SOME FORMER RESIDENTS
A number of former residents deserve special mention, some because of notable achievements, and others because
their life history is of exceptional interest.
William Purcell was born in Fort Covington August 15, 1830, and at the age of three years removed with his parents
to Rochester, where he became a newsboy, then a printer, and at length an editor. He founded the Rochester Union
in 1852, and remained its editor except for a few months in 1884 until his death in 1905. His retirement in 1881
was voluntary, and was dictated by the fact that he could not conscientiously support Mr. Cleveland for the Presidency.
The Union was the strongest and best Democratic paper in Western New York. Mr. Purcell was for six years a. member
of the Democratic State committee, and its chairman in 1879. He was for a long time one of the board of managers
of the State industrial school at. Rochester, serving as its presideiit, and was also a member of the State board
of mediation and arbitration. In 1881 he was defeated for Secretary of State.
James McMahon, born in Fort Covington in 1831, removed while yet a child to Rochester, where, upon reaching manhood,
he engaged in the book trade, and afterward in the transportation business in a large way. This work led to his
removal to Yew York city, where he became connected with the Emigrant Industrial Savings Bank in 1878, and continued
with it until 1906, becoming its president. The institution is the largest savings bank in the world, and has over
a hundred million dollars of deposits. Mr. McMahon was also a director or trustee in several commercial banks,
trust companies and fire insurance companies, and was actively and usefully associated with a number of important
charitable and philanthropic associations. During the latter part of his life he made his home in Brooklyn, where
he was a member of the board of education, but never held or sought any distinctively political office. He died
W. H. Hawkins, born in Fort Covington in 1816, died at Potsdam February 9, 1889. Mr. Hawkins was educated at Franklin
Academy, Malone, and at an early age entered the ministry of the Methodist Episcopal church. Among other charges
served by him were Chateaugay, Fort Covington and Malone. He was also once presiding elder of the Potsdam district.
Retiring from the ministry, he located at Potsdam, engaged in the mercantile business, and acquired a competence.
Daniel R. Cameron, brother of James ("Black Jim"), was born at Summerstown, Canada. Locating in Fort
Covington, he was at one time in business with Preserved Ware, but removed to Chicago a good many years ago. There
larger opportunities and his own fine qualities of good fellowship and excellent natural abilities led to big business
connections. He was at one time associated with the famous publishing house of Culver, Page & Horne, and later
entered into a partnership with Mr. Amberg, whose index files are known throughout the world. Mr. Cameron was president
of Chicago's board of education for a long time. He became wealthy, retired from business, and removed to Altadena,
Calif., where he had one of the finest homes in the State, and entertained in a princely way. He died in 1918.
William C. Kingsley as he was called in Brooklyn, but Kinsella as the family was always called in Franklin county
and on the border, was born in the edge of Canada, and really was not identified with Fort Covington except as
a student at the academy in his boyhood. He left the locality while yet a youth, taught school and engaged in the
contracting business in Pennsylvania, built a railroad in Illinois, and at the age of twenty-five years located
in Brooklyn in 1858. There he continued in the contracting business, building a large part of the city's water-works
and sewerage system, improving the so-called Wallabout district, and constructing the big storage reservoir at
Hempstead. He was among the first to suggest bridging the East river, and became the foremost advocate of the project
- arguing and elaborating the idea so convincingly that the Legislature was persuaded by his presentation of the
matter in 1867 to authorize the undertaking, which in the beginning was designed. to be wholly a private enterprise.
Mr. Kingsley raised the first five million dollars for beginning the work, he and his partner making the largest
individual subscriptions for stock in the company. Mr. Kingsley became superintendent of construction, 'and then
was successively trustee, vice-president, and from 1882 until his death president of the corporation - serving
in the last stated capacity without compensation, as he donated his salary of five thousand dollars a year to the
bridge fund. He was a director in many semi-public service organizations of the city and in many financial institutions,
was particularly active and helpful in developing Coney Island and Prospect Park, and was the largest stockholder
in the Brooklyn Eagle. Though a leader .of the Democratic party in Kings county for a long time, and though both
local and national dignities of a political character were more than once within his reach, he never held public
office. He died in 1885, and Hugh McLaughlin said of him that he was the ablest man that ever took part in Brooklyn
James Farnsworth Pierce, born in Madrid in 1830, practiced law in Fort Covington for a year or two in the fifties.
