ANNALS contains all of the important 20th century summaries, surveys and studies of the McIntyre iron settlement and the old Tahawus Club colony in Newcomb township, Essex County, New York. PART TWO contains Arthur Masten's "Tahawus Club, 1898-1933" (with original photos).
More than two years ago112 I was requested by several members of the Tahawus Club
to write a history of that organization and its predecessors. The immediate occasion of this
flattering suggestion was, I believe, the transmogrifications of the Club into the creation
known as Tahawus Purchase Inc.
In a weak moment I consented to do the job, little realizing what it would entail. There
seemed to be plenty of what we historians call “source material.” I had just acquired a
bundle of letters, receipted bills and miscellaneous documents, more than five hundred in
number, found among the effects of Andrew Porteous of Glens Falls, who had been
superintendent of the iron works from about 1839 to 1850. They looked promising at first
glance, and no self-respecting historian would forbear a careful examination of the entire
package in constant hope of discovering some priceless nugget of history. Too often were
these labors rewarded by a discovery no more important than the fact, for example, that the
Club’s predecessor in title considered the tax officials of Newcomb “a parcel of idle and
Another disappointment arose from the mysterious disappearance of the Club’s
minutes for the entire period between 1884 and 1921. Doubtless they were dull enough
reading, but every presumption must be to the contrary under the maxim omne ignotum pro
magnifico. The imagination runs riot as to the interesting character of these missing
records. They might, for instance, have disclosed the name of the talented artist who
frescoed the dining room walls and ceilings, or the names of the committee who ordered
his work painted out, leaving the Club no remedy but palimpsest. But history is not to be
based on riotous imaginings.
I have done the best I could with the material at hand. The gentlemen at whose
instance the work was undertaken must accept it as it is, a sort of hodge-podge, olla-
podrida, omnium-gatherum, potpourri, or, in the vernacular, historical hash. They will find
it abounding in trivialities, but it must be remembered that no less an authority than Lord
Macaulay said that he would “cheerfully bear the reproach of having descended below the
level of history.”
ARTHUR H. MASTEN
LM: Written in 1935.
The McIntyre Iron Works
The late Diedrich Knickerbocker, the greatest by far of all historians, began his
“History of New Amsterdam,” it will be remembered, by a description of the world.
Following this he set forth a number of theories by which the creation of a world is shown
to be no such difficult matter as common folk would imagine.
On a principle somewhat analogous I propose to write the History of the Tahawus
Club by beginning at a time some seventy-odd years before that club was organized. The
reader may be surprised and impatient at finding himself introduced to descriptions of the
early days of the iron works and the troubles of the proprietors, but he may be equally
surprised to find how closely they are interwoven with scenes and objects familiar to him
as a member of the Tahawus Club.
The tract of which the property long occupied by the Club forms a part was for many
years owned by the Adirondack Iron and Steel Co. and its predecessors. Their title was
derived from the original owners, Archibald McIntyre, Duncan McMartin Jr., and David
Henderson. They discovered the ore beds in the locality now known as the Upper Works in
1826, and proceeded as rapidly as possible to acquire title to the surrounding territory until
in the end their holdings were considerably over 100,000 acres.
They began at once the development of the property by the construction of roads and
buildings, and within a few years were making iron and steel in very small quantities and
by primitive methods. A forge and charcoal were used in smelting the ore. Their product
was of excellent quality, however, and was so favorably received by the trade as to
encourage their further efforts. The first blast furnace, built in 1838, was located near the
head of the village street, a short distance north of where the building now known as the
Ferris cottage stands.
Andrew Porteous, to whom most of the letters hereafter quoted were addressed, was
made superintendent of the works and continued to act as such until 1850. It was not long
before another furnace was in contemplation, entailing the construction of new dams for
developing additional water power. It was while on a trip to investigate a proposed dam site
that Mr. Henderson was accidentally shot at Calamity Pond on September 3, 1845. But the
plans for further development were not checked by this catastrophe. Neither Mr. McIntyre
nor the Robertsons (who had succeeded to Judge McMartin’s interest after the latter’s death
in 1837) had practical knowledge of the iron business. Yet with more courage than
discretion they undertook to carry on the enterprise as planned. The correspondence of the
years 1847 and 1848 shows the construction of a steel plant in progress at the Lower
Works, with the necessary buildings and appurtenances. The brunt of financing and
directing this enterprise fell on Mr. McIntyre, as he lived in Albany while the Robertsons
lived in Philadelphia — too remote for active participation in the work.
Although then an old man in somewhat delicate health, he was forced to take up the
business in all its details, except the actual manufacturing. He bought, on requisition from
Porteous, all needed farm and food supplies, besides many articles required in furnace
operation. He also attended to the shipment of these goods by canal boat from Albany to
Cedar Point on Lake Champlain, and made contracts for hauling them in to the works by
team. As the season for navigation was short, it was necessary to contract for the supplies
far in advance and follow the markets closely to take advantage of the most advantageous
prices. The details of these activities required voluminous correspondence and much
bookkeeping. Scattered through this documentary waste are occasional disconnected
references to matters affecting the property afterwards owned or controlled by the Tahawus
The village at the Upper Works was named McIntyre in honor of the head of the iron
enterprise, and it was so called from 1833 to 1848. It was then made a post office under the
name of Adirondac. The first postmaster was Andrew Porteous, the superintendent of the
works. So far as discovered, he had no successor as postmaster after his connection with
the property ceased in 1850.
The name Tahawus as applied to the Lower Works was suggested by one Pickslay, an
English steel manufacturer, who came over in 1847 to examine and test the ores. Mr.
Henderson (the younger) wrote Porteous, January 13, 1847:113 “Mr. P. brought out with him
about five cwt of cast steel made from our bar iron and plate metal, and it is certainly very
pleasing to find it is of such good quality, having stood the severest tests to which cast steel
is put without failing in any one instance.”
Mr. McIntyre wrote Porteous, May 12, 1847: “The dam will, I know, be a very
expensive one and it will be well to keep the expense as low as may be and yet, I hope, you
will be very careful not to have any part of the work slighted. I hope you will spend as
much time as you can at ‘Tahawus,’ the name given by Pickslay to the Steel Works
Mr. McIntyre’s letters give us an idea of the extent of the development then in
contemplation at the Lower Works.
The David Henderson whose name appears in letters written subsequent to 1845 was a nephew of David
Henderson, one of the original proprietors, who was shot at Calamity Pond in that year.
Tahawus was made a post office in May 1873, with John Cheney as postmaster. He was succeeded in
October 1874 by Washington Chase, who in turn was followed by David Hunter, Mrs. Hunter and Michael
TAHAWUS CLUB, 1898-1933 161
Albany, February 25, 1847
If anything is to be done this winter to expedite for the next season the mass of work of
various kinds to be done about the site of the steel works it ought no longer to be delayed.
... Mr. Robertson suggests in a letter lately received, that it would be best to have the saw
mill and steel works on opposite sides of the river. I agree fully with him in this; and as a
bridge must of necessity be built over the river at any rate, no inconvenience can arise
from such an arrangement. ...
I hope to hear very soon, and perhaps before I close this, that you have visited the
falls, and that I shall have your opinion of that water power, and the length, height and
probable cost of the dam, as also the character of the land in the vicinity for the works, for
a village and for farming.
Will it not be necessary where so many men are to be employed, to have one or two
women employed to cook and wash for them? If so, a building for their comfort and
accommodation must be provided. But this and all other necessary matters we must
leave to your judgment.
I judge that a quantity of provisions, blankets, etc., must be sent from here. When you
can form an opinion of what will be required, let me know. By the last steamer, it appears,
that provisions have materially fallen in England in price.
After writing this far I received your letter of the 20th and I am really glad to find that
you have visited the falls for the site of the intended steel works, which has enabled you
to form some opinion of their sufficiency, and of the land and timber in the vicinity. If the
falls you visited will answer the object I am of opinion we ought not to go to, and make
use of the falls still lower down the river, which Cheney informed you of. This is the first
time I ever heard of these lower falls. Even should the lower falls be good, if not
absolutely necessary, they ought to be avoided, because of the material increase of the
distance from the iron to the steel works, and because also of the increase of the distance
to Lake Champlain. The river, you know turns to the west thereabouts, and two miles (the
distance Cheney says it is to the lower falls) would carry you to the westerly line of To. 46
if not into the Hyslop Patent. ...
I am of the opinion that it will be of the first importance, besides clearing a spot for the
steel works and village, that at least 50 acres ought to be cleared to produce vegetables
for the workmen in 1848 and food for some animals. If a large portion of such land were
sown with oats in the spring of 1848 and seeded down with grass, and the residue sown
with turnip seed and planted with potatoes, you will readily see how valuable it would
prove to the people. ...
