Jean Hadden Collection
Unknown ladies at the old Warren County Fairgrounds racetrack in Warrensburgh in 1923, waiting for the horse racing to commence.
Violin out of the closet
John K. Witzemann, the Philadelphia violinist who gave a concert in Glens Falls on Sept. 12, 1912, played on a genuine Amati violin valued at $2,000 which has a romantic history. The instrument was made in Cremona, Italy and is believed to be 208 years old. The violin was secured by Witzemann last year in 1911 while he was spending his summer vacation in Schroon Lake. It was owned by Fred E. Pitkin, a store clerk who had it for about 10 years and who sold it to Witzemann for a moderate figure. An expert in Philadelphia later assessed it at $2,000. The instrument was owned by various people in the vicinity of Schroon Lake for about 25 years and at one time it was sold for $15. In its travels, the violin met with many vicissitudes and considerable repairing was necessary before its original beauty and tone were restored. Amati violins are highly valued and genuine specimens are very rare and valuable.
(Note: Andrea Amati, violin maker extraordinaire and teacher of the greats, plied his trade with his two sons, Antonio and Hieronymus in a shop in Cremona Italy. Hieronymus died in 1630 of the black plague as did several other members of his family and it was his fifth son, Nicolo Amati, born in 1596, who became the world famous violin maker in the family, producing amazing instruments and training several other violin makers well-known in history. When business reached an all time high, Nicolo took on apprentices in his shop. The origins of Antonius Stradivarius were found in the Amati shop and Nicolo is often held to be his teacher. If that Schroon Lake violin were to be sold today, the price would be in the millions. It would be interesting to know if at the age of 308 years it exists today — and can still produce delightful haunting music from another era that has never since been surpassed in power and richness.)
Gone to meet his maker
Benjamin Harrington of West Stony Creek, a centenarian known locally as “Uncle Ben,” died Sept. 2, 1912 at his home, aged 101 years. He and his wife, who survives him, celebrated the 101st anniversary of their birth March 28, 1912 as both were born on that same day in 1811.
Ben Harrington was apparently in his usual good health the day before his end. Death came to him like the sleep of a little child. He sank into a stupor and never rallied. He had never been sick in bed in his life.
Ben was born in the hills of Stony Creek and spent his entire life on the farm he occupied at the time of his death. He never rode on a railroad train but once when he and his wife, “Aunt Harriet” went to Albany to see Governor Hill inaugurated. He never used liquor or tobacco in any form. They lost one son, Benjamin Jr., in the Civil War at the battle of Bull Run and their other son lived on the farm with them as their caretaker. “My only regret is,” said Mrs. Harrington, “we could not die at the same time. We have been very happy together and have lived a long life.” (Note: More stories about the lives of this remarkable couple were told in this column in the March 17, 2012 Adirondack Journal. David Bennett Hill became New York’s 29th governor at Albany in the year 1885 when Ben Harrington was 74 years old.)
Police officer fired after joy ride
The entire police force of the village of Lake George has been suspended by village president Sisson for an indefinite period. The force, it is alleged, got drunk and was caught at it. Officer Putnam, who is it, while in full uniform on Saturday night, went with an automobile party on a joy ride to a road house near Saratoga and returned late in the night in a state alleged to have been unduly hilarious. There was so much talk around town that it all came to the ears of Mr. Sisson who promptly suspended the erring one from the force. (Note: Here it is 100 years later and this poor man, Officer Putnam, dead and long gone, hasn’t yet lived down his wild night out on the town!)
Autumn leaves are falling
It was just 50 years ago, in October 1862, that Henry David Thoreau wrote “Autumn Tints,” which was published in the Atlantic Monthly magazine. He said, “Europeans coming to America are surprised by the brilliancy of our autumnal foliage.” The “Autumnal Equinox” will soon be upon us. The leaves of the Swamp Maple are the first to generally change color in the fall season. There are 13 maple species native to the U.S. and they will soon delight us with their magnificent fall color.
“Yet still the wilding flowers would blow, the golden leaves would fall, the seasons come, the seasons go and God be good to all.” — John Greenleaf Whittier.
News from far and near
The 72nd New York State Fair will open Monday Sept. 9, 1912 in its new million dollar home in Syracuse. The new cattle building is already in use as is the new railroad terminal. Many area people will attend the fair. Senator James A. Emerson, R.T. Woodward and B.F. Hammond left on Sept. 11, 1912 to attend the State Fair.
State Historian James A. Holden of Glens Falls, will speak Sept. 18, 1912 on “The influence of the Murder of Jane McCrea on the Burgoyne Campaign.” Frank J. Wilder of Saratoga Springs will speak on “A Century and a Half of Saratoga History.” at the Worden Hotel in Saratoga Springs during the 14th annual meeting of the state Historical Association beginning Sept. 17, 1912 which will last for four days.
Fires damage properties
The Ferry Hotel of Luzerne, owned by the Barrett estate of Saratoga and occupied by John Brown as a bottling establishment, was destroyed by fire at noon, Sept. 4, 1912. It was one of the oldest landmarks in the place and was located across the Hudson from Corinth on the Luzerne side. The damage amounts to $4,000.
In other news, the store and residence property owned by Walter Hubbell and occupied by Nat M. Dixon at Batesville, Lake George, was badly damaged Aug. 29, 1912 by a fire which originated from an over-heated chimney in an upper room. The volunteer fire department was summoned from the village and they managed to confine the fire to the rear of the building. The loss is several hundred dollars.
Sweet and sour notes
Plums are plentiful this year in Johnsburgh and sell for $2 a bushel. The stone wall has been removed from the upper cemetery there to make way for the new fence. George Green has a sprained ankle.
The Schroon River Pulp and Paper Co. at Burnhamville, Warrensburgh, shut down to enable their employees to attend the fair.
At Bakers Mills, James Bruno and Nora Dunkley were married Aug. 21, 1912 by Rev. Watson Perry. E.J. Hitchcock is doing a nice business there in his new store. Carey Hitchcock is laying the foundation for a new house with John Hitchcock superintending the work.
Mrs. Martha Ross, 84, widow of Sylvester Ross, died at the home of her daughter, Mrs. Lorenzo Hemenway in Horicon on Saturday morning, Sept. 14, 1912. Her husband, a lumberman, died about 15 years ago and had been a lifelong resident of Horicon and Bolton. Known as “Aunt Martha,” Mrs. Ross gave her heart to the Lord as a young girl and was well known for her sterling worth.
Joseph Lavin, of Warrensburgh, buys all kinds of junk for cash at his barn on lower Main St. He pays $6 a ton for old iron and one cent a pound for rags. He also buys hides.
Readers are welcome to contact Adirondack Journal correspondent Jean Hadden at firstname.lastname@example.org or 623-2210.