The town of Franklin was erected from Belimont May 20, 1836, and comprises about half of township number nine
and all of township number ten of the Old Military Tract. In area it is the third largest town in the county, containing
more than one hundred and five thousand acres. Many lakes or ponds dot its surface, and the two branches of the
Saranac river run through it, affording a number of excellent water powers. As illustrative of the size of the
town, the story is told that one of the early supervisors, journeying to Malone to attend his first session of
the board, after having driven all day, arrived at a primitive hotel, inquired what town he was in, and was amazed
to learn that he had not yet wholly traversed his own. The anecdote is illuminative of Franklin's broad reaches,
and not less of the horrible highways that used to characterize it. The town is of rugged surface, its once magnificent
forests now largely gone into lumber, pulp-wood and charcoal, or ravaged by fire. The character of its soil and
its altitude make it impossible that it should ever become important agriculturally, and the waste of its timber
in the past precludes extensive lumbering operations, so that such growth as may yet come to it must be through
the establishment of summer hotels and sanatoria. It had a population of less than two hundred when formed, which
had increased to eleven hundred in 1860 and to fifteen hundred in 1900. It is now 1,378. Among early settlers were
a not inconsiderable number of escaped or emancipated slaves, who were provided with homesteads by Gerrit Smith,
the form of whose grants to these and to poor white men whom he recruited from the cities is interesting. It names
in each as the consideration "one dollar" and the grantor's desire "to have all share in the means
of subsistence and happiness which a bountiful God has provided for all."
The first settlement in Franklin was made in 1827 by Isaac G. McLenathan and William Wells, from Jay, Essex county,
at the place now known as Franklin Falls, but from 1827 to 1851 called McLenathan Falls. Here they erected a saw
mill and an iron forge, and almost at the same time another forge was built by Uriah Sumner a few miles west, at
or near Bloomingdale. This latter had only a very brief life, nor were the enterprises of McLenathan & Wells
enduring or successful, largely because of their remoteness from markets. All lumber and iron output had to be
hauled by team to Port Kent, a distance of thirty-four miles. In later years a plank road, with toll gates, was
built between the points named, and was kept up until about 1875. In the course of a few years after the inception
of operations by McLenathan & Wells their industries had become inactive, and the place was all but abandoned.
Operations under new management were resumed in 1846, however, William V. K. McLean and John Fitzgerald, also Essex
county men, having taken over the properties. The story of the forge subsequent to McLenathan & Wells's operation
of it is not now ascertainable with certainty, but from the best information that I can gather it seems probable
that the building did not exist after 1847. In that year a deed of the lot on which the forge was located refers
to the forge as if it were then standing, but no subsequent conveyance of the premises makes any mention of the
establishment, and certainly the reports of the great fire which wiped out everything in 1852 do not specify a
forge as among the buildings burned. It is, therefore, to be presumed that about 1847 the forge disappeared to
make room for a saw mill. Keese & Tomlinson became associated with McLean & Fitzgerald here about 1848
for a year or two, and at about the same time Peter Cornstock, from Port Kent, appears to have become the working
head of the business, but whether as superintendent, lessee or proprietor I am unable to ascertain. James B. Dickinson
and George Tremble, both men of character and good abilities, came to the place, the former in 1850 and the latter
in 1852. Associated with Mr. Dickinson was James H. Pierce, who became our county's Assemblyman twenty years later,
and afterward represented Essex county in the same body. For a good many years Mr. Pierce made up and led to Republican
county conventions the delegates from all of the "south towns," viz., Brighton, Franklin and Harrietstown,
and sometimes from Duane also. Often they came without caucuses having been held at all, and with credentials prepared
en route. It is worth noting also that in 1871, when Tweed lacked one vote in the Assembly to pass his New York
city charter, he finally obtained it by the payment of one hundred thousand dollars to Orange S. Winans, of Chautauqua
county; but the offer had first been made to Mr. Pierce, and turned down by him. Pierce & Dickinson operated
at Franklin Falls as merchants, and they also had a forge in Essex county on the line between Jay and Keene. In
addition, Mr. Dickinson was interested in the mill at Franklin Falls.
