available for viewing all summer. It will examine the Early Years of the History of Chateaugay Lake. Among our exhibit display topics will be:

  • The earliest settlement and settlers
  • Transportation and its development as people and commerce came and went from the early Lakes
  • The building of the Forge Dam and the effects of raising the water levels of the Lakes and the Narrows
  • The Native American seasonal presence on the Lake and the various legends that have been told about their time in the area
  • A look at the earliest country schools in the area around the Lakes
  • A framed display of the works of artist, Arthur Fitzwilliam Tait. He visited the Bellows Lake House (later known as the Banner House) for several years during the mid-1800s. We have seven of his works that we believe were set in the area around Chateaugay Lake.

  • As the photos show, the framing of the Tait prints is well under way. The specific image included above (3/3) is probably the one we are all most familiar with. This ice fishing scene will be available at the exhibit, not in the version shown here, but as a large vintage print, mounted in a wonderful, ornate antique frame. The other six Tait scenes will all be newly matted and framed and will show his works both as original oil paintings and as lithographs produced by Currier and Ives. Each view will be complimented with a text panel, explaining the history and details of each work.

    We are looking forward to readying the newsletter for our members. We think we have another interesting and well-illustrated issue. The summer exhibit promises to be both information filled and eye catching. We hope you enjoy them both.

    Our group may be small, but we try to remain busy and working to present more of the history of Chateaugay and area each year.

    Thanks for your continued support.

    CCS 2021 Pearl Harbor Exhibit

    December 7, 2021 | Mick Jarvis

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

    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.

    Gates Hoit Map

    July 16, 2021 | Mick Jarvis

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

    The Historical Society has been so very fortunate since our founding in 2007. Countless people have donated to our growing collection; providing artifacts, documents, and photographs regarding Chateaugay's history that might otherwise have been discarded or lost.

    Every item donated to our organization is accessioned, evaluated by a trained conservator (if appropriate), and then stored in our climate controlled storage areas using approved and accepted archival methods and materials.

    As our collection has grown, some objects have stood out for their significance and uniqueness. For example, the oldest written artifact in our collection is a hand drawn map of the world drawn in 1800 by Gates Hoit. He was one of Chateaugay's most influential and consequential early citizens. He arrived with the first wave of settlers following the initial settlement by Nathan Beman and Benjamin Roberts in 1796.

    Our archives now contain all of the Gates Hoit papers known to exist. The letters, deeds, ledgers and other documents are now in the process of being accessioned, sorted, conserved, scanned and transcribed so they can be made available to researchers. By scanning and transcribing them, they can be accessed for study without the need to constantly handle the fragile originals.

    The first photo below is a high resolution scan of the Gates Hoit map. The second photo was written by Carrie Hoit McCoy. It explains the history, or the provenance, of the map. The writing is on a piece of brown paper that packaged the map when it was in storage in a trunk in the McCoy house on West Main Street.

    This map is just one small part of our constantly growing archival holdings. Thanks everyone for your continued and committed support of our organization.

    Reopening, Newsletter, Exhibits and More!

    May 18, 2021 | Mick Jarvis

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

    We have begun working on our next quarterly newsletter. We will have four articles in this issue:

    First, we will tell the story of “Chateaugay” winning the Kentucky Derby in 1963 and how the horse came to be named after our town.

    Second will be about the life and times of Evelyn Nesbit Thaw, perhaps America’s first “supermodel”. She was a summer resident of Chateaugay Lake for a few years in the beginning of the last century. She always created a bit of a stir when she was here. She also made silent movies at the Lake when she was in residence at “Camp Jack” on the Upper Lake.

    Third will be the 1931 story of a 41 year old pitcher for the Chateaugay Ponies who pitched two complete game shutouts in 48 hours over the Fourth of July weekend and then played the outfield and went 3 for 5 just two days later. Talk about an “Iron Man” performance…

    Fourth will be the beginning of a series in which we will recognize the contributions of local veterans who served our country. Leading off this series will be the story of Walt Ouimet who served in WWII and again during the Korean War. He was a prisoner of war for 29 months during the Korean Conflict.

    There is much to read on a variety of topics in this upcoming issue. The Publications Committee has begun editing the articles. We hope to go to print in the next two weeks. Stay tuned as we progress.

    Our Other News:

    We will be reopening to the public for our regular schedule beginning on Wednesday, July 7. We will be open every Wednesday and Saturday morning from 9am until noon, starting July 7 through Wednesday, September 29.

    July 7 will also mark the opening of our first major exhibit in over 18 months. We are currently assembling the materials and objects for “The History of Photography in Chateaugay.” We have identified 25 photographers who have been associated with Chateaugay from the 1850s through 2021. We will have information about the photographers themselves, examples of their work, which will include many images of how Chateaugay has been portrayed over the years. Also, part of the exhibit will have examples of various photographic equipment and examples of different types of photographs.

    In addition, our newly rearranged public research area will be open anyone wishing to do local history or genealogical research. Our public computers have been set up with website links and data files to aid any researcher. Also, our shelves of public materials have been updated and rearranged for easy and efficient use.