Returning to St. Lawrence county, he was elected county clerk on the Democratic ticket in 1861. He removed to New
York in 1865, his Democracy ingratiating him promptly with the machine in Brooklyn, so that he was sent to the
State Senate in 1868, and between that date and 1890 was given four more terms in that body. In 1894 he was appointed
State superintendent of insurance, and in 1897 resumed the practice of law in New York, where William A. Wolff
(formerly of Malone) became one of his partners. Mr. Pierce was not a particularly strong man, nor was he regarded
as finely scrupulous, but he was exceedingly adaptable, very genial and made friends easily.
Samuel Hoard came to Fort Covington in 1827, and purchased the Franklin Telegraph, which had been founded a few
months earlier. Discontinuing the publication in 1833, lie removed to Ogdensburg, where he published the St. Lawrence
Republican. Removing to Chicago, he became prominent 'there and rich. He had a beautiful home, was postmaster,
and died in 1881.
Old Grimes is dead, that good old soul,
We ne'er shall see him more.
The John H. Hatton letter from which quotations have been made states that old Grimes, the veritable character
of song and story, was at one time a boarder at the Spencer House, and a few years ago, while on vacation at Fort
Covington, his old home, William Ryan, a newspaper man, wrote for the New York Times what purported to be an authentic
narrative of the Grimes character and conduct in the vicinity. Mr. Ryan says that Grimes, whose given name was
Ephraim, came from New England, first to St. Agnes, Que., in 1835, and six months later to Fort Covington. He was
ostensibly a shingle maker and shingler, though according to Mr. Ryan he performed no labor in all of the time
that he was at Fort Covington until just before his departure, and yet always had money to spend, which it is said
that he obtained by making counterfeit silver coins. These he is represented to have sent to Vermont by a woman
to be put into circulation, and in exchange for which she sent good bank notes to Grimes. After quitting the Spencer
House as a boarding place he is said to have lived in a hut in the outskirts of the village, and when, towards
the last of his stay, his spurious coins began to circulate in the vicinity, and suspicion came to be directed
against him, he sneaked away one night, and never returned. The story runs, further, that after his departure his
hut was searched, and the dies which he had used were found in it. Mr. Ryan gives to Grimes the character of a
fertile and ingenious fabricator, an entertaining raconteur to hear whom the people came from miles around, an
inveterate jester of an assumed simplicity and ingenuousness that made him a general favorite, and that gained
confidence for him until his actual operations became suspected and finally proven.
Charles E. Perrin was the son of Solon of Fort Covington, and a nephew of Henry J. Perrin, a respected farmer in
Malone. Charles was a printer, and worked in the Franklin Gazette office. He left Malone during the civil war,
and entered upon evil ways. Soon after the close of the war he paid Malone a visit, and created quite a sensation
by reason of his ultra fashionable dress and fine presence and manners. A woman who posed as his wife accompanied
him, but it was afterward ascertained that there had been no marriage, and that the relations of the two were illicit.
Shortly afterward Perrin was convicted for having burglarized a wholesale house in New York city by which he realized
a large amount of plunder, and was sentenced to imprisonment for four years, which term expired in 1873. There
is a story, though not authenticated so far as I know, that he was also guilty of arson in New Jersey. In 1874
he participated in a forgery scheme, the largest of its kind ever successfully carried through, which marketed
eight hundred thousand dollars of bonds of the Buffalo, Erie and New York Railroad, the New York Central, and the
Chicago and Northwestern. The forging was done by others, and Perrin's part was to sell the bonds, which were so
cleverly executed that they deceived not only the officers of banks, trust companies and bond dealers, but even
the officials of one of the railroad companies, who redeemed forty thousand dollars of them without suspicion that
they were spurious. Three bond houses bought so heavily of them that their losses forced them into bankruptcy.