Besides the mill McLenathan Falls had a rather pretentious hotel and a large store. These and every other structure
except one small shanty were wiped out by a forest fire in May, 1852, which a high wind swept down upon the place
from the hills. So rapidly and fiercely did the flames spread that fowls, dogs and cattle perished in the streets,
and the inhabitants themselves barely escaped with their lives. Household goods, merchandise in the store, large
quantities of lumber, and even the unsubmerged parts of wagons .that had been hauled into the river were all destroyed.
Twenty-three dwellings were burned, and the first estimate of loss was one hundred thousand dollars, which, however,
revised figures somewhat reduced. The place was rebuilt under the leadership of Peter Comstock, though apparently
McKean still retained some interest in the works, for two years later he executed a general assignment for the
benefit of his creditors, in which he conveyed all his right, title and interest in and to mills, store, etc.,
at Franklin Falls. In 18&9 Mr. Tomlinson acquired the business and properties, and the next year the firm of
Tomlinson & Tremble was formed to operate them. The mill was repaired and worked by this concern for five years,
when they sold to Christopher F. Norton, of Plattsburgh, who for fourteen years made Franklin Falls the headquarters
for his extensive lumbering operations on both the north and south branches of the Saranac, and covering almost
all of Franklin and Brighton and the north part of Harrietstown. While he cut some lumber at various mills in Franklin,
the larger part of his logs were floated to Plattsburgh and sawed there. Later the power at Franklin Falls was
bought by Dr. S. W. Dodge, who afterward removed to Massena, and the mill was rebuilt and run by him for a few
The mills at Franklin Falls are now only a memory, but they have been succeeded by a more important enterprise,
for here is one of the power development plants of the Paul Smith Electric Light, Power and Railroad Company, which,
with a companion plant at Union Falls (just on the border between Franklin and Black Brook in Clinton county),
develops five thousand horse power for transmission over many miles of wire through the southern part of our county
and into Essex and Clinton, to light villages, operate a railroad, and supply energy for manufacturing purposes.
The money outlay for construction has been very great, and the business done is extensive.
The landlords who conducted the hotel at Franklin Falls after McLenathan have been: Peter Hewitt, Hugh Martin,
Varnum Hewitt, H. Rice, Herriek Bromley, Lewis L. Smith, Alonzo Moody, Isaiah Vosburgh, S. W. Dodge) Norman I.
Arnold and Patsy O'Neil. The latter's widow now conducts it, but the location is nothing like what it used to be
for hotel business. Fifty years ago the Saranac and St. Regis lakes country had no railroads running to it, and
were accessible to visiting sportsmen and pleasure seekers only by stage or private conveyance from Malone or from
Lake Champlain ports. Most of the travel was via the latter, and it all passed through Franklin Falls and Bloomingdale,
making Franklin Falls an exceptionally good hotel point. While L. L. Smith was landlord there he served dinners
during the summer months to from seventy-five to one hundred and fifty guests daily.
There have been many saw mills in Franklin other than those at Franklin Falls, but none of them large - the vast
timber cut of the region having been floated for the most part down the Saranac river to Plattsburgh, and sawed
there. Lumbering here and in adjacent towns forty or fifty years ago (principally by Mr. Norton and the Turners)
was on a larger scale than anything of the kind known in this county prior to the coming of Mr. Hurd and Mr. Ducey
to Waverly and Santa Clara, and unquestionably Franklin would be to-day a much richer town (and the estates of
the lumbermen larger as well) if such operations had never been had. Charcoal burning by Bowen & Signor at
Slab Bridge, below Hunters' Home, and the shipping of pulp-wood have also contributed a good deal to the deforestation
of the town.
Probably next in importance to the Franklin Falls operations were those of Thomas Goldsmith, who acquired over
fourteen thousand acres from Gerrit Smith for $20,891, and who had mills at the Flood Dam (a mile above Thatcherville),
at Goldsmith's, at Alder Brook, and also at a number of points in Clinton county, just over the Franklin line.
He was forced to an assignment in 1846, but continued to run his mills for the assignee for a number of years afterward.
