The Franklin County Glitteratti

I was just reminiscing about the time Dr. Trudeau came by the house. Several times, actually. And Paul Smith came by repeatedly. And P.T. Barnum. Yes, yes. I wasn’t actually there. However, our little hamlet was the pass-thru to Paul Smith’s famous resort once upon a time. And after the railroad came in and the train station was built, our hundred-yard-hamlet was the station stop for the hotel, guests being taken the final two miles by coach. 

When we took down our unfortunate old house, we found a little something underneath it. The foundation, beams, and log joists from an very, very old log cabin. From photos, we were able to see that the house dated to at least 1915. But underneath, the original structure was much older. Before the 1880s, the only real structures were a few trapper cabins along the main road. Perhaps the solution to the mystery lies there.  There’s been a dwelling here on this old road a really long time. So, you see, all those folks really did pass within a few feet of our door. 

Town-wise, we’ve had John Burroughs, Thomas Edison and Harvey Firestone. Marjorie Merriweather Post moved in down the street, summers only. Calvin Coolidge was here, using Miss Post’s camp as a Summer White House. I imagine one or two of them must have cast a shadow on our old front porch, being as the village store has always been next door. 

True, the “new” Grange Hall (built in the 1930s) is now a good friend’s antique store. And the old Legion Hall has been turned into a beautiful house and studio. But most of the original building are gone. History disappears so easily. I used to idealistically think that I was not someone who would ever tear down a 130-year-old house. But, I’ve learned that a house is not good just because it’s old. Still, I felt a little bad about that; taking down the oldest house left.

I’m comforted a bit when I think about the fact that the original cabin foundation is now a rock wall along the front. And I have sixteen of those 150 year old logs from the original cabin structure. They’ll end up in our house, or maybe a nice, tough barn. I certainly can’t let that old trapper’s hard work go to waste.

Those rocks and logs belong to the property as far as I am concerned; and they’re staying right here.

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10 Comments

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10 responses to “The Franklin County Glitteratti

  1. I love your reverence for things that are old and historical. That is very, very cool to think of the people that have passed by your property. Have you researched the deed to your property to see how far back you can trace ownership?

  2. Actually, yeah – We can trace it back to the original purchase of the whole area, back to the McCombs (sp?) purchase!

  3. How exciting to find the remains of an older structure! Have you tried a metal detector yet? It might be fun to discover what other remnants of the past are buried on the land. I like it that you plan to reuse them. Of course they belong to the place. That is just so cool.

  4. Does your deed shed any light on the previous owners?

    Too bad those logs can’t talk.

  5. I don’t have a title abstract, just the basic deed. Probably could call the title company that did the search and get one. Hmmmm …

  6. Title search!! Yes, then you’d find out names and stories would come creeping out of those old stones and logs.

    The title company didn’t give you a copy of their search?? Hm… thought they were s’posed to. It usually only goes back a certain number of years…. 75 is the number that pops into my head, but I’m not sure. At least, up in St. Lawrence county, that’s what we were told. Still maybe if you go to the county, ….folks in records can be nice to people who treasure their recordkeeping…so y’never know! Maybe you’ll get aaaaaall the way back – which, frankly, would be rather cool.

  7. I agree, you should have received a copy of the title search,… bet you paid for it!

  8. A cursory search reveals little about Gabriels easily found.

    I’ll bet some of these folks might have an old photo of your corner.

  9. PCS

    I don’t think the camp that Coolidge stayed at was owned by Post. Her camp, Topridge, is located on Upper St. Regis lake. Coolidge stayed at the White Pine Camp which was originally owned by Archibald White and later by Adele Levy and Edith Sterns (daughters of the owner of Sears-Roebuck).

  10. True enough – I get Topridge and White Pine mixed up because White Pine is down the road, but many of the (older) local guys worked for Post at Topridge. The meld together in my mind as ‘The Local Camp.’

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