1899 mystery debunked by Bunk

I get a lot of feedback from this weekly column but this follow-up from my friend Phil “Bunk” Griffin is one of the best.

Last week we told a story from 1899 when Dr. Robert S. Tracy, a Yale graduate and physician, left the Riverside Inn in Saranac Lake about 12:30 a.m. on April 12 and disappeared. The Enterprise clipping from the archives of the Adirondack Room of the Saranac Lake Free Library whose reporter opined that the doctor may have tried to cross the unsafe ice on Lake Flower.

And that Enterprise reporter was waxing poetic at the end of the news story about the doctor’s disappearance and wrote; “however, so energetic and thorough has been the search that it is now feared that his location will never be found and that his disappearance will ever remain one of the mountain mysteries.”

But his body was found around the middle of May, here is the story, thanks to Bunk:

Some readers misunderstood a sentence in last week’s column that said “big murder trial we will cover later along with some humorous stuff” which they were looking for last week. So ‘later’ is now.

This is one humorous piece:

The Misses Eel gave a dance to honor Miss Trout,

Who just graced a ball at her first coming out.

Not to show any preference, was their intention,

So they thought to invite everyone they could mention.

Mr. Chub, Mr. Dace and his family of four,

Mrs. Minnow, her friends and relations, a score,

Mr. Bass and his bride, Miss Whiting,

Miss Tunny,

Who was always invited because she had money.

The gold-fishes too, could not well be left out,

Because they were friends of Miss Fin and Miss Trout,

Mr. Grayling, Miss Roach, Mr. Pike and Miss Flounder,

Who always kept everyone laughing around her.

Mr. Perch, his friend Sturgeon, who brought Mr. Drum

To help in the music, as the Fiddler had come,

These were all in the swim and the supper was splendid,

It covered the ground that for acres extended.

There was plenty to drink, and claret in packing

And all was complete, not anything lacking,

And all were as happy as happy could be,

Without any thought of the trouble they’d see.

Robber Pickerel and wife, their daughter and son,

That never stopped eating, when once they’d begun.

Soon spied them all out, and with appetites hearty,

They swallowed the crowd, and

Thus ended the party.

Now, one of our Adirondack Guides should memorize this poem and recite it around the campfire after a big day of fishing big fish.

A not-so-funny story

From the Enterprise, April, 1894:

Headlines on the story; “The oldest house in the mountains, wood to ashes, house gone in smoke.”

“The owner, M. B. Miller was away, when Tuesday morning at ten minutes to three, Mrs. Byrant saw smoke and flames issuing from Miller’s Saranac Lake House. At five o’clock a black pile of ashes and smoking ruins marked the spot where the oldest hotel in the woods once stood.

“How the fire originated is a mystery. No theory can be authentic, though the current opinion is that it was the work of some incendiary fiend. No one had been in the building for about two weeks.

“Mr. Miller was in Plattsburgh, enroute to Albany, at the time of the conflagration, and H. H. Tousley had just returned home. The house was beautifully furnished, but not even a chair was saved. The adjacent building escaped destruction by the heavy rain that was falling.

“Not long ago Mr. Miller was offered a handsome price for this property, but refused it. The loss will reach upwards of $75,000; insurance $28,750 with O’Neil & Hale; $18,500 was on the hotel; $9.950 on furniture and $300 on billiard tables.

[The location of the hotel was not mentioned]

My grandparents’ wedding annoucnement

August 1895

“KEEGAN-MCKILLIP?- at St. Rosa’s Church, Franklin Falls, N.Y., by Rev. Richard O’Donald, William Keegan and Miss Libbie A. McKillip, both of Franklin Falls.

You could have knocked me over with a feather when I found this piece in the newspaper clippings. Franklin Falls had a post office at that time but my grandparents never lived there. They lived in Alder Brook where the church and parish of St. Rose of Lima, not Rosa, was located, not in Franklin Falls. The priest was the locally famous Father Richard O’Donnell, not O’Donald. He had arrived in New York City from Ireland in 1890. He disliked the city, traveled to Ogdensburg and was assigned to St. Rose parish and to the parish at Black Brook by Bishop Wadhams.

My mother, Elizabeth, always known as Bessie, was born in August 1899. History is difficult to abbreviate, but when she was still a child, her mother and sister, Marguerite, both died a short time apart; I have no idea of the cause but the anecdotal information claims it may have been tuberculosis.

She was raised by her aunt, Esther Keegan Hogan, married to Tom Hogan, the elder; so she was like a sister to their children, Margaret Hogan Buckley, Bid Hogan Ryan and Dick, Pat, Henry, Tom, Francis and Bill Hogan. Her father went to work on the railroad, though he was really a carpenter, but when our mother was older he built a new home for them in Gabriels on the “Crossroads,” now Hobart Road.