    We have remained very busy during the COVID shutdown and we will be using the remaining weeks before July 7 to finish the photography exhibit, publish the newsletter and get the Archival Center ready for your visits and research.

    Please stop by and see all that we have to offer beginning on July 7. And, as always, thank you for the tremendous support you have given us over the years.

    Chateaugay Historical Society Update

    April 25, 2021 | Mick Jarvis

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

    We thought it was important to provide an update for our members and supporters of our efforts over the last year as we have been closed to the public.

    The past thirteen months have been challenging for the Chateaugay Historical Society as the COVID pandemic has been in our midst. We closed the Archival Center to the public in March of last year when the stay-at-home order went into effect. In fact, we mailed the first newsletter of 2020 just as the shutdown began.

    Not knowing how long we would be closed, our first concern was how we would maintain our public presence since we wouldn’t be allowed to host our exhibits or plan public programs. Fortunately, we were able to continue our newsletter publication schedule and each issue has gone out more or less on time since March of 2020. We didn’t miss a single issue.

    Our posts on Facebook have continued to appear and the engagement with all the “Chateaugay Folks” out there has been amazing as always. We are always so in awe of the discussion threads that result from Facebook posts and how many memories and questions are triggered either by the topic or by the resulting comments.

    As we have kept the newsletter and Facebook posts coming, much has happened behind the scenes. Research has continued for the many topics we hope to include in future issues of the newsletter. We have also taken the opportunity to put much effort into the Archival Center and have reconfigured our physical layout while greatly improving our storage capacity. During all that time, our archival collection has steadily grown. Object, photo, document and artifact donations have never really slowed as more and more generous people have come forward to help our repository of Chateaugay history become more complete and interesting. To keep you all informed, here are some of the activities we have worked on over the past year:

    A staircase was built to our upper level storage area and that space has been outfitted with archival safe racks. It now houses collection storage supplies and parts of our accessioned archives.

    We now have a flat-file map case unit to store larger flat objects and documents. One of the first collection pieces that was added to the map case was our assortment of local War of 1812 artifacts. During that war, between five and six thousand American troops (both regular army and militia) were staged in Chateaugay for about a month prior to the invasion into Canada and the Battle of Chateauguay (Quebec). The artifacts located so far seem to have come from small encampments of soldiers (perhaps as few as ten). The large camps of hundreds of troops haven’t been found yet but we know those locations are still out there.

    We have had two more of our J.W. Gray oil paintings restored by Phillips Art Conservation of Essex, NY. Emily Phillips’ expertise has led to the paintings being cleaned, repaired and reconditioned. They are spectacular!

    We also took the closed time as an opportunity to rearrange our main space in the Archival Center. Our office space is now adjacent to our storage room and upper level stairway. We have three computer stations within the office area. One is dedicated primarily to accessioning our collection, one is for working with our rapidly growing photo archives and the third is being utilized in the many scanning projects we have underway. Scanning of letters, old ledgers and diaries (primarily the Gates Hoit papers which date back to the early 1800s) will allow us to have them available for research without having to handle the actual documents. Out stand scanner has proven invaluable in this process.

    We have also relocated our two public computers to the front corner of the Archival Center. Each machine has a dedicated printer and has databases and bookmarks ready for local history or family history researchers once we reopen.

    Thanks to trustee Katelyn Legacy-Roulston, we now have our own website. During the pandemic, Katelyn developed the format and content now available at The website is a true work in progress as we talk about what we can add, how we can better tell Chateaugay’s story, and what (and how) to add resources for folks to access and explore. Her expertise and efforts have been invaluable.

    In spite of the challenges to instruction (with virtual or hybrid class attendance, etc.), we were able to contribute to the annual WWII/Pearl Harbor exhibit at CCS this past fall. This is an ongoing project spearheaded and funded by Chateaugay native, Joe Ryan. Shannon Wiese, the 11th and 12th grade Social Studies teacher, developed a small exhibit commemorating Pearl Harbor last December and is following that up with a planned virtual exhibit this spring as she engages her students with this topic in these challenging instructional times.

    As you can see, we have kept busy behind the scenes over the last thirteen months. Suffice it to say, none of this would have been possible without the generosity and support of our members and benefactors.

    As reopening the Archival Center appears on the horizon, we are working on a public exhibit for this summer which will be presented with all the appropriate recommended public health guidelines. The topic will be “Photographers Associated with Chateaugay” over the years. Two dozen photographers will be profiled and examples of their work will be shown. In addition, we will have a display of cameras and other photographic equipment that will illustrate the history and development of these devices. More details regarding exhibit opening, hours, etc. will be posted both on our website and here on Facebook as we progress and as opening guidelines develop.

    Again, we are humbled and grateful for all the support our members continue to show us. Your emotional and financial support have allowed us to become far more than we expected we would be since our founding back in 2007. We constantly strive to do your support proud and to preserve and present Chateaugay’s story whenever we can. Thanks.