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Serving the community of Ogdensburg, New York
History At Large
By Michael Whittaker
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History At Large

History is a booming money maker

First published: May 19, 2015 at 1:46 am
Last modified: May 19, 2015 at 1:46 am
Dedication of the Culps’s Hill Monument at Gettysburg in 1888. The 60th Regiment New York Infantry, organized at Ogdensburg, fought at Culp’s Hill July 2, 1863 during the Battle of Gettysburg. Repeated Confederate charges were beaten back. The 60th was protected from the thick hail of Confederate bullets by breastworks the men built overnight.

The people of Gettysburg in Adams County, Pennsylvania face aggravations many North Country communities could consider small blessings.

Visitors, the majority coming from a 300-mile radius to America’s premier historic battlefield, frequently clog the streets and fill the restaurants. Of course, New York, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington, D.C. are well within the zone.

According to Destination Gettysburg, more than $670 million is spent annually in Adams County by visitors who spend on average more than $540 per person. More than half are repeat visitors.

In 2014, lodging tax generated more than $2.4 million. The benefit of tourism taxes to county residents is $810 per person. Imagine the community improvements possible without drawing on property tax revenue.

Surveys show most visitors like Gettysburg and would recommend friends to visit.

Until 55 years ago, Gettysburg residents questioned the economic benefit of tourism. Local businessman Chaim Uberman determined to prove the financial booster shot of tourism in a time when most businesses in town paid employees in cash.

To demonstrate the exchange of money in Gettysburg, he paid his workforce in little-circulated $2 bills. His methodology indicated the value of money circulated by tourists as two-dollar bills changed hands in the community.

The list of positive tourism impacts is long. Hotels, motels, B & Bs, restaurants, food suppliers, laundry and uniform companies, service providers and other businesses profit by the stream of visitors.

Tourism is self-supporting and Adam County’s top industry. Gettysburg with 7,655 people is a major community in the county, population 101,000.

The benefits of tourism to St. Lawrence County are sizable, particularly in the multi-season recreation localities. The county’s population is about 121,000 and that of Ogdensburg a little more than 11,000.

In the county, travellers spend about $111,427,000 yearly, generate more than $14 million in state and local taxes and labor income is $44.2 million. Nearly 2,000 people are employed in tourism.

Although there is nothing in this region with the international magnetism of historic Gettysburg, citizens, businesses and associations can unite to strengthen and build tourism ventures and experiences.

The economy has changed. The tourism environment is changing. New and different products are demanded. The babyboomers are the driving cohort.

All the community players must focus on basic marketing and product development before moving to enrich existing tourism opportunities and creating new visitor experiences.

Key partnerships are essential to increasing tourism business knowledge. To be vibrant and vital, the tourism industry must determine what is possible and what is probable, and then act accordingly.

Collaboration is essential to the creation of marketing strategies with local, regional and international applications to reach a clientele that is not getting any younger.

In the U.S. there are about 79-million boomers retiring in increasing numbers. They matured in a time of post-war prosperity, travel more than their predecessors and consider travel a necessity.

Boomers tend to travel no matter their lack of time or money. When they are not seeking an exotic locale, they want an enriched experienced in a familiar place, but instant gratification ranks high for many.

Odds are when young they traveled with their parents, so generally they seek new inspirations presenting physical and intellectual challenges.

Boomers are young at heart, often acting much younger than their chronological age, and not prone to think of themselves as seniors until into their 70s.

Boomers don’t want anything stuffy or stodgy. They relate better when experience and education replace the word maturity. Cultural/social experience, stimulation and companionship make travel fun for boomers.

They want options, not a programmed experience. They travel not to see the sights, but to do the sights. They want engagement along the way.

Boomers have notions of being special, don’t like to feel herded and want their creature comforts. Within their means, they will pay for luxury, expertise and convenience.

For them the Internet is a research tool. Boomers suspect self-congratulatory marketing materials. Promising more than can be delivered undermines boomers’ trust and ends hope of building long-term relationships.

Do not think boomers are a homogeneous mass. Their births in the wake of WWII span 1946 to 1964. Their memories include Elvis, JFK, Woodstock and Vietnam.

Appreciating this complex range increases the success of attracting this populous market segment.

Incrementally, facilities and services for visitors are developing and improving in Ogdensburg’s Marina District and other areas of the city. To be a travel destination, a city must have enjoyable and attractive features, and Ogdensburg must have more.

Travelers whisking by on Rte. 37 without reason to venture down Ford or State Streets, New York Avenue or the Downtown Arterial Highway contribute precious little to the city.

An out-of-town Daddy Warbucks is not going to drop a bundle of development cash into a community that has not proved its worth and potential by strengthening visitor numbers across the board. A community hard pressed to attract visitors cannot attract outside investment.

The City Government and its commissions, the Chamber of Commerce, dynamic citizens and business leaders with a view to the future naturally cooperate to grow and enhance the civic amenities sought by visitors.

The recent donation of $25,000 by Dr. and Mrs. Agarwal to the Ogdensburg Garden Club for the beautification city parks and public spaces over the next five years is a commendable example of an essential improvement appealing to residents and visitors.

The Frederic Remington Art Museum is the sole, known cultural heritage attraction. The other talked about museum remains for a commitment where the mouth is.

The structures and areas on the National Register of Historic Places stand without fanfare. Across the city, the monuments once thought important to build stand largely ignored. The fire department monument and the Vietnam Memorial are out-of-sight, if not out-of-mind.

Ogdensburg has an early military history largely unknown, underappreciated and largely uncelebrated at a community level.

The French and Indian War, the American Revolution and the War of 1812 figure prominently in the local narrative with storylines stretching from Quebec City to the Mohawk Valley and the Ohio Valley and through the Great Lakes.

Forsyth’s Rifles, Inc. and the Fort La Présentation Association promote and commemorate this rich history, which Ogdensburg as a whole tends to ignore.

Many communities would vigorously exploit such a rich tapestry to maximum advantage selling the sizzle and the steak far and wide.

New York, Buffalo, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Quebec City are within 300 miles of Ogdensburg. Boston, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia are not far beyond.

Sadly, too many citizens prefer to mourn the losses of all eroded away since the Seaway delivered economic decline. There are others who prefer to complain or criticize ideas and projects contributing to Ogdensburg’s revival.

Just because infants will sit in soiled diapers when they have grown comfortable with the feeling is no justification for progressive adults to allow the behaviour to continue.

Ogdensburg may not be Gettysburg, but if nothing is done here, nothing will happen.

Sources: Burger, T.W. (2015, May 7) History of Heritage Center shows impact of tourism on local economy. Gettysburg Times, pp. A1, A5.

Kulp, Ashley. (2015, May 7) Tourism association’s pilot project to strengthen business, experiences. The Kemptville Advance, p. 7.

Robinson, Larry. (2015, May 13) City doctor and wife give generously to help beautify Ogdensburg. The Journal.

Ross, Kim. BOOMING MARKETPLACE: 13 Truths About Baby Boomer Travel.

Michael Whittaker resides in Bishop’s Mills, Ontario, and is a former member of the Fort La Presentation Association Board of Directors. He currently serves on the association’s marketing committee. His views do not necessarily reflect the views of the association


The Spirt of Ameriga Vespucci

First published: May 05, 2015 at 1:48 am
Last modified: May 05, 2015 at 2:26 am
This is allegedly the ghost of Lady Dorothy Townshend, who lived in Raynham Hall in Norfolk, England during the 1700s. In 1936 a photographer captured Townshend’s oft-reported spirit. Courtesy of Fortean Picture Library

Ghost stories abound across the North Country. Ogdensburg has a few spectral tales, some allegedly real and others from fertile imaginations that appeal to residents and visitors.

