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The “Titanic” and Grindstone

One hundred years ago, 14 April 1912 the RMS Titanic sank in the icy waters of the North Atlantic, 1,514 perished. Considered by many to be unsinkable, its builders Harland and Wolff and The White Star Line never made that claim. The history of the RMS Titanic is familiar to us all as the saga continues in film, exhibitions, museums and books.

One of the frequently quoted books dealing with the disaster is Sinking of the Titanic and Great Sea Disasters, written in 1912 by Logan Marshall. A quick Google of the name reveals that Logan Marshall was the nom de plume of Logan Howard-Smith of Grindstone Island.

Logan was the son of Robert Spurrier Howard-Smith of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Lida McKinney of Rogersville, Tennessee. Robert was for many years the Treasurer of the Link-Belt Company. Lida was extremely civic minded and was a member of several of Philadelphia’s betterment societies. Her obituary says she had “a wide circle of friends through her gracious presence and personal charm.” She passed away in the lobby of George Boldt’s Bellevue-Strafford Hotel in 1923 on her way to a meeting.

Logan was born in Montclair, New Jersey in 1883 and was a graduate of Germantown Academy, graduated in 1901 and the University of Pennsylvania, class of 1905. He had a keen interest in history and was a member of several patriot and genealogical societies, the best known being the Sons of the American Revolution. He was a Captain in the Pennsylvania National Guard, 2nd Regiment Infantry. He was an excellent marksman for which he received numerous medals. Due to ill health he did not serve in World War I.


April 21, 1917, Logan married Amelia Sparks Douglas, also of Philadelphia. She was the daughter of Walter Pearce Douglas a prominent Philadelphia businessman. They had only one child, Douglas Sparks Howard-Smith, born in 1922. Douglas (Doug) married Imogen (Junie) Reeve Snowden in 1947.

Logan and Amelia lived in Philadelphia, which was also the home of another long time Grindstone family the Rossmasslers. Junie Howard-Smith (nee Snowden) now Mrs. Frank A. Augsbury, a Grindstone summer resident, began coming to the Grindstone shortly after her marriage to Doug. Junie has no recollections of her father-in-law; as he passed away ten years prior to her marriage to Doug. However, in a recent telephone conservation with this author she expressed the theory that Amelia may have been a school friend of Eleanor Rossmassler. Whatever the connection Logan and Amelia visited Grindstone and the Rossmasslers in the summer of 1937. Logan was seriously ill and on his way to Canada to see a specialist, apparently via the new Thousand Island Bridge.

Amelia and Logan fell in love with the islands and looked for property on Grindstone. They purchased waterfront directly behind Island #67 or Blueberry Island, according to records at the Jefferson County Clerk’s Office the lot was 2.49 acres; purchased from Lawrence and Catherine Black of Clayton by Amelia on 6 October 1937. Sadly, Logan had passed away in September 1937, but Amelia carried on with the construction of the summer home, which stands today.

Under the name Logan Marshall, Logan Howard-Smith wrote or edited some seventeen books and as himself an additional five books. He wrote The Tragic Story of the Empress of Ireland in 1914. The Empress of Ireland sank after collusion with a coal barge in the St. Lawrence River just below Pointe au Pere, Quebec and was second only to the RMS Titanic in loss of life. Other subjects included the Panama Canal, World War I, and even a book of Favorite Fairy Tales, which he edited.

By Rexford M. Ennis, Grindstone Island

© Copyright Rexford M. Ennis 2010, All Rights Reserved

Rex Ennis has written several articles for TI Life.   His bio is recorded in Contributors in December, 2008. In the past two years Rex has published two important books on the Thousand Islands.  The first , published in 2010 is Toujours Jeune Always Young the biography of Charles G. Emery.  It was reviewed in June 2010 issue.  The second, Saints, Sinners and Sailors of the Gilded Age: A compendium of biographical sketches centered on the Gilded Age in the Thousand Islands  which describes the biographies of every name appearing on a 1889 map published by Frank H. Taylor called:   Map of the Thousand Islands; Hotels, Parks and Cottages.  See the book review in our July 2011 issue  and you will find the map described in the July issue in the August 2011 issue.

Please feel free to leave comments about this article using the form below. Comments are moderated and we do not accept comments that contain links. As per our privacy policy, your email address will not be shared and is inaccessible even to us. For general comments, please email the editor.


Skip Tolette
Comment by: Skip Tolette ( )
Left at: 8:21 PM Thursday, February 16, 2012
Rex--What an interesting article--thanks, Skip T.
Herb Swingle
Comment by: Herb Swingle ( )
Left at: 8:36 AM Friday, February 17, 2012
Great and Interesting article!
Sue Smith
Comment by: Sue Smith ( )
Left at: 5:41 PM Friday, March 2, 2012
Great article, loved the Grindstone history, Sue
Abby Rand
Comment by: Abby Rand ( )
Left at: 7:35 AM Monday, March 19, 2012
Thank you Rex, very interesting article about my family! I know your story is mostly about my Grandfather but being a woman on our River I wonder about how a single mother managed in those days. I imagine my Grandmother as a strong lady to have forged forward with construction of her new house and managing life on the river without a husband - very different from her Philadelphia life. After speaking with my mother, Junie, I get a little more of the picture. Not surprisingly, Amelia did have help. Audrey Lashomb’s father drove the boat, the Gar Wood (Ripples) that is still in the family. Alice Carnegie, helped with the housework, called my father a “dear little shit”; I think it was meant in a loving way. My mother reminisces about Alice’s specialty, her Coconut Cake, which she would bring regularly.
My mother went on to tell the story of her early days on Grindstone. In 1949, when she first came to live on Grindstone, the house was a little better than camping. She already had one child, Rick, and I believe she was pregnant with my sister, Sandy. Cooking was on a kerosene stove; apparently the stove was so slow that dinner often wouldn’t be done until quite late. All lights were kerosene, which she was terrified to light so would wait for my father to do that. There was no washing machine and Rick had celiac disease that apparently made for such smelly diapers they dragged them in a diaper bag behind the boat to Clayton where they were cleaned by a diaper service.
A gas Briggs and Stratton pump just below the house pumped water from the river into a large holding tank above the house. When they ran out of water the pump was started and run to refill the tank; but it was only cold water coming out of the taps. Hot water was heated in a large copper bucket on the stove. It took 2 people to carry this to the bathtub, making about 2 inches of hot water. Staying quite late into the fall, my mother would haul coal to feed a stove that stood in the living room, a futile attempt to heat the single board house. On a windy day the wind literally would whistle through the house, the curtains billowing with the breeze. Once a week they would rent a room in town to take hot showers.
The icebox was chilled by a 100 lb block of ice that my father would haul from town and up the hill to the house on his back with ice tongs. Eventually they graduated from ice to a kerosene refrigerator, then gas and finally electric when electricity was brought to Grindstone in the late 50’s (?).
Besides not having electricity, there was also no phone service on Grindstone. When they did get telephone service, it was a party line that was shared with Dorothy Carnegie next door. But before phones, telegrams were delivered by boat in special instances such as a guest arriving.
I’m sure there are many people who remember these days fondly as does my mother. Amenities were few but they had a good time.
Rex Ennis
Comment by: Rex Ennis ( )
Left at: 8:11 AM Tuesday, March 20, 2012
Thanks Abby for the great stories!
Audrey Mullarney
Comment by: Audrey Mullarney ( )
Left at: 9:33 AM Monday, April 16, 2012
Enjoyed your article, Rex. Also loved Abby's saga! Thanks for the memories.