Saturday, July 26, 2014

Malone: The Civil War

civil_war_cannon_smoke (Photo credit: Tom Gill.)

Little changed in Malone until the Civil War. At this time, the people became a little less puritanical and a little less amenable to censor from the clergy. Yet their amusements were puritanical by today's standards: debating societies, bell ringers, concerts, bowling, dances, circuses and minstrel shows.

Once the war arrived, changes came that no one had anticipated. Prices skyrocketed, and many people had to pinch their pennies. Yet, others seized upon the times and prospered. During this period, many grand houses were built, and all but the poorest dressed better.

As in the rest of the United States, many men were called to arms, but their was little price fixing or rationing. However, hundreds of soldiers were quartered here for weeks or for months--our main, inescapable reminder of the war.

In 1864 and 1865, people feared Confederate attack from Canada as had been seen in St. Albans, Vermont. War meetings abounded and bounties encouraged enlistment. Malone was the headquarters for the draft for both Franklin and St. Lawrence Counties. S.C.F. Thorndike presided as provost marshal (56).

In 1863, seventy-five men were drafted. Some paid fees of $300 to get out of the draft, others left for war and some fled to Canada. Although the Civil War was the costliest war in American history in regards to human life, not much of it disrupted northern New York--certainly not as much as the two world wars had.

Next week, the Fenian uprising.

Seaver, Fredrick. Historical Sketches of Franklin County. Albany: JP Lyons, Co, 1918.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The Malone County Fair: It's origins

On August 25, 1851, Malone formed its first agricultural society. It was too late in the year to have a fair, so the first Malone County Fair was held the following year, in October, and ran only two days.

About seven acres of land was leased from William Andrus (of which Andrus Street--aka the River Road) for five years. His remuneration? Fence the land and remove the stone. . In 1856, the fairgrounds was enlarged to ten acres, and a contract was issued for $1,000 to buy the land. by the time Seaver wrote his history, the grounds had been enlarged to about twenty-five acres.
The first fair had no race track, but a race track measuring one-third of a mile was constructed for 1853The purse for this track was twenty dollars with special events consisting of Indian foot races, which I believe are our contemporary relay races, and lacrosse.

I suppose in the honor of community spirit, the railroad carried competitors stock for free, but would not be held liable for any damages. Of course, they eventually began charging.

In 1862, Malone held no county fair because of the war, but aside from that year, it had been in existence ever since 1852. However, in 1863, they numbered the fair as though one ran the previous years. So the number of fairs equals one less.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Malone Railroad: A Few Oddities

Ogdensburg-Lake Champlain Railroad Station
Just as Malone craves the "Rooftop Highway" to free it from its economic isolation, in the nineteenth century, the county wanted a railroad. It became the single greatest force for economic growth and prosperity in Malone.

The Ogdensburg-Lake Champlain Railroads began construction in 1848 and 1850 saw the first passenger trains which ran in an east-west direction. This railroad ran through the twin, brick turrets of Community Bank on Elm Street. This made Malone an economic hub. Previously, commerce centered in Fort Covington (formerly French Mills) because of the St. Lawrence River.

In 1892 we got the Adirondack and St. Lawrence Railroads which ran north-south. It's station is now Dr. Weisman's office near Raymond Street.

The farmers prospered because these railroads opened up markets around the state. Because of them, dairying became popular.

Some interesting facts about our railroads--according to Fredrick Seaver, pg. 50:

  1. Conductors did not need to collect fees from extremely poor or disabled people.
  2. Baggage that weighed over eighty pounds was charged a fee.
  3. No work was done in any of the stations on the sabbath.
  4. As late as 1885, when other railroad lines offered excursions to the Thousand Islands or Lake Champlain on Sunday, the Ogdensburg-Lake Champlain lines refused.

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Monday, May 19, 2014

Malone & Chateaugay: The War of 1812, Part 2

Fort Covington, Franklin County, New York, USA
Fort Covington, Franklin County, New York, USA (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Everyone in the Malone and Chateaugay area has used the Old Military Turnpike. Did you know it got its start in the War of 1812?

After the capture of General Tilden in the French Mills (Fort Covington area--seen to the left), the next "significant" battle took place in Chateaugay.

Chateaugay River
Chateaugay River (Photo credit: NapaneeGal)
Late in the summer of 1813, the United States thought it would be a good idea to capture Montreal. According to Fredrick Seaver, it could have been accomplished had the United States had some competent generals.

From September 26-October 4, 1813, General Hampton's men worked improving the road from Plattsburgh to Chateaugay--our old military turnpike. Ostensibly, we could get goods, but some people believed it would be needed for a hasty retreat. The latter proved more likely.

On October 21, Hampton, whose troops had been camping on the Chateaugay river NW of the village, followed the river north for twenty miles.

Here he came into contact with the enemy which numbered only about nine hundred.

The Canadian army, under the command of deSalaberry, ran away when the American forces came into view. DeSalaberry grabbed his bugler by his collar and wouldn't let him flee. He then made every buglar space himself in the woods. Together they sounded the alarm. The Indians fighting with the Canadians let out war whoops.

