The town of Champlain will celebrate its 225th anniversary on Aug. 17, with events planned throughout the village and town of Champlain.
The all-encompassing celebration will be held to honor the birth of the town of Champlain, the founder who helped established both the town and Clinton County as well as famous activists who established an abolitionist movement in the Canadian — United States border town. It will also be a day filled with plain old family fun.
“When you know where you came from you have a better direction of where to go next,” said Celine Paquette, founder of the Samuel De Champlain History Center in Champlain.
Paquette said the anniversary celebration will give people a chance to look back at the rich history of Champlain, which was established not long after the United State’s was established as a country.
“This day will be all about acknowledging the role our founders played in a different terrain, fighting with the British and other cultural divides. Most people don’t think about it but in 1788 we hadn’t been a country too long.”
Champlain Day will begin at 11 a.m. with a dedication of a historical marker. The metal plague will honor two local “law breakers,” Noadiah Moore and Caroline Mattocks Moore. The pair were key participants in the Champlain Line of the Underground Railroad, an illegal network of safe places which sheltered hundreds of fugitives from slavery as they made their way from the southern slave states to freedom in Canada before the Civil War.
The marker is a gift of the William Pomeroy Foundation and will be put in front of the Church of St. Mary, 86 Church Street, near the site of the Mooers home and Underground Railroad station.
“This new marker is an important part of our community’s dynamic history which mixes the stories of Native American, French, African-Americans and many others,” Paquette said.
Paquette said Federal Law made it a crime to help slaves escape from their owners. Even in northern New York so-called slave catchers, modern day bounty hunters, came searching for runaways. Canada was the only safe place for slaves to escape. Noadiah not only operated the terminal station on the Keeseville-Champlain Underground Railroad route, he was a founder of the Clinton County Anti-Slavery Society and the leader of the local chapter of the Liberty Party. Caroline was a leading member of the Champlain Female Anti-Slavery Society.
Don Papson, founder of the North Country Underground Railroad Historical Association, will speak at the ceremonies, along with current president Jacki Madison. Also slated to speak is Mayor Greg Martin, among others.
“There are a multitude of events to take place in town and in the village,” Paquette said.
After the unveiling, the village festivities will continue in Riverside Park, along the Great Chazy River, with the third annual Village Fest.
The Champlain Telephone Company will open to the community for its annual Open House at 9 a.m. and the town-wide garage sale will go on throughout the day with maps available at the town hall.
The history center will be open with two showcased exhibits. The exhibits will be open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and include: Sheridan Iron Works and its over 100-year history in Champlain, and Champlain artist, Irene Lalonde. A small exhibit of Edmond Lalonde’s barber equipment will also be on view.
A formal ceremony dedicating a Wayside Panel in front of the town hall will be held at 4 p.m. The ceremony will honor the town’s founder, Pliny Moore.
A pictorial stamp cancellation ceremony will also be held in honor of Moore. The collectible stamp features the silhouette of Moore and stamps will be available for sale. The ceremony will take place from noon to 4 p.m. outside the Town Hall. Paquette said there will be books for sale and readings of proclamations from state officials during the ceremony.
Moore was not only the founder of Champlain but the driving force behind the creation of Clinton County.
“He was a man all over, he wanted our area to be acknowledged. At the time this was all still part of Washington County, and he knew no one in Albany was going to pay attention to people here, they considered this wilderness,” Paquette said. “Pliny worked to establish Plattsburgh as a county seat and once Clinton County was its own the voices of the people here were heard by Albany.”
The events will also be highlighted with the third annual Village Fest at the town office complex with face painting, a petting zoo and a demonstration by US Border Patrol Agents, according to Martin.
The day will culminate with a free Gibson Brothers concert starting at 5 p.m.
Paquette said she hopes people can come and celebrate the town’s milestone anniversary and explore how far the town has come since its birth 225 years ago.
“I am really hoping people can get excited about our history,” Paquette said.
Martin said the day will have a little something for everyone.
For more information about the celebration call the history center at 298-1609 or the town hall at 298-4152.