Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Abigail Fithian Halsey

Abigail Fithian Halsey

Abigail Fithian Halsey
2 Oct 1873 - 14 Oct 1946

“Miss Halsey, previous to her coming to Ithaca, had served some time in Red Cross work, and had taught in public and private schools [in MN, OH] of the [NY] state. She had also had experience both in Camp Fire and Girl Scout work.”

Founding member of Southampton Colony Chapter of Daughters of the American Revolution.

April 1, 1921-July 1, 1922 | founding secretary of the Community Building in Ithaca, NY

July 1, 1922 | Ithaca, NY, “Miss Halsey Resigns Post As Secretary: Executive of Committee Building Leaves July 1 to Study in New York City—Record of Work Accomplished at Local Home is Highly Commendable”

1922 | Study in New York City of “the work in which she is particularly interested”

1927 | “Miss Halsey Has Had Wide Drama Experience”
“Miss Halsey, who has been engaged by the Farm and Home Bureau to put on the Historical Drama for the Sesquicentennial Celebration which takes place at the Drama [Club] for the Sesquicentennial [on September] 10, was selected by the State Historian, with the enthusiastic endorsement of the State College, as a drama director of state-wide reputation and experience. She has, for a number of years past been connected with the Hecksher Foundation of New York City, in its Educational Drama department.

Miss Halsey wrote and staged the great Pageant in 1924 at East Hampton, L.I., and also the one given at Ithaca under the auspices of the State College of Agriculture in 1922. She is the author of the booklet issued from the press of the State College of Agriculture “The Historical Pageant in the Rural Community.” Her efficiency as well as her personal charm and tact, have already won her friends on every side in Kingston and throughout the county, and are brining in recruits daily for the wonderful scenes in the making of our state government that will be depicted in the stirring drama.”

September 3, 1921 | Ithaca, “49,000 Attended Tompkins Fair President Says,”
Saturday, September 3, 1921 | Editorial: A Successful Fair
“If public interest and support are proper criterions the Tompkins County Fair this year was a great success. Attendance records seem to have been broken all the way down the line.

That the pageant played no small part in attracting the public to the fair grounds is beyond question. Indeed it was the pageant that made this fair distinctive from all other similar enterprises. The pageant certainly made good. It was well worth while not alone as an educational entertainment, but as an agency for stimulating community pride and solidarity.

Considering the relatively short time available for preparation and rehearsal, the pageant was a most creditable success and Miss Halsey and all associated with her in the enterprise well deserve the applause and appreciation one hears expressed on every hand. And had it been possible to provide better lighting facilities the pageant would have been even more effective. It is to be hoped that if something of the sort is attempted again the lighting problem will be adequately met.”

1932 | Chairman of Southampton’s George Washington Bicentennial Celebration

1932-1946 | Historian, Town of Southampton

1940 | Author, In Old Southampton, Columbia University Press

Two Poems | Abigail Fithian Halsey


How would I prove my love?

By some fair deed,
Some joyous sacrifice,
Some swift relief
Unto your utmost need,
Some glowing revelation
That, like sunlight on a distant hill,
Should show you all my heart
In one glad moment yours.

How do I prove my love?

By standing just aside,
By seeing you go on,
Day after day,
In ways I may not tread;
By watching your dear feet
Stumble in paths
My word could save you from,
Yet never speaking it;

By knowing past all doubting
That the day will come,
When, all else gone,
You will turn your face
To meet my waiting eyes,
And there
Behold your own.


Dear comrade, do they call you dead?
Ah no, not I.

Last night the moon lay white on all the land,
A boat was anchored
Here beside the stream.
Oh, ‘twas a merry party
Setting forth,
And you were here,
And those we loved,
And I.

One took the oars
And rowed us toward the hills.
The woods closed in,
The stream grew dark,
And then
The boat was grounded sudden on the shoals,
And I
Said quickly that perhaps
We’d come too far.
Too far, they all agreed,
And turned us back.
Then quietly you rose and stepped ashore,
And with a smile to me,
“I am going on
To find the source,”
And left us there,
And I—

Dear comrade, do they call you dead ?
Ah no, not I!

By Abigail Fithian Halsey
Published in Contemporaneous Verse, Jan. 1917, p. 8-9 —

"The Old Mill" by Abigail F. Halsey

"The Old Mill"

On the hill stood the mill a watch tower of old,
In the door stood the miller all dusty and bold,
Up the hill came the farmers with grist to be ground
As the wings of the mill turned so merrily round.
Oh, life had a flavor in days long ago,
A tang and a savor we never shall know.
All the news of the village was ground into flour,
The wind and the weather, the tide and the hour,
The crops and the crews and the favoring breeze,
The births and the deaths the ships on the seas.
A tang and a savor we never shall know.
There was plenty of time and plenty of work,
And “plenty” to do it and no one to shirk,
Then no one was rich and no one was poor,
Religion was real and hell-fire was sure,
Oh, talk had a flavor in days long ago,
A tang and a savor we never shall know.
The news from New York when it came once a week
Was turned with the cud to the sou’ sou’ west cheek,
But the sight of a whale from the top of the mill
Sent a blast that would waken the dead down the hill,
When the Whale Rally sounded at night or at morn
The call was a rival of Gabriel’s horn.
Alas for the darkness that shrouded the mill
In the strange march of “Progress” it moved with the hill,
Alone in its exile and shorn of its wings,
The old mill sits brooding on far away things—
On life and its flavor in days long ago,
Its tang and its savor we never shall know.
Let us bring back the mill while the old beams are strong,
Let us give back its wings for the days that are gone,
That our sons may remember the good old days of old
When millers were seamen and semen were bold,
To give life a flavor of days long ago
Whose tang and whose savor we never shall know.

Long Island, N.Y. Thursday, March 14th, 1929

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Letter from Abigail Fithian Halsey re: 88 Grove Street

34 Post Crossing
Southampton, L.I.
December 17, 1936

My dear Mr. Stokes,

This is a letter I have intended to write a long time giving you some information about your house which was built by my grandfather Henry Halsey and his brothers Jesse and Edward in 1827.

Their father had died and their mother Phoebe, unable to give her boys a college education, although she owned much land here, took them to New York and apprenticed them to a master mason. They built 88 Grove Street for themselves, buying Lot No. 52 from Thomas R. Mercein at the time, I think when Greenwich Village was taken into the city. Henry brought his bride there, and his mother, brothers and two sisters lived on one floor, he and his wife on the other. My father, Charles Henry Halsey was born there in 1830. In ’33 the two younger brothers went to sea, became whaling captains, the others came home to Southampton where Henry built the house my brother, Rev. Jesse Halsey of Cincinnati, still owns.

It may interest you to know that the cornice in the old house in Southampton is the same as in yours. I know because one day long ago as I passed, I plucked up my courage and called to tell you all this. Neither you nor Mrs. Stokes were home, but your faithful Anna gave me a glimpse of the lovely interior of these old rooms.