Hamilton's troops, who far outnumbered the Canadians, descended into chaos. One troop got lost. Others fired at each other. Eventually they retreated to their camp in Chateaugay.

Hamilton's officers figured, had their boos been competent and sober, they would have won Montreal and possible all of Canada.

Good thing we didn't succeed. How else would we have gotten our poutine, eh?
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Thursday, May 15, 2014

The Pound: Malone's Early Years

Poor Pig in Malone's Pound
Do you know anything about Malone's first pounds?

Malone's first pound had nothing to do with stray dogs or cats, rather it confined stray cows, pigs and sheep. Certain barnyards were designated as pounds. The first official pound was established at the northeast corner of Academy Green, and the final one was built on the corner of Rockland and Main Streets. The latter pound closed somewhere around 1866.

If citizens found a barnyard animal roaming the streets or eating a garden, they could drive it to the pound, and according to Fredrick Seaver, the owners had to  pay a quarter to retrieve it. In our early years, a quarter would have been a substantial sum.

The pound keeper had to be elected--and he became the butt of jokes. In the fifties, the editors of Malone's two papers, The Palladium and The Gazette were named as opponents for the office of "hog reeve" (pg. 413 Historical Sketches).

Sounds like a cartoon Thomas Nast would have loved. What do you know of Malone's early history?

Monday, February 17, 2014

Malone: The War of 1812: Part 1

English: Main locations of the War of 1812 bet...
English: Main locations of the War of 1812 between the United States and the United Kingdom Fran├žais :. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Unless otherwise noted, information about Malone and the War of 1812 came from: Seaver, Frederick, Historical Sketches of Franklin County. Malone: JB Lyons, 1918.

If it wasn't due to the appointment of General Wilkinson, an "imbecile" and "drunk" (pg. 590), the War of 1812 may have passed by Malone. It had no vast resources to plunder, not strategic location--but Wilkinson changed the situation.

Fort Covington, formerly known as French Mills, seemed to be the base of operations. A fort had been built where the Presbyterian church stands. It was called Fort Invincible, which became a misnomer.

One of the first battles, led by Captain Rufus Tilden in Ft. Covington, took place in late October when rumor had it that a couple of hundred of the enemy approached near Hogansburg. Four British were killed and about forty captured. Major Young bragged that the colors of the enemy had been captured and wanted to present them to the Governor seeing as they were the first captured in the war (593). According to a Canadian report, this turned out to be a private citizen's own flag used for his own residence!

One month later, Captain Tilden was captured on Nov. 23, 1812 when Fort Invincible was invaded.

Aside from these few skirmishes, the building an arsenal in Malone and two block houses in Chateaugay, no other 1812 activity happened here until Generals Wilkinson and Hampton arrived--except a little profiteering.

During the war of 1812, our population declined, in part in fear of the Indians, which is, in part, quite odd seeing as we quartered the British here. The Brits assured us there would be no pillaging or molesting of the populace. And with the exception of the attempt to burn the armory (our current YMCA), they apparently kept the agreement.

This war caused improvements of roads and in the end, brought in more residents and commerce. People knew how to earn a buck--and they did so in the usual way, they traded with the enemy and moral standards were lowered.

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Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Malone: Poverty at its roots

Descendant of the Puritan Faith
Malone, no shock to anyone living here for long, had never been prosperous. In the early years, no one had money. Literally. To purchase goods, people bartered. Only one man appeared to own any cold cash—Obadiah T. Hosford. He had two silver dollars that he clinked in his pockets. This had to be quite the status symbol since several histories had noted it.

Hosford ran the Hosford House for thirty years. Seaver said this boarding house was just south of where the railroad crossed Elm—so I believe that was up by Raymond Street. In addition to money, Hosford was said to have been the owner of the second horse in town.

Because of the poverty and isolation, “a common spirit of helpfulness seemed to pervade all hearts” (Seaver, Historical Sketches 26). This time period saw life here “all grim earnest, almost unintermittent toil, privation and poverty without much pauperism” (Seaver 26). In 1825 with a population in Malone itself of about 2,719, only one in every one thousand was a pauper, leaving a total of about eight in the whole county (Seaver 39). The poor at this time were always cared for and our own need caused us to give to one another.

Our communal spirit and concern for one another was seen in things like work bees. Since no one could hire labor nor do it oneself, we worked. Usually for booze. (see my blogs on bootlegging).

Rum and whiskey was freely provided from local distilleries. The most infamous of our five distilleries, “Whiskey Hollow,” was located by the electric plant on Lower Park Street. This brewery lasted the longest of all in the town, and according to Seaver, at one time rivaled the town in importance (411).

Despite our predilection for liquor, which was a puritanical allowance, and old-timer said, As I remember Malone, it was the most perfect representation of the ideal puritanical village” (Seaver 37). This could be taken almost literally since most of the town were members of the First Congregational Church—a denomination descended from the Puritans. In the earlier years, it was fashionable to be a church member.

And if you are aghast at the paucity of entertainment today, the only amusements tolerated, at least according to one private letter, was church, prayer meeting and singing school (Seaver 37). 

Do you know more about Malone's beginnings? Anything to add? Corrections needed? Feedback is always welcomed.
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