Monday, August 11, 2014

The Fenian Uprising in Malone: Part 1

The Fenians. Just who were they? And why were they here in Malone, NY? Glad you asked.

The Fenians lived in Ireland and their movement existed primarily in England and The United States. Simply put, they wanted Ireland completely independent from England. They believed the Great Famine that hit Ireland and the poor aid from England was essentially genocide.

Several leaders came to the United States during the mid-nineteenth century. By 1866, about 3,000 Fenianes gathered at our fairgrounds to invade Canada.

Why in America? They believed, according to Seaver, that because England gave help to the South, our sensibilities would be wounded and we would be eager to help them overthrow British rule in Canada (669). In fact, many were--not just from Britain's help in the Civil War, but the War of 1812, and family remembrances of the War of Independence, as well as border disputes with Canada.

Our area contributed funds in the form of bonds that would be paid off when Ireland became independent (669).

On the June 2, 1866, warnings came to Huntingdon from Chateaugay that on Friday evening, trains  loaded with Fenians were headed to Malone. Unfortunately, the British troops had no arms at the moment, and had the Fenians adavanced at that time, things may have turned out differently.

But what part did Malone play? Tune in next week for the conclusion.

In 1870, the Fenians tried to invade Canada once more and General Meade again intervened and cut off their reinforcements.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Malone, NY: The Underground Railroad

The Underground Railroad started off as not an organized group. However, federal law inflicted heavy fines and/or imprisonment. In the South, it could mean death. As with any righteous protest system, such as the freedom rides and anti-segregation marches, the Underground Railroad gained momentum.
Neil exploring tunnel
Tunnel in basement of the Congregational Church

The Underground Railroad flourished between 1840-1860, and it did reach Franklin County and Malone--although not to the degree of some other routes. New York's primary routes were in the east, up to Rouses Point or across central New York to Syracuse. From there, slaves traveled to Oswego or Buffalo. Aside from New York City, many started their New York path to freedom via Elmira.

The First Congregational Church
home of tunnels used by runaway slaves
Most fled to Canada; however, a Negro colony was established in North Elba and Franklin by Gerrit Smith.

A less known route passed through Malone, NY. However, it is not known from where the escaping slaves came or to where they fled (644). Scholars have not defined Malone's route--we must therefore assume it was rarely used. We know, from Seaver's account and from the tunnels in Malone's First Congregational Church, it did exist in this village.

According to Seaver, "A former Malone resident whose memory extended back to 1845 state...many of the negroes (sic) to whom Gerrit Smith deeded homes in the town of Franklin reached their properties via Malone, having come here by way of Plattsburgh or Ogdensburg (644).

Two former slaves made their homes in Malone. Two of which were Henry Jones and his first wife, both members of St. Mark's Episcopal Church. She refused to live in the wilderness. She insisted her grant gave her the old Miller House, where the Flanagan now stands, and ordered him out of the house (644).

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

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?