TI Life’s Introduction to Things I Remember by Mina Herrick King
In December 2009 we received a note from Jay King, born in Redwood, NY in 1931. Jay is the son of Albert and Mina King, dairy farmers who lived north of Redwood, NY. Jay’s mother, Mina Herrick King, wrote historical articles for the Thousand Islands Sun throughout the 1980's. In 1990, Jay published a collection of her articles in a book titled “Things I Remember".
Jay sent TI Life the book and graciously gave permission to publish as many excerpts from the book as we wish.. We begin with Chapter I.
Over time we will place more maps, photographs and ephemera into each chapter.
It was a short time before 1885 when my father, Edward Herrick, decided to buy a small farm in Goose Bay. Goose Bay was mostly a wilderness, but he did have a small farm and log cabin to start his life in. He married Lillie Babcock, my mother. They made many needed repairs on the long cabin, enough to get them by until they could move into a better home. The land was cleared; cultivated and real farming was begun with cattle and machinery. More land was soon added and thus more work was required to be done.
Their nearest neighbors were the Edward Bertram family. They were found to be very reliable and trustworthy. In those days it was a blessing to find such people because everyone needed each other in the ad times. The Bertrams had four children in the space of four years. One April my father was away getting the doctor for the birth of the two sons. The roads were muddy and there was no telephone service. Upon their return, they discovered that my mother had already delivered a set of twins, Edward and Edson.
My parents already had three of us girls, with the neighborhood children as friend, we all grew up together – almost like brothers and sisters, haring in the pleasures and disappointments of each other; thereby making each one of the stronger and better able to take a place in the world. When the time came for decision we are glad to have been brought up in the country and the area of Goose Bay.
I was born in the north part of the Goose Bay School District 18, Town of Alexandria on December 16, 1888. We got along, as trouble was not found there in the way we lived. Mother’s home had been in Barnes Settlement and she taught school there in her home in District Number 7. I was born in the new home as was my oldest sister, Edna. Aroline was born later in a different house as my father did the work on an adjourning farm where we lived for a short time.
We took our cattle and lived there a year or so. Then we came back to our own farm. The Limburger cheese factory took some of our milk. These factories were just for summer use as farmers in those days did not have the cows to milk in the winter for cheese. We mad our own butter then for all year.
Some of the neighbors we had in District 18 were Michael Hofferberth, the Robert Fitzsimmons family, Alonzo Skinner and their sons Earl and Leslie. Daniel Springer and his son George, the Ira Kring family, Henry Hibbard, the Leander Hibbards, Delos Herrick, James Connley, James McPhee and Edward Bertram. If there was a sickness in the family, all of these neighbors helped out in some way if you needed it. When I was 13 years old I was seriously ill and could not be moved. I as staying with my grandparents, Delos Herrick. Mr. and Mrs. George Springer came one night to help and others came as they were needed. My two sisters took the measles and my Aunt Martha came to help take care of them.
The Martin Springer farm was one of the most well kept farms in Goose Bay. The buildings were very nice with a big dairy barn, a large horse barn, blacksmith shop and a nice home for the family. The Springer sons, Mark and Fred were still at home. Mark was interested in horses and had about twelve. Other than those used for farm work.
They had made a half mile race track near the barns and employed a horse trainer who was also a blacksmith. Horses were trained daily. My father loved horses as well, and brought his to this track. Since he had no sons he employed me as a substitute to go along with him.
One summer a Mr. Perry was training horses on the track that was on the property now owned by the Edgewood Resort. My father engaged him to train my horse, “Cecil” I was there about every week to see how she was progressing. I rode on the track a few times and really enjoyed it.
In the winter time the ice on Goose Bay was cleared of snow and a track was made for fun races. I remember Peter Connley who ran his horses on the Springer race track and on the ice. Peter enjoyed sports so much that he gave the young men in the neighborhood a ball diamond near his house. Peter purchased a grandstand so everyone could enjoy the games. He and his brother lived alone and this provide great company for both of them.
Since horses were our only means of transportation, we often went to the Methodist Church in Alexandria Bay in our double buggy with the fringe on top. It as a challenge to go up the steep Reester Hill with the horse and buggy, so sometimes we had church services in our Goose Bay schoolhouse. Daniel Springer had charge of the two miles on Sunday and enjoyed it very much as others joined us along the way. Reverend Hancock often walked five miles to call on church members in Goose Bay. Some of our family would take him back home at the end of these calls.