Albany, March 8, 1847
I have just recd. your letter of the 3rd and I feel sincerely gratified in observing how
vigorously and determinedly you are pushing forward operations about the site of the
You say you can have a dam of 17 feet high. That is much higher than I had supposed
could have been had there. But the dam must be very long, it seems, 600 feet you say. I
fear, when 17 feet of water are raised, that a large quantity of low land must be
overflowed, and I would therefore advise that before the dam shall be raised, all the land
that may be overflowed be thoroughly cleared. We ought never again to suffer such
disagreeable and injurious consequences as we have already experienced in the
overflowing of the low lands about Lake Henderson.
The dam was completely wrecked in a flood which occurred in 1856115 and no vestige
of it remains except a pile of stone that may be seen in the bushes on the west side of the
river, a short distance above the bridge crossing the Hudson at the Lower Works.
Albany, June 1, 1847
I recd. yesterday your letter of the 26th ulto. Had you known that Mr. Henderson
intends to be with you next week with money ($2,000 which he proposes to take with him)
you would not probably have drawn the draught of which you give me notice in your letter
before me, but as it has been made it must be met.
I am expecting daily one of Frost’s Boats. When it comes I will send by it to you 35
barrels mess Pork and 20 barrels best Genesee flour.
I am very glad to hear that boating can be done between Adirondac and Tahawus.
This will be a great convenience, and cheapen the transportation between the two places.
The improvement of new land at both places is important, and I am glad you have
ordered it done.
Mr. Andrew Porteous.
This slack water navigation is frequently referred to in the correspondence. It is
described at length in “The Story of Adirondac.”
Albany, Jane 14, 1847
It is very important to us that Mr. Judd has engaged so to lay out the Carthage Road
as to accommodate the lime bed and Tahawus. It will, no doubt, be a great gain and
accommodation the making of a road as you suggest from the guide post, through good
coaling land, to Tahawus direct, than to continue on the old circuitous road through bad
land, and I hope this will be done with as little delay as possible.
If by the employment of additional hands the low land above Tahawus which will be
overflowed when the dam is raised, can all, if possible, first be cleared of all its wood it will
be very desirable. If not done, it will be a disagreeable and injurious nuisance.
I regret much that as yet you have found no clay at Tahawus. The search must be
continued until clay shall be found, whether near or at some distance from the place.
Nothing can be done without Brick, and to have what will be wanted hauled from
Adirondac would be very tedious and expensive, and must be avoided.
I rejoice to learn that the iron making business is doing well in all the departments.
May it long continue to do so.
I regret to learn of the injury sustained by one of the hands about the dam; but such
accidents will happen and cannot always be avoided.
Mr. Andrew Porteous.
The Carthage Road (called by the inhabitants Cartage Road) was for several years
under construction. It was laid out to run from Cedar Point on Lake Champlain to Carthage
in Jefferson County. Coming westward by Clear Pond, which was north of Blue Ridge, it
LM: According to Seely, the flood occurred in 1857. See the note at the front.
TAHAWUS CLUB, 1898-1933 163
passed to the north of Trout and Perch Ponds. Crossing the Hudson below the outlet of Fast
River, it went on over Guide Board Hill to Newcomb Farm and beyond.116
The books of the company, which were stored for many years at the Upper Works,
were destroyed by fire in 1926. Unfortunately there is nothing to show even approximately
what the total expenditures were for the iron works development. That they were
considered heavy, even in those days, is evident.
Albany, Septr. 21, 1847
I have just recd. your letter of the 14th as also, at the same time, yours of the 16th. I
had no idea of your being in immediate want of either flour or pork, or I would have sent
by the last of Frost’s Boats. I expect the Boat that took the last articles to be back in a day
or two, when I will send 10 barrels pork, being all that I ordered, and which must answer
until sleighing. But of flour I will send 50 barrels, altho it must soon be cheaper. The flour
for next year I will send by Wilson & Calkins’ Boats when they call; they ought to apprise
me beforehand when they will be down, and where they can be found. But the pork for
next year, as it must go by sleighing, I will engage safe men here to take it, by one of
whom, I must, no doubt, entrust the carrying of money.
The draught for $1200, of which you give me notice shall be met. But I really cannot
help expressing my surprise that such enormous sums are required. I took you $2000,
you drew 1st $1500, then $1200 and now $1200 more, nearly $4000 in about 6 or 7
Mr. Henderson will be with you pretty early in October, I hope, but how early I cannot
yet say. I have no time to notice the various matters you notice, and must leave all for
yourself and Mr. Henderson to think about and manage. I must say, however, that I
cannot approve of your suggestion about a wooden R.R. But I now advise that you make
immediate arrangement for putting your house in a more safe condition as to its windows
& doors; all ought to have substantial fastenings, and the windows ought to have shutters.
I advise also that preparation be made for fixing, either in the North or South room, a
counter & desk, behind which you can have your strong box, pay money, keep accts., &c.
Mr. Andrew Porteous.
On September 2, 1847, Mr. McIntyre, who had recently returned to Albany from a trip
to the works, wrote Porteous regarding a shipment of fire brick: “I will add to them an
excellent old-fashioned wrought iron chest as also a bundle of articles for Mrs. Porteous
bought at her request soon after our return. The prospect of a good navigation when the
Tahawus dam shall be completed is quite encouraging.”
A week later he wrote: “I have this day shipped for you by the canal boat J. Frost,
Captn. Cleaveland, 1 wrought iron chest. ... The key of the iron chest will be sent to you by
This is the chest now in my possession at “Gabbro.”
Under date of September 21, 1847, Mr. McIntyre wrote: “I advise also that preparation
be made for fixing either in the North or South room, a counter and desk behind which you
can have your strong box, pay money, keep accounts &c.”
“The Story of Adirondac,” pages 34 and 35. [ADV 60-61]
164 ANNALS OF THE DESERTED VILLAGE
Porteous evidently replied with some different suggestions, to which Mr. McIntyre
acceded, writing October 11: “Your plan for the safety of the Bank is no doubt the best.
The counter, desk &c. may be prepared and set up at once, if you choose, or all may be
merely prepared and be set up after Mr. Henderson’s arrival.”
What became of the counter nowhere appears. The desk was probably the one now in
the club room in the Upper Works Club House.
The operations at Tahawus were first described as the “lower works” in the following
letter from Mr. McIntyre dated February 22, 1848. He said:
The clay you speak of, found near Tahawus must, from the character you give of it, be
Kaolin. It would be a pity to waste this in making common brick and, therefore, I hope the
other bed of a more common clay, seen by you, will be made to answer for bricks at the
lower works. …
There are so many projects now on foot about roads, that we had better look on for a
few weeks before determining on any route. Let us reserve ourselves for that which we
shall find to our greatest advantage. A gentleman from Schroon called on me a few days
ago (name not known) stating that as a plank road would certainly be made from Glens
Falls to Caldwell, and thence to Warrensburgh, the people of the Schroon Country &
Warrensburgh were determined, if possible, to make one from Warrensburgh to the foot
of Schroon Lake, and from the head of the Lake, in as direct a line as possible, to
Tahawus (the latter of course to interest and engage us in the plan). He said the distance
from the head of the Schroon to Tahawus was less than from Tahawus to Root’s. They
are to have a great meeting at Chester, on Thursday, when I am to be informed what they
propose doing, &c. What think you of this enterprise? …
I am glad you thought of stocking Lake Sanford with Pickerel. If they do well there, it
will be very pleasing, altho they may never yield such profitable results as you seem to
anticipate. The lake being wholly our own we have the legal right now to prevent others
from fishing in it, but it would, I think, be rather an impracticable task to prevent
trespasses of this sort. To do so, would be considered an act of tyranny and an
infringement of natural rights of our people in this land of liberty, where morals are not
always regarded very scrupulously.
This letter is also interesting as corroborating the date when pickerel were first placed
in Lake Sanford as given in Robert Clarke’s letter.
TAHAWUS CLUB, 1898-1933 165
Improvements at the Upper Works
Notwithstanding all the dam and building activities in 1847 at Tahawus, the village at
the Upper Works was not neglected.
A new boarding house (now the Club House) was built in that year. A set of draft
specifications “for labour only” has been preserved. They provide as follows: “The main
house will be 50 x 37 feet. The Kitchen will be 22 x 18 ft. For height of stories see
elevation x x x Put up the stairs where shown on the plan x x x The principal stair will have
2½ round rail 6 in. turned newel and 1½ in. fancy turned ballusters of St. Domingo
mahogany put up and stayed in the best manner.”
Opposite the words San Domingo mahogany is a question mark, and the word walnut
is written, showing true Scotch thrift.
The following receipted bill for painting gives a good idea of what the village
consisted of at that time, although the boarding house, schoolhouse and barns are the only
buildings that can be identified. It is likely that the house described as occupied by
Porteous is the one afterwards occupied by Robert Hunter when in charge of the
Adirondac, Septr. 16, 1847
Messrs. McIntyre, Henderson & Robertson
a/c John W. Chase Dr.