Perrin's individual share of the clean up is said to have been a hundred thousand dollars, and when discovery of
the forgeries was made he had sufficient warning to enable him 'to escape to Europe. But in 1875 he was once more
in New York and again in a similar deal. He was recognized, arrested, and sent to Sing Sing for a term of fifteen
years, but within eight months plotted and organized with others a scheme for escape by firing the bake-house.
The attempt was successful as regards Perrin, and he again took refuge in Europe, where he operated along his customary
lines, first in Paris and then in London. While he was not himself a forger of engraved securities he appears to
have been an expert in similar work where the pen would serve his purposes, and in London he succeeded in swindling
a bank heavily, for which he was sent to prison in 1877 for 'ten years. But he turned State's evidence, and was
released in 1883, when he returned to this country by way of Canada, and proceeded to St. Louis, Mo. There he opened
large accounts in a number of banks preparatory to plundering them later by means of forged drafts. Again he was
caught, convicted, and sentenced to ten years' imprisonment, which, with allowances for good behavior, expired
in 1892. Upon his release he was delivered to the New York authorities to serve out at Sing Sing the term to which
he had been sentenced in 1875. He was transferred from Sing Sing to Dannemora about 1898, and was discharged from
the latter institution in 1902. In the winter of 1903, while pretending to be in the real estate business in New
York city. he made a fake purchase of a country place in Dutchess county for $10,000, and insured the buildings
on it for $19,000. Fire soon followed, and Perrin (then operating under the alias of Hall) was arrested upon a
charge of arson. According to Perrin, the seller of the property was really the chief conspirator, and because
he turned State's evidence he was released upon his own recognizance in 1904, since when I have not been able to
trace him. Inspector Bvrnes in his book telling of extraordinary crimes and professional criminals says of Perrin
that some of his aliases were Stevens, Franklin, Cherwood, Williamson and Vincent, and that he generally wore a
full black beard, dressed well, and conversed in an easy tone. Byrnes characterizes him as "one of the most
extraordinary criminals that this country ever produced, and a man of great ability, imposing appearance, and iron
nerve," having been credited among his pals and the police as one of the two "smartest people in his
line in the world." Except at the times when he was in prison Byrnes says that few extensive forgeries were
undertaken in which Perrin was not depended upon for the dealings by which capital was to be duped into buying
Amos S. Kimball entered the United States volunteer army as quartermaster of the 98th regiment at Malone in
1862, served throughout the war, and then was continued in the regular army - eventually becoming quartermaster
general. The final years of his service were spent in New York city. He died in Washington, D. C., in 1909. He
is said to have been worth a million dollars.
David, William and Allen Streeter are Sons of Grindal and grandsons of Benjamin. They removed to Chicago several
years ago, engaged in business there and prospered. At least one of them is now rated as a millionaire. David is
at present a resident of California, and the old home in Fort Covington is packed with interesting art objects
and curios that he collected in his travels over all the world.
James C. Spencer was the son of Captain James B., and was a lawyer of bright mind and good attainments. He moved
to Ogdensburg in 1854, where he practiced law and held the office of United States attorney for the district of
Northern New York. Removing to New York city in 1866, he quickly formed friendly relations with the Democratic
leaders, and enjoyed preferences and benefits through their influence. He became judge of the superior court, and
was appointed receiver of the Erie Railroad. His first wife was a daughter of Benjamin Raymond and a sister of
Mrs. Joseph R. Flanders. Miss Sarah Spencer, a student at Franklin Academy more years ago than she would now confess,
and in recent summers an occasional visitor to Malone as Mrs. Spencer-Browne, is his niece. Judge Spencer died
in New York city in 1902.
