The Chippewa Yacht Club is a members only website Incorporated 1895

Who’s Up 1981 Vol I



– published January 1981


Who’s Up was a labor of love, with the preface written by Susan Manes, and Bill Scudder, Licia Beekley, Francie Bates, and Sidney Manes all participating in the project to compile the contributions of many community members.


Preface by Susan Manes  –


It is hard to say what caused the initial spark for the idea of this book. It may have been a conversation I had with Ellen Burt. It probably was caused by the fact that her father, Ben Cuthbert had had a stroke and could no longer speak. His wonderful ability to tell stories was a treasured memory of my childhood and it seemed to me that part of our history was lost. My clearest memory of the beginning of the book was a conversation with Bill and Cynthia Scudder on the porch of Little Squaw Island in 1973. I knew Bill was a writer and I knew he was interested in local history. I promised I would help him send a questionnaire to encourage people to write their memories. That was about eight years ago. Bill’s enthusiasm and hard work was the real spark that started the collection of writings and tape recordings. Not only did Bill interview many people, he spent time researching local history. Bill’s death was a dreadful loss, and it also put a stop to the progress of the book he had wanted to write.

The papers and tapes sat dormant until last year when there was a renewed interest in publishing them. The people who have done the work of putting together this final collection are Licia Beekley, Anne Wolcott, and myself. There has been as little editing as possible in an effort to retain individual people’s styles. Ellen Burt has given encouragement and support throughout the whole period of time.


-Rachel Field-

from “Taxis and Toadstools”

If once you have slept on an Island,  

You’ll never be quite the same;

You may look as you looked the day before

And go by the same old name.

You may bustle about in street and shop;

You may sit at home and sew,

But you’ll see blue waters and wheeling gulls

Where-ever your feet may go.

You may chat to the neighbors of this and that

And close to your fire keep,

But you’ll hear ship whistles and lighthouse bell

And tides beat through your sleep.

Oh, you won’t know why and you can’t say how

Such change came,

But — once you have slept on an Island

You’ll never be quite the same.

contributed by – Margot Griffin


Atlantis – Charles Bailey

My memory of the St. Lawrence River, and Chippewa Bay in particular, goes back to 1910, the first summer I was on the River. Needless to say, I do not remember much from such an early date.  My first real recollection of Chippewa probably goes back to 1916 and my ea­ liest remembrances were not of the River but of the preparations to get there — the packing of the trunks, the studying of the timetables to know every stop on the way and how near you were getting to Chippewa.

We left Elizabeth (New Jersey) in the eve­ ning, a train ride .to Jersey City and then the ferry to New York City and a cab to Grand Central Station. The sleeper for Ogdensburg was alwaysthe last car — either Car #108 or #111 — it was broken off the main train at Utica, connected to a milk train from there on to Ogdensburg.  Experiences of a train ride could fill a book but the one that always comes to mind was the first time Cordie came to the River in the mid 1930’s.

Awakened early in the morning by the call “Philadelphia; all out for Philadelphia! “, it really shook her as she had no idea there was another Philadelphia and thought she must have gotten on the wrong train.  When she arrived at Hammond it was one of those rare occasions when the train was an hour early.  On the same train was Ferdie King. Neither had anyone to meet them, so they wandered up and down the tracks wondering and betting as to who would meet them. Fortunately I did.

In earlier days we were always met by Bill Backus in his old Buick and driven to Chippewa and earlier still the method was by horse and buggy, and Mr. Allen who ran the store before the Backuses was the driver. In the days of my father and his folks, one came to Clayton and took the boat to Alexandria Bay, then another boat to Chippewa, landing right near the island on a point of land or on Cedar Island.

It always seemed that it was a beautiful day when we arrived — I guess we don’t remember any others — and the game that we used to play corning from Hammond to Chippewa was who could see the River first. Once in Chippewa I can remember getting into the old Caprice and going out to the island.  Once on the island, it always seemed as though you had been there forever — everything was the same, even the pleasant smell of the wood in the kitchen and the pantry.

Memories blend one into the other and it’s hard to know whether you remember or whether the memories were passed on to you by your parents. My father kept a diary of the first two summers on Atlantis, giving a good picture of what life was like in Chippewa in the 80’s and 90’s.

The following are quotes from Mr. Bailey’s diaries

One thought in respect to this early period in Chippewa Bay and Atlantis history, is that if it had not been for Dr. Edwin Cobb I would not be writing this now and there would in all proba­ bility be nothing from the Quarriers or the Wash­burnes. Dr. Cobb had a direct influence on our going to Chippewa Bay. Dr. Cobb became pastor of the 2nd Presbyterian Church in Elizabeth, New Jersey, the year before my grandfather, Dr. George

1. Bailey bought Atlantis Island from Henry Denner, his uncle. Dr. and Mrs. Cobb had just been married and had spent their honeymoon in Alexandria Bay. My grandfather was born in Chippewa Bay and lived there until he was ten, when he moved to the Utica area. My father, Ralph, and Uncle Ted, obviously influenced “Dr. George” in going back to Chippewa and buying Atlantis.

The first few summers on Atlantis, the Thompsons, Quarriers, McKenzies and Orcutts (Ferris Washburn’s grandparents) all visited Atlantis and eventually bought their islands, Ragnavok and Wyanoke, as a result of these visits. Dr. Cobb, who was responsible for all this, even had an island of his own, now the island owned by the Walls .

A short history of Atlantis would be in order at this point . When the house was built in 1887, the same summer a small skiff house was built which was used as a dormitory by Ralph and Fred Bailey and Clinton and Percy McKenzie. That same summer two skiffs were purchased and a catamaran built. Between 1888 and 1890 a windmill was built and a wooden water tank put up behind the house. At the same time, a woodshed was built and a flag­ pole put up.

It is interesting to note that in 1894 the Chippewa Telephone Company was in existence. It ran from Atlantis Island to Wyanoke to Ragnavok and over to the shore. It had a cable purchased from the Guttapurcha co., in New York City, ran along the shore of the island, under water to the mainland then overland up to the Post Office. I don’t know how many years it was run but it was during this period of time that the “boys” were in college and they apparently operated the telephone company.

In 1906, the Junior was purchased , the first motorboat on Atlantis Island. In 1911 Dr. George Bailey died, and in 1912 the large three-story boat house was built and the small boat house was moved to its present location.  Also in 1912, George Dooley , who had initially worked for Fred Remington as a boy on Cedar, came to work for my grandmother, he and his wife, and worked there until his death in 1935. The boathouse that was built in 1912 had a large studio in the upper floor and two bedrooms.  George and his wife Elizabeth lived in one of these bedrooms and they had a wire connection up to the house with bells so that grandmother could call them if she wanted them up at the house. If there was a heavy elec­trical storm she got everyone, George and Mrs. Dooley, up to the house and everyone stayed in the living room until the storm was over.

Around 1912 the first Atlantis was acquired. It was a Fay and Bowen boat, and later the Caprice was bought from Mr. Suds. The Atlantis served us well for many , many years . At that time there was also a bat wing sailboat.

In 1918 when Emma Blackman Bailey died, she left the island to her three children, Frederick, Ralph and Mary.  In 1922 Dr. Frederick Bailey died.

It is interesting to note that this period of the twenties is the period which I remember most vividly.  George Dooley influenced my thinking and my activities on the island, as he did my sisters. Fishing was the thing in the 20’s with George on the island. One phase of fishing which I don’t think many of you have ever done is Bullheading.  Most of the people in Chippewa went Bullheading as soon as the ice went out either up Chippewa Creek or Crooked Creek. We were, of course, not there in the Spring and any Bullheading we did had to come in the Fall. We’d do it on a night when it was damp and rainy and cool.  We’d take the Atlantis and tow the punt behind us into Chippewa Creek, anchor the Atlantis, get in the punt and go up to a predestined point in the creek where we would tie up to some sticks or posts that were in the water. We used a bamboo pole, worms for bait, hopefully getting the Bullheads and just flopping them on into the boat, and George would take them off the hook being careful not to get stung by their horns.  Sometimes they were coming in so fast that they were all flopping around in the bottom of the boat until you got back to Atlantis. And when you got back to Atlantis you always ended the evening with a great big onion sandwich in front of the fire.

The first flagpole on Atlantis blew down the winter of ’23 or ’24 and it wasn’t until 1947 that a new metal flagpole was put up in the present location.

In 1925 the island was purchased by my father and mother from Dr. Fred’s estate and from Mary Maxfield. In 1926-27 the icehouse was built be­ hind the main house and in 1928-29 the cottage was built behind the house by Alvin Petrie of Chippewa for the maids.    In 1929-30 the house was remodeled and enlarged, and the side porch was screened in. The wooden water tank was replaced by a galvanized tank with lid in 1930.  In 1937 the second Atlantis was purchased from Dr. Rendall.

Going back to my generation, I think the earliest general recollection of island life com­menced in the 1920’s — the era of Archie Quarrier, Sid Quarrier, Big Sid McKenzie, Villers Seymour, Jinx Brokaw Collins and Ruth Herrick. They were the group ahead of Fitz Quarrier, Frances Seymour, the Morgan girls, Tom Menkel, Doris and myself and the Woods.  The older group was running the yacht club in those days. Regattas were held at the boathouse on Wyanoke — they were two day affairs with luncheon on both days. The boats with all their lights on were anchored in our bay the evening of the first day of the regatta and we had a dance. The regattas, at least to a youngster, were something to look forward to.

Rowing against Fitz Quarrier in our narrowest skiff, the Ruth, sailing in the St. Lawrence Skiff Mohegan with Timmy Mcenzie as crew and getting stuck at the buoy off Dark Island because the current and the wind were equal. The aquaplane race for the older folks — Mr. Wood, Mr. Jamison, Mr. Witherby, Mr. Seymour and others. There were no water skis in those days and shutters from the windows were used , speed was not great. Go-bang races were also the thing, as well as the usual swimming and diving events.

For several years the Yacht Club rented Wyanoke boathouse and used it as a club house.

We also had one of the Smith boys there who ran the place and sold gasoline. I remember when we got word that President Harding had died and we lowered our flag, we called over to him to make sure he got the flag lowered on Wyanoke.

By the late 1920’s we were driving to Chip­pewa and that gave us a lot more leeway as to shopping.  Earlier you went by boat to Grenadier or the Canadian mainland or Oak Island for chickens, eggs. The chickens, I remember, because they were old roosters and we’d bring them home in a sack and kill them on the island. They were tough, but they were good on Sunday with biscuits and gravy and homemade ice cream. During this time there was the boat delivery from Grenadier, vegetables and milk and butter once a week. Get­ ting the mail, the milk and the ice was a daily chore in my day as it was in the early days.  But we went by motor boat instead of rowing twice a day, and trolling each way for fish as they did in the old days. Mail was twice a day then and milk was picked up morning and afternoon. Meat was sometimes ordered by mail and delivered on the Riverside or Island Belle and left off at Cedar Island. You didn’t need a watch if you were out on the river in those days as you knew the time of day when you saw those boats coming by — it was time to come in for lunch or dinner or a swim. In later years, Mother and the rest of the people would go to Ogdensburg or Alex Bay to shop.

George Dooley and I would go over to meet them and normally they were late and we would sit around the store at the dock listening to George and Ed Forreter telling of the old days ….the old Finnian raids, the bowling in the boathouse at Wyanoke, the operation of the old naphtha launches there. And the conversations about “You Bet” , who I always thought was “You Bet” but found out later in life his real name was Orin Orvit. He lived on the road to Hammond under the Cuthbert hill. As a youngster going to see him was a great treat. Ask him anything, like “Have you got eggs or fish worms”, and the answer always was “You bet I got eggs” or “You bet I got worms”.

The Smith’s store, now Patrick’s, was once the Smith home.  Every year a new Smith would have joined the household and if it was a boy, he would be named for one of the Presidents — Warren Harding Smith, Calvin Coolidge Smith — I don’t remember what they called the girls. We always had St. Lawrence skiffs, built by Ed Denner, at the island. His shop was at the foot of the first hill up from the river. It was a fascinating stop to watch him work on his boats. When he got too old to work on the boats, I under­ stand he had the forms destroyed. The story has it that Ed Denner learned to make these skiffs working with the Indians in Canada for a number of years.

George Dooley, who worked for my Grandmother and then for us, was a great fisherman. He had first worked for Frederic Remington on Cedar when he was a boy and often lamented the fact that a number of sketches that Remington was not satis­fied with would go in the waste basket and George would go out and burn them. For a while George worked for Mr. Suds, who owned Little Cedar. He and Mr. Suds would go out every single day fish­ing. George knew all of the spots to fish in the Chippewa area — if anybody could catch bass, George could catch them.  In the 30’s when the Wests stayed on at Atlantis late into the Fall with George — they, along with Dave Halliwell and Tom Knap were the late residents of the island colony at that time — they would often go out hunting. Even I went out hunting with Tom Knap when I was able to get up late in the Fall. Life was very different for those late residents -­ October snow storms, shore ice forming, keeping the fires going in the fireplaces all day and night, often the water had to be left running all night to keep the pipes from freezing. The wood cookstove in the kitchen was a great comfort, something we miss today.

I haven’t mentioned outboards because when we were young we flexed our muscles by rowing or paddling canoes or sailing. But after World War II the young flexed their muscles with outboards. Our first outboard for Barbara was a small horse­ power unit attached to an Old Town Canoe, spe­cially constructed to take an outboard. Barbara and Margo Craig toured the river from the Thousand Island Bridge to Ogdensburg in this craft.

Much has changed in Chippewa and much has stayed the same. The boatmen have disappeared, chores such as filling the icebox and getting milk in milk pails do not exist. But as long as I can remember there has been a garden on Atlantis, subject to the vandalism of woodchucks and rab­bits. My father tended an orchard but it never amounted to much because it needed too much atten­tion. But we always had the currants and the asparagus and rhubarb. We still have a garden and though it takes a lot of time and battles against the elements, it is worthwhile. This summer I planted three English walnut trees. They are supposed to be hardy and I hope they will come into fruition. We shall see.  In the early days when we were bound to the Chippewa Bay area for our food supply, cases of canned food were shipped up from New York City.   We had a steady diet of fish and fish and fish — when meat was served it was noted and underlined in my father’s diary.

Where once the windmill was our only source of water, our water is now supplied by a drilled well 110 feet deep, making the trips to shore or Cedar Island for drinking water unnecessary. Ice cut from the river and stored in the ice house was no longer needed as we went to kerosene then gas and finally electricity for refrigeration. In 1964 we did away with the wood stove we’d had for all those years and changed to propane or bottled gas which we still use for cooking and hot water. In 1952 Archie Quarrier, fulfilled the efforts of years and brought electricity by cable to Rag­navok. He paid the cost of the cable and anyone who wanted paid him a certain amount to bring the cable on out to other islands — first to Wyanoke, then Atlantis, the Rock and on out to Cedar and eventually down the line to Cuthberts.

Something should be said here about the island itself, which never changes. Placid Bay which divides the island in half, and Giant Rock and Turtle Rock, which pokes its head up at low water and Train Rock at the back of the island, were enjoyed by us as much as by the runaway slave, Jack, who lived on Atlantis in the 1840’s-­ and are still enjoyed. Paths, now overgrown, were kept clear by much diligence so that guests from other islands could be brought to Atlantis for “walks.”  You could walk from one end to the other and we had many picnics in favorite spots which we now reach by boat.

In 1954 we bought, second hand, the Mapaw, a cornet class sailboat which replaced the Whiff, which had given up the ghost after .so many years. Back in the twenties the Whiff and Whisper sailed and sailed. Archie and Sid Quarrier, Big Sid McKenzie and Randy Bailey were accomplished and competitive sailors. It was my good fortune now and then to crew for Randy, who went out in every kind of breeze. I have mentioned our sailing skiff, Mohegan. Randy took it as his second boat on a sailing trip to Lake Ontario and during a terrible storm on the lake Mohegan was lost.

In June 1953, my father Ralph Bailey died. In the summer of 1954, my mother, Nellie West Bailey, fell in the house at Atlantis and broke her hip. She had it set at Alex Bay at the Noble Hospital, but she never returned to Atlantis or Chippewa.  In the winter of 1969-70 my mother gave the island to me and Doris Bailey Bryant.

The biggest tragedy that ever happened on Atlantis was on May 31, 1974 when, during a very heavy south wind, the large boathouse burned to the water’ s edge, taking with it the Whiff II, the Bailiwick, sailboat, two St. Lawrence skiffs, and two canoes. Cordie and I were the only two people on the island at the time and if the wind had been one or two degrees further to the south­ east, the house would have been destroyed; there would have been no way of stopping it. The flames carried all the way up and some fires started on the far side of the island beyond the windmill. If it had not been for the fact that the Menkels were on their island with quite a number of people and we had not been able to get through on the CB radio to shore — Vic Anderson answered and alerted the Fire Department — we might have lost the whole island.  It was a very frightening experience and one which I would not want to live through again.  I have been at the island when a number of houses have burned Temagami and Little Cedar, but when it’s your own and you ‘re right there on the island with it, in a terrific breeze, it is something — you wake up in the middle of the night every so often dreaming about it.  All the boats were burned up except for our old out­ board and the Bryants outboard, which were over by the old boathouse. Atlantis  III was docked up at Alexandria Bay for the winter. We replaced, that sun runner, the two canoes (the green canoe came over from Stowe, Vermont on Bob Wood’ s car) . We acquired another St. Lawrence skiff later that sununer from Robert Hauk of Rockport, who had been building a few of them of wood. After a year or so we replaced the boathouse that had burned but did not attempt to put a two-story boathouse up. The water was high enough at the time of the burn so that the piers had not burned and even some of the dockage had not burned. The staving on the docks did not go, nor the planking. In order to compensate for the loss of the room above the boathouse, the Bryants had the large living room, kitchen, bathroom added to the cottage that we moved down from the main house. So we do have now the same number of rooms and cooking and eating equipment and facilities that we had before.

This, I think brings me up-to-date on the way things are now on Atlantis — from the time the house was first built in 1887 till now, the Fall of 1980, when we are about to enjoy butternut squash and sweet potatoes brought home from the garden on Atlantis to be part of our Thanksgiving feast.

-Doris Bailey Bryant-

Here are a few incidents that I thought might be of interest to you, besides the history of Atlantis that Charles and I have worked on.

One of our fun things to do when I was a child was to visit the cheese factory in Chippewa. We passed it every day on our walk up the second hill to get our milk. Floyd Babcock’s father, Rhodes, was the cheese maker. I guess we always got to Chippewa at about the same time (as we do now) so we always saw the same process taking place. We never saw the finished cheese except on the shelves out back. He would rub it and turn it many times to get the whey out. It didn’t smell very good ·in the factory. The cheese factory burned last year, but it had not been used as a cheese factory for some time. When it burned it was being used by the Fish & Game Club of Chippewa.

Another treat for us on our walk up the hill each day was to stop in the old hotel called the River View House — by the bridge in Chippewa -­ and get an ice cream cone from Mrs. Davies, the owner.

Sometimes on Sunday evenings during the summer we would all go to church in Chippewa . Visiting ministers preached — I remember our minister from Westfield preached several times. Dr. Rendall — Jim, Ned and Frances ‘(Bates) father also preached. We would all walk up the hill from the dock in our Sunday clothes. When it was warm and the windows were open we had a little trouble with the mosquitoes. Now the church is in ruin.

An event that took place September 5, 1944 at 12:45 a.m. on the island was an earthquake. My aunt and uncle, Mr. and Mrs. W.T. West Jr. (mother’s brother), were at Atlantis at the time and this event is recorded in our guest book. There was no damage but the dishes danced a bit on the shelves and the beds shook.

Two more things that might be of interest to you that took place while I was of college age. Sometimes my date and I would drive up to Clayton to the Clayton Casino to dance on a Saturday night.  They had name bands there off and on during the summer. I remember dancing to Glenn Miller up there, and hearing Bob Eberley and Helen O’Connell sing. We did this off and on for several summers. I think the Casino burned down. It was a large place down by the water.

Another day I remember was the Labor Day weekend in 1939 when Germany invaded Poland. We were all (the young crowd) out at Chippewa Point on a corn roast picnic. We will always remember the start of World War II and where we were.

We had many sailboat races with the TI Sloops. There were four of them — the Woods, the Morgan-Menkels, the Quarriers, and the Baileys.

Every Sunday there would be a race. The boats were getting rather old and we all did a lot of pumping, but it was fun. One season I was the winner for the summer. I had beaten the boy skippers and guess what my prize was — a man’s wrist watch. You can see they didn’t expect the only girl skipper in the crowd to win, but I fooled them.

None of us have any first impressions of the island since we all came as infants. All we know is that we love it and think it’s the best place in the whole world.

Diary of Ralph W. Bailey

May – July 1887

Sunday, May 11887: Went to Church and Sunday School. Rode with Papa in the afternoon.

Monday, May 2, 1887: May’s birthday. Got up early and studied my Lattin. Got out of school at 2:30. Played ball until about 5:40. Papa went to the Thousand Islands.

Tuesday, May 3, 1887: Got up early and studied my arithmetic and Latin. Studied my arithmetic in the evening.

Wednesday, May 4, 1887: Got up early and studied my Latin. Papa came home. He bought Jack’s Island for $300. Got out of school at recess be­ cause nearly all of the boys had gone to see Barnum. Took Jack outdoors. Studied my arith­metic in the evening.

Thursday, May 5, 1887: Got up early and studied my Latin. Took Jack out of doors. Studied my arith­metic in the afternoon.

Friday, May 6, 1887: Got up early and studied my Latin. Studied my arithmetic in the evening.

Saturday, May 7, 1887: Did not go to carving class.  Cleaned Jack’s cage.   Helped Fred fix a place for his Chickens. Finished pricking my carving pattern.

Sunday, May 8, 1887:  Went to Church and Sunday School. We all tried to find a name for our island. Rode to Lyons Farms with Papa.

Monday, May 9, 1887: Got up early and studied my Latin. Did not get out of school until about 3:30. Took my book back and got a new one. Studied my arithmetic in the evening.

Tuesday, May 10, 1887: Got up early and studied my Latin. Helped Fred fix a place for a tennis court. Studied my arithmetic in the evening.

Wednesday, May 11, 1887: Got up early and studied my Latin. Took Jack out-of-doors.  Went down to the court to see them play. Studied my arith­metic in the evening.

Thursday, May 121887:  Got up early and studied my Latin. Studied my arithmetic in the evening.

Friday, May 13, 1887: Got up early and studied my Latin. Helped Papa plant some corn. Helped John fix the garden.

Saturday, May 14, 1887: Fanny came to see May. Went to New York with Fred to a swimming school. Studied my arithmetic until the evening.

Sunday, May 15, 1887:  Went to Church and Sunday School.  Rode with Papa. The corner stone of a Roman Catholic church was laid and there was a long procession with 3 or 4 bands and some sol­iers. I do not think that they had ought to be allowed to do it.

(NOTE:  Fred, is Dr. Frederick R. Bailey (Randy’s father) …Papa, is Dr. George w. Bailey (his father) …Ralph w. Bailey is my father (brother of Frederick R.)…May Bailey Maxfield (sister of Ralph and Fred) …Fanny, is Francis Thompson (Quarrier)…Clinton and Percy MacKenzie …Joe’s Island is now Wyanoke …Bell’s Island is Brush Island.)

Saturday, June 25, 1887: Papa, May, Fred and I went down to Boynton Beach and took a swim. Took my bath.

Sunday, June 26, 1887: Went to Church and Sunday School. Wrote a letter to Uncle Will. Commenced to read Ivanhoe.

Monday, June 27, 1887: Fred and I went to Dr. Beebe’s.  Helped Fred clean his bicycle.

Tuesday, June 28, 1887: Helped Fred clean his bicycle. Got my bottle filled with gargle. Expected Mamma but she did not come. Miss Clark­ son came later in the afternoon. Got a letter from Mamma.

Wednesday, June 29, 1887: Earned 20 cents working in the garden. May and I played a game of tennis and May beat. Finished Ivanhoe in the evening.

Thursday, June 30, 1887: The weather is becoming very warm. Mamma came home. Fred and Papa started for the Thousand Islands in the evening. Uncle Will came home in the evening.

Friday, July 1, 1887: May and I sealed and stamped some bills for Papa. Did not feel very well so went to bed early.

Saturday, July 2, 1887: Trotted around town with Marnma. May and I bought our fireworks.  Paid $1.20 for them.

Sunday, July 3, 1887: Went to Church and Sunday School.   Went to Church in the evening.

Monday, July 4, 1887: Mr. Cobb started on his vacation early in the morning. Got up at 4:30. Fired off most of our fire crackers in the morn­ing. Set off our Fireworks in the evening. Took a nap in the afternoon.

Tuesday, July 5, 1887: Nothing particular in the morning. I went with May to see the Thompsons.

Wednesday, July 6, 1887: I called on Dr. Pingry and Mr. Lyttle.

Thursday, July 7, 1887: Marnma was sick so we did not go to the Thousand Islands. May and I went to Russes and got some ice cream.

Friday, July 8, 1887: Went to New York and took the ferry boat to Weehawken. We had a very tire­some ride in a ferry car. The train started for the Thousand Islands at about  5:40. Percy and Clinton MacKenzie went with us. After having lunch I went to bed at a little before ten o’clock.

Saturday, July 9, 1887: At about 5 o’clock we had to change at Grand Square, also at Richland and Philadelphia. After a very long and dusty ride we finally arrived at Clayton. From there we took a steamer to Alexandria  Bay.  After waiting awhile for Papa, we finally started for Chippewa Bay on the steamer Stranger. It was so rough that we had to go from the island to the steamer in small boats. Clinton and I went trawling but did not catch any pickerel. Clinton caught some rock bass, I caught a perch. The mosquitoes were very bad.

Sunday, July 10, 1887: Fred, Percy and I went after the milk. We rowed to Joe’s Island. We took a walk on the island and got about 2 quarts of huckleberries. Mr. Opie came over and made us a visit.

Monday, July 111887: Clinton and I got up at about 5 o’clock and went trawling. Fred, Papa and May went for the walk. Clinton, Fred and I went trawling and Clinton caught the first pickerel. He got a large bass on his hook but he got away. We set a night line. I went in swimming in the afternoon.

Tuesday, July 12, 1887: We found that we had a large eel on our night line, but he pulled the hook from the line and got away as soon as Clinton got his head out of the water. Papa, Clinton, May and I went for the milk. We got 95 pounds of ice. Clinton and I got up at about quarter past four and went trawling but we did not get any pickerel. The fishing is very poor. Papa, Rose and I rowed to Cedar Island. Went in swimming. Clinton and I went trawling.

Wednesday, July 13, 1887: Clinton and I got up at about quarter past four and went trawling.  Percy and Fred went trawling in the morning and got 2 pickerel, black bass and Oswego bass. Took some sashes over to the bay and got a gaff. Helped clean the boat. Papa got a new boat It is very hot today. I went in swimming. Helped fix a stone wall in front of the house.

Thursday, July 14, 1887: Got up early and after we had caught some minnies, Percy and I went to fish for black bass. Fred and Clinton went to fish for black bass in the other boat. Percy and Fred each caught a black bass. Mamma and Papa went to Alexandria Bay. Clinton and I went fishing and caught some large perch. Helped Fred build a bumper for the dock. Went in swimming.

Friday, July 15, 1887: Got up quite early. Percy, May and I went over for the milk. May lost the top of the oil can. Marnrna caught the largest fish that has been caught yet. It was a black bass whose length was 1 foot and 3 inches. Clinton and Fred went out fishing and Clinton caught the largest pickerel that has been caught yet. Fred caught a black bass . After dinner, Mamma and Papa and May went fishing, and May caught a small pick­ erel.  Percy and I went fishing but we did not get anything. I went in swimming. Papa, Clinton, May and I went over to the bay to get the milk. Clinton hurt his hand while he was in bathing. There was a picnic on Cedar Island. The man has fin­ished painting the name on the rocks. The name is Atlantis. We took the pickerel to cousin Frank. We had a fine dinner of baked bass.

Saturday, July 16, 1887: I could not get up early. Uncle Henry brought over the large water fish Mininnies. Fred and I rowed over to the creek and got some water lilies and cat tails. I caught a small pickerel. It was very rough corning home. I went in swimming. Mamma, Percy, Papa, May and I went for the milk. Lost my tights and had to wear a pair of Fred’s drawers.

Sunday, July 17, 1887: Clinton, Fred and I went after the milk. I wrote a long letter to Uncle Will. Fred , Clinton, Papa, May, Percy and I took a row to Oak Island and got some wintergreens. We also saw the old stone quarry. We took a walk and visited the fox hole. Cousin Frank and cousin Sarah made us a visit.

Monday, July 18, 1887:  Clinton and I got up early but we did not catch any fish. Papa, Fred, Clin­ton, May and I went for the milk and May got two kittens. Helped clean up the sticks. We hoisted the flag. Fred and Clinton helped cut down some boughs so that we could see to Chippewa Point. I made a new path through the woods. Papa went home in the afternoon. I found my hatchet. Worked on my path in the afternoon and did not go in swim­ming.   Clinton had a chill and had to go to bed.

Tuesday, July 19, 1887: I did not get up early. I worked on my path a good deal. Fred got some logs to build a boathouse with. Mr. Opie made us a nice ice house. The water is very still today and it is very hot. Fred, May and I towed the logs that we had trimmed to the dock . Fred and I took a walk up the path and picked some huckleberries. Clinton had another chill today.  I went in swim­ming. Marnrna went in for the first time since she has been here. We had meat for dinner. It was the first piece that we have had since we have been here.

Wednesday, July 20, 1887: Fred, May and I went after the milk.  Percy and I went over to the bay to meet the Stranger. It is very hot today. Mamma finished the pennant for the boat and Fred made the pole . We all went out on the water. I went in swimming.

Thursday, July 21, 1887:  We told May the word which was that she was to be one of the brides-maids at Uncle Will’s wedding. Clinton, Fred and I got up early and went trawling but we only caught one pickerel. Percy went after the milk. Mamma, Fred and I went trawling in the morning. We caught two pickerel. I caught one and so did Mamma. It commenced to rain as soon as we got to the dock.  After it had stopped raining, Fred and Mamma went trawling. This was in the afternoon. Mamma caught three pickerel.  Uncle Henry said that he thought that the largest one weighed be­tween 3 and 6 pounds. We did not go in swimming. I cleaned three of the smallest pickerel and we had them for dinner. In all, we caught 6 pick­erel. The largest pickerel measured 28 inches.

Friday, July 22. 1887: I did not get up early. Fred, Percy and I went after the milk. We killed quite a large water snake, which we found lying on the dock. We got 100 lbs. of flour and a new trawling spoon to replace the one Fred lost yes­terday.   We also got the mail. Fred, Percy and I went trawling but we did not catch any pickerel. Mamma and May went trawling. Mamma caught quite a large pickerel. Fred took two of the pickerel that were caught yesterday to cousin Frank. Clin­ton cleaned the large fish and the one that Mamma caught today. We got 5 gallons of kerosene oil which Fred left in the boat because it was raining. When we went in swimming we found that all the oil had leaked out of the can into the boat. Clinton and Percy took the boat out a little way and dumped it into the river.  Percy and Clinton smelled and looked as if they had just returned from a vessel that was ladened with oil.

Saturday, July 23, 1887: I helped Mamma fix her room. I worked on my path a little while before breakfast. Mamma, Clinton and I took a walk. Clinton did not feel very well. Mamma, Fred and I went over to Joe’s Island and picked nearly three quarts of huckleberries. I went in swimming. There was an ice cream eat over to the bay. I received some newspapers from Papa.

Sunday, July 24, 1887: Fred, May and I went after the milk. Clinton and I took a walk.  All of us except Rose went over for the milk. I wrote a letter to Papa.

Monday, July 25, 1887: Mamma and I went out trawling and stayed out until nearly 12 o’clock. We got pickerel that weighed about 4 pounds and two smaller ones. Percy and May went trawling and May caught a pickerel that weighed about 4 lbs. The one that May caught broke the hook. Clinton did not feel well and stayed in bed all the afternoon. The oil stove broke. I went in swimming. Fred, Percy, May and I went after the milk. We got the groceries.

Tuesday, July 26, 1887: Cooked our coffee in the fireplace. Percy, May and I went after the milk There are some campers on Joe’s Island. We got some ice. We built an oven to bake bread in, but the oil stove was fired by the time that we got the oven started. I went in swimming. Fred and I went over to Oak Island to see if there were any blackberries on the lower end of it. We did not find any. I went over to one of the small islands to see a large sturgeon. It weighed about 75 lbs. Fred caught a pickerel that weighed about a lb. Fred caught the smallest pickerel. It was 6 inches long.

Wednesday, July 27, 1887 : Fred, Clinton and I went after the milk. Cleaned part of the piazza. Played two games of Parcheesi with Percy. I beat him. Helped Fred make some frames for mosquito netting. In the evening Fred, May and I went after the milk. I went in swimming.

Thursday, July 28, 1887: Fred and I went to Oak Island. We got about a pint of red raspberries. I went in swimming. We did not go over to the bay because it rained so hard. We had a very peculiar sunset. The sun looked like a ball of fire in the midst of a bank of gray clouds .

Friday, July 29, 1887: I got up quite early. May and I went after the milk. We also got some ice. Fred and I went over to the bay to get something for Mamma. Mr. Opie expects to finish today; he is working on the boathouse now. I received a letter from Uncle Will. The minister bought an island of Uncle Henry. I went in swimming.

Saturday, July 30, 1887: Fred, May and I went after the milk. I stayed at the dock because I did not feel well. I had a sore throat. I went to bed but did not stay there long. I did not go in swimming. Rose went in for the first time. I helped Mamma pick up sticks. I slept with Mamma. Mr. Opie had not finished yesterday.

Sunday, July 31, 1887: Clinton, May and I went after the milk. Clinton and I went to church in one boat, and May and Mr. Opie went over in the other. Reverend Mr. Furgeson conducted the meet­ing. We saw a lot of homely girls. May stayed to supper at Uncle Henry’s. Mamma and Fred found a nice place for a path to the foot of Atlantis. Clinton and I took a stroll.  I took a nap.

Monday, August 1, 1887: Clinton and I got up early and went trawling but we did not get anything. I did not feel well so I took a nap. I stayed still most of the day. I did not go in swimming. Fred, Percy, Clinton, May and I went out to set a night line for catfish. Mr. and Mrs. Gus Buss made us a visit in the evening.

Tuesday, August 2, 1887: We got up early and went to look at our night line. We did not get any­ thing. Clinton and I went over to the bay. We made Mr. Allen cart most of the things down to the dock. I helped cut a path to the foot of the island. We caught one bullhead.  Clinton and I caught some small perch to set a night line with.

Wednesday, August 3, 1887: We did not catch any­ thing on the night line. One small pickerel was caught on the way to Choke Cherry Island (where the main line was set). Clinton and I went after the milk. We took the cat over because the stoop is being painted. Mamma and I went out to set the night lines. I helped Fred and Clinton make some night lines. Clinton, Fred, May and I went out to set the night lines. Percy and I went to Placid Bay, and Fred and Clinton went in the other. We caught some perch to set night lines with. We did not get home until about 6 o’clock, so we did not go in swimming.

Thursday, August 4, 1887: Fred and Clinton got up early and went to look at the night lines. Fred and I went down to the place where the trees were cut and chopped some· wood. Mamma, Percy and Clin­ton went to Alexandria Bay to meet Mrs. Thompson and Fanny, who were corning to make us a visit. Mrs. Thompson and Fanny came on the Stranger at 4 o’clock in the afternoon. The steamer landed at Joe’s Island. May, Fanny and I took a walk. I went in swimming.

Friday, August 5, 1887:  Fred, May, Fanny and I went over after the milk. We all went out trawl­ing in the afternoon. Mrs. Thompson, Fred, Clinton and I went in the old boat, and Mamma, Fanny, May and Percy went in the other boat. Our boat stayed out until about 5 o’clock. I went in swimming. We tried to catch some perch for bait. I went to bed early.

