The Thousand Island Park
From: The Growth of a Century
History of Jefferson County, New York
From 1793 to 1894.
By John A. Haddock
Weed-Parsons Priting Company
Albany, N. Y. 1895

Thousand Island Park.

THE Thousand Island Park seems to have been an outgrowth of that wave of religious sentiment which swept over the country about 1874—the result, perhaps, of the reaction in men’s minds which usually follows great financial depression. Its contemporary developments are visible at Ashbury Park and Ocean Grove, two grand sununer resorts upon the seaboard of New Jersey, and the later manifestation of the same sentiment at Chautauqua, in Western New York. All of these movements towards summer residences bore a distinctly religious character, and were the outgrowth of a sincere desire to glorify God, and yet, in doing so, to make summer homes where families could receive the benefit of change of scene and of air and perhaps in their manner of living.

The manifestation of this impulse at Thousand Island Park is due to the efforts of Rev. J. F. Dayan, a well known Methodist minister, now on the retired list. He conceived the idea that the Methodist denomination would gladly support such a resort, and he selected the southwesterly end of Wells Island as the most eligible spot. The selection was judicious, and his efforts were soon appreciated. The needed lands were mainly purchased (1,000 acres) from Captain Throop, whose title was only the third remove from the State itself. Success crowned the Association’s efforts, $22,000 worth of lots having been sold in one day. Men struggled to secure the most desirable sites. It was unfortunate for the young, town, however, that the extreme religious element so far prevailed that illy-considered restrictions were imposed as to entrance fee, etc., but in time these peculiar views have given way to more liberal ideas. To this day, however, no steamer is allowed to land at their dock on the Sabbath, the present management adhering to the original plan that the Sabbath should be not only a day of rest but of religious observance. The Thousand Island Park is now, as it was at the beginning, a place where a man can leave his wife and children and feel sure that they will not be exposed to any harmful influences of aiiy nature—a place where “the assassins of society’’ would have no inducement whatever to come.

The situation of the Park is superior. Back from the river-front plateau rises a rocky mound, nearly 200 feet in height, which afforded a permanent and accessible locality for a water reservoir with pressure enough to flood the highest buildings. The soil is productive, resting upon the moraine of this region, the result of glacial action. The secondgrowth of timber is mainly oak and elm, remarkably straight and vigorous, and the lotowners are only called upon to decide what trees should he felled, and not what they should plant. It is difficult to conceive of a finer location. With inan’s intelligent supervision the place may he made the most delightful in America. Other resorts have the ocean, with its drifting sands, its fogs, its storms—this Park has the great St. Lawrence, whose waters come sweeping down from the far Northwest, pure as the melting snows can make them, fresh as
the breath of spring, placid as Nature itself. To live in such a spot is a benediction for man; there lie forgets his cares, and grows into a life of content and thankfulness.

At the Thousand Islands there is a perceptible odor of ozone in the atmosphere. By some it is called a “sulphurous,” by others a fishy smell. But there is a difference. Ozone is of itself an energetic chemical agent. It is a preservative, not a putrifying influence. In this it differs widely froni oxygen, the principle in the air which promotes decay. There seems to he a reason for the belief that the beneficial effects produced upon many invalids from a residence among the Thousand Islands or upon-the sea-shore, is due largely to the ozone discernible in those localities.

An indication of the progrcssive spirit of the Park is the Thousand Island Herald, a weekly newspaper published there, ably conducted, of which E. F. Otis is editor, and Rev. William Searle, manager.

The original capital of the Association was fixed at $15,000, of which $7,100 was paid in cash. On January 11th, 1876, the indebtedness of the Association was $24,647.81, and time assets $57,300.94. The capital was afterwards increased to $50,000.

The original trustees were: Chancellor E. D. Haven, D. D., President; Williard Ives, Vice-President; Col. Albert D. Shaw, John F. Moffett, J. F. Dayan, E. C. Curtis, E. Remington, Hon. Jas. Johnson, M. D. Kinney.

Mr. Dayan continued a member of the hoard and as secretary and general manager until 1881. Chancellor Haven resigned in 1881, having been made one of the Bishops of the church at the preceding general conference. He was succeeded by Rev. I. S. Bingham, D. D., who in 1883, gave place to Rev. M. D. Kinney, A. M., who had been a member of the board of trustees from the first. Under his energetic management many improvements were perfected, and there came a period of decided growth. He continued as President for seven years, and the Park owes much to his management, and to the fact that he has been of financial aid at many times.

The present trustees are: George P. Folts, President; George C. Sawyer, Vice President; Dr. A. W. Goodale, Treasurer; Walter Brown, Assistant Treasurer; W. R. Fitch, Secretary. Trustees: George P. Folts, F. G. Weeks, Geo. C. Sawyer, W. R. Fitch, Walter Brown, Dr. A. W. Goodale, James P. Lewis, M. R. LeFevre, A. Gurnee. Rev. Wm. Searles, D. D., is the Director of the Tabernacle services.

From the very first the design of the Association has been to secure the best native talent for religious services, and also bringing from abroad men of established reputation and ability. In this way the noble Tabernacle has had under its roof some of the most celebrated preachers in the United States and Canada, and the reputation of the Park in this respect has been admirably sustained. Rev. Dr. J. E. C. Sawyer, editor of the Northern Christian Advocate, delivered two sermons there on July 22, 1894, that were the most finished and stirring the writer has ever listened to. The influences that have gone out froni that Tabernacle have been peculiarly inspiring and noble, and its services have done much to popularize the Park. The auditorium has a natural slope, the acoustics are admirable, and the sight most unique and interesting when the vast place is filled with the sea of upturned faces confronting the speaker. Situated in a fine growth of oak, with great curtains at the sides, which can be raised or lowered as desired, the people are brought face to face with nature, whence they are inspired to look up to nature’s God.

It should not he forgotten that the Park as well as the Islands partake of an international character to a great extent, and the Union Jack floats in close proximity to our own beloved stars and stripes, and that prayers ascend for the noble Queen from the same desk as the petition for our honored President.

The population of Thousand Island Park is somewhat of a floating one, as regards its permanence, but there can he no doubt as to its pre-eminent respectability. It numbers 800 to 6,000 souls. Indeed the only occasion for fear in these established popular resorts is that they may become exclusively the summer abodes of the rich alone. At this place, however, there are ample accommodations for people of every class in point of material wealth, the hotel charges being $3.00 per day for the best, one dollar per day for a cheaper but really comfortable place, and board in private cottages at even less rates. It is preeminently a democratic place, and friendliness is cultivated as not an altogether obsolete sentiment. The trustees and officers are capable men, composed of persons who have made their way from small beginnings and have always been in sympathy with plain and home-like methods. The cottages are numerous, all of them attractive, some beautiful. We give views of the new hotel which replaces the one burned in 1891, and some of the more elegant structures. A traveller upon any of the steamers which tread their way among the islands will observe that more people get on and off at Thousand Island Park than all the other resorts put together. The plotted ground for cottages occupies about 100 acres. The Association has sold off 200 acres for farming; and about 700 acres are left, devoted to dairying.

The pumping engines of the Association, their system of sewerage, water supply and electric lights are superior and unexcelled. Their dynamo plant and the beautiful machinery there of the Watertown Steam Engine Company are models of mechanical skill. J. A. H.

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