In 1856 his lands, then comprising 13,890 acres, were sold by the assignee to Daniel Robinson and John A. Griswold
of Troy, who twenty-odd years later disposed of them to Patrick Hanlon and Bowen & Signor. The mill at Goldsmith's
did only custom work during the period of the robinsonGriswold ownership, and was run by Amos Lamson, James Davis
and others. H. L. Wait built a steam mill at this place eight or ten years ago, and operated it until his death
in the early part of 1915 - hauling his product to the railroad at Loon Lake with a traction engine. The Wait mill
still stands, but is idle.
A mill was built at Thatcherville, three miles above Hunters' Home, about 1840 by Avery Thatcher, and a dozen years
later Allan Comstock rebuilt on the same site for his father, Peter, of Franklin Falls. Litigation tied up the
property, however, and the mill never did any work. The writer remembers visiting it in 1863, when it had become
a wreck. About 1879 or 1880 Albert Turner. rebuilt it, and ran it for two or three years - finally selling it to
the Hartwells of Plattsburgh. The mill and the houses belonging with it have been swept away by fire, and the site
is now owned by the International Paper Company.
A mill was built at Mud pond about 1840 by Leander Cadwell, of Black Brook, and Lawrence Myers, of Plattsburgh.
Jackson & Goff afterward became interested in it, and then L. L. Smith, about 1870, ran it to get out lumber
for rebuilding Hunters' Home.
Monroe Hall, of Plattsburgh, put up and operated a mill on the outlet of Loon Lake about 1840; Math Fox had a mill
at Alder Brook, and Russell French one at "French's" about 1863 or 1864. Harry B. Hatch, who was Franklin's
first supervisor, and who kept a hotel on the Hopkinton and Port Kent turnpike, north of Loon Lake and twentyfive
miles south of Malone, built a saw mill and ran it for several years. The place was subsequently owned and occupied
by Richard L. Ross, who was an expert chemist.and a gentleman of fine education, formerly of Albany. The property
was dissipated, a splendid library hawked about Malone book by book, and the place went to ruin. But about 1900
Warren B. Walker built a steam mill there, and for seven years cut two and a half million feet of lumber annually
removing the mill to Kempton in Duane when the supply of timber had been exhausted.
Something like twenty years ago the Kinsley Lumber Company was organized by Arthur Leonard and Frank Smith (who
were connected with the New York Central Railroad) and John O'Rourke, and built a mill two miles west of Onchiota.
It burned. The same interests also built a railroad from a point north of Inman (Loon Lake Station) four miles
west to the DeBar Mountain tract for hauling timber and pulp-wood, which was operated for several years. The lumber
interests of the Kinsley Company passed to Baker Brothers of Plattsburgh, and the lumber railroad to the Delaware
and Hudson. When the latter company was expecting to gain control of the New York and Ottawa it was intended to
utilize this link by extending it to Santa Clara or St. Regis Falls as a connection between the two systems. But
control of the New York and Ottawa went to the New York Central, and thus this lumber railroad is now an abandoned
property and hardly more than a memory.
Alter the burning of the Kinsley mill Warren B. Walker went to Onchiota and built a steam mill there about 1910,
cutting three million feet the first year, and later sold to Baker Brothers. They have since sold to the Plattsburgii
Dock and Coal Company, which now operates the mill.
A mill for cutting hard wood was erected by the International Paper Company between Loon Lake and Kushaqua in 1915,
and is now in operation. This and the Dock and Coal Company's are the only mills now running in the town.
A Mr. Fay built a saw mill at Vermontville in 1848, which was afterward owned in turn by Isaac Lyon, B. F. Lamson,
Chauncey Williamson, Norman and Charles Arnold, C. C. Whittelsey of Malone, and Dr. S. W. Dodge. Mr. Whittelsey
ran it for two years with H. J. Hathaway in charge. Another mill in the same vicinity was built in 1850 by Curtis
Avery; it was subsequently owned by C. N. Parks, and then by L. S: Bryant. Neither of these properties is now in
existence. Vermontville had a foundry also from 1861 to about 1889. It was built by Eli and Norman I. Arnold, Chauncey
Williamson and Albert Keith. Except during the period of his absence in the army it was operated for the greater
part of the time until 1870 by Norman 1. Arnold. H. J. Hathawiv then bought it, and ran it for eight or nine years,
until the advent of the Chateaugay Railway brought competition which he could not meet. The product of the establishment
was chiefly plows, cultivators, scrapers. etc., and for years is supplied about all of these that were used in
Franklin, Harrietstown and Brighton, besides a good many in Essex and Clinton counties.