Saturday, August 6, 1887: I did not go to the bay. Mrs. Thompson and Clinton went over to Cedar Island to get some potatoes. I helped Fred and Percy make a place to keep fish in. I went in swimming.

Sunday, August 7, 1887:  Percy and I went after the milk. All of us except Rose took a walk up sunset path. Clinton put the hammock up. Mamma played for us.

Monday, August 8, 1887:  Clinton, Fred and I got up early and went trawling. We got one small pickerel. May, Fanny, Fred and I went after the milk. We trawled over and back but did not get anything. Helped Fred and Clinton build the fish tank. Fred and I went still fishing for black bass. I caught one that was quite large. We also caught some perch for the night line. Mrs. Thompson, Mamma, Fred and I went after the milk. We got some pickerel on the way over.

Tuesday, August 9, 1887: Mr. Warner and Mr. Berdan came and stayed until 11 o’clock. Mr. Warner took 3 pictures of the house.    One from the small island near the house, one from Joe’s Island, and one from a rock near the house. Fred , Clinton and I caught some perch for the night lines. In the afternoon, Fred, Clinton and I baited the night lines. Fred, Clinton and I went fishing for black bass. Fred and Clinton caught two black bass. They were about 10 to 11 inches long. Fred, Percy and I finished the fish pond. We got one pickerel on the night lines. One of the bass died and we put the other in the fish pond. Fred, Fanny, Clinton and I went after the milk. We got one of cousin Frank’s boats because we are going to paint the nice boat. I went in swimming.

Wednesday, August 10, 1887:  Percy and I got up early and went fishing for bass. We did not get any bass, so we trawled. We got one pickerel which weighed about two pounds. Fred, Mamma, Mrs. Thompson and I went to Mink Island. We trawled there and back. Mrs. Thompson got one that must have weighed 6 lbs. at the least, two between 2 and 3 lbs.      Mamma got 3 small pickerel on the night lines. Mamma, Mrs. Thompson got one good­ sized one and a small one. Today is a very good day. We got 10 pickerel today. Fred , May, Fanny and I went to the little island near the house and fished.    Clinton took the large fish over to the bay to see how much it weighed. Mrs. Thompson’s fish weighed 7 pounds. I went in swimming.

Thursday, August 11, 1887: Mamma, Mrs. Thompson, Clinton and I went trawling. We got three small ones. Percy, Mamma and I went trawling. We got a small pickerel and threw him back. I helped Fred paint the boat. Fred, Clinton and I went over after the milk. We got small pickerel and lost one good-sized one and a small one. I went in swimming.

Friday, August 12, 1887:  Fred and I took the boat and went to Placid Bay to get some minnies to catch black bass with. We had not gone far when we found that the plug was out of the boat and that the water was coming in, so we rowed to the foot of the island, hauled the boat up and let the water out. After we had gotten the minnies we took Clinton aboard and went still fishing. We did not get anything. It was very rough all day. We had pickerel in the tank but all but one got away.

Saturday, August 13, 1887: A man came from Alexan­dria Bay to take pictures of the house and island. He took one from the rock near the house. He took a picture of the house from Joe’s Island. He took a picture of Placid Bay and the big rock. Fred

and I are cutting a path to Jack’s Cove. Mr. Thompson came on the Stranger at 4 o’clock. All but May, Fanny, Rose and I went to the bay.

Sunday, August 14, 1887: Mr. Thompson, Mrs.Thomp­ son, Mamma, Fred, May, Percy, Clinton and I took a walk. In the afternoon, while we were sitting on the piazza, when we heard one of the men who are camping on Joe’s Island hollering to us to bring out the boats. He said that three men were in the water.     Fred and Clinton ran down to the dock. Fred took the nice boat and Clinton took the old one. It seems that 3 men,1 white man and 2 Indians, had gone off on a spree, got drunk and capsized their boat off the end of Joe’s Island. When the boats got there they found the Indians clinging to the up-turned boat, while the white man was swimming for Bell’s Island. They thought that he would reach the island so they turned their attention to the Indians, when all of a sudden the man who was swimming threw up his hands. He had gone down twice and was going down the third time when the man from Joe’s Island hauled him into their boat. Fred and the two men put him in our old boat and towed him to Chippewa. Clinton towed the live Indians to the upper end of Joe’s Island and bailed out their boat. As soon as the Indians got in their boat, the one that was rowing said that he wanted the whiskey bottle that was floating on the water, but the other Indian said that he had had enough whiskey and would not get it. And the second time that he tried to get it he ran the bottle down and sunk it. There are some Indians camping on the main shore and that is where the two Indians went. I wrote a letter to Libbie.

Monday, August 15, 1887:   Mr. Thompson, Clinton and I went after the milk. In the afternoon, Clinton and I went to Placid Bay and got some pickerel minnies. We set a new night line and got one small pickerel on it. Mr. Thompson, Clinton and I Went after the milk. We trawled for black bass on the way over. Mr. Thompson got a bass that weighed three-quarters of a pound. Fanny got a pickerel that weighed about a pound and a half.

Tuesday, August 16, 1887: Mr. Thompson, Clinton and I got up early and went trawling for black bass. We did not get any. We got one pickerel on the night lines. Percy and Fred went trawling up the creek. They got one pickerel that weighed 2-1/2 pounds and two smaller ones. I helped Mr. Thompson make a path to the dock. I went in swimming.

Wednesday, August 17, 1887: I helped Mr. Thompson make a path. I helped Percy cart sand to put on the path. Fred and I went in swimming. I went over to the bay.

Thursday, August 18, 1887: Mr. and Mrs. Thompson, Fred and I went trawling. We got a pickerel. One good sized one and a small one. Mamma and Clinton went trawling. Mamma got a good-sized pickerel. Mr. Thompson, Fred and I went still fishing for black bass, but did not get any. I did not go in swimming. Fred and I finished the path to Jack’s cove .

Friday, August 19, 1887:  I helped cart sand for the path all the afternoon. Fred and Clinton got a boat load of sand. Mr. and Mrs. Thompson, Mamma and Percy went trawling to Mink Island. Mr. Thompson caught 5 pickerel. He threw three of them back because they were small. Mr. Thompson also got one that weighed 5 pounds and one small one. Fred, Clinton and I still fished off Choke Cherry Island, but did not get anything. We got an    eel on our night lines.    It was very rough in the afternoon. I went in swimming.

Saturday, August 20, 1887: Percy and Clinton hauled two boat loads of sand and finished the path. Mr. Thompson, Fred and I trawled to Mink Island.   We got 5 pickerel. Two were so small that we threw them back. The largest weighed about a pound and a half. I went in swimming. Fred, Mamma and I went after the milk.      We caught a good-sized pickerel who wanted to go to Bell’ s Island, so we took him with us.

Sunday, August 21, 1887: Mr. and Mrs. Thompson, Mamma, May, Fanny and I took a walk up Sunset Path. Fred, Clinton and I took a walk to see if we could make a path on the south side of the island.

Monday, August 22, 1887: Percy and I went after the milk. Mrs. Thompson, Mamma, Fred and I trawled to Chippewa Point. We got 5 pickerel but only kept one. Mrs. Thompson caught a black bass. It was a small one so we put it in the tank. I helped Fred and Clinton make a path to the head of the island. Mr. and Mrs. Thompson went to Ogdens­burg on the 4 o’clock boat. I went over to Chip­pewa to see them off. I went in swimming.

Tuesday, August 23, 1887: Clinton, Fred and I built path nearly all the morning. Fred, Percy and I built path in the afternoon. I went in swimming.  Clinton made a catamaran. Fanny hurt her knee.

Wednesday, August 24, 1887: Clinton and I went after the milk.       We got the Ice. Fred and May went to Alexandria Bay to meet Miss Ringaberg who is corning on the Stranger at 4 o’clock. I went in swimming. Clinton and I sailed the catamaran. Mamma, Miss Ringaberg, Fanny and I took a walk.

Thursday, August 25, 1887: Percy and I went after the milk. I helped Fred and Clinton make path. Fred and I went to look at the night line. We got two pickerel on it. The largest weighed a pound and three quarters. We did not go in swimming. Clinton and Percy went to the bay and got the mail.

Friday, August 26, 1887: I helped Fred and Percy build stone wall.  We finished the south side of the house. Marnrna, Clinton, Fanny and I took a walk to the Big Rock. Fanny went on the 6 o’clock boat.

Saturday, August 27, 1887: Fred, Percy, May and I worked on the path all morning. Clinton and I went still fishing. We did not catch anything. Clinton saw a large black bass. Fred, Percy, Marnrna and May caught 6 pickerel but threw back all but two. Miss Ringaberg, Clinton and I went trawling but did not get anything. Fred, Clinton and I trawled to the bay.  We got three small pickerel. I got a ride to the dock.

Sunday, August 28, 1887: Mrs. Bell’s cottage was burnt to the ground early this morning. Clinton and I put on boiled rags and went to Hammond. We went to church. We got a ride there but walked back. Mamma, Clinton, May and I took a walk.

Monday, August 29, 1887: Clinton and I went still fishing.          We did not get anything. We went to Squaw Island to get rninnies. A man who had a night line gave us a dog fish. Mamma,  Clinton and I went trawling. We got one small pickerel that we put in the tank. While Clinton was swing­ ing in the hammock, it came down. Fred and I took the boat and got some spruce logs.

Tuesday, August 30, 1887: We expected Papa, but he did not come. The Guide did not get in until after 12 o’clock. Mr. Hooker and Mr. Crane came on the Stranger at 4 o’clock. All of us excepting Fred and Rose took a walk. George Hooker, Percy and I went trawling.

Wednesday, August 31, 1887: Percy, Miss Ringaberg and I went for the milk. Clinton and I set a trap for woodchucks. Clinton, May and I went still fishing. Clinton got a small pickerel. Mr.Hooker and Mr. Crane went on the Stranger at 4 o’clock.  I went in swimming. Mamma and I took a walk. May caught a bullhead trawling.

Thursday, September 1, 1887: I got up early. Clinton and I sailed our catamaran. We got some small crabs for bait. Someone boarding at Cedar Island caught a pickerel that weighed 12 pounds. Clinton, Percy and I went still fishing. Fred, Mamma and I trawled to the bay and got the mail. We caught two small pickerel.

Friday, September 2, 1887:  Fred, Mamma and May went trawling.  May caught a pickerel that weighed 4 pounds. Mamma, Fred and I went trawling. We had a hard rain and a beautiful sunset.

Saturday, September 3, 1887: Clinton and I took a walk. It was rough and blowy all day.

Sunday, September 4, 1887:  Clinton and I took a walk. Uncle Henry  (Denner) made us a visit. Uncle Fred and I took a walk. Mr. and Mrs. Gus Buss, cousin Frank and cousin Lisah and their friends made us a visit in the evening.

Monday, September 5, 1887: All of us got up at 25 minutes of four and took the Guide to Alexandria Bay. From there we took the steamer, St. Law­ rence, to Clayton, where we took the cars to Utica. There we changed cars and took same to Waterville.

Tuesday, September 6, 1887:  Fred, Clinton and I flew our kite. The string got caught on a barn but we got it off. Fred, May, Percy, Clinton and I went over to Mr. Terry’s and picked hops. We rode home with the hop pickers.

Wednesday, September 7, 1887: I stayed in the house nearly all the morning. In the afternoon we took a carriage and rode to Mr. Congers to supper. We played shuffle and had a very nice time.

Thursday, September 8, 1887: I stayed in the house nearly all the morning. Mamma, Fred, May, Helen Hubbard, Maud Young, Miss Ringaberg, Percy, Clin­ton and I went to Mr. Osburn’s woods and had a picnic.

Friday, September 9, 1887:  We left Waterville on the 7:35 train. We went to Norwich where we waited nearly two hours.  From there we took a New York, Ontario and Western train to New York.

Saturday, September 10, 1887: I stayed at home all the morning. In the afternoon, I went down to Helen’s with May.  Grandma and Fred got here this morning.

Sunday, September 11, 1887: I went to Church and Sunday School. Uncle Will made us a visit.

Monday, September 12, 1887:  I went to school in the morning and got out at noon. I went down to the tennis court in the afternoon.

Tuesday , September 13, 1887: I got up early and studied my arithmetic. I did not get out of school until nearly 3 o’clock. I have taken up Critical Reading.

Wednesday, September 14, 1887: Mamma, May, Fred and I went to Philadelphia to attend Uncle Will’ s wedding. The wedding was at Mrs. Jackson’s, who is the mother of the bride. The ceremony took place at 7 o’clock.  We took a morning train to Philadelphia, while Papa came on in the evening. We stayed at Mrs. Jackson’s all night.

Thursday, September 15, 1887: We did not leave Philadelphia until 40 minutes behind our regular time, which was 11:15. This is the celebration of the adoption of the Constitution of the United States. The city is full of people and military companies are arriving on nearly every train. There is to be a procession today and tomorrow. We did not get home until after 2 o’clock.

-Susan Bryant-

I can’t recall my first memory of the island, all the happy years of my childhood seem to mesh together into one big memory. But there are things that stand out in my mind as if they hap­ pened yesterday. My grandmother always had maids, two local farm girls who worked for her every summer. They would do all the cooking and cleaning. So meals were very structured affairs, breakfast at about 9:00, lunch at 1:00 and dinner at about 6:00. I remember summer life revolving around swimming and meals. We swam all day long! We would go in a half hour after breakfast, break for lunch and be in the water again a half hour after lunch, until they dragged us out for dinner.  “The River Rats”, we would be in the water so long that our skin would be all shriveled when we came out. Not even the weather or grandma could keep us out of the water, we’d swim rain or shine.

My grandfather, although I never knew him, had made paths for us to hike to the end of Atlantis. He had placed rock piles along the way so that all one had to do was follow the rock piles and you couldn’t get lost. This enabled us to go off on our own to pick blueberries, or hunt acorns, or just hike out to Giant Rock and play.

Giant Rock is at the end of Atlantis and it is an indentation in the granite that looks like a giant sat down to rest. My grandfather named it Giant when he was a boy so my sister Jeanne, my cousin Debbie and I decided that if he could name a spot on the island that we could name all the spots along the trail from the house to Being all of about six, nine and eleven, some of our names weren’t too original, like Blueberry Hill, but we can remember everyone of them to this day.

When Jeanne was old enough to pass brother Bill’s boat test and was allowed to drive his out­ board– It was our job to do the errands.  Every day we would take the mail bag and the milk carrier and set out for Chip in the 18. We would walk up the hill to get the mail and what ever was on the shopping list. We always stopped at the bridge over the brook to look for frogs. We took great pride in the trust that was placed in us to carry out such an important job.

Another one of our favorite pass times was fishing. We would fish for hours off the boat­ house docks and catch millions of rockys and perch.  We would keep what we thought were the big ones in the fish car until Dad would arrive on the weekend. How they survived I’ll never know. Then Dad would have to convince us that they were too small to clean and cook and should be thrown back. But the next weekend the fish car would be full again.

I think every generation that has grown up on Atlantis has been told one thing …•”DON’T RUN DOWN THE HILL! !” It was usually yelled at you as you raced down the front hill, bare foot of course. If you were one of the unfortunate ones to stub a toe on the way down, grandma was usually waiting for you on the front porch with the band­ aids and a lecture on Not Running Down The Hill !! But there’s something about that hill … and by the time the bandaid was ready to come off you would have forgotten the tears and grandma’s lec­ture and were running down the hill again.

Throughout these years of growing up on the island my feelings and love for the River grew every year. For me Labor Day weekend was always more of a demarcation than New Years. For that was the year to me, September around to June, with the summer at the island what you looked forward to all year long. But over the years I have been able to see the island and the river in all the seasons.  It’s hard to say which season at the river is most beautiful, each offers something different .

The spring is the beginning … the start of another summer at the island. You see old friends and reminisce about past summers and what newthings have happened in each others lives over the winter, and you start to plan projects for the summer ahead.

The summer with its warm sun-filled days seems to go by faster than any of the seasons. The speed at which the summer flies can be attributed to the thousands of things we all try to cram into a few short months.

The fall, with its cool, quiet days and the smell of a wood fire in the air, is a time I find myself thinking most about the beauty of the River we all hold so dear. The trees begin to turn, flocks of geese fly south and in the distance you hear the sound of a duck hunter’s gun. It is also a time you think about the power of the River and you develop a great deal of respect for Her. You take extra care on the water, for the river in Fall can be very cold and very lonely.

The winter is beautiful! As you walk out to the island and listen to the quiet and hear the wind in the trees and see the snow blow across the ice, you can almost hear the river taking a deep breath.  The river is at rest, rejuvenating itself after all the crazy things we have done to her all summer long. I hope nothing happens in the future to destroy the river’s peaceful winter slumber.

I know that future generations of islanders will develop the same love and respect for the river that past and present generations have shown, and the common bond that the family of islanders have with one another will grow even stronger.  Future generations will experience the same joys we have all experienced and the cycle of life on the river will continue as before.

The story of Atlantis Island is the story of the Bailey family in Chippewa Bay since 1886. However the first member of our family came to Chippewa on July 31, 1818 when squire Loren Bailey arrived from Barneveld , Oneida County, New York, as a land agent for George Parish. However to get down to the dates of Atlantis Island which start from that date in 1886 when Dr. George w. Bailey bought the island, then known as Jack’s Island named for the runaway slave who lived there, from Henry Denner his uncle. Doctor Bailey had been born in Chippewa and lived there until about 10 years old, when his father moved to Waterville, N.Y. , from which place he went to medical school in Philadelphia, Pa.

It all happened because a Dr. Eben B. Cobb came to Elizabeth in 1884 as pastor of the 2nd Presbyterian Church, and he and Mrs. Cobb spent the winter of 1884-5 with Dr. and Mrs. Bailey. Dr. and Mrs. Cobb had just been married in the summer of 1884 and spent their honeymoon, of all places, in Alexandria Bay. (Dr. and Mrs. Cobb later visited at Atlantis and purchased an island of their own in 1887 and which they occupied for many years. It is currently owned by Mr. Wall.) It was therefore only natural under the above circumstances that Dr. Bailey and his two sons, Ralph and Fred, came to Chippewa to visit their relatives that next summer, 1885. It was on this visit that Atlantis Island was purchased.

Jack’s Island, Wyanoke was Joe’s Island, was occupied for many years by the runaway slave who had a shanty on the upper end of the island. We have found the remains of the shanty with bits of broken crockery, plates and buttons. Jack fished and hunted and worked for the families on shore in the summer and at harvest time. Dr. Bailey remembered that he would gobble like a turkey and was used to keeping the young fry in line by a threat to have Jack go after them, gobbling all the way.  Joe was another runaway slave who lived on Wyanoke.

The first house on Atlantis was started early in the season of 1886 when a carpenter was sent to Chippewa by Dr. Bailey from Elizabeth, N.J., with the orders to secure the necessary local help to build what is our house today. This first summer the house was merely a shelter. There was no stairway to the second floor, merely a ladder, and of course there was no plumbing . Cooking, however, was done on a kerosene stove. We can still see the original size of the house and where the fireplace was removed as the living room was enlarged and the addition to the dining room. Other additions were made throughout the years, but the original house of 1886 remains.

The first summer a dock was built and in July 1887 the first boathouse was built by a Mr. Opie, assisted by Clinton and Percy MacKenzie and Ralph and Fred Bailey. This boathouse was placed where the present boathouse now stands on the dock which had been built the summer before . It still stands though moved to another location when the “new Boathouse” was erected in 1916.

The first indication of the use of the word “Atlantis” is contained in a diary kept by Ralph Bailey, the father of Charles Bailey and Doris Bryant. We quote : “the man has finished painting the name on the rock — the name is Atlantis .” This notation was on July 15, 1887 . The name was chosen because of the recent publication of the book entitled “Atlantis” as far as we know.

The first summer on Atlantis saw many visi­tors including the Calvin Orcutts who later bought Wyanoke (Ferris Washburne ‘s grandfather and grand­ mother), the S.S. Thompsons who later bought Ragnavok (Francis Quarrier’s father and mother) .

We learn from the diary of Ralph Bailey that the activities of this first summer included fish­ing every day, you had to eat . Fishing as you rowed to Chip both morning and evening for the milk-trolling for the table . Night lines were set each night and a fish pound was built to keep the excess fish if any for the next day, if the mink and otter did not eat them during the night. Cut­ting paths around the island and generally clear­ing up the place. There was also time for swimming and the four boys mentioned above built a catamaran   Was it for pleasure or a faster trip to Chip for the chores?

As we all know, life on an island was very different in the 1880s but perhaps it brought out in each the necessity to plan ahead more than we have to do today. Food had to be brought in from a distance, often coming up river from Ogdensburg by boat and being put off in Chippewa — later at Cedar Island. It was quite different getting to Chippewa in those days also. From New York travel was by train with several changes to Clayton, where one took the steamer for Alexandria Bay only to change boats for Chippewa. You landed, weather permitting, on the point of the nearest island and had to be rowed to your island. Later the trains came through to Ogdensburg and you got off in Hammond, to be driven to Chippewa by a Mr. Allen and later by Wesley Backus and Will Backus, Erdine Felt’s grandfather and father. It is interesting to note that now with Interstate High­ ways the same trip is made in 5-1/2 to 6 hours and as we all know, often for weekends. The season has also been extended on both ends so that we can have much more use of our Island homes.

River transportation has had its changes also from the original skiffs and sailboats to the first motor boats, the make and break engines to the more powerful ones and the outboards. How­ ever, we have always retained the skiffs and sailboats.

Life on Atlantis has also changed with the passing years though still retaining that some­ thing called “island living”. It just does not take as long and as much planning to secure the necessities of life and there is more time for fun and relaxation, or so we think. The garden at the Hotel on Cedar Island provided much in the way of fresh vegetables and the local farmers came along with the necessary chickens, eggs, milk and cream, and butter. Vegetables and dairy products were delivered to your dock by boats from Grena­ dier or from the farm on Oak Island. Indians came around with baskets for your purchase.

One of the few allowable Sunday pastimes was walking around the island, and those from sur­ rounding islands had the opportunity of a boat ride to get to Atlantis before the walk and of course a nice social visit afterwards. There has been a garden and an orchard on Atlantis for many years. Now mainly an exercise in beating the mice, rabbits and bugs but then a real need.

In the early days there were a number of Indians in the .area, as recorded in the diary of Ralph Bailey under date of Sunday, August 14, 1887, and we quote — “In the afternoon while we were sitting on the piazza, we heard one of the men who are camping on Joe’s Island hollering to us to bring out the boats. He said that three men were in the river.                   Fred (Frederick R. Bailey) and Clinton (MacKenzie) ran down to the dock. Fred took the nice boat and Clinton took the old one. It seems that three men, one white man and two Indians, had gone off on a spree, got drunk and capsized their boat off the end of Joe’s Island. When they got there they found the Indians cling­ing to the upturned boat, while the white man was swimming for Bell’s Island (Brush). They thought that he would reach the island so they paid their attention to the Indians, when all of a sudden the man who was swimming threw up his hands. He had gone down twice and was going down the third time when the men from Joe’s Island hauled him into their boat. Fred and the two men put him in our old boat and rowed him to Chippewa. Clinton rowed the two  Indians to the upper end of Joe’s Island and bailed out their boat. As soon as the Indians got back in their boat again, the one that was rowing said that he wanted the whiskey bottle that was floating on the water, but the other Indian said that he had had enough whiskey and would not get it. The second time he rowed around to get it he ran the bottle down and sank it.  There are some Indians camping on the main shore and that is where the two Indians went. “

There was considerable partying in the early days, with evening visits to the various islands. Red, green and white lanterns were placed on the docks each night, as well as a white lantern on the top of the flagpole. An   entry in our guest book under date of July 22, 1892 lists the names of twenty people who came over that Friday evening.

One of the early additions to Atlantis was the windmill, which still is a landmark. This for many years provided us with our water, if the wind blew. If we had a three day calm and a house full we would find ourselves at the windmill pumping by hand. Then a gas motor supplanted the vagaries of the wind and finally electricity took over in 1952.

It is interesting to note that we had com­ munication with Chippewa as early as the 1890s by means of a telephone line, which Ralph and Fred Bailey laid under the water and across the fields to the store up the hill. It had to be taken up each fall and the cows did considerable damage during the summer months to the poles. Now once again we are linked to shore via the two way radio.

It is difficult for any of us to come up with our first impressions since most of us have been “Islanders” all of our lives, but we do have two minor first impressions. Cordy Bailey’s introduction to the area by way of the sleeper from New York City left her a bit bewildered when the conductor awoke her with the words, Phila­delphia, New York that was, but to her it did not

make any sense. To add to that the train made one of its rare early arrivals, one hour ahead of time and she and the Ford boy walked rails while bet­ ting who would be picked up first. Nellie Bailey on her first trip to Atlantis in 1906 spent most of the time sailing from Chippewa to Ottawa via the Rideau Canal with her brother and sister-in­ law. We don’t even try that today.

To the rest of us it is a place we have known all our lives and the only one we know of where you can go back year after year and know that you will see the same people you left at the cocktail party over Labor Day. We will all be a bit older and perhaps a bit wiser but otherwise the same, and we will start a new season on “Island Living” as only we in Chippewa know how.

There are many incidents which come to mind as we reflect over the years and many of these have been passed down to us from our elders. One such incident which might have been the first recollection of Chippewa by Charles Bailey was when he was too young to remember. The first motor boat at Atlantis, the “Junior”, bought on a visit to the Boat Show in New York City, was almost the last as it nearly capsized on the trip back to Chip from Jones Creek and at Cross Over Light the keeper had his glasses on the frail little boat with its make and break engine as it bucked the heavy waves as it crossed the river and headed up along the American Shore. Plans had been made as the tip progressed as to who should try to take care of the little one in case the boat did capsize. Fortunately it did not and we all lived to tell about it and enjoy many years on the river.

Such are the incidents which could be endless but I believe that we have given enough of “Atlantis” history to fulfill the desired request of the authors of Chippewa Island History.

 – The Bailey Family and Atlantis Island:

1. George W. Bailey —   Emma Blackman Bailey, his wife

2. Children of GEORGE AND EMMA:

Dr. Frederick R. Bailey–married Minnie Wooden Ralph W. Bailey–married Nellie West

May E. Bailey–married Howard H. Maxfield


Ruth Bailey–married Halsey T. Tichenor, Jr. Frederick Randolph Bailey–married Constance



Charles P. Bailey–married Cordelia Curtis Doris W. Bailey–married William w. Bryant


Elinor -­ Mary —

4. Children of HALSEY AND RUTH TICHENOR: Halsey Tichenor III

Randolph Tichenor


Thankful Dimock -­ Faith Kendall —


Barbara C.–married Thomas A. Hollister– daughter Ann Bailey.

Deborah w. –.


William W.–married Cheri Johns-­ children William III, Nancy.

Jeanne B. -­ Susan Gail —

Atlantis, upon the death of Emma Bailey, was owned by her three children until purchased from Fred and May by Ralph Bailey, in 1926.  Nellie Bailey turned it over to Charles Bailey and Doris Bryant in 1967.


Big Island – Mananna – Ralph de Villers Seymour

My first visit to Chippewa Bay was made in the summer of 1906 when I was taken by my family to visit Mrs. Knap (James), who was my father’s sister. I have been there every year since then, except for about five years during the war, for periods of from two days to all summer.  When I was not able to make the trip in the summer, I went up in the fall for duck hunting. One of my earliest recollections was going to Cedar Island to meet the mail boat. At that time there was on the Island beside the old hotel a large dock with a store and post office on it, which were served twice a day by the old steam­ boats, the Island Belle and the Riverside. They would come up in the morning from Ogdensburg, leave the mail and then stop again in the after­ noon on their return from Alexandria Bay and Clayton. The Islanders could also telephone to Ogdensburg and have their meat and vegetables sent up on the boat. It was only necessary to call the day before. In those days, according to my recollections, there were no motor boats. Every­ one would row to Cedar, which became a meeting place for all.  After visiting with the Knaps for a number of years, my father purchased Choke Cherry Island from them and the large boat house was built. For two years we lived and even entertained in this boat house. The sides of the slip were divided by canvas walls to form the rooms and the cooking was done outside in a cooking hut. (We even had a cook.) About two years after he bought the Island my father designed the house and had it built.

That summer he rented Halfway Island from the Chapmans for the family. For many years I had the pleasure of spending the entire summer on Choke Cherry as I never went away to camp. For many years Father would leave New York on the 10:30 p.m. train and arrive at Hammond at 7:00 in the morning, be driven to Chippewa in Forrester’s wagon, and return on Sunday on the evening train to New York.

Another very vivid memory is a race from Wyanoke where the Regattas were held for a number of years. Mr. Quarrier with the “Miss Q.”, a doctor whose name I do not remember, but who owned Ojibway, and who had a large fast boat, and my father in the “Charmian” were the contestants. In those days a fast boat had a speed of about 32 miles an hour. The three men agreed to run a race for a box of cigars and for the entertainment of the people at the Regatta. The course started at Wyanoke, ran out between Toothpick and The Rock, passed the Menkels and on up the River. it was a short race for disaster occurred by the time they reached the Menkels. Mr. Quarrier piled up on the rocks on one side and my father piled up on the rocks on the other side of the channel, while the doctor who had only been at the River for a few years went sailing through to win the race. The propellers of the Miss “Q” and the “Charmian” were mutilated, but I fear not as much as the pride of the two who considered they knew every shoal.

I wonder if anyone remembers “the worst storm in the history of Chippewa Bay”. Well, I can vouch for it. it was late in the afternoon, though I don’t remember what period of the summer it was, when I looked out of the living room window and saw a steamer chair go gliding around the porch and straight through a wooden railing as though it wasn’t there. it was the same storm that blew Addison Strong’s house down the River and into the bay at the Knaps.

For three or four summers, between 1935 and 1940, I camped out on Big Island (which we call Mananna). I had inherited this island, which had been in the family for over 100 years. Three or four couples (our friends and relatives) gathered there for their two weeks’ vacation. Each couple had their own outboard motor and living tent, and we had a large army tent for communal use. That is a beautiful island and we had some wonderful summers there. We particularly remember the glorious swims in the pure, clear water.



This was written by Anne Talcott Wolcott who was Mrs. Richard T. Wright–“Anne Wright”–when she owned Brush. When she and Dick were divorced she passed ownership of the island to Dick. Anne now owns Little Cedar

– January 1981 –

Brush Island, which sits behind Rob Roy, nestled at the foot of Oak Island, was once called Belle Isle. The Island was owned by the Beiles who built a house where the Wrights’ house stands now. The Belle house burned to the ground in the 1880’s, according to Dr. George Bailey’s diary, and was rebuilt along 1900. From the looks of the house it started as a two-story square house with porches on three sides. There is a thimble on the back of the chimney in the present living room which indicates that that area may have served as a kitchen. Everything else has been attached to that square, like railroad cars, one on top of the other, including a caboose which is the kitchen porch with a precarious bedroom above. An unre-solved staircase rises out of an upstairs closet, suggesting another wing to the Northeast.

it is hard to determine who owned the houses after the first owners but apparently they were rented to friends of islanders. Stu Burt visited in the old house when it was going strong and my mother, Ruth Hatheway, remembers playing a parlor game called “Jenkins Up” at the heavy oak table in the little house (the Wrights’) when her father’s friends the Jamisons from Girard College in Philadelphia were staying there. We bought the house in 1971 from a family from Rochester, the Finnacarios. By that time, the son, Mark Finn, was the only one interested in the island but his parents had used it over the previous ten or fif-teen years. I can remember them sitting out on the dock in undershirts and halters enjoying the passing scene. They “shaved” the big pines along the face of the island and painted the stumps of others some pretty interesting colors. The inside of the house was very dark, with several windows boarded off, a linoleum “rug” on the dining room floor covering seven or eight layers of paint. The old boat house at the foot of the island must have been quite lovely with rooms upstairs and a lighted path leading to it from the house. By the time we reached it, the whole structure was heav-ing into the river and breaking away during the breakup of the ice each Spring; so we had T. Menkel and Jeremy Taylor drag the behemoth out on the ice and burn it in the winter of ’73.

At this time the Grays from Syracuse owned the upper end of Brush, with the big old house and hunter’s cottage behind. The big house was in fair condition but failing fast. There was no kitchen at the back of the house where it would have been, it had been removed. You could still see the back stairs making a lonely ascent up the outside of the house. The rooms upstairs had been opened up to make one huge room with a couple of closets. How do I know all this, you’ll ask? I took off a shutter on a front window and let my-self in. Even played some old 78’s on the wind-up victrola in the pine-paneled living room, while a dry-eyed deer watched from the wall. Ben and Christian Wright and friends spent many a clandes-tine hour in those same rooms in the 70’s. Now the Gray boys have done a great job rejuvenating the cottage and I fear the “ghost house” will go the way of the boat house that the Beiles built in the 1880’s.

When we bought Brush for the grand sum of $13,500, it was in a delapidated state. Henry Hanson removed the huge oak tree that had fallen across one side of the house and repaired the chimney. He also put in a septic system for us, which I think was the first on the islands, to satisfy the requirements of the State of New York, with two leach fields. Knowing my propensity for a dense guest population he put in what he called a “hotel size unit”.

The job of resurrecting the house and making it bright and functional took that entire first summer (1972) and a constantly changing crew of eight or nine island kids, with Andy Schroeder acting as the overseer. “Fly” Moeller and Chris Wood tore off the roof of the porch that had rotted away, most of the porch floor was replaced, Dick opened boarded windows and tore asphalt shingles off the side of the house. Peter Gustafson was the chief painter, covering himself and others with that rich island red. Martha Wood executed a sunset sky in the upstairs hall, while Mugsy Menkel combined blue and purple and yellow in the bathroom. Roger Martin arrived in time to take out a pantry wall with his chain saw. Some-how it all worked and many companionable meals were taken in the slanting dining room.

Brush is the third island in Chippewa Bay that I have owned and lived an and it tells more than any other the truth that each island is dif­ferent from the next. This rather low, spread-out island covers about 10 acres in all, with deep fast water on one side and marshy, slow waters on the back. The fishing can be terrific off the southwestern tip (pike and small mouthed bass) while the birding in the shallows behind is a marvel (loon, black duck and mallard, night herons and Great Blues, sandpiper and killdeer, and even the short-billed marsh wren was seen skipping along the red tendrils and willow roots). Down river of Brush are the inevitable piles of rock which children see as islands, countries, continents, even, and these attract gulls and terns and killdeer. The interior of Brush is quite amazing with stands of very tall oaks, a few evergreens and patches of inviting mass in blueberry surrounds. Every few years we spot the pileated woodpecker and the flycatcher that tantalize with their drummings and calls.

Brush is now in good hands with Dick and his new wife, Anne Bingham Wright, who loves the river as we all do. And each of our children, Ben, Christian and Lizzie, who have spent all of their summers in Chippewa Bay, feel that strong pull of attachment that I think will see them all coming back all their lives. They are the fourth genera-tion in my family to enjoy and grow with the peculiar benefits of The River.


Bluff – Frances Glasier

Mr. and Mrs. Herbert Glasier (Frances Mac-Kenzie), “Thelema Point”, Cedar Island (home of Mr. and Mrs. Clinton MacKenzie), have been spend-ing part of their summers since 1926 on the Saint

Lawrence River   either at Ragnavok, Frances’ paternal grandmother’s island (Mrs. Theodore Thompson), belonging at that time to her daughter (Mrs. Archie Quarrier), or at Snakeall Island, belonging to Frances’ sister (Mrs. C.F. Gordon).

We always found the peace and quiet and absolute naturalness of “just living” beyond measure rewarding, and would return to Long Island greatly refreshed by the experience of seeing old friends and “The River’s” unchanged beauty.

