Karen Sheckells, the Friends of Herkimer Home and Kyle Jenks welcomed 14 attendees an inaugural cultural tourism event on March 18, and had such a productive session, they have decided to call a follow up meeting. Titled “Maximizing Tourism’s Impact on Total Economic Development”, the event will take place on Wednesday, April 25, 2012 from 5 – 6 pm at Herkimer Home, in Little Falls, NY. They welcome you all to join the growing list of motivated individuals dedicated to fostering, encouraging and facilitating efforts to increase public traffic to historic sites in New York State. Please RSVP to Karen Sheckells at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To commemorate the 235th Anniversary of the Battle of Oriskany in the American War for Independence, the Continental Line and British Brigade Revolutionary War re-enactors, will depict the various New York battles of 1777 on the weekend of August 4 – 5, 2012 at Gelston Castle in Mohawk, NY. Participants can witness the local militia company from Mohawk Valley confronting the King’s Regulars, Loyalist, and Native Americans, in the re-enactment of the “Battle of Oriskany”. The “Battle of Oriskany” is one of a series of event that will be recreated August 4 and 5, 2012 at Gelston Castle, just 15 minutes south of the towns of Herkimer and Mohawk, NY.
“This is a great opportunity to witness our common heritage as Americans” says Mitch Lee, event organizer and Commander of the 1st New York Regiment. “Spectators can arrive on Saturday, August 4 at 10 am to view living history demonstrations and battles from the 1777 New York campaign.” “The site will have 1,500 reenactors and trades people representing the military culture of the American Revolution,” explains Lee. ”There will be lectures, demonstrations and activities though out the weekend and on Saturday night there will the premiere of a pageant play called ‘Drums along the Mohawk’,” added Lee.
This event has been made possible by private funding from many Mohawk Valley businesses and the Safflyn Corporation. Lee points out in a time when historic sites are understaffed and under funded, volunteer units who recreate the American Revolution are still moving forward with plans to commemorate special dates and places in New York history.
For more information visit oriskany235th.org.
In 1936, at a birthday party in the Adirondacks, the honoree claimed he would be married within two years. He passed away six years later, but during that span, he received more than 100 letters and 9 personal visits from female suitors; became engaged; was dumped the day before the wedding; was the guest of honor at several dinners, birthday parties, and parades; regularly mowed his lawn with a scythe; joined a ski club; and received the Purple Heart for war injuries.
Nothing particularly unusual―unless, of course, at that party in 1936, the birthday boy was turning 99 years old. Review those events from that perspective, and now you’ve got something.
Meet Charles Jennette, for a time the most famous man in the Adirondacks. His greatest fame came in his 100th year, when he became engaged to Ella Blanch Manning, a New York City woman who had attended his 99th birthday party several weeks earlier. Days before the wedding, an Albany headline read “100 Called Too Old to Marry; Man Will Take 3d Wife at 99.”
But after a visit with her daughters, and just 24 hours before the wedding, Ella changed her mind. Already a media sensation (and despite being left high and dry), Charles continued with his post-wedding plans of a boat ride and dinner, remaining hopeful of marriage in the near future. After many interviews, he was only too happy to return to an otherwise quiet, humble life.
Jennette was born in Maine in 1837. The family moved to Canada when he was five, and returned to the US when the Civil War began. At Malone, Charles enlisted for three years with Company A, 95th NY Volunteers, but served only nine months. His time was cut short in 1865 when he was wounded in the Battle of Hatcher’s Run (also known as Dabney’s Mills) in Virginia. He was still in the hospital when the war ended.
In 1866, he married Emily Proulx in Ottawa, a union that would endure for 57 years. When the Spanish-American War broke out in 1898, Charles tried to enlist at the age of 61, but was refused. He lived much of his life in the St. Regis Falls area as a lumberman, toiling in partnership for many years with his son, John.
They ended the business relationship in December 1915 when Charles was 78. In the following year, he built a cottage at Old Forge. In 1921, the 84-year-old was one of only six attendees at the final meeting of the Durkee Post GAR in St. Regis Falls. GAR represents Grand Army of the Republic, the title given to Union forces in the Civil War. Because few veterans remained, the local group was discontinued.