We didn’t have the many varied attractions that young people have today. But we were happy with our simple life style and enjoyed every minute of it. On winter evenings after the chores were done and school work finished, some of the neighbors would drop in for an evening of fun. We played dominoes, checkers, and old maid. One night a big sleigh load arrived with music and refreshments. We square danced in the kitchen. I recall singing with Ross and William Northup. Charles Overackr, Jennie Northup, Martha Babcock and many others.
As we grew up we often surprised each other with birthday parties in the winter months. Mine was in December and when I reached my sixteenth birthday, a large crowd arrived with best wishes, refreshments and a gift presented on behalf of those attending the party. I am still at a loss as to how the horses were taken care of at these parties. In the summer months the picnic parties were held on the shores of Goose Bay.
There was a General Electric employee from Schenectady who made my father a radio. It was made without a cabinet and run by a battery with earphones. It a great thing to hear from the outside world, even though KDKA Pittsburgh was the only place available. For Goose Bay this was a great treat and many came to listen.
It was about 1900 when we girls found it to be a very entertaining for us to go through our fields to the shoreline on our farm and watch the men who were loading stone on a scow to be used in the building of Boldt Castle and other buildings. A Mr. Hoadley owned the scow. They would spend several days before a sufficient load was made. Several men were hired to this work and usually one of the wives did the cooking. We enjoyed visiting with her as she came to our land for sod and top soil for some of the island what wished to improve their lawns. This was interesting for us to know that some of the Goose Bay‘s land could help to beautify other places on the St. Lawrence River.
Not far from where the scow landed was a good fishing place and several people from Alexandria Bay came here to enjoy our Catfish Rocks. Some of those were the Howard Scotts and Welby Marshalls. They were friends of my parents and would often relax from their fishing at our house.
The trolley that was built between Redwood and Alexandria By was also an attraction for us. It gave us much pleasure. It was completed in 1900. The first day was a gala affair for us all. A free ride was give form the Bay to Redwood. My father took us girls and Glenn Zoller, who was then living in Goose Bay with his mother. This was a short ride compared to riding the horse and buggy.
I can remember quite well Fred Springer and Mike Coby who helped with the operation of the trolley.
The roads in the land around Goose Bay were not always in the best of condition as they were not properly cared for. Property owners had to do the work under a man in each district who had been appointed a “path master.” He had to supervise the men to worked out their road tax as to assessed value and the number of days they were required to work. My father was given his job often. In later years he was instrumental in getting his taken over by the town or county. Better roads then came to Goose Bay.
My father and other interested people wanted our road to extend across Crooked Creek and were promised if they got the marsh part of the road made, a bridge would be built. Through hard work without pay, this was done and the bridge was installed. This was a happy day as this gave us the rural mailman past our house every day. Otherwise we had to go to Hibbards Corners where people in Goose Bay had their mail boxes.
With better roads, many people came to Goose Bay to fish and picnic. As my grandfather lived at the entrance to the road reaching the shoes, many left their horses in his barn. Some of these people were the Claude Makepeaces, the Ross Hunters, and the George Hardys of Philadelphia.
Leander Hibbard had placed a long table on his land and some big family picnics were held there. It was a pleasing place to drive to and enjoy eating together. All this made Goose Bay more popular each year, as cars became more available for transportation.
In the fall and winter of 1920-1921, the road to Kring Point State Park was laid which made the park available to all who wished to race it by land. This soon changed the park a great deal, as many new buildings were added to make it a very desirable place for a vacation. However, it became much too crowed to enjoy the day picnics of long ago.
On the Goose Bay side of the point was a more quiet area. Two Civil War veterans enjoyed their small houseboats and spent most of the summer each year anchored there. I have pleasant memories of staying a few days with James Dillon and his daughter, now Mrs. Charles Putnam, on their houseboat. Solomon Makepeace of Plessis lived along in his boathouse which was also anchored here.
By father had purchased a motor boat and moved our boathouse to the Goose Bay shore, as the road made it a better for us to reach it there. A small camp was later added we also had two skiffs for fishing. In a short time this little camp was a popular place for several men from Albany to spend their vacations. Father would take a little time from farming and load the boat for trips around most of the islands on the river and Alexandria Bay.