In 1953 our daughter Margot (Mrs. M.B. Collins) had her first glimpse of the St. Lawrence and immediately feil in love with the River life, returning each year thereafter. She was married to Morton Brokaw Collins in 1956. Her three boys — Brock, Lawrence and Douglas — are 6th generation River children on Margot’s maternal side to have spent summers at the St. Lawrence River. Her children are also five generations on Mrs. Glasiers father’s side. So you can see Margot Glasier Collins will always be at home on the River.

Mrs. Clinton MacKenzie (Cornelia Schantz) purchased Thelema Point with money she inherited from her godfather, who had taken her fishing and camping there at an early age. At the age of 18 she built the house (1889), which is still stand-ing. Soon she met and married Clinton MacKenzie (Mrs. Theodore Thompson’s son).

– Barclay Gordon

Among my many and richly-varied memories of Chippewa Bay, none stands out more vividly today than designing the house for Mother and Dad on Bluff Island. We selected the building site at the head of Bluff’s little harbor notwithstanding the fact that it collected a steady stream of river flotsam: dead muskrats, old tennis sneak-ers, abandoned summer furniture, etc. that had to be disposed of each spring. By enlarging the small cut, much of the debris now flows through. The house was designed to span this water cut and take possession of both halves of the island. The docks were tucked underneath, away from the ice floes and the prevailing wind. I designed the small “cupolas” (as Mother–with just a trace of sarcasm–called the hooded skylights that stand up over the roofs) to bring light deep into the interiors. At night they are lighted from within and serve as beacons (one faces in each direction) for returning boatloads of partygoers.

Henry Hanson served as contractor but most of the actual building was done by Leon LaRue, master carpenter, mason, bee-keeper and as deliberate a man as ever I met. Well over sixty, with a slow but warm smile and eyes of the deepest brightest blue, Leon was the living embodiment of the old adage that “a good carpenter measures twice and cuts once”. And, if possible, he was even more careful with his words than with his saw cuts. When I asked Leon a simple question like, “Do you think we should use hemlock or yellow pine for the stair treads?” Leon would pause, say “Well…,” relight his pipe, and fix his gaze on a distant shoreline, usually between Dark Island and Chippewa Point, for what seemed like an intermi-nable period before answering. When my question was more complex, he would tut his head backward and gaze up at the heavens. After an eternity of silence, he found the answer somewhere between the Pole Star and the Crab Nebula. His answers, wherever they came from, were always thoughtful, always logical.

Leon and I had only one lasting point of dis-agreement. it centered on the question of how best to support the bridge over the water cut. At twenty-five feet, the span was too much for ordi-nary dimensioned lumber. I designed a pair of box beams that would serve as side raus for the bridge and_ offered plenty of support for a twenty-five foot span. Leon was wary. He felt the plywood faces of the box beams which had to be carefully glued and nailed, might be attacked by constant moisture in the cut below. He suggested using heavy dock timbers instead. I was wary now. I told Leon that I knew the timbers were strong enough, but I thought they would deflect too much and cause the deck to feel spongy underfoot. That spring, when I got up to Chippewa to see how work on the house was progressing, the bridge was complete. There were my box beams along the edge of the bridge–and there were Leon’s dock timbers underneath! The two structures are, of course, redundant but to this day I’m not sure which is holding up which.

A summer or two later, I heard that Leon was building another house for someone on the Morris-town road. I had come to like and respect Leon so much that I went to pay him a visit. We had a nice reunion. I longed to ask him as I was leaving whether he thought his timbers were hold-ing up my box beams or vice-versa. it was a tantalizing question. I bit my tongue because I didn’t have all day. Leon would have found the answer, I’m certain, but I was afraid it lay somewhere outside our galaxy.

– The following is an article that was written about Bluff Island by the late Mrs. James A. Common.

There is an aloofness about Bluff Island, lying as it does just far enough from any of its neighbors to be definitely apart, while from its very individuality of form it commands the notice of every traveler on the St. Lawrence. Bluff, as its name suggests, has a high precipitous shore-line. it sets up from the blue water like a green-frosted layer cake, for Bluff is heavily wooded. Clamber up its banks and the island is found to be a beautiful level plateau with many smooth grassy woodlands set among other areas of broken boulders and rough undergrowth. From this plateau is a clear view of the American main channel between Clayton shore and Gridstone Island and also it commands a view of the only waterways connecting the main river channels for a stretch of nearly 15 miles. No wonder Bluff played its part in much of the river war-time history.

At present Bluff is a private island with two large summer homes clinging to the cliffs on the southern side, but it has not always been so. From the many relics found there we know that it was a favorite Indian campsite in the days of long ago. Trust the Indians Co know and use the van-tage points on the river. That it was also a sentinel outpost in the various wars waged on the river we know from the histories. it lies like the hub of a wheel, a center from which swift messengers might be sent up and down the river by either channel.

it was for Bluff the British marine struck out when he escaped from the Black Snake, the British war vessel captured and sunk by Gen. Jacob Brown’s forces near Round Island in June, 1814. He was the only prisoner to escape and he must have been an unusual swimmer for those days. On this island he hid until he deemed it wise to start off for Gananoque, ten miles away across the island sprinkled river.

It is entertaining to scramble about Bluff and wonder where you would have concealed yourself and what you would have done had you been that marine, hiding there front sure death. Eating would probably have seemed a secondary considera-tion, yet the marine did not need to go hungry for in June the woods would have been full of red-raspberries and edible roots a-plenty and always there must have been fish and frogs and rabbits for the catching. Were he as good a woodsman as he was a swimmer he could have cooked his food in some rock hollow in the heart of the island where no smoke need betray him.

Besides its strategic position and good camp-sites, Bluff had several sand bays and a bed of pure pottery clay to offer its Indian visitors. Numerous broken bits of pottery found there attest to its use. Many a white child has since spent happy hours on Bluff making, decorating and firing “real Indian jars” or searching the sand bay shores for arrowheads and other implements.

Bluff with its raspberry patches and its good fishing grounds, Bluff with its clean sand bays and its diving-deep banks, Bluff with its wildness and rustic beauty is an island of memories to many a person. We may still enjoy it even though it is “posted”, for our boat can skirt the shores closely and we can look up into the shadows be-neath the over-hanging trees and picture there Indian sentinels, marines or happy children as we choose.

– Georgia Mackenzie Gordon

(The following was taken from answers to a questionnaire returned by Georgia Gordon.)

Bluff, Snakeall and Garden Islands were bought by a Denner from a man called Dick the Indian. Thelema Point was built around 1887. The cost of a 7-bedroom house and docks was $500.00.

I first came to the River in 1910 and loved it as soon as I was old enough to have impressions. I remember the Indians coming by canoe to sell sweet grass baskets. Some of the names here have changed, but not the way of living. There seems to be less of a generation gap here than any other place. I believe my father and his family first came here to visit the Baileys. They fell in love with the River and built a house on Ragnavok. Mother came on a fishing trip at age 18, found Thelema Point and bought it.

Some of the special people I remember who were ‘characters’ were Gilbert Averell, Charlie Lyon, Uncle Archie Quarrier, and Villers Seymour’s father. There has been very little change since earlier days except for the lack of servants now and the greater ease of long distance travel.

My two most special memories of the Island are the regattas and a real river sunset. My favorite view is in July looking westward or early foggy mornings looking toward Chippewa. This is the one place I know where when one accepts an invitation one follows it by, “weather permitting”.

My children say that I get “River Fever” about ten days before I get to the Island and that I am not fit company until I am there. After the first day at the Island, I begin to feel at peace with the world.

Perhaps there is a generation gap after all. When I was the younger generation I thought the older people were boring….and I don’t believe this has changed.

– July 17th, 1891



Cedar – Henry Hanson

1838-1876: During the year 1838, Ezra Brock-way located upon the Island in Chippewa Bay where he lived the life of a hermit for many years. He believed himself to be the son of Napoleon Bona­parte. He refused to pay taxes on his Island and out of pity it was not insisted upon. Early in February 1876, a party in crossing the river on the ice noticed that no smoke was coming from the chimney. They found the door open and the half frozen form of the would-be Napoleon on a snow-covered couch. Ezra died without ever revealing the secret formula for making his well known heal-ing salve. In later years an attempt to duplicate a salve in similar form was made and called Brockway Salve.

1885: The Brockway heirs deeded Cedar Island to Martin Phillips.

1886: Mr. and Mrs. Martin Phillips built a hotel on Cedar Island. Mrs. Phillips was known to be a very good cook. Mr. Phillips, in later years, was noted for being one of Frederic Remington’s favorite models. Two steamers which stopped at Cedar Island coming and going on the run from Clayton to Ogdensburg were the Island Belle and the Massena.

1891: An addition was added to the hotel on Cedar Island.

1900: Ingleneuk, one of the islands of the Cedar group, was deeded to Frederic Remington. (The late Harold B. Johnson, editor and publisher of the Watertown Times, in August of 1900, when he was a correspondent of The Times in the summer at the Thousand Islands, wrote about Frederic Remington and his summer home at Cedar Island. Mr. Johnson was then 20 years of age. The story is presented herewith.)

Clayton, August 17, 1900 — it seems to be the general impression among tourists and visitors to the Thousand Island region that they have seen all that there is to be seen when they have taken a trip among the islands on a popular excursion and have passed through the Lost Channel, seen the Fiddler’s Elbow, floated among the wild Canadian islands and passed the head of Grandstone Island.

There is nothing more of interest mentioned in the numerous guide books; and were not these little volumes compiled by men who have spent years and years on the river and are thoroughly competent to write the volumes? The existing notion seems to be that all the picturesque sce-nery to be found lies between Clayton on the west and Alexandria Bay on the east. But such is not the case.

Below Alexandria Bay, along the course of the river towards Ogdensburg, are scattered islands here and there that, in point of natural beauty and picturesque aspect, equal and even exceed the islands farther up the river. And these islands, too, must be classed in the Thousand Island group. Cremizie, the Canadian post, records a pleasant and poetic little fable, regarding the origin of the many isles. His words are:

“When Eve plucked death from the tree of life and brought tears and sorrow upon earth, Adam was driven out into the world to mourn with her and taste from the bitter spring that we taste today. The angels, on their wings, bore the silent Eden to the eternal spheres on high, and placed it in the heaven, but in passing through space they dropped along the way to mark their course some flowers from the Garden Divine. These flowers of changing hues, falling into the great river, became the Thousand Isles — the paradise of the St. Lawrence.

“When the flowers fell from the wings of the angels, some were scattered apart from the

others — some of the most beautiful ones fell in the river waters below the main collection, form-ing the scattered islands above Chippewa Bay.”

In this region below Alexandria Bay, on a secluded little island, is the summer home of Frederic Remington, the famous artist and author. If you should saunter into the Hubbard house at Clayton and ask the clerk where you might find the Remington home he would say to you: “Way down the river; take the Island Belle here at 7 in the morning and tell the purser to put you off at Cedar Island. You can’t miss the place then; everybody ’bout Cedar Island and Chippewa Bay can tell you the exact location.”

And then the accommodating clerk will turn the register about on the desk before him, adjust his pen more securely upon his ear, turn back a few pages in the thumbed and soiled volume, and point to the name that you have seen so many times in the corner of a picture of some far western scene. “There you are, ‘Frederic Remington’; was here just the other day to breakfast, on his way home from a trip to New York.”

Perhaps it was a hot day in August when the journey down the river was made. The Island Belle is waiting at the Clayton dock at 7, the traveler boards her and is soon in midstream, the bow of the boat pointed towards the sun that has just gotten in good position to mark the day’s trip across the heavens. Of course, there are all sorts of people aboard the boat, men with the bark on, as Remington would characterize them, and younger men fit for the descriptive pen of Richard Harding Davis, or the pencil of Charles Dana

Gibson — young fellows gotten up entirely regard-
less of expense. Then there are ladies also — ladies of the category that William Dean Howells and Henry James deal with in their fiction so successfully. But little of interest happens during the trip down the river. The scenery is very enjoyable all the way and to the individual who has never passed through the channel below Alexandria Bay before, pleasant sights are awaiting him. There is a wildness about the general appearance of the islands that at once attracts the attention.

The cottage and summer home are not seen on every side. Now the boat passes quite near the shore and the passenger sees the wild red cherry trees hanging over the water’s edge and farther away the raspberry and blackberry bushes are observed growing here and there among the rocks. Trees are seen on every island, birches, maples, cedars, hemlocks.

At length Cedar Island is reached. The Belle steams up to the little wharf, a part of the pas-sengers go ashore, and some members of the little congregation on the dock get aboard the boat. The lines are again thrown off the spiles and the vessel continues her journey towards Ogdensburg. Cedar Island Home — A small store is one of the features that make the dock attractive and a place of general assembly at all hours of the day. Everything is found in the little market place; the buyer may purchase a package of pins, a bunch of onions or a glass of lemon-sour, and all at a reasonable price.

The Remington home is situated just back of Cedar Island and is readily reached by row boat. The island upon which the cottage is located is not a large one, but is wild and secluded. it is near enough to the Canadian border so that it seems almost possible to throw a stone with ease and have it fall in the domain of the good queen. The home is a low building of modest size. it is painted in attractive colors and the arrangements of the colors would at once suggest to the observer that the individual who had the painting in charge was an artist and a master workman in PIM his line.

A broad piazza runs on all sides of the  house, save the rear, and upon this veranda are hung a couple of inviting hammocks. A number of large armed chairs are placed at different points and these beckon one to sit down and rest. an all sides about the house are scattered trees that afford pleasant shade, and that cover the house with that shade during nearly all the day. There are maples and birches and cedars, while a large pine stands forth prominently a short distance from the western corner of the veranda. The cottage faces towards Canada, and the farm lands far away on the Canadian shore present a pleasing background to the river scene.

The interior of the home, though not differ­ent in many ways from other cottage interiors, possesses features that make it especially worthy of description. There are eight sleeping rooms some above stairs and a part on the ground floor. Then on the lower floor there is a front parlor and a back parlor, the adjectives used in distinguishing them undoubtedly having been given them by Mr. Remington from recollection of their use by his St. Lawrence County ancestors. The dining room is fitted in a unique manner and is finished in hard wood.

A large painting, made by Mr. Remington, occupies a prominent position on the wall. The work was done since the arrival of the artist on the island last June. it represents a river scene at night. A boat appears in the distance and fishermen are seen jack fishing, evidently for pickerel, having a large torch and spears. The kitchen is built apart from the main building and is just near enough to be handily reached. it is fitted with modern conveniences and is as handy as though situated in a thickly populated locality.

To Build Studio — Of course, the artist has a boat house and boats. The building is located directly back of the cottage and is reached by a line of winding sidewalk. A substantially built dock leads out from the boat house for a short distance, following the line of the bay coast upon which the building is erected. Mr. Remington has a naphtha launch, but has gained but little enjoyment from it since he purchased it in the spring, as it has persisted in failing to operate at the wrong time.

A couple of as fine canoes as are to be seen along the river are found in the boat house. They were built by J. H. Rushton, of Canton, and are of the latest pattern. The artist is an expert canoeist and thoroughly enjoys going out on the water in one of these frail little barks. A couple of St. Lawrence river skiffs pull at their painters at the dock, and a flat-bottomed punt bearing the suggestive name, “B-Flat” completes the Remington fleet. The canoes and the boats, save the punt, all bear names selected from the names of the Indian braves with whom Mr. Remington was so familiar during the years of his residence in the far west.

Mr. Remington is contemplating the erection of a studio next season, and will construct it on a small hill just west of his cottage. The pro-posed site is an ideal one, as it looks out on the river and the light at all hours of the day is especially abundant. At the present time the artist does much of his painting on the broad veranda. A large easel leans against the side of the house and this is employed as the painter’s frame. A tent erected near the cottage also af-fords a quiet spot for the artist to work.

In this beautiful and quiet home the artist and author is passing the summer months with his wife and immediate family. Just now he is engaged in writing a novel for serial publication in the magazine which W.R. Hearst is about to launch. The magazine will be published by R.H. Russell, the well-known New York publisher, who has already published a number of Mr. Remington’s pictures.

The novel, Mr. Remington says, when completed will be the longest literary production he has brought forth, and will be of much greater length than his “Sundown LeFlare” that at present is his longest story. He is spending a portion of his ‘ time on the illustrations for the novel, for, of course, it will be illustrated by the author. He has been engaged for some time in writing the story and it is nearing completion.

Artist Loved Horses — Mr. Remington devotes a portion of each day to recreation, swimming being one of his favorite forms of sport. He is a powerful swimmer and the admiration of all fol-lowers of this pastime in the locality of his summer home. For several nights past the August moon has been bright and beautiful and the artist spent a portion of the evenings in a boat on the river, floating on the stream and filling his notebook with sketches–material that undoubtedly will be utilized in the making of future pictures.

This is the first season Mr. Remington has spent at “Ingleneuk” (for he has given his cottage this attractive name). He purchased the cottage early in the spring and at once began its remodeling and refitting. At present he is contemplating a trip to China, and if the proposed journey is made “Ingleneuk” will, without doubt, be closed before the middle of September. However, if the journey to China is not undertaken, the cottage will remain open until late in the autumn, for at that time the cloud effects are most beautiful and the tree tints along the St. Lawrence are of the greatest value to an artist.

Remington is a Laurentian, having been born in St. Lawrence County. He spent his boyhood at Ogdensburg and Canton and was educated in the public schools. Becoming a man he drifted into the Great West and there became acquainted with every phase of western life, followed the army, hunted the Indian, lived the life of the wilderness conqueror. For a time he was in the real estate business at Kansas City, but the bubble broke and he lost all the money left him as a heritage. He married and returned east, arriving in New York penniless. it was then that he first came in contact with Harper Bros., submitted a few sketches of western scenes which were accepted and his success was assured.

The man bears his success with greatest ease and permits the world to fight on in its own way, if it will only leave him alone. He is an individual of strong friendships and staunch friends. He loves the out-of-doors with deepest affection., it is said that it is Remington’s desire that when he dies it may be inscribed upon his tombstone, “He knew the horse”. He does know the horse and he knows the out-of-doors, and the further in-scription might be added to the tombstone, “He loved the open”.


 “Island Belle”

 Riverside landing at Morristown, NY



Cedarmere – Anthony M. Menkel, Jr.

Cedarmere Island, Chippewa, September 2, 1980 — I am sitting in the dining room, in my sixty-third year, watching and feeling yet another summer winding down. The happy sounds of summer are yet around me, but have started to fade a bit and our jolly band is dispersing — Allan in Potsdam, N.Y., starting a new teaching job; Sally in Goshen, Conn., for three more weeks at the Wilderness School; Margot’s Bill back to the Uni-versity of Virginia for his second year at the graduate school of architecture; Lanie Menkel Benet back in Hartford with her kids and her Doctor; “T” in and out, preparing for another long stretch on Cedar Island and his “Winter Hawking”. Claire and I are holding the fort, reluctantly and slowly attending to closing chores.

Summer 1980 will soon be a memory, another happy one joining all those other summers pre-ceding. Our season this year started off with a bang on July 6th as Claire and I celebrated forty years of a most meaningful relationship. We were joined by almost a hundred wonderful people that day, which included our four children and our grandchildren, James and Sara Benet — the fifth generation of the family to carry on the Chippewa tradition. This day carried with it the con-tinuity which I truly believe is, in a real sense, the reason our children have always thought of this island paradise in Northern New York as their true home. This is where they have known grand-parents, uncles and aunts, cousins, and great friendships to a degree far greater than was pos-sible elsewhere due to geography and the demands of our industrial society and dispersal of educational institutions. Chippewa once every year brought us all together and forged the bonds which will produce more generations to compete at the Yacht Club Regatta and to cavort in their own way on the waters of the great river which year after year keeps flowing along   itself a massive symbol of linkage with the past and a guarantee of the future. 

These echoes of summers past are not sad ones, a bit nostalgic perhaps, reminding me of other years and other faces. Just as this summer’s noises are truly happy ones, so too are the bunched memories of many other years — Childhood and its mysteries unfolding: Dad teaching me to swim from the big rock among the reeds off Temagami Island; learning to run my first outboard from brother Ton and sister Margot; how to varnish a deck and some party manners from mother (that’s an unusual pairing); kissing all the boats goodbye in September; playing practical jokes on island guests, particularly my older sister’s swains (from Cornell) and girlfriends from Pelham, N.Y., and Rosemary Hall.

Then came growing up and some wonderful, and sometimes wild, house parties with Deerfield and Williams friends and, of course, girls, one in particular named Claire Newell whom I met and kissed for the first time on Bluff Island. She was fourteen. I was sixteen. But this friendship lasted through Deerfield, Emma Willard, Williams, and Vassar days. We finally cemented this part-nership with our marriage on July 6, 1940 — by far the most momentous and best decision of my life.

This flashback can’t cover all of the sig-nificant events, only a few, some of which are very relevant to our story. The Great Depression, which started in 1929, took its toll in Chippewa. The Menkel family could no longer maintain their island, Temagami and, but for fortuitous circum-stances, it might well have passed out of the family completely. For a number of years, my great aunt, Ella H. Morgan, and her two daughters (Adelaide M. Beste and Cynthia M. Conant) had been sharing Temagami Island with the Menkels and loved Chippewa with the same passion. Although the ownership was transferred, my happy summers in Chippewa continued until graduation from Williams College in 1939 and, sporadically thereafter, until the onset of World War II which effectively interrupted my summers in Chippewa for almost five years; three of them in North Africa, Italy, and Europe. I should mention here that thoughts of the River sustained me and helped me through many lonely times while thousands of miles away. Some-time prior to the War, my Aunt Ella purchased Ponemah Island from my Uncle John Howard, whose wife Charlotte “Lottie” was my mother’s aunt. Thus the stage was set for yet another set of Chippewa families (Conants and Bestes) to flourish under the pines and oaks of the adjoining islands of Temagami and Ponemah. Their story will be found elsewhere in this folk history of Chippewa Bay.

It’s necessary now to pick up the pieces of the Benton and Tony Menkel connection. Shortly after the War my sister Margot and her husband, Dr. Louis J. Benton (Ogdensburg, N.Y.) bought Cedarmere Island from Mrs. Ford and thereon brought up their five kids (Susan Reeves, Sally Dell, Louis Jr., Jane Silvers, and Mary Michaels). These nieces and nephews of mine have made con-siderable Chippewa history in their own right, the latest being Dr. Louis Jr.’s purchase of the vener-able thirty-eight foot yacht, Rideau, which can be seen and heard these days from Clayton to Chippewa. Margot and Louis were most generous with their island, always reserving a few weeks each summer for Tony and Claire and their children on vacation. In 1956 we bought Cedarmere from the Bentons who, due to Dr. Louis’ medical practice, built a cottage in lower Chippewa Bay…still used by various Benton girls, husbands, and children.

Thus it came about that Claire and Tony, four robust children (“T”, Lanie Benet, Allan, and Margot Grater) have, until very recently, spent the past twenty-four years together on our tiny island, “where the action is” — three-quarters of
an acre of land but the biggest playground in the world all around us. The kids, I hope, will add their bits to this chronicle. Suffice it to say that their roots go deep into the soil and water of Chippewa and, for better or worse, they are here to stay.

Now, a small amount of land, one house (even if we did build a new one in 1973) and growing families do pose some problems. Thus it was that we were blessed by being able to buy eight acres  on nearby Cedar Island, including the old Phillips Hotel and store for the four Menkel children. Henry Hanson, Jr., in a “controlled fire” burned down the hotel buildings one winter’s day and the stage was set, we hoped, for the sometime develop-ment of the Menkel Compound. If that family on Cape Cod could do it, why not us?

And what we hoped might occur is in fact happening. “T” was first with his home across the bay from Temagami; Margot followed with her log home on the eastern side of Cedar. She quickly added a husband, Bill Grater, from Half-way Island…which makes us relatives by marriage to a whole host of Chapmans’ and Chapman derivatives. And just this summer, Allan and Sally, with de signer and master builder, Bill Grater, put up their new home across the lower western bay from Phil Craig and George Schwalb. And so it goes, this inescapable continuity, stories within sto-ries, and the start of families in being and children, yet unborn, who will follow.

I am reminded again and again that this Chippewa of ours, this wonderful River we share, is a very special place. These Happy Ghosts, liv-ing and dead, will always be here and will be returning, as we have, to provide life and muscle to our island home. In fact, Sally Menkel is now carrying an addition to our group, a wee tenant for that new house. Whether boy or girl, Bozo, as Allan is calling it, represents yet another claim-ant to this priceless heritage. There have been many predecessors, the memory of whom tie us all together. Sitting here, looking out toward Cedar Island, Ponemah, and Temagami, I feel the presence of all of them    my grandparents who started it all for us; Tony and Marge Menkel, my parents; my brother Tom, gone from us just a year ago; my dear sister, Margot (alive but unable to take an active part anymore); and many others   Claire’s father, Uncle Allan; Cecil Brownlow, Uncle Ad Strong, George Forrester, Cap’n Hanson, Henry Hanson, Ralph and Bobby Crow, Louis Benton, to name but a few who all, in their own way, fash-ioned Chippewa Bay, and gave to it a cherished meaning. Yes, they are all around me this day…not in some supernatural way, but as being inex-tricably woven into the fabric of Chippewa. And I like to think they all generally approve of what is happening in their and our Chippewa Bay.

It all began for the Menkel family in 1899 when Tom Strong and his wife, Alice Morgan Strong, and daughter Marguriete (my mother), started to rent Thelema Island (now Phil Craig’s) from the Sheppard family. While they continued this prac-tice for the next nine or so years, grandfather Tom always had his eye on the adjoining island, then called Ingleneuk, which he finally purchased from Frederic Remington in 1908. He immediately renamed the island, Temagami (for the Lake and land in Canada where he held timber interests). This island at that time consisted of the original large house (since burned to the ground), the present bungalow (western side), the living room of which was Remington’s studio, a skiff house (where the wee ones had their regattas today) and two boathouses. The island previously was owned by the Sheppards, the same family from whom grand-father rented Thelema. Gladys Craig, Phil Craig’s mother, was Gladys Sheppard.

Tom Strong, my grandfather, was the brother of Edward (Snug Harbor) and Addison (A.K.’s Island…Francie and Kelly Bates), and Mrs. John Howard, mother of Tom, Louisa, Ebbie, and Nelson. This will teil you how we are related to the Strongs, Howards, Rendalls, and the Bates. My grandmother, nee Alice Morgan, had a much younger brother, Dr. Harry Morgan, who married Ella Hardee of Toledo, Ohio. Aunt (great Aunt Ella) was my own mother’s aunt, although only a few years her senior. Thus Cy Conant and Ad Beste are my second cousins once-removed, etc., etc.

My father, Tony, Sr., was graduated from Williams College in 1901. There he met and was in the same fraternity, Sigma Phi, as the Chapman Boys from Morristown and Ogdensburg, N.Y. it was at a houseparty at Halfway Island that Dad met Marguriete Fine Strong. They were married in 1908, the year grandfather bought Temagami Island from Frederic Remington. Their first child, Margaret, my sister, was born a year later in Ogdensburg, N.Y. The rest of us were born in Pelham, N.Y., where mother and dad lived for over thirty years. it was during my early Pelham years that I got to know and love a man I called Uncle Allan. He used to stay in our home when on business trips to N.Y.C. Little did I know then that many years later (about fifteen) that I would meet, in Chippewa, his daughter, Claire Newell.

And little did Dad and Mother realize that another Menkel, their grandchild Margot, would meet and wed a Chapman grandchild, Bill Grater, from that same Halfway Island.

I am not a mystic, I don’t think, but there is something truly mystical and magical about Chippewa.

  – Margot Menkel Grater

I have always thought of Chippewa Bay as an incredibly unique community and always as my real home, regardless of where I spent my winters. The happiest memories of childhood all stem from Chippewa and the people there.

Especially, I remember a couple of summers when the older crowd went “buoy bopping” in the channel almost every night. But I was too young and they wouldn’t take me. One night my brother Allan said O.K. to Lisa Orgain and me. We were ecstatic. We all piled into R.D. Wood’s Boston Whaler and cruised to the buoy near Dark Island. All our hopes were for naught when Allan said it was too dangerous. So Lisa and I had to stay put in the boat while the older kids tried to dunk the light. And then, wouldn’t you know it, we spied boat lights coming towards us and as it got closer we knew it could be no other than the Talisman  with Old Dad at the helm. So, into the Whaler and back to Cedarmere. Mom gave us hot chocolate and Dad told us the dangers of buoy bopping and the fines if we were ever caught by the coast guard. So much for buoy bopping. I never did get to try it.

I guess the most common occurrence up there that we have always done (still do) is cruising the river at night. After dinner, we would all go to Rob Roy, grab the wonderful old quilts and huge pillows from the Big House, and throw them and ourselves into the Curlew. Usually there were ten to fifteen kids. Out we’d go at slow speed, sing-ing old songs to our hearts delight (it didn’t ever matter that you couldn’t carry a tune… everyone joined in.). None of the Menkel kids could sing except “V. When not singing, couples were huddled under quilts, kissing away, coming up for air every once in awhile. We were all so carefree…more like brothers and sisters than anything else.

Our group has all grown up now. We are the adults and the younger generation are doing the same crazy, wonderful things that we did (and I guess those that preceded us did too)…things that give the River such meaning to all of us. Yes, we are still cruising at night, cocktails in hand, and also still singing off key. The major-ity of us still spend all or part of the summer in Chippewa and we’re as close today as we were in those other years. 1 have attached a poem written by my brother “T” and read at Bill’s and my rehearsal dinner in Williamstown, Mass., December 28, 1979. it is completely accurate as to how Bill and I met and is really a better story than if I were to write it. The poem also teils of a very important and beautiful aspect of Chippewa Bay. Age doesn’t make any difference as to whom your friends can be, whether you’re 15, 20, 40, or 60 years old, it’s always easy to be close to one another.

The events I’ve mentioned so far are the ones that really stick out in my mind but there is so much more that gives the River importance. Like put-putting around at age 6 or 7 in my own motor boat, a 3-1/2 horsepower in the Little Bear or the pram; Martha Wood, Lisa Orgain, Hilary Bates all had their own boats too. So our days were filled with travels between Loon Cove, Rob Roy, and the Bates’ island, Cedarmere, and the islands in between, and then some. What freedom the River gave us as well as the responsibility of running boats, and learning to respect the River’s ever changing moods. I think of lazy, fun-filled days spent playing in the boats, learning to water ski at age 7, sailing, the unforgettable C.Y.C. Dances, and, as we got older, spending time on the islands in the middle of winter or meeting in early spring just after the ice broke up. I remember the year Ricky Wood and friends from St. Lawrence came up to Rob Roy. Brother Allan, Sally, Sam V., myself, and Chris Wood and the others spent the entire day, April 18, basking in the sun and water skiing from the Rob Roy dock. it was a delightful, unseasonable 90 degrees that memorable day.

Aside from all those fun things that make the island so wonderful, we were given the opportunity to learn responsibility at a young age…to respect and maintain the boats, and of course the river itself. The quiet beauty and sometimes violent beauty when the St. Lawrence decides to let loose with wind, waves, and general chaos. All of these things add up to a very special place….Chippewa.

A TOAST TO MUGGS AND BILL BY BROTHER T.  Rehearsal Dinner, Williamstown, Mass. December 28, 1979

You might say this is a Fisherman’s Story, a Fish Story, a Chippewa Celebration Ceremonial Story.

Well, it all started back in the fall of 1977 when Wild Bill was out on the river trying to catch some fish when he stopped by Brownlow’s Island, known now as Hemlock Island. This stop started lots of motion, and LOTS OF NOTIONS.

“Hey Bill”, says Bo, come up for dinner with some other rats, that is, “River Rats”, tonight. “OK”, says Bill, “maybe come back with some fish. You see, Bill lives the next island down, down river that is, on Halfway Island (no one really knows for sure from whence it is halfway).

Two (2) islands down from Halfway lives Margot, on Cedar Island. Earlier this same fall day, Bo from Hemlock invited Margot up, up river that is, for dinner.


As the river flows, so this story goes on that fall river October night, a bunch of Chippewas ate together, and supped a bit too. Bill was after fish, Margot fishing.

As ’77 turned into ’78, Wild Bill drifted down river after more fish. Margot was on Cedar Island trying to put together some kind of “sophisti-cated” Lincoln Logs. You see, Muggs is not a fisherman (fisher-woman), BUT she knows about bait. Says Mugs to Bill, high on a hill, I need some logs lifted up. A story of a house follows. No need to elaborate on details, suffice it to say, the nails were well driven and many a happy moment given. Any carpenter knows it takes a good hammer to drive a good nail, and Any sailor knows the essence of a good crew is comparable to wings that make the bird flew. (it rhymes this way.)

So you see, the two, Muggs and Bill, went “again” the river current to dinner with friends and by and by drifted back on down river and became Friends. You are probably asking, “What is the morale, I mean, morals of this story?” Well to catch fish you need good bait and to become a fisherman (woman) its never too late. Because…As the river flows, so the story goes and goes and goes and goes….It’s all Politics you seePolitics, you gasp, wondering what in hell this guy is talking about. Yes, the Politics of Compromise. For are not we all here tonight because Muggs and Bill MET EALFWAY.

– Bill Grater

There may be some significance in the fact that the earliest image (and it is quite vivid at that) of my life occurs at a place on the St. Lawrence in the vicinity of Morristown, N.Y., a place called Rockleigh which was owned by my grandparents (Elizabeth and Birgier Bjornlund). This memory has me and my older brother Fritz riding in Poppa’s wheelbarrow up to his beloved strawberry patch — a dark, sandy road, a fresh breeze blowing, warm sun, and a strong feeling of contentment. The River formed an edge of my world, rather than being an entity in itself. it was vast and awesome and was treated with a great deal of respect by both of my grandparents. it seemed charged with almost godlike power and properties.

I could not have been more than three years old when this actually occurred, at least in my mind’s eye. My grandfather died the following year, but the River lived on and, as long as it does, I’ll remember him.

The exact chronology of subsequent memories is unclear, but a significant pattern does seem to emerge. My family moved to Tennessee when I was three years old and I realize now what a difficult transition this must have been for my mother who had grown up in Canada and had always been rela-tively close to the River. She is undoubtedly the one person most responsible for the incredibly strong feelings my siblings and I share about the St. Lawrence River and for this I am eternally grateful.

Living 1,000 miles away from the River actually served to intensify its image as a very special place. it was much too far away to visit sporadically, which certainly made the annual summer trip assume the proportions of a pilgrim-age. it was, in truth, very much like an annual ritual, a return to the center of my world   a place of dreams and spiritual rebirth, a place where time assumes the fluidity of water itself. The trip itself was an ordeal, especially for my mother and father. Before the advent of the interstate highways, it would take a solid two days and a night. it is not hard to imagine what an intense experience that period of time can be for two adults and four excited children, all compressed into a Ford station wagon.

Later, with the super highways, mother would occasionally make the drive with all of the chil-dren and herself. That took a lot of dedication. I’m not suggesting that we were particularly un-ruly kids, although we were all sort of in a state of euphoria, animated, probably bordering on the hyperkinetic. The games of alphabet, Zit Zingo, etc., could only occupy our attention for rela-tively short periods of time. In retrospect I am deeply grateful to my mother and father for such selfless service to their children.