Captain James H. Pierce of Franklin, and P. H. Shields of Malone, in 1873 built and for three or four years operated
a starch mill at Vermontville.
Innkeepers in Franklin at an early day, additional to those named as having been located at Franklin Falls, were:
Samuel and Russell French at French's, now Forestdale; John Littlejohn at Alder Brook; Prentis Lovering ("Print")
at Loon Lake; William Squires at a point a mile or two north; Harry B. Hatch at Hatch's; Paul Smith and Lewis L.
Smith at Hunters' Home, since burned; and John R. Merrill at Merrillsville. The hotel at the latter place was later
conducted by Mr. Merrill's son, William, and by his son-in-law, William J. Ayers and Charles B. Lyman, and then
by James W. Littlejohn There is no hotel at this point at present. These inns, or, in the vernacular of the day,
"taverns," were mostly on the Hopkinton and Port Kent turnpike, over which there was a good deal of teaming
three-quarters of a century ago, and their guests were generally teamsters who stopped only for a meal or for a
night, and the rates were next to nothing.
In splendid contrast to these rude and primitive places, some of them merely small log cabins, both as regards
the character of structure and of guests, is the Loon Lake House, which represents an investment of probably close
to half a million dollars, and offers to sportsmen and pleasure seekers a class of entertainment nowhere surpassed
in the Adirondacks. Mr. Ferd W. Chase came from Vermont in 1878, and erected a hotel which contained thirty-one
sleeping rooms. It was opened to accommodate a few fishing parties in May, 1879, though the formal opening did
not occur until the sixth of July. Its high number of guests in that year, on August first, was sixty-one. From
that date to the present it has grown almost every season both in capacity and popularity, though in the first
years taxing Mr. Chase's resources and credit to the uttermost. The property includes a tract of over four thousand
acres of land, a main hotel building of imposing appearance and large capacity, two annexes, a number of cottages,
boat houses, etc. In addition there are a number of privately owned cottages adjacent, which are in effect a part
of the establishment. One of these is reputed to have cost its owner no less than three hundred thousand dollars.
How enterprising and unsparing of expense the management has been in seeking to make the hotel perfect in all its
details is shown by the improvements that it has provided. There is a private acetylene gas plant for lighting
the place; a system of water supply having a head of one hundred and twenty-six feet, with two mains leading from
a pure spring to the hotel and other buildings, in which there are stand-pipes and fire-hose always ready for use
in case of emergency. Even greater care has been had to provide safe and scientific sewerage. The sewage is carried
to the hotel farm, located the other side of a hill three-fifths of a mile away, through two lines of twelve-inch
tile that are laid through a tuunel which at one point is ninety-two feet deep. This tunnel alone cost five dollars
a lineal foot for driving through earth and ten dollars through rock. There are golf grounds, a tennis court, pool
and billiard parlors, a bowling alley, a livery containing horses and carriages and automobiles, and almost every
other accessory for entertainment of visitors. The grounds are beautifully kept, and the same purpose to give guests
the very best that can be provided is manifest within the house, as without. The table leaves nothing to be desired,
and the service is up to the highest standard. The hotel, annexes and cottages will accommodate five hundred guests
or more, and so admirably is it managed that the problem never is how to fill it, but how to care for all who apply
for rooms. Mrs. Chase's personality, energy and executive genius are in no small measure responsible for the success
and popularity that the house enjoys. The hotel and hotel farm employ about three hundred persons.
The time when cases of tuberculosis, even in the incipiency of the disease, were deemed incurable and hopeless
is not far in the past; but, praise be to Dr. Loomis, Dr. Edward L. Trudeau and others who gave their lives to
a study of the scourge and to devising measures for its prevention and treatment, that view no longer holds, or
at least not as to tuberculosis in its early stages. And the wilderness of Northern New York has had no insignificant
part in establishing the new gospel that dry mountain air, the balsamic fragrance of the forests, with nutritious
food, due care, rest, proper sanitation and observance of well established rules for bodily care and prevention
of infection, may even stamp out the disease utterly. Actuated by the proof afforded in a multitude of individual
instances and by the cumulative results realized at the Adirondack Cottage Sanatorium at Trudeau, near Saranac
Lake, that life in the region, with proper care and treatment, held the promise of arresting the affliction even
in advanced cases, and of effecting a positive cure if taken in time, a considerable number of philanthropic men
and women - most of them residents of the city of New York, many of them wealthy, and all prominent socially -
determined some ftfteen years ago to found an institution for the treatment of incipient tuberculosis in working
women and children, which should be non-sectarian, and which, while receiving patients who are able to pay, should
be open also, and without charge, to those who have no means. The names of these deserve a place in this sketch.