Rev. Nathaniel Colver, who, next perhaps to Rev. Ashbel Parmelee, was the strongest man intellectually who ever
served in Franklin county as a clergyman, visited a relative in Fort Covington. in 1820, and the next year was
solicited by a number of residents, irrespective of their several denominational affiliations, to settle there
as pastor of a church to be formed. He accepted and remained for eight years - a tireless worker, delighting in
controversy and reveling in agitation of one kind or another. His biography was written and published fortyodd
years ago by a fellow clergyman, and I condense from a copy of the work: Mr. Colver was a tanner and currier by
trade, and never had any schooling except during winters. His first service in a pulpit was near Albany, where
he had gone from his Massachusetts home merely to hold. a prayer meeting. Though without the slightest ministerial
training, the circumstances at this meeting seemed to compel him to preach, and he delivered three sermons without
any previous preparation, and under protest that he had not even a text and that he had utterly refused in advance
even to consider the suggestion that he preach. Mr. Colver officiated not only as pastor of the Baptist church
which he organized at Fort Covington, hut also held mission services at many points in Franklin and St. Lawrence
counties. He became a Mason at Fort Covington, but formally renounced connection with the order in 1829, having
practically withdrawn from it some years previously. That was during the fierce anti-Masonic times, and his course
was productive of angry resentment on the part of those who continued to adhere to Masonry, and of eager approval
by the anti-Masons. Mr. Colver's first public utterance in denunciation of the order was in the court house in
Malone before an audience that packed the room, and thereafter he continued the crusade vigorously by speaking
on the subject at many points in Northern New York and throughout Vermont. In 1829 he accepted a call from a church
in Washington county, where he remained for ten years, though often during the period engaging in revival work
at Poughkeepsie, Philadelphia. Richmond and other cities. In 1839 he went to Boston to take the pastorate of Tremont
Temple, which was purchased at a cost of fifty-five thousand dollars to be made over into a church expressly for
him. There he remained until 18.52. and then removed to Detroit, Mich.- visiting Malone and Fort Covington on the
way, and preaching at both places. In 1856 he located at Cincinnati for five years, and next was in Chicago until
1867, when he went to Richmond to found a school for the training of negroes for the Baptist ministry. This school
had its beginning in a slave pen known as Lumpkin's jail, and has grown into the Virginia University, a good sized
college. Mr. Colver died in Chicago in 1870. He is said to have had a striking presence, with a power of address
that entranced his hearers and often moved an entire congregation to tears. Once in a church convention debate
on slavery he replied to a Governor from a Southern State, speaking for an hour practically extemporaneously, with
so impassioned force and eloquence that the Governor declared that though he had heard Henry Clay and Daniel Webster
at their best, he had never before listened to such oratory. Almost unlettered when he began his work at Fort Covington.
and never attaining to fine scholarship, and at times dropping even into crudity of expression and trampling upon
grammatical construction, yet men in the ministry who were distinguished for their educational acquirements pronounced
him one of the most engaging and strongest speakers that they had ever heard. He was by nature impulsive, radical
and intense. Besides his anti-Masonic agitation, he became a zealous temperance apostle and a hot abolitionist
and open crusader against slavery. Men who were leaders in the latter cause took him to full fellowship, warmly
commending his work, while as a speaker on temperance it was said that not even John B. Gough was more dramatic
Charles A. Gardiner ought not to be omitted from these biographical sketches notwithstanding he originated just
north of the border, in Dundee. After completing his academic studies at Malone he took the full course at Hamilton
College, then taught for a time, and studied law. Locating in New York city, he came to have entire charge of the
law department of the elevated railway companies, with sixty or more clerks under him, and was also the personal
counsel of the Goulds. He was regarded as one of the ablest lawyers in the State, especially in matters of interpretation
and construction of the State and Federal Constitutions, and for some years preceding his death was a member of
the board of regents of the university of New York. He died in 1909, aged fifty-four years.
According to a historical sermon by one of its pastors the Baptist was the first church organized in Fort Covington,
and dates from 1821 or 1822, though Dr. Hough gives the date as 1824. It was formed by Rev. Nathaniel Colver, the
original membership comprising hut eleven persons if the sermon account he accepted, or nine if Dr. Hough he correct.