I shall never forget the great sense of ful-fillment and well-being that would engulf me at the end of these trips, upon hearing Mother ex-claim with relief, “Thereis the River, Boys”. Later on my younger sister, Lisa, was to become perturbed by this old expression. Abruptly at this point the familiar River geography would come into view, the valley edged with protruding rock shelves, the river dotted with islands. Then finally, the last steep descent to Schermerhorn’s Landing and the inevitable race to be the first one to touch the water. The ritual wasn’t over until, having arrived on Halfway Island, we had completed the circuit around the island, visiting those special places charged with extra attraction by virtue of their location and historical significance, places like Deadman’s Gulch, the boat house, and the little island.

it is the general ambience of this place –this perfect blending of wind, water, rocks, and trees — that can never escape tue when I dream of the St. Lawrence River and summers spent on, around, and in it. it is difficult to describe. I would call it a sort of mystical loneliness. I don’t mean to imply by this that I was ever lonely or unhappy in these surroundings but that, being there, I became one with another, incredibly beautiful world   happily cut off, as one wished, front the hurly burly of everyday living. I have  always been able to identify with the singular silhouettes of the white pines, bravely growing in impossible spots, and in defiance of rock and wind and in turn being deformed in unique ways for their impudence.

Although Halfway Island was subject to a degree of overcrowding during portions of the summer, it was still always possible to be alone if one so chose. The island is blessed with an abundance of secret places so important to a child’s imagination. In such places my brother, sister, and cousins would rendezvous to indulge our fantasies; or often times, I would go to these places alone to daydream about living here forever.

The rather isolated location of our island, being several miles from the island community of Chippewa Bay proper, kept us removed from the perhaps more intense activity of the Lower Bay. One effect this had was to bring our family closer together than during the rest of the year. The only time we would leave the island were for family excursions with our cousins, the Blums. We would go to places like Adventure Town; Alex Bay by boat to visit favorite novelty stores where we purchased poo-poo cushions, itching powder, and other delightful novelties. There were those rainy day trips to Ogdensburg to visit friends and relatives — of which there are many. I also remember picnics up Crooked Creek, on Third Brother or Three Sisters Islands as well as side trips to Mallory Town or Grenadier for vegetables. Frequently cousin Ted Mills would collect all of the kids on Halfway and take us for a jaunt on his wonderful Nordica.

As I grew older children’s games gave way to fishing, sailing, and water skiing. But that magical feeling of peace and isolation, of time-less existence, persisted throughout. And in more recent years, I was always very interested to see how girlfriends reacted to this special environ-ment. I may have been overdemanding in this area, expecting everyone to love this place as much as I did. When I finally met and fell in love with Margot Menkel, my worries were indeed over. Here was an individual who had had much the same River upbringing and experience as the writer. So, we got married, spend most of our time on Cedar Island but, you can be very certain, Halfway Island will always claim a big piece of my heart.

I revert here to something mentioned earlier, namely, the great sense of continuity of time fostered by the River. My great grandfather, Frank Chapman, purchased Halfway Island more than one hundred years ago. Since then, my grand-mother, mother, and I have a part of every summer of our lives there. In due time, I expect my children and theirs will continue on in the same vein. So even though time flows on and loved ones pass on, their memories form the matrix on which our deep love of this place is founded and which gives to the River, in our hearts and minds, its tremendous spiritual power.

 – Allan Newell Menkel

Looking back on growing up in Chippewa, my thoughts are filled with boats, fun, and never being bored with the “small fry”, my peers, and especially with a delightful cross-section of relaxed adults. When I think hard about it all, it is the latter which stands out. There was always a healthy interaction between all age groups in a uniformly unrestrained atmosphere.

As a child all this was taken for granted; as an adult it is cherished and appreciated. For most families, Chippewa seems to be sort of a focal point    a constant in an ever-changing world; a  gathering place filled with history and memories mostly positive ones. I can only hope and dream that our children and our children’s children will have the same opportunity to appreciate the natural beauty which abounds on the St. Lawrence River.

– Claire Menkel

The sounds of summer — don’t they bring back memories? Do we hear them at any other place? The lonely cry of the loons, and sometimes, their gossipy chatter. The raucous gulls, arguing, complaining, trium-phantly screeching. The dignified heron, a statue on a shoal — its surprisingly metallic squawk as it soars into the air. The ducks in the fall, winging by in formation –announcing to all that summer is almost over. Fish on a calm, warm summer’s day, slapping the water like a pistol shot as they jump into the air for a meal. The ever-present boats — noisy little outboards whizzing by, often piloted by a small boy singing at the top of his lungs over the sound of the motor, and bringing a smile to our faces. The larger boats, purring softly as they cruise by. A sailboat clapping its sails on a windy day. The ever-present ships in the channel sounding their deep-throated salute to each other. The people noises — a happy group, caterwauling and whooping as they enjoy a moonlight cruise. The parent’s cries, “Put your lifey on” — “Do you have enough gas” — or the dreaded yell, “You’re grounded”. Where else is that such a dire punishment?

Waves spanking the rocks on a windy day, or quietly gurgling as they pat the shore. The terrifying thunk and crunch of a boat hitting a shoal which must have drifted in the night. Island music — may it continue forever.

 – Anthony M. “T” Menkel, III

Some Ideas and Beliefs about Chippewa —

  • The names around here have a mystery to them: Twilight, Atlantis, Ragnavok, Wyanoke, Manzanita, Choke Cherry, Owatonna, Eagles Wing. And the name Chippewa, an Indian name, conjuring up all sorts of images   as the one Frederic Remington (who also lived here) painted with three Indians paddling across the St. Lawrence in heavy seas.
  • The Mystery of time and events: Take Frederic Remington…He once owned Temagami Island and then sold to my great grandfather, Tom Strong. My grandfather, William Allan Newell, used to play tennis with him. Now I live on the western front of Cedar Island, not very far from the rock from which my own father learned to swim as a little boy. Although I never knew my other grandfather, Tony Menkel, I now peer right across the bay to his old summer stomping grounds on Temagami Island and I feel as if I know him and his love for this place. Both of my grandfathers were part of the Chippewa story, having been involved in the magic of these islands, specifically the magic of the Cedar Island group, now home to me. Sort of full cycle and still counting.
  • The American Indian tribes who lived, traded, and fought up and down the St. Lawrence named this valley the Garden of the Great Spirit. What better name could there be? Life in Chippewa on this great River evokes strong emotions (love, sadness, peace, and contentment). I have never doubted the power and spirituality of this wonderful place. I can vividly recall, at age fourteen, traveling alone up and down the river, bursting into song and with tears in my eyes — not because I was sad but overcome by the never ending beauty of the river and its jewel-like islands. I just had to let my own emotions have an outlet.
  • Family and Continuity. Chippewa has always been home — even when we were living nine months out of the year in Michigan. Michigan was a place we returned to every fall to go back to school. The River, our Island, were familiar but very confusing to my Michigan friends. Boats, they would say! You mean you have to take a boat to the Island? Boats instead of bicycles and, at times, a mother’s nightmare. A kid in a boat is free and all parents know this.

This is where I’ve known grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles. Summertime was the time of the year when all these people came into my life    at the Island. Was there any other place to go in the summer?

  • Boats: A central theme in my life. I hope I never have to make a one or the other choice between a boat and a woman. A beautiful woman and a beautiful boat are two objects of which I never tire gazing at. But back to boats. They are a way of life up here. Thanks to Dad, I learned early on how to run them, clean them, and respect them. I received a very early lesson in humility, at age seven, in my very first boat–a 14 ft., too light, aluminum craft. The whole Menkel and Benton families were on Cedarmere to see me showing off in front of the island. All of a sudden I was high and dry on the shoal — in full view of God, Menkels, and assorted Bentons. The 5-1/2 was spinning frantically and I was “ass over tea kettle” up in the bow. I did manage finally to shut off the engine and I was scared to death. And it didn’t help matters that all of my cousins were laughing hysterically — that awful Benton laugh. Dad congratulated me on being so cool under fire and promptly got rid of the boat which he immediately replaced with a heavier, 13 ft. Lyman, knowing that no power on earth could ever keep us out of boats. That little Lyman took some heavy weather in her day and will be shortly restored for my nephew James Benet.
  • Age didn’t matter at Chippewa, one of the main reasons I have always loved this place. Everyone, of all ages, played together and still do in Chippewa.
  • Some other Islanders I will always remember — the Crows, Burts, Bestes, Woods (all of them), the Orgains. These were the families in the immediate path of my travels and, thank-fully, most of them still are. Just knowing that they are still around, a part of Chippewa, gives me a warm feeling as I cross and recross the River. For I know there will always be a warm welcome whenever I tie up at any of these islands.

Bits and Pieces, Memorable Stories and Anecdotes–

  • Dave Hallowell, supervising the removal of the Newasi from Toothpick– where it was high and dry — with the Menkel family watching and eating a picnic lunch nearby while John Wood circled in his outboard, laughing maniacally. This was a very funny scene for all of us but I’m afraid Dave didn’t appreciate the humor.
  • The tale of Archie Quarrier Sr. and Mrs. Quarrier coming into the boathouse at Ragnavok in the Miss Q. Instead of reversing, he gave her Full Forward, shouting, “Hold on Mother, we’re going through!”
  • Waterfights: These lasted for days. Somehow, Rob Roy and Cedarmere got the brunt.
  • “Hey, Mom, we’re going skinny dipping”–some things never change.
  • Jeff Burt and I vying for the smiles of Debby and Ginny Crow. We spent many happy times on Twilight Island and were always greeted with a smile from Ralph and Barbara Crow, even when I’m sure we weren’t particularly welcome.
  • The Store at Chippewa. Jimmy and Helen Denner, especially Jimmy’s bad back, causing him to sit more than he worked. Cap’n Hanson, his great stories and contagious laugh. Bill Aiken, Sr. and Chauncey Burtch coming across from Oak Island in the Nibbles, the E. or the Little Griff. That beautiful Dispatch from Dark Island. And that reminds me. The first time I set foot on Dark Island, Gerald Heath, the caretaker, gave us a tour. Later on I was to learn all the “secret” passages and then some when, along with Doug Wood and Peter Orgain, I worked for Dr. Martin.
  • Building the addition to our old pump house on Cedarmere. Later on, I would spend two winters there.

Trips to the Bay with boatloads of people, usually in the Curlew or the Talisman. The older kids of that day — Louis Benton, John Wood, David Quarrier, Carol Crow, to name a few, showed us the way. I remember once landing the Curlew on the beach at Edgewood….some excusions!! Then there were those wonderful calm nights in Chippewa, cruising and singing and often being serenaded by other groups.

Some Random Thoughts My love for the island and Chippewa stems directly from Mom and Dad’s love for this place. I wouldn’t be writing these words today but for them. In 1967, the year I was graduated from Suffield Academy, Mom and I came up early to the Island. I can remember well paddling around in the sailfish, calling the loons and the loons would return my calls. Mom said at the time that the island always re-energized her. She is perfectly content just being on the island but Dad is a boat person and a river wanderer. I know where my restlessness comes from. They gave us this paradise to come to, to live for, and to learn from. Thanks, Mom and Dad. They also gave us the land on Cedar Island to build our own homes, a gift of great forethought. This land provides the family with expansion space and a place to keep the tradition going, a lasting community in the hearts and minds of all of us.

November 1980 — This Fall marks the tenth year since I spent my first winter in Chippewa. That first winter was an adventure. Little did I know it would become a lifestyle. I began to learn the different moods of the River and learned to appreciate the wisdom of rivermen like Bill Aiken Sr., Henry Hanson, and George Cook. They taught me about the qualities of wool, a pike pole, good and bad ice. And, of course, I learned a great deal on my own through trial and error, and about living alone. There’s no one else around to help if you get into trouble. I got jobs on the river and began to meet a lot of great people in the area. I used to stay on shore dur-ing the transition period and learned the terrible feeling of being stranded on the mainland. Since those days, I think I have solved the transportation problems posed by the River in its other than summer seasons. Now, we have airboats, snowmobiles, skis, snowshoes, etc. I’ve learned how to break ice and I always carry materials to crawl out if I should fall through the ice.

Many have asked me this question — Why do I
live year round on Cedar Island? I’m not certain that I can give a total answer to that question other than to say this is my home. I’ve made it so. This is where I want to live. it isn’t easy…lots of hard work, especially at this time of year. I get home late, have to fire up the wood stove to get the chill off and not really ever knowing if I’llbe able to get into Chippewa
the next morning. Once the ice comes, I feel better. The fall river can never be taken for granted. The river is forgiving in the summer but not in the fall. It’s too damned cold. Traveling, living, and being happy on a cold, dark, and lonely river takes time and devotion and, perhaps, being a little nuts. But that’s the way it is. I love this river in all seasons. it is a spirit, a strong force, and one must learn to accommodate to its many moods.

I well remember my first winter on Cedar in 1977. I had just gotten Maxine, a Shepherd with some Lab thrown in, one ear up and one down. I was determined that Max and I would spend Christmas on the island. The Bay was iced in. My only access to clear water was beyond Blind Bay where I kept a 16 ft., 20 h.p. metal boat. The wind was out of the north and howling. Once started I didn’t dare turn back for fear of swamping. We stayed close to the shoreline and I was not looking forward to the stretch between Chippewa light and Cedar — an angry, cold ocean at this time of year. Max was a little puppy, covered up with straw in a cardboard box and, every once in awhile, she’d peep out to see what was happening. We finally made it to Cedar, hearts pounding, but safe at last on firm ground. Peaceful after the furious water of the wintry St. Lawrence. Christmas Eve on Cedar Island, 1977, was an experience I’ll never forget — just me and Maxine and Christmas carols on the radio. Sounds crazy, I realize. All I can say is, “The River made me do it”.

The River Has No Limits — Until age 14, I spent most of my time in and around Chippewa but that year I got itchy and started to cruise up river to Alex Bay, sometimes with friends, often alone. I have met many people this way and it makes me dream of all of the other people, living along this great river, westerly to the Great Lakes and east to the Atlantic. We may never stray far from Chippewa, but the opportunity for unrestricted movement and freedom is ever present. To me that is a comforting thought.

Storms on the River — 1967, Cedarmere Island, October 30, 10:15 p.m. in the old house with Andy Schroeder, Susi Knap, Lucinda Farmer. hear a rumbling sound, opened the kitchen door, and was physically thrown down ten steps to the ground. This was the first time in my life that I was afraid of actually being blown off the island. Winds only lasted 20 minutes but in that time, it felled trees, scattered anything loose on the ground, and on the mainland bowled over cars, trailers, and caused widespread damage.

April 6, 1978 brought winds that initiated a massive urban renewal program along some sections of the River, particularly around T.I. Park. Boathouses, boats, you name it, were not where they were supposed to be. Winds lasted for hours with water levels rising and falling a good three feet in less than an hour’s time — a truly in-credible storm.

First Boatride in Snow — Even after these years on the river in the off seasons, it still seems strange riding in a boat in a snow storm. The islands are white, the water a very dark hue, making the definition of land and water so starkly clear that the total effect is spectacular. I remember taking off in the outboard for Cedarmere one evening in the winter of 1970 in a blinding snow storm. Apparently people on shore were so worried that they called the Coast Guard, who launched a boat and came looking for me. After much knocking and hollering, I opened the door of my hut (the old pump house) and was greeted by two very forlorn guys in wet suits. I felt sorry they had come but was inwardly very grateful to those on shore who cared so much for a fellow traveler.

An Attempt to Call this Effort Quits   My whole life has been centered in Chippewa. Even when I was on a tramp the South Atlantic my thoughts invariably returned to Chippewa. And now I work and live here. Maybe someday I will understand better why this has all come to pass. Until then I shall continue to keep doing all of those things necessary to live on the river, on my island, and to seek the contentment which is all around me. This River is part of me. It’s in my blood. And it just keeps rolling along.

 – Lanie Menkel Benet –

My earliest memories of Chippewa are those when I was 6 or 7 years old. I was very jealous of “T’s” new boat and vividly remember his first ride up and on our shoal. That was the only thing which assuaged me (only slightly) for not having my very own boat. But the next year I passed my “swimming test”, from one dock to the other and back, and got my own boat, The Lanie Bug (This is the name given me by my Benton cousins). The Bug  was very speedy with its 5-1/2 h.p. motor. Laune Burt and I had to race daily to determine hull speed. Like our elders, we dreamed of fasten and bigger boats. Successive summers are measured in my mind by boat engines — 5-1/2, 7-1/2, 15, and 18. The last was the best — much too fast for the deteriorating hull of the Lanie Bug.

During one of those wonderful summers, Laune and I dreamed up the “Double L” Club. We cleaned out a funny place under the old house and set up kind of a summer camp. Don’t remember too many “campies” other than siblings. Most of the fun was in the setting up.

Boats have a way of dominating us in Chippewa. Many of my memories, I find, are determined by boat years. I learned to water ski behind the Croly Poly. it was very fast. After all, it carried a 10 h.p. At this particular time, Debbie, Ginny, and “T” were in the front seat!! Then I learned to slalom behind the Jigger, patiently taught by Peter Orgain.

Each summer would bring an annual Janka-Talisman race. it was never clear in my mind if Talisman 11 and 111 were necessary for any reason other than faster engines. These races were jovial but serious. We removed all the cushions, engine cover, anchors, folded down the windshield and warmed up for a very long time. Then only the featherweights were allowed in the boat with Dad. Others had to watch the great event from the island. The Talisman, I think, might have won once or twice but for sustained speed the Janka remained the champ.

Inevitably came adolescence and every year a different summer love. In the early 60’s most everyone gravitated to a certain island after dinner. Different years, different houses. Cedaralere was particularly suited to our needs with the big dorm in the old boathouse (not to mention “T’s” and Peter Orgain’s first major con-struction project on the old pump house). The games we played. Truth and Consequences was our favorite entertainment. Everyone got a turn, choosing either truth or consequences. If you chose truth, you had to answer one question on the order of “who did you really like”, “what size bra did you wear”, etc. Consequences provided more exciting choices. One was given three consequences, two of which were usually impossible; i.e., kissing RP’s toes (Bob MacDonald from Og-densburg); drinking a mixture of beer, toothpaste, orange juice, peanut butter and an egg; or kissing someone, changing clothes behind a holey towel; or skinny dipping. This game was endlessly fascinating. Then there were cruises at night, usually in the Curlew, loaded with living room pillows from Rob Roy and many quilts from the same source. Depending on summer pairings, there could be five couples “making out”. The best spot, the most private, was squished between the engine box and the side.

My group — David and Doug Wood, Jeff and Laune Burt, John and Peter Mills, Debbie and Ginny Crow, Cathy Bockus and Steve Moeller, “T”, Peter Orgain, Chris Craig, and some others not around so regularly   were greatly impressed by our immediate elders. Several times we were allowed into Bill Bryant’s boathouse room. 1111 never forget the wall full of empty beer cans. At some indeterminate time, our group seemed to merge with theirs and then along came Allan Menkel, Chris Wood, Margot and their friends. This process is truly one of the most unique aspects of Chippewa…the merging of generations.

Thinking of the singing cruises has reminded me of Calipari’s band and the old-time island dances, the hysterical auctions, and John Wood ferrying the petrified band back. And I remember the songs…The Three Bears and “They’re Rioting  in Chippewa”.

The Menkel children had the unusual distinction of male babysitters…Louis Benton, John Wood, and then Howard Wood. I remember “T” and Allan getting endlessly and forever thrown into the river. Of all these male sitters, perhaps Howard Wood earned a very special place in our family’s lore. The night before the day of our departure — four kids, two dogs, trunks, suit-cases, summer treasures, Mom’s winter projects, and trailing boats — Howard had to bid fond adieu to Nancy Bockus, after which he proceeded to drown his sorrows in more than river water. Never was there a more hungover and useless individual the next morning than Howard. Big Tony was not at all happy. But time softens these things and most every summer Howard and the Menkels delight in our remembrances.

Not to be forgotten are the Qu’est-ce que  C’est (our wonderful pontoon boat) summers, etched deeply in all of our memories. During the day it was perfect for water tag and diving. At night, were cruises. After several dances we all spent the night on it, moored off Cedarmere — Jon Mills, Jeff Burt, the Orgains, and others. This pesky craft often slipped its moorings, always at night. One time it got away and started sailing toward the Blue Chip. John Wood saved it, the Blue Chip and the Rob Roy Docks.

Thinking of John brings to mind the ‘big kids’ trips to the Bay and, always, their return–racing through Orgain’s canal full speed in the Janka or the Benton’s 75. And then on to our back porch refrigerator for a few beers. Our group’s Alex Bay pleasures revolved around the Edgewood and Ina Island and the use of fake ID’s which everyone seemed to own in those days.

I tried several times to bring Birmingham (MICH) boys to Chippewa but it never seemed to work out. One couldn’t understand why I wanted to go to the same old place every summer. Another was so out of place that he played Gin Rummy with Allan (then 11 yrs. old) all day while 1 snuck off to see my friends. So many vignettes come to mind when I start thinking back that it would take forever to re-count. Chippewa, to me, is sort of a magical place. I could never live there all year like “T” and I really don’t want to see it in winter.

It is a getaway place — a vacation spot in the real meaning of vacating my winter and workaday world. When I’m there the relationships and shared memories are always alive and immediately comfortable again. I see these same things be-ginning in my children’s lives, the next generation of river rats.

I sort of look forward to spending many future summers in Chippewa, of growing older there, knowing that unlike other places I have lived and will live that I will never move away from Chippewa. The people there will never be people lost in different moves for they too will always be returning. it makes the future in Chippewa a welcoming and comfortable one to contemplate.


Choke Cherry – Ellen Burt

Life on the River began for me the day I was born. My family were living in Ogdensburg at the time, the largest City on the St. Lawrence River. This was the port of entry to Canada and my father commuted by ferry to Prescott, Ontario, in the 20’s. Our home in Ogdensburg was on the river, a park between us and the water.

My grandparents lived in Hammond — John and Idela Rodger having retired from their farm on the Triangle Road in Chippewa Co the town — and my other grandparents, William and Martha Cuthbert on the Cuthbert farm overlooking Chippewa Bay — “the place with the view” as it is always known. Artists and photographers try to capture this beauty, but we know it can only be carried in the mind. My mother, widow of Lawrence F. Cuthbert, lives on the farm during the summer.

Stories of Chippewa and the River were year round stories — not just a summer adventure. We knew when the river was “freezing in” and “break-ing up”; when the “goin’ was great” and one could drive a car or horses onto the ice.

As a child I went with my Uncle George Cuthbert onto the Bay Co “help” cut ice for the islands, filling the ice houses with clear, “block” ice (we still call our storage house the ice house, its former use). George Forrester, owner of shore front and the little store, also had his ice houses filled– to sell to campers and Co the islands when private ice houses ran low. This often happened during a hot summer.

Once a day some strong person (usually my brother) dropped a couple of cubes from the ice

House — dragged it to the river with ice tongs and washed off the saw dust — then up to the ice boxes at the house. Bill was not sorry to have Choke Cherry acquire a gas refrigerator, but the-days of home-made ice cream seemed to have stopped then.

When I was 11 years old (1932) my father bought Choke Cherry Island from Mr. Ralph Seymour. Lawrence Cuthbert had owned Twilight in 1919 when my sister, Betty, was two and my brother, Bill, 3 months old. This was a hectic summer for mother, so it was sold — to Mr. Godwin.

The Seymour children, and later their fami-lies, continued to visit at Chippewa and we have kept their growing measurements recorded behind the front door. Our families measurements are on the adjoining upright beam.

“The island” was great! We had visited my husband, Stuart’s family here the year before. The Burts had always come to Chippewa, too.

Stu’s grandfather, Stanley Swift, owned that charming white Victorian place on the shore. You can still see the gazeebo that Stu remembers his grandfather building.

Very quickly we learned the moods of the river. Storms!! Watching for gathering black clouds and knowing the storm would come from the other direction. Sometimes a sudden, fierce storm, with the lightning flirting with our extremely high flag pole. Mother, having us sit on feather pillows (a “safety” precaution), but loving to watch the storm hit.

If you were out on the water you knew (or learned to) gauge time and distance. The Great Rule was — and still is — go to the nearest shore and wait out the storm. Do not try to get home. Those at home will know you have used good judgment and not worry. When the storm has let up, come home and report.

Things I think of: Swimming Parties –-mostly at the Rendall’s or Alker’s. Scrumptious food — homemade cake and ice cream. Sailing Races — Bill and I had a Nimblet, the class boat. Ours was a lemon so we always came in last. There were times when we drifted home after crossing the finish line hours late, passing Rob Roy, Mrs. Ford’s, Miss Johnson’s — hoping dinner had been kept for us. It was more fun to crew for Loren Wood or Charlie Bailey in the T.I. Sloops. Crews had to work very hard to keep those old boats bailed out and to keep a weather eye out for Fitzhugh Quarrier, the one to beat. Monopoly Games on rainy days. Hacking around in the “Tot”, the double ender, high-sided foolproof-bottomed boat that belonged to the Woods. Picnics  always big groups of 40 or more. Sometimes someone would bring a “portable” victrola, wind-up kind, and we’d sing around the fire, after consuming hat dogs, hamburgers, roast corn, watermelon. Hammond Field Day   Everyone went to the parade we even had floats a couple of years. Sometimes Bill would ride his horse along with my grandfather on his horse. Grandpa rode when he was 75.

Mail and milk — We kids walked up the hill for the mail and milk, carrying the milk pails back quickly so the milk and cream wouldn’t sour. Oh, the cream!! it was so thick you spooned it onto cereal and peaches. One time Harriet Glover had a basket of 6 dozen eggs in her outboard. She untied her boat and jumped right into the basket.

Hay rides when we were teenagers — Uncle George Cuthbert had a team of beautiful Per-cherons. He drove the wagon and loved being out with all of us. Of course, it was moonlight and the boys pushed the girls off. We’d go up the Calaboga Road to Schermerhorn’s Landing — not a marina then.

Regatta — the anticipated event of the summer. For some it was a foregone conclusion that they would add to their collection of CYC cups. For others, like I, it was a trial all of July to practice swimming and diving, in hopes of placing. Only once did I win — when I won the diving contest. The judge was Stuart D. Burt Jr., who I later married!!!!

Riding the waves from the “Kingston” and “Toronto”, the side wheelers that carried excursions up and down the river.

It is hard to believe that we spent all summer playing, relaxing, doing little except our chores and trying to accomplish our summer reading lists. Now our children all find jobs, hopefully here, but if not, away somewhere and the last week here. How many of us have enjoyed each other’s children painting our docks and buildings! The season is all too short to accomplish all these old places require in repair. But what pleasure we receive in working away and keeping them up!

Stu and I feel it’s our great fortune that we both grew up here and can return. The first nine years of our marriage, we came back for a month with our two oldest, Jeff and Laune, from California. Those cross-country train trips are a treasured part of our memories. Sometimes we came from Chicago through Canada to Brockville, or from New York, overnight to Hammond. The children could hardly wait to reach Hammond, when my father would come in his old and beautiful “Model T” to pick up the grandchildren. Things I remember with the children — Choke Cherry’s diving board where gangs of children around 10 or 12 years old, learning to dive, did playing “Follow the Leader”.

Debbie and Ginny Crow carrying John, our youngest, around on their shoulders, including him in all their fun. Jeff and T. Menkel building a fantastic boat called Kon-Leakee. It’s still blocked by the ice house. The Caprice (1906) that we bought from Charles Bailey. We restored it as much as we could. it took all summer to soak up. Poor Jeff ran it on a shoal, put a hole in the stern, but kept it from sinking by having all eleven kids stand forward.

1972 rained all summer, but never have we had more beautiful wild flowers. Our favorite times here are in June and late September or early October. Mrs. Knap’s light is always there and I guess she welcomes our light, as we do hers. Next year we’ll have a vegetable garden, thanks to Andy Gustafson’s hard work cultivating our glacial soil. We have been rewarded already with Indian pottery and flints.

P.S. …Another thing I remember is the freighters going by. When we were small we made “copies” of the old Canada Steamship Lines. Now, with the seaway, we are absorbed with the passing of enormous ships. We keep a flag chart in the dining room (our view room) and identify the many countries of the world. Our game, since children, is to bet on the responding boat signals. If it’s a high blast, the popular wager is, “the next one will be low”. Exciting when a freighter anchors in a fog. Only a few times have we heard five blasts  — “Danger”.

 –  William Cuthbert

Reflections, in a rambling way on what seems to me important . . .

I was born April 1919, and am told that by July I was living at Crow’s island, in a basket in a closet; apparently I was crying a lot and so they kept me there. I am not too sure how or when my father purchased this island, but it was owned by Bob McEwen of Ogdensburg and Dad for at least one summer. I believe the row over each night and the drive in the Model T from Ogdensburg was more than they could cope with, and so they sold it. Thus was I introduced to Chippewa.

The next vivid recollect came when I was about ten or so. I had been given a punt, and a ELTO outboard (you might recall the hotshot starting, knuckle breaking engine of about 2 to 3 horsepower). With a friend, I started from Ogdensburg about eight in the morning and spent all day getting to Choke Cherry Island. it is surprising to me that my family let me do it, but they did, and the trip was of no event except it was a long trip for me and I came the inside way. I sang coming up and probably felt like any noted explorer.

If I recall anything of those years, before the second world war, it was watching the KINGSTON and TORONTO as they came by daily on their runs. These side wheelers had good speed, and with their white sides and red stacks they were more or less a timing to all as they went by. The wake from each was great enough so that we timed our swimming at times to get the BIG swell.

The second most vivid thought comes from knowing certain people. Billy Post and those living at SCOW; of course, Aunt Ella Morgan, Mr. Q. certainly and Hawley Rendal. These were exciting people to know and to be around. The tennis matches run by Hawley at Scrow with the Post’s playing host. Everyone in fresh CLEAN white pants (long of course), the oriental rugs spread out on the lawn by the court, the tea, and the best service. The expense of MANNERS on everyone’s part…elegant would be the word.

The CLUB meeting with Aunt Ella, and Mr. Q. holding forth in mock disapproval of each others idea, the joy and fun of watching as they dis-cussed who was throwing whose garbage where, and Aunt Ella claiming to have come up after a swim to find a grapefruit on her head and that same grape-fruit, so she indicated, had been freshly eaten by the Quarriers. Those meetings too had that sense of manners, not now so obvious.

The stories my father told at odd times of the earlier days. None of these can I vouch for, but do remember. He worked for a Captain Allen one summer as a fifteen year old. Year? about 1904. He helped build a dock for Fred Remington, up at the Acker Island, and after working all morning in the cold water, Remington invited him into his house and gave them all a stiff drink of whiskey.

The stories of Ebb and Geo. Forrester as Captain and chief engineer of the Post’s big yacht. Eb had a speech problem and stuttered when excited. They had a speaking tube from the top deck to the engine room. it was a steam yacht and that room was full of noise. One day Eb just couldn’t get the words out for reverse and they slammed into the docks. My father would tell this in accent and it made a good story. Perhaps a better story was the day that Billy Post decided to sell the KARMA (and I believe this was her name), he took her to Ogdensburg and he was a member of the old Century Club there. The only person he thought might purchase his 70′ odd footer was George Hall. So in the morning Billy got into a conversation with George. They did not get along too well and in disgust George told Billy, “Gad Billy I wouldn’t even give you ten thousand for that boat.” Here then Billy left in disgust. He had a bit to eat and drank much whiskey and lost at cards most of the afternoon and when Billy met George later in the afternoon he cornered him and said, “George, I accept that ten thousand offer.” George said, “Billy, that was this morning, this afternoon it is less.” Billy stormed from the Club saying…”By gad I11 sink her first,” And he did. If the story is true, he had her taken back to Chippewa and the next day took her out to the Scow Island shoal and there they pulled her cocks and she must rest there today.

As you may know I don’t use the island much these past years, and my personal feelings are that there are just too many boats, too much noise, but these are not what I like to think about. The very best time or times were when the second world war was on, gas rationing was on, and nobody was at the islands at all. I spent, with my wife (nee bride), three great months there, — June, July and August. My mother and father would come up on Friday night from Ogdensburg with enough food (we hoped to last the week). They would leave Sunday night and we spent the week with a food budget that looked slim on Wednesday. it probably goes with my idea of people who like islands. They are a strange kind of person it seems, not needing others or friends at any time, but accepting them nevertheless. The ability to live alone, and enjoy it all. I think that once you have motor boats, faster and Laster, water skiing and all that, it does seem that the idea of island living changes.

I cannot end without one other thought and this was the sailing there. There had never been great sailing races, etc., but one cannot forget the TI sloops that were there…most with nice names beginning with WH…., Whisper, Whistle, etc. They were gaff rig and thus had great grace it is too bad that those of us who loved to sail and to race were never able to get great interest going.

This area was, and still is, a sailing delight, but the lure of speed is greater and so the sailboat is but a small and still smaller part of Chippewa. Each season had something that made that summer a bit different than others. As family size changed, no children at all it seemed some summers to great numbers in Live to six years; what people did and why they did it was different each year.  

The year that the Swift’s rented and the West Point influence so important in the songs that were sung at picnics. The heavy cream and milk from shore and the ice cream rage that went on for times. The watching of ice houses filled in the winter time, with horses to slide the ice, and the nice smell of kerosene lamps. The big fire in the fireplace in the spring when we opened the camp in May, and later the cold morning in late September or October. The fun of going out in the winter time. The love affairs and their outcome, the flirtations that took place year after year, shown most at picnics with ages of 16 to 28 because there were so few of us.

Enough said. Those who are starting out there now will I am sure have the same nice feel-ings when they too reach an age of looking back. So it goes.


Dark Island –  Harold Martin

The following are news articles that appeared in the Watertown Daily Times

MISS BOURNE LOSES IN SUIT OVER DARK ISLE…. New York, June 27, 1922 — Objections of Miss Marjorie Bourne and Mrs. Mary Bourse Strassburger to the accounting of the estate of their father, Frederick G. Bourne, who died in 1919 leaving an estate estimated at $44,000,000, were denied yes-terday on practically all points. The executors, Arthur K. Bourne and George P. Vail, were upheld by Surrogate Belletreau of Suffolk County in their accounting except on commissions which they got on $18,252,020. This sum, he held, was a trust fund and a specific bequest.

Vail has received $165,000 in commissions and Bourne $127,251.56. Surrogate Pelletreau approved the whole account, saying:

I am satisfied that the executors’ commis-sions aiready taken are less than they are author-ized to take by the agreement signed by all the heirs and dated November 3, 1919. The executors are entirely protected and within their rights in collecting commissions thus far received, even though the items making up the $18,252,020 be excluded. Part of the controversy centered about Dark Island, one of the Thousand Islands. Mrs. Strass­burger and Miss Bourne acquired Dark Island for $371,000 from the executors and Miss Bourne bought her sister’s interest. Miss Bourne insisted that the assessed value was only $44,500 and that she had been induced to pay more by the false representations of Mr. Vail. The surrogate found, however, that Arthur Bourne had valued the prop-erty at more than $371,000 on his books.


RELIGIOUS GROUP …. Chippewa Bay — Picturesque Dark Island in the St. Lawrence at Chippewa Bay may change hands in the near future. Last year following the death of the owner, Mrs. Alexander Thayer, the school was left to LaSalle Military Academy, Oakdale, L.I. During the past months many plans for use of the island facilities, many-roomed castle and boat houses have been suggested, including a State Park or museum.

The Academy has felt the burden of the taxes and upkeep of the island and it is possible that another religious group will soon take possession. A sale is expected to a Canadian religious association from Quebec, which hopes to carry on school classes in the castle-like mansion. The buildings on Dark Island were modeled after those of Commodore Frederick G. Bourne’s famous Indian Neck Hall estate near the Vanderbilt mansion. It went to the Academy in 1926 following long litigation by the heirs of Commodore Bourne’s estate.

Bourne and Singer became partners in the Singer Sewing Machine Co. with Bourne providing the genius for the marketing of the company’s products throughout the world. He was a million-aire and great yachtsman, becoming Commodore of the great New York Yacht Club, probably the top honor in the yachting world in the first decade of this century.

Much mystery and fascination for visitors and local residents alike has surrounded Dark Island for the past sixty years. Town of Hammond officials are unanimous in desiring that this property be owned and cared for. The loss of this property to the tax rolls, however, would considerably increase the present rate.

