Glenn Pearsall released his second book “When Men and Mountains Meet: Stories of Hope and Despair” at a book-signing at the Tannery Pond Community Center Aug. 4. Glenn is pictured here with his wife, Carol.
Adirondack author Glenn Pearsall released his second book, titled “When Men and Mountains Meet: Stories of Hope and Despair” in the Adirondack Wilderness after the American Revolution, at the Tannery Pond Community Center Aug. 4.
Pearsall read excerpts from the book and conducted a short slide-show presentation about his research. A book sale and signing took place afterward, with wine and refreshments.
In “When Men and Mountains Meet: Stories of Hope and Despair” Pearsall covers a period of Adirondack history that has received little coverage in the past. The book tells the stories of the many attempts to settle and industrialize the Adirondacks after American gained independence. According to Pearsall, there are a great number of books about the environmental history and scientific aspects of the Adirondacks, but far fewer about its cultural heritage.
About 80 percent of the information in Pearsall’s newest work is original material based on five years of brand new, in-depth research. Those five years were spent visiting historic sites, combing through local museums and libraries, exploring the state archives in Albany, and in the New-York Historical Society in New York City.
“I went wherever I saw an interesting lead,” he said. Pearsall showed several photos of his research process – which included sites and homes that didn’t even exist anymore, having been covered up by modern construction and development.
Pearsall read several excerpts about early industrialization attempts during the book release. Some were unsuccessful, like the French trying to build lavish cities near Lake Ontario on land that didn’t even border the lake, or the Dutch failing to usurp the cane sugar trade with maple sugar. Others, like the logging industry in Schroon Lake and Warrensburg, brought huge economic benefits to the Adirondacks and the people living here.
Pearsall focused on what he felt were the more amusing stories in his presentation. He said he prefers the quirky ones.
“Too much of what we learn about history is names and dates; black and white,” he said. The funny tales, he said, show that the people in history were human.
Pearsall’s book also has a large amount of information about John Thurman – for whom the towns of Johnsburg and Thurman are named – and the huge impact he had on developing the Adirondacks in the late 1700s. Thurman revolutionized the area with the introduction of a calico cotton printing mill at Elm Hill. He also mortgaged land and sold livestock, allowing Adirondack communities to thrive. Part of the inspiration behind “When Men and Mountains Meet: Stories of Hope and Despair” was to tell more of Thurman’s story, Pearsall said. Pearsall discussed him in his previous book, “Echoes in these Mountains: Historic Sites and Stories Disappearing in Johnsburg,” but felt he left too many questions unanswered.
The Tannery Pond release was the first in a series of presentations throughout the Adirondacks, including Thurman, Plattsburgh, Gouverneur, Long Lake, and Warrensburg.