His wife (Emily) died in the mid-1920s. Charles began spending summers in Old Forge and winters in Ilion (near Herkimer). He also made regular visits to family in Tupper Lake. In 1935, he married for a second time (in Montreal), but his new bride died just two months later.
He was generally known as a remarkable old-timer, but fame arrived in 1936 when, at his 98th birthday party, Charles announced he expected to wed again before he reached 100 (because, he said, “over 100 is too old”). Several hundred people attended the festivities.
After addressing more than a hundred female suitors (ages 42 to 72), he made plans to marry Ella Manning. Instead, at 99, he became America’s most famous groom to be jilted at the altar.
After that, it seemed anything he did was remarkable, and at such an advanced age, it certainly was. In 1937 (age 100) he rode in a Memorial Day parade as guest of honor. Shortly after his 101st birthday, he attended the Gettysburg Annual GAR Convention, 72 years after his combat days had ended.
In 1940, on his 103rd birthday, he used a scythe to mow the lawn, and otherwise continued his daily ritual—trekking nearly two miles to retrieve the mail, and taking time to read the newspapers (and he didn’t need glasses!). He made maple syrup every spring and tended a garden each summer.
In August 1940, at Oneida Square in Utica, Charles was honored in a ceremony at the Soldiers’ Monument, which was built in 1891 to memorialize the Utica men who “risked their lives to save the Union.” Seventy-five years after suffering wounds in battle, Charles Jennette became a member of the Military Order of the Purple Heart (which had been formed during WW I).
At age 104, perhaps still holding a marriage possibility in the back of his mind, Charles became the first male allowed to join the Old Forge Sno-Flakes, an all-girls’ ski club. He soon expressed regret at not having taken up skiing “when I was young, say 70 or so.”
In mid-1942, in support of the WW II effort, a photo of Charles purchasing war bonds was widely distributed among newspapers. He continued to attend American Legion rallies and make other appearances. Finally, in December of that year, he passed away at the age of 105.
Photos: At age 99, Charles Jennette with his fiancé, Ella Manning; one of many headlines generated by Jennette’s story.
Lawrence Gooley has authored ten books and dozens of articles on the North Country’s past. He and his partner, Jill McKee, founded Bloated Toe Enterprises in 2004. Expanding their services in 2008, they have produced 19 titles to date, and are now offering web design. For information on book publishing, visit Bloated Toe Publishing.
An opening reception will be held for “Drawing on our Past: Ink Darwings of New York State’s Historic Architecture,” an exhibition of drawings by David ‘RC’ Oster at View, formerly the Old Forge Arts Center, tomorrow, Saturday, February 4 from 5 to 7 pm. His works will be displayed from February 4 March 3 concurrently with “Adirondack View Finders” a photography exhibition that showcases top Adirondack Photographers including Nathan Farb, Nancie Battaglia, Mark Bowie, and Carl Heilman.
RC Oster is a self-taught artist who specializes in free-hand ink drawings of regional landmarks and Adirondack scenes. He is particularly well known for his drawings of historic buildings. RC sees these landmarks as “proud reminders of where we as a society have been.” He carefully captures fine details of these buildings from sharp angles that show off the architecture of the building. He seeks to bring further awareness to these buildings
through capturing their fine details.
Stone sculpture by Matt Horner will be on display with both the photography and the ink drawings. Exhibition admission is $10/$5 members and groups of 6+/Children under 12
free. View is a multi-arts center located at 3273 State Rt. 28 in Old Forge, NY. To learn more about View programming visit www.ViewArts.org or call 315-369-6411.
It’s the stuff movies are made of- a secret relationship, a pregnancy and a murder. Over a century after it happened in Big Moose Lake, Herkimer County, the Chester Gillette murder case of 1906 is the murder that will never die. The murder of Grace Brown and the case following was the subject of Theodore Dreiser’s 1925 book An American Tragedy, and the Hollywood movie A Place in the Sun.