It is in gratitude for your preservation of that which is beautiful and precious to us that I write at this Christmas season to wish you Joy in the old house.

Very sincerely,

Abigail Fithian Halsey

Lizbeth H. White

Lizbeth Halsey White
Lizbeth H. White
Memorial written by and read by Robert Keene at the Annual Meeting of the Southampton Colonial Society, 17 May 1985

Lizbeth White, born Lizbeth [May] Halsey, and the sister of Abigail Halsey and the Rev. Jesse Halsey, has become one of my heroines.

Lizbeth White was the Southampton Town Historian during the 1920s. She succeeded the first Town Historian, William S. Pelletreau, the man who restored and put in order and had reprinted the early Town Records. It is the work that Lizbeth White did as Town Historian that has made me so familiar with her. It was her accomplishments and foresights, along with her remarkable grasp and concept of local history, that has endeared her to me, three Town Historians and some 50 years later.

Lizbeth White as the founding Regent of the local chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution and it was Lizbeth White who was instrumental in brining to the attention of the Town Board in 1928 the design of the Town Flag, as presented by the Daughters of the American Revolution. It was her small typewritten note that I found in the Dunwell papers that led to the adoption, in 1982, of the first Southampton Town Flag.

And it was Lizbeth White who revealed that the first woman to step ashore at what was later to be called Conscience Point was Eleanor, the wife of the leader of the first settlers, Edward Howell. And she was the first to identify that small boy in the boat who was Arthur, Eleanor and Edward Howell’s 8-year-old son.

Lizbeth White lived in what is now known as The Post House, and raised her family there. When The Post House, which is being renovated and restored at the present time, reopens as an inn a room will be named for Lizbeth White. It was while reading an old article by her that I found reference to the Old Post House. She mentioned that when some chimney work was being done in the 1920s some bricks were found that had 1684 scratched on them. Later the Museum acquired one of those bricks and at the present time it is on loan to The Post House, where it can be seen.

In 1915, Southampton celebrated its 275th anniversary, and at that time the Sea-Side Times published a piece by Lizbeth White. It was in that piece that Lizbeth White proved to me that she had the understanding and inspiration that, over 35 years later, resulted in the founding of the Southampton Historical Museum. The following is what Lizbeth White wrote back in 1915. It was a most remarkable inside into what someday was going to take place.

I quote Lizbeth White, from a Sea-Side Times of 1915: “And now permit me to urge upon you the importance of guarding with greater care the vouchers of your noble descent, the memorials of your venerable history.

“Many of our town’s most precious memorials have vanished forever. Our fathers were too busy planting and colonizing, to think much about leaving behind them personal souvenirs. We have few of their household materials which ministered to the narrow comforts of their life.

“The golden opportunities for constructing the infant history of our colony have for the most part passed away. Those which remain ought to be seized with the greatest avidity. Shall I give you an outline of what ought to be in this fine Old Town? First then, I would like to see the fairest lot of land to be found between Long Springs and the beach devoted to a memorial use. Spare an acre or two from your generous farms, upon it to be erected a modest but dignified structure of stone, or brick, fireproof, which shall contain primarily a library. Then into this repository let every native and every citizen take a pride in gathering whatever shall preserve the memory of the past or throw light upon its life. The place and time to begin are here and now.

“Begin with today and work backward as fast and as far as possible,” she wrote, continuing: “Gradually the past will be restored, the lost will be found. Long hidden treasures will leap from their hiding places and find their companions and congenial associations. How much of value has been thrown away for want of a place to keep it. The spaced upon your shelves or in your cases will appeal powerfully to generous possessions. In the long run things tend to go where they are greatly wanted and where they ought to be.

“The Colonial Society, established in 1898, has held on two occasions, a loan exhibition where a rare and beautiful collection of articles and relics of earlier days were brought together and exhibited. These exhibitions have proved our locality rich in treasures of the past and the Society has long looked forward to making permanent an exhibit of the kind of thing which historical societies everywhere are doing, with a background of incidents far less picturesque than that Southampton possesses.”

Lizbeth White also made the following statement during her talk at the convention of New York Historians, held in Southampton, on October 6th, 1932, two weeks before she passed away, and I quote, “We bow in grateful tribute today to these representatives both of the old and the new who have sought so successfully to pass on to the future the best of all that has preceded.”

I wonder what Lizbeth White would say today if she could see how Southampton has preserved its heritage, and continues to honor its past, and has created this truly magnificent museum complex which has become a fitting memorial for all that Lizbeth White ever dreamed of. And furthermore, it is a tribute to Lizbeth White, the first woman historian of the Town and the meticulous recorder of our history and our heritage.

I sincerely believe it would be in order at this time to entertain a motion from the membership to the effect that the contents of this building, The Captain Rogers Homestead, be known in the future as the Lizbeth White Memorial, and that an appropriate bronze plague be created and mounted in the building so indicating that designation.

275th Anniversary of Southampton: "a more sympathetic understanding between neighbors"

On June 12, 1915, the citizens of Southampton, N.Y., staged a historical pageant written and directed by my Great Great Aunt Abigail Fithian Halsey, commemorating the town's 275th Anniversary. In addition to being a teacher and one-time Southampton town historian, "Aunt Babbie" made a living writing stories, poems, and pageants.

Edward Post White, Sr., far right
According to the catalog of Babbie's papers held in the New York State historical archive, organizations which sponsored her pageants include: "The Dairymen's League Cooperative Association, the Heckscher Foundation for Children, City History Club of New York, the New York State Federation of Women's Clubs, and other civic or cultural organizations in Southampton, Sag Harbor, East Hampton, Riverhead, Ithaca, Kingston, Tappen, N.Y., and Cincinnati, OH." Among the topics covered in the programs were the Shinnecock Indians in Southampton, and the Women's Community Building and the Tompkins County Fair in Ithaca, N.Y.

One of the publications to which Babbie contributed was the Cornell University Extension Bulletin. Her article, "The Historical Pageant in the Rural Community," from Bulletin No. 54 in June 1922, features a photo of a woman in Puritan garb, accompanied by two children similarly clad. The photo depicts a scene from the 1916 Southampton pageant. I'm certain the boy in the photo is 10th-generation son of Southampton Charles Henry Halsey II, my grandfather, age 4.

In the article Babbie writes, "Fifty years ago the street procession was the usual form of American pageantry. Now the pageant is the dramatic representation of the life of a community, or of the development of an art, expressed historically, allegorically, or symbolically. This is a simple definition, but, for our purpose, a satisfactory one. Whether it is an historical pageant, an allegorical pageant, or a symbolical pageant depends upon the form in which we choose to present the life of our community. It is easy to look up the historical facts and portray them in a series; but the pageant will lose its best lessons if we depend upon facts alone for our materials. There are meanings below the surface of men's lives which can be expressed only in living pictures that represent spiritual qualities. This is allegory. There are lessons for the future which no portray of facts, nor even pictures of spiritual qualities, can teach, but which can be made clear only by some strong, symbolical episode which will for all time leave in the minds of its beholders a truth which cannot be forgotten. There, while it is perfectly possible to make a community pageant which shall be entirely allegorial or symbolical in form, it is better for our purpose to take the facts from the historical background of the community and use the other forms of pageantry 'to suggest the ideals and aspirations which have had a place in the development of the community.'"