To painting 3 coats on Boarding House ......................................................$98.67
3 coats on School House ......................................................................27.92
1 coat on Store ......................................................................................27.00
2 coats on 3 houses $22.54 each .........................................................67.62
2 coats on House opposite Old Blacks. Shop. ......................................22.00
To expenses in part coming in.......................................................................10.00
The above by contract ...............................................................................$253.21
To painting inside Cheney house ..................................................................$4.66
Snyder house ........................................................................................10.46
House opposite old B.S. ........................................................................12.32
Andrew Porteous house ........................................................................32.70
Boarding house .....................................................................................80.22
Outside Sargent house..........................................................................28.00
Outside old Boarding House .................................................................26.00
Wood shack to Boarding House............................................................23.00
A.P. House outside................................................................................32.00
2 extra coats on Store ...........................................................................28.00
2 Barns ..................................................................................................35.00
1 Gallon Varnish ..............................................................................................2.63
painting 360 light sash.....................................................................................3.60
22½ pound paint to Forge & Furnace..............................................................2.25
224 pound light lead returned........................................................................17.92
LM: Now known as the MacNaughton Cottage.
paint left for forge & Snyder House ................................................................. 1.00
7 ps. Paper 23¢ each ...................................................................................... 1.61
paint & painting Boats ..................................................................................... 4.86
Received payment in full of the above this Septr. 16 1847.
JOHN W. CHASE
TAHAWUS CLUB, 1898-1933 167
Odds and ends
1840 – 1852
Discovery of Cheney Pond, 1840
The discovery of Cheney Pond and the adjacent ore bed was chronicled in the
following letter from Porteous to Mr. McIntyre:
Dear Sir, …
Mr. Ninget has been employed in the mine and blacksmith shop until last night. He is
the bearer of this along with a few samples of minerals got in and around a new ore bed
discovered by John Cheney betwixt Lake Sanford and Newcomb Farms in the woods
amongst beautiful hardwood timber and close by a fine little lake well situated for building
a dam, about fourteen feet high. The minerals around there I think differ from the minerals
of the country generally. Mr. Ninget went with John and myself one day and put in a blast.
He has small samples of the ore and some of the other minerals but I think there is some
differs from what he has with him, but John was obliged to go to his traps so that we could
not get the others in time to send at present. I expect to have some cord wood chopped
this fall at 45c per cord.
The “fine little lake” was of no particular use until many years later when the beaver
were reintroduced by Dr. Seward Webb on his property at Nehasane and spread throughout
the Adirondack country.
They built a dam at the outlet, which raised the water approximately to its present
height. My grandson, Arthur Crocker, fishing in Lake Harkness one day with Henry Thilo
when the trout were rising freely, carried over a number of them in tin pails and placed
them in Cheney Pond. This was the first stocking of the pond so far as known. For some
years none were taken there except with bait. The fishing in that pond has always been
fickle, but under favorable conditions many a good day’s sport has been enjoyed as a result
of more or less regular stocking.
Ice house, 1847
Mr. McIntyre wrote Porteous, July 10, 1847: “As you are, I understand, about building
an ice house I enclose directions cut from a newspaper which I consider good.”
Notwithstanding the high character of the newspaper, the ice house could not be
expected to last forever, and we accordingly find the Tahawus Club, in February 1924,
building a new one to cost $1,500.
The Newcomb assessors, 1841
McIntyre to Porteous February 10, 1841
Mr. Pendleton wrote to me some time ago about the taxes on his lands in Newcomb. I
wrote him, intimating my apprehensions and belief … of the Pendleton folks, and that I
knew of nothing that could be done, except to watch the proceedings of those people,
when they made their assessments, and to prevent them if practicable, from raising too
much money, and to see, that whatever may be raised, shall be faithfully applied to
benefit the property and the country, and not to go to the pockets of a parcel of idle and
Boarding house tales, 1843
SUGGESTIONS FOR MISS YATES
Terms agreed upon betwixt A. Porteous and Fitch Magoon for boarding hands employed
in Adirondack, F. Magoon is to have the use of house with what articles are in it anything or
articles wanting he is to find himself, he is to have pork for $16.00 per barrel flour for 8
dollars tea 6/6 and 8/6 molasses 56 cents potatoes 2/ per bushel peper 14d Saleratus 1/ —
Corn 9 shillings per bushel Rye 6 shillings per bushel and pasture for his cow and the use of
one cow belonging to Company, he is to fix the ground behind old barn for potatoes and to
have the half of what is raised on the garden at the south end of boarding house he doing
the labour on his own time and A. Porteous finding the seed, he is to have one dollar per
day for his work and find himself on farm or wherever employed and salt mutton for 4 cents
per 16 and fresh mutton for 2 dollars per head,
And he is to board the hands for 18 shillings per week and only giving in the meals
Meals to be given 6 o’clock for breakfast, 12 or 1/2 past for dinner and supper after
AND. W. PORTEOUS.
Although nothing is said about venison in this contract, there is no doubt that it formed
a substantial part of the boarding house diet. John Cheney was described as “Hunter” on
the company’s payroll. There were no game laws worth mentioning in his time and when
he hunted it was to some purpose. At the age of forty-seven, some twenty years before he
had stopped hunting, he had killed 600 deer.
Concerning the demon rum
In 1845 Joseph Frost, the forwarder, billed to Porteous, in addition to numerous
articles of dry goods, the following wet goods:
5 gals. Hollon (sic) gin at $1.45..........................................................$7.25
1 Dimagon (sic) .......................................................................................75
3 gals. port wine at 10/6........................................................................5.25
In 1848 Smith S Wood of Troy billed to Porteous:
1 Keg 10/ 10 gals. St. Croix Rum .....................................................$11.25
1 Keg 8/ 6 gals. Cognac Brandy .........................................................15.25
On December 14, 1850, Porteous, in a bill dated at Glens Falls, bills to William Helms,
among a lot of miscellaneous goods, the following:
5 gals. brandy ...................................................................................$11.25
2 gals. whiskey .....................................................................................1.38
1 keg for liquor .....................................................................................2.00
1 jug for whiskey ..................................................................................1.00
On October 30, 1850, Helms wrote to Porteous:
You will please let me know how you intend to manage your business with me
concerning our trade if you think it best to continue our trading. I shall need some more
goods soon. …
170 ANNALS OF THE DESERTED VILLAGE
I was very sorry to hear you had left Adirondac and so were all the people at
Pendleton (Newcomb). I could not believe you had gone when I heard it. You will please
write as soon as you receive this and oblige your friend.”
Various questions are suggested by the foregoing statistics. They are not easy to
correlate. For example, was Helms boot legging for Porteous, or vice versa? Was the liquor
consumed at the iron works, or at Newcomb? Does it follow, because its records are silent
on the subject, that the Tahawus Club consumed any less liquor per annum, per stirpes, per
capita, or per pocula, than the other persons or corporations involved? Finally, is any useful
purpose to be subserved by pursuing this inquiry further?
Concerning tuyeres, 1847
Few of the members of the Purchase Inc. know what these articles are, but most of
them have in their cottages several pairs which are used as andirons. They came from the
old furnace and were part of its ventilating apparatus. Any member of the Purchase Inc.,
whose conscience may trouble him, is hereby advised that the tuyères were purchased in
1847 by the Iron Company from the Crown Point Iron Company and cost $3 each.
Wedding bells at Upper Works, 1848
There is something in the atmosphere and romantic surroundings of Tahawus that is
conducive to hymeneal activity, and this has been so, apparently, from the earliest days. I
recall one engagement that was announced at the De Forest open camp on Lake Sanford,
and three or four others, addresses not given. At least a dozen newlyweds have come to
Tahawus for their honeymoon within my recollection.
Richard Henry Dana, visiting the Upper Works in 1849, speaks of the agent (Porteous)
as being a justice of the peace who “had actually married a couple.” That he had no
monopoly of the business appears from the following certificate:
State of New York
County of Essex
Town of Newcomb
I Daniel Bissell a justice of the peace of the said County do hereby certify that a
Marriage was by me Solemnized in due form of Law between Oliver Harvey and Cordelia
Leaves at Adirondac in Said County and town on the 15th day of October 1848.
Newcomb Oct. 15th 1848
Daniel Bissell Justice of Peace.
The foregoing disjecta membra may perhaps be regarded as “below the level of
history.” But they are more than counteracted by an admirable letter written in 1852 by a
bright young man who spent a long cold winter at the Upper Works. So far as known it has
never before been printed except in “The Story of Adirondac,” which is out of print and,
therefore, not generally accessible.118 It gives a more graphic picture of life at the Upper
Works than any other document that has come down to us, and is especially valuable
because of its account of the fauna and flora of the region.
LM: The letter which appears here is also included, in its entirety, in “The Story of Adirondac” (ADV 106-110).
TAHAWUS CLUB, 1898-1933 171
The writer was Robert Clarke of Cincinnati, a young relative of David Henderson, who
succeeded Andrew Porteous as superintendent of the works in 1852.
Adirondac Iron Works
Essex Co., New York
March 15, 1852
To the Members of
The Western Academy of Natl. Sciences,
This is Monday evening and many a Monday evening do I think of you and wish I
could spend it among you, but my lot is cast for a time here in this wilderness of woods
and snows and I must abide contentedly in the hope of “a good time coming.”