The story continues to be told today with a 1999 Opera at the Metropolitan Opera in New York and in a 2011 documentary North Woods Elegy. Author Craig Brandon, considered among the world’s foremost experts on the case, and author of Murder in the Adirondacks, will present and lead a discussion.
Craig Brandon is a national award-winning author of six books of popular history and public affairs and a former award-winning reporter.
Held in the Auditorium, the program will begin at 1:30 p.m. Cabin Fever Sundays are offered at no charge to museum members or children of elementary school age and younger. The fee for non-members is $5.00. The Museum Store and Visitor Center will be open from noon to 4 p.m. For additional information, please call (518) 352-7311, ext. 128 or visit
In 1861, New Yorkers responded to President Lincoln’s call to service by volunteering in droves to defend an imperiled Union. Drawn from the farms and towns of Otsego and Herkimer counties, the 121st New York State Volunteer Infantry Regiment served with the Sixth Corps in the Army of the Potomac throughout the Civil War. In the first comprehensive history of the regiment in nearly ninety years, Salvatore Cilella chronicles their epic story.
Led for much of the war by Emory Upton, the 121st deployed nearly 1,900 men into battle, from over 1,000 at call-up to the 330 who were finally mustered out of its war-depleted unit. Its soldiers participated in 25 major engagements, from Antietam to Sailor’s Creek, won six Medals of Honor, took several battle flags, led the charge at Spotsylvania, and captured Custis Lee at Sailor’s Creek. Cilella now tells their story, viewing the war through upstate New Yorkers’ eyes not only to depict three grueling years of fighting but also to reveal their distinctive attitudes regarding slavery, war goals, politics, and the families they left behind.
Cilella mines the letters, diaries, memoirs, and speeches of more than 120 soldiers and officers to weave a compelling narrative that traces the 121st from enlistment through the horrors of battle and back to civilian life. Their words recount the experience of combat, but also rail against Washington bureaucrats and commanding generals.
Cilella also features portraits of the regiment’s three commanders: original recruiter Richard Franchot; West Pointer Upton, by whose name the 121st came to be known; and Otsego County native Egbert Olcott. Readers will especially gain new insights into the charismatic Upton, who took command at the age of 23 and became one of the army’s most admired regimental leaders.
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Linda Cohen and Peg Masters, both descendants of 19th-century pioneer settlers of the Old Forge region, have written Old Forge and The Fulton Chain of Lakes (Arcadia Publishing, $21.99) the latest Adirondack edition in the Images of America series. Together they compiled over 200 images from around the area, many seldom seen.
Old Forge is nestled at the foot of the Middle Branch of the Moose River, more commonly known as the Fulton Chain of Lakes. Year-round accommodations at the Forge House in 1871 and dependable rail service in 1892 led to permanent settlement of the hamlet. Within a decade, Old Forge emerged as the residential and commercial hub of the Central Adirondacks and a popular destination and gathering place for guides, sportsmen, and wilderness tourists.
For the sightseer who strolls around Old Forge today or enjoys a cruise up the eight lakes in the Fulton Chain, the landscape is dotted with scores of century-old dwellings, Victorian cottages, rustic camps, and even a few grand old hotels.
Linda Cohen has been an active member of the local historical association and a board member since 2004. Peg Masters has served as the town historian for the past 10 years and conducts historic walking tours every summer.
The doors of the historic Herkimer Home State Historic Site will be opened to the public for paranormal investigations at 6:00 p.m. on Friday, July 29th and Saturday, July 30th. This event marks the first time under NY State ownership that the historic 18th century mansion has been investigated for paranormal activity.
Both nights will begin with a lecture and a Ghost Hunting 101 Class provided by members of the New York Shadow Chasers, a paranormal research group who recently conducted a private investigation of the property. This short class will be followed by public paranormal investigations of the grounds led by Shadow Chaser staff. The public will explore the interior and exterior of the property using paranormal equipment often seen on many popular “ghost hunting” television shows.
Tickets for this event are $25.00 and reservations are required by calling (315) 823-0398. A limited number of tickets will be sold to the public. Proceeds from the tickets will support educational programs at the Herkimer Home.