According to a review of her article carried in the November 1922 issue of The Playground--the monthly publication of the Playground and Recreation Association of America--Babbie "offers practical and encouragement to rural communities desirous of making local history live through an historical pageant." Focusing on the "construction, presentation, music, costumes, committees, etc., of pageants," she claims as the pageant's purpose the development of a "local history as well as a more sympathetic understanding between neighbors."

"Southampton Honors Lizbeth White"

Lizbeth May Halsey White & Edward Pearson White 
c1929 | 34 Post Crossing
from "Southampton Honors Lizbeth White"

By Portia Flanagan

Long Island Traveler-Watchman
23 May 1985

SOUTHAMPTON—The Contents of the Southampton Historical Museum were designated officially as the Lizbeth White Memorial by members of the Southampton Colonial Society at their annual meeting held in the museum’s spacious drawing room Friday night, May 17.

The members’ unanimous action was taken to honor the late Mrs. White who, as Town Historian in the 1920s, uncovered numbers of long-hidden treasures and urged the community to preserve its rich heritage for future generations.

Society Trustee Roy L. Wines Jr. told the 100 persons present that it was “a privilege to offer the motion” to designate the museum’s contents in Mrs. White’s memory. His motion also provided for the creation of “an appropriate bronze plague” to be mounted in the museum building, known as The Captain Rogers Homestead, at Meeting House Lane.

Preceding the establishment of the memorial, Society president Robert Keene, who is the current town historian, described Mrs. White as “one of my heroines.” It was in his own search of town records that revealed her accomplishments and foresight, along with her remarkable grasp and concept of local history, that endeared her to me, three Town Historians and some 50 years later,” Mr. Keen said.

Reading from a prepared statement, Mr. Keene said that in 1915, when Southampton celebrated its 275th anniversary, the local paper, the Sea-Side Times, published a piece written by Mrs. White that he said, “proved to me that she had the understanding and inspiration that, over 35 years later, resulted in the founding of the Southampton Historical Museum.

In it Mrs. White noted that  “Many of our town’s most precious memorials have vanished forever. Our fathers were too busy planting and colonizing, to think much about leaving behind them personal souvenirs . . . The golden opportunities for constructing the infant history of our colony have for the most part passed away. Those which remain ought to be seized with the greatest avidity.”

She would like to see, she wrote 70 years ago, “The fairest lot of land to be found between Long Springs and the beach devoted to a memorial use. Spare an acre or two from your generous farms, upon it to be erected a modest but dignified structure of stone, or brick, fireproof, which shall contain primarily a library. Then into this repository let every native and every citizen take a pride in gathering whatever shall preserve the memory of the past or throw light upon its life. The place and time to begin are here and now.

“Begin with today and work backward as fast and as far as possible,” she wrote, continuing: “Gradually the past will be restored, the lost will be found. Long hidden treasures will leap from their hiding places and find their companions and congenial associations.”

She noted in the article that the Colonial Society, established in 1898, had sponsored two loan exhibitions of “a rare and beautiful collection of articles and relics of earlier days  . . . These exhibitions have proved our locality rich in treasures of the past and the Society has long looked forward to making permanent an exhibit of the kind of thing which historical societies everywhere are doing, with a background of incidents far less picturesque than that Southampton possesses.”

It was not until 1951, however, 19 years after Mrs. White’s death in October, 1932, that the Colonial Society was able to open the doors of the Historical Museum, its first permanent home, which Mr. Keene said on Friday is “this truly magnificent museum complex which has become a fitting memorial for all that Lizbeth White ever dreamed of. And furthermore, he said, “it is a tribute to Lizbeth White, the first woman historian of the Town and the meticulous recorder of our history and heritage.”

It was Mrs. White, Mr. Keene said, who was instrumental in bringing to the attention of the Town Board in 1928 the design of the town flag; it was her “small typewritten note” that he found among the papers of the late Town Historian William K. Dunwell that led to the adoption of the first Southampton Town Flag in 1982, Mr. Keene added.

And it was Mrs. White, he said, who discovered that the first woman to step ashore at what is now Conscience Point in North Sea in 1640 was Eleanor Howell, the wife of the leader of the first white settlers, Edward Howell. It was she who identified the small boy in the boat as the Howell’s eight-year-old son, Arthur, he said.

Mrs. White, who was born Lizbeth Halsey, live din what is today the Post House at North Main Street, and raised her family there. She was the founding Regent of the Southampton Colony Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, and it was, appropriately, the chapter that presented the flag to the town.

Lizbeth Halsey White Memorial

Edward Post White, Jr., Ibby White, Lizbeth Halsey White, Boo White, Edward Post White, Sr.
Honors for an Early Proponent of Local Preservation

Southampton Press 5/28/85

The members of the Southampton Historical Museum honored a former town historian last Friday, as they unanimously voted during their annual meeting to dedicate the contents of The Captain Rogers Homestead on Meeting House Land as the Lizbeth White Memorial. 
In recommending that the honor be bestowed upon her, Museum President and Town Historian Robert Keene said that Lizbeth White served as Southampton Town Historian during the 1920s and that it was Mrs. White who ascertained that, when the town was settled in 1640, Eleanor Howell was the first woman to step ashore at North Sea’s Conscience Point. He credited her with learning that the small boy known to have come by boat with the settlers was Eleanor and Edward Howell’s eight-year-old son, Arthur.

Mr. Keene also said that he believes that part of the impetus for the formation of an historical museum in Southampton came from Mrs. White, through the publication 70 years ago in the Sea-Side Times of a column that she wrote.
Mr. Keen said that it was while he was in Town Hall, reading historical records, that he became aware of and intrigued by Mrs. White’s contribution to Southampton.

Every once in a while the name Lizbeth White came up. And it kept coming up and kept coming up. So, I checked into it and this is what I found,” he said, turning to a biographical sketch that he had prepared.

Mrs. White, born Lizbeth Halsey, the sister of Abigail Halsey and the Reverend Jesse Halsey, succeeded the first town historian, William S. Pelletreau, the man who “restored and put in order and had reprinted the early town Records,” Mr. Keene said, adding that Mrs. White died in 1932.

She was the founding regent of the local chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), and it was she who was instrumental in bringing to the attention of the Town Board in 1928 the design of the town flag, as it had been presented by the DAR. Apparently, the Town Board did not act of the adoption of the design back then, for until 1982, the town had no official flag.