If I cannot be with you bodily, however, thanks to Rowland Hill, I can send my
representative in the shape of these few lines, which I trust will not be unwelcome to my
old Academician friends, even if they are not very scientific.
A life in the backwoods is just like a life anywhere else “all over in spots”; has its
advantages and its disadvantages; its merry times and its gloomy times; its summers and
its winters. The greatest advantage here, however, is the climate, which is extremely
healthy, owing, in part, to our altitude; the Village stands in a little north-and-south valley
in the Adirondac Mountains at an elevation of 1750 feet above tide water.
Summer is here a delightful season, mild and pleasant. The thermometer is seldom
higher than 80° and very rarely above 90°. In July and August, the warmest months, there
are but few mornings and evenings in which a fire is at all uncomfortable; and we can
never “camp out” in the woods without a big fire at our feet, which is kept up all night. On
the other hand, the winters are very severe, but the air is dry, bracing and healthy, with no
damp, chilly weather. I see by my Cincinnati papers and letters — most welcome
messengers to me — that the winter has been unusually severe with you, as almost
everywhere else. But your winter, with all your freezing descriptions of it, we would laugh
at, and wish you here for a week to see you hop about in furs, moccasins and snow
The only difference I can notice between this and last winter, is in its length. It
commenced a couple of weeks earlier than usual and is likely to last a little longer. The
first sleighing was on the 8th Novr. Since then we have not seen the ground, except
where uncovered by drifting of the snow, and we don’t expect to see it until about the 8th
of April, thus we will have had about one hundred and fifty days of uninterrupted
sleighing. The sleighing lasted until 5th of May; thus we only lacked five days of having
six months of uninterrupted sleighing. The actual amount of snow that has fallen this
winter I cannot tell, but it has kept at an average depth of four feet nearly all winter. At
times it would be reduced by thaws, to a foot or so, but it was immediately piled up again
by fresh storms. The snow is dry and mealy, and we cannot walk off the beaten track
except on snow shoes, on which we do all our hunting and strolling.
The thermometer has been down to 32° below zero this winter, and I have seen weeks
together that it would average below 16 below zero.
The winter of 49/50 was a much colder winter than this one; the mercury froze and for
a week it was colder than it was ever known here, even by that ancient individual “the
oldest inhabitant.” That was what the folks here would call “quite a spell of weather,”
which expression is applied equally to hot or cold weather provided it keeps the same for
We have plenty of fishing here. Our trout, pickerel and perch furnish fine sport for the
followers of old Isaak Walton. The trout fishing is not as good as formerly, but still a mess
can be caught almost any day in most of our streams and lakes. There are two kinds, the
Lake trout (Salmo confinis: DeKay) and the Brook or Spotted trout (Salmo fontinalis:
DeKay); the former inhabiting the larger lakes and the latter the smaller lakes, ponds and
172 ANNALS OF THE DESERTED VILLAGE
Lake Henderson, half a mile above the village, and Lake Sandford, the same distance
below, were once swarming with lake trout, but their spawning beds were destroyed by
the construction of dams for the Works, which raised the waters of each of them some six
or eight feet above the original level, and I doubt very much if they ever form new
spawning beds after their old ones have been destroyed. In Lake Henderson there were
only three caught last year. They were about the same size and weighed twenty-one
pounds. This winter there has been seven caught in Lake Sandford through the ice, an
unusual number. They were all large; the heaviest weighed thirteen and a half pounds,
and the total weight of the seven was seventy-three pounds. They are indeed a delicious
fish, firm fleshed and finely flavored, though I don’t think they are equal to the brook or
spotted trout. These little beauties give great sport, especially when fished for with the
artificial fly. But they are very capricious in their tastes; sometimes you can tickle their
fancy with a worm, when they wouldn’t look at the most “killing” flies; and then again they
will, at times, “rise” to the merest piece of feather when a good, fat, well conditioned worm
wouldn’t move them. Their average in weight is under half a pound but they vary very
much, and always in proportion with the size of the pond or stream. The largest I ever
saw weighed three pounds.
The pickerel came originally from Lake Champlain. They were taken thence to
Schroon Lake, and doing well there, five years ago there were eighteen brought in here
from the latter lake and put into Lake Sandford. They increase very rapidly and grow very
large. To see the Lake Champlain pickerel and those caught in Lake Sandford now,
together, you would scarcely suppose them to be the same fish, so great has been the
change produced on them by the purity of the water and probably the abundance of food.
Ours are not so long, lean and soft, but are shorter, thicker, firmer in flesh and more
delicate in flavor. They are an excellent “game” fish in summer and require no little tact to
capture them. In winter, through the ice, they act quite differently and are more easily
caught. There have been upwards of five hundred caught this winter, which would
average from four to five pounds each. A yearling weighs from two to four pounds and the
oldest in the lake, four years, being the product of the first year’s spawn, weigh from
twelve to fifteen pounds.
Perch are also plenty and give good sport, though sometimes I have caught them so
fast that there was no fun in it. One afternoon I went down to Lake Sandford with my aunt,
cousin and a friend, bent on a pickerel, and perchance a few perch by way of a change. It
was in August last and the water drawn down to its original level. We no sooner fastened
our boat to a stake than we were surrounded by such a swarm of perch as I never saw
before. It was needless putting out our pickerel hooks, so we rigged for perch and caught
them just as fast as we could throw in our hooks and haul them out, until we were
perfectly sick of it. We unhitched and rowed off fifty yards or so, threw in our pickerel lines
and each of us had a bite immediately. The others pulled up and nothing but perch
appeared again. I knew mine was not a perch, by the way he acted, and expected to
surprise them with an awkward young pickerel which had got hold of a hook for the first
time. So, laughing at their perch, I pulled up my line and lo! I had what was ten times
worse, a big bull-pout or catfish, with its infernal “squeak, squeak.” I would rather have
had a snake on. We gave it up, pulled for home and reached the landing just one hour
from the time we left, and had caught three hundred perch, just as much as two of us
could waddle under, placed in strings across two oars. Besides these, bull-pouts are
plenty enough for those who want them. Stickers in the spring come up the river from
Lake Sandford to the foot of the dam in myriads, and can be speared or scooped out with
a net, or even a shovel, in any quantity. When they first come up they are tolerable eating,
but they soon get soft and then are not good for anything. Then, we have the minnon,
horned chub, dace, punkin seed and other small fish. Eels have also been caught, but
none since I came here.
There is a curious fact connected with fish, which is generally doubted, even by
scientific men. I refer to their resuscitation after having been frozen. Our winters are so
TAHAWUS CLUB, 1898-1933 173
severe and fishing through the ice such a common employment, that we have unusual
facilities in observing this phenomenon. I may here give you the substance of a letter I
wrote to the Editor of the “Scientific American” (in answer to an enquiry on this subject)
which was published in the number of that paper for the 21st of February, as it will
illustrate this point as well as anything else I can write.
I have witnessed it repeatedly in the trout, pickerel and perch and have no doubt but
that all other fresh water fish are affected in the same way. It is not every frozen fish,
however, that will revive on being thawed out but only those that have been frozen under
certain circumstances. If, for instance, after having been frozen, as I have described, is
known to every one here who is in the habit of fishing in winter and cannot escape notice
as the weather is cold enough almost all the time to freeze them and they have to be
thawed out before they can be cleaned.
I have heard some say that they have taken trout when frozen and whittled their fins
and tail off, and on being thawed, found them alive, but I have never tried this nor any
other experiment with them and would not vouch for its truth.
Before leaving the water, I must mention our fresh water shells. I have often looked for
them but never found any till last fall when on a little island in Lake Sandford. I obtained
two species, the Unio purpureus and the Anadonta undulata. The shells are very thin, so
different from the shells of the Ohio, showing the absence of lime in the water. This Lake
is, no doubt, the highest water in the United States in which shells are found. It is 1714
feet above tide water.
I have never found any fresh water uni-valves.
Of the Helices I have found six, viz: Helix Alternata; H. Hirsuta; H. Interna; H. Arborea;
H. Thyroides. The other is a small one, one-twelfth of an inch in diameter and the same in
height, being very much elevated; it has no formed lip and the umbilicus is closed. I don’t
know what it is.
I think there are more here but the moss is so thick in the woods that it is difficult
finding them. I have seen the remains of the H. Albolabris where fire has run over part of
the woods, but have never found a live specimen.
There is grand scope here too for the hunter and trapper. Deer are very plenty, and in
the season we are kept pretty well supplied with fresh venison.
“Once upon a time” moose were not very scarce about these “diggins,” but now they
are. Though, two were killed a few days ago, by two parties, out in different directions. I
never saw one but they are described as most frightful looking beasts, especially when
attacked and kept at bay by the dogs.
One of those caught, a bull, stood six feet eight inches, or twenty hands, high. Their
color at this season is greyish black, though this one was almost black and his skin will
make a beautiful sleigh robe. We feasted on his nose the other day which is considered a
great delicacy by epicures, but I beg to be excused. I would rather have a piece of his
ham any day.
His meat is coarse grained, like beef, and has a wilder taste than venison. But it shows
its good qualities best in the dried state. I have the skull of the other one, an old cow, and
will clean it and put it among my crania.