The Frederic Remington Art Museum supposedly has an apparition made known by a disembodied voice and a supernatural presence said to be that of Ameriga Vespucci. She was the woman popularly believed to have been won in a card game whose life had elements of the real and the imagined.

George Parish, nephew of Ogdensburg economic pioneer Daniel Parish, won her from John van Buren (son of President James van Buren) in a poker game at the Brick Hotel in Evansville or at the home of John van Buren, or at Hoover’s Tavern. Pick your version.

Van Buren found himself more than $5,000 in the hole with one gold coin left. Parish accepted Van Buran’s wager of his female companion, who he seemed to fancy, and he won Ameriga Vespucci.

The Jefferson County Wiki states, the self-styled “Countessa Helene America,” a direct descendant of America’s namesake Amerigo Vespucci, was born in Italy Nov. 29, 1804 to Captain Amerigo Vincenzio and Leapolda Cappelli Vespucci.

The headstrong child Elena Vespucci lived 14 years in the convent of Le Signore della Quiete in Florence acquiring an education. At 17 her introduction was made by her aristocratic parents to the court of the Grand Duke of Tuscany. She appropriated her sister Ameriga’s name while she lived in the Pitti Palace as a “demoiselle de compagnie” to the Grand Duchess.

In the era’s revolutionary fervor, she joined a secret society committed to Italian independence. In August 1832 she took arms in the popular uprising. Her disguise as a man failed when she was wounded.

Following her two-year recovery, she refused to betray comrades-in-arms. On her banishment from Italy, the French queen sheltered her and provided letters-of-introduction in 1838 for her travels throughout North America.

The vivacious, black-haired beauty caught the eye of American notables, including Daniel Webster, Martin Van Buren and his son John during her tour of the New World where she altered her name to America. She made a quick round trip to Europe, returning to Boston in 1841 and soon found herself the poker-game prize residing in Ogdensburg.

Shunned by the women of Ogdensburg for living in sin, she and George Parish enjoyed loving years in his mansion, now the Frederic Remington Art Museum. The ostracized chatelaine was the sole woman present when George hosted his male companions. If there was a mixed party, a Mrs. James entertained the ladies.

In 1859 when George Parish became the Baron of Senftenburg in Bohemia, his paramour remained in Ogdensburg.

The Reminiscences of Ogdensburg, 1749-1907, edited by the Swe-Kat-Si Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolutions says, “Madame lived here for several years, grown old before her time, and finally selling off all the personal property given her by Mr. Parish, with something over two thousand dollars in her possession, went back to France, and died in Paris before she came to actual want.”

The Jefferson County version says, “George went to Bohemia to settle an estate. He then sent Madame Vespucci back to France. It is said she died there of a broken heart.”

America lived with her sister in Paris until her death in 1866. George died in 1881.

Paranormal tales attract believers and skeptics. Did the spirit of America Vespucci return to the home where she supposedly lived happily with Parish? Some people believe this spirit migration actually happens.

Friday, March 27 four Clarkson University undergraduates, seeking a scientific link between microbes and paranormal experiences, sampled the air throughout areas the three Remington buildings linked to eerie occurrences.

The researchers had received official permission to search for mold or fungi spores known to cause hallucinations or psychosis.

The two days before the university investigation, local medium Freda Gladle and her friend Donna Wright conducted a walk-through psychic evaluation of the museum properties guided by Curator Laura Foster.

According to Donna Wright’s written account, the main museum build is not haunted, but a few folks “popped in” accompanied by a residual energy” Their first encounter was with a woman silently communicating, “I was not won in a poker game.”

The invisible entity claimed someone lost money in a poker game, and she ran out of money when she was in the house. She conveyed a link between herself and the card game, but adamantly maintained the investigators knew she was not won.

In the furthest third-floor room, children manifested. They may have once lived there. In another room the woman of the house had given birth to the children and a smaller room was a nursery.

Three or four ghostly children visiting the house ran throughout. They were told by the visible spirit of lovely woman, about 25-32 with lighter hair and a light blue dress, to quit running up and down the stairs. She had just warned the women to be careful on the stairs.

The second-floor Parish Room, for men only, presented six men playing cards at a round table. In the Sharp Room, three informative male spirits indicated this was a meeting room, although there is no reason for them to stay because everybody had moved on. Men had congregated exclusively in these rooms to smoke cigars and gamble.

The administration building proved specter-free, but the Children’s Museum in the Eva Caten Remington Education Center on the corner of Washington and Caroline is another story.

Gladle and Wright report a tall, nasty man resides there fulltime. They say he will never leave the home he loves and has agreed to not “haunt or harass” anyone there. He watches over the place and does not allow any other entities to enter.

Frederic Remington visited the ladies in his slender youthful form. He liked to cuss a lot and loved to tell stories. He said he was a plain person.

Sources: Reminiscences of Ogdensburg 1749-1907.

Marie Helene America Vespucci.

Michael Whittaker resides in Bishop’s Mills, Ontario, and is a former member of the Fort La Presentation Association Board of Directors. He currently serves on the association’s marketing committee. His views do not necessarily reflect the views of the association


Clarkson researchers sample Remington Art Museum air for microbial link to ghosts.

Wright, Donna. (2015). Unpublished account of a psychic investigation of the Frederic Remington Art Museum properties.


Ogdensburg’s Usonian House: An Architectural Treasure

First published: April 28, 2015 at 1:46 am
Last modified: April 28, 2015 at 1:46 am
Photo by Bo Mackison, The first Jacobs House in Madison, WI is considered Frank Lloyd Wright’s most pure example of Usonian ideas. His later Usonian houses became more complex. This exterior view was part of a 2009 exhibition at the Guggenheim Museum in NYC.

Too often when a fine Victorian home met destruction a vacant lot resulted or at best some mediocre structure with few redeeming qualities rose.

This is not necessarily one of those sad tales.

Republican Senator George Malby (1857-1912) lived in the Queen-Anne-style house that once stood at the southeast corner of Caroline and Washington Streets in Ogdensburg. The house shared much with the surviving Victorian homes listed on the National Register of Historic Places on the east side the Library Park Historic District.

However, Senator Malby’s story will have to wait because the modern home that replaced his 19th-century residence is unique in Ogdensburg, and the modern style is well known and famous in some circles.

Famed American architect Frank Lloyd Wright created and named the Usonian style featured in this distinctive house.

Various origins and meanings have been attached to Usonian. The most plausible is its derivation from U.S. This is American architecture, and in the mid-20th century Lloyd’s adherents quickly adopted the design characteristics.

In 1962, Dr. Paul Campanella commissioned his new U-shaped home after receiving permission from the city to demolish the existing Victorian house, according to the current home owner Kathryn Rhinebold.

Dr. Campanella was an anesthesiologist and one time Director of Medical Services at the Claxton-Hepburn Hospital. The father of six used one of the rooms, with a separate entrance from Washington Street, for a private practice.

Wright’s earlier Prairie-style and Japanese esthetics influenced his one-story Usonian structures. Construction featured brick, timber and stone. Wall-height windows illuminated the interiors. Car ports replaced garages.

The spacious, open living areas with central fireplaces incorporated kitchens. Radiant heating circulated through the concrete slab foundations.

During The Depression, Wright aspired for simplicity, practicality and economy, but Usonian homes became the choice of families with taste and money in the post-War years.

Mrs. Rhinebold acknowledged the design similarities of her house with the Usonian. However the original architectural plans, which she possesses, make no mention of an architect.