The society had a comfortable growth for a fcw years, hut was weakened not a little by Mr. Colver's activity and
rancor in the anti-Masonic agitation. Services were held at first in the townhouse, schoolhouses or private residences.
In 1829 a church edifice was erected, which was enlarged and improved and a bell purchased in 1852. Schism arose
in 1843, growing out of opposing views concerning the pastor, and seemingly paralyzed church activities. The pastor
was dropped from 1844 to 1848, when he was reinstated, and concord prevailed until 1868, when dissension again
developed, but from what cause, to what extent or with what duration does not appear. With few exceptions the church
had regular pastors continuously until 1882, when a vacancy occurred for four years, since when there have been
many times when there was no pastor; and now, for five or six years past, the society has been moribund because
of deaths and removals of members. Revivification is not contemplated.
The story of early Presbyterianism here is obscure and complicated. The Associated Reformed Scotch Church had some
sort of an organization contemporaneously with Mr. Colver's earliest labors, or possibly antedating them a little,
under the leadership and ministration of Rev. "Father" Brunson or Brunton. Rev. James Erwin's autobiography
gives him the former name, but the latter is correct. "Father" Brunton was the father of the first wife
of John Burch of Malone and of John Brunton, who made his home in the seventies and eighties with Mr. Burch. He
was a quaint little figure of a man, with twinkling eyes, always moving at a trot, and very rarely missing a Sabbath
service or a prayer meeting at the Congregational church. Though unbalanced mentally, he had been highly educated,
read or spoke a number of languages, and was encyclopedic in his fund of general information. Mr. Erwin pictures
what seem to-day to have been amazing conditions as prevalent in the elder Brunton's time. Mr. Erwin's father was
a "ruling elder" in the church, and both spiritually and socially was intimate with "Father"
Brunton, who used to spend his Saturday afternoons and evenings at the Erwins' home, and upon such occasions invariably
using the brandy decanter so freely that he was unable to walk home unattended - Mr. Erwin's sisters always accompanying
him and steadying from either side. Moreover, Father" Brunton always called at the Erwins' on his way to church
Sabbath mornings, and drew upon the decanter to brace him for pulpit service. The morning sermon was never less
than an hour and a half in length. and in the afternoon (which service followed after only a half hour's intermission)
was still longer. Mr. Erwin adds that Mr. Briinton's and his father's use of stimulants occasioned no reflections
upon them, as drinking was then common even among religious people. Both were accounted examples of righteousness,
with the "moral rigidness of Puritanism," but as a matter of course at that time they were animated with
"sectarian bigotry." When the younger Erwin united with the Methodists his father drove him from the
house for no other reason, though a reconciliation was effected a little later through the influence of the mother.
According to Dr. Hough, the Brunton régime closed about 1821, after which a Rev. Mr. Crosby, a teacher in
an unincorporated academy in the place, started a Congregational church organization, which continued weakly for
a short time, and in 1827 a United Presbyterian church was formed by Rev. Alexander Proudfoot, from Salem, Washington
county, with Rev. John A. Savage (who became the first principal of the incorporated academy) as pastor. The n-ext
year the form of organization was changed to Presbyterian simply, and association effected with the Champlain Presbytery.
The church edifice was erected about 1828 or 1829, and was rebuilt and enlarged in 1866.
Quoting in abbreviated form from Rev. John Talbot Smith's history of the diocese of Ogdensburg, Cornelius, Patrick
and Michael Thneen came to Fort Covington in 1822 from Ireland, and were soon followed by other Irishmen and Catholics
until the number seemed in 1826 to warrant attention by Rev. Father Moore of Huntingdon, Que., who visited the
place and said mass at the hotel. At rare intervals thereafter during the next few years Father Moore or some other
priest continued such visits, but mostly the Catholics of the place enjoyed their own church privileges only by
journeying, always on foot, to St. Regis or Hogansburgh. Rev. Father McNulty of Hogansburgh organized St. Mary's
church at Fort Covington in 1837, and a church building was erected -the entire male Catholic population turning
out for the work. For the next thirty-two years the parish was attended from Hogansburgh. The church edifice was
eompleted through the efforts of Rev. James Keveney, and it was not until 1869 that the parish became an independent
one, comprising one hundred and seventy families, with a resident rector. A parochial residence was bought at a
cost of three thousand dollars, and a little later the church was given a new roof at about an equal expenditure.