There was a party of Indians came in here, with their families, about eight winters ago
and camped near the Boreas pond in the principle “yard” of the moose; killed all they
could find and scared off the rest, which accounts in part for the scarcity. There is one
trait of this singular animal which shows that he has a little foresight. Whenever there
comes a thaw, they will tramp roads for miles wherever the balsam and mountain ash, on
which they browse, are thickest. Thus in a few days’ thaw they can make themselves
quite a large “yard,” in which they can walk at their leisure when the deep snows come,
when otherwise they would find it almost impossible to move at all.
There used to be panthers here and if all stories we hear of them are true, we have
them around us yet. A bear or two are killed every fall. There are wolves, wolverine or
lynx foxes, black cat, otter, sable, mink and some smaller animals. The beaver too were
174 ANNALS OF THE DESERTED VILLAGE
once here and has left a few of his dams across some of the small brooks, but he is gone
I might continue and tell you of our birds. The eagle among the precipices, hawks,
owls, jays, partridges, robins, snowbirds and the tame and pretty little crossbill who will
pick crumbs from your very feet and enlivens every second winter with its cheerful chirp.
And also the red-headed and black ducks, the loon or northern diver, snipe and dippers in
abundance, with once in a while a great heron stalking in majesty in the shallow waters,
but my few lines have been multiplied too often now and I fear I am tiring your patience.
But before I close I must mention a curious botanical fact noticed elsewhere as well as
In the woods, where there is not the least vestige of a cherry tree or raspberry bush, if
the wood be cut and carried off and then the land let go to waste, it will immediately
spring up with the wild cherry. But if the timber is logged and the brush and heaps burned
on the land and then let go to waste, in a season it will be covered with raspberry bushes.
The fruit is very fine and they cover all old deserted land that has been burned. The
cherries are sour and small, but the trees are good for grafting on. The seeds of these
have no doubt been latent in the soil for years, perhaps centuries, and only required the
heat of the sun to develop them. They are probably remains of a former forest which
stood on this same land and the seeds have probably laid deep in the soil for more than a
thousand years, but why would they not rot? Would not water cause them to rot? It is true
seed have been taken from an Egyptian mummy after being encased for upwards of two
thousand years and then take root and reproduce, but in that case they were perfectly
I have given you a long screed on almost everything, and have no doubt you are
heartily tired of it. I hope however, it will give you a small idea of my whereabouts and of
the company with whom I enjoy myself here in my backwoods home.
I shall be happy to hear from any of you personally, and will always be glad to hear of
the welfare of the Academy at whose meetings I have spent many a pleasant Monday
evening and I trust, not unprofitably.
I remain, gentlemen,
Ever truly yours,
(Sd) ROBT CLARKE.
TAHAWUS CLUB, 1898-1933 175
Lower Works in the 1890s
Showing the old well
Buildings at Lower Works
In 1853 negotiations were opened for the sale of the entire property to Benjamin C.
Butler and associates of Luzerne. They made an initial payment but the transaction was
never closed. A prospectus issued by the syndicate in 1854 recited the fact that a new blast
furnace had just been completed and put in operation on August 20, 1854. The buildings at
the Lower Works were described as follows:
1 Warehouse for Merchandise; Iron Warehouse; 1 Blacksmith Shop; 1 Saw Mill; 1 Large
Boarding House with large Barn and Sheds; 3 Dwelling Houses for Workmen; 1
Schoolhouse; 1 Lime Kiln.
The dam was stated to have cost $19,000.
Very little is known of the last year of the company. In August 1856,119 unusual floods
occurred which carried away not only the upper dam at Upper Works but the long dam and
saw mills at Tahawus. Of all the structures not a vestige remained excepting a few
fragments of the dam and the foundations of one of the buildings near the lower Club
house. Mr. McIntyre lived until May 1858, but he had been for several years incapacitated
for active business. The death of Mr. Robertson later in the same year left the enterprise
without any responsible head. The financial panic of 1857, following the destruction of the
plant, made any reorganization out of the question. The ownership was vested in numerous
heirs no one of whom was in a position to assume control. They accordingly united in
placing the property in the hands of Mr. James R. Thompson, a nephew of Mr. Henderson,
as trustee. He administered it as trustee until his death in 1887. The guardian in charge was
Robert Hunter, father of David Hunter, who had been employed as a brick maker when the
works were in operation. He occupied for a number of years the double house hereafter
referred to as Cocktail Hall.120 He was hired, says John Burroughs, the naturalist who
visited the property in 1863, “at a dollar a day to live here and see that things were not
wantonly destroyed, but allowed to go to decay properly and decently.”121
LM: Per Seely, October 1857.
LM: Now known as the MacNaughton Cottage.
“Wake Robin,” 2nd Edition, 1891, page 102. [TDV 203]
Club superintendents (AHM’s original photos)
TOP: Myron Buttles (L), David Hunter (R), in the 1880s and ’90s
BOTTOM: David Hunter (L), Michael Breen with David Hunter II (R), after 1897
Preston Ponds Club
For some years after the closing of the works the property remained idle excepting for
occasional lumbering operations in the course of which practically all the pine timber, of
which there was a considerable amount, was marketed. Mr. Thompson was in the habit of
visiting the property at least once a year, sometimes more frequently, and other members of
his family and their friends went up occasionally for the fishing and shooting.
In February 1876, he and a few associates organized the “Preston Ponds Club,” having
for its objects “the protection, increase and capture of fish and game in and about the
Preston Ponds in the County of Essex, and the promotion of social intercourse among its
members.” Mr. Alfred Donaldson, a most accurate historian, says that this was the first
organization formed in the Adirondacks for sporting purposes (“History of the
Adirondacks,” Vol. II, p. 159).122
Its first meeting was held on February 17, 1876, at the office of Francis H. Weeks, a
New York lawyer, at 120 Broadway. There were present, besides Mr. Weeks, Messrs.
James R. Thompson, Thomas J. Hall, George W. Folsom, William E. Pearson and Charles
F. Imbrie. A constitution and by-laws were adopted and Mr. Thompson was elected
president, and Mr. Pearson secretary and treasurer of the Club.
Under this constitution the membership was limited to twenty-five and the annual dues
were fixed at twenty dollars. The regular meetings of the Club were fixed for the first
Tuesdays in March, June and November. The only other business transacted at this meeting
was the adoption of a resolution authorizing the Club officials to execute a lease to the
Club from James R. Thompson, agent of the Adirondac Iron & Steel Co., covering the
Preston Ponds, for the term of two years from March 1, 1876, at the rate of one dollar per
At a meeting of the Executive Committee held on March 1, 1876,
the business before the meeting was to make arrangements with Mr. John Moore of
Adirondac Village, who was present, for placing the Preston Ponds under his care and
supervision and attending to their proper protection. After considerable conversation it
was agreed that Mr. Moore’s compensation should be $100 for his services from the
present time to 1st July next.
There are several indications that the organization of the Club was, for some
undisclosed reason, of a temporary character. Accordingly we find that at the quarterly
meeting of November 8, 1876, the question of whether Mr. Moore would be continued as
guardian of the Ponds for the ensuing year was laid on the table, and the subject of
procuring the whole of the Adirondac Company’s property was considered. At the next
meeting, January 23, 1877, the Executive Committee reported that it was both practicable
and desirable to preserve the whole property, and it was decided to examine and report
what alterations and amendments in the constitution and by-laws would be necessary.
LM: Other historians had less favorable opinions of Donaldson; see, for instance, pages 91-95 of Mary
MacKenzie’s “More from the Plains of Abraham” (http://stores.lulu.com/MaryMacKenzie).
These changes were approved with a few minor alterations and amendments and the
proposed change of name to Adirondack Club was also approved, at a meeting of the
Executive Committee held on February 7, 1877.
At the annual meeting of the Club held on March 6, 1877, the Executive Committee
was authorized to execute a lease of the whole of the Adirondac Company’s property for
twenty years at the rental of $100 per annum and taxes. The change of name to Adirondack
Club was authorized and provision was made for twenty members and thirty associate
members. The initiation fee was fixed at $50 and the annual dues were a like amount. At a
meeting held two days later, Myron Buttles was engaged as head keeper and David Hunter
as assistant keeper at an annual aggregate salary of $800, of which it subsequently appeared
that Buttles received $500 and Hunter $300. The pay for guides was fixed at $2 per day and
the price of board at $1 a day. The sum of $150 was appropriated for repairs on the Club
house at the Upper Works and it was provided that no part of said amount should be
expended for any labor or time given by either of the keepers. It was resolved that the Club
would lease to acceptable parties, for the term of five years, the farming land with the
houses and barns thereon situated at the Lower Works, together with the farming land
situated at Newcomb Farm, at a rental of $400 per annum. This iridescent dream never
materialized. The secretary was instructed to notify Mr. Buttles to put up immediately a
necessary hatching trough for the hatching of fish, the same to be located in the kitchen of
the boarding house, as the club house at the Upper Works was then called, and a chimney
was to be constructed for that building. This was the chimney in what has for many years
been called the club room, on the north side of the house.