Mr. Keen said that in 1982 he found a reference to the flag as he examined the records of the deceased Town Historian Willian K. Dunwelll. There, he found a small, typewritten note which had been made by Mrs. White. After researching the flag and its design, Mr. Keene went to the Town Board, which adopted the flag and its design. The official town flag now flied in front of Town Hall.

Mr. Keene went on to detail Mrs. White’s discoveries about the first settlers, and noted that hse lived in what is now known as The Post House on North Main Street in Southampton Village. He said that The Post House is being renovated and restored as an inn now, and that, when it is completed a room there will be named for Lizbeth White.

Quoting from Mrs. White’s story in the 1915 Sea-Side Times, the predecessor to The Southampton Press, he said, 
“Many of our town’s most precious memorials have vanished forever. Our fathers were too busy planting and colonizing, to think much about leaving behind them personal souvenirs . . . The golden opportunities for constructing the infant history of our colony have for the most part passed away. Those which remain ought to be seized with the greatest avidity.”
Her story continued, “First then, I would like to see the fairest lot of land to be found between Long Springs and the beach devoted to a memorial use. Spare an acre or two from your generous farms, upon it to be erected a modest but dignified structure of stone, or brick, fireproof, which shall contain primarily a library. Then into this repository let every native and every citizen take a pride in gathering whatever shall preserve the memory of the past or throw light upon its life. The place and time to begin are here and now.”

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Jesse Halsey | Southampton Historical Society

Jesse Halsey | Obituary

Southampton Press | January 1954
Dr. Jesse Halsey

The Reverend Doctor Jesse Halsey, one of Southampton’s most respected and admired citizens, died early Tuesday morning, January 12, at the Southampton Hospital. He had been ill for two weeks, following a stroke.

Dr. Halsey, who was seventy-one, had been living with Mrs. Halsey in the family home on North Main Street, Southampton, since his retirement in 1952 from McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago.

A direct descendent of one of Southampton’s founding families, Dr. Halsey was born in Southampton in 1882, the son of Charles Henry and Melvina Terry Halsey. After graduating from local public schools, he attended Princeton University and the Princeton University Graduate School and Seminary, receiving his Bachelor of Divinity degree from Union Seminary.

After being ordained in 1910, the Rev. Dr. Halsey began his ministry with Sir Wilfred Grenfell in the earliest days of the Labrador Medical Mission. In 1913 he became pastor of the Seventh Presbyterian Church in Cincinnati, Ohio, where he served for 29 years.

Dr. Halsey served with the YMCA in Russia during the First World War and was American Chaplain with the British Navy. In 1940 he became Professor of Pastoral Theology and Liturgies at McCormick Seminary in Chicago, a post he held until his retirement in 1952.

In the latter years of his life Dr. Halsey shared with young ministers the wealth of his experience as a pastor. His advice on the planning of church buildings and sanctuaries was constantly sought after. In addition to his pastoral work, he was active in those Presbyteries of which he was a member, and was concerned with the larger activities of the church through the General Assembly. For many years he worked on the executive committee of the Board of Missions, and at the time of his death was a member of the Sixth Service Command for the Army and Navy chaplains.

Beyond his concern for the Presbyterian Church, the Reverend Mr. Halsey was active in civic and charitable organization in Cincinnati, Chicago and Southampton. As president of the Southampton Historical Society, he was instrumental in the founding of the Southampton Historical Museum in 1951. He was the author of many articles centered about his boyhood memories or topics of local interest for The Press.

Surviving Dr. Halsey are his wife, the former Helen Isham; a son, Charles Henry Halsey of Westhampton; two daughters, Mrs. Joseph Haroutunian of Chicago and Mrs. James A. Van Allen of Princeton, and eight grandchildren.

Funeral services will be held this afternoon at two o’clock in the First Presbyterian Church of Southampton, of which Dr. Halsey was a member and often served as guest preacher. Officiating clergymen will be Dr. John Christie, vice-moderator of the Presbyterian Church of the United States; Dr. Robert Worth Frank, president of the McCormick Theological Seminary; Dr. Joseph Haroutunian, professor of Systematic Theology at McCormick Theological Seminary and son-in-law of the deceased; the Reverend John L. Felmeth, pastor of the First Presbyterian Church; and the Reverend Herbert Moyer, pastor of the Bridgehampton Presbyterian Church.

Honorary pallbearers will include Leon P. Hildreth, Daniel Halsey, J. Foster Terry, Thomas Corwin Sr., Lewis E. Downs, C. Edwin Dimon, William K. Dunwell and David E. Halsey. Serving as pallbearers will be Dr. Kenneth B. Wright, Thomas White, Samuel F. Herrick, Malcolm Terry, Donald Seabury and Donald Corwin.

Campaign On To Erect a Memorial To Rev. Dr. Halsey In Southampton

Bridgehampton News | September 23, 1954

Joint effort of the Southampton Colonial Society, Garden Club and Board of Trustees to build a memorial to the Rev. Dr. Jesse Halsey have met with initial success in the drive for funds. Mrs. Carl. C. Hansen, Head of the colletion committee indicated this week

The Rev. Dr. Halsey, an eminent Presbyterian divine, one of the most respected figures in Southampton Town and well-known in Bridgehampton, died at Southampton Hospital Jan. 12 after a two-weeks illness.

The monument envisaged by the Southampton organizations is a Memorial Entrance to the Captain Rogers’ Homestead in Meeting House Land, home of the Southampton Historical Museum.
The Rev. Dr. Halsey was direct descendant of one of Southampton’s founding families. After graduating from the local public schools he attended Princeton University and the Princeton Graduate School and Seminary, obtaining his Bachelor of Divinity degree from Union Seminary.

Ordained in 1910, the Rev. Dr. Halsey began his ministry with Sir Wilfred Grenfell in the earliest days of the Labrador Medical Mission. In 1913 he became pastor of the Seventh Presbyterian Church in Cincinnati, Ohio, where he served for 29 years.

Dr. Halsey served with the YMCA in Russia during the First World War and was American Chaplain with the British Navy. In 1940 he took the chair of Pastoral Theology and Liturgies at McCormick Seminary in Chicago, from which he retired in 1952 and came back to Southampton.

“It would be difficult to do justice to the good he did for humanity,” said Mrs. Hansen, “without a very lengthy recital.” She added that the illustrious clergyman frequently kept to himself personal activities that less modest people would have given publicly to in an endeavor to gain acclaim.

“His interest in Southampton and its vicinity, especially Bridgehampton, Mrs. Hansen said, “was keen and lifelong. He was elected president of the Southampton Colonial Society and was instrumental in founding the Southampton Historical Museum. WE feel that such a life should not go unremembered.”

Mrs. Hansen expressed the hope that Bridgehampton residents and especially the members of the Presbyterian Church, will contribute generously to this project. It would, she said, be a fitting memorial to a man dedicate to the spiritual good of the community.