They are: Robert Collyer, Henry B. Barnes, Jas. E. Newcomb, Geo. F. Shrady, Chas. M. Cauldwell, Chas. H. Knight,
R. Maclay Bull, Frederic B. Jennings, Edgar L. Marston, Jacob H. Schiff, Robert W. de Forest, Robert Stuart MacArthur,
Felix Adler, Lelia Howard Webb, Robert P. Cornell, Emile B. Rogers, Elizabeth W. Newcomb, Hester E. Shrady, Gertrude
Shipman Burr, Edith M. Phelps Stokes, Alice Brevoort Bull, Pauline Scholle Bier, Elizabeth M. Cauldwell, Mary Potter
Geer, Rose McAllister Coleman, Caroline Starin Carroll, Luck MacKenzie Knight, Caroline S. Spencer and Louise Pierpont
The name chosen for the institution was Stony Wold Sanatorium. The date of incorporation was April 10, 1901, and
eight months later property consisting of twelve hundred and fifty acres, situate near Lake Kushaqua, in the town
of Franklin, and having an elevation of over seventeen hundred feet above sea level, was purchased. Building operations
were begun as soon afterward as practicable, and the institution was formally opened August 15, 1903. Where there
had been only an unbroken forest there have risen an administrative building with dormi tory adjoining; Stony Wold
Hall, a building for purposes of worship and for entertainments; a dormitory for the help; a woodworking shop;
a store and post-office; five rest shacks; one industrial settlement house; seven cottages; a power house for generating
electricity for lighting the institution; an outdoor school; and a model cow barn, stable and piggery. A farm has
also been developed. The administration building alone cost eighty-four thousand dollars, and the entire property
is valued at $302,435.16, and is not mortgaged. The institution has, besides, an endowment fund of $64,258.75.
The corporation has fifteen auxiliaries with a total membership of nineteen hundred. In the beginning each auxiliary
contributed six hundred dollars to build and equip a room, and pledged itseil to support thereafter an occupant,
the charge for which is fourteen dollars per week. Further funds for building, equipment and maintenance were realized
from subscriptions, and also considerable amounts from fairs and entertainments given at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel
and other places in New York and at the institution itself.
Mrs. James Edward Newcomh is the president of the board of trustees, and has served in that capacity from the beginning.
She was the originator of the enterprise, and devised the plan of organization. She spends a good deal of time
at Lake Kushaqua, and is constant and untiring in effort on its behalf.
Stony Wold has a capacity for twenty children and ninety-three adults and is practically always full. No children
under the age of six years are admitted. The staff includes the physician in charge (who is at present Dr. Malcolm
P. Lent), an assistant physician (Dr. W. G. Milan), a number of nurses, a dietician, a storekeeper, an outside
superintendent (Albert E. Paye), and other workers averaging between ninety and one hundred in number.
Stony Wold Hall is used by the Episcopalian, the Catholic and the Jewish denominations, though none of them has
a resident preacher. The Episcopalians and the Jews use one room in common, and the Catholics have a part of the
structure separately. When the hail is wanted for a card party or for a dance, the seats are removed, and a room
nicely adapted to the purpose is available.
The institution is doing a magnificent work, and hundreds who have enjoyed care in it, gaining strength and. vigor,
and enabled to return to life's duties and labors with new hope and courage, bless daily the philanthropists who
have given so fine an institution to the world, and who cause it to be managed with such care and loving kindness.