The secretary was to notify John Moore that his services would no longer be required,
and Buttles was instructed to take possession of the property of the Club and of the old
Preston Ponds Club now in possession of Moore, “our late keeper.” Included in this
property was a neat volume of 140 pages stamped in gilt “Minutes Preston Ponds Club”
which came into my possession from that of the Adirondack Club’s last secretary, the late
Robert H. Robertson. Thus was inaugurated, in the spring of 1877, the reign of the Buttles
dynasty, which was destined to have charge of the property until Buttles’ death about
twenty years later. He was an entertaining personage, with a pleasing sense of humor and
an endless supply of anecdotes, some of which were more appropriate for a sportsman’s
club than for a family resort. He was the keenest of sportsmen and always ready to act as
guide, no matter how urgent his duties as an executive might appear. In this regard he
followed the custom indigenous to the soil, “Pleasure first, business afterwards,” and the
record shows that the hatching trough and chimney, which in April were to be constructed
“immediately,” were in October 1877, ordered by the Executive Committee to be built “at
once.” But on the whole he made a fairly good superintendent. He certainly contributed to
the gaiety of the Club members, and it is to be regretted that to the present generation he
can be no more than a tradition. I doubt if there are any of the Adirondack Club members
now surviving who knew him, excepting Mr. John T. Terry and myself. More will be heard
of Buttles later.
At the opening of the season of 1878 the new Club was in full swing. The Executive
Committee, at the annual meeting held March 5, presented its report which, though
somewhat discursive, not to say prolix, is of such importance historically that it deserves
printing in full.
180 ANNALS OF THE DESERTED VILLAGE
Your committee would report that during the past year their efforts to preserve the
fishing and hunting upon the tract leased by the club have been attended with fair
success and that no actual cases of poaching have come to their knowledge, although it
is probable that some fish have been taken, and some deer killed by poachers in spite of
the efforts of the keepers employed by the club to prevent such acts.
Both Buttles and Hunter have thus far proved themselves in every respect satisfactory,
and the club is to be congratulated in having obtained the services at the onset of two
such men, who have shown themselves singularly reliable and energetic in the
performance of their duties.
The Club house has been much better kept than under the administration of Mr.
Moore, and those of the Club who have had an opportunity to make the comparison, will
probably agree that the table and general appointments show a very marked
improvement over their former conditions.
The old barns immediately in front of the house, which were always an eyesore as well
as dangerous, have been removed, and it is proposed this spring to level off the space
formerly occupied by them and seed it down with grass, thus adding very much to the out
look from the house. The brick barn some hundred feet south east of the house is in good
condition, and will answer all the purposes of the present establishment. The Club house
itself has been put in thorough good condition during the past season, painted and
renovated throughout, and the piazza enlarged and it is proposed before the opening of
the sporting season, to place a chimney on the south side of the house, giving a large
open fire place in the sitting room on that side, which will add greatly both to the comfort
and cheerfulness of the house.
The long room in the rear in which the water tank has stood has been sealed with
boards and has been turned into a hatching house for trout spawn, with the necessary
troughs &c. for 100,000 fry. This has been completed under the supervision of one of the
men from Seth Green’s Establishment and 10,000 land locked salmon and 40,000
speckled trout have been hatched there, during the winter. It is probable however that it
will be necessary to introduce water from the river, or from some other spring, than the
present source of supply, as the fry have not done well, but have died in large quantities,
owing it is supposed to the large amount of Iron or other mineral substances held in
solution by the water. It was found last summer that fish caught in the river or Lake
Henderson and placed in the large tank on the north side of the house fed from this same
spring although in a perfectly healthy condition when placed there, in the course of a few
days invariably languished and died, Bull pouts being apparently the only fish that
survived the change of water. It would not be very expensive to make this change, as the
water could be brought down through wooden pipes from the river in the neighborhood of
the old furnace at small outlay. It would also be desirable to make a small pond on the
other side of the river near the old dam for the purpose of receiving the fry when too large
for the troughs. When taken directly from the troughs and placed in the lakes they are
very apt to be devoured by the larger fish, and but a small proportion of them arrive at
maturity. The idea of transferring to this proposed pond, would be that they could be
taken care of there, until they attained some size, say two or three inches, and could then
be placed in any of the lakes with comparatively little risk. There is a natural basin at the
spot referred to, which could be very easily utilized. In April 1877 about 13,000 California
Salmon were placed in Lake Henderson, and in July last one was taken in a net in the
river opposite the house about four inches in length; this is the only one that was seen
after June. Whether they went down stream or are still in the lake it is a matter of
The lake itself is singularly well adapted for the land locked salmon as the water in
places is very deep and the streams flowing into it are of considerable size, giving them
opportunities to make their spawning beds. This spring 40,000 Lake trout have been put
in the same lake and it is proposed to put the brook trout fry now hatching, into Lake
Harkness an affluent of Lake Henderson, in which it is supposed there are now no fish
TAHAWUS CLUB, 1898-1933 181
whatever. The land locked salmon will be put into the lower still waters of the streams
flowing into Lake Henderson.
Comparatively few fish were taken from the Preston Ponds last year, owing to the
smaller number of parties there and it is estimated by Mr. Buttles that not over 500 lbs.
were taken during the entire season; this estimate is probably under rather than over the
mark, but if it is at all accurate the fishing this year should show a marked improvement.
The average quantity taken out annually before the effort to preserve the ponds was
made was probably over 2,000 lbs. and the rest which the ponds had last year should be
evident this season in the increased size of the fish. It will be desirable however for some
years to fish these waters moderately, as it is not considered wise to run the risk of
deteriorating the present variety of fish by restocking from other sources, and the ponds
must therefore he allowed to replenish from their natural supply. Black Bass have also
been introduced into Lake Sanford, although as yet in small quantities. This summer it is
the intention of your committee to obtain from Schroon Lake a large quantity of this fish
and place them in Lake Sanford, where it is to be hoped that they will do well, and
ultimately drive out the pickerel. Lake Andrew, Trout pond, Lake Colden and the Beaver
brook should all be restocked with speckled trout, but this year the club have not the
means at their disposal to accomplish this. Perch pond now abounds in pickerel, one of
the members having caught 11 there in one afternoon last August that weighed 85 lbs.
During the summer there was comparatively little hunting done in fact none that has
come to the knowledge of the committee prior to the month of September. During that
month, two deer were shot in the woods but none in the water and from information
derived from Mr. Buttles it would seem that during the fall and early winter a good many
deer had been driven into the tract from other parts of the woods where the hunting was
carried on in a more reckless manner. The great difficulty in preserving the deer is not in
the summer, but during the months of December and January when they are still-hunted
or later even when they are in yards, and it has been of course exceedingly hard to cover
as much ground as is embraced in our tract and to see that no poaching was done with
the small force of keepers at our disposal. All that can be said is that probably not more
than 10% to 15% as many deer were killed on the club tract during the past year as in the
year preceding. In the direction of Newcomb lake and Moose pond it is probable that a
good many have been killed, but on the East river and back of Lake Henderson and the
Preston ponds it is thought that almost none have been taken and in that neighborhood
they were quite abundant in November and December.
In addition to the efforts that have been made to preserve the game and fish now in
the tract, a few members of the club have at their own expense procured a Cow Moose
from Nova Scotia and forwarded it to the upper works, and have also purchased a bull
moose which is expected to arrive very shortly and will be at once sent up to join the
These woods within the memory of the present generation have abounded in Moose,
John Cheney alone having killed about 20, almost all of them on this tract, and there is no
reason why with proper care they should not in time be as abundant as ever. There are
probably no wild ones left in the State of New York at the present time, but if a proper
supply from which to breed can be obtained and all hunting prevented for a term of years,
there is little doubt but that the natural increase would again populate the woods, so as to
afford excellent sport. The idea was first suggested by Mr. Stuyvesant and it is to his
liberality that the club is indebted for the Cow which is now at the Upper Works. It is not
proposed to turn these moose into the woods at present, but to retain them in an
enclosure and to breed from them and ultimately as the supply increases to turn a portion
at large every year. The cost of procuring these two moose delivered at Adirondack will
be about $400, all of which has been raised by individual members of the club, and has
not been in any way a charge upon the Treasury.