 It took two years in the early 1900’s to build the Towers, as Comm. F.G. Bourne called it. it was added to in 1928 by Mr. and Mrs. Alexander Thayer, Mrs. Thayer being the daughter of Comm. Bourne. Ships pass very close to the island and it commands a view both up and down the river. it was used by the Indians for many years as witness the number of arrowheads and places to grind meal which have been found on the island. Its interesting passage-ways, and innovations of the period of its structure always fascinated visitors. The island could be very stormy and wild in bad weather and covered passages were built to go from dock to house.



Garden Island – Rhoda M. Merton

Recollections (1915-1980) …. The River was here first. Later, the Indians came to the River to fish and hunt. Later than that, the Settlers came to the along the River. Over the years, this part of the River called Chippewa Bay became a favorite fishing spot. There were those who liked to splash in and ride on the River too. My sister swam from Chip-pewa Dock to Cedar Island, accompanied by Papa and me in a St. Lawrence Skiff. That was the beginning of a love affair this 70 year old person has had with the River!! My grandmother was born near the River in 1835. She told us tales about Indian Raids, and how she was saved from the Indians by hiding under the hay in the barn. She also told us about winter on the River. They had fun ice-skating, ice-fishing and when the ice was really strong, they went to Canada in a horse-drawn sleigh. Those were the good old days! Later as a child we stayed on Smiths Point (overlooking Chippewa Bay). Sometimes we camped in a tent, sometimes we stayed in the cottage. We rowed the Cedar Skiff across Chippewa Bay to Forrester’s Store for supplies. Forresters’ owned the store, the ice-house and a couple of cottages (where the parking lot is now). Their former store is now being well taken care of by the Kreiders’.

Rowing over the clear, cool water of Chippewa Bay to the store, we often caught fish. One summer, this person (dressed in khaki knickers) caught a 10-pound pike. it was almost bigger than this person! For a treat and special fun, Papa used to row us to Garden Island from Smiths Point. On the island we became “The Red Sack Tatter Pirates”. We marooned Papa under a large pine on the island. There he sat calmly reading the Saturday Evening Post, while we went exploring in the skiff.

One time in our youth a French Freighter went aground off Chippewa Point. We rowed out to have a look and were invited aboard to inspect the ship. What a treat for two land-lubbers.

During Prohibition time, on dark nights, we heard fast power boats on the Bay. In the morning, nobody knew a thing about those boats. Could it have been whiskey smugglers? For a few years we stopped coming to Chippewa Bay. After the war, one sister bought on island from a minister. We again started on annual pilgrimage to our Mecca on the River. The other sister traveled to other places and lands in search of the World. Somehow the River kept beckoning. Then one year, we found our World on Garden Island! it had been here on the River all the time — just waiting. When the cottage was built, we found a number of arrowheads left many years ago. There is also Indian writing on the rocks. it says, “Good Fishing Here”. There is still a smattering of rice in the River, planted many years ago by Indians.

The Sea-way traffic hints of far away places. Those far away places no longer call we have succumbed to the “Spell of the River”. The years change people and things. The River coming back from a time of sickness, changes slowly too. There will always be the stars at night to intrigue and fascinate. The winds and storms on the River will always puzzle and wonder us. The birds, the bugs, the fish are all a part of the River’s charm. The sunsets are the River’s final offering of the Day.

Hopefully, there will always be a River.

 – Dorothea Middleton Ulrich

River Remembrances …..  When I was a young girl my family lived in New Jersey. Each summer we would visit my grandparents in New York State. Now my grandmother was the kind that thought children should be seen, but definitely not heard. So, when we visited, Mother had my sister, Rhoda, and myself wear sneakers! It was because of this we began to camp. it was around 1915 when I first began to go to the River. My parents, my sister and myself camped over on Smiths Point. In those days, there was a hermit living back in the woods in a little one room log cabin he had built. He had a large vegetable garden and there was a clear, clean spring for drinking water. While we were camping we had a row boat, and a favorite place to row to was Garden Island…. right off the Point. My father would row Rhoda and me over, and while we played he would sit leaning against a big old maple tree, reading or just gazing out over the bay towards Dark Island. Now Dark Island in those days was quite beautiful, and to a young girl…a veritable fairy land! The entire island was encircled with a low wire fence. In the clock tower, the chimes would ring out on the hour…a lovely sound to hear across the water on a calm night!!

Back on the point, my sister and I carved our initials and the date on one of the trees where we camped. Over the years the River called me….and finally, in 1945 I returned…this time with my own family…my husband, twin sons, Bert and Bruce and my daughter, Lynne. We camped in the same spot as I did when I was a child. We even found the tree where my sister and I had carved our initials! The old hermit’s cabin was still there…though he was gone now, and the spring had since dried up. We could still see the furrows of earth where he had planted potatoes…now there were birch trees growing there. The point is still owned by the Smith descendants. While we were camping there, Shirley Smith Felt and her  family from Ogdensburg lived there and still do… high on the cliff in the old house built by her grandparents around 1880.

Evenings we would go out in the boat after dinner for a leisurely ride around the bay (this was when gasoline was a lot cheaper). One place we enjoyed going to was a little island off to the north of Smiths Point. it was all closed up and boarded for the winter. That autumn we made inquiries…found out that it was owned by a minister who had become ill, and the place had been closed for several years. We bought the little island that winter and renamed it, Roc-au-Baie…French, for rock in the bay. For indeed, that is just what it is…a little pink, granite rock, in Chippewa Bay. Ever since, we have spent our summers on the island. Our three children grew up there…loving the River as I have. My husband was a physician, so the island was a real vacation spot for him. No electricity, and no telephone…and no way to reach him for house calls!

Each summer my sister, Rhoda, and her family would spend a few weeks with us on our island. Several years later they bought their own island. Which one?? Why Garden Island — of course!! So you see…both my sister and I returned after our marriages bringing our families to the same islands of our youth. Now our children are raising theirs on the islands. Bert, Bruce and Lynne each have two children who, I hope, will continue to love the River as we all do.


Halfway  – to Alison Acker by Dorothy C. Acker

There was a boat called the Massena which came from Ogdensburg, bringing the mail and sup-plies. Captain Dana was the captain. it went all the way up to Alexandria Bay, stopping at Cedar, Ojibway, and Halfway, and came back down at about 4 o’clock in the afternoon. We’d see the boat coming around Chippewa Point, and hurry to get all of our letters together so they could be sent to Alexandria Bay and be mailed. By the time the boat came, there would be a big crowd of us down on the dock. One time a young woman and her little boy got off at our dock, thinking that it was Alexandria Bay because of all the people crowded around. Apparently she was taking the little boy there for a pony ride, because they had games and rides in Alexandria Bay then. “Isn’t this Alexandria Bay?”, she asked. “Why no”, I said, “this is Halfway Island”. it wasn’t as exciting as Alexandria Bay, you know, but they had their picnic up at the head of the island I sup-pose, and then went back on the boat at 4 o’clock.

The Island Belle was another boat which came up from Ogdensburg in the afternoon. Company came on it because it seemed dressier somehow. My father and Dr. Brownlow both came up on Friday evenings and went back after the weekend.

There was a big house with three stories in the middle of our island. it had to be torn down later because of bats, but it was an awfully pretty house. Once when Polly Bell was visiting, we were standing by the top window, where we could see the moon through the pine trees, shining on the water. I remember her saying, “I can see why you think it’s so romantic”.

My brother Chancey had chickens, which were supposed to stay outside, but they were always getting inside the house. One time when Chancey Garver was visiting, he wrote in the guest book, “A hen laid an egg in my bed”. Mr. Orchid* was on the Massena, talking to Capt. Dana, and hearing about the sights on the river. As they rounded Chippewa Point, Capt. Dana said, “…and some darn fool is building a house way up on the rock of that island!” They stopped at Cedar, where Mr. Orchid was getting off so that he could row to his island, and he said, “By the way, I’m the darn fool who’s building that house”. (*Mr. Orchid lived on the island that became the Ingless’, but I’m not sure which one that is. Apparently it’s toward the American shore from Cedar.)

In the old days, there weren’t any motor boats or putt putts, so we rowed all over the river. We had a nice rowing boat, and Papa would row our Mother down river to go calling, even all the way down to Knap’s. it was a great excitement when we first started getting the little putt putts, but before that we had a steam yacht with an engineer to run it, and a sailboat of course. They named the steam yacht after me — “The Dorothy”.

One day I was on the foot of the island. I looked up and saw the antlers of a deer, which looked like the branches of a tree. I turned and ran — luckily I went one way and the deer went the other. I found Bess and Winnie and said, “Girls, guess what I just saw  a deer at the foot of the island”. That was when they were building Besses house at the head of the island, and pretty soon the workmen came up and said that a deer had just run under the house. The next time I looked it had jumped in the river and was swimming across to Grenadier. I watched it go all the way across the river until it finally reached Grenadier, because I was afraid it would drown on such a long swim.

 – Christopher Acker

Tales of Halfway Island and Other Apocrypha… No one is sure of the origin of the designation of “Half Way” or “Halfway” Island on the old naviga-tion charts but a retired river pilot living in Ogdensburg believes that, in the days before sophisticated navigation aids, it marked the half-way point between Chippewa Point and Whiskey Island. When ships rounded Chippewa Point they headed in a general direction toward Halfway and then headed toward Whiskey Island. This may be apocryphal but it makes nice folklore.

When we were young we liked to think we were the original inhabitants of the island — in fact we felt we were the original inhabitants of all the islands. it came as a surprise when we discovered that the Algonquin Indians and a few other islanders down stream predated us, but in those early days virtually none of the islands around us were occupied. Our nearest neighbors were the Brokaws (Jug) and the Posts (Scow).

In any event my grandfather, Frank Chapman, bought Halfway Island in 1890 from Seth Pope of Oak Point for $100.00, a bargain almost as shrewd as the purchase of Manhattan Island. At that time the island consisted of two islands with a narrow channel separating them. The channel was subse-quently filled with gravel and soil to connect the islands and to construct a clay tennis court.

The first structure on the island was a boat-house which was towed on a barge from Morristown and, although it has been reconstructed several times, the original still Stands. The original house, now occupied by the Mills branch of the Chapman family, was a Victorian summer cottage consisting of three stories with a wide verandah surrounding three sides. Other buildings which still existed until the 1940’s were an ice house, wood shed and wooden water tower.

Frank Chapman had seven children, three sons and four daughters; and the descendants of one son, Frank, and two daughters, Elizabeth (Bjornlund) and Dorothy (Acker), occupy the island today. The youngest of those descendants represent the fifth generation to spend their summers on Halfway Island.

The Chapman family lived originally in Morristown, New York, a small village very acces-sible to the river. In early days earlier gen-erations were able to sau l in and around Morris-town with ease. Also in the 1850’s my great, great grandfather, Augustus Chapman, owned a steamboat line from Buffalo to Cleveland, Toledo, Detroit and Chicago called the Lake Erie and Buffalo Steamboat Company. My great grandfather, Richard Chapman, was Supt. of the line and also the master of “New York”, the largest of the steamers. At one time the line operated four steamers; besides the “New York” there were the “Ontario”, “City of Buffalo” and “Western Metro-polis”. According to the ads:

“The steamers of this company are unequaled by any steamers in the world for strength, comfort and speed; affording to passengers A GOOD NIGHT’S REST, and all the comforts of a First dass Hotel…commanded by masters of well known ability, proverbial for their care and attention to passengers — The Engineers and Pilots are prudent, careful men, having first class Govern-ment Certificates, and no expense has been spared to render the Line such as to meet the approbation of the traveling public.”

In 1861, however, all the steamers were acquired by the Federal government and converted to gunboats to patrol Lake Erie and Lake Ontario in the event Great Britain recognized the Confederate States and launched an attack against the North through Canada.

Thus the Lake Erie and Buffalo Steamboat Company passed into history. But the love of water and boats remained and it was natural for my grandfather to seek a place on the water, prefer-ably to be surrounded by it. So, when Frank Chapman moved his family to the teeming City of Ogdensburg in 1889, he decided also to move his family out of the dust and germ laden City in the summer to some place on the water. His friend, James Knap, recommended Chip-pewa Bay because it was easily accessible by means of the river packet, “Massena”, which delivered mail and merchandise daily between Ogdensburg and Alexandria Bay. My great grandfather, Richard Chapman, owned a steam yacht named “Gypsy”, and this vessel was used to explore Chippewa Bay for an island with deep water. Halfway Island was selected because of its deep water and small, protected bay. A large wharf was constructed on the side of the island facing the American shore and for many years the “Massena”, and later the “Riverside”, delivered the first generation of Chapmans, with all their luggage, to the island late in June and transported it back to Ogdensburg in September. My grandfather arrived by the same means on Friday of each week and departed for town on Sunday evening.

Most durable goods were delivered weekly by. the “Massena”, but milk and vegetables were ob-tained from the farms on Grenadier Island, gener-ally from the Buells and later the Pooles. In the days before the gasoline engine, whoever got the groceries rowed a skiff to Grenadier and back. One of the earliest stories I remember being told was of a time when my grandfather rowed my grand-mother and my mother (Dorothy Acker), who was barely two months old, to the Buell farm for supplies. The Buells were very proud of a new organ they had acquired but no one knew how to play it. A summer storm was brewing so my grand-mother, who was a fine musician, played “My Faith Looks Up To Thee” on the Buell organ while the storm raged outside.

We bought vegetables from the Mallories on Grenadier every summer until that farm joined its defunct neighbors a few years ago. I will always maintain that no corn ever tasted as sweet as that grown on Grenadier Island.

My earliest memories are also associated with Grenadier Island. When we were very young, at least twice a summer my mother, Aunt Winnie Chap-man and Aunt Bess (Bjornlund) would organize an expedition to Grenadier Island for a picnic (in fact in those days we always seemed to be going on picnics even if they were on our own island). When I refer to Grenadier Island picnics as exceptions, it was literally true because with three or four small outboards it was a long trip. We usually disembarked at the Buell farm and after the usual pleasantries, which always took longer than necessary because each member of the younger generation had to be introduced and identified and exclaimed over, we took off with our picnic baskets up the old wagon track in descending order of age — Aunt Winnie Chapman first, followed by Aunt Bess and my mother. Then followed my brother and cousins, and I brought up the rear (which is why I probably remember these expeditions so vividly). As anyone who is familiar with the Chapman women knows, they were prone to conversation, particularly with each other. No subject was beyond their ken, no topic was too esoteric or too mundane to merit their attention. So very soon the three female leaders of the “walk” (as all Grenadier excursions were called) were deep in conversation and the gap between them and the rest of us would widen. When they disappeared around a bend in the track, the rest of us would duck behind bushes and wait until our elders discovered they were walking alone. One time we consumed the picnic before the discovery was made.

Aunt Winnie Chapman especially loved Grena­dier Island because it reminded her of walking trips in England, and whenever I recall her in those early days 1. picture Grenadier Island and another world a quiet, pastoral scene with the occasional lowing of cows and tinkling of cowbells in the distance. But Aunt Winnie did not like bulls and there was an old one on Grenadier who watched for my maiden aunt’s appearance. No matter in what part of the field the bull was foraging, he was sure to sense Aunt Win’s presence and would Tun snorting to the fence. Amid Aunt Winnie’s excited squeals, instructions for her safety were hastily given and we usually passed without further incident. In later years when I came to know Aunt Win as a formidable person, I often thought the bull needed more protection than she did. There were other expeditions in our small island world   berry picking on Watch Island, “capture the flag” on Brownlow’s Island (Hemlock), trips up Crooked Creek to collect pond lilies. As we grew older and braver my cousin Eric Bjornlund, and I explored all the islands nearby  “Little Brother”, “Lone Brother”, “Three Sisters”, “Pilot Island” and a place we called “Devil’s Rock” –known only to us and containing, I am sure, the largest vein of quartz on the St. Lawrence River. In those days it was a private, quiet world largely un-shared with anyone except a few fisher-men who enjoyed the quietude as much as we did.

Near the end of the summer of 1939 my father brought with him one weekend the first portable radio seen on the island. 1,11 never forget the day everyone gathered around the radio on our porch to listen to Don Budge defeat the German, Baron Von Cram, at Forest Hills, while the latter’s countrymen invaded Poland. The serious expressions of even the youngest of us while we listened to the grim newscasts which periodically interrupted the match forecast the end of childhood. We didn’t realize it at the time but there would be only one more summer before the reveries of a childhood summer were over for our generation.

A bard once said there comes a time to put away childish things and so it must be for all of us, but the enchantment of an island summer survives and remains part of us forever.

 – Britta Bjornlund.Blum

OF THE RIVER …. To teil what makes the River so special is no small task. It’s like being asked what you like about your husband or your children only worse because there are times when you may feel dubious about them, but that’s never so with the St. Lawrence. Or almost never. I find myself glad for the days at home when it is overcast or cold, and winter comes as a positive relief because I know then that it wouldn’t be so good to be at Halfway. The rest of the time I miss it sorely, and it seems that I spend all the months away looking forward to the days when I will be back.

Why? I don’t know, really. it has something to do with the beauty of the place — the unsur-passed sunsets, the pine trees etched against the sky (those marvelous shapes hewed by that master craftsman, the wind), the rocks tinted brown and yellow and pink and a myriad of colors in between, the peace and stillness of a calm day and the fury of a storm, the sparkle of the sun on the water and the froth of whitecaps, the breathtaking, in-describable sight of the sky at night filled with stars, the sheer loveliness of a full moon and its reflection on the River, the endless parade of ships (have you ever awakened and looked out of your window to see in the dark the lights of a passing ship mirrored and dancing on the water?), the wonderful River smell which greets you when you first arrive and eludes you thereafter, the oh so marvelous sound of the lapping of the waves — all these weave a kind of inescapable magic. it calls you back like some Pied Piper’s tune, and you respond, and those are the best days of your life — the ones on the St. Lawrence.

The mystique stems of course from other things as well. Tradition, for instance. And people. As fax back as I can remember, my summers meant the island. Sometimes the ties seem to stretch back even farther because I know so well Mother’s reminiscences of her childhood, also spent at the island, and of her summers growing up there — from the time her father first acquired Halfway in the 1890’s sometime after the Knaps bought Manzanita and the Brownlows, Hemlock. The Chapmans were a large family — Dick (w110 died while he was at Columbia Law School), Märy .(Irving), Win, Frank (father of Julie Mills), Chauncey, Bess (my mother), and Dorothy (Acker). They lived in the house that we Bjornlunds were to use until we were adult, the house in which the Mills now live. But it was different then — a big old Victorian two-storied house with five bed-rooms on the second floor and two “maids’ rooms” on the third. There was a summer house also, the present “cabin” which now belongs to the Ackers. My grandfather, who was known as Captain Chapman (although I don’t know why he was President of the Ogdensburg Trust Company) was the original owner of the Curlew, subsequently bought by the Woods. Many things have changed since then, but not all. They were not only a large family, but they also always had a host of guests and there were people in abundance; Mother told of one time when the passenger boat, which evidently made regular runs between Ogdensburg and Alexandria Bay, stopped at Halfway and a woman and her small son got off and stayed behind — the prodigious number of people had led them to think they had landed at the Bay! When he died, my grandfather left Halfway to all his progeny, and for many years it worked out well with the oldest (Irvings and both Chapmans) returning first and then giving it up to our family and the Ackers. My own memories are inter-woven with aunts and uncles and especially cousins who arrived to visit or spend the whole summer with us. There was Colin Irving who came with his much-loved, Black, Mattie; and Mattie played cards with us and made fudge when it rained. There was Frank Chapman who worked for us one summer and helped me with my tennis; and there was especially Fred Irving, who came with his racing boat, the “Strange Interlude”, and endless, ingenious, and tantalizing games. He formed a shipping company over which he presided; the rest of us were captains assigned to all the rowboats we could muster, and we worked endlessly, rowing cargo (rocks, I believe) to various ports — the Big Rock and other strategic points on Halfway. Fred also started a detective agency; I don’t remember what crimes we were delegated to solve, but I do recall getting the assignments at headquarters (the boathouse) and the absolute, indescribable excitement of it all. And of course there were the Ackers with whom we always spent the summers on Halfway Uncle Aaron who loved to sit on the porch and read, Aunt Dot who called Betty and me her “paper dolls”, curly-headed little Chris, and Dick, who was always my best friend and worst tease. Finally, of course, there were my own mother and father. I cannot think of mother at the island and not remember her killing bats; each night without fail, one of us would cry out that there was a bat in his or her room, and Mother would come running with a tennis racket (in fact, called the “bat racket”) and, amidst many groans and “ughs”, she would finally nail the offender and (I am loathe to admit) throw him in the River. (it was thanks to Aunt Gitty, Julie’s mother, that we finally got rid of the bats; she did what it seems apparent someone should have done all along, that is, to call in an exterminator. He came, and our bats exited down River.) My memories of my father at the island mostly have to do with his working, always working to fix things in need of repair. He would drive down from Cornwall, where we lived, and Bill Schermerhorn would take him over to the island, often late at night. Daddy did like to swim and he liked to troll for pike as well, and I look back to all the times I rowed him around the island, trying to catch a big one.

There is probably no place like this where one’s associations with people go back so far and continue so long. it creates a strong bond which is made to stand the test of time and is really not quite like any other. That is the way I feel about the Rendalls, especially Francie who was my close friend while growing up at the island and for whom I will always feel warm affection.

 I well recall spending the nights at Snug Harbor, and Mrs. Strong, Francie’s grandmother, white-haired and matriarchal; and Mr. and Mrs. Rendall and Jim and Ned. Mrs. Rendall was from Ogdensburg and a good friend of Aunt Dot’s. And Mr. Rendall was wonderful in many ways; but I will always be particularly grateful to him for giving a small group of us tennis lessons and starting me on something which has given me pleasure for all of my days. And then there were the Knaps; when we lived in Ogdensburg briefly, Jim and I shared the same fifth grade classroom, and I remember how relieved I was as a newcomer to discern a familiar face there. I used to crew for Jim in sailing races — Dick Acker too — and my most vivid re-collection is that both of them yelled at me fre-quently, I suppose in the heat of anxiety over winning the race. The Knaps were great animal lovers always; I remember early one summer when Jim came to renew old friendships and Mother had just arrived from shore — Jim was bent on shaking hands, forgetting that he had just gathered up a water snake, much to my mother’s undoing (snakes–and bats–were her abiding hate). And there were others as well: Mrs. Morgan, aunt of Cy Conant and Ad Beste, who was always so nice to me; Mr. and Mrs. Brokaw, parents of Jinks Collins and friends of my mother and father; Mr. and Mrs. Schermerhorn, who started with a very small grocery store, one dock, and a gasoline pump; and finally, there was Walter Richards, part Indian, part French Canadian and sometime guide for my father and his close friend as well, who, after having been seriously sick, came to Halfway to spend one summer with us because my mother was convinced that at the island he would get well. And he did. And of course there are the events. I recall the days of prohibition, and the sounds of boats in the night, running contraband liquor across the border. In 1936, there was a terrible hurricane, and I remember watching it and the awesome devastation it caused (my father later enlisted the help of everyone available and by dint of men and child power and pulley and tackle, managed to raise most of the downed trees, and they live today). There were the Fourth of Julys when we went to Scow, then owned by our cousins, the Brewsters, to watch fireworks set off from the tennis court. There were the regattas — with first place in serious contention among Francie, Aileen Alker, and me — and the picnics with the Rendalls, whether at the head of Oak or, more frequently, up Crooked Creek. There was the daily run to Chippewa and the long walk up the hill to get milk. And there was a very bad storm which caught us one night at Heffernans, whose family-style dinners were legend; I drove my father and Betty back from Grenadier in our not-so-seaworthy Thompson (with nine horsepower outboard motor) through the dark, and I can picture Uncle Frank waiting for us and the relief he expressed to see us safely returned. And there was the time when Betty set off early one morning with Daddy for shore, and the fog rolled in thick as cotton; we could hear their voices through the emptiness as they drove around, hopelessly lost. And there was even the time one winter when we and the Ackers crossed over on the ice with the Knaps to their island. Some of us skied and others went by car, and I never remember being colder than I was when we went into their closed-up house.

There are other memories more specific to Halfway. Eric’s birthday is on July 9, and we always tried to celebrate on the porch and in-variably a wind would come to blow everything wildly about. And the yearly ritual after we first arrived when we youngsters would circle the island, climbing the outermost parts. And the games we played   Monopoly and hearts on rainy days and kick-the-can, sardines, and capture-the-flag on others. Or those unique, miniature islands we used to build in the bay, crafted out of rocks and mass and completed with the handmade boats we hammered together so painstakingly. We had an ice house where giant blocks of ice were stored under sawdust for use over the summer; we have refrigerators run on bottled gas now, but we still did not have electricity. There was the won-derful hand-cranked ice cream which we had every Sunday. We always came with at least one maid (most especially French Canadian Adrienne, who was more family than anything else) and a man to run the boats and da the outdoor work. I remember particularly nice Ed LaFlair, who I think graduated from Clarkson, and fat Earl Swan, who used to make us laugh with his belly flops. There was the time our inboard, the “Blightie”, caught fire at the dock (the very substantial one which stood for years outside the bay) and my father was badly burned. And there was the incident when Dick was swatting bats (with a bat racket) in the boathouse and inadvertently hit one at Betty’s mouth and she ran screaming to throw herself into the water. And there were Chris and Eric, playing for endless hours with their British and American lead sol-diers on the rocks; they did this well beyond the years when they felt comfortable (except with each other) about it, and I recall them scrambling to gather everything up and out of the way when unexpected callers arrived. And then of course we grew up and for a time some of us would go away, but we came back, now with husbands and wives and children. Fred and I first took Dan to the island when he was five weeks old. Space became a problem and we Blums were grateful to be able to stay in the boathouse apartment (thanks to Julie) and to be jammed into Aunt Win’s tiny one-room house as well. Betty and I put our children in tents and they loved it. We Blums and the Graters jointly built a house. We were crowded on Halfway (we still are), but be-cause we were all there together, first and second cousins knew each other well and came to be best friends. That in itself is special. Some of the emphasis changed fishing is very big at Half-way, for instance, and for a number of years, so was water skiing (there were summers when I felt I spent most of my time in a boat so that everyone could learn to water ski). Because we acquired the “Wait for Me” (the cry we invariably heard from Laune when she was little and could not bear to be left behind), we ventured much farther than we had before, exploring the River as far as Clayton and Kingston and reveling in its sights. And always there were card games. Over the years, tennis has been an important part of my life and tennis at the River has meant mostly tennis at Scow, and I will always be grateful to the Quarriers for being so cordial and generous with the use of their court. We also rebuilt and re-activated the court at Halfway, and for a time it was not bad; I look back particularly on all the times I played there with Fritzie, and the fun we had together. I cherish that. And so, some things change but the River doesn’t, really. Nothing can alter the magic of it. And soon it will be Christmas, and there will be seven more months until we go to the island. 

– Elizabeth Bjornlund Grater

Halfway Island was bought by my grandfather, Frank Chapman, at the turn of the century and, according to my mother, he purchased it soon after Tom Knap’s father obtained Manzanita Island. Frank Chapman wanted a retreat for himself and his seven children. His young wife had died of tuberculosis and he felt the need of a vacation home to get his children away from the “city”. The sunshine and fresh air of the St. Lawrence River would protect his loved ones from the disease which had taken their mother. He built the traditional large Victorian house on what he thought to be the most beautiful of the Thousand Islands. We remind our children that Halfway was at one time two islands. Our grandfather had the narrow separation filled to make the island as one. This area formed the tennis court where there was much activity. Years later we enjoyed playing deck-tennis and games here. Each year we held a circus which was hilarious. We all dressed in various costumes but the usual “fat lady” was Ginger, the Acker’s dog. The stone wall still forms a lovely bay where we all played as children. Although I never knew my grandfather he is an important part of my island memories for he started them all. Mother and her sisters, Mary, Win and Dot, told us many stories about those early island days. The family moved to Halfway for the summer and had many guests, who came to stay for weeks at a time. All loved the river and each day was an adventure of boating, picnicing and exploring. Many happy times were spent singing and I can imagine the harmonizing around the piano with Aunt Win at the kevboard.

Mother loved to tell the story about the arrival of the grand piano. it was an exciting event, and her father was so proud of his strong daughters who helped him pull the piano from the barge up to the house. He devised a system of pulleys and the girls were assigned ropes to pull at the given times. This same piano was moved many years later up on the rocks to the camp which Aunt Win built, and it is still there today. The camp has been changed but the piano, old and out of tune, remains. it provides enjoyment still.

The “Cabin” where the Acker family has lived since I was a child, was built by Frank Chapman, my grandfather, for his new bride, Harriet Eliza-beth Bell, so that they could get away from the noise and confusion in the big house. Aunt Dot and Uncle Aaron later made several additions to the cabin as their family increased. I have many fond memories of them and their generosity in sharing their quarters with us in later years.

Our grandfather left the island to his six children, Mary, Win, Frank, Chauncey, Bess and Dot. His oldest son, the brilliant Richard, died at twenty-one years of age.

As small children we, the Bjornlunds, Bess’ children, lived in LaTuque, Quebec, and came to the island each summer for two months. For many years we were the only family occupying the big house, although there were cousins who visited for long periods. Memories are full of happy times. There was so much to do on beautiful days: sailing, swimming, picnicing. Perhaps the rainy days were the best of all. On those days we had pop-corn and fudge at the Ackers and exciting games of Monopoly on the big screened-in porch at the big house. And the storms! The shivers of excitement we all felt as we watched the lightning streak across the sky and the clouds warned of what was to come. Then the wind and rain that made the waves rush to the shore. We’ve all seen and heard and felt the lashing of the wind and its story can be seen in the trees and rocks on each island.

One memorable storm came as a hurricane in 1933. The awful sound I’ll never forget and I remember, too, the screams of my little sister Elsa as the waves came up to the front porch and the water gushed under the door into the iiving room. That storm was no fun, and the damage to buildings and trees was great.

My father was labeled by some as a “character” because of his independent nature and outspoken ways. This was not surprising as he had come to Canada as a young man of twenty-two from Sweden to make his home among strangers. He never lost his slight accent and Swedish charm. While at Halfway he put his energies in reinforcing fragile trees and reestablishing those which had been uprooted. He worked constantly to keep things in order.

Times were changing and gone were the days when we had the help of the hired man and others. Gradually the big house fell into disrepair and the original structure needed to be changed. The upper stories were removed and the house became a one-storied dwelling. The bats which seemed to have lived forever on our island left to go to other islands.

I remember as I write this, how often Mother would get up during the night with the “bat racquet” (an old tennis racquet) to answer our cries of “Mother, a bat!” At that time, Britta, Eric and I usually slept on the porch downstairs and Dad came from Cornwall, Ontario, for the weekends. I can still hear Mother’s, “Ugh!”, as she slammed the racquet at the miserable bat.

In 1947 Mother and Dad built their own house at the head of the island. Uncle Frank and Aunt Gertrude were then to have the old house, where the Mills are now. Uncle Frank and Aunt Git were wonderful people and that branch of the family has a history of its own.

it was with the Ackers, Aunt Dot, Uncle Aaron, Dick and Chris, that my early memories are so close1y intertwined. The boys were like brothers and we all fought and loved each other.

The Knaps were great friends and Betty was my best friend on the river. I was allowed to drive my boat down to visit her on Manzanita when I was about eleven years old. I had a red row boat with a small engine — I guess about a 3 or 4 horse-power — and since it moved so slowly the biggest worry besides the weather was getting past Ojibway Island. Once I was past I would breathe a sigh of relief. Sometimes I was not so lucky as Jimmy Alker was happiest when he saw me coming and would jump into his fast boat, then drive circles around me trying to scare me with his waves. I can still see him wild-eyed and laughing. (Where is he today?)

Aunt Win was the only one of Frank Chapman’s heirs who never married. Mother and Aunt Dot said she was a beautiful girl and she retained that beauty. She was lively and vivacious and very musical. There were many stories of her pranks and how she enjoyed pushing the boys into the river. Later, when she built her own camp at the island she spent as much time there as she could. She was a most unusual person, a devoted sister and thoughtful aunt. When the day came when she could no longer climb the rocks, she turned her camp over to my sister and ne. For many years we took turns using it and managed very well with the one room, using tents for our youngsters.

I wonder if my boys will remember sleeping in the tent during some terrible storms? Their young mother would creep back and forth with wet, ‘bare feet, to make sure they were safe. Later, we en-larged the camp so we were able to vacation more comfortably. For many years, however, the chil-dren, including the girls, begged to use the tent for sleeping and play. The house which Mother and Dad built has provided many happy times for all our families: my brother Eric, his wife Sue and their children, Rick, Lydia and Britta; my sister Britta and her husband Fred, and their children, Dan, Cindy and Laune; and of course, ne and my husband Speed, and our children, Fritz, Bill, Chris and Lisa. All of us have enjoyed a warm relationship with each other, and the cousins have a fellowship which has endured. Their activities have been much like their parents were and their memories will probably be similar. They will remember swimming out to the big rock at the head of the island, to engage in one of the noisy sea-weed fights. They would take tours of the island, trying to walk on each outer-most point, as we did in our youth. They would compete in the annual regatta and bring home many blue ribbons labeled C.Y.C.

it seems impossible to stop the flow of memories. Perhaps it would be best to end with a fish story, since fishing has been a great activity for our family. I remember “trolling” with my father many evenings, but our interest was nothing compared with that of my childrens’. There are many photos showing various children holding up a prize catch. The fish story I wish to relate involves my brother-in-law Fred Blum, my husband Speed, son Bill, and one of the other children. Fred is the expert so that when one of the youngsters had a problem, he put his rod down in the boat to leave to help him. This was the moment that a fish decided to take Fred’s bait, and the rod was pulled into the water and began to dis-appear. In a flash, Bill dove overboard and swam underwater to grab the rod. He returned a thirteen year old hero, with the rod and fish intact.

Here in the lovely hills of Tennessee when the air is cool and crisp we breathe deeply and call out, “It’s an island day!

– Ted Mills

TUE BIG SPILL … The first direct evidence that all was not well on the St. Lawrence took the form of an assault on our sense of smell. I had awakened about six that Wednesday morning, June 23, 1976, and had caught an early broadcast re-porting an oil barge at anchor in the channel above Alexandria Bay and expressing the fear some oil may have spilled. But it was not until the others had arisen and we had gone out onto the porch for a closer look at the morning that the heavy, slightly sickening smell of unignited oil hit us. At that, it was to be some hours before we learned the true dimensions of the spill.

Our guests were avid and expert birders and our program for the morning was to take a quick sweep of lower Chippewa (including Julie’s now polished social and economic history of this and that island), with a short check on Ginnie and granddaughter Alice, who were spending the week on Twilight Island. Front there it called for showing them the unspoiled marsh of Jones Creek, checking out Ice Island for young gulls and terns, of which there were plenty, and listening for the long-billed Marsh Wren in a secret bit of marsh I know of front duck-shooting days; and finally for a visit to the Mallory farm on Grenadier to see if the strawberry patch had survived two years of disuse (it had not). it was while recrossing the ship channel above Three Sisters shortly after noon that we found ourselves cut off from Hemlock Island by a 200-foot wide ribbon of dead water — a sludgy mess that was to surround us and pervade our senses for the next three days. The oil was here.

By six o’clock news-time the facts had been pretty well established. The barge NEPCO 140, carrying 800,000 gallons of No. 6 fuel oil (much heavier than the No. 2 oil used in most domestic furnaces), was being pushed upstream by the tug Eileen C. when she struck a shoal, apparently Comfort Island Shoal a bit over a mile upriver front Alexandria Bay (exactly where the barge hit is still unclear to me), rupturing three of her ten tanks. This would work out to a spill of 240,000 gallons, but later estimates have revised the total amount to over 300,000 gallons. Whoever was at the wheel did not realize he had hit and continued for nearly five more miles to a point off Mason Point above Fishers Landing, thereby adding that number of linear miles and God knows how many more shoreline miles of property to be affected by the spill.

