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Friday, August 31, 2012


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©  2012    David Minor / Eagles Byte

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Set 'em Up, Joe

The next essay will mark a shift in the blog location of our 1829 series. The geographical locale has entered the Finger Lakes, and Western New York, as we pass through the Syracuse area. The next in the series will appear toward the end of September on the Crooked Lake Review blog -

(continued from July 23, 2012)

Despite some speculation in 1829 - mostly wishful thinking out in the hinterland - it looked like Albany would remain New York's state capital for the foreseeable future. The place certainly was busy enough. Besides the construction of a new city hall, this hillside capital lit by oil lamps (586 by a recent count) was seeing construction of St. Mary's Church (the city's second of the name), and over on Washington Street a large frame building was being readied for the Albany Orphan Asylum, established within days of James Stuart's visit. It would move into new quarters in another four years. Much of the new growth, of course, had been the result of the Erie Canal. In May the Canal Bank of Albany had been incorporated. It would have an 19-year run, failing in 1848.

Back in April, some 80 miles or so to the north in Ausable Flats, a young, newly-arrived schoolteacher described a more primitive existence. His friends over in New Hampshire received a letter from him - it cost them 18-and-three-quarter cents - written on April 15th, in which he described his new life. "It is but three years since the first house was built. Now there are two or three stores, a public house, iron works and lumber mills
 . . . I  expect this will soon grow to be a great business place." He mentions the sluggish local economy, " Business is very dull in this country. Everywhere money is scarce. Iron and lumber are low. The iron works are very tardy in their movements on account of the scarcity of money." But there are compensations. ". . . a fine Dutch girl where I board sweet little bird ! -a modest little thing as ever you saw!" He writes again in August to describe a planned new road being built in the vicinity and state that much land nearby, of varying quality, is being bought up by local people in anticipation.

Planned roads into the interior of the Adirondacks will increase dramatically in the following decades, but for now most of the activity is spread around the perimeter of the region. Progress will be aided after this year as David H. Burr, an appointee of Surveyor General Simeon DeWitt, readies his atlas of the state for publication. It's only the second state atlas ever produced, preceded by Robert Mills' 1825 atlas of South Carolina.

Newcomers are trickling into the region. This year Nathan Southmayd, a veteran of the War of 1812 who had fought at Plattsburgh, and somewhere picked up the title 'commodore', moved to Jay, near Lake Placid, and built a handsome, two-story stone house. He, his wife and their descendants would live there until the end of the century. It would later serve as a maternity hospital and a nursing home; food would be raised on the grounds for the Lake Placid Club.

Another newcomer, a visitor who'd come over from France in 1815, took an interest in real estate in New York and New Jersey, purchasing land this year over natural caverns over near Lake Ontario in Jefferson County and building a mansion. Complete with tunnels, in case he needed an escape route at some future date. His late younger brother could certainly have used such a set-up. The Count de Surveilliers, a.k.a. Joseph Bonaparte, former King of Naples and Spain, knew only too well you had to be ready for emergencies.

© 2012  David Minor / Eagles Byte

Saturday, August 11, 2012

New York Diaries, 1609-2009

Wednesday, August 15th: Book Talk with Teresa Carpenter

The South Street Seaport Museum invites you to our upcoming program New York Diaries, 1609-2009: A Book Talk with Teresa Carpenter from her highly-acclaimed anthology New York Diaries, 1609-2009, a collection of diary fragments that celebrates the cultural history of New York City and its icons. A reception and book signing will follow.

Tickets are available on our website, and please let everyone know that if they use the code Diaries815 at checkout, they will be able to buy tickets for $6!

To purchase tickets go to:
and click on Upcoming Events

We hope to see you there!

Hannah Paveck
Public Programs Department