Formed at SUNY Potsdam in 2002, the Shadow Chasers represent a team of academic professionals who research and document regional folklore. Certified by SUNY CITI Ethics as Social Science researchers, their investigations have covered numerous historic sites and properties throughout New York State, raising thousands of dollars to support local history.
Built circa 1764, the Herkimer Home is the Georgian home of Brigadier General Nicholas Herkimer, A Palatine German farmer, Indian trader, and prominent Mohawk Valley Businessman. As commander of the Tryon County Militia, Herkimer became a hero during the Battle of Oriskany in 1777. Despite a bullet wound to his leg and although greatly outnumbered, he and his command held the field. Following the battle, Herkimer was carried home, where he died in his mansion 10 days later.
Herkimer Home is located on NYS State Route 169, 4 miles southeast of Little Falls, 1/4 mile before NYS Thruway exit 29A. Events are in cooperation with the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation – Central Region. For more information about this and other events planned at the Herkimer Home visit www.littlefallsny.com.
The Town of Webb Historical Association and Goodsell Museum, located at 2993 State Route 28 in Old Forge, Herkimer County, is currently featuring the exhibit “Floating Letters-The Town of Webb’s Mail Boats-Over 100 Years of Postal Tradition and Summer Fun” through the end of October.
The exhibit presents the history of the delivery of mail by boat in the Town of Webb on the Fulton Chain of Lakes, Big Moose Lake, Twitchell Lake, Rondaxe Lake, Silver Lake, and other locations from the early 1880s until the present. The exhibit includes photographs, certificates, ledgers and maps -as well as a wide assortment of custom leather & canvas/cloth mail pouches donated or on loan for the exhibit.
Included in the exhibit is the story of the Railway Postal Office (RPO) – a unique contract issued to Dr. William Seward Webb & the Fulton Chain Navigation Co. in 1901 whereby an official postal clerk rode on the boats to cancel mail, sell stamps & money orders, and perform other postal duties.
Additional exhibits at the Goodsell Museum include those on Adirondack wildlife, the Goodsell Family (George Goodsell was the first ‘mayor’ of the Village of Old Forge in 1903) and the 90th Anniversary of the Thendara Golf Club. The next featured exhibition, on early medicine, will open December 1st. The Webb Historical Association maintains a regular exhibit on early local doctors which will help form the basis the of the new exhibit.
The Goodsell Museum is open year-round; there is no admission charge.
The museum is also participating in Old Forge’s “First Friday Art Walk” events by including special exhibits connecting art with historical themes. On July 1st from 5-8PM they will have one of Lottie Tuttle’s oil paintings on display. Lottie was one of the Adirondack’s first female guides, she and her husband invented the devil bug fishing lure that was manufactured in Old Forge and marketed across the United States in the early 1900’s.
On July 9th the Association will hold its 9th Annual Benefit Auction. Preview and registration starts at 1 pm, bidding at 2 pm with auctioneer June DeLair from Constableville Auction Hall. The auction is held under a tent on the Goodsell Museum grounds and will include antiques, collectibles, new and nearly new items donated from members and friends of the museum.
The Association also has other programs, workshops, and walking tours. More information can be found online or by contacting Gail Murray, Director, via e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at
Photo: The Steamboat Hunter – Captain Jonathan Meeker delivered mail to hotels and camps as early as 1883.
The 25th Annual Northeast Quilts Unlimited seeks entries. The Exhibition will be held at the Arts Center/Old Forge’s new building October 8 to November 30, 2011. Cash prizes will be awarded in several divisions including bed, wall, Art/Innovative, traditional quilt, Adirondack theme, and popular vote. The Northeast Quilts Unlimited is an open show; all quilts entered will be displayed, and judged for awards.
This year’s National Quilting Association Certified Judge is Molly Waddell. The deadline to enter the exhibition is August 27. The fee to enter is $10/$8 members per quilt, with a maximum of 2 entries per quilter.
For more information and entry forms visit www.ArtsCenterOldForge.org, or call the Arts Center at 315-369-6411.