Why did the NEPCO barge hit a shoal? If anyone knows he ain’t talking. The first grounding is estimated to have taken place at 1:50 a.m. The Coast Guard says the visibility was between three-quarters of a mile and one mile that night, and further that they do not slow traf fic until the half-mile range obtains. As Shorn points out, so what? There is no excuse short of mechanical failure: either the pilot could not see adequately and should have taken safety measures, or he could see and goofed. In both cases, mechanical failure is eliminated as he went on for another five miles or so. One hopes there will be a trial in a mari­time court.

Wednesday afternoon there was little to do but watch the oil take over our part of the river. The feeling of isolation and desolation was intensified by the absence of any wind and by a sultry heat. it was as if the weather by intention refused to place a veil between our senses and the horror of the event. The oozy mess with its noxious fumes slithered by amidst an awesome hush. River traffic ceased. Was our river dying?

The next day brought no change in weather or river conditions. We found on comparing notes that three of our four had been wrenched into wakefulness during the night by the heavy stench. Julie had even gone outside in the hope of finding some improvement, but there was none. So we passed another deadened morning and afternoon on the island, not wanting to go out in the mess, trying a disconsolate game of Scrabble.

Toward five o’clock Bill Strauss and I, partly from curiosity, partly to break the inactivity, decided to see how Baggage Island across the channel had fared. We broke out of the slick as we crossed the ship lane and happily found no trace of oil on the Canadian side. An imperceptible drift of air from the west had served to keep the oil on our side. it gave us hope that maybe the river would be able to heal itself after all.

Friday morning, still windless, still oily, was the day Trixi and Bill were leaving they had been with us since Tuesday afternoon and had had twenty hours of water and forty-five of oil. Neither did they complain nor sympathize, bless them. As we approached Schermerhorn Landing we found ourselves blocked by a boom extending from Dale and Susan Stoughtenger’s point above Duck Cove on our right across the shoal guarding the Landing and to the point that forms the Schermerhorn cove on our left. There was nothing to do but go down and around the latter point and land at a small dock in the marsh. The marsh was a mess; I hate to think, what sort of environmental destruction must have been taking place in that hitherto untouched spot. We landed and walked back up to the Landing to a chorus of tanagers, orioles, thrushes and warblers; at least the woods had not been hurt.

Schermerhorn’s had an unusual look to it –there were no boats in the water. Working at top speed on Wednesday to beat the arrival of the oil, Bill and his crew had stored every boat in their care back in the sheds or taken them up to Duck Cove, where an improvised boom shielded them. After that burst a gloomy quiet settled over the usually busy place, broken only by the drone of a tanker truck sucking up glop as the clean-up began. it had required furious activity, not to mention active fury, on Bill’s part to get the tanker and crew in and going. Not so in the Alexandria Bay area, where political and economic pressures were quickly organized and put into high gear.

After the Strausses left, Julie and I went down to see how Ginnie was getting on and found things pretty black. A boom that had been strung between Oak Island and a point above Van Bockus’s had given way, allowing the accumulated filth to sweep into lower Chippewa Bay. Oil was every where and a light northeast wind kept it trapped. This was an especially unkind cut because until Friday Chippewa had been comparatively unscathed. Chauncey, the coon hound, had gotten into some oil and she had had to clean him up and keep him out of the water. She had been alone since Monday, and while Shorn was due that afternoon, she had to prepare for Harding and Ducky Bancroft, whom he was bringing, and also for two unknown guests she had agreed to put up for the Bob Wood wedding. Things went much better in the event than in the prospect, but she could not know that — clearly it was a low moment.

With Susan and Dale’s kind permission we moved our car up to their house at Duck Cove, where there was a small dock we could use to reach shore outside of the boom. Even with Bo Collins coming by on his way to and from Hemlock and managing to keep his cool and his cheer, we felt very much alone as we went to bed Friday night.

Saturday morning brought a dramatic change. For the first time in four days we could see water, not oil. There were still gobs of tar, plenty of them, but the awful film had gone. With the start of the clearing of the water our spirits rose; Julie even took a swim at noon. And when Shorn brought Harding and Ducky up that afternoon it almost seemed as though river life had come back to normal. Britta, who with the two girls and a friend had been suffering through the spill, came down for drinks and it was almost like old times.

Sunday the clearing process continued. Bill opened his boom and I filed insurance claims with the adjusters in Alex Bay on behalf of all for clean-up of everything I could think of.

it is now a week since the spill and the clean-up hereabouts is in high gear at last. A large crew is swarming over the shores and docks at Schermerhorn’s — Bill threatened the Coast Guard he would organize a march of 300 people and it got results — and will probably make its way out here before long. So much for the short range, but what about the long? What has been the effect on the animal, bird and fish life of the marshes? Already there have been reports of dead ducks and Great Blue Herons. The dependent young of the latter, still in the nest,will be lost as well. Dead bitterns have been seen, and Florida Gallinules which nest in the marshes will undoubtedly suffer casualties. Shorn saw a pair of dying muskrats on Twilight and others were counted by the environmental authori-ties. Many other creatures live in the marshes: mice, snakes, otters, weasels. And what about the wild flowers, the waterlilies, the purple and yellow flag, the jewel weed? Last but not least, fish that live or range in the more heavily oil-soaked marshes will die. The extent of this damage will not be known for some time.

One desirable long-range result would be a change in the local Rules of the Road. Already people who live by the river are pressing for a regulation that would close the narrow sections of the channel to traffic carrying dangerous cargo during nighttime or periods of poor visibility. In view of two bad spills in three years, it hardly seems too much to ask of the oil people.

The above journal was written during the week that followed the spill. Four years plus later how do the hopes and fears expressed in it stack up?

The expectation that the clean-up crews would soon make their way to Halfway proved optimistic–it took them six weeks, but they came. The fear that the environmental Impact on the biota of the river, its animal, fish and plant life, would have long-range dread consequences turned out to be too pessimistic. The fact is the river showed an astounding ability to cleanse itself. If one ignores the little pockets of tarry goo that are still encountered under a rock or a fending tire it is fair to say that by far the major part of the damage inflicted by the spill occurred in the first week and that permanent injury was minimal.

But it would be a great mistake to assume we would be as lucky next time, especially if heavy winds should follow a spill or if winter navigation (not yet a fact, thank God) should bring about an oil spill that became trapped under the ice. Furthermore, it seems appalling that virtually nothing has been done to prepare the individual boat-owner er landowner to protect himself in the event of another spill. it is no time for complacency.

Spurred by the long delay in official initia­tive and by the recent publication of two federally funded bulletins entitled Oil Spills, which contain a wealth of information of value to property owners and public officials, a group of Chippewa Bay landowners has undertaken to find out how much interest there is in the Chippewa Bay community in pursuing the whole subject of oil spill protection. Preliminary indications show that local concern may indeed justify a demonstration (also federally funded) sometime in 1981 of ways of preparing for and dealing with harmful spills of all kinds.

I hope this exercise in community action will come about not only because 1 believe it is a step toward preserving the environmental balance of our natural surroundings, but also because I like to think that a democratic society can still act to prevent tears in its fabric. If we who love and enjoy the Chippewa Bay area can take action to salvage the God-given beauty of our scene at the same time we are protecting our property, we shall have shown one more way in which we can move to “Save the River.



Jug Island – Virginia B. Collins

My mother and father took over Jug about 1913, and my father remodeled it and built the boathouse. Before that, when my aunt was using it, we just pulled the rowboats up on a ramp at the foot of the island. We then had the first Unome. My father and mother had friends in Brockville, and my father used to play golf there. We were coming home to Jug in the Unome and were just below Chippewa Bay when the hurricane that blew Addison Strong’s house off his island and landed it in lower Chippewa Bay struck, and the boys on our boat (our guests) had to lie on the engine top to keep it front blowing off. We were lucky — a little further up river it would have finished us. When we finally got to Jug the colored couple who worked for us were on the dock in their bathing suits, frightened to death. The white boat had blown off the island and the victrola and all the records off the porch, etc., but fortunately the center of the hurricane missed us.

The John Howards, whose home was on Cedar where the Conants now live, were very good friends of my mother and father. They rented a house next Co them when they went to Dunedin, Florida, in the winter. Their son, Tom, was part of our young crowd. Louisa, who was older, had many friends in Chippewa Bay. Marie Knap was one of my best friends and I played tennis and spent the night often at Manzanita. The Bells (Charlie and Lucy) were also very good friends of my parents. Their niece, Ellen Bell, who with her widowed mother lived with them and belonged to our crowd, which I joined later in about 1916 after my sister had died. The Bells had the house bought by Ann Wright, opposite the Woods. Mrs. Chapman (Aunt Hattie), the mother of all the gorgeous Chapman girls from Halfway that I envied (with their beaus and good times) so when I was thirteen and fourteen, was a very good friend of my parents too and we visited her lovely house in Ogdensburg often.

My father was a champion canoe sailor and won the International Canoe Championship in 1888. My sons, whom he taught to sail, are good sailors too; and Bo won a silver bowl for having done the most sailing at Annapolis, and taught sailing through the year he graduated. Mort now has a marina full of sailboats and races often on Saturdays. The Conants sold Mort and Bo their first sailboat. But, my mother would not go in a sailboat. She was at Scow Island when my uncle had it and a sailboat had capsized in the main channel. My mother rowed out to rescue the men and found them both drowned. She never would sail after that!

My boys grew up on Jug, but in 1937 we bought the farm on Grenadier. My mother and father, of course, kept Jug and entertained their many friends; but during the war, because of the short-age of gas, we had to change our plans, come up by train instead of driving, and went to the farm because we got more gas there. We took Clarence Brown with us, who had worked for my parents for a long time. We had to bring him to Canada as a body servant!

The Posts sold Scow Island to the Glassfords. That was after we had moved to the farm so I did not know them very well; but my mother and Aunt Lou Ash (Mrs. Charles Frederick), who then stayed with my mother in the summer (her very, very best friend), used to go to Scow for dinner. The Glassfords had four students from St. Lawrence College to do the work at Scow. My mother was finding it harder and harder to get help, so she wrote to the college and that’s how we got Danny Ruge. My mother by then, after living with us on the farm for a year and be moaning the fact that there was Jug and all her boats and what was she going to do with it, had finally conceived the bright idea of filling the house at Jug with friends for the summer — two other widows (my father had died by then) and a retired couple.  The first year Clarence Brown from Chippewa Bay worked for her and she did have kitchen help,
but then he got too friendly and my mother dispensed with him and Mort (at 16) came to do the man’s work. So after Danny came, Mort and Danny ran the island and my mother even let them boss her. Everybody had a great time.

When I was young, on Jug, I never knew the young people in Chippewa Bay, with the exception of Marie Knap. Later, I got to know Randy Bailey, the Quarrier boys, the McKenzies (Sid and Eliza), and Ruth Herrick; and had a wonderful time with races at the club we had, and dances around at the different houses. All the girls had to be home by 11 p.m. — How times have changed!! Tony Menkel was too young to belong to our group but he did, and was the biggest nuisance!!

The yacht club on Wyanoke Island was loaned us as no one was using it and we had races, dances, bridge parties, etc. The Go Bang races were every week. At the gun, each boat started until the gun went off again, and each boat turned and came back. The one that made the closest time to the going-out time won, as every boat had a different speed and that was the way we did it.

In the 1890’s my great uncle, Joseph Chapin, and George Jackson’s great uncle bought Scow Island; then named York Island for our ancestor who lived in Ogdensburg and fought in the Ameri-can Revolution. He built a large house and all of his immediate relatives, at one time or another, came to the island for the summer; i.e., his three sisters (Lavania Bacon, Sophia Wells and Louise Seymour), and their families. My mother and George Jackson’s mother were the daughters of Lavania Bacon. I was born in October 1900 and spent my first summer at the island in 1901 and from then on until my uncle sold the island to the Posts in, I think, about 1905 or 6. In the meantime, my Aunt Mary Brown (also daughter of Lavania Bacon) and Uncle Silas Brown bought Jug Island (then called Station Island), and since they were moving to St. Paul, Minnesota, sold it to my father, Morton Voorhees Brokaw. Their son George had the first motor boat in our area. My Aunt Fanny Bacon Jackson occupied Jug Island with her family; and also my grandmother, Lavania Bacon, my great aunt, Sophia Wells; and as a visitor at times, Joseph Chapin, who lived in Ogdensburg; and myself, and at times my sister Elizabeth.

After that, in about 1913, my father and mother, and my sister and myself lived at Jug. My father, in the meantime, bought Chub Island from my great aunt’s family, which my son Morton sold in 1979. My husband, Ferd I. Collins, and I with our two sons, Morton B. Collins and Ferd I. Collins Jr., lived at Jug with my parents until 1954, when we bought the farm on Grenadier Island. In 1947 we bought Hemlock Island, which we eventually gave to Ferd I. Collins Jr.; and gave Jug and Chub Island to Morton B. Collins. It is interesting to remember the life on Scow Island when I was a child. The Island Belle and Riverside came daily on their route from Ogdensburg to Clayton, and all our supplies and mau l for the island were sent from Ogdensburg and delivered daily. We also entertained the other islanders at get-togethers, with all kinds of games, etc. — the Knaps, Chapmans, Strongs, Bells, Howards, and others from around the Bay.

When my uncle sold Scow and we moved to Jug, I lived there with the Jacksons until my mother and father took over in 1913. They had bought the first Unome then. Later they entertained the Woods and Millers, who bought Rob Roy (in tow by my father). The Millers later sold their interest to the Woods, but their children continued to visit Rob Roy.

When I was in my teens, I became part of the young people of Chip Bay who gathered at the Chippewa Bay Yacht Club, loaned to them for their use on Wyanoke Island. We had go-bang races, swimming contests, motorboat and rowing contests, etc. The women played at afternoon bridge par-ties. Later the people who owned the island took it over and we no longer had a Yacht Club.

At Scow My older sister Elizabeth and George’s older brother, Morris, watched the Kingston and Toronto go by most every day. We played games; but Elizabeth and Morris were the king and queen, and George and I were the vegetable man and his wife. Watched the cup races from the end of Scow as a little girl. The whole lower bay was full of gorgeous yachts. The Wallaces lived across from Scow on Ojibway, and then the Hawkins had the island. In the very old days, we all came overnight to Clayton by train, took the Island Belle to Chippewa, docking at places (besides along the way) — Hemlock, Chapmans, Scow, sometimes Strongs (leihen they first arrived at the island), and Cedar (regularly). We had breakfast aboard and I can still remember the smell of engine oil as I ate my oatmeal. Finally about 1914 we drove — at first driving from New Jersey to New York to pick up my father (whose business was in New York), and then taking the night boat to Albany and driving on from there, spending the night in private homes who took tourists — usually at first spending, I think, 3 nights; and eventually driving direct from New Jersey to Chippewa Bay. We kept our car there.

Later on when my father commuted by train from New York on weekends, I would run the Unome from Jug to Chippewa and then the car to South Hammond to get him.

After I was married my husband came by train the same way as did my father (until he retired), and so many others. Then they discarded the train service. Eventually we met my husband and my father (who then drove up there) at their dock. That was before Bill took over, and Tina and Lee had a small store near the old boathouses. When we lived at Jug with my Aunt Fan Jack-son (George Jackson’s mother), we rowed (my cousin Morris, George and myself) every morning from Jug Island to the shore at what is now Schermerhorn’s, and walked up the hill for milk, vegetables, mail and whatever we needed that they had, and carried everything down the hill (rain or shine, rough or calm) and rowed back to Jug. Bill S. was in a high chair then. it took all morning and then in the afternoon we played all over the island, but really did not see the other is-landers. I remember as 1 grew older and lived at Jug with my mother and father and sister (who died in 1918), how envious I was of all the lovely young ladies at Halfway who had beaus and played tennis, etc., and wished I could hurry up and grow up to be like them.

When we bought the farm on Grenadier Island every farm on the island was flourishing, and we belonged to the club for a while but found our main interest was still in Chippewa Bay, except for the golf the men played. Our two boys learned a lot by helping the farmers, and so did we. They planted us a big garden and took care of it until we came up when school was over for the summer. I had never had a garden before but I took to growing things like a duck to water.

Later on my cousin, George Jackson, bought Van Sittart Point, which was then part of the Heffernan farm. The Heffernans’ started the restaurant on the point of the farm and kept it until Georgie fell in at the Landing and drowned at night, when he had taken the help home. Then it was bought by Carswells and ran for a few years. Capones’ and Allens’ ran it and gave up in early 1970. Recently it has been sold to a family who plan to live there and not run it as a res-taurant. it sure was great while it lasted. At first everything served came from the farm.

When at Scow we used to go to Ogdensburg once a summer to have our pictures taken. The Island Belle or Riverside was landing across from Scow, and the day we were all dressed up ready to go from there when I fell in the St. Lawrence, to my mother’s great indignation, and she had to hurry and go back to Scow to dress me all over. I’m afraid I wasn’t a very good little girl. Once I was around the corner of the big porch we had, and had just gotten out of the hammock when they all began calling and looking for me. I said to myself, “Now stupid–they only have to look in the porch corner and here I am!” Finally, after ringing their hands and calling like mad and concluding I had drowned, someone finally saw me and I spent two whole days in confinement upstairs in my room.


Little Cedar – Anne Wolcott

This little dot of an island, sitting just above the head of Cedar Island, was first owned by the Strongs who sold it to Mr. Suds, a music teacher from Canton, N.Y., who in turn sold it to Dr. Cheesman A. Herrick, my grandfather. His daughter, Ruth Herrick, was the next owner — she remembers — “…. well, now tell you about my father, who was born and brought up in Alexandria Bay, and left when he was 18 to go West. He never really came back to live, but he had sailed the River in a sailing skiff when he was just a boy. When he was leaving the North Country in 1885 to go to Illinois to get a college education, he sailed down the River to Brockville to buy a suit of clothes… So you see he always loved the River; and in 1915 (26 years after he had gone West) he bought Little Cedar. He bought it from Mr. Suds, who had a music store in Canton and was just an insatiable fisherman. He spent all his time at the island fishing. He had a boatman, who was George Dooley, who lived over the boathouse, and those two were known all over the River; they puttered around in a little boat. When my father bought the island, the boat came with it and he called it the Isaac Walton. Suds had bought a plain house in Canton and had it moved out over the ice and located it on the point. All that was ever done to that house was the addition of porches and a downstairs bedroom.

“I remember the hotel on Cedar. When we first lived there, the owners were living in the hotel but not taking in guests. The woman .had a nice vegetable garden and she kept chickens, and my mother used to buy vegetables and eggs from her. And the tennis court was still usable, and of course there was a nice dock there… on the Chippewa side… and there was a little store there. There was a nice seawall all around the little bay and this very fine dock. The two boats that went up and down the River between Ogdensburg and Clayton, the Island Belle and the Riverside, used to stop there every day. The Riverside would stop in the morning and again on the return trip if there were passengers to let off or pick up. Before 1912 those boats would carry supplies. People would give them an order one day and the supplies would be delivered the next. They were tour boats but if a flag was put out at Scow Island, indicating there were Passengers, they would stop at Scow. But they were essentially tour boats out of Ogdensburg. We used to take that trip often, a couple of times a summer, just for fun. “My contemporaries? The McKenzie girls were there and Jinx Collins (Brokaw, then)   we were friends– Georgia and Nea and Francie McKenzie. Their mother’s family, from Ogdensburg, owned the other point of Cedar, now owned by the Craigs. Their mother was a great sailor, sailing canoes and would come up every summer as a girl. She met her husband, Quentin McKenzie, who was on Ragnavok. Well, he became the Commodore of the New York Yacht Club and they didn’t start coming back to Chippewa until the oldest daughter, Elizabeth, was married, and Mrs. McKenzie brought her three little girls to spend the summer. They left a swank Park Avenue apartment to come to a house that threatened to fall down. In fact, Commodore McKenzie said she could come up as long as the house didn’t fall down. She came with her three girls, my friends, and two maids and just.had a great time, never doing anything to the house. I guess that’s why they were called the ‘Dirty McKenzies’, though I never held with that sort of depreciating remark. They sailed and sailed and kept coming until the house was just too bad, and then it was sold to Mrs. Craig.

“The boys who were my age were Archie and Sidney Quarrier and Sidney McKenzie, all living on Ragnavok; and Randy Bailey, who was my beau, I guess. Yes, we were all great pals. They called themselves ‘The Big Four’ and me ‘The Little Fifth’. Randy Bailey married a woman who couldn’t stand the island. it wasn’t social enough for a woman of New York society. There was nothing smart’ about Chippewa. Strangely, however, Randy and his wife came back many years later to visit Atlantis after their girls were grown. Randy had just sold Bluff to Georgia and Fitz Gordon, having kept it all those years. People entertained Randy and his wife, made a big fuss, cocktails, supper, and all. Well, Randy’s wife turned to him and said, ‘What did you sell that island for — why haven’t we come up here?’ But she had chosen instead to go to Maine, charter a boat, and all, which just hadn’t worked out to have the stability of Chippewa.”

Life on Little Cedar was at once simple and complex. Dr. Herrick was the President of Girard College in Philadelphia and could take a couple of months vacation a year. His idea was to do all the work himself but he would have someone like Henry Hanson and, later, Bob Heron, open up, get the water going — of course, there was no eletricity. Grandfer, as we called him; a tall blue-eyed patrician, straight, stern and exacting, used to say that the number and magnitude of the problems at the island made him forget all the problems he had left behind. He always took a great interest in boats and, in fact, he had a number of boats built in the shop at Girard College –mahogany decked boats with a closed-in engine; long, narrow boats with open cockpits. He gave his design for these lapstrake fishing boats to Hutchinson Boats Works and they became the first of the popular line of ‘Hutchies’. The first one ‘off the line’ was the Queen Anne, a boat that remained at Little Cedar until 1948. Dr. Jamieson, the Vice President of Girard College, also with an interest in boats, came up for a number of years, renting Dr. Borst’s place at the foot of the island. And another family from the college, the Witherbees, came up for several summers, renting the little cottage on Cedar that overlooked the small bay in front of the hotel. it belonged to the hotel owners and later to the Smith family and, as my mother recalls, was very attractive — all paneled inside with three bedrooms and a big boathouse with very deep water.

My mother remembers the Yacht Club from those early years of the 1900’s as, “Much more active than it is now. At one time, and for quite a long period, we rented Wyanoke Island and the big Yacht House there. When I was in college, Mr. Seymour was the Commodore and I was the Chairman of the House Committee. We used to have a ladies’ bridge game once a week, say Wednesday afternoon, and all the ladies would come or be brought over by their boatman. In the corner rooms upstairs were dressing rooms for the boys and girls. Before that period we used Owatonna as Yacht Club Headquarters.” There were ‘race meetings’ every weekend, swimming and canoe and rowing races, and always a dance with all the boats lying in the bay with their lights twinkling.

The Herrick family went to Alex Bay a good deal by boat. My grandmother had her hair done there and they went to the T.I. Club to watch the Gold Cup Races and polo. And they went by boat to Brockville every week for food (supplementing all the canned goods that had been sent by Railway Express from Philadelphia) and my mother remembers rounding Chippewa Point on the return trip thinking, “This is the end; but we always made it”. They bought meat, chickens, bread, strawberries –that was in the 20’s and 30’s, but then the U.S. Government put a stop to that. After 1927 my grandfather had a car and he liked to drive around the country. He went to Watertown to play golf once a week with a nephew. Like so many other summer families from far away, the Herricks took a train to Clayton in the early days, and then proceeded on the Island Belle to Cedar. Later, one could take a train to Hammond, a sleeper arriving very early in the morning, to be met by car and driven to Chippewa; sometimes by Erdine Felt’s father, Mr. Backus, who had a livery. Later, driving by car from Philadelphia took two days, driving through the Poconos.

When my grandmother died and Grandfer could not come up to the island anymore, he gave Little Cedar to my mother. The moment of decision came when Grandfer ran onto a shoal in water he had known all his life. He was crossing over from Grenadier with his daughter and his two grandchildren, Jay and me, after a day on Grenadier at the Collins’ farm. He was thunderstruck that he could have hit a shoal that he had fished off since the 1880’s, and decided then and there to give Mother the island.

That brings us up to the 1930’s and the beginnings of my own recollections of the island. My mother tells of my first summer on Little Cedar as a two year old, tied to a tree — an experience she had prepared me for by tying me in a little harness to a tree in our yard in Goshen, Connecticut, earlier that Spring. We were taught to have tremendous respect, bordering on fear, no doubt, for the water. Parents worried terribly, maids were usually in attendance. Cynthia and Adelaide Morgan were rowed back and forth in their white pinafores to visit at Little Cedar. Years later my mother would visit Mrs. Morgan at night, when Cy and Ad were teenagers and Jay and I were two and three, and sigh that it was such a worry with the children on the island; but Mrs. Morgan was not sympathetic, saying, “At least you know where your children are (at home in bed, with maid) but I don’t know where my girls are.”

I remember my grandfather in those early days, taking groups of friends out in the Queen Anne, rowing our skiff, working on a canoe. But he came less and less frequently, though every year he would drive up to the North Country to visit family. Our boathouse seems to hold most of my early memories, the sound of the Queen Anne starting up in her slip, the big bedrooms upstairs, fishing in the slips for perch and rockies, the skiff whispering on her lines, the skiff house with canoes pulled up on the rollers, the catwalks in high water, my mother’s exquisite boat handling as she swung the Queen Anne into the big slip against wind and current. Backing out was an even greater feat. I hold my breath as I write, thinking of that dreaded stall that would leave us to drift onto the rocks — it never happened.

We spent most of the summer on the island, sometimes coming up with another family with children our ages. In the late 30’s, we took the train to Hammond — I can still see the bricks in their herring-bone pattern as we descended before dawn from the sleeping car to wait for Vernie New-berry to meet us. In the 40’s we drove up from Litchfield, taking two days, stopping for the night at a guest house — often in Boonville. Or we’d be carried Co the car in pajamas at 4 a.m. and drive all day, making it to Herkimer by lunch-time, always the time for a magnificent picnic magically produced by my mother, and Chippewa by late afternoon. And then the annual contest (and 5 cent reward) for seeing the River first.There were not many children our ages, so we became pretty skilled at entertaining ourselves.

Jay and I always had our daily chores   my favorite was burying the garbage on Cedar, about where T. Menkel has built his house. it could take me as long as two hours to perform this simple task. it was during those hours that I charted every shoreline landmark on Cedar Island — Walking Stick Bay, Camel Rock on the Chippewa side — spied on Mrs. Smith, whom I considered my own witch, a good witch who later taught me every-thing about plaster of paris. Jay burned the trash and dumped the cans way out in the channel, and we both spent an hour every day sweeping eel flies off the screens and porches. Our joint effort was a daily row in the skiff, trolling the mile and a half into Chippewa to get milk, cream, the mau, and ice. I worried that Mr. Denner would drop the block of ice that he had fetched from the ice house right through the skiff, while Jay’s concern was that I would turn the cream to butter while swinging the bucket back down the hill. Invariably we arrived back at the island with our supplies and a couple of fish. Jay was a master fisherman, knew where the deep holes were, where the bass sat deep and hungry. Somehow he got me to do all the rowing and even allowed me to clean his fish. On the weekends when my father, Carleton Talcott, would bring a bunch of friends with their fancy tackle to savor the superb St. Lawrence fishing, Jay and I would watch them go off in the Queen Anne, laden down with equipment and great expectations; and then take off on our own, less far-reaching, but more successful trip. At the end of the day there was fish for dinner, but more than likely it was Jay’s small mouth bass and pike that we were eating.

There was one fish that Jay never caught. it lived most of one summer under Daddy’s Beetle Cat, the little sailboat he had anchored in the bay. Nothing Jay could do, and he knew all the tricks, induced that huge bass to take a hook. it was his summer’s challenge, and the fish won. That Beetle Cat was named the Kanigo, contrived from the little song, ‘Daddy, Daddy! Can I go?’, that went up every time the sau l bags were hauled out of the skiff house.

A whole scrapbook of scenes crowds in here — the water tank overflowing, making a sound like torrential rain on the kitchen roof, adults running as though life depended on it to turn off the gasoline pump that filled the tank. Jay, soaking after an inadvertent dunk in the river, set naked to dry in front of the kerosene hot waterheater, shrieking when his cold bottom got too close. Dumplings and chicken and biscuits and doughnuts, all the magic of our beloved Mattie Newberry. Mother reading Little Women and The Hobbitt during afternoon ‘quiet hour’. Mattie reading The Egg  and I when the grownups were out — our first smutty novel and boy, was that racey! Losing the Johnson outboard engine off the Thompson the first summer Jay and I were allowed to run it solo. it went down halfway between the point of Little Cedar and Eagle’s Wing, and we left it for Harry Senecal to ‘salvage’. We never saw the engine again, but I thought I saw its twin several times that next summer on rented fishing boats. Picnics on Grenadier with the Collins, hiding in Aunt Jinx’s English flower garden to get away from ‘the boys’. Sinking cans and bottles in the channel with the seagulls all around our heads, and bringing back bottles of drinking water that we filled from that incredibly clean depth. Our friends on shore — the Denners, the Felts and Erdine; the Cuthbert’s farm where we stood in the cool, dank milkhouse waiting for our milk and cream cans to be filled. Vernie and Mattie’s farm and their draft horses — Queenie and Prince, two mountainous Clydesdales, whom I was once privileged to ride.

Watching rain squalls coming down the river, hit-ting the point with our brave little bodies braced against the wind. Jay covered with poison oak, me in bed with measles  two weeks in the dark. Mattie in her rocking chair and her comforting lap. A birthday party at Charlie Lyon’s, when Mr. Lyon jammed Jay’s fist right down into the middle of a chocolate layer cake.

Those were happy never-to-be-forgotten summers that extended right through the War, when we saved all our gas coupons to drive up and fill the gas tanks of the boats when we got there. Then we paddled or rowed everywhere for three months. My father came up on weekends and then for a month of blissful morning plunges (he swore he broke through skim ice in June), singing around our tiny pump organ, building new docks, or a concrete ramp or a garden wall. That all came to an end when my father, the baritone, died in the winter of 1948 and mother decided to sell the island. A minister named Mr. Claus bought it, but no one seems to remember them much. That next summer, 1949, I asked Adelaide Beste if I could stay on Temagami for the summer and babysit for her three boys. Cindy was only a few years younger than I; so did not need a sitter, but we cemented a life-long friendship that had started in our earliest days and shall never end.

It is here that Grandfer appears again. He was then in his 70’s, but he drove up from Phila­delphia to Chippewa that summer; borrowed a skiff from Bob Heron and rowed out to Temagami to see his granddaughter, with whom he shared that compelling love of the River. I can see him now; sitting with one oar shipped, the other dipping in and out of the water, while I held the skiff off the dock with my bare feet. He was wearing the inevitable blue shirt with white stripes and detachable collar, navy blue tie. His jacket was off and his sleeves rolled up against the exertion of his efforts. There was no painter on the skiff and no way to tie up, but he wasn’t staying long–just wanted to see if I was all right. He rowed off toward shore after our brief visit, and I think someone from Temagami went to shore later to see if he’d returned safely.

Little Cedar was sold eventually to the Larkins from Long Island and it was after a long spell of cold weather when fires had been kept burning in the fireplace for days, that Mr. Suds’ little village house from Canton, burned to the ground. The owners never renewed an interest in the island and it was Sam Conant who had the rubble cleared off and the docks tidied up. In 1967, almost twenty years after it left our family, I managed to buy Little Cedar back; with a lot of help from my brother, who talked Mr. Larkin into selling it. it may look to others like a ‘snake-infested pile of rocks’, but to me, it is my ancestral home.

I include here a few paragraphs from my grandmother’s biography, Clara James Herrick, A Memoir, by Cheesman A. Herrick, 1939…. “The greatest change in our summer arrange-ments came in 1915, when we purchased a small cottage at the lower end of the Thousand Islands, opposite Chippewa Bay, New York. This house stood on a small rocky island on the upriver end of the Cedar Island group. The deed described the island as ‘rock and soil’; but after we had occupied the place, Clara made the observation that it was mostly rock’. The island is a mile and three quarters from the American shore and about four miles from the Canadian shore. There we spent many happy summers. The children were of an age to derive the maximum profit from that sort of life, and many of their intimates and our friends, associates at Girard College, and the members of Clara’s and my own families came to tarry for long and short intervals.

“Our island home was called ‘Kuruko Lodge’. The first part of this name was formed by combining the first two letters of the names of our three children, Curtis, Ruth and Colin. The first part of the name of the island was also given to the most satisfactory boat which we ever owned. Summer after summer we joyously returned to this glorious region for boating, fishing and the many outside interests which became a part of life there. We always looked to the river and its life, climate, activity and appeal as a world apart from the life and interests of Girard College. After eight or nine weeks at that summer home, we came back refreshed and invigorated for Mal the year of hard work.

“With the securing of this island home, our summer vacation problems were solved. We neither sought nor sighed for change, and if it did not  seem our duty to go elsewhere for the summer, that island was our objective. Kuruko Lodge was thus the fixed and final settlement of our vacation plans. The place paid rich dividends in health, pleasure, enjoyment of friends, and the deeper satisfactions of life….

– Philadelphia, 1939


Loon Cove – Robert “Pat” Orgain

I was introduced to the “River” in the summer of 1938 by my school mate, Howard Wood, who kindly invited me and a date for the weekend (Thursday to Wednesday). it only took one look and the ride to Rob Roy Island in the Janka I, for a lifetime love affair to begin, though not with the aforementioned date. Due to the fact that Mr. and Mrs. Wood were so hospitable, and I was such a great guest (Mr. Wood worked Howard and ne like crazy when he could catch us), I was asked to return many times over the years. At one of these times I brought another date, Charlotte Arpin, who must have liked it there too, very much, because to keep going to the River she had to marry ne, or someone and fortunately for her she made the right choice.

Having imposed on the Woods so very much for so long, they were compelled to introduce us to their great neighbors in Bound Brook, N.J., Ferd and Jinx Collins (who by the way introduced the Sr. Woods to the River) in hopes that we (the Orgains) would stop mooching and rent “Jug” Island instead. This we did for one month for the next three years, with our children Patty, Peter, and Lisa, not to mention our Diving Dachshund, Daisy. If anyone has ever lived on Jug they can appreciate our being very partial to that lovely place. The only complaint we had was from Charlotte’s father who mentioned that there was no place to take a walk, something he had not done since he lived in Wisconsin and had to walk to grammar school, when their Winton broke down once.

Then we became hard pressed as those two kids Mart and Bo Collins, went and got married and they too liked Jug. But our great good fortune prevailed as on the last day of our vacation Peter and I were towing a newly purchased St. Lawrence skiff to store in the Wood’s boat house (where else). As we passed Lyon’s point, Margo Griff in was waving frantically to us to come in. As she and Tommie Lyon were taking care of Hans and Jeanne while Fifi was away some place, I thought they might have a problem. They did, but not with the children, with their future neighbors, “US”!! With their most gracious and generous help they convinced us to buy our house on Oak Island, then owned by Sam and Beatrice Lacanina, who also owned “Owatonna” and operated it as a lodge-restaurant. So on December 1, 1959, we closed the deal on “Loon Cove”, also known as “the Looney Bin” in some quarters.

I’m sure that there will be many who know other versions of the following, but as we heard it … George Boldt, Captain Lyon, Mr. Englis, and Mr. Bourne decided to build a hunting lodge which was heated and easier to open ‘off season’. Even-tually the property reverted to Mr. Englis and was used as an annex to the big house on Owatonna. George Cook was raised on the farm on “Oak”, and has said that a Mr. Bob Massey lived full-time in our house and was a master inboard boat builder for some 18 or 20 years. The foundation of his shop is just behind our kitchen door, as are two or three piers used then when the water was high and formed a cove extending at least 100 to 200 feet into the woods. We have one piece of inboard lumber still holding a small storm window in place on our back porch.

