100 Years Ago - April 1913
Time before memory began
Since the big bridge between Glens Falls and South Glens Falls went crashing into the turbulent Hudson River on March 27, 1913 before hundreds of onlookers, there has been much interest among historians about a previous bridge, the first bridge to ever cover that gorge. So many years have passed that nobody could be found who even remembered ever having seen it.
Eventually in Glens Falls a rare engraving by created in 1825 by a French artist, was found in the possession of C.H. Sherman of Bay Street and it is currently on exhibition in the department store window of B.B. Fowler in Glens Falls.
The bridge in the sketch is thought to be the first built over the Hudson River located near where the recent and more modern bridge went down. The Frenchman made a series of early sketches along the Hudson from Hadley south to Newburgh.
This first old wooden bridge was depicted as just wide enough for a team to pass over. It was cheaply constructed, the abutments being made of logs. The structure was evidently a toll bridge, as the toll house can be seen in the middle of the span. The date of its erection isn’t common knowledge.
In the old days the banks on both sides of the falls were lined with trees. The present site of the International Paper Co. plant was a forest and there was a large number of trees where Finch, Pruyn & Co.’s mills now stand. There were only a few houses in the vicinity as seen from the engraving.
A mill, perhaps a saw mill or a grist mill is shown on the South Glens Falls side of the river. By 1828 the village had no more than 300 or 400 inhabitants.
Toll bridge had role in history
[Note: The story of the later South Glens Falls bridge (1890-1913), collapsing into the river after being battered by high water and floating logs, was told in the March 23, 2013 Adirondack Journal. More information must have been eventually found about the first toll bridge, as history books published later say it was built in 1804 by Warren Ferriss and lasted until 1833 when a new bridge was built for the benefit of the general public. In 1834 Harriet Martineau, a lady from Britain, toured the area and later wrote, “There is a long bridge over the roaring floods which vibrates incessantly and clusters of saw-mills deform the scene.”]
Charles R. Bishop born on bridge
The first Glens Falls bridge had a remarkable connection to Warrensburgh. Three years before the “Frenchman” executed his engraving of the bridge in 1825, Samuel Bishop worked in the toll booth on the bridge in the middle of the Hudson River, possibly for Warren Ferriss. It was in that booth that his wife, Maria Reed Bishop gave birth on Jan. 25, 1822 to their son, Charles Reed Bishop. Maria died two weeks later. Samuel died when his son was four.
Around 1826 Charles came to the frontier village of Warrensburgh, a village at that time only 13 years old, to live with his grandfather Bishop who had a 125-acre farm. Today this farm would have been in reality in the North Caldwell area, part of which would have been on the late Col. Ben Guiles property south of town. Charles worked on the farm tending animals and he allegedly attended school in Warrensburgh, but this also could possibly have been across from the old North Caldwell Cemetery. He was eventually hired in the village as a clerk at the mercantile company of Nelson J. Warren, the only child of James Warren, the village’s presumed namesake.
Bishop & Lee sailed to Hawaii
Charles Reed Bishop’s close friend was William Little Lee of Hudson Falls, whose sister, Eliza Lee had married Charles’ uncle, Linus Bishop. Charles convinced William that the way for them to make their fortune was to journey to the Oregon territory, the land of new opportunity — and they took ship and sailed on Feb. 23, 1846. After sailing “around the horn” of South America, the ship stopped in Honolulu to take on provisions and the young adventurers were so taken with the Hawaiian Islands that they journeyed no farther.
Much against her parents wishes, Princess Bernice Pauahi Paki, a member of the Hawaiian royal family, became Charles’ wife. They had a child, Keolaokalani Davis. Bernice Bishop, 53, died in 1884.
Mrs. W.F. Allen, Charles’ niece, left Warrensburgh to live in Hawaii at his invitation and sent back many artifacts to be displayed at the Richards’ Library and they are still there today.
Duo attains influence and fame
William Little Lee also did well in the islands — he practiced law and became a chief justice of Hawaii as well as founding private property rights — but he died in 1857 when he was only 36 years old. His body was shipped home and his impressive monument now stands in the Fort Edward cemetery.
Charles Reed Bishop, a dynamic hard worker, achieved fame in Hawaii as a key founder of educational, banking and historic institutions. He also was an influential politician and philanthropist. Bishop died June 7, 1914, at the age of 93 in San Francisco. His body was shipped back to Hawaii to be buried there beside his Hawaiian wife.)
Lady escapes tyrant
News has been received from Hartzell, Colo. of the divorce of Viva Harrington, a country schoolteacher and Ralph M. Harrington, a wealthy rancher. It is alleged that soon after their marriage he threw her on the floor and held her until she admitted he was boss. Then he forced flypaper into her mouth to close it. She was granted a divorce and alimony after telling her story to a judge.
Big log jam in the Hudson
The largest jam of logs ever known by river men in the Hudson River has been lodged, the week of April 24, 1913, between Thurman and Stony Creek. The jam extends up the river four and a half miles, a solid mass of spruce pulp logs. Great difficulty is being experienced in breaking it up.
(Note: The controlled movement down the Hudson and Schroon rivers of masses of single logs began in the Adirondacks as early as 1813. Occasionally such a pile-up had to be dynamited but usually seasoned log drivers preferred to let brains and brawn get the logs moving. In the river many met their death in a roiling mass of logs.)
Charred body found in ruins
William Merrill, for many years a prominent businessman and leading citizen of the little hamlet of Bakers Mills in the town of Johnsburgh, was burned to death shortly after 1 a.m. April 8, 1913, in a fire that destroyed his store and residence and the nearby barn. Mrs. Merrill and her nephew, Edgar Cole, asleep in the upper story, barely escaped with their lives.
Mr. Merrill had been sleeping for some time in the store and it was there the fire started. It is believed to have caught from a lantern the man was carrying about the building during the night while he was intoxicated. Rumors of arson and suicide are discredited.
Man dies sitting in a chair
Joseph LaFlure, 73, one of the best and most widely-known lumbermen in northern New York died the night of March 27, 1913 while seated in a chair in his home in Chestertown. He was talking with his daughter, Mrs. Elizabeth Kittenbach, when he suddenly threw up his hands and fell backwards dead.
He was born in Canada in 1840 and had lived in Chester for 32 years where he had established for himself an enviable reputation as a businessman.
Man’s sleep disturbed
When a small blaze in a coal vault beneath the New York City house occupied by General Daniel Sickles filled the place with smoke and drove three other families into the street, the general became peevish when he was aroused by the firemen. He went back to bed and told the firefighters they could notify him if the blaze got any worse. Informed that the house was full of smoke, he said, “What do I care, I don’t want to be disturbed at this hour of the morning. If the flames come up into the house, you can notify me then.”
Readers are welcome to contact Adirondack Journal correspondent Jean Hadden firstname.lastname@example.org or 623-2210.