The committee however consider that the benefit to be derived to the club from this
attempt to introduce a new species of Game into the state is sufficient to warrant them in
182 ANNALS OF THE DESERTED VILLAGE
recommending the club to make an appropriation from the Treasury for the purpose of
realizing as large results as possible. An effort such as this is an indirect benefit aside
from its direct advantages to the club in as much as it creates a feeling amongst the
people of that part of the country, that the club is doing something more than merely
trying to get the exclusive control of a certain tract, with a view to keeping every one else
out, and preserving all the fish and game for the sole use and benefit of its members, and
that the club is not an enemy of all the people there who depend largely upon the streams
and woods about them for their means of subsistance [sic]. It is of course impossible to
restrict the Game to our own tract entirely and in restocking, that we restock the whole
vicinity, and the people there are beginning to realize the fact that a club of this kind
liberally conducted is as much an advantage to them as to its members and every attempt
on our part to increase the game in the woods renders them more inclined to co-operate
with the club in its endeavor to preserve their own tract and thereby renders our task so
much the easier. The introduction of Moose has done much to propititate [sic] the feeling
of the guides and hunters in our favor and to secure their co-operation in the purposes of
Your committee therefore recommend that they be authorized to make a sufficient
appropriation to defray the expense of enclosing with a suitable fence from 50 to 100
acres of land in a convenient locality for the purpose of keeping the moose already
obtained and such others as may hereafter be purchased or raised and also to purchase
from time to time such additional moose as may be offered to them, provided that in the
judgment of the committee such purchases can at the time be made without interfering
with the ability of the club to carry on its general work. A bill has been submitted to the
Legislature of this state in the interests of the club, for the preservation of Moose making
it a misdemeanor to kill or chase them at any season of the year and adding a penalty of
The brick barn southeast of the Club House, referred to in the foregoing, remained
standing until 1901. It was located a little to the west of the cottage now (1935) occupied
by Mr. E. Farrar Bateson. The spring that fed the water tank in the Club House is located
on the ridge several hundred feet to the west of the building now (1935) known as the
Annex. Water from it was stored in a brick reservoir on the ridge (still standing) and was
conveyed in lead pipes down to the Club House.
At a meeting of the Club held on May 19, 1878, it was resolved,
that Mr. Buttles shall at once have certain grounds as selected in the rear of the club
house enclosed by a proper fence to be not less than 9 feet in height for the safe keeping
of the Moose, and that the cost for enclosing same, shall not exceed the sum of One
Hundred & twenty five dollars, $125. and that the same shall be paid by the Treasurer
from the funds of the club.
This fence was constructed, and vestiges of it may still be seen on the ridge back of
Furnace Bay. The attempt to breed the moose was unsuccessful, however. They lived but a
At the same meeting permission was granted to Mr. William Loring Andrews to build
at the Upper Works a house for his own exclusive use. He was not long a member and
never acted on this permission. Mr. Francis H. Weeks was authorized to repair the house
“now called the Hunter House”123 for his own exclusive use. This house was the first
LM: The MacNaughton Cottage.
TAHAWUS CLUB, 1898-1933 183
dwelling of importance to be erected in the village, and before Robert Hunter’s tenancy had
been used by the original proprietors for their own occupancy. For some years it was
occupied jointly by Mr. Weeks and his business associate, Mr. Robert W. deForest. Later,
upon the organization of the Tahawus Club, the premises were excepted from its lease and
were taken over for his own use by James MacNaughton, who succeeded James R.
Thompson on the latter’s death in 1887, as agent for the owners. Mr. MacNaughton shared
the premises (which were christened Cocktail Hall by the Jennings) with my family, and
we lived there in great amity for several years, until 1905, when feeling the need of more
space I built the first “Gabbro” on the ridge below the gate.
After Mr. MacNaughton’s death, Cocktail Hall was occupied by Robert H. Robertson,
his successor as president of MacIntyre Iron Company, until his death in 1919.
And this seems an appropriate place, throwing chronology to the winds, to say a few
more words regarding
Club house, cottages and camp124
The first cottage for private occupation was built by Alexander Taylor Jr., at the head
of the street on the west side, in 188–. It was occupied later by Robert Bonner, and now
(1934) by John T. Terry Jr. Its annex, “Lipstick Lodge,” was built in 1933.
Mr. Taylor, after selling to Mr. Bonner, built another cottage on the east side of the
street, called “Lazy Lodge,” now (1935) and for some years previously occupied by Mr.
W.R.K. Taylor. A studio adjoining this cottage on the north was built for the use of
Alexander Taylor’s daughter. Later it was demolished to make room for another cottage
built by Mr. W.R.K. Taylor Jr. in 1932.
The cottage now (1935) occupied by Dr. Savage was originally built for the late Dr.
Walter B. James. It was never occupied by him, but was sold to Mr. John T. Terry, who
held it for some years. Between the site of this cottage and the street, there stood as late as
1883 the store house of the Iron & Steel Company.
The cottage to the south of the Club House and north of the gate was built by Dr.
George E. Brewer near the site of the old schoolhouse (about 1900), and is now occupied
by Mr. T.R. Williams. Mr. E. Farrar Bateson’s cottage on the opposite side of the street,
like Mr. W.R.K. Taylor’s new cottage before referred to, and Lipstick Lodge, is what our
British friends would call a “recent creation.”
The Debevoise cottage to the east of the street and near the river was built by George
L. Nichols in 1900 and later sold to judge Samuel H. Ordway, who occupied it until its sale
in 1922 to Mr. Debevoise.
The Lockwood cottage, adjoining the Crocker premises already described, was built by
Gordon Abbott, and later occupied by Acosta Nichols and by Marshall Geer.
The cottage recently occupied successively by Walter D. Edmonds, Thomas Williams
and Douw Ferris was built by E. Holloway Coe.
The cottage on the east side of the river, now owned by Bayard Rives, was built by
Walter Jennings in — , and was for some seasons after Mr. Jennings resigned from the
Club, occupied by Marshall Geer.
LM: Also see Haynes, ADV 464-553.
184 ANNALS OF THE DESERTED VILLAGE
My cottage, known as “Gabbro,” on the hill west of the barn, was built in 1905,
destroyed by fire in 1926, and rebuilt in the following year.
The so-called Foote Cottage on the east side of Lake Sanford was built in 1907 by
MacIntyre Iron Company for the use of its officials. It was used for some years by Mr.
George C. Foote and was for one season rented by Marshall Geer. Its latest tenant (1933)
was Major McLean, U.S.A.
The cottages of Messrs. Seeley and Jessup, built on Lake Sanford by special
dispensation, were completed in 1933. The Preston Ponds camps are elsewhere referred to.
A camp was built at Lake Colden by Mr. Alexander Taylor Jr., shortly after the
organization of the Tahawus Club, which he later sold to the Club. It was used as an annex
to a more commodious camp built by the Club which was situated to the rear and farther
from the lake shore. It is still in use.
Open camps were built at lakes Harkness and Andrew in the earliest days of the Club.
Mr. Holloway Coe built the closed camp at Harkness in the ’90s, and built the road along
which the trail now (1935) runs. The first Andrew camp was situated on the opposite side
of the lake from the boat landing and was permitted to go to ruin, being altogether too
convenient for the use of poachers coming in from Newcomb by way of the Pruyn
preserve. The new camp on Andrew is of quite recent construction. A large camp was built
by Robert W. deForest on Bear Island in the early ’80s, near the site of the day camp now
Edward M. Field, a son of Cyrus W. Field, joined the Club in 1883 and built a camp on
the east side of Lake Sanford, on the brook that empties into the lake just below the mines.
This and the Robert deForest camp were quite elaborate, each having spacious sleeping and
dining shanties, kitchens, and separate quarters for the guides. The day camp now in use on
the north side of the island was constructed during the administration of Walter Jennings,
who selected the site because of its beautiful view, and made it a favorite resort. Camps on
Lake Henderson have never been permitted, although much desired.
The premises now owned by Mrs. Masten on the road to Schroon about half a mile
east of the Lower Works, were given to John Cheney, “the mighty hunter,” by the original
proprietors in 1849. The lumber used in its construction was furnished by the company’s
saw mill. After the Adirondack Club was formed, Mr. Lanman Bull, one of its early
members, bought the property, made extensive alterations in the house (which was
christened Sunset Lodge), and erected another building on the hill in its rear for the use of
his bachelor guests and guides. The Bulls entertained large house parties and were frequent
visitors at the Upper Works in the ’80s. The property came into my ownership in the ’90s
and after further alterations took the name of Sunset Farm, which it still bears.125
See “Story of Adirondac,” page 157 [ADV 135].
TAHAWUS CLUB, 1898-1933 185
The Adirondack Club Register, now belonging to the MacIntyre Iron Company, was
opened on May 12, 1878, Francis H. Weeks making the first entry. He left for home a week
later, having killed at Preston Ponds, as appeared from his marginal entry, 208 trout,
average weight one-half pound. John B. Hawes, who registered as of July 11, took 53 trout
at Preston, average one-half pound, and 13 at Lake Colden, average one pound, and also
five lake trout at Lake Henderson. There are several entries showing the taking of “R.T.S.”
trout, whatever form of New Deal those letters may signify. Suffice it that they weighed on
the average one and one-half pounds, and are unknown today.
In 1879 the Executive Committee presented a report summarized as follows:
During the past year the condition of the Club had improved, about 40,000 Lake trout
had been placed in Lake Henderson and the same number of Brook trout in Lake
Harkness and also about 4000 L.L. Salmon in Lake Henderson.
