Friday, January 29, 2010

Skerry School District #4

This souvenir of the Skerry School District #4 (town of Brandon) from the 1912-13 school year belonged to student Pierre Bowen.  From the collection of the Franklin County Historical & Museum Society (1982.36.3). 

click on images to enlarge

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Rev. Ashbel Parmelee the Mason

Rev. Ashbel Parmelee was an early resident of Franklin County and its first settled clergyman.  He pastored the First Congregational Church of Malone from 1809-1845 and participated in the establishment of Congregational and Presbyterian churches throughout the North Country.  The Rev. Dr. Parmelee was the father of Franklin County businessman A.B. Parmelee and the grandfather of Congressman and NYC Controller Ashbel P. Fitch.  The Northern Constellation Lodge of the Freemasons was established in 1806, just four years after Malone was first surveyed. 

From the collection of the Franklin County Historical and Museum Society (1972.118)

                               Aug 10. 1812
To  All whom these Presents shall come
                     Know Ye
                                  That Brother Ashbel
   Parmelee has been regularly initiated,
   past and [raised], in Northern Constellation
   Lodge, and that he is in regular standing
   therein, and is hereby recommended to the
   favor and protection of regular ancient
   working Masons around the Globe -
Given under our hands and the seal of our Lodge at
Malone in the County of Franklin (N.Y.) Anno Lucis
Five thousand eight hundred and twelve, this tenth
day of August ~
                                                   Samuel Perk Morton
Samuel S. [Empsell] Secr            Noah Moody S Warden
                                                   Cone Andrus J Warden

Bill Smith the Adirondack Hermit

From the booklet Adirondack Pioneers by John H. Titus (Troy Times Art Press, Troy, NY:  1899.   pg. 39) in the collection of the Franklin County Historical & Museum Society:
"Bill" Smith
    William H. Smith, known as "Bill" Smith the "Adirondack Hermit," and whose portrait appears with this sketch was born in Irasburgh, Vt., in April, 1826.  At the age of sixteen years he went to Lowell, Mass., a distance of 250  miles, traveling on foot.  He began there at driving a truck wagon and remained there till 1850, when he came to Franklin, N.Y., and worked at lumbering for different parties.  He hauled logs off the land where Paul Smith's hotel now stands.  After that he engaged with Price & Dickinson of Bloomingdale, and laid the cellar wall for what is now known as the Titus store, and which was the first cellar wall laid in Bloomingdale.  At that time he owned a farm of 150 acres in the town of Franklin, about 1 1/2 miles from Bloomingdale.  In 1862 he kept the hotel known as Hunters' Home, and after that moved to his farm, where he has lived ever since, most of the time alone, which gave him the name of the "Adirondack Hermit."
    Mr. Smith's beard is about six feet long.  He is six feet four inches tall, and when his beard is properly combed he can stand erect and step on his beard.  His weight is 200 pounds.

Bill Smith was suffiently famous to warrant an article in the NY Times upon his death in 1895. 

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Malone Chemical Company

This retail display board with small boxes of aspirin is in the House of History Museum.   Nothing can be found to shed light on the history of the "Malone Chemical Company" within the standard histories of Malone.  Does anyone have personal knowledge of this business?  

From the collection of the Franklin County Historical & Museum Society.

NY Central ad for Adirondack travel

Advertisement from The Sun (NY, NY), June 7, 1908

From the collection of the Library of Congress, available through the "Chronicling America" project.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Saranac Lake Winter Carnival

The 113th Winter Carnival in Saranac Lake is almost upon us.  This 1903 issue of the New-York Tribune highlighted the ice palace and outdoor activities. 

click image to enlarge
From the Library of Congress "Chronicling America" series available online.   

The official Winter Carnival website has a brief history of the annual event, and you can see this year's ice palace under construction here.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

First National Bank of Brushton

From Seaver (1918): 
"The First National Bank of Brushton, a well managed and prospering institution, commenced business January 24, 1910, with a capital of $25,000. Its resources in September, 1917, aggregated $286,533.76, and it had accumulated in less than eight years a surplus of $20,659.55. Its deposits amounted at the same date to $216,159.21. Its deposits more than doubled in the two years from 1915, and its resources increased in the same time by $109,000."


The cancellations on this First National Bank of Brushton, NY check from 1921 (click to enlarge) are: Farmer's Nat. Bank, Malone, NY; National Commercial Bank & Trust Co., Albany, NY; Farmers National Bank, Malone, NY; National Commercial Bank & Trust Co., Albany, NY; and Federal Reserve Bank of New York. 

All images of objects from the collection of the Franklin County Historical & Museum Society.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Hops Ad

From the Sept. 11, 1885 Franklin Gazette


As most folks know, one of Franklin County's bygone agricultural crops is hops (used mostly in the brewing of beer).  New York State was the predominant supplier of domestic hops from 1840 through the turn of the century, when the bulk of American hops production moved to the Pacific Northwest.  The northern portion of Franklin County is well-suited for hops cultivation, and the county was well-known for its large yield and high quality hops.  In 1880, Franklin County produced over 1 million pounds. 

Harvest-time (late August/early September) brought a few days of good wages for the hop-pickers and into the local economy.  Hops are grown on vines, which need to be twined around a pole or line.  At harvest time, the poles were uprooted or the vertical lines cut from their overhead stringers and the long vines laid across a large wood hop box, where the buds were plucked from the vines.  Large bags of hops were then taken to the drying kiln -- a large barn with a ventilated roof and stoves on the lower level and an upper drying floor.   The dried hops were gathered into bales and purchased by hop-brokers to be taken by railroad (after 1850) to New York City and other locations.

Image from the "Franklin Historical Review," Vol. 12 (1973)

Commercial hop production was an exceptionally speculative business, with wide fluctuations in price per pound.  The local newspapers reported on anticipated crop yield, local and state prices per pound, and how the overseas market would affect the domestic market.  The Sept. 11, 1885 Franklin Gazette column read:

click to enlarge

The "Hop Gossip" column in the Malone Palladium of Aug. 24, 1893 commented on the hop crops of other New York counties, Germany, and England, and reported instances of blight, pests and rainy weather which all affected yield and, therefore, prices.  The column goes on to say:

The speculative nature of the business, blight, Prohibition and the lack of laborers all contributed to the decline of hop cultivation in Franklin County.  The last commercial crop was grown in 1965 by Earl Looker whose farm was near Whippleville.

Some interesting resources:
-  Farmer's Museum blog post on Hops in the Pharmacy
"Growing Hops in New England" by Dr. Leonard Perry, Plant and Soil Science Dept. University of Vermont
"A Search for Economic Alternatives:  Hops in Franklin County, New York During the Nineteenth Century" by  Thomas A. Rumney, Professor of Geography, Plattsburgh State University
-  Adirondack Almanack blog post on hops

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Franklin Academy 1890 Graduation Announcement

This graduation announcement of the Franklin Academy class of 1890 includes a lift-up flap that reveals the names of the graduates. The latin phrase "perseverando vincemus" roughly means "continue to excel."   From the collection of the Franklin County Historical & Museum Society:

click on images to enlarge