Paul C. Ransom, a graduate of Williams College, having been compelled by failing health to relinquish the practice
of law in Bufalo, turned in 1897 to the work of fitting boys for college, and in 1903 established the Adirondack-Florida
School, which holds its spring and autumn terms on Rainbow lake, near Onchiota, and a winter term at Cocoanut Grove,
Florida. A school building or lodge was erected at the former place in 1906 at a cost of $15,000, and a number
of cabins and other structures have been added since. Mr. Ransom died in 1907, when Mrs. Ransom assumed charge,
and has since conducted the school, with L. H. Somers, a Yale man, as headmaster. Of Mr. Ransom it is said that
his quiet influence over boys was wonderful, and that he was "a rare master, and a rarer friend." Originally
the school was planned to accommodate twenty pupils, but now has a capacity for thirty; and inasmuch as it is believed
that the best results are attainable only with a small enrollment no effort is likely to be made for further enlargement.
The Rainbow Lake branch is called Meenahga Lodge. The school is intended to give boys the best advantages attainable
in the way of individual attention and wholesome surroundings, the opportunity to pursue a course of study in preparation
for college, and at the same time the benefit of outdoor life under the most favorable climatic conditions. Invalid
boys or those suffering from any organic disease are not received. A chief aim of the school is the cultivation
of character, and particular attention is given also to outdoor sports and physical training. The charge for tuition
and care is $1,600 per pupil per year, which does not include traveling expenses, text books or stationery, and
no deductions are allowed for absence, withdrawal or dismissal. The naked statement of terms is evidence that only
the sons or wards of wealthy people are included among the pupils, who come from all parts of the United States.
The school's standing is very high, and it has the unqualified indorsement of eminent educators and of many distinguished
men whose sons have been among its pupils.
The Chateaugav Railway and the Adirondack and St. Lawrence Railway enter Franklin at nearly the same point, in
the vicinity of Plumadore pond, on the northern central border of the town, and, trending a little to the west,
parallel each other to Onchiota, whence the former continues almost due south to Saranac lake, while the latter
swings westward into Brighton. The former was built as far as Loon Lake in 1886, and extended on through the town
a year or so later. The St. Lawrence and Adirondack was built in 1892. Each of these roads has a station at Loon
Lake (three miles from the Loon Lake House), at Lake Kushaqua and at Onchiota, and the Chateaugay has one also
for the hamlet of Vermontville, two or three miles distant therefrom.
Franklin has more small settlements and separate post-offices in proportion to its population than any other town
in the county. They are: Inman, Loon Lake, Goldsmith's, Forestdale, Alder Brook, Franklin Falls, Pine Park or Onchiota,
Lake Kushaqua and Vermontville. Merrillsville was formerly a post-office. Union Falls is partly in Franklin and
partly in Clinton county, the post-office of that name being just over the line in Clinton. Not all of these are
even hamlets, some of them being merely neighborhoods a little more closely settled than the surrounding country.
Inman lies a little to the west and north of the center of the town, and consists only of the two depots of the
Chateaugay Railway and the Adirondack and St. Lawrence Railway, three or four dwelling houses, a store, and a small
hotel, built by Deming M. Roberts, formerly of Malone and Chateaugay, and now kept by William DesChamps.
Loon Lake is three miles distant, and between the two points the town built a macadam highway a year or two ago
at a cost of thirteen thousand dollars, an expenditure that would have horrified the earlier residents. At Loon
Lake there are only the group of buildings comprising the Loon Lake Hotel and cottages, and the store and dwelling
house of Fremont F. Smith.
Forestdale, formerly known as "French's," is in the extreme southeastern part of the town, and has a
post-office, a store, a Catholic church, and a few residences. It formerly had a hotel.
Onchiota or Pine Park is in the western part, and is a small settlement, with store, post-office, two railway stations,
a saw mill, and a club house or hotel now in course of construction by the Rainbow Club and Improvement Company.
Several thousand young pine trees have been set out here within the past year or two by the same corporation as
a step in reforestation, and the state is planting hundreds of thousands of young spruce and pine in the same locality.
Lake Kushaqua, also in the western part, is exclusively the home of Stony Wold Sanatorium, through the establishment
of which in 1901 the place came into being.
Goldsmith's is on the North Branch of the Saranac river about five miles below Hunters' Home, and is only the site
of an old saw mill and a lumber camp. To it and beyond, to the Clinton county line, a highway is soon to be built
from Hunters' Home, which will cost over eighty thousand dollars.
