CROWN POINT - Hammondville disappeared more than a century ago, but it's now the subject of a research project.
Sarah P. Sportman, a doctoral candidate at the University of Connecticut, has conducted dissertation research on Hammondville, the former iron-mining hamlet of Crown Point owned and operated by the Crown Point Iron Company from 1873 to 1896.
"Hammondville, which only officially existed for about 25 years, provides a fascinating snapshot of history, both in terms of the Adirondacks and the development of the United States in general," Sportman said. "Most of the residents of Hammondville were recent immigrants from Scandinavia, French Canada, Ireland and England who were drawn to Essex County by the iron industry, although many native-born Americans also lived and worked there.
"These people spoke a variety of languages, practiced different religions and held different values, yet as a result of their common employment with the Crown Point Iron Company, they were thrown together and expected to live and work as a community," she said. "Similar situations played out all over the country in the late 19th century, as immigrants flooded into the U.S. to find work, improve their lives and become Americans."
Sportman has been working on the project since 2007 and has conducted historical research in the area and archaeological excavations at Hammondville. The research has been funded by the University of Connecticut and the Society for Industrial Archaeology.
"I've had the cooperation of Lyme Adirondack Timberlands I LLC, the company that owns the site, and have worked closely with the folks at the Penfield Foundation on the historical aspect of the project," Sportman said.
Now she wants to hear from area residents with knowledge of Hammondville.
"I know that many of the descendents of Hammondville residents still live in the area," Sportman said. "From the people I've spoken to, particularly those at the Penfield Foundation, it seems that interest in Hammondville and local history in general is pretty strong.
"I would like to put the word out about the project to local people who are descended from Hammondville residents and ask for their participation," she continued. "The archaeology and documents can only tell us so much. I believe that history belongs to us all and descendent communities should have a role in the discovery and portrayal of their own history.
"Therefore, I am particularly interested in interviewing people with connections to former Hammondville residents or those with a knowledge and interest in local history and genealogy," Sportman said. "The kind of valuable information such discussions can provide - family stories, letters, photographs, etc. - is impossible to retrieve without the help of local people. By talking with the descendent community, I believe that I will be able to present a more accurate and meaningful portrayal of the village and the people who lived and worked there."
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Sportman became interested in Hammondville because she had ancestors who lived and worked there.
"My gr-gr-gr-grandparents, Peter Pigeon and Margaret Riel Pigeon came from Quebec," she said. "Peter worked there as a general laborer. Their daughter, Agnes Pigeon, met and married an Irish miner, Owen Flanagan at Hammondville. Owen and Agnes' daughter, Elizabeth, was my great-grandmother. She was born and raised in Hammondville. They moved to Ti when the village of Hammondville disbanded and there Elizabeth married Albert Crammond. Their son, my grandfather, Charles Crammond, worked as miner from the late 1930s - 196's in Witherbee."
When Sportman's dissertation is compete she will provide copies to the Penfield Foundation and put the matters on line for interested people.
"I hope to one day write a book about Hammondville and the people who lived there," she said. "I have also compiled large databases of information on Hammondville residents that, I think, will be very useful to people doing genealogical research and I'll also give the Penfield Foundation copies of those. Matt Skinner and Tracey Velasquez at Penfield have both been extremely helpful in this project and I owe them a great deal for their assistance."
Sportman stressed Hammondville is now private property, owned by Lyme Adirondack Timberlands.
"There are open mines, making the area dangerous and it is an important historical site, so people should not go out there digging around for artifacts or anything of that nature," she said.