“I do think the house is built in the style of the California real-estate developer Joseph Eichler (1900-1974),” she said. “He worked with the architectural firm of Robert Anshen and Steve Allen. Both men were considered protégés of Frank Lloyd Wright.”

She noted Eichler’s homes incorporated walls of windows creating the illusion of bringing in the outside. Those window walls, she believes, usually faced courtyards and atriums with swimming pools.

“I do have a courtyard with an in-ground pool,” she said. “However, Dr. Campanella did not build the house with a pool nor do any wall-height window walls face the courtyard.”

The pool was installed by the Winthrop’s, second owners of the Campanella home.

The bedroom windows looking onto Washington Street better reflect the type of windows Eichler more typically featured on the public face of his homes, Mrs. Rhinebold believes.

These windows run horizontally along the length of the house at mid-wall height.

Mrs. Rhinebold stated Eichler’s designs also featured open post-and-beam construction similar to her home. She affirmed the aluminum lamps referred to as “bullet” shapes featured in some Eichler homes resemble those suspended from her vaulted ceilings.

Joseph Eichler was not a designer, but he knew where to find the best. His company, Eichler Homes, built more than 11,000 modernist-style homes in California. In 1950, Eichler commissioned Anshen and Allen to build the first Eichler homes in the California-modern style, which soon developed beyond Wright’s inspiration to incorporate European-modern designs. In 1940, Bob Anshen and Steve Allen founded Anshen and Allen in San Francisco. Upon graduation from the University of Pennsylvanian School of Architecture, each had received a traveling fellowship that led them to the Bay Area in 1937. Their firm built tract housing until 1962.

Kathryn Rhinebold’s house is an architectural treasure inspired by Wright’s modern utilitarianism. He defined this as the “architecture of democracy;” open space full of light in which the purpose of the rooms determined the shape of the house.

Wright designed more than 100 Usonian homes. Many are famous. The students of his style originated many more across the United States and in other countries.

Considered the purest example of Wright’s Usonian style is the L-shaped first home built for Herbert and Katherine Jacobs in Madison, WI in 1936-37. Wright’s minimalist design and harmony with nature flow from the brick and wood construction with glass curtain walls.

Following World War Two, a community of 47 Usonian homes sprouted on lanes winding through 100 wooded acres near Pleasantville, NY. The remarkable community is called Usonia. In 1947 a cooperative of New York City friends hired Wright to design their new homes and their private community on the property they purchased. Wright designed three of the homes and approved the architectural plans of the 44 others. The novel Usonian homes blend organically with the landscape not at all like their imitators; the cookie-cutter, ranch-style homes in featureless suburbia. In Usonia, the homes arise autonomously in the rolling woodlands.

In the United States, there are particularly noteworthy Usonian homes, including: the Affleck House, Bloomfield Hills, MI; the Curtis Meyer House, Galesburn, MI; the Zimmerman House and the Toufic L. Kalil House, Manchester, NH; and the Hagan House, Chalk Hill, PA.

In Ogdensburg the Rhinebold House sits rather anonymously, appreciated by few, while fulfilling Frank Lloyd Wright’s dictum.

“We can never make the living room big enough, the fireplace important enough, or the sense of relationship between exterior, interior and the environment close enough or get enough of these good things I’ve just mention,” Wright said. “A Usonian house is always hungry for the ground, lives by it, becoming an integral feature of it.”

After more than 50 years in the Ogdensburg landscape, the Usonian Rhinebold House has become a good fit with Library Park Historic District and deserves appreciation.

Sources: What Is a Usonian?

Frank Lloyd Wright at the Guggenheim. House.htm#step-heading

Frank Lloyd Wright’s Usonian Vision is Alive and Well in Pleasantville

10 Takeaways from Frank Lloyd Wright’s Utopian Community.

Cunliffe, Sarah & Loussier, Jean, editors. (2006) Architectural Styles Spotters Guide. Thunder Bay Press. San Diego

Reiss, Marcia. (2004) Architectural Details. Thunder Bay Press. San Diego

Michael Whittaker resides in Bishop’s Mills, Ontario, and is a former member of the Fort La Presentation Association Board of Directors. He currently serves on the association’s marketing committee. His views do not necessarily reflect the views of the association


Threats From America Help Create Canada

First published: April 21, 2015 at 1:38 am
Last modified: April 21, 2015 at 1:38 am
These men from No. 5 Company (Carleton Place, Ontario) of the 41st Brockville Battalion of Rifles numbered among the company’s 53 officers and men who served at Cornwall during the 1870 Fenian Raid. On completion of service they were entitled to a grant of 160 acres. Service medals with the recipient’s name and rank have a clasp marked Fenian Raid 1870. Photo courtesy of Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum.

Not long after Generals Lee and Grant signed the surrender documents April 9, 1865 in the home of Wilmer McLean at Appomattox, Va. bells rang to mark the end of the Civil War.

In the North, they pealed for victory. In the Confederacy, they may have tolled a death knell. If bells sounded in Canada, there’d have been a warning clangor.

Although officially neutral, Great Britain had favored the South, motivated by cotton to supply British mills. British arms went to the Confederacy (and the Union), and Confederate commerce raiders supplied and refitted in British ports, including Halifax.

Across British North America, Southern agents and sympathizers conspired in Halifax, St. John, Quebec City, Montreal, Toronto, Hamilton and Windsor.

Nov. 8, 1861 contrary to international law, the USS Jacinto stopped the British mail packet Trent out of Havana bound for England. Two Confederate diplomats and their secretaries were taken into custody. Dec. 26, 1861 the prisoners were released in Boston, tensions eased, but Britain still sent 14,000 troops to defend its colonies and colonial militias were called up.

Confederates seized the ship Chesapeake running from New York to Portland Dec. 7, 1863. Making for a Canadian port to sell the cargo and covert her to a privateer, the hijacked ship was captured Dec. 16 in British territory by two Union war ships.

Little came of the event, but this episode and others proved Southerners wanted Canadian bases of operations.

Oct. 19, 1864 Confederate raiders congregated south of Montreal before robbing three banks in St. Albans, Vt., killing one man, wounding another and escaping with $208,000. Despite the interests of the Canadian government, a Montreal judge freed the raiders who had been arrested on their return to Canada.

Canadian sympathies for the South evaporated more quickly with news of the raid, but the damage was done. Union resentment remained strong when the war ended six months later.

Canadians were wary. Along the St. Lawrence, the 1838 Patriots War and attack on the windmill near Prescott were barely a generation past. The War of 1812 remained in living memory, and the invasion of 1775 was not forgotten.

Manifest Destiny loomed large as a political philosophy and popular belief that the U.S. was ordained to expand over the North American continent. A few days marching to capture Canada after victory over the Confederacy was considered by some Americans as a way to punish Britain her Southern sympathies.

Post-war, disbanded troops faced significant unemployment. Among them were tens of thousands of Irish Catholics trained and motivated to capture the British colonies to ransom them for an independent Ireland.

In 1858 John O’Mahony in New York City and James Stephens in Dublin founded the Fenian Brotherhood in the United States and the Irish Republican Brotherhood in Ireland, predecessors of the Irish Republican Army (IRA).

The Fenian Brotherhood set sights on the closest colonies, Canada West (Ontario) and Canada East (Quebec). Initially they had no shortage moral support in St. Lawrence County nor from their former Federal brothers-in-arms sent to end Fenian operations in Northern New York.

By March 1866 car loads of freight addressed to Edward Mannix and an unusual number of men were arriving in Malone aboard the Ogdensburg and Lake Champlain Railroad. By June, the fairgrounds camp held 2,500 Fenians commanded by General Mannix. Local sympathies evaporated when the men liberated what they could not purchase; their general behavior alienated supporters.