During the rectorship of Rev. Father Charles J. McMorrow, in 1883, a new cemetery was purchased, and under Rev.
Father James McGowan the church was improved - a new floor laid, new pews put in, a tower added and the interior
generally beautified. Father McGowan contributed two thousand dollars from his own means to the work, and also
gave a bell. During the rectorship of Rev. Father J. L.. Desjardins, which began in 1911 and still continues, a
vestry has been added to the church and $2,300 of debts paid. The parish includes 290 families, numbering 1,213
So far as the records of the "First Methodist Episcopal Society in Fort Covington" show, the church was
organized under the labors of Rev. Arzu J. Phelps, pastor, at a meeting held December 17, 1838, at the town house,
"the usual place of worship," and the certificate of incorporation as recorded in the county clerk's
office bears the same date. But this was by no means the beginning of Methodism in the town, for the conference
records show the appointment in 1830 of two ministers to the charge, which was even then reported to have one hundred
and seventy members, or nearly three times the present number. Yet further, we know from Rev. James Erwin that
there were Methodist activities there at least as early as 1828, but whether under the care of circuit riders,
local exhorters or class leaders can not now be told. It was in 1828 that Mr. Erwin, a mere boy, was won to the
faith and united with the denomination at the cost of expulsion from his home because of the intolerance and anger
of his father, who had designed that he should become a Presbyterian minister. While we have no evidence or record
in the matter, it may probably be safely assumed, considering the then comparative importance of the place, that
Methodist ministration began even quite a bit before Mr. Erwin's conversion. The explanation of formal organization
having been delayed until 1838 is doubtless that there was at about that time a religious awakening of considerable
proportions, as Rev. C. L. Dunning, then stationed at Malone, had been holding protracted revival meetings there,
and had been followed in like effort by Rev. Jesse Peck (afterward a distinguished bishop of the church), and in
1836 the membership had jumped to nearly three hundred, but decreased in 1838 to eighty-six. The church edifice
was originally located a short distance from its present site, to which it was moved in 1838, when Warren L. Manning
gave the lot to the society and also erected the parsonage at his own expense. In 1844 and 1845, for a year or
two following 1866, and from 1877 to 1901 it was joined with Bombay as a conference appointment, and in 1875 with
Westville Center. Otherwise it has always been an independent parish by itself, with no out-charge. The present
membership is about sixty.
Unless, as is conjectured to have been the case, army chaplains of the Episcopalian faith may have held services
occasionally during the war of 1812, the first ministration with the Episcopal ritual was by Rev. Eleazer Williams
in the old town house; perhaps in the thirties, or possibly along toward 1850, at both of which times Mr. Williams
was located at St. Regis or Hogansburgh. Then, there was no further manifestatioii of Episcopalianism here until
about 1870, when Rev. William Stone Hayward, from Hogansburgh, visited the Fort occasionally, and held services
in private residences. With the coming of the railroad in 1883 there were accessions to the feeble few who were
striving to build up an organization, rectors came to be engaged regularly, and services were held in the Masonic
Hall and then in the Baptist church. The society's own church building was erected in 1898, and though small is
of fine interior finish. The parish is at times without a rector, and even when so supplied has usually to depend
upon. divinity students from Montreal. The church numbers twenty-two members.
Aurora Lodge, No. 383, F. and A. M., was organized in 1855. It has seventy-eight members, and, with the exception
of the fire company, is the oniy fraternal association in the town.