"This will officially end my very happy pastorate"

  December 4, 1941
The Seventh Presbyterian Church
East Walnut Hills, Cincinnati
Jesse Halsey, minister

Dear Friends and Parishoners:

“For your fellowship in the Gospel, from the first day even until now, I thank my God on every remembrance of you, being confident of this very thing, that he who hath begun a good work in you will perform it unto the day of Jesus Christ.”

“And this I pray: that ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence, being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.”

Next Sabbath morning, December seventh, we will celebratethe Holy Communion together. Mr. Williams and Mr. Warr will assist me in theservice. At the close, I will, by order of the Presbytery, “declare the pulpit vacant.” This will officially end my very happy pastorate of over twenty-eight years. For unnumbered kindnesses to me and to mine, I am deeply grateful. You have been an ideal Church; may you always continue so to be and so to do.

Next Sunday evening at eight o’clock, the Reverend Clayton Williams will be installed as pastor by a committee of Presbytery. Dr. Joseph Sizoo of St. Nicholas’ Church, New York, will preach the sermon. A large congregation will be present to greet the new pastor who comes to undertake the ministry of The Gospel in this, the Church of our united love and devotion.

May God bless you and bless your new minister. He will receive at your hands the same generous and loyal support that you have always accorded his predecessor who, though he always remains your true friend, must now sign himself for the last time as

Jesse Halsey

From the Manse | 1937


Never, through the years, have we been quite so grateful as this year, for the warm security and comfort of the lovely house that the generosity of the congregation has provided for the minister and his family. Built and maintained by the Church, we are privileged to live beneath the shelter of its roof. You have been good to us. From our home, which your thought has built, each member of our household gathered here for Christmas, sends Hearty Greetings and Good Will.

Christmas, A.D. 1937.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Tercentenary Pageant of Southampton Town

Alma E. Bishop, knocking on door; Abbie Halsey, seated on left
The Book of the Tercentenary Pageant of Southampton Town
“Founded For Freedom”
August 14-15, 1940
By Abigail Fithian Halsey

Episode One
The XVIIth Century
Scene 1
The Founding

The Commentator:
Behold an Indian village at the head of North Sea Harbor. The wigwam of Nowedanah, chief of the Shinnecocks, is in the foreground. In front of it the young women of the tribe are engaged in a corn planting ceremony while the elder ones go about their daily tasks. Soon the warriors return from the hunt. They lay their spoils before the fires and commence a dance of Happy Hunting.

During the dance we perceive a sloop coming up the harbor. A brave runs in bringing the news and hard on his arrival we see a band of English Puritans land Conscience Point. The first woman on shore exclaims, “For conscience sake we’re on dry and once more.”

The Puritans approach the Indians. They signify their desire for land. Some men of the party come forward with a chest containing sixteen coats. At the sight of the splendor the Indians agree to sell.

They draw up an agreement. “We do absolutely and forever grant to the parties above the mentioned, to them and their heirs and successors forever, all lands, woods and waters from the place where the Indians hayle their canoes out of the north Bay to the south side of the Island, from thence to possess all lands lying eastwood, to have an to hold forever.”

But the Indians also demand corn to be paid after the second harvest and the Puritans promise to give the Indians protection from their enemies.

They then smoke the pipe of peace and guide the colonists to Old Towne where the settlement is made.

Original Undertakers:
Edward Howell
Edmund Needham
George Welbe
John Cooper
William Harker
Thomas Newell
Thomas Terry
Josiah Stanborough (who came later)
Daniel Howe, Captain of the vessel
Edmond and John Farrington
Thomas and Job Sayre
Hentry Walton
Allen Bread
Thomas Halsey
Richard Odel
Philip and Nathaniel Kyrtland
Thomas Farrington

Episode One
Scene III
Early Days and Early Ways

The Narrator:
The new Towne Street in 1649.

The Colony has grow ad prospered. Each freeholder owns his three acres of land on the street but farms and woodland are still common. Incomers must buy on the Great Plains. We see two fence-viewers “perambulating the bounds” nd with them a small boy who will be spanked at the bound, the better to impress his memory. The chimney viewers and cow keepers are busy. A group of young women are quilting a bride quilt for Margaret Howell whose banns are up. Next month she will marry Rev. John Moore of Southold. The unhappy Edmund Shaw sits despondent in the stocks ffor his excessive indulgence at John Cooper’s Tavern. Young Peregrine Stanborough takes his stripes for stealing green apples from Thomas Sayre’s orchard. Sarah Veale, attended by her faithful husband, Thomas, sits with a cleft stick on her tongue, while the Constable recites publicly “exhorbitant words of imprecation” she ahs used to the village reprobate, George Wood.

The Commentator:
Into this peaceful scene break two Pequot Indians. Phoebe Halsey (wife of Thomas) is coming from her home with her little daughter, Elizabeth. The Indians drag phoebe into the house and scalp her. The child escapes. Thomas Halsey, his three sons, and the nearby men puruse the murderers. They are met by Wyandanch, Chief of the Montauks, friend of the white man, who has caught the murderers. He delivers them to the Magistrates, who put them into the pillory until they can be sent to Hartford.

First Interlude
Children Play In The Olden Way

Their Games:
Farmer in the Dell
Looby Lou
London Bridge
Bull in the Ring
Once there was a Lassie

Episode Two
The XVIIth Century
Scene I
Town Meeting Day During the American Revolution

The Narrator:
Our great day of the year has come again. The street is filled with men, women and children from the length and breadth of the town of Southampton. Peddlers crying their wares and visiting Indians scurry about. The Town crier calls the meeting. The election is interrupted by a rider brining news of Lexington. Jesse and Elias Halsey and a friend set off by row boat to Connecticut. Scarcely are they out of sight when the post rider gallops in with news that Fort Ticonderoga has fallen to the Americans.

At once Captain John Hulburt assembles his Company of Minute Men. The first Stars and Stripes made by the women of Southampton Town is presented to the departing company.

Col. William Erskine of his Britannic Majesty’s Army rides in with his Aides coming to demand provender, to be refused at the Town’s peril.

When he has ridden away the dejected people return to their homes while Captain Elias Pelletreau, the old silversmith, organizes a home defense.

An Anthem to Liberty Sung by the United Choirs of Southampton, Hampton Bays, Bridgehampton, Sag Harbor

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Jesse Halsey: Teacher of Men

“I give you the end of a golden string;
Only wind it into a ball—
It will lead you in at Heaven’s gate
Built in Jerusalem’s wall.”

With these words of Blake, Professor Halsey offered to us all the distillation of a more abundant life, that our lives might be as full as his.

As a teacher in the classroom, “this noble ensample to his sheep he yaf, that first he wroghte and afterward he taughte.” He was most eager to teach by good infection and by capturing the spirit of being in his Master’s call. He did not expect verbal agreement or theological unity. He longed instead to instill something far deeper than these, a sense of spiritual harmony forged in the love of his Lord.

As a genial host in his home, Dr. Halsey could not be matched as he read his beloved Ian Maclaren and John Bunyan, because he had seen in his soul and heart what they saw and were trying to describe; and by his voice he linked us with them in mood and sense.