A gunboat out of Kingston patrolled the St. Lawrence River, centered on the Ogdensburg terminal of the Ogdensburg and Lake Champlain Railroad. Canadian militia assembled at Fort Wellington in Prescott to reinforce the garrison.

General George Mead of Gettysburg fame commanded the troops sent north to disperse the Fenians centered in Malone. June 6, 1866 the Irish leadership was arrested and the men dispersed.

Many found themselves with one-way tickets out of town, thanks to the government in Washington. Some returned to Eire.

The Fenian cause faded, but did not die. In spring 1870 the trains again were loaded with the bearded strangers coming to Malone. Trout River sprouted a large camp along the banks. May 26 the improvised army moved into Canada bound for Huntington, Quebec were the Canadian militia met the invaders the next day. General George Mead’s troops returned too late to stop the Fenians.

The inexperienced Canadian militia once broken June 2, 1866 by the Fenians at the Battle of Ridgeway near Fort Erie, Canada West had improved greatly with four-years training. By 1870 about 70,000 filled the ranks.

The Grand Trunk Railway Brigade formed in 1866 grew to 2,261 officers and men in 36 mobile battalions in 14 communities from Montreal to Sarnia on the St. Clair River opposite Michigan. Among the rifle battalions were three artillery brigades.

When fired on by the Fenians at Huntington, the confident Canadian militia continued to advance. Mannix and his men were bested and turned for the border. One account says local populations retrieved enough discarded Fenian rifles and ammunition to threaten the deer population for years to come.

For days deflated Fenians and Federal soldiers rode the trains out of Malone.

The Civil War and the Fenian Raids rank among the causes for four British North American Colonies to unite as the Dominion of Canada July 1, 1867. Queen Victoria named Ottawa as the federal capital for the provinces of Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.

The first four, of now 10 provinces and three territories, recognized the benefits of union: self-sufficiency within the British sphere; national industrial and corporate expansion in the absence of free trade with the U.S. revoked by Congress in 1865; an all-Canadian rail link to the Atlantic; and expansion into the northwest, then owned by the Hudson’s Bay Company.

The 150th anniversary of the Confederation of the British North American Colonies will be celebrated July 1, 2017.

Sources: History of St. Lawrence County, New York.

Sessional Papers. Canada. Parliament. Vol. 5. 1872.

The Rutland Road.

Reasons for Confederation.

Towards Confederation; Influence of the American Civil

Influence of the American Civil War.

The Fenian Raid and Battle of Ridgeway June 1-3, 1866.

From Rebels to Revolutionaries.

Hoy, C (2004) Canadians in the Civil War. Mcarther & Company. Toronto.

Michael Whittaker resides in Bishop’s Mills, Ontario, and is a former member of the Fort La Presentation Association Board of Directors. He currently serves on the association’s marketing committee. His views do not necessarily reflect the views of the association


A Most Characteristic And Yet Vanishing Type Of American Life

First published: April 14, 2015 at 1:55 am
Last modified: April 14, 2015 at 1:55 am
Troops guarding the wagon train by Frederic Remington was made into an U.S. postage stamp in 1898. Over the years a number of Remington works have appeared on American stamps and on at least on occasion a stamp issued by the United Arab Emirates.

When genius flames out before burning the brightest, we can never know how much we have lost.

So was the case in 1909 when Frederic Remington died in Ridgefield, Connecticut at the age of 48 from complications arising from an appendectomy. He was just reaching his full creative stride with his dynamic bronze sculptures and impressionist expressions on canvas.

This Easterner captured in ink, oil and water color the romance and tragedy of the passing West. He gave form to the historic legends of the cowboy, soldier, Indian and Metis.

His art is narrative. The bronze pieces move in three dimensions while the smallest details reveal much to the attentive viewer. Each canvas tells more than one sees at first glance.

Frederic Remington did well for a drop out from the Yale College School of the Fine Arts, completing three semesters following his 1878 enrolment. He returned in 1900 to accept an honorary degree.

In 1881 he took to heart the admonition “Go west, young man,” making his first trip to the Montana Territory. This inspired his first sketch of cowboys sold to Harper’s Weekly the next year.

In 1883 he turned his hand to sheep ranching in Peabody, Kansas and soon had a studio in Kansas City, Missouri. He married Eva Adele Caten of Gloversville, NY in 1885; Eva seems never to have lived at the ranch.

When the ranch and his other business ventures failed, Remington traveled to the Southwest where he took further inspiration. He earned his freedom to paint as he liked and refine his skill.

Harper’s Weekly, Collier’s, Century Magazine and 38 other periodicals purchased his drawings to accompany popular stories. He also illustrated books by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Owen Wister, Francis Parkman and his friend Theodore Roosevelt.

From his home in New Rochelle, NY, he traveled West yearly to soak up the ambiance of his subjects. His photographs were his notes. He purchased landscapes and Indian portraits and sketched mesas to messy boots. His studio, decorated with western memorabilia, fed his inspiration.

Through his early work of the mid-1890s, Remington mastered line and light as a maturing artist. In 1900, he purchased his Saint Lawrence River summer getaway, Ingleneuk, an island in Chippewa Bay. Here he turned his hand to sculpture.

When his life was cut short in 1909, Remington’s legacy consisted of more than 3,000 drawings and paintings and editions of 22 cast bronze sculptures. He penned more than 100 magazine articles and stories. His first novel John Ermine of Yellowstone published in 1902 proved more popular than his second, The Way of the Indian, serialized in 1906.

The people of Ogdensburg were bequeathed, in care of the Board of Trustees of the Ogdensburg Public Library, many of Remington’s art, notes, correspondence and the tools of his trade by his widow Eva in 1918.

In the historic Parish Mansion on the southeast corner of State and Washington Streets, the Remington Art Memorial opened July 19, 1923. According to Curator Laura Foster, the initial collection still comprises the majority of museum’s paintings and bronzes.

But Eva did not leave everything to the people of Ogdensburg. The oil paintings bequeathed are primarily from Remington’s last years. She sold many paintings during her nine years as a widow. She recorded in her diary Thurs., March 18, 1915, “Went over things in Frederic’s desk & burned a lot of photos, etc.”

Insight into the museum’s early history is sketchy; no records of daily operations were kept until the late 1960s. Formal records of the museum’s holdings were not initiated until 1966. The Ogdensburg Library Board of Trustees minutes and scrapbooks of clippings and notes constitute the thread-bare accounts of the early decades.

The museum has benefitted from generous donations and survived what today is considered unethical practices.

The Estate of George Hall provided the Parish Mansion to house the collection. A gift from Remington’s friend and fellow sculptor Sally James Farnham, her busts of President Warren Harding and Marshal Ferdinand Foch, are the first recorded addition to the holdings.

Ogdensburg native Frederick Haskell donated a collection of minor European and American paintings and bronzes with the wish they be sold to buy Remington art.

Beginning in 1945 Dr. Harold McCracken began a series of visits to Ogdensburg and Canton to interview Remington’s acquaintances and study the art and archives in preparation for his book, Frederic Remington: Artist of the Old West, published in 1947.

McCracken suggested purchases of Remington originals and as the museum’s agent used funds from Haskell Collection sales.

A hoard of Remington oil studies was discovered in an attic room in 1946 by McCracken and then-curator Ursula Hornbrook. In 1954, 452 items, including Native American, Western and military artifacts and 110 oil paintings and studies comprising most of Frederic Remington’s Indian or Studio collection, were sold on McCracken’s advice.