Franklin Falls has already been sufficiently described.
Vermontville is the largest hamlet in the town, and yet now has no industries except farming. The place has two
churches, a post-office and a store or two.
Merrillsville is south and east of the center, and consists only of a small group of dwelling houses and a church.
Sugar Bush, so named because of the large quantity of maple sugar formerly made there, and still retaining the
name though scarcely any sugar is made at present, is a string of farm houses stretching over a mile or two.
Alder Brook, named for the brook that runs through it, is a couple of miles east of Merrillsville, and is the same
character of place as Sugar Bush. The two were among the earliest localities in the town to be settled, the settlers
coming mostly from Vermont and Clinton and Essex counties.
Though a considerable proportion of the early settlers in Franklin were of the Roman Catholic faith, these were
dependent for nearly a quarter of a century for enjoyment of the services of their own church upon. Keeseville
and the mission at Redford, which involved several miles of travel. Nevertheless interest so grew that at length
a mission was established at Union Falls, and not long afterward, in 1854, Father James Keveney built a church
at the place now known as Catholic Corners, which lies between Alder Brook and Union Falls. It was blessed under
the name St. Rosa's of Lima, and has since been maintained. Incorporation was not effected, however, until fifty
years later, with the bishop, the vicar general, the rector (Rev. Father Richard O'Donnell), Edward McKillip and
Peter A. Tracy as trustees. Father O'Donnell is still the rector, and the church has nearly four hundred members.
Vermontville has a Methodist Episcopal church and an Episcopalian chapel, known as St. Paul's. The latter is supplied
irregularly by the rector resident at Bloomingdale. Apparently the first religious organization was of a union
order, which was for a long time without statutory incorporation, though the records of the Presbytery of Champlain
show a Presbyterian society at Vermontville in 1860. A church building had been erected in 1856, and a friend who
was then and still is a resident there writes me that it was a Methodist Episcopal church, though Presbyterians
helped to build it. It was to be open for use by any denomination, but with preferential claim to occupancy belonging
to the Methodists. There has always been a good deal of church friction here, It would seem that, besides the Episcopalians,
the place has had in turn religious organizations of the union order, Presbyterian, Wesleyan and Methodist Episcopal.
The Presbyterian must have been feeble and of short duration. The Wesleyan Methodists held the field principally
from 1876 to 1896. The Union Evangelical church was incorporated in 1888, and the Methodist Episcopal not until
1895. In 1897 the Union Evangelical church deeded the house of worship to the Wesleyan Methodist church, which
ten years later deeded it to the Methodist Episcopal church. The latter is, except for the Episcopalians, in sole
occupancy of the field.
A Methodist Episcopal organization has existed at Merrillsville for three-quarters of a century or more, supplied
at first by the pastor of the church at Saranac, and now Vermontville. The present church edifice at this point
was built about twenty years ago.
Notice that an application would be made to the supervisors to divide the town was published in 1859. The new town,
to consist of the west half, was to be called Con cord But there was not town concord in the matter, and the project
died without even having been presented to the supervisors. The opposition was political.
John B. Secor, a horse buyer from Westchester county, was shot and killed in the town of Franklin, between Hatch's
and Loon Lake, June 6, 1853, by James Madison Bicklord of Dickinson. Bickford was at a prayer meeting at the latter
place when he saw Secor and a companion ride past, and, leaving the meeting, persuaded Thomas Cook, a mere boy,
to accompany him, and followed the men, whom they passed somewhere in Duane. At the point of the tragedy in Franklin
they awaited the appearance of Secor and his companion, and upon their arrival Bickford, in ambush at the side
of the road, took Secor's life. The companion fled and gave the alarm. Bickford and Cook were apprehended the next
day in Burke, the former having Secor's purse and watch in his possession. On the trial, a year later, Secor's
friend identified Bickford and Secor's property, and conviction was a matter of course. Bickford was hung September
22, 1854, and his father denounced the execution as a murder. Cook wished to plead guilty, but a trial was insisted
upon by the court, resulting in a conviction and a death sentence - which was commuted to life imprisonment, with
a pardon granted later. Cook returned to Dickinson, married, and one night, forty-odd years ago, when he was in
bed and asleep some one placed a keg of powder under the bed, and fired it. Cook was killed.