The Aetna Fire Engine Company was formed in 1850, and has nearly always been strong and enthusiastic both as a
distinctively protective and as a social organization. It has a building of its own, erected in 1900, which contains,
besides quarters for apparatus, a hall for meetings and entertainments, a room for one of the town's polling places,
and a store. The town contributed two thousand dollars toward the erection of the edifice upon condition that it
be privileged to occupy a part. The engine of the company is of the old man-killing, hand-brakes pattern, and has
been the only protection of property from fire ravage that the village has ever had, though a yeai or two ago seven
thousand six hundred dollars was appropriated to lay adequate water mains through the principal streets, to be
connected with a powerful force pump at the electric light works. Thus there will be little use hereafter for the
old engine, as the pumping facilities will furnish several strong streams capable of reaching well above the highest
buildings in the place.
The Franklin County Bank at Fort Covington was incorporated by Lewis county men in 1840, with a capital of one
hundred thousand dollars, with power to increase it to half a million dollars. Though four thousand dollars of
the capital was paid in in cash and two thousand dollars in bonds deposited with the State banking department as
security for the redemption of the circulating notes which it was expected to issue, the institution never opened
for business. Ela Merriam, afterward a prominent banker at Ogdensburg, was one of the corporators. In those days
a bank's capital was not required to be fully paid in, and such institutions were not infrequently of decidedly
a speculative character, were often started by men who were not residents of the places where operations were to
be conducted, and failures were in startling numbers. In the course of an excellent paper prepared a few years
ago by Matt C. Ransom, reciting the history of banking in our county, it is very plausibly suggested that the organizers,
though non-residents, were attracted to Fort Covington by reason of the fact that there was then no bank in the
county and that the prosperity and natural advantages of the place seemed to carry the promise that it must continue
to hold primacy in the county as regards financial affairs and general importance.
A movement was instituted about 1888 or 1889 to organize a State bank, but did not proceed further.
The Fort Covington Banking Company was formed as a partnership in 1906 by George W. Higgins, James N. MacArtney,
William A. Mac-. Artney, Elbert 0. Forbes, William G. Cushman, James A. Smart and Frederic J. Dimond. Messrs. Higgins,
Cushman, Dimond and Forbes are no longer connected with it. Requests for information addressed to the management
have been ignored, and I am able to state only the general outside understanding or impressions relative to the
bank's affairs. The nominal or perhaps the actual capital is supposed to be ten thousand dollars. The institution
has unquestionably proved to be a convenience and benefit to the people of the place, and its owners are men of
substance and general trustworthiness. It is believed also to be prudently and safely managed. Nevertheless the
plan of organization is not the best for a bank, for under its operation it discloses nothing whatever relative
to its condition, though appealing to the public for confidence and support; nor is it under any official supervision
or subject to official examination, or required to carry any reserve. Banking on such lines in cities is absolutely
prohibited by law except in instances where individual deposits are each in a large amount, and therefore presumably
made by men who are competent to safeguard their own interests without State intervention. Yet again, the incorporated
bank has to pay taxes on every dollar of its capital and surplus, while the private banker is apt to escape all
assessment except upon his real estate. That is the case with the Fort Coving-ton Banking Company, which, for some
unexplained reason, is not assessed at all on its personalty.
Though advantageously located in many respects, with fine highways leading to many attractive points within reasonable
distances, and with waterways that invite delightful trips by sail or motor boat to beautiful islands in the St.
Lawrence and to interesting shore places in Canada, Fort Covington is unfortunate in that the configuration and
conditions of the adjacent country permit no possibility of a gravity system of water-works based upon a supply
from springs. Cisterns and wells have always had to be depended upon for water for domestic uses, and so, of course,
few of the residences have bath-rooms or toilet facilities, nor is there any general sewerage system. Were there
water-works, even with no better water than flows in the river, and sewers, there should be no reason why the village
might not have a finely appointed summer hotel well filled with guests through the season, and become also a center
of fine vacation homes of wealthy people from Montreal and cities of our own country. It would be an admirable
point as well, with its historic associations and varied natural attractions, for summer schools. It is regrettable
that enterprise and capital are not enlisted to provide what the village needs in the regards indicated. Lacking
these, there seems to be no promise of large growth or of especial prosperity for the place.
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