The Knoedler Galleries of New York purchased the collection for $10,000 cash and $10,000 worth of conservation and re-framing to be performed by Knoedler. The money went to replace the furnace and paint inside and outside the building.

The press did not question the ethics of the sale, but covered the 1955 exhibition at Knoedler, which traveled to the Ft. Worth Art Center and comprised many of Remington bronzes and oils loaned by the Library Board.

When the art was returned and refurbished, the memorial re-opened with a ribbon-cutting ceremony June 31, 1955.

The studio collection was purchased from Knoedler by the Coe family, who then donated the objects to the Buffalo Bill Historical Center in Cody, Wyoming as the founding collection of the Whitney Gallery of Western Art. Ironically, Harold McCracken was the gallery’s first director.

Fortunately there was no fraud or deception in the trade of two bogus Remington’s in 1938 for the portrait of US Army officer Lea Febiger in the collection, painted by his friend Frederic Remington at El Paso, Texas in 1896.

Not until Laura Foster read about the “Antiques Roadshow” appraisal of Remington’s Febiger portrait was she able to connect the dots between the known bogus Remington’s in storage to soldier’s portrait.

There is much more to tell of the recent benefactors and the professional development of the Remington Art Memorial renamed Frederic Remington Museum of Art in 1981.

Theodore Roosevelt summed the importance of the museum in his 1907 appraisal of Remington in Pearson’s Magazine; “…he has portrayed a most characteristic and yet vanishing type of American life. The soldier, the cowboy and rancher, the Indian, the horses and the cattle of the plains, will live in his pictures and bronzes, I verily believe, for all time.”

Sources: Frederic Remington (1861 – 1909).

Frederic Remington (1861 – 1909).

Frederic Remington 1861 – 1909.

A House, A Legacy, A Collection. Catalog Introduction. Laura A. Foster Curator. October 6, 2000

Frederic Remington.

A strange twist to the tale of that $800,000 painting ‘Antiques Roadshow’ discovered in Birmingham.,149 words.

Michael Whittaker resides in Bishop’s Mills, Ontario, and is a former member of the Fort La Presentation Association Board of Directors. He currently serves on the association’s marketing committee. His views do not necessarily reflect the views of the association


An Ogdensburg Museum at the Dobisky Center

First published: April 07, 2015 at 1:48 am
Last modified: April 07, 2015 at 1:48 am
In an 1822 self-portrait, the 81-year-old Charles Willson Peale draws back the curtain on Peale’s Museum then on the second floor of Independence Hall in Philadelphia. Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Philadelphia

Each year almost 900-million people visit the country’s more than 17,000 museums; significantly more than 190 million who attend professional baseball, basketball, football and hockey games.

Museums are as American as apple pie. In 1786, American portrait artist Charles Willson Peale opened his museum to the public. His collection in Philadelphia was the first natural history museum in the United States.

Today most museums are dedicated the preservation of history. Many are charities often managed by local historical societies.

Late last month a reported suggestion by Ogdensburg City Councilor Jennifer Stevenson to create a museum in the unrentable café kitchen space in the Dobisky Visitors Center generated much comment pro and con on the Ogdensburg History Face Book Page.

Many of us, but certainly not all, believe the Dobisky Visitors Center is the best place currently available to begin a viable Ogdensburg Museum managed by the Historic Preservation Commission.

The Dobisky Visitors Center is essentially a museum with exhibits of Ogdensburg history on the foyer and meeting room walls, and there is a display of artifacts discovered during construction.

The 380-square-feet used by the café kitchen, not to be confused with the kitchen associated with the community facilities, offer an excellent exhibition space for some of the city’s history held by the library, city hall, individuals and elsewhere.

The Ogdensburg History online conversation proved a small museum would be valued by the community and confirmed the perceived value of local history. This puts Ogdensburg ahead of the community perception challenges identified the American Association of State and Local History.

This also dispels the elitist notions of those who believe museums are the domain of the wealthy in search of cultural experiences. In the broadest sense, museums are educational institutions collaborating with schools to enrich the experience of students and their families, and contributing to the knowledge sought by visitors and tourists.

Public historian Tegan Kehoe, a museum educator and collections specialist, said inspirational institution may best capture what a museum is. Isn’t that what people want; an inspirational institution to help launch a confident Ogdensburg toward future successes.

How? Traffic. Consider building on the tourists who visit the Frederic Remington Art Museum.

People come quite a distance to visit the Remington. A month ago I met a man from Newmarket, Ontario, a town of 80,000 35 miles north of downtown Toronto. He drove four hours for this visit alone and returned to Ontario. There was nothing else to keep him in Ogdensburg.

Another museum could have held him longer. Imaging the positive impact when a portion of the Remington’s 12,000 or so annual visitors, and the nearly as many young families and children who enjoy Kid’s Place, visit another city museum.

Remington Art Museum Curator Laura A. Foster said, in the 26 March 2015 Journal article Officials consider creating Ogdensburg history museum at Dobisky Visitors Center, a museum focusing exclusively on Ogdensburg history would be a welcome addition to the community, and would mesh well with the existing Remington Museum.

She and others agree a second museum would bode well for tourism by drawing travellers off Rte. 37 and possibly getting shoppers beyond the big-box stores on the Ford Street Extension.

Two museums fronting the St. Lawrence help make the area “sticky.” Visitors are likely to stay longer, enjoy the river vistas, and, when the walking tours are updated, discover the close-at-hand architectural gems and their 200-year scope of history.

At the heart is the Library Park Historic District, a registered National Historic District that includes the Remington Museum, the Ogdensburg Public Library, five additional registered buildings and the Soldiers and Sailors Monument.

Nurturing and promoting the downtown heritage core along with a new museum should encourage an upswing of visitors by land and water.

Business developments catering to their needs and wants will follow.

As mentioned, there is no unanimity on the choice of the Dobisky Visitors Center to house a museum. But the price is right. The city won’t be charging rent to a museum advocated by and, if the project advances, operated by the Historic Preservation Commission.

Much as a revamped house near the downtown may seem an ideal location for a museum, there are mitigating considerations: the cost to purchase or rent; the expenses of renovation and refurbishing; continuing expenditures for utilities and maintenance; and other operating costs.

Creating a museum is more than gathering, labeling, hanging or shelving interesting objects; there are mandatory procedures, protocols and ethical standards to meet in order to certify a museum.

Of necessity, a new museum could not accept, exhibit or store all the wealth of items likely to be offered by the generous people of Ogdensburg who have safeguarded objects important to the city’s history. But cataloging the generous offerings and their citizen custodians forms a resource for future opportunities to create temporary exhibits and ideally be called upon when a larger museum is established.

The Dobisky Visitors Center stands in the historic district with other attractive assets: a playground; a swimming pool; green space; and parking. Just add the Ogdensburg Museum and the Dobisky Visitors Center can truly be a center for visitors.

If the center’s café was financially sustainable an entrepreneur could have struck a deal with the city. The city need only recover costs in hope a café venture would prove successful, and in the future consider negotiating a rent increase.

The city administration is not as blindly hide-bound as some imagine to have rejected a worthwhile proposal, had one come forward.

Ogdensburg could be well served by the café kitchen equipment moved into the Lockwood Arena to dish-up simple meals and snacks to athletes, fans and other organizations and their patrons utilizing the large facility the year round.

Sources: American Association for State and Local History.

Officials consider creating Ogdensburg history museum at Dobisky Visitors Center.

A History of Museums, ‘The Memory of Mankind.

The history of museums.

Charles Willson Peale.