We feel, and I’m sure most would agree, that our house is beautifully constructed. If only one could get the materials and most of all the work-manship which was commonplace those many years ago. I have heard the house was built in 1903, though the plans which Bev Wood found in the attic of Owatonna, for our house, are not dated.

Our first summer, 1960, was very memorable in many ways and taking Ferd Collins’ example, I think we have a Kodachrome of every sunset of the summer, but very few of people. Taking our lead from Tommie and Margo, we decided to surround our-selves with fabulous neighbors, and as Owatonna at that time was also for sale (luckily for everyone, we had turned it down as too big) we pushed, prodded and inveigled Bob and Beverly Wood to-gether with George and Alma Boone into buying the property. My, what a nice job they did for our view! But we did have a problem as there are two large shoals, or really islands, between our shore and theirs. Of course, they were in our deed as belonging to us, but Lawyer R.D. Wood insisted that they were in his deed, not ours. At one time, over cocktails on the Owatonna front porch we were heatedly discussing said ownership when we were overheard by Susy Wood,.then aged about six I think. Being a great pacifist and wanting us to remain friends, she suggested they become “Both Ours” and so they are. And we have a sign to prove it saying “BOTH OURS IS”. And come to think of it, the only living soul to ever have driven an outboard between the two is Captain William M.  Scudder, whose superb seamanship enabled a five-inch diameter propeller to get through a five-and-one-quarter inch channel separating the islands.

On the subject of seamanship, I am sure that every person at the River has his own favorite, though perhaps secret story of navigational errors. Personally, I think I may have a record of sorts in that never in all the ears have I hit a shoal    except that one gorgeous day at high noon, cold sober, with my wife, in the channel between Willoughby Island and another small island when I hit not one but about five at once (I counted later on in the season at low water). Needing assistance to bring the Tigger home, we called on Geoff and Bobbie Hazard who kindly gave us medicine to calm our nerves, their boat and two daughters to transport us to Owatonna to borrow the RDW’s big Lyman -“Owatonna” and much sympathy. Approaching the Hazard dock with the “Owatonna” a big rock jumped up from the bottom of the River (Canadian, of course) and knocked the hell out of the propeller. Suit was threatened by RDW but never needed. I would be glad to point out to anyone interested — “Orgain Shoals, Ont. Canada”.

Ownership of an island, as we all know, includes sometime for fun, but mostly from necessity, boats. Being new at the game in 1960 we were proud owners of “The Jigger” our only boat. But things being as they are, it was usually elsewhere when needed. So we started our collection with a Wood cast-off (it was on the scrap lumber pile), the now Navesink, named for a New Jersey tribe of Indians, but often thought to be a very bad pun. Then we bought a Thousand Island skiff from Round Island, up River. Then a sailfish, The Yellow Peril; then Pete built the “Faux Pas”; then another wood craft, better known as “The Woods 35”; then another sailfish (no name); then a boat Pete found abandoned up Chippewa Creek; then guess what our great kids gave us this Christmas? A lovely little canoe. it doesn’t leak, I think, as it’s new and never been in the water, but every-thing else does.

Then there was the Scow Island happening! Anyone knowing the Quarriers knows that things are always happening there. Late one afternoon, having been invited for tea, our house guests, John and Bettey Magrane, and we arrived. John and were the only males, being surrounded by a bevy of beauties, including Eliza, Alicia, Francie Bates,Betty and Charlotte. it being a lovely windless afternoon we decided to have the tea at the head (Up River) end of the island. Eliza mentioned casually that two fishermen in an aluminum outboard had been rather annoying all afternoon by being very loud, quite close to the island, and quite beer-sodden. Very soon they appeared again for a short while but kept their distance. We kept having our tea and paid no attention. They left for parts unknown and were forgotten, we thought. About 45 minutes later they reappeared with 45-minutes worth of beer aboard themselves. This time they anchored about 50 feet from us and were even louder than before. The operator of the boat had a loud orange hat pulled low and his “lifey” on. His partner also had a “lifey” and was dressed like a telephone lineman, complete to yellow high-topped shoes. As the light wind kept the boat heading away from us we couldn’t see the Operator as he kept his back turned, but the fat guy in the bow, who was the noisiest, we could see clearly. Being ecology minded, we were mad when they dumped empty beer cans in the River and told them so and to please anchor elsewhere. This was obviously the wrong thing to say as they became very mean, even to throwing a full beer can on the island very close to all of us. Being very brave and of protective natures, John and I armed ourselves with a large rock for John and the full beer can for me. At a threat to come on the island from them and my retort that they would be damn sorry if they did, the orange-hatted operator slowly slid over the stern end up to his shoulders and started wading in. The closer he got, the bigger he got, the less brave I became but was too embarrassed to retreat. As he emerged from the water, my being blinded by fear, it was not until I was staring at his navel that I recognized none other than Archibald Quarrier — his partner in episode being a friend whom none of us had ever seen, Duncan Mac-Duff. As you may guess it loses something of the flavor in telling the story, but I will never forgive the encouragement given by the ladies involved. If anyone really wants trouble, pick a fight with them on your side!

Then there was the time when Ruth Hathaway had a lovely house guest, Charlotte Adams, visiting her. Charlotte Adams at that time had authored a cookbook with a little, not much, assistance from James Baird (no relation to Beverly Baird Wood). Having as usual, accepted much hospitality from Ruth on the Rock and having Charlotte’s parents in residence, we thought it a perfect time to give a gourmet luncheon. Mrs. “0” is a great cook (My, will I make points on that). She, knowing full well of Charlotte’s (Ruth’s guest) Four Seasons Cookbook, yet to be published, knocked herself out on the luncheon menu which was superb to a point. The dessert required ice cream but at the last moment, Charlotte found we were all out of same, necessitating a hurried trip to shore by Lisa. Much time later we had dessert. without ice cream, or Lisa, as when we finished and came out to the porch, there was Lisa, ice cream, and out of gas, boat halfway to Ragnavok where they had been for an hour. So much for gourmet luncheons!

Obviously, there have been many other “happenings” both to us and to others, but I feel that any to others must be revealed by them or better left untold.



Manzanita – Dorothy H. Knap

 The following are excerpts taken from the questionnaire and as answered by Dorothy H. Knap concerning some of her experiences at the River. The questionnaire was sent in 1971

I came to the Island in 1919 thinking it the. most beautiful place I ever saw. The change I most notice is that things are busier and more crowded. One of my recollections of past times is the lugging of ice from the ice house up to the ice box with help (?) from the children when Tom was away…trips to the Island in winter with Susan and the lunch on a toboggan, howling. Susan howling, not the lunch….looking through clear patches of ice down to the bottom   seaweed and rocks.

George Forrester had some good potatoes he was selling cheap as kerosene had been spilled on them. He had a very good brand of canned peas which he gave up selling as they were too popular. Jim made daily trips to Mrs. ‘milk’ Cuthbert for gallons of milk. What child would walk up the hill now if he had to carry so much. And the wonderful heavy cream to be dug out of the container. I remember long conversations with Will Backus and his wife and the OH SO GOOD gumdrops they sold. Mrs. Knap always had a full jar on a table on the porch. I can’t keep even a small jar of candy filled now!

I remember struggling with skirts in a boat in the wind   why didn’t they invent shorts and slacks earlier? At our anniversary party Charlie Lyon pushed Tommy into the River off the dock and Charlie yelled at Cap, “Why didn’t you catch her, you damned fool!” There was a busy search for glasses the next day behind rocks and trees.

When the Delco died, electricity arrived. All varieties of wildlife — early and late. Deer, pileated woodpecker, owls — one peeking in a window — hawks, crows, blue herons at the Point in the early morning and late evening. Nasty squirrels robbing bird houses — lazy mud wasps -­not many now. Millions of spiders. Rabbits to be chased out of the garden before the fence was put up. Searches made in the spring for baby rabbits. Oh, oh, the coon years. Ton and I live-trapped one and gingerly lugged the huge cage into the punt and took it to Chippewa Point. “Now, let her out”, said Ton. I did. it walked slowly with intent over my lap, pausing Co give ne a “Phooey to you” look before it decided to get out and leave ne trembling.

I think Tom and I had more fun than his parents and relatives, but they are probably twitching in their graves with disagreements. Young people now keep hectically busy, running around in clothes I wish I could have worn years ago instead of darn skirts.

My favorite pastime is gardening. I enjoy being alone but love Co have family there now and then. All days are interesting and good no matter what the weather. A large musky was caught off the Schoolhouse by Edwin Clarke. it weighed umpteen pounds but after it was all wired, photographed, and handled and finally taken to Ogdensburg it lost several pounds and didn’t win a prize. Fishermen are people who crack up on shoals that are quite visible, fish and picnic on the shore, as the sun blinds them so much they can’t see the house. Sitting on the porch one day, I saw a man land at the Point, rush up Co the house and yell at me, “Is there a rest house on this island?” I pointed out Cedar.

As the children and I were going swimming one day at the Point, we heard a lot of loud noises and conversations. Quite a large boat had badly crashed on the center of Little Black Rock –quite an obvious large shoal Co any of us. Three very drunk people were struggling to reach the Island, more or less on foot. I held my breath for fear they would drown on the way in, but they made it to the edge where they collapsed. We cheered them on as much as we could until they reached dry land. Then one of them insisted that he had to go back Co get those bottles. I felt desperate as the children were not at an age to offer much help and the hot sun shining on those drunken people was not a help either.

Something lucky sent Sidney Quarrier to the dock and I dispatched a child with a garbled message of fear. He came and somehow got them to Chippewa. I think Licia was in this too somehow. The boat stayed securely grounded on the rock until the next day when someone came to get it. 

– Thomas S. Knap

 It is believed that this outline of the history of Manzanita Island cannot in many ways do the subject justice because, of course, the history started before the writer was born. What is attempted here is to write down in some chronological order events that may be of some interest to those that come after.

Same time before my brother was born, my father and mother used to go on vacations to the Bluff Island Canoe Club located near Clayton. For a year or so they paddled a canoe with camping equipment there and back, a distance of forty miles each way, and always broke the trip coming and going at Chippewa Bay. They usually camped on what is now Manzanita Island. Manzanita in those days was shown on maps as either Cleared Island or Fiat Island.

Some time about 1880 my father purchased a forty foot sailing sloop. This boat had a good sized cabin and was named “Sophie after my mother’s younger sister. From that time on they used this boat for their trips to Bluff Island and Chippewa Bay.

In 1880 Chippewa Bay consisted of one store run by Weslie Backus (Erdine Felts’ grandfather) and approximately twenty houses. There were a few boat houses on the shore and a public dock with a coal shed and office owned by George Forrester. (This property was purchased by the Chippewa Bay Company, Inc. in 1955. More on this later.)

In 1886 my father decided that he would like to own an island in Chippewa Bay with the idea of Camping on it during his trips up and down the river, so he bought Manzanita and Choke Cherry Island front Henry Denner for the sum of two hundred dollars. The deed is dated November 19, 1886. In those days the only value placed on the islands was the value of the wood growing on them as most of the steamboats used wood as fuel.

There were three small cabins on the islands in Chippewa Bay in 1886. The Bailey family had built a small house on Atlantis Island that year and the Bells’ of Ogdensburg had a cabin on Brush Island. There was a shanty on Cedar Island, near the head, lived in in Summer by “Old Man Brockway” who spent his time fishing and making a magical salve called “Brockway Salve” which he peddled in winter all over the North Country.

My father and mother, with my older sister Louie, spent the winter of 1886-1887 in Pasadena, California. While there my father decided to build the Island house from a plan of one he liked in California. Even the name he gave the Island, “Manzanita”, is Californian meaning in Spanish “Little Apple”.

The stone used in the house was found in a quarry on Oak Island and had been cut for the City of Watertown as paving stones. The owner of the quarry had died and my father purchased from the widow the amount that went into the house and school house. He always said afterwards that he wished he had gotten more as it was cheaper than the same amount of lumber. The best grade of lumber was then selling for $40.00 a thousand board feet. All building lumber in those days was full size, i.e., a two by four was two by four inches dressed!

The building of the house went on during the summer of 1887 and was completed early in the summer of 1888. In September of that year I paid my first visit to Manzanita at the age of six weeks. 1890-1900 … Like all “Summer Camps” of those days, things were a bit primitive at Manzanita. There was no plumbing in the house other than a hand pump in the kitchen. There was an outhouse well away from the main house about where the tennis court was later built.

My father’s uncle, James Averell (great uncle of W. Averell Harriman), owned the steam yacht, “Lotus”, and came often to the Island from his home in Ogdensburg where he was one of the rich men of that village. Uncle Jim objected to the sanitary arrangements and told my father that he (Uncle Jim) would pay for a water System if my father would put in a bathroom. The original house was built with an open porch at each end of the second floor where the bathroom and “tent room” now are. The first water System comprised a toilet and tub in the second floor bathroom and a sink in the kitchen and in the pantry. Six oak whiskey barrels were placed in the attic as storage and an Erickson Hot Air Pump fed them from the river. This hot air pump was a marvel of inefficiency and was housed in a small shed about where the present Engine House now stands. it wasn’t until 1890 when the School House was built that the present Engine House was added.

During the first few years after the house was built it was most difficult to get provisions to Manzanita. There were no motorboats and all river transportation to and from the Island was either by rowboat or sailboat. To get to the Island from Ogdensburg one took the train (Rome, Watertown and Ogdensburg division of the New York Central), got off at Hammond and was met by Alden Forrester with a team of horses and driven to Chippewa. From there your hired man would meet you with a skiff and row you to the Island. The total trip took about four hours.

In 1892 Captain Danna started a steamboat line making the run between Clayton and Ogdensburg stopping twice each day, but Sunday at Cedar Island. The “Massenan would come to your dock providing the captain happened to be in a good mood that day, but it would cost you three dollars. The usual custom was to meet the boat each morning at Cedar, put aboard an order to be filled by your grocer in Ogdensburg, and then meet it again in the afternoon. Most people used the grocer, S.P. Gallagher, who would fill your order even to ribbon or a tooth brush. This arrangement was most convenient and the cost was only twenty-five cents each trip. If you wanted to go to Ogdensburg by boat the cost was seventy-five cents each way with stops at Oak Point, Brockville, Morristown and Ogdensburg. The boat left Cedar at nine in the morning, arrived Ogdensburg at noon, and left there for the trip back at two o’clock. Three hours each way.

During the Winter of 1894 the front dock was built so that the “Massena” could land at the Island. This dock was approximately sixty feet long and “L” shaped. Same of the original piers are still there as of this writing.

Soon after the “Massena”, came the “Island Belle”, owned and operated by the Holmes Brothers of Clayton. She was somewhat a larger steamer and took over the afternoon river run staying in Ogdensburg over night.

In 1896 competition forced Captain Danna and the “Massena” out of business and the Holmes Brothers added the steamer “Riverside” to the run.

The Knaps had few neighbors during the first four or five years. The Baileys had a small house on Atlantis; the Bells on Brush Island and Martin Phillips built a hotel on Cedar in 1898. More about the hotel and neighbors later.

Between 1890 and 1900 the boats owned at Manzanita were as follows: three St. Lawrence skiffs, one, the “Tom Boy” is still in existence; two eighteen foot sailing skiffs, the “Anita” and the “Louie”, all built by the Clayton Boat Works in 1886. These sailing skiffs were latine rigged mainsail and dandy, well decked in, fast but tricky to sail. There was also my father’s sloop, the “Sophie”, anchored with a five hundred pound anchor at the front of the Island, a punt and two canoes.

A small dock was built about 1892 as was the “old tennis court”, which occupied what was then and is now during high water a swamp. One old red-whiskered Irishman, Mike Dooley, filled in this area, breaking up stone and wheeling in loads of fill brought over from the main land by scow. The lower garden was built at this time. The tennis court had to be moved later on account of high water. Mike Dooley worked for my father for years as gardener. As I remember it, Mike got a dollar a day for ten hours work!

1900-1910 …. Chippewa Bay came into its own during these years. The Chippewa Yacht Club was organized in 1895 by the following men: C.M. Englis, Commodore; Captain D.H. Lyon, Vice Commo-dore; Jas. G. Knap, Secretary and Treasurer; Dr. F.H. Bailey; C.B. Orcutt; H.W. Williams; Sylvester Albert; S.G. Averell; S.S. Thompson; J.C. Howard.

All these gentlemen, with the exception of Albert and Averell, owned islands in the Bay. Up to 1902 most of the sailing races had been with the sailing skiffs. In 1902 a class of so-called runabouts was started. These boats were eighteen feet long with a cat-yawl rig, main sail and dandy with 160 square feet sail area. They were safe but slow. There were nine of these boats and were raced for years.

Another class of sailboats raced about this time were the “20 Footers”. These boats were twenty feet on the water line and about thirty feet overall. They had sliding centerboards and carried nearly three hundred square feet of sail. These boats were scow-type racing machines and good for nothing else.

Along about 1905 small one-cylinder gasoline engines came into use and we were foolish enough to put one in each of the sailing skiffs. These boats were not built for this usage and soon fell apart.

In 1903 my father bought our first real motorboat, the “Manzanita I”. She was purchased from Fay & Bowen Co. of Geneva, N.Y. »This boat was 30 feet long, six feet beam, constructed with oak keel and ribs and had three-quarter-inch planking and mahogany decks. The engine was a two cylinder, two cycle job with make-and-break spark and developed ten horsepower at 800 r.p.m. There was a large fly wheel at the front that you turned over to start. The total weight of the engine was about 500 pounds. The maximum speed of this boat was ten miles per hour, but she was a fine sea boat and used until 1932.

Between the years of 1900-1910 many of the island houses were built. The following list covers many of them and gives the approximate date of their purchase and the owners over the years:

                                                         Island Name                                 Year Built                                        Owners

                                                          Brush                                             1892                                   Dr. .M. Bell

                                                                                                                                                             Bell, John

                                                                                                                                                              Bell; Jameson

                                                           Atlantis                                           1884                                    Dr. Bailey

                                                                                                                                                                    Ralph Bailey

                                                                                                                                                              Chas & Doris Bailey



Choke Cherry Ragnavok




Jas. G. Knap and descendants

Jas. G. Knap; R.C. Seymour; Cuthbert Thompson; Quarrier


(Small House: 1904)




Brown; Brocaw; Collins




Chapman and




D. Lyon; Chas. Lyon;


M. Griffin




Dr. Brownlow; C.


Brownlow; Collins




Howard; Morgan; Conant


Wyanoke *2


Orcutt; English;






Shance; McKenzie;




Outlook *3


Louis Hasbrouck


Scow *4


Chapin; Post; Glass-ford; S. Quarrier




Englis; Glover; Samts


Hotel; Wood/Boone


Loon Cove


Englis; Glover; Sam’s


Hotel; Orgain


Temagami *5


Sheppard; Remington;


Strong; Morgan; Best


Snug Harbor


Strong; Rendell;


H.P. Strong


Cedar *6


Hanbidge; Dr. Borst


Ojibway *7


Wallace; Hawkins;


Alker; Manes


The Shoal


Preston; Ford; Benton;






Bourne; Thayer; La-


Salle Military Academy


State Land (Cedar)


New York State


Rob Roy


Dr. Dixon; Davis;




Little Squaw


Kennedy; Godwin; Crow


The Rock


Brett; Johnson;


Halliwell; Hathaway





*1 Original house burned in August, 1939.

*2 Original house burned in 1904.

*3 House removed in 1927.

*4 Present house and boathouse built in 1908-1909

*5 Original house burned in September 1963.

*6 North end of Cedar on Canadian side of State Land.

*7 Large yacht house and skiff house removed in 1963.

There were many guests invited to Manzanita in the early days. Those from a distance were invited for at least two weeks. The reason for this was the fact that it was quite a job to get there. One took the train to either Redwood or Hammond, thence by carriage and boat to Manzanita. As most guests brought with them one or more large trunks it took some doing to get them to the Island in a skiff or sailboat.

From 1890 until about 1905 the Joseph Knap family spent at least a month each summer at the Island. Joseph Knap was my father’s older brother and there were three children, Mary, Edgar, and Day. The Joseph Knaps’ lived at that time in New York City and came to the Island by train to Ham­mond where Alden Forrester met them and drove them to Chippewa. During these early years we seldom had fewer than twelve people at the dining table and often more than that.

The Cedar Island Hotel was prospering during these years. it was built in 1890 by Martin Phillips and had, at one time, twenty bedrooms, a large dining room and lounge. Phillips built a dock in 1898 so that the steamers could land, and in 1903 built a small store facing the dock which was leased every summer by Larock, a grocer from Ogdensburg. The dock and store were the meeting place, morning and afternoon, for islanders or their boatmen to dispatch or receive their orders from Ogdensburg.

My father would try to get to Manzanita each spring soon after the ice went out, to get his garden started and his chicken incubator in opera-tion. Rather than stay by himself he would row to Cedar and stay at the hotel at night. He raised a hundred or so chickens each summer as broilers, using many of them during August and September and taking them to Ogdensburg or Atlantic City for cold storage.

Two items in the Cedar Island Hotel were of interest to me. One was a seal mounted in the lounge; the other was a large salmon on a board in the same room. I was told that both were caught in a net in the Bay.

RANDOM NOTES ON EARLY TIMES … “Old Man Brockway” was a veteran of both the Mexican and Civil War. Martin Phillips was always known as “Jimminetty” Phillips as he prefaced each remark with “By Jimminetty”. He had a night line near the Island, which I knew of and used to get there in the morning before he did and take off the larger fish. He caught me at it one morning and told my father!

At the time my Father purchased Manzanita he could have bought Ironsides for the same price, and almost did instead.

The steamboats used to go from Cedar Island on Thursday of each week to Chippewa Village where they loaded cheese for Ogdensburg. Cheeses from miles around were brought to the dock. Each box was marked showing the name of the man who made it as there was great rivalry among the cheesemakers, each believing he had the best receipt. The cheese factory in Chippewa was where the Fish and Garne Club now is (between the Cuthbert farm and the store) and lasted until about 1930.

The manzanita bush for which the Island was named grows in the far West and is a tough, low growing bush with small, pink flowers and small fruit. My mother admired it when they were in California.

The first tennis court mentioned earlier was located on the right side of the lower garden as you go toward the foot of the Island.

The first flag pole was of wood lashed to the stump of a pine tree near the site of the present pole. The second was of wood cut on Allen’s farm at the foot of the Bay and delivered at the Island for $5.00 by Horace Allen. The third or present one, made of pipe, was installed in 1936 after the ants got busy with the wood pole.

During the years the family lived in Ogdens-burg nearly everything of value was brought to the Island by one of the steamboats in the spring of each year and returned in the fall. There was twelve to fifteen trunks full of blankets, linen, silver, etc., and the shipment usually included a piano.

The last trip of the “Island Belle” was made in August of 1922. The “Riverside” ran until about 1930. There were no screens on the Island house until 1920. Father installed a wood-burning furnace in the cellar in 1903, and used it at times until 1952, when a kerosene heater was put in the dining room. A gas heater replaced it in 1959.

THE GOLD CUP RACES: 1904-1908 …. The Ameri-can Power Boat Association was organized in 1902 and gave as a perpetual trophy a large gold plated cup to be raced for each year under handicap rules. This cup was raced for the first year in 1904 and was won by the Columbia Yacht Club with a boat called “Standard”. The best heat was 26.6 m.p.h. The second race over the same course on the Hudson was won by “Vingt-et-Un II” entered by the Chippewa Yacht Club. The best heat 25.3 m.p.h. The third race was over a course layed out by the Chippewa Yacht Club, which started at Cedar Island State Land, went up river to the head of Ironsides and back. Fifteen miles twice round. This third race was won by “Chip I” on a time allowance basis. The “Chip I” was fifteen feet long, four feet beam and had a two cylinder, two cycle engine built by Leighton of Syracuse. The hull was built by The Leyare Boat Works of Ogdensburg who built all the other “Chips”. The maximum speed attained in this race by “Chip I” was 15.9 m.p.h. The owner of all three “Chips” was Mr. Jonithan Wainright.

Race number four in 1906 was won by “Chip II” an eighteen foot displacement boat with a three cylinder, two cycle engine; the third cylinder acting as a supercharger. it was the first ever used on a two cycle engine. The best speed on any lap was 20.6 m.p.h. The fifth race won by “Chip III” at 20.8 m.p.h. it was a much larger boat, twenty-five feet long and powered with an eight cylinder, two cycle engine giving about fifty horsepower. At about this time speed boat designers woke up to the fact that it was easier to drive a boat over the water, rather than through it: This discovery beat the Chippewa Yacht Club the next year when the “Dixie II” entered by the Thousand Island Yacht Club lifted the cup at an average speed of 30.9 m.p.h. The “Dixie” was the first hydroplane ever seen on the river.

The young people in 1912 thought that the Chippewa Yacht Club was not serving their interests and so started the Oak Island Yacht Club which flourished for about five years. By 1920 sailing races were a thing of the past and the only racing done was small motor boats. No out-boards were used or made until 1915. We bought an Evinrude in 1919 and used it both at Langley Field and the island.

In 1951 Archie Quarrier, Sr. had a power cable brought to his island. After he installed it most of the other islanders took it from there. Eight islanders took it between 1952 and 1954, and four after that date. I negotiated with Pardon Smith of Hammond to run the power cable from The Rock to Choke Cherry and thence to Manzanita. After completion we deeded everything to the power company and they to maintain the line. There was never a greater improvement on Manzanita.

1950-1960 …. In 1954 George Cook decided he had enough of running the store and docks on the mainland and it was rumored that he had sold this property which his uncle, George Forrester, had left him. When I heard the rumor I was very much worried as this is a key property in Chippewa and I could see that if it got into the hand of a stranger we might have to pay through the nose to land there. George told ne that he had given a man from Rochester an Option on the property the preceding fall, but the man had died that winter and his wife did not want to go ahead with the deal.

I got in touch with Ben Cuthbert and Charlie Bailey and pointed out the value of this property to the islanders. They agreed something ought to be done about it. We had a meeting with George Cook at Choke Cherry, and after several drinks and a lot of talk he agreed to sell for $22,500. His first price was $25,000, but we talked him down by giving him the two small cottages on the shore front and allowing him life use of the boathouse. Our first idea was to buy the property among our-selves but Charlie seemed to feel that we should let the rest of the islanders come in as part owners, so we went ahead on that basis.

The property when we bought it in 1955 com-prised the following: approximately five and a half acres of land, twenty garages, two small cottages (soon afterward removed by George), one large boathouse, three small boathouses, a store house (formerly an ice house), a two-story store with living quarters on the second floor, two main docks approximately 120 feet long and a gasoline dock with pump and storage tank.

SAILING AND SAILBOATS …. As noted above, the Runabout sailboats were used up to about 1910. From that date until 1934 Manzanita had no sail-boat. In 1934 I organized the purchase of a class of 14 foot sailboats called “Nimblets”, which were built by the Cape Cod Ship Building Corporation, of Wareham, Mass. There were six of these small sloops and the young people had a lot of fun racing them for years. We sold ours to Joe Smith in 1959.

The Talstar class (Sailstar Boat Company) was started by Bill Cuthbert in 1961, but as of now (1963) only five of these boats have been pur-chased by club members. An eight foot punt was added to our fleet in 1962, which the grand-children named “The Nanny Boatn.

MEMORABLE PARTIES AT MANZANITA     At least once every summer in “The Good Old Days” a dancing party was given on Manzanita. A three or four piece orchestra was hired, the doors leading to the veranda flung wide open and the place decor-ated with Japanese paper lanterns.

I am told that as a small boy I made a prac-tice of investigating each hammock with a flash light to see who was doing the spooning. I don’t believe a word of it! In 1936 we held a big party to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the island. People were asked to come in costumes of “The Gay 80’s” and most everyone did. The prize was a flat iron for the lady and a mustache cup for the gent. The Cuth-bert’s, Helen and Ben, were the winners.

In 1961, the 75th Anniversary party was held and I look forward to 1986!


IRON ISLANDS …. In the early part of the 19th Century quite a lot of iron was mined and smelted near Rossie, New York. The mines are still there but the smelters are long since gone together with the forests that supplied the char-coal for the smelting.

The pig iron that came from these mines was taken to Chippewa Bay and piled near the river waiting for the ice to form. it was then taken to the outer of the two Iron islands. There is deep water on the channel side of this island, enough for the small steamboats of that day. The pig iron was loaded during the summer and taken to Buffalo via the port of Challotte. And so the Iron Islands got their name.

HONEY MOON ISLAND … Many years ago when George Forrester was a young man he was approached by a stranger one day who asked him where he could buy a small island. Small islands were a dime a dozen in those days as they were considered of no use, not having on them any suitable wood. The stranger said his name was John Brown, but gave George no address.

John Brown told George he wished to build a small cabin on the island. He borrowed a boat and when he returned he told George the island he had selected was near the head of Oak. He asked George to make the necessary payment to the owner and to have a small cabin built and equipped for living in the next summer.

Five hundred dollars changed hands and the new owner said he was to be married and would bring his bride up when he came in the spring.

Sure enough, come spring, John Brown turned up and rented a skiff from George and put his wife and provisions aboard. That was the last that was ever seen of either John Brown or his wife. The skiff was found a few days later at George’s dock but nothing else was ever found. The small cabin is long gone and nothing remains but the legend!

TREASURE IN CHIPPEWA CREEK … When Chimney Island was a fort during the French and Indian Wars (1756-1763) the pay master for the fort absconded one night with a large bag of gold in-tended for the soldier’s pay. it was a rough night with a high wind but the thief managed to get across to Chippewa Bay and seeking smoother water, started up the Creek. About a half mile beyond the entrance to the Creek a point of land juts out into the water and he landed there. Believing that there would soon be an alarm raised he decided to bury the gold and return later. He never did as he was killed by a band of Indians near Hammond.

Cannon George Palmer and the writer were fish-ing one June day about two hundred years later, and for the noon picnic decided to go up Chippewa Creek where there was less wind. We came to a point of land about a half mile beyond the entrance and decided it was a good place to land so pulled up our boat. After lunch we were walking around to stretch our legs when we came on a mound not far from where we had pulled up the boat. The mound was quite evidently man made; it was about six feet long by three feet wide and looked like a grave excepting that there was no marker and the mound itself was much higher than any grave. it was entirely cimetrical both ways and showed that quite a large object had been buried there. There was no question in either of our minds that we were looking at buried treasure! We both said we would return one day and dig it up, but we never did so the gold is still there if you will go and find it!

THE NIGHT MIKE BROKE HIS LEG … The small frame hotel in Chippewa was built about 1906. The exact date I don’t remember, but what I do remem-ber is the dance put on in celebration of the opening. The hotel had managed to secure a liquor license, how I don’t know. it was the first and last for Chippewa Bay up to now. Farm hands from miles around came to take advantage of the event. A small wooden platform had been built in front of the hotel for dancing. I must have been in my late teens at the time. Two of my friends, the Hanbidge brothers, Frank and Jack, came over to the Island and we went to the dance.

I remember two things about the party: Mike Dooley, who for years had worked for my father, fell off the platform and broke his leg; and a very “tight” young man got me in a corner and said he was from Calabogie and didn’t know how to get home and would I help him!

THE DOCTOR AND THE PIKE … Speaking of fish, there lived a doctor in Hammond who was a great fisherman, spending most of his time when not working, fishing in the Bay.

The good doctor came to George Forrester’s dock one day and showed George a large pike he had caught. George admired the fish and asked the doctor what he had used for bait. “Well”, the doctor said, “I took out old man Cuthbert’s appendix yesterday and the thought struck me that it would make good bait, and it did.”

FREDERIC REMINGTON No account of Chippewa Bay would be complete without the mention of Frederic Remington. Fred was a great friend of both my Mother and Father and spent quite a lot of his time on Manzanita as he liked to play tennis. He would come over from Tamagami in his small canoe, filling it to the brim. Freddie weighed about two hundred and fifty pounds when we knew him, but played a fair game of tennis. He was of strong likes and dislikes but especially he hated toads.

Several of my friends and I were called on from time to time to pose for Freddie. He would dress us up in costumes and put us in his birch bark canoe and then sketch the scene for future reference.

He told us one day that he would give us ten cents for every toad we took off his Island. We collected toads from miles around and made them temporary residents of Tamagami. We had a good thing going all that summer. 

– Elizabeth A. Knap –

I was brought, along with my two sisters and brother, to the island as an infant and we have all continued to come there every summer, with few exceptions. I have lived in a great many dif­ferent places in the past fifty years but this, I feel, is my real home….it is unchanging. The people change and sometimes the houses on the island change a bit, but the island itself is al-ways the same. When we came to the river when I was young, we came early and we stayed late; there were few other people around aside from one or two fishermen and on occasional boat going to and from State land on Cedar Island.

My grandparents, who bought the island origin-ally, had left to live in Atlantic City by the time I remember being there.

Some of my earliest memories are fishing for rock bass and perch off the back dock and the front dock, the latter has been gone for many years. There was also trolling from the St. Lawrence skiff in the evening, which was supposed to be the best time to catch muskellunge. We often went to the Strong’s island for swimming in their nice sandy bay. I recall some regattas held at Snug Harbor, especially the ones Mr. Rendall was in charge of, and the treasure hunts he would arrange. I also remember the many trips to Chip-pewa and going up the hill to get the milk from Cuthbert’s, carrying the empty milk cans to be exchanged for full ones, that were taken from a place filled with ice and cold water in a small room at the bottom of the house off the driveway. This room had an odd and pleasant smell and we quite liked going into it. We all complained at the beginning of the summer about the taste of the unpasteurized milk, but grew used to it by July and then had to get used to the taste of pasteur-ized milk in Ogdensburg again in the fall. I also remember collecting bags of hickory nuts to take home with us in the fall, and finding when we did open the bags in the winter that the worms had gotten to the nuts before us. One of the best times was when we were allowed to make root beer in the summer. There were many fights as to who was to use the bottle capper and we stored the bottles behind the old coal stove in the kitchen. Later the bottles were transferred to the cellar where several of them blew up — to the delight of the children, but not my parents. Root beer and raspberry shrub (or raspberry vinegar as it was sometimes called, was a concentrate made from raspberries, sugar and vinegar to which water and ice were added) and later iced tea with sugar cookies given to us in the afternoon after our swim, were a standard ritual.

Since we lived so near the island, we often went to Chippewa in the winter, sometimes just our family, sometimes with the Strongs, Ackers, and Bjornlunds. We would picnic on the steps of one of the houses where the parking lot is now located. This, when we were not able to get across to the island. When the ice had thickened sufficiently we would trudge across or drive and then had our picnic on the island, building a fire, sometimes skating and generally wandering around to see what our favorite summer places looked like in all the snow.

George Cook used to cut the ice for island people between our island and the shore. He would bring our ice over in a horse-drawn sledge and store it in the ice house for summer use. My father claimed that George’s horse used to eat the new fruit trees that my father had set out in the fall!

We have always had many flower gardens and a large vegetable garden on the island, started by my grandparents and quite a bit more elaborate during his time at the island.

Part of my own enjoyment of the island in the last few years has been an archeological dig where I recovered many potsherds, points, celts and other Indian artifacts. In the absence of a hired gardener, this digging at least helps to keep the weeds down. It seems to me the island is one place that families inevitably come back to if at all possible. Sometimes the only time one sees other members of the family — scattered far away during the winter — is at the island during July and August.

OAK ISLAND – Mildred Presley Griffin

Gay song of the wrens mingled with other un-identifiable calls of the wild, woke my sleepy senses from deep sleep as I lay in the big four poster bed, that first morning on Oak Island. The sun peeked in at my window and a robin calling, “sleepy head” brought me fully alive to a new day on an island, surrounded by beauty unlimited. Drawing my robe about me I crept downstairs to gaze out through many windows at beauty which only God could have created.