As a true bishop in our field work, he exercised patience over our impatience, and he opened our eyes to the personal color in our own work. Then he pinted out for us the lessons of every crisis and every problem solved.

As a pastor and friend, “Uncle Jess” was a Christian artist at listening, for his silence was never impatient or impersonal. It was a mixture of real concern for us and a remembrance that deep plowing may tear up the present garden of happiness but may bring far more lasting loveliness to the surface. No hour was too late, no distance too great for him to link his best Friend with his friends in loving prayer. And more often than not, as we left to follow the path he let us take, Jesse Halsey’s footprints were in his Lord’s ahead of ours.
“Another Christian Athlete
Gone forth for Thee, O Christ,
Claimed for Thee the victory,
Asks of Thee his crown.”
-William N. Colwell, ‘50
Minister of Immanuel Presbyterian Church
Yonkers, N.Y.

McCormick Speaking

Vol. VII | March, 1954 | No. 6
Jesse Halsey, 1882-1954
In Memoriam

Jesse Halsey: Pastor, Presbyter, and Friend

When I went to a Cincinnati pastorate during the first World War, Dr. Jesse Halsey was in Russia under the aegis of the Y.M.C.A.; but his name came up more frequently than that of any other minister in the town. Newcomer that I was, I found it impossible to believe that any one man could do all the things that people said this man did—preach, visit those sick or in prison, use the printing press, do plumbing, paint houses, repair pipe organs, cook, etc.

One day, as I looked out of my study window, I saw a man approaching, carrying a collection of beautiful Arctic furs. It was Jesse Halsey, just returned from the Murmansk coast where he had, for a season, represented both the United States and Britain, and where the British admiral had been sufficiently familiar with him to roar and swear at him affectionately.

One did not need to be in his company long to discover that he possessed unusual qualities. He knew and loved books, and The Book. He needed not that any should testify of men, for he knew was in man. He knew how to do almost everything that anybody does with his hands, and he was always doing something with those hands for anyone in sickness or distress.

He had an incorrigible faith in people. Like his Lord, he believed that one who was lost was only lost, and that he might be found and saved. He knew how much the humble and the poor needed encouragement and friendly help. He knew also how much the successful but spiritually destitute likewise need help.

God gave him an amazing stock of good Long Island common sense, plus an abundance of the wisdom that cometh down from above. His counsel, therefore, was sought by all.

He labored more than other men, and he loved more than they did. He was tireless in his exertions—others he was forever sparing, never did he spare himself.

He had a most sensitive appreciation of what was significant in art, music, and literature. His mild eye was forever discovering truth and beauty in the things that hourly happen to us. Twenty times a day he would see or listen to something notable, suggestive, or moving. Then from his pocket would come an envelope or a bit of paper and a stubby pencil. Every night, when he emptied his pockets, he had a store of simple and unhackneyed illustrations.

His church members loved and admired him; so did his neighbors of all creeds; so also did his assistant and his church custodian!

He was a good presbyter. In troublous times he kept his temper and his tongue and steadfastly loved his brethren, though never yielding his conscience or his convictions to their dictation. He could suffer fools gladly as none other could. He was the friend of forlorn causes, and he shamed the rest of us into duty by his example.

Jesse Halsey was an excellent preacher, but his daily life was his best sermon. For many, indeed, it was his life that made his Gospel credible.

Dr. Grenfell, for whom he was chaplain in Labrador for three years, shall have the last word here. I saw the letter in which, shortly before he died, Sir Wilfred wrote, “I have seen more of Jesus Christ in you than any man I ever knew.”

-John W. Christie
Minister of the Westminster Presbyterian Church, Wilmington, Del.

McCormick Speaking
Vol. VII | March, 1954 | No. 6
Jesse Halsey, 1882-1954
In Memoriam

In Memoriam: Jesse Halsey, 1882-1954

McCormick Speaking
Vol. VII | March, 1954 | No. 6

On Tuesday morning, January 12th, Dr. Jesse Halsey died in the hospital at Southampton, Long Island. A funeral service in keeping with his own practice and spirit as a pastor was held on January 14th at the Southampton Presbyterian Church to which his forebears had belonged for generations and in which he himself had grown up into the Christian faith. The service was in charge of his intimate and long-time friend, Dr. John W. Christie.

The passing of Dr. Halsey has left many people, young and old, bereft of a uniquely gracious, wise, and understanding friend. During his eleven years as Lane Professor of Pastoral Theology and Liturgics at McCormick he was an able teacher and something much more. He was the discerning pastor and rarely gifted counselor and guide of both his students and his colleagues. For Jesse Halsey was a man who loved people with an outgoing friendliness that was warm, genuine, abiding, and always delicately tactful.

But his friendliness was never wishy-washy. He was a man of sturdy Christian convictions—convictions that were quiet, not loud, that were deep, not for surface display. Whoever knew him very long was sure to discover these convictions and to feel their essential soundness, force, and depth. Underlying and controlling these convictions was a gracious and winsome spirit of reconciliation. This spirit dwelt mightily in him. Wherever he went or spoke or counseled people, he was knitting human hearts together in the love of Christ and of one another. There was something in the temper of this man that healed the spirit of faction and division. He studied the peace, unity, and purity not only of the Church but of human relations wherever he was present. To an unusual degree his nature untied and blended strength and tenderness, strength without hardness or the will to dominate, and tenderness without softness or sentimentalism.

And who of us has not felt his power of appreciation? The parables of the lost coin, the lost sheep, and the lost prodigal must have been dear to his heart. He was always finding the contemporary originals of these parables and giving them new hope through his appreciation and love. To hard pressed and bereft people he brought the most helpful ministry of comfort. He knew that every heart carries some burden, some invisible load of heaviness. And like Greatheart in his much beloved Pilgrim’s Progress he was quick to discern and gentle and strong to share the weight of the burden.

“Do you see yonder shining light? Said Evangelist to Christian as he began his journey. He said, “I think I do.” Then said Evangelist, “Keep that light in your eye . . .” From the beginning of his ministry to the end Jesse Halsey kept that light in his eye. Because of this faithfulness and by the grace of God, he was himself an evangelist, an interpreter, a Greatheart, and a man named Help to countless other pilgrims seeking the way of salvation.

--Robert Worth Frank

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

History of the Village of Saranac Lake

from United States Department of the Interior
National Park Service The Village of Saranac Lake

The dense urban streetscape of the village of Saranac Lake, New York, is a marked
contrast to the vast stretches of unpopulated forest and tiny isolated hamlets which
exist in the Adirondack region. The extraordinary building stock of Saranac Lake,
with its multiple porches and walls of windows, its sophisticated conmercial blocks
and elegant residential districts, is the unique legacy of more than seventy years
when this community was an international center for the the treatment of pulmonary
tuberculosis. Here doctors developed the first successful methods of treating - and
even curing - a disease which had been the equivalent of a death sentence for almost
all of recorded history. In so doing, they also developed a specific building type -
the cure cottage - designed to facilitate the healing process for tubercular patients.
Many of these cure cottages still stand in Saranac Lake, the most visible reminders of
the village's days as America's "Pioneer Health Resort."