Michael Whittaker resides in Bishop’s Mills, Ontario, and is a former member of the Fort La Presentation Association Board of Directors. He currently serves on the association’s marketing committee. His views do not necessarily reflect the views of the association


Horwood Stained Glass: A Legacy Deserving Preservation

First published: March 31, 2015 at 1:37 am
Last modified: March 31, 2015 at 1:37 am
The Horwood stained glass at the Ottawa Public Library features a muse surrounded by seven well-known authors, poets and playwrights.

The dates in the records may vary, but there can be no doubt about Harry Horwood’s stained-glass legacy north and south of the St. Lawrence River.

Harry Horwood and four brothers born in Mells, England were raised by a widowed mother; a pauper in an 1851 register. Following the moral lessons popular in the 19th century, Harry and two of his brothers pulled themselves out of poverty to become successfully middle class.

The two older brothers, listed as laborers in an early census, may have financially helped their three younger siblings climb the social ladder through education. Regardless, the minister at St. Andrew’s Church in Mells recognized talent in the boys and enrolled them in St. Andrew’s Academy where they learned the glass arts.

Middle brother Harry (1838-1917) and his brothers Edwin (1834-92) and Mark (1840-1904) were described in order as a stainer, a glass painter and a glazier in the 1861 census.

They founded Horwood Brothers in their home town and soon moved to larger premises in Frome, but production ceased in 1881. Glass from this studio still illuminates churches in England.

According to a short history of Horwood Brothers in Sussex, England parish records, Harry Horwood took his stained-glass craftsmanship to North America when he immigrated to Ontario in 1887 (sic).

As early as 1861 Harry traveled to Canada to work with Joseph McCausland of Toronto on the windows for the new Parliament buildings in Ottawa; destroyed by fire in 1916.

McCausland of Toronto, the oldest surviving stained-glass studio in North America, has about 32,000 windows recorded in the firm’s letter books and day books.

In 1864 Harry returned to England to work for a few years with his brothers in the Frome studio. After 1871 his name no longer appears on an English census roll. Harry seems to have gone to New York City in the 1870s to work for the Gibson studio during the business’s fleeting return. William Gibson promoted himself as the “father of glass painting” in the United States.

Around 1834 William Gibson began the earliest known stained-glass business in the United States. His first New York City studio did not last long. Decades later Gibson briefly reopened, in time for Harry to work on the restoration of windows in the Vanderbilt mansion on Central Park West.

Harry moved to open a studio in Ottawa about 1876.Three years later he went to England and returned, after sufficient time, with a wife and at least two sons, Harry James and Clarence.

In 1881, he was contracted to create the windows for Ogdensburg’s new opera house and city hall. He moved Horwood and Sons to Prescott with Ottawa as a branch office. In a business decision common today, rather than pay import taxes to the U.S. and Canada, he opened a new studio across Ford Street from the opera house.

Clarence, who failed to make his fortune in the Yukon gold rush of ’98, ran the Prescott studio until 1912 when he died in Ottawa.

When Harry Horwood died of an illness five-years later in Ottawa, his son Harry James, who operated the Ogdensburg studio, moved the business to the corner of Washington and Paterson Streets.

He continued the business until his death in 1947and is interred with his wife in the Ogdensburg Cemetery. In Ontario, the Blue Church Cemetery west of Prescott is the resting place of many Horwoods.

Horwood talent extended beyond glass; family members played musical instruments and were known to present informal concerts. Son Edgar, an architect of some fame in Canada, designed the long since been demolished Ottawa Public Library. Fortunately the large, decorative Horwood window is preserved in the library’s main downtown branch.

In Northern New York and Eastern Ontario, Horwood stained glass brings light and color into churches, institutions, private homes and beyond in Australia, South Africa, Northern Ireland and England.

The Baptist Church in Ogdensburg and the Presbyterian and Unitarian Universalist Churches in Canton have Horwood windows, as do churches in Prescott, Brockville and many more communities either side of the St. Lawrence.

Historian David E. Martin of Black Lake leads the campaign to establish the Horwood Museum to collect, restore, preserve and interpret the windows to the highest museum standards.

He has documented windows numbering into the thousands.

The nonprofit Horwood Museum has a Charter, approval from the New York State Education Department and a 501 (c) 3 registration, providing income-tax deductibility for donors.

With first phase in order, the second is to acquire land on which to construct a museum with ample, environment-controlled storage for the acquisitions. Several windows are currently in safe storage.

Phase three will erect the Horwood Museum to display windows and related artifacts, also windows produced by other artists and studios. Collected materials will be available to researchers and student. Public lectures and presentations are anticipated.

Mr. Martin has photographed the identified Horwood windows in New York and Ontario. Even unsigned windows can be recognized by an experienced eye sensitive to the color and type of glass and other diagnostic clues.

Appreciation for Horwood windows extends into Ontario. Two Harry Horwood windows salvaged from the residence of Prescott distiller J.P. Wiser at the time of the mansion’s demolition in the late 1950s were restored in 2012.

Northern Art Glass of Ottawa undertook the painstaking repairs to the two stained glass windows now displayed with 11 other Horwood windows in Crysler Hall at Upper Canada Village. Northern Art Glass has informative blogs on Horwood glass at

Historical Restorations Foundation in Hannibal, NY is a nonprofit dedicated to historically correct stained-glass restoration. Horwood windows are among the foundation’s work described with photographs by Mr. Martin at

Sources: David E. Martin, Horwood Museum President, correspondence and conversation

Horwood Brothers.

Horwood Stained Glass.

Horwood Stained Glass Company.

William Gibson.

Robert McCausland Limited.

Windows into Wiser world on display at Upper Canada Village.

Crysler Hall.

A Glimpse Into Ogdensburg Past. 

Historical Restorations Foundation.


The Good Old Days Of The Pioneer’s Life Have Passed Away

First published: March 24, 2015 at 1:40 am
Last modified: March 24, 2015 at 1:40 am
Settlers clearing land by burning fallen trees in a girdled clearing. To open the forest to farming, new arrivals often cut around the circumference of trees to kill them. The loss of leaves opened the canopy for sunlight to reach newly planted crops. When dead, the trees were easier to topple. Library and Archives Canada, Acc. No. 1970-188-718 W.H. Coverdale Collection of Canadiana. Artist Sir George Harvey Copyright expired.

The following narrative is no fancy sketch, so claimed Gates Curtis of Ogdensburg in May 1894, not quite 100 years after American settlers arrived along the Oswegatchie River.

Gates edited 51 chapters of Our County and Its People a Memorial Record of St. Lawrence County New York, running to more than 800 pages.

As he wrote, chapter nine The Pioneer Experience “...simply relates what the pioneer settlers were obliged to pass through in order to effect a lodgement in a wilderness so remote from civilization.”

An abridgement of his narrative follows.

When the British troops had evacuated Fort Oswegatchie in 1796, Samuel Ogden, through his agent Nathan Ford, took possession and began to build mills and lay-out roads through a portion of the most valuable lands.

People came with a view of selecting land on which to settle. The beautiful St. Lawrence, with its chain of navigable lakes, attracted many to undertake the hazardous task and endure the privations of the pioneer.

When a new settlement was to begin in the woods at any considerable distance from civilization, two or three men would visit to select the most desirable places.

At first Mr. Ford allowed the settlers to choose their properties, after which he had the land surveyed into lots. Their first choice was the maple and beech ridges, as the dry ground was more certain to produce an early crop.

After these arrangements were completed, the men returned to their homes; then half a dozen or more men, women and children would join the settlement enterprise.

Parties coming by the way of Vermont could get conveyances as far as Plattsburgh. From there they made their way through the woods on foot, carrying a pack, guided by Indian trails or blazed trees, sleeping in hunter’s shanties or on boughs gathered for the occasion.