Just previous to the spawning season some fifty six black bass running from ½ lb. to 2
lbs. had been put in Lake Sanford and they were subsequently seen on the spawning
beds and in August and September large quantities of fry were seen in the shallow water
near the Camp. It is proposed this year to put in a large number of grown fish if possible &
by the summer of 1880 there should be good fishing for Black Bass in Lake Sanford. A
small number were put in during the summer of 1876 which were known to have spawned
Two young moose were sent up in December but unfortunately were poisoned in
some way in January and died.
The original pair are doing well.
The old school house has been moved down to the river and fitted up as a hatching
house and another year it is proposed to strip the fish on the premises, it having been
found difficult this year to procure spawn except at considerable expense.
About 40,000 brook trout will be sent up during the current month and will be kept near
the house until they are of sufficient size to take care of themselves, when they will be
placed in some of the water belonging to the Club.
The “old schoolhouse” stood near the site of the cottage now (1935) occupied by Mr.
Williams. It remained standing on the west bank of the river just below the falls until it was
broken up and carried down stream in the spring freshet of 1914. The cupola or belfry was
grounded on the east side of the river for a year or two before its final disappearance.
The treasurer’s report, presented at this 1879 meeting, states that he had received from
the sale of liquors $292.75, and paid out $344.75, having on hand at the close of the fiscal
year wines and liquors valued at $94.60. This shows a laudable moderation on the part of
members. Indeed they might possibly be criticized for having carried over so much stock to
the ensuing year.
In 1880, it appearing that the Club had $900 in its treasury, the superintendent was
directed at the annual meeting to make “certain additions to and reconstruction of the house
adjoining the Club House (having in view the better accommodations of the Club
members) at a cost not exceeding $400.” He was also instructed to build, at a convenient
point on the river at the head of Lake Sanford, a boat house large enough to hold six boats.
It was ordered also that “a dam be constructed at the mouth of the river of simple and
The following year the building above referred to, now called the Annex, was referred
to as “the new Club House,” and the construction was authorized of “the necessary lockers
for the use of members.” These were installed at the west side of the large hall in the
second story. They were not the club lockers of prohibition days, but might more correctly
be described as small closets. They were designed to hold their owner’s fishing equipment
and save him the trouble of carrying it back and forth from the city. I believe several are
still in existence.
It was decided at the same meeting that no fishing for black bass in Lake Sanford
should be allowed until after the fifteenth of July 1881, nor for trout in Lake Jimmy or
Harkness before the spring of 1882.
The minutes of subsequent meetings of the Adirondack Club and its officers throw
little light upon its activities. Two annual meetings were postponed “until such time as the
Superintendent could be present” and another “until such time as the Executive Committee
might deem wise.” Several resolutions were adopted and reports presented which appear in
the minute book only in the form of a parenthetical “Here take in.” When meetings were
held, the chief business concerned either the election of new members or the acceptance of
resignations. At one time the secretary was instructed to notify all members and associate
members that it was undesirable for the present to elect any further members or associates
to the Club, a condition, I believe, seldom obtaining in the history of the Club or its
The Treasurer’s Report, dated April 4, 1882, and covering also the years 1880 and
1881, is quite instructive.
Jersey City April 4, 1882
To the Adirondack Club
The Treasurer would submit following statement of receipts and disbursements from
March 1, 1881, to 1st of present month —
Balance on hand March 1, 1881...........$483.51
Dues of 18 members $50 ............................900
Dues of 12 associate $50 ............................600
Received from sales
Liquors /80 & /81 ..................................1033.20
Received from sales hay 1880 ....................140
Received from sales hay 1881 ......................20
Received from Pasturage ..............................15
— Expenses —
David Hunter salary to 1 Mar. /81.........$150.00
Macy & Jenkins Liquors &c ....................302.45
Macy & Jenkins Ale &c .............................94.50
Building Materials ................. 1880 .........183.97
Building Materials ................. 1881 .........210.30
Labor- ................................... 1880 .........428.99
Labor- ................................... 1881 .........122.00
Fish Hatching Expenses....... 1880 .........370.35
190 ANNALS OF THE DESERTED VILLAGE
Fish Hatching Expenses....... 1881......... 159.16
Work on Road ...................... 1880......... 328.00
Work on Road ...................... 1881......... 277.75
Taxes-................................... 1880......... 170.90
Taxes -.................................. 1881......... 145.45
Freight .................................. 1880........... 41.62
Freight .................................. 1881............. 2.91
For Boat House at Lake Sanford.............. 32.50
Myron Bottles on a/c................................. 46.00 ............ 3066.85
Balance on hand ............................................................ $124.86
David Hunter 1 Year Salary.................... 300.00
Myron Bottles (Balance) ......................... 354.00 .............. 654.00
which amount will be paid as soon as the Treasurer receives sufficient amount of
dues for present year.
We have paid in 1880 & ’81 for Building Materials ........ $394.27
for Labor ........................................... 550.99
Boat House Sanford ............................. 32.50
For Expenses Fish Hatching 1880 & ’81.......................... 529.51
It is not probable that we shall be obliged to expend much money for either purpose
this season and unless there is a larger outlay than is now anticipated — our receipts, if
the same as last year will very nearly if not quite cover our expenses — all of which is
W M. F. PEARSON, Treas.
Although much less scientific than the neatly typewritten pages now presented
annually by the treasurer of Tahawus Purchase Inc., the foregoing seems to get there just
the same, so far as red ink is concerned.
The purchase for $125 of the camp on Upper Preston Pond built by George W.
Folsom, who had recently resigned, was authorized. This was on the site of the present
camp, of the same general plan, but somewhat smaller in its proportions. It was the first
camp to be owned by the Club, but not the first to be built on Preston Ponds. I remember
very well an elaborate open camp with outbuildings, situated on a ridge to the right of the
narrows as one goes down the lake, also another simple open camp on the brook between
Upper and Lower Ponds.
At the 1884 meeting also a resolution was adopted authorizing the purchase of
Rangeley Lake trout eggs for Lake Harkness at a cost of not to exceed $150. This is the last
entry in the Adirondack Club Minute Book. No books, records or correspondence have
been found covering the period from 1884 to 1898, when the Tahawus Club was organized,
with the exception of the Club Guest Register and a Year Book for 1891.
TAHAWUS CLUB, 1898-1933 191
Some of the old time guides (AHM’s original photos)
TOP (L to R): Ack Thomas, Henry Thilo, Ira Proctor
BOTTOM: Eddie Dimick (L), John Galusha (R)
In August 1888, Messrs. William H. Scranton, a mining engineer, and his assistant,
Sebenius,126 visited the property at the instance of Mr. MacNaughton. They made their
headquarters in the Annex and were an interesting addition to the Club colony. Both were
especially susceptible to black flies and midges, and Sebenius added materially to our
vocabulary of Swedish profanity. It was new to us and can be highly recommended, being
sonorous and reverberating. Mr. Scranton wrote an entertaining letter, now in possession of
Doctor Savage, describing his visit. He stated his conclusion that “it is harder to be a
consistent Christian in the Adirondacks than anywhere else in the world.” He was much
impressed by Buttles, of whom he wrote that “the yarns he spun as we sat around the bright
fires after a hard day’s work were not only marvelous but told in a style that would have
made the fortune of any writer.”
The Year Book showed that Mr. James Weeks was then president, W. Lanman Bull,
vice president, Francis H. Weeks, secretary, and William E. Pearson, treasurer. The
members of the Executive Committee were, in addition to the officers above named,
Messrs. Robert W. deForest, John B. Hawes, Robert L. Livingston, Alexander Taylor Jr.,
and George G. Wheelock. There were forty-five regular members and one associate
member. The price of accommodations to members at the Club House was $1.50 per day or
$10 per week.
The anti-hounding laws cast a gloom over the Club in the late 1890s. No one had much
familiarity with still hunting, and it was not considered reasonably possible to get a deer, or
at all events a buck, without the aid of dogs. The Club owned a small pack of hounds which
were kept in kennels located on the westerly side of the river in the bank between the river
and what is now known as the Debevoise cottage. They howled dismally. They were
sometimes kept also at the Lower Works, the kennels being located in the edge of the
woods. Each hound had a kennel, consisting of a barrel sunk horizontally in the river bank.
He wore a chain on his collar, equipped with large rings made to slide back and forth on a
long stretch of heavy wire.
I have reason to remember these hounds. The first meeting of the Adirondack Club
that I attended was held at the old Delmonico’s on the corner of 26th Street and Fifth
Avenue, the usual business meeting following a good dinner. The treasurer presented his
report, which included an item in Buttles’ account of six hundred odd dollars covering
oatmeal for the hounds for a considerable period. This came unexpectedly and was the last
blow to an already demoralized budget. Recourse was had to the usual first aid for sporting
clubs in financial distress. A bond issue was authorized which was loyally taken up by the
On the morning of the first day of hunting under the new law, the hunters took stations
at the points where they had been accustomed to watch. The guides started through the
LM: Uno Sebemus, a Swedish engineer. Scranton and Sebemus were field testing a new Swedish
magnetometer. A biography of Scranton, written by R.W. Raymond following Scranton’s death in 1889,
appeared in the Transactions of the American Institute of Mining Engineers, pp. 213-218, Vol. XVIII (1890).