The incorporated Village of Saranac lake is located in the Adirondacks, a jagged
outcropping of mountainous peaks sliced by rapid-flowing streams and dotted with clear
glacial lakes, which juts up out of the glacial plains of upstate New York. Six
million acres of this rugged country and its isolated valley hamlets are part of the
Adirondack Park, where 2.5 million acres of state-owned forest land have been
protected as "forever wild" since as early as 1885. Deep in the heart of this
wilderness, in a sheltered valley crossed by the winding Saranac River, lies "the
little city of the Adirondacks."

The modern village of Saranac Lake is still the largest settlement within the
Adirondacks. Its political boundaries cross both county and town borders: two-thirds
of the village lies within the town of Harrietstown, in Franklin County; while the
remaining third is split between the towns of North Elba and St. Armand in Essex


The quest for health in the nineteenth century was more than the narcissistic
self-improvement fads of modern times. For many/ the search was a matter of life or
death. The "White Plague" ran rampant for much of the century. Ihe number of Americans
infected with tuberculosis in the nineteenth century was as great as the combined number
of cancer and heart disease patients today. By 1873 tuberculosis, also called
consumption, killed one out of every seven Americans in a slow but unalterable physical

It was primarily a lung disease, but the tubercle bacillus could attack
any part of the body. Once lodged, the infection spread unchecked, steadily wearing
down the body's defense system, and eventually creating cavities in the lungs. At its
more advanced stages the best known symptoms were coughing, night sweats, paleness,
weight loss, virulent sputum, and spitting up blood. There was no known cure.

Transferred by airborne bacilli, the disease spread rapidly in enclosed or crowded
environments, threatening immediate family members as well as neighbors. Slum dwellers
and struggling factory workers were especially vulnerable, as were the very rich,
paradoxically, who employed servants from poor living conditions who unknowingly
harbored the disease. The disease did not confine itself to the very old and the very
young, but instead most frequently struck people in the prime of their life. [7]
In its sheltered position in a deep basin of hills, the village of Saranac Lake nad
begun to attract invalids as early as 1860 with the opening of Martin's Hotel. Until
the 1870s, however, none of these patients seemed to have braved the frigid winters of
the Adirondacks. Ihe first tubercular patient credited with staying year-round in
Saranac Lake was Mr. Edward C. Edgar who spent the winter of 1874 at the boarding
house run by the wife of Lucius Evans, a well-known local guide. At this time, the
village of Saranac Lake was little more than a saw mill, a small hotel for guides and lumbermen, a schoolhouse and perhaps a dozen guides' houses scattered over an area of an eighth of
a mile.


In the summer of 1883, Trudeau suggested the idea of a semi-charitable sanitarium
for the study and cure of tuberculosis to Anson Hielps Stokes, a New York bankersummered nearby at St. Regis Lake. Stokes immediately contributed five hundred dollars
to Trudeau's proposal. Ihe St. Regis camp owners and their friends vacationing at Paul
Smiths became the backbone of financial support for the Adirondack Cottage Sanitarium^
Dr. Loomis and other prominent doctors offered their professional support. Local
guides and residents chipped in to buy sixteen acres of a sheltered hillside overlooking
the valley and donated the land to Trudeau's new project.

Trudeau modeled his fledgling institution on one founded in Goebersdorf, Germany, in
1852 by Dr. Hermann Brehmer, who advocated a climatological treatment for tuberculosis,
bringing patients to higher mountain altitudes where the combination of fresh air,
exercise, ample rest, and good food could effect their cure. By 1884, only a handful of
sanitoria were available for healthseekers - and all of them were in Europe. Trudeau
opened his Adirondack Cottage Sanitarium in February 1885 with the completion of an
administration building and three small cottages, including Little Red," a one-room
cottage with a small porch. Trudeau's first two paying patients, Alice and Mary Hunt,
sisters who worked in a New York City factory, occupied "Little Red," a one room cottage
with a small porch.

For most of the nineteenth century, the term "sanitarium" was applied to all chronic
care institutions. Coming from the Latin word sanitas, meaning health, its most common
meaning is "health resort." Today it is most commonly the designation for mental health
institutions because of its close etymological links with the word "sanity." By the
early 1900s, however, a place for the treatment of invalids, particularly consumptives,
was more often called a "sanatorium," from the Latin word sanare, which means to cura or
heal. Trudeau christened his institution the Adirondack Cottage Sanitarium in 1885.
After his death, it was renamed the Trudeau Sanatorium.


For most of the nineteenth century, invalids in search of health took up residence
in public hotels in the mountains. As the infectious nature of tuberculosis became
known, however, tourist hotels throughout the Adirondacks began to refuse tuberculosis
guests. Some villages would not even allow them as residents. As a result, more and
more invalids came specifically to Saranac Lake, and the number of private cottages
catering to the needs of the sick jumped. By 1890, the village's population had tripled
to 1,582 and in the next thirty years, it would more than quadruple in size. Throughout
the village, the pace of building slowly began an acceleration that would last for the
next thirty years, imbuing the community with a sustained boom economy, and a boom
psychology as well.

Up at the "San" (the Adirondack Cottage Sanitarium), Trudeau's fundraising efforts
continued to expand the facilities available for patients. In 1890 alone, three more
cottages and an open air amusement pavilion were added. Ihe first year's figures had
shown about 25% of the tuberculosis cases were arrested, and his success rate continued
to show promise. Because the Adirondack Cottage Sanitarium only took needy patients, in
the early stages of their disease, there was a great need for patient housing for those
who were too sick or too wealthy to cure at the San. local residents began to take
patients into their homes or to open houses which functioned as private commercial
sanatoria. Holding fewer than twenty patients and most often around twelve, these
private sanatoria became known as "cure cottages."


The hilly open pastures which lay east of Church Street, between the riverside core
of the village and the Old Military Road (Pine Street), were next divided to create the
first large residential subdivision in the village. In 1892 Frederick A. Isham, a lake
Placid attorney, formed a partnership with the Orlando Bloods to divide 21 acres of
sheep pasture into 174 "Villa Sites." This became Helen Hill, named for its central
artery, Helen Street, which climbed straight up the steep slope. Soon the hill was
covered with houses, many of them private homes for prominent local citizens and/or
wealthy health seekers. Over the next twenty years, as the original owners died or
moved away, many of the houses were converted into commercial private sanatoria, growing
and changing to suit their new use, a pattern repeated along Church Street below.