This part of the journey took six to ten days, if the family was in good health.

Those who came by way of Albany traveled in boats up the Mohawk, Woods Creek and around by Oswego. Some came across from Fort Stanwix (now Rome) through the woods by Carthage, making their way either on foot or on pack horses and sleeping in shanties built for the occasion.

Their outfit consisted of pocket knives, whet stones, chopping axes, iron wedges, a saw, augurs, a few nails, a frying pan, a bake kettle, pail, cups, tin plates, blankets, salt and flour. Meats were easily procured from game.

Arriving at their chosen properties, they made themselves as comfortable as possible and soon became accustomed to their lot. Similar settlements were formed within a year or two at Morristown, Black Lake, Heuvelton, De Kalb, Lisbon, Waddington and other places in the county. The first two or three years of the pioneer’s life were the most trying. Previous to the completion of Ford’s grist mill at Oswegatchie, the settlers had to procure what little flour they used from Montreal at great expense.

Therefore their food consisted largely of fresh and dried venison, beech nuts, walnuts, butternuts, basswood buds, the inner coat of birch bark and maple sugar, and occasionally shortcake when they were lucky enough to have flour.

Shortcake was considered a luxury, although made from coarse flour without butter or lard for shortening or soda to rise. In absence of these ingredients, the women were not slow to utilize the means at hand.

Deer’s tallow was plentiful, though too hard and dry to work well in kneading, but by melting a portion of bear’s grease or raccoon’s oil with tallow a useable dough was formed.

White lye was also used in place of soda, readily made by dropping hot ash cinders into water. The cinders were formed by green-timber sap dripping from the end of burning logs into hot ashes.

After the ingredients were properly kneaded, the dough was rolled to fit into an iron skillet. Then the cake was ornamented by fork tines marking the surface with diamond shapes and dotting the center.

The skillet was set on the hearth at a suitable angle to allow the heat to strike squarely on the cake. Live coals were placed beneath and behind the skillet. In this manner the cake was soon baked to a good brown and healthy color.

The women were skilled in this way of cooking. They watched the baking closely, turning it around or over occasionally for an even baking.

To ascertain sufficient baking, they dumped the cake onto a bench and either gave it a few finger taps or punctured it with a partridge quill, after which it was rolled in a dampened towel to soften the crust, broken and served warm with maple molasses.

Apart from the hardships and privations, which the pioneers endured, their lives would appear to the people of the present day to be very lonely, surrounded by a dense forest, virtually cutting them off from the outside world.

This was not the case. They actually enjoyed life better than the present day, for there was no display of pompous etiquette to mar the friendly feelings that bound them together as a neighborhood. They were always ready to lend a helping hand, and their doors were open to welcome strangers.

They raised flax, and sheep for wool, which they spun into yarn, wove into cloth and made into garments, with a view more to the comfort than to conform to fashion.

Their social gatherings, apart from worship, consisted in frequently going from house to house. They usually passed time singing, dancing, storytelling or riddle-guessing. The women and children were often conveyed to and from on sleds or travois drawn by oxen.

This seeming equality of the people and their social interactions existed for a time and until strangers of some means came to purchase the improvements of a few settlers, who were thus sent further into the wilderness.

The vacated places were filled by those unaccustomed to pioneer life, creating a coldness or indifference on the part of the newcomer to entering into full fellowship with the pioneers. This caused distrust on the part of the latter, which grew stronger as wealth increased, and caste in society was soon clearly visible.

This distinction has kept pace with the prosperity of the country ever since, and hence the good old days of the pioneer’s life have passed away never to return.

Source: Our County and Its People a Memorial Record of St. Lawrence County New York.

Michael Whittaker resides in Bishop’s Mills, Ontario, and is a former member of the Fort La Presentation Association Board of Directors. He currently serves on the association’s marketing committee. His views do not necessarily reflect the views of the association


Stalwart Of Ogdensburg’s Marine Industry Takes To The Road

First published: March 17, 2015 at 1:20 am
Last modified: March 17, 2015 at 1:20 am
The 1915 Dunn Light Roadster had a front- mounted engine supplying power to the rear wheels through a two-speed manual gearbox. The vehicle weighed 2,804 pounds. Courtesy

Before the manufacture of aircraft in Ogdensburg, some of the skill pool that contributed to boat building put an automobile on the road in the second decade of the 20th century.

Industrial capability in the Maple City must have had a wide-spread reputation. The manufacturer of Brass Age automobiles, Eisenhuth Horseless Vehicle Company in New York City, considered a move to Ogdensburg in 1902.

Eisenhuth opted for Middletown, Ct where the company installed its unique three-cylinder engine in four models of its Compound automobile. The seven-seater sold for $6,000 to $8,000.

Only 384 cars rolled out of the shop. Eisenhuth Horseless Vehicle Company declared bankruptcy in 1907.

Meanwhile in Ogdensburg another creative talent with a background in bicycles, like that of Wilbur and Orville Wright and Glenn Curtis, was Walter Dunn.

In 1877, Walter E. Dunn was born to Joseph Dunn and the former Maggie May Erratt at 75 King St., Ogdensburg.

He cut his teeth as a mechanic for an Ogdensburg bicycle manufacturer. Later, at the Nash Brothers Steam and Boiler Works he may have acquired his machine-building abilities.

Two years before Eisenhuth moved to Connecticut, the Walter E. Dunn Co. had an international reputation for top-quality marine engines assembled in a factory at 10 River St. Dunn Motor Works, relocated to 5 Jackson St. and about 1904 moved to a final address at 63 Main St.

A purchase of adjacent back-filled swamp land from Edgar Burns in 1909 allowed for expansion. The Ogdensburg Advertiser of 28 August that year also stated Dunn was selling stationary and marine engines to Cuba, Norway, Sweden, California and British Columbia.

Shortly before the outbreak of WWI the idea of designing and fabricating an automobile percolated within Walter. He possessed the know-how, equipment and factory for the task.

There were challenges to overcome. The heaving castings added too much weight for the marine engine to be useful; an air-cooled, four-cylinder 30 HP engine got the two-speed, bicycle-wheeled roadster onto the streets of Ogdensburg.

Records in the Ogdensburg Public Library Archives indicate Dunn designed and built the air-cooled, aluminum crank case motor, and his two-speed transmission with reverse added only 25 pounds to his two-passenger vehicle.

Unlike the pricy Eisenhuth of a decade earlier, the Dunn Cycle Car sold for $295 in 1916. This underpriced Ford by $50, The Model T was more robust with better carrying capacity.

Personal accounts in the Feb. 13, 2013 Thousand Island Magazine article Ogdensburg’s Own Automobile state: in Feb. 1916 an order came from India; 15-20 cars were built and shipped as far as Australia and China; and the automobile business was active in 1922.

Before the Dunn Cycle Car rolled through Ogdensburg, the city had an automobile club operating before 1909. Perhaps not surprisingly the first person in the city to own a “horseless carriage” was Julius Frank, two-term mayor and general manager of Nathan Frank’s Sons department store.

In fact touring by automobile became popular shortly after the first reliable vehicles came available.

The early 20th-century publication The Automobile published an article March 8, 1906 titled Ogdensburg to Ottawa.

The lead read, “The principal gateway into the Ottawa district from New York State is Ogdensburg, from which the Canadian capital is widely known as the headquarters of the greatest lumber industries in the world.”

The motorist was assured there’d be no difficulty following the 60-mile route once arriving on the Ontario shore at Prescott from a ferry large enough for any automobile. An accompanying map showed the principal routes into and out of Ottawa.

