A special thank you to Jay and Audrey King. I met the Kings last month, in Florida, and came away with a treasure trove of North Country history. Jay, born and raised on the King Farm along Crooked Creek near Goose Bay, provided TI Life with a copy of his mother’s book, “Things I Remember" (Mina Herrick King), which he published in 1990.
Jay also lent me a copy of his grandmother’s book, "My Yesterdays" (Lillie Babcock Herrick), published in 1949. Not only do these books provide a window on what we call “pioneer life”, but hopefully they inspire others to capture the history of their communities, and families.
Both Lillie Herrick (1856-1949) and her daughter Mina Herrick King (1888-1983), wrote historical articles for local newspapers. Lillie was the “Grange” correspondent, providing regular articles for the Watertown Daily Times for more than 25 years. Mina wrote for the Thousand Islands Sun from mid 1970 until her death in 1983.
In 1990 Jay published a collection of her articles in “Things I Remember". The Introduction was written by Jean Miller, who helped edit and compile the material for the manuscript. In addition Mina’s sister, Ivah Herrick Bigley also wrote articles for the Thousand Islands Sun under the title: Recollections of a Goose Bay Gosling.
Jay has, very kindly, given TI Life permission to publish all the excerpts we wish.
This month we began by posting Chapter I of Things I Remember. It is located on TI Life under the tab THE PLACE, in the section entitled HISTORY. These excerpts will provide valuable material about the North Country for both researchers, and interested readers. Over time we will place more maps, photographs and ephemera into each chapter.
Want a sample? Here are three excerpts by Grandmother Lillie, Mother Mina and Aunt Ivah.
[Note: Click photos to enlarge]
My Yesterdays: Chapter XI – Alexandria Bay Memories, by Lillie Babcock Herrick (1856-1949)
... My parents remembered Alexandria Bay when it was only a “wooding station" where boats landed for fuel. Mr. LeRay established a tavern and warehouse there and then others began to move in. Among them was John W. Fuller, whose first wife was Maria Barnes, daughter of our pioneer, Ira Barnes of Barnes Settlement. Mr. Fuller was an old friend of my father’s and I recall coming to his home on Sunday when he was ill and not expected to live. I was a small girl, but I recall that I sat on a stool near them while those two old friends had their last visit. Azariah Walton, Andrew Cornwall, Chauncy Westcott and Charles Crossman were also among other early Alexandria Bay settlers.
The village became a port of entry in 1828 with Azariah Walton as Collector. But the Bay did not grow for many years as did other communities in the town. An old directory of 1866 shows Plessis and Alexandria Bay as being about the same size with a population of 308 each while Redwood was more than twice the size of the Bay with a population of 689.
Thus, I feel that although Alexandria Bay was really a settlement early in the 1800’s, that in a way, I grew up with it because it was within my own memory that the village began to recognize the possibilities of the St. Lawrence River and its islands as a summer resort, and to develop them as such… Pg. 85-86
Things I Remember: Chapter 4 – “Alexandria Bay in Years Past” by Mina Herrick King (1888-1983)
… In my young days we did enjoy a trip to the Bay as there was much for us to see and this store [Cornwall Bros. Store] was a big attraction for us. Our parents would bring in ten or twelve dozen eggs to use as part payment for the needs of the family. Although the price of eggs was very little - $.12 or $.15 a dozen, it all helped and the store liked having fresh eggs to sell.
With no cash register on the counter, it was amusing to see the money that had paid for our bill put into little basket; and by pulling a cord it was sent to the cashier, who was in a little elevated booth, to take care of and then send back the change and a copy of the bill.
On the riverfront of the store was a nice porch which was an ideal location to watch the arrival of big passenger boats, and to hear porters from the various hotels calling out the name of their respective hotel. As by now there had been two large hotels built. The Crossmon in 1848 and the Staples in 1873. My mother was sixteen years old when she attended the opening of the latter with her father. This was a big event for someone her age….
Recollections of A Goose Bay Gosling by Ivah Herrick Bigley
[Age 84 printed in the title] Thousand Islands Sun, Alexandria Bay, August 19, 1987.
Another “ IVA B” [Under the heading “Boating Days”…] We really did have some good times with the Iva B.” Now we could get over to Krings Point for picnics, etc. We always came to Alexandria Bay for grocery shopping and whatever was going on. We used to take trips around the islands and they were so pretty with their decorated lawns and flower beds of different shapes – anchors, hearts, half-moons, etc. – at night with the Japanese lanterns strong among the trees. This was the gas light era, so they were lovely displays light-wise.
The docks at the Bay were well lighted. I remember especially Long’s Fruit market near the front dock, for we would buy big baskets of fruit for eating and also canning. There was a gift shop called, I think, The Japanese Bazaar, out on Crossmon Point. Mr. Culver, who later owned the Nippon Shop on the Waterfront, told me he used to work there when he was a boy.
I also remember going to Seven Isles owned then by General Bradley Winslow who married Poppy Burdick Winslow, a cousin of my mother’s. I really enjoyed getting about on the different islands and trying to decide which one I liked best. I think it was the one where the food was.
I vaguely remember going to Thousand Islands Park for the Grange Day celebration. I remember being taken there to a large hotel to eat at other times, also.
It was always fun to head down river to Chippewa Bay to visit my uncle Dan and aunt Ann Babcock. Uncle Dan or his son Rhodes (I forget which one) had the cheese factory there. I loved to get into the cheese curd there, and at their home aunt Ann let me look at the lovely dishes in her china closet.
Then too, on picnics and whenever we wanted a good drink, my father would put a pail over the side of the boat and fill it with water to drink – no more in these days of the river being polluted and waste dumped on ever side…
by Susan W. Smith, firstname.lastname@example.org