Frederick A. Isham

Born: May 21, 1860 (or May 22, 1859), Plattsburgh 1
Died: February 26, 1926, Lake Placid
Married: Laura Haynes of Plattsburgh in 1885
Children: Three children, including Helen, for whom Helen Street is named
Frederick Asher Isham was senior partner in New York law firm Isham and Isham, and lived in New York City and Lake Placid; he was the son of H. L Isham. 2 With the Blood family, he bought 21 acres of sheep pasture between Church Street and Pine Street and developed it, laying out 88 "Villa sites" on his eleven acres, along with the streets of Helen Hill. Fred Isham named Helen Street for his daughter, Helen Isham.
He was one of the original four Saranac Lake village trustees elected in 1892. With Milo B. Miller, he campaigned for the incorporation of the village of Saranac Lake, and in 1892, the first village board meeting was held in his office; he was named village clerk. 3
His sister, Ida Belle Isham, married Charles J. Greenough, a prominent Saranac Lake citizen.

Of History and Humor: Saranac Lake's early days
A rare photograph and a bit of Centennial history combine to afford us a glimpse of a rather unusual episode of local interest. The sequence begins with a parcel of Main Street property, a residential business office and the owner's role in the establishment of our village. Enter a picture-taker and the proprietor of a nearby hotel, who jointly conspired to produce the illustration which accompanies this article, and the drama unfolds.
A survey is in progress which is apparently locating the site for the new high school scheduled for 1890. The residence is the home of Frederick A. Isham with the square block addition serving as his law and real estate office. Isham, together with Milo B. Miller, was pressing for the community's becoming an incorporated village. Area growth in both population and additional buildings was creating an expansion that called for reliable municipal services and some sort of civil administration.
Hundreds of health seekers were arriving and resort hotels were springing up as sportsmen favored our area. Support merchants multiplied in accordance and it became obvious that such prosperity would necessitate a valid preparation just to keep pace. Isham, Miller and other concerned community leaders deemed it feasible to proceed with the incorporation plan. Seeking approval from the public in general, a special election was arranged to be held in early May with the results being currently celebrated during this our Centennial year. Officers elected were: Dr. E.L. Trudeau, president, Milo B. Miller, Francis M. Bull, and Dr. Charles F. Wicker, trustees; Frederick A. Isham, clerk. With the first village board, established steps were taken to appoint commissioners of the various departments and establish a set of laws to govern the community.
The first board meeting was held in Isham's office on June 16th, 1892, with Tuffield Latour being named street commissioner while W.J. Slater, Dr. C.F. Wicker, and Dr. J. C. Russell were appointed to the board of health. Subsequent meetings announced that tax collections would be forthcoming and William E. Roberts was named to the post of police constable. On July 13, a street survey and mapping project was authorized at a fixed amount of nine dollars per day. On Aug. 6 the board recommended the formation of a water commission and by Nov. 2nd, a constructor was set to work on a water and sewer project. On May 5, 1893 Dr. Trudeau retired and was replaced by Milo B. Miller and on Nov. 17th E.E. Lobdell was appointed to act as night watchman.
On June 23rd, 1894, Steve Merchant had to appear before the board in answer to a complaint that one of his lumber stacks was blocking the road next to the Main Street Bridge. Steve owned and operated the former Pliny Miller sawmill where the Saranac Lake Village office building is presently located. He agreed to move the lumber. Moving on to 1895 a new street was approved that would run from Broadway to "Trestle Street" and was to be named Woodruff Street (Trestle Street later became Bloomingdale Avenue and the former name reflected the narrow gauge railroad timber trestle that ran from Union Station to Pine Street) The railroad was the Chateaugay, which reached Saranac Lake from Plattsburgh in 1887 and was extended to Lake Placid six years later On January 22nd, the firm of Jackson and Merkel was granted a franchise to operate a telephone system in the village for a term of five years.
And so it went, step by step the emerging village was testing its wings in the civil realm. The many complicated functions related to municipal management were met and mastered by our village fathers, although they possessed little or no previous experience in such matters. It was our good fortune to have had personnel of that caliber during those developing years. Business also seemed to prosper with the native enterprise and the ability to adapt to both the health and recreation industries. Local entrepreneurs as well as some of the visiting gentry erected substantial buildings along Main Street and Broadway as the village took shape.
That pretty much takes care of the historical aspects... so where's the humor?
Returning to the subject of the photograph, Isham's house and office were moved to what is now Academy Street to make way for the new Main Street High School. It was in this new location that the early board meetings were held as the school was built in 1890. By 1906 Isham had moved to Lake Placid and years later the wing that held his office was occupied by A. B. Hokanson as a tailor shop. The photo, which was taken by George Baldwin in 1888, contains the humorous part of our story. What is purported to be a bona fide survey in progress is actually a burlesque. The "surveyor's" transit is an empty beer case mounted on a stepladder and the sighting scope, which is mounted on the beer case, is nothing more than an empty whiskey bottle. His assistant, near the porch, is holding a sapling pole to represent a level rod. The surveyor at the transit happened to be R A. Streeter who, at that time, was the owner of the. Berkeley Hotel across the street and his assistant, the rod man, was J. H. Wilson, who was the bartender at the Berkeley, It had to be either Baldwin or Streeter who instigated this prank but, in any case, it was a superb bit of deception!
To the right of Isham's house is the McKee building and above its roofline the tower of the old Town Hall can be seen. In 1888 it had just been completed and the town clock had not as yet been installed (note the blank circles). The large boulder at the right has appeared in many of the early village photos but was removed for the construction of Academy Street. Seaver Miller and Judge Utting both claimed that, as children, they played on the rock. If you happen to have a copy of the Centennial Booklet you can find this same boulder on Page 10, "A Barren Main St.," and again on Page 15 "President Harrison dedicates new high school" Apparently it was a rock with a good press agent.
At some period of time between Isham and Hokanson the main portion of the former residence was separated from the smaller office and quite possibly remains, although somewhat altered, at No. 7 Academy Street. A second story was added to the little office building but, oddly, the roofline decorative frieze remained in place. For a brief time the building served as a telephone office. Today, as the Decorator Shop, 4 it is sandwiched between two driveways at No. 5 Academy Street across from the Hotel Saranac. It has been slightly altered and a concrete block addition has been added in the rear but nothing can detract from that history was made here 100 years ago. Four years earlier Baldwin and Streeter had joined forces on Main St. to prove that even such an important page in local history can have its comic section appropriately entitled "Of History and Humor."

  • Foerstner, Abigail, James Van Allen: the first eight billion miles, University of Iowa Press, 2007. p. 69 [WWW]Full text here
  • Gallos, Philip L., Cure Cottages of Saranac Lake, Historic Saranac Lake, 1985. ISBN 0-9615159-0-2
  • 1Brainard, Homer Worthington, A survey of the Ishams in England and America: Eight Hundred and Fifty Years of History and Genealogy, 1938
  • 2Plattsburgh Sentinel, January 15, 1886
  • 3Adirondack Daily Enterprise, Weekender, p. 2, November 6, 1993, "Profiling Milo Miller"
  • 4The Decorator Shop has since moved to 17 Church Street