Barring rain the entire road was said to be fairly good, allowing comfortable travel at an average 15 miles per hour.

A sandy stretch of road ran from about Spencerville through Kemptville to about 15 miles south of Ottawa where the so-called Military Highway was paved. Here after averaging about 20miles per hour over the last 40 miles from Kemptville, the intrepid driver “can make any speed desired within the limits of your machine.”

The guide recommended a 120-mile circular trip to arrive in Brockville where another ferry crossed to Morristown and repeated the admonishment; these roads are fairly good in dry weather as highways go on this continent.

In 1988 James Bellamy wrote Cars Made in Upstate New York, which is still available when searched online. On page 41 Bellamy say the St. Lawrence River/Adirondack region was the second of seven regions dividing New York State.

Here he noted four automobile companies, including Dunn, within an eight-county area.

The Babcock was built in Watertown and likely owned by the forbearers of this paper’s publisher.

The Lozier, one of the best built early American cars, came from Plattsburgh. A steam car called the Malterner was built, but not marketed.

Walter Dunn died of what may have been stomach cancer May 17, 1927. He was only 50 years old.

The bulk of his $50,000 estate went to his family. His stenographer Margaret Gagnon received $10,000.

I am indebted to John Peach for his informative Thousand Islands Magazine article Ogdensburg’s Own Automobile. I strongly recommend this to anyone wanting to know more about the Walter E. Dunn Co. and his quality internal-combustion marine engines.

Sources: Ogdensburg’s Own Automobile.

The Automobile.

Eisenhuth Horseless Vehicle Company.

Eisenhuth Horseless Vehicle Company.

The Ogdensburg Advance and St. Lawrence Sunday Democrat.

Michael Whittaker resides in Bishop’s Mills, Ontario, and is a former member of the Fort La Presentation Association Board of Directors. He currently serves on the association’s marketing committee. His views do not necessarily reflect the views of the association


Ogdensburg Powerboat Expertise Takes To The Air

First published: March 10, 2015 at 1:34 am
Last modified: March 10, 2015 at 1:34 am
The Huff-Daland TW-5 was a biplane trainer built for the United States Army Air Service (USAAS). In 1923, as many as 26 were constructed for the USAAS and the US Navy. The Navy version had floats, which could be interchanged with wheels. When the letter-and-number designation was changed, the aircraft became AT-1, the first advanced trainer.

The craftsmanship essential to framing and forming elegant wooden powerboats morphed easily into early aircraft construction.

The Huff-Daland Company was founded in 1920 by Massachusetts Institute of Technology graduates Thomas Huff and Elliot Daland who knew boat builders’ skills translated especially well to the construction of hydro-airplanes, aka flying boats.

A third partner, C. Talbot Porter, is rarely mentioned.

Famed Ogdensburg boat builder Joseph Leyare had closed his boat works in 1917 to take charge of the Curtiss Airplane Company’s hydro-airplane plant in Buffalo.

When he returned in 1919, Leyare leased his plant to the Huff-Daland Company for the construction of hydro-airplanes.

To encourage the new aircraft enterprise, the Chamber of Commerce raised $3,000 to cover the rent on Leyare’s plant for one year. Joseph Leyare continued building boats, with the assistance of Huff-Daland, under the business name St. Lawrence Boat Works, Inc.

Within a short time the innovative Huff-Daland Company registered under a new name, the Huff-Daland Aeroway Corp.

Powerboats remained on the company’s production lines, which also fabricated flying boats, biplanes and military aircraft.

In 1924 Huff-Daland moved from its Riverside Ave. plant to facilities in Bristol, PA, on the Delaware River 23 miles north east of downtown Philadelphia.

Technology had bypassed Ogdensburg, although some elements of the company remained in the city. Experienced metal workers not found here were required for the aircraft industry.

The industry was beginning a boom as WWI surplus aircraft passed their prime. In July 1926, 250 military and civilian aircraft were on back order with Huff-Daland.

A Dec. 12, 2012 article in Northern New York Business cites a 1989 Watertown Daily Times report saying the late Clarkson University Professor Robert Wyant stated Huff-Daland produced more than 7,500 biplanes in Ogdensburg.

Dr. Wyant, a Huff-Daland expert, planned to write a book. Was the work completed? He died in 2005.

A brief column in the May 28, 1935 Watertown Daily Times, datelined Ogdensburg, reported eight Huff-Daland light bombers sold to the Argentine Naval Commission and a similar model to Brazil. The aircraft with Wright T-5 engines beat out competition from Britain, France and Germany.

Interestingly, by 1935 a series of mergers had eaten Huff-Daland. Its last incarnation as the Keystone division of Curtiss-Wright ceased production in 1932 An earlier prototype biplane bomber XLB-1 powered by two Packard engines was purchased by the US Army in 1923. Only one was built. The 1935 article also noted Huff-Daland’s plan to initiate an air-freight service from Maine to Florida.

Nonetheless, the pioneering North Country enterprise laid the foundation for Delta Air Lines, which was built on the Huff-Daland crop dusters first manufactured in 1925.

Southern cotton fields saw significant service from the crop dusters combating the destructive boll weevils. When a farmer could manually dust about 18 acres-per-day with horse-drawn equipment, a flying crop duster covered as much as 780 acres in two hours.

The Huff-Daland Duster was a version of their Petrel military biplane modified with a chemical hopper and spray mechanism fitted into the fuselage. A restored Duster hangs in the Boeing Aviation Hanger at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Chantilly, Va.

Huff-Daland Dusters spun off as a separate company soon after the move to Bristol. Huff-Daland Dusters based in Macon, Ga soon moved to Monroe, La where Collett Everman Woolman became the general manager and vice president of the division. Mr. Woolman piloted Huff-Daland Dusters to become Delta Air Lines.

When U.S. business slowed, he pioneered new off-season markets; Mexico in 1925 and Peru in 1927. With the company’s crop-dusting success in Latin America, Woolman and operations manager Harold R. Harris inaugurated an air-passenger service in Peru in 1928 with the approval of the Peruvian government.

With barely a year under the company wings, Woolman sold the South American venture in 1929. The sale funded the purchase of three five-passenger aircraft. The Wichita-built Travel Air monoplanes flew at 90-miles-per-hour.

Ogdensburg native Catherine R. Fitzgerald, executive secretary to Mr. Woolman, named the airline after the Mississippi Delta region served by the company. Delta Air Service, now Delta Air Lines, took to the air. Delta’s inaugural passenger flight from Dallas, Tx to Jackson, Ms flew June 17, 1929 with stops in Shreveport and Monroe, La. Returning to aircraft manufacture, Huff-Daland Aero Corp in Bristol became the Huff-Daland Aero Company, which made its name building bombers for the United States Army Air Service.

Thomas Huff left the company in 1926. Hayden, Stone & Co, a major securities firm, purchased the business and renamed the company Keystone.

In a 1928 merger with Loening, the company became Keystone-Loening and was in turn swallowed by Buffalo-based Curtiss-Wright in 1929 as part of a 12 company merger.

The Keystone division of Curtiss-Wright as noted above ceased production in 1932.

Famed aviator and engineer James McDonnell, another MIT graduate, worked less than a year for Huff-Daland before leaving in 1928 to establish J.S. McDonnell & Associates.

Photos of Huff-Daland aircraft are found at You Tube has a few short movies.

Sources: A Giant Was Born Up North.

Delta Air Lines Founders Facts and Trivia.

Joseph Leyare, The Great St. Lawrence Boat Builder.

Huff-Daland Duster.

Keystone Aircraft.

High Frontier: A History of Aeronautics in Pennsylvania.

Syracuse Football Tickets Giveaway
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