Surrounded by miles of water; yet my eyes gazed at a dozen islands each within boat reach; each with its home and isolated activity; yet gay and friendly if you came near. Often large sea-going ships passed and called to each other in deep-throated tones.

The water was calm and placid marred only by ripples built by a fish jumping out of sheer exub-erance into the blue, and diving back only to repeat the performance a moment later. Gulls and blue heron skimmed the waters and in the distance a large freighter mournfully whistled, telling of its passing upstream.

Sandpipers played on the rocks, skipping and running to the water’s edge. Little chipmunks ran between the trees and if you looked closely you could see the twitching nose of a snow shoe rabbit, nibbling his morning meal. I did not get close enough to see what tempting plant he had chosen but I am told he has many favorites.

The paths beckoned me among the trees where I found the shy violet and lady slipper sharing the same nook. Wintergreen and mint, trillium and May flowers nodded as 1 passed. A bird in undulating flight showed the path of a wild canary darting from tree to tree.

I must not leave out the mosquitoes for they also welcomed me into their midst like kissing cousins only more amorous. Some even drew blood.

Was it only yesterday I rode in the “Nibbles”, that stalwart speed boat out into the blue waters of the restless St. Lawrence River, which at that time was not so calm? Between the islands we wove for our captain knew these waters well, stopping only at Grenadier Island for a delicious chicken dinner with thirty-five other guests who had found their way to this delightful island, for the same reason — superb cooking. The flaky crust of that blueberry pie will be long remembered. Access is only by boat and when leaving we stopped by the other boats; some quite small; others large cabin cruisers, for each had a glamour all its own.

As the boat cut through the waves I joyously watched the lacy spray of the wake left by our boat. As we picked up speed the water rose on each side in balls of crystal, fanning out in smaller bubbles until the wake became ripples as it rolled on.

Dipping my hand in the spray I became conscious that glaciers helped feed this large body of water, for it was very cold.

“Peace like a River” a song from long ago flowed out of my heart as I gazed at the indescribable beauty of Oak Island, one of the largest among the Thousand Islands. May its calm always remain in my heart and I believe it will as long as memory can bring me back to dawn and a new day on Oak Island.

(Mildred Presley married Margot Griffin’s brother, Stanley Griff in, on Oak Island.)

Copied from Margot Griffin’s notes, 1948

..M. Griff in arrived Philadelphia July 15. Caught 7 bass, 1 perch. Boat “Tom Cat” arrived. ..July 16: 9 bass, 5 perch…July 17: Sam and Cy called. ..July 18: Hannah George, Margaret and Arthur Whelan arrived in P.M. T.I. Club for Buffet.In P.M. Bennie and Mr. Wood called, had a drink and watched sailing races. ..July 19: 10 bass, 2 perch. ..July 20: Cocktails at the Rock. Trip to Ogd.,bought rug for guest bedroom at Hess. ..July 21: Cocktails at Peggy Glassfords, Scow   Island. Chicken at Jordy’s. ..July 22: Cocktails at Conants. Frank and Lee called after dinner. ..July 23: 8 bass for Mrs. Reed. ..July 24: Very rough; Regatta postponed. ..July 25: Didn’t attend Regatta. ..July 26: Took Ginny and Ward Paige to T.I. Club Buffet. ..July 27: Margo Louie DeVillers and Frances. Terrific storm. ..July 28: Jeanne arrived. ..July 29: Fished. Jeanne caught a large blue pike. ..July 30: Tommie, Charlie went to Ogd. Chas. had hair cut. Jeanne and I fished. So far, we have caught 48 bass. ..July 31: Club dance at Tamagami Island; Ad and Don Beste. T.C., Jeanne and I attended.

..Aug. 1: (Sunday) Norbert Renz, Ann Margo, Louie Benton, Buddy Bell, and Polly…Charlietook us all to T.I. Club Buffet. Fake birthday cake for Buddy. ..Aug. 2: Windy. Trip to visit Janet Wood Diller. ..Aug. 3: Jeanne left. ..Aug. 6: Field Day, Hammond. ..Aug. 7: Went to Watertown. ..Aug. 8: Cocktails at Dave Halliwell’s. Hazelcame to spend the night. Sailboat races. ..Aug. 9: First bright calm day in many. ..Aug. 10: Mid, Fifi, Charlie arrived in Brockville. ..Aug. 11: Tommie, Charlie went to Bank meeting. ..Aug. 12: Mid, Charlie and I fished. ..Aug. 13: Seth Malby, Allen Newell and Bennie came in for a minute. ..Aug. 14: Tess and Gussie to town. We go down for Bi-Centennial celebration. ..Aug. 15: Aquaplaning; Sea Nuts swimming; Mr. Augsbury and Cecil Brownlow called; Gin Rummy; Mr. McClaren and daughter Judy, and other daughter called. Went to T.I. Club for buffet. Cap took L., Charlie. ..Aug. 18: Went to Jug Island, Mrs. Brokaw, for tea. ..Aug. 19: Paper shower for Betty Green at Knap’s. ..Aug. 21: Chas., Tom, Mid and Fifi went to wedding of Betty and Jim. Little Charlie and I had a picnic. ..Aug. 22: Lucy Spratt party at T.I. Club.Margo left Labor Day, Sept. 6….Mid, Fifi, L.C. left Sept. 10….CPL, HGL left Tuesday, Sept. 28….Fish Record 1948: July 15 to Sept. 27; 20 trips; 96 bass, 52 perch….Fish 1949: July 5 to Sept. 25; 25 trips; 128 bass, 121 perch.

– Henry Lyon, Perthshire, Scotland –

—Thomas Lyon, Perthshire, Scotland. Born 1625; died Newark, N.J., 1703. ..Isaac Lyon, Fairfield, Conn. Born 1652; died Essex County, N.J., 1694. ..Mattaniah Lyon; born Newark, N.J., 1691; died Feb. 3, 1764. ..John Lyon Sr., Essex County, N.J., 1724; died Feb. 4, 1794, Morristown, N.J. .John Lyon Jr.; born Newark, N.J., Aug. 26, 1753; died Ogdensburg, N.Y., Feb. 1834. ..Charles Lyon; born 1814; died Ogdensburg, 1889. ..David H. Lyon; born 1846; died Ogdensburg, N.Y., 1928. ..Charles P. Lyon; born 1869; died 1956, Ogdensburg, N.Y. ..Chas. Lyon 1814-1889 Hannah Maria  Vandenburg 1812-1892..David H. Lyon 1846-1928 Ella M. Lyon 1848-1930..

Frederic Remington — Frederic Remington used to come to Oak to visit and have breakfast with David and Ella Lyon. He wrote in the guest book–“Sept. 3, 1908…1 don’t know whether it is Mrs. Lyon’s fault or my own but I have eaten too much…Frederic Remington”

..Romances   My brother, Stanley Griff in was interested in a girl, Mildred, when he was 16 and she was 13. They each married and had families, and had not seen each other for 40 years. My brother’s wife and Mildred’s husband died. They met again and were happy together. Nine years ago they were married on Oak Island and have celebrated their anniversaries here each year since.

..My feeling for Oak — Each year when closing the Island I go up into the Island, admire its beauty and cry that the summer is over, and start then to plan for the next summer. 

 – Margot Griffin –

OAK ISLAND — Once called Indian Hut Island, situated in Chippewa Bay, is supposed to derive its name from the fact that an Indian called “The Quaker” resided upon it at an early day (p. 385, History of St. Lawrence Co., N.Y.).

The following may interest you for it gives the incorporation of the Fish and Gunning Club. Charlie’s father donated the point of land which now belongs to Pat Orgain, to the Fish and Gunning Club and said it was to be a Hunt Club.

I also have included other information on the Lyon family. Charlie was the fifth and last generation of the Lyon family in Ogdensburg.

The boats live heard about are: Sailboats–Ocobo, Sarge, Willkie, Slug….Ferries — Charles Lyon Car Ferry; William Armstrong-Passenger Ferry, 1905… .Yacht — Carmencita, 1906; Outing, 1905… Cruisers — Finesse, Vamoose, Pardon Me, Tommy Cat, 0E, IC, Griff, Nibbles.

CHARLES LYON was born at Fort Ann, Washington Co., New York, October 30, 1814; and at a time when his parents, John and Patience Lyon, were on a visit to her native county. His father, for his first wife, married Miss Betsey Blanchard, 1808, by whom he had one son, David C., who is a gradu-ate of Union College, and a Presbyterian minister of St. Paul, Minnesota. She died April 9, 1810. By his second wife he had seven children –Harvey, Charles, Roby, Ann, John Smith, Mary Jane, and Aaron. Of these, only three are living –Harvey, Charles and George, the first a resident of Hammond, this county; the latter a resident of St. Joseph, Missouri. Charles, the subject of this memoir, resides in the City of Ogdensburg.

His father by occupation carried on faLming, but also engaged largely in the lumber business. Charles very early in life assisted his father in his business as a lumberman during the winter season, and in the summer season worked on the farm. From the time he was 13-15 years of age he had become so schooled in business as to take charge of his father’s lumber yard. He then spent one year in school at the Academy in Ogdensburg. At the age of 19 he went to New York City, and remained one year as clerk in a wholesale dry goods store. He then went to Albany, where he remained for three years in the fur store of Gansevoort; when he succeeded him in the fur busi-ness under the firm name of Lyon and Cheesebro, which firm continued in business for four years, when Mr. Lyon returned to Ogdensburg and engaged in the lumber business, which to a greater or less extent he has followed down to the present time. Soon after returning from Albany he purchased the farm settled by his grandfather when he first came to this county, which he made his residence for some twenty vears, and during the time of his residence there he purchased 160 acres of timber land adjoining and a part of the original land purchased of Judge Nathan Ford, at that time owned by the heirs of the Judge. Since that time he has caused to be cleared over 1600 acres of original timber land, making some 48,000 cords of wood after the sawing timber had been taken off, which in the aggregate amounted to some 11 million feet. The land, after being cleared, he has sold as farming lands. He has owned some 2800 acres, and after his sales still retains some 1700 acres. He is also a large real estate owner in the city. Among the business men of Ogdensburg, no one is more active, no one takes a greater interest in building up and beautifying the city, and years after he has left all these interests, his works will stand as monuments of his industry and ambi-tion. In the year 1836, Dec. 19, while at Albany, he married Miss Maria, daughter of Maria and Henry Vandenburg, of that city, but who was born in Cortland Co., N.Y., May 22, 1813. Her father was a native of Coxsackie, on the Hudson, and her grand-father was a native of Holland. To Mr. and Mrs. Lyon were born six children; Mary Sprague, Martha Safford, David Howard, Emma Sophia and Anna Maria (twins), and Ella Louise. All are living, except Martha Safford who died in infancv. Mrs. Lyon united with the Second Presbyterian Church of Albany, under Dr. Chester, when she was only 13 years of age, and is now a member of the presbyterian church of Ogdensburg. Careful in the in-struction of her children, her lessons of morality will live with them years after she has passed away. Mr. Lyon for some forty-eight years has been connected with the same church with his wife, has been very actively engaged in Sabbath-school work for over a half century, and becomes more endeared to that interest as years increase. In politics he is a Republican, first casting his vote in the old Whig party. He was never solicitous of office, and although held in high esteem by his fellow citizens, and political preferment offered, yet he shrank from publicity. Once, how-ever, he was elected supervisor, in which office he served one term. Liberal in his views, he is also liberal in his assistance in every enterprise looking to the building up of good society and the support of churches and schools. He has always taken a deep interest in the agricultural interests of his county, and has been prominently identified with the society from its early days….

From: History of St. Lawrence Co., N.Y.,


JOHN LYON and his family of eight children and wife came from New Jersey and settled in the locality of Ogdensburg, in 1796, at first taking quarters in an old French garrison, the present site being on the south side of the Oswegatchie River. They came with Judge Nathan Ford, who was sent as land agent for Mr. Ogden, owner of the land where the city now is. Judge Ford also moved into one of the French garrisons, and some years after erected for a residence the house now used as a nunnery. At the time the Lyons family came to this locality, no railroads or steamboats were known. They were six weeks on their journey, traveling mostly by rowboats. Upon reaching the settlement, then known by the Indian name of Oswegatchie, they found three Indian chiefs (white men) who claimed to hold the land, together with many lands of native Indians, and with these ex-ceptions, there were no white people. Through the shrewdness and careful management of Judge Ford, the title of lands claimed by the chiefs was soon abandoned, and the Ogden title firmly established.

The Lyons family lived here, enduring all the privations and hardships coincident not only with a pioneer life, but a life among the Indians, for some years before any more white settlers came; and as an example of the want of modern conveni-ences, it may be stated that the nearest grist mill was 70 miles down the St. Lawrence River, where they went in canoes with their corn to be ground, or at times taking the alternative to pound it in a hollow stump. About 8 weeks after the family the wife and mother died — in 1796 at the age of 37, leaving a large family of children in a new home in the wilderness to mourn her loss–her dying words being that she committed the care of her children to God. John Lyon, in the year 1815, married his third wife, Miss Mary Smith, a native of Connecticut, who was born in 1777, and died some 15 years after her husband. He lived upon the spot where he first settled, cleared off the forest, made the land tillable, followed the occupation of a farmer, and died Feb. 3, 1834. Father of Harvey and Elizabeth Sykes. (John Lyon died in Feb. 1834 at the age of 81.)

FERRIES …. The early ferries on the St. Lawrence between Ogdensburg and Prescott, Canada were row and sail-boats, and these continued in use until perhaps about the year 1830, when Ehi Lusher put on a steam ferry. Isaac Plumb and his nephews succeeded Lusher and continued the busi-ness down to 1874, when Charles Lyon bought the equipment. Isaac and Ward Plumb, are the present captains on the two boats, one of which plies direct between the two cities, the other (the transit) being employed by the Ogdensburg and Lake Champlain railway Co. in conveying freight cars and passengers between the railway depots. The ferries pay a license on both the American and British sides of the River. They have been so carefully managed that there has never been a serious accident since their first establishment. The passenger is extensive at this point, and the boats make trips every forty minutes, at ten cents per head for each passenger, until Dec. 1 when the charge is 25e. A large amount of stock and poul-try is also handled here, passing mostly from the Dominion to the United States.


The descendants of the Lyon Family of Perthshire, Scotland, came to America in 1648 and were among the earliest set-tlers of Newark, New Jersey in 1666. Years later, John Lyon Sr. came to Ogdensburg, New York, with Judge Nathan Ford, agent for the landowner Colonel Samuel Ogden, for whom the present Ogdensburg was named. John Sr. brought his family with him and many died during that first severe winter. His son, John Jr., born in Newark in 1753 died in Ogdensburg in 1834.

The son of John Jr. was Charles, who always signed his name just “Chas.” Many called him the roaring Lyon. He held title to a 1000 acres of timberland in the vicinity of South Hammond. Hammond was at one time called “Hague”. He had saw mills, stone quarries and was quite a business man. Lake and River steamers used to stop at Lyon’s Landing, sometimes called the Wood Dock, located on the shore of the St. Lawrence about 5 miles up-river from Oak Island. Here they would pick up their supply of wood for fuel. Often the passengers would help lad. The original house and dock are no longer there. A recent issue of the “Rideau Voyager” states that Alexandria Bay islands were bought in 1845 for about 50 an acre–5000 acres of $3000. “Oak and pine lumber at that time was in great demand for ship building at Montreal and in England, and of course there was always a large demand for wood for fuel, as the River steamboats in that day burned wood.” There are two stories about “Chas.” He employed many Frenchmen as lumberjacks   as he strode off through the woods to estimate the cutting, he liked to go alone. The workmen were often afraid, especially when he started off late in the after-noon. At those times, one or two of the men would follow him. They say he was tramping the woods one evening and it became really dark. The men heard him cry, “Man lost in the woods”. A hoot owl was heard giving his call of “whoo, whoo” and Chas. replied, “Chas. Lyon of Ogdensburg”. The second story was that often after a hard day and night in the woods, he would get into his cutter, tie the reins, and his little horse would take him home to Ogdensburg, a distance of about 30 miles. Snuggled wider his buffalo robe he would sleep!

DAVID HOWARD LYON, son of “Chas.”, the “Roar-ing Lyon”, was born in Ogdensburg in 1846. Altho’ the Lyons had made Ogdensburg their home since coming with the first American settlers in the 1790’s, by the Civil War Chippewa Bay played an important part in their lives. (David was a drummer boy at the age of 14 in the Civil War.) it was David who bought the ten acres on which the present house stands, at the foot of Oak. His son, Charlie, later purchased tracts of land on Oak until he owned all but 5 acres of the “375 to 500 acres”. For a summer or two David and his family lived on a two-deck houseboat, moored in “Look Out Point” bay, to watch the construction of the house. J.B. Reed of Alexandria Bay was commissioned, in 1907, to build the house that is currently owned by his daughter-in-law’s sister, Margaret Griffin. The three-story house was built at a cost of $5,000; six bedrooms, living room, dining room, pantry, kitchen and baths. Four fireplaces of stone, quarried on Oak open into one chimney. The interior of the house is of hard pine, with walls covered with burlap and the stud-ding is varnished. it is reported that 100 gal-lons of varnish were used. In 1938, David Lyon’s son, Charlie, added three rooms and a screened porch at a considerably higher cost.

CHARLES POTTER LYON, known as “Charlie”, was the son of David and Ella Lyon, born in Ogdens-burg, N.Y., 1869, and spent 50 summers on Oak until his death in 1956. But his first recorded appearance at Chippewa Bay was in 1870 when as a baby, a year old, he fell off the dock at Lyon’s Landing and was pulled from the Bay by his Mother. Charlie loved to sail and would often sail from Oak Island to Ogdensburg and back. He loved fast boats too. The Finesse, Vamoose and Pardon Me were his largest; but there were many others -­IC, Tommy Cat, 0E, Fifi, and the Nibbles. He spent many hours fishing with Bill Aiken and usually had good luck.

Fourteen of us were on the Finesse, watching Labor Day races at Alexandria Bay when she caught fire, which was contained until we all were safely away in three boats that came to our rescue. The Finesse was a mass of twisted steel, which had been towed to an island near Boldt’s castle.

David Lyon captained his boats, steam yachts “Carmencita” and the “Outing”. His wife was quite a lady, dressed nicely, even to a hat, gloves and a parasol, she would get off the boat in Alexan­dria Bay, walk to a grocery store and leave her order. A boy with a cart would deliver the gro-ceries to their boat. At the Island she used linen tablecloths and napkins and everything was very proper. At one time they had nine people working for them, including maids, a cook, chauffeur, yard men and captain, even a secretary. Now we are lucky to have a very trusted man who is the caretaker, year round.


Trees on Oak Island …. Ironwood, Oak, Red Cedar, Hemlock, Maple, White Cedar, Scotch Pine, Willow, Hickory, Red Pine, Poplar, Yews, Pitch Pine, Birch, Low bush Huckleberries.

Flowers     Violets, Wintergreen, Hepaticas, Brown-eyed Susans, Lady Slipper, Lilacs, Wild Iris, Wild Sweet Peas, Waterlilies, Wild Asters.

NATIVE BIRDS: Eagle, Phoebe, Sea Gulls, Blue Heron, Thrush, Pileated Woodpecker, Oriole, Downy Woodpecker, Flicker, Wren, Sandpiper, Swallows, Blue Jays, Purple Grackle, Robins, King Fisher, Gold Finch.

NATIVE DUCKS:Mallard, Wood, Black.

NATIVE WILDLIFE: Muskrats, Moles, Gray Squirrels, Mink, Mice, Red Squirrels, Weasels, Woodchucks, Fox, Beaver, Raccoon, Deer, Chipmunks, Bats.

NATIVE FISH:Bass, Sunfish, Perch, Bluegills, Catfish, Pike, Muskies, Pickerel. Also Eel.

Names of some of the FISHING GUIDES from this area were — William McLear, Harry Senecal, Jed Dingman, Bill Wilks, Henry Hanson Sr., Henry Hanson Jr.

ICE … Until the advent of gas refrigeration, ice for Oak Island was cut from the River in front of the house. In February, each year, men with three teams of horses would come out from the mainland, over ice-covered Chippewa Bay. First they would scrape the snow off the ice. Next they would outline squares approximately 14″ wide. Then with a fifty-pound saw, manned often by two men, they would cut a channel which blocks of ice could be floated. Next they would saw two sides of each square, spud the third side, and move it into the channel. With heavy tongs they would lift each square to the wagon. Once it was filled, they would drive it to the ice house, stacking the ice in tiers of five squares insulated by sawdust. As many as 100 squares would be stowed away, enough to last through the summer.

The ice was very good quality, known as black ice. The men were of course warmly dressed, but the exertion was so great that they sometimes became uncomfortably warm.

HUNTING LODGE …. On the northeast point of Oak, on an acre of land, stands a very well-built house. David Lyon gave the land and with eight other men they built the house that was to be used by them as a hunting lodge. it was so well constructed, even with a furnace, that it could be used the year round. Pat Orgain now owns it and calls it Loon Cove.

FARM ON OAK …. In the center of Oak there is a large flat field once used by farmers who occupied a farm house, which no longer stands. At one time there was a plan to have it as a Polo field and the horses were to be housed in the barn, which still stands but in poor condition. Several different families lived on the farm; Jed Dingman, Fred Dooley, George Cook’s father and others. Sometimes they sold the farm products.

STONE QUARRY ON OAK …. There is a stone quarry on Oak, consisting of three acres, but no longer is used. Scotch stone masons at one time worked there and the stones used in Boldt’s Castle and on Dark Island came from this quarry. You can still see some of the columns which were to have been used for Boldt’s castle, until the work there came to a sudden halt.

OAK ISLAND IS 7th IN SIZE of the 1000 Islands and the largest in Chippewa Bay; about two miles long and consisting of between “375 and 500 acres”.

From letters written by Helen G. Lyon

 Mrs. Charles P. Lyon

David H. Lyon …. Charles has always been in love with boats. He comes from a boat-minded family. “Chas.”, his grandfather, had them; and David, his father, made a business of them, you might say they were his avocation as well as vocation. In business he had what was chartered as, The Canadian and Pacific Car and Passenger Transfer Company. They were the connecting link between Canadian Pacific Railroad and New York Central, using large car ferries which were ice-breakers, and freight cars could run right on the deck — the last big car ferry was called the “Charles Lyon”. The passenger part of the busi-ness was on a large double decked and double-ended boat which carried passengers, no facilities for automobiles until perhaps 1915. They named their last passenger ferry “Miss Van Den Burgh” for “Chas.” wife. it was a good business, but after Charlie’s father died in 1928, it was sold to the Canadian Pacific.

Day on Oak     it would require more than a
few paragraphs to describe a “Day on Oak”. We have to go from Oak, 2-1/2 miles to shore, which is the village of Chippewa Bay. No boats come to us altho’ they once did — gasoline boats, vegetable boats, fur salesmen and Indians peddling sweet grass baskets. When I first came here there was a regular service between Ogdensburg and Alexandria Bay. Cedar Island, about a mile across from Oak, was one of the stops. Island people used large wicker hampers, sending a list down one afternoon which would be filled, and put off on Cedar Island dock next morning. Now the dock on Cedar Island has mouldered away and the “River-side” and the “Island Belle” have been in their graves since World War I.

Past and Present … We often stop in Ham­mond and Chippewa, but buy most of our food in Ogdensburg and Alexandria Bay. When we get settled, we can usually shop for a week in meats, that is, we have two gas refrigerators. Canned gas, of course. We use quantities of it as we have a stove; also a hotel-sized oil burning stove which burns fuel oil, not one of the kerosene oil stoves, this is a huge cast iron affair. We use the gas to heat several radiators too, the house is not like a city dwelling, has no lath or plaster, the walls are covered with burlap, and the exposed studding is varnished and the ceilings have solid beams. We have electric lights from a Delco system, which also gives us power to pump the water. it will be easier to live up here when we connect with the Niagara Hudson Utility. They claim there is a shortage of cable, but some of our Island neighbors have had the power for two or three years. We were connected with Niagara Mohawk in 1956 — what a difference!

– Hazel Simpson –

Oak Island Quarry … Mr. William Plimpton, former supervisor of the town of Alexandria, re-calls the work done at Oak Island Quarry in get-ting stone for the construction of Boldt Castle, on Hart Island at Alexandria Bay (now known as Heart Island). He was in charge of a crew of about 150 men for about four years. The head stone cutter, a Mr. Powell, directed the cutting of stone to specification as he followed the plans of the castle. Each stone bore its mark, designating its use and placement, and so well was the work done that after being taken on the scow, “The Queen”, to the site of construction, it is said that not one stone needed alteration. The masons were able to place them correctly as cut.

The stone cutting and drilling was done directly by hand there being no machinery in use on the job. To aid in loading the stone, the quarry was equipped with a narrow-gauge railroad with a horse car and a hoist.

During the four years there Mr. Plimpton recalls only two accidents, which is a splendid record since there were cut pieces of stone 8’x 14’x8″, as well as slabs 20′ in length for steps. While the crew was made up of men of many nationalities, there did exist a boycott against Italian labor. Mr. Plimpton tells that in one instance the entire crew refused to work until a single Italian was turned away. In recent years, modern architects who have visited the castle have marveled at the excellence of the stone cutting and construction.

NATIVE TREES, SHRUBS AND FLOWERS: Trees on Oak Island …. Ironwood, Oak, Red Cedar, Hemlock, Maple, White Cedar, Scotch Pine, Willow, Hickory, Red Pine, Poplar, Yews, Pitch Pine, Birch, Low bush Huckleberries.

Flowers Violets, Wintergreen, Hepaticas, Brown-eyed Susans, Lady Slipper, Lilacs, Wild Iris, Wild Sweet Peas, Waterlilies, Wild Asters.

NATIVE BIRDS: Eagle, Phoebe, Sea Gulls, Blue Heron, Thrush, Pileated Woodpecker, Oriole, Downy Woodpecker, Flicker, Wren, Sandpiper, Swallows, Blue Jays, Purple Grackle, Robins, King Fisher, Gold Finch.

NATIVE DUCKS: Mallard, Wood, Black.

NATIVE WILDLIFE: Muskrats, Moles, Gray Squirrels, Mink, Mice, Red Squirrels, Weasels, Woodchucks, Fox, Beaver, Raccoon, Deer, Chipmunks, Bats.

NATIVE FISH: Bass, Sunfish, Perch, Bluegills, Catfish, Pike, Muskies, Pickerel. Also Eel.

Names of some of the FISHING GUIDES from this area were — William McLear, Harry Senecal, Jed Dingman, Bill Wilks, Henry Hanson Sr., Henry Hanson Jr.

ICE ... Until the advent of gas refrigera-tion, ice for Oak Island was cut from the River in front of the house. In February, each year, men with three teams of horses would come out from the mainland, over ice-covered Chippewa Bay. First they would scrape the snow off the ice. Next they would outline squares approximately 14″ wide. Then with a fifty-pound saw, manned often by two men, they would cut a channel which blocks of ice could be floated. Next they would saw two sides of each square, spud the third side, and move it into the channel. With heavy tongs they would lift each square to the wagon. Once it was filled, they would drive it to the ice house, stacking the ice in tiers of five squares insul-ated by sawdust. As many as 100 squares would be stowed away, enough to last through the summer.

The ice was very good quality, known as black ice. The men were of course warmly dressed, but the exertion was so great that they sometimes became uncomfortably warm.

HUNTING LODGE .… On the northeast point of Oak, on an acre of land, stands a very well-built house. David Lyon gave the land and with eight other men they built the house that was to be used by them as a hunting lodge. it was so well con-structed, even with a furnace, that it could be used the year round. Pat Orgain now owns it and calls it Loon Cove.

FARM ON OAK …. In the center of Oak there is a large flat field once used by farmers who occupied a farm house, which no longer stands. At one time there was a plan to have it as a Polo field and the horses were to be housed in the barn, which still stands but in poor condition. Several different families lived on the farm; Jed Dingman, Fred Dooley, George Cook’s father and others. Sometimes they sold the farm products.

STONE QUARRY ON OAK .… There is a stone quarry on Oak, consisting of three acres, but no longer is used. Scotch stone masons at one time worked there and the stones used in Boldt’s Castle and on Dark Island came from this quarry. You can still see some of the columns which were to have been used for Boldt’s castle, until the work there came to a sudden halt.

OAK ISLAND IS 7th IN SIZE of the 1000 Islands and the largest in Chippewa Bay; about two miles long and consisting of between “375 and 500 acres”

From letters written by Helen G. Lyon

 Mrs. Charles P. Lyon

David H. Lyon …. Charles has always been in love with boats. He comes from a boat-minded family. “Chas.”, his grandfather, had them; and David, his father, made a business of them, you might say they were his avocation as well as vocation. In business he had what was chartered as, The Canadian and Pacific Car and Passenger Transfer Company. They were the connecting link between Canadian Pacific Railroad and New York Central, using large car ferries which were ice-breakers, and freight cars could run right on the deck — the last big car ferry was called the “Charles Lyon”. The passenger part of the busi-ness was on a large double decked and double-ended boat which carried passengers, no facilities for automobiles until perhaps 1915. They named their last passenger ferry “Miss Van Den Burgh” for “Chas.” wife. it was a good business, but after Charlie’s father died in 1928, it was sold to the Canadian Pacific.

Day on Oak     it would require more than a
few paragraphs to describe a “Day on Oak”. We have to go from Oak, 2-1/2 miles to shore, which is the village of Chippewa Bay. No boats come to us altho’ they once did — gasoline boats, veget-able boats, fur salesmen and Indians peddling sweet grass baskets. When I first came here there was a regular service between Ogdensburg and Alexandria Bay. Cedar Island, about a mile across from Oak, was one of the stops. Island people used large wicker hampers, sending a list down one afternoon which would be filled, and put off on Cedar Island dock next morning. Now the dock on Cedar Island has mouldered away and the “River-side” and the “Island Belle” have been in their graves since World War I.

Past and Present … We often stop in Ham­mond and Chippewa, but buy most of our food in Ogdensburg and Alexandria Bay. When we get settled, we can usually shop for a week in meats, that is, we have two gas refrigerators. Canned gas, of course. We use quantities of it as we have a stove; also a hotel-sized oil burning stove which burns fuel oil, not one of the kerosene oil stoves, this is a huge cast iron affair. We use the gas to heat several radiators too, the house is not like a city dwelling, has no lath or plaster, the walls are covered with burlap, and the exposed studding is varnished and the ceil-ings have solid beams. We have electric lights from a Delco system, which also gives us power to pump the water. it will be easier to live up here when we connect with the Niagara Hudson Utility. They claim there is a shortage of cable, but some of our Island neighbors have had the power for two or three years. We were connected with Niagara Mohawk in 1956 — what a difference!

 – Hazel Simpson –

Oak Island Quarry … Mr. William Plimpton, former supervisor of the town of Alexandria, re-calls the work done at Oak Island Quarry in get-ting stone for the construction of Boldt Castle, on Hart Island at Alexandria Bay (now known as Heart Island).

He was in charge of a crew of about 150 men for about four years. The head stone cutter, a Mr. Powell, directed the cutting of stone to specification as he followed the plans of the castle. Each stone bore its mark, designating its use and placement, and so well was the work done that after being taken on the scow, “The Queen”, to the site of construction, it is said that not one stone needed alteration. The masons were able to place them correctly as cut.

The stonecutting and drilling was done di-rectly by hand there being no machinery in use on the job. To aid in loading the stone, the quarry was equipped with a narrow-gauge railroad with a horse car and a hoist.

During the four years there Mr. Plimpton recalls only two accidents, which is a splendid record since there were cut pieces of stone 8’x 14’x8″, as well as slabs 20′ in length for steps.

While the crew was made up of men of many nationalities, there did exist a boycott against Italian labor. Mr. Plimpton tells that in one instance the entire crew refused to work until a single Italian was turned away.

In recent years, modern architects who have visited the castle have marveled at the excellence of the stone cutting and construction.



Oak Point  – William A. Ferguson

I have been familiar with Chippewa Bay, both on shore and on the bay itself, practically all my life, more particularly during my childhood, up to when I was ten years old; viz., until 1893.

My grandfather, William S. Cuthbert, who came to Chippewa Bay in 1821 bought the farm on top of the second hill above the village, on the road to Hammond; which farm and homestead thereon is still owned by the family, namely, Mrs. Lawrence F. Cuthbert.

As a child I visited my grandfather very often and countless times walked back and forth to the village, which then had two grocery stores; one owned by Horace Allen and the other by a Mr. Backus. The post office was housed in the Allen Store. I used to be given eggs by grandfather and traded them at that store for candy.

There was a cheese factory located on the road to the village, where we stopped often and were given curds to eat.

There was a small brick school house in the village where my father, Rev. Daniel A. Ferguson, D.D., used to preach on Sunday nights. 1 often attended these services with him. He was Pastor of the Presbyterian Church in Hammond from 1845 to 1923.

He bought a small island in Chippewa Bay around the year 1888, and built a cottage and boat house thereon. He named it the “Owls Nest”. I summered there with him, my mother and two sisters for at least five years. Our only transportation was by row boats — St. Lawrence River skiffs. This island is now owned by Claire, the daughter of W. Alan Newell of Ogdensburg. Next to it on the north side was an uninhabited small island known then as “Hogs Back”, as it consisted almost entirely of a large sloping rock.

At that time, the Thompson family front Elizabeth, N.J., owned the island toward the east, and below it was the large Bailey island. Cedar Island, directly opposite to the West, was very active in those days; the large hotel was well patronized. There was a general store on the dock. The steamer, Massena, which ran from Alex­andria Bay to Ogdensburg stopped there, as well as at the dock at the main end of the Bay. The popu-lar Captain Dana piloted the ship. The boat carried a goodly number of passengers as well as considerable freight. it left Ogdensburg fairly early in the morning and arrived at Alexandria Bay around noon, and traveled back to Ogdensburg in the afternoon. The steamer, Riverside, succeeded the Massena.

The other steamer stopping at Cedar Island daily was the Island Belle, which left Clayton mornings, reached Ogdensburg around noon and went back to Clayton in the afternoon. The islanders flocked to Cedar Island at the landing times of the two steamers. There were a number of cottages on Cedar Island then, mostly in and around the hotel. There is a legend that many years previous Cedar was occupied by a man who was a lunatic, who believed that he was Jesus Christ. I recall two amusing incidents which occurred during my summers at Owls Nest, viz.; I had several ugly warts on my hands and Mother prescribed an old-fashioned remedy which resulted in their elimination. I had to rub on them water with which baking soda had been thoroughly mixed. This took a period of several weeks of frequent daily rubbings.

The other incident was my swallowing a small tin whistle. it did me no harm, but caused quite a commotion with my mother and two sisters.

Our fishing in those days consisted largely of trolling behind the oar-pulled row boats, catching pickerel and pike. We also fished with bamboo poles with minnows and worms for black-bass and perch.

The large dock in Chippewa Bay village where the steamers Massena and Riverside landed was adjoined on the north by several small boat houses where the villagers and some farmers kept their row boats.

At the top of the hill above this dock lived Captain Denner and his useful family. They manu-factured row boats to order, and did quite a good sized business. His son, Henry, in later years became an excellent Sheriff of St. Lawrence County.

Many of the islands near Cedar Island were then owned and ccupied by families from Ogdensburg, including the John Bells, Strongs, Chapmans and Knaps.

Father sold the Owls Nest in 1892 or 1893 to a Mr. Preston of Gouverneur, N.Y., at a price somewhere near $1000.

In those days there were no cocktail parties, only tea parties, where either tea or coffee was served with cake and cookies, sometimes sandwiches. At that time, there were a few sailboats without races scheduled. I don’t recall any motor boats then. Muscles and oars afforded the power. Everybody in the families knew how to row and did SO.

We, then, truly lived the “simple life” close to nature and greatly enjoyed it.