Street improvements in Harrietstown | News, Sports, Jobs


Just picture strolling into town on a beautiful day in the month of May, picking up a copy of the Enterprise and finding nothing but good news on page one.

The Harrietstown Town Board announced improvements to the Riverside Bridge, Lake Street and Algonquin Avenue; the marriage of Mathew Munn to Miss Agnes DeLisle was page one news; the office of the high school principal was created and filled by the board of education and “Carpenters, Masons, Painters and Plasterers Went Out on Strike.”

The logo of the Enterprise was the same as it is today and the page one stories mentioned above were from May 2, 1907 — 115 years ago.

I let my mind wander into dreamland, imagining what it must have been like living through that era; horses and wood stoves, no cell phones, no television, a much slower pace, time to visit family and friends … I keep on telling you, nostalgia is not what it used to be.

“The Town Board of Harrietstown has planned some highly important and necessary work on the highways and bridges in the vicinity of Saranac Lake. Richard Malone has been awarded the contract for cement and concrete paving of the bridge over the River at Riverside Inn. [The village of Saranac Lake was incorporated in 1892, so I wonder why the town of Harrietstown was awarding contracts within the village and not the village board and You Know What? I can’t find anyone to ask.]

“Sealed proposals are also to be received by Walter Johnson, Town Clerk, for the construction, not to exceed $3,000 worth of crushed stone on Lake Street and Algonquin Avenue, between the corporation line near the home of Henry Davis and the Algonquin boat house. [Now that answers part of my above question, but the bridge is in the village.]

“The plans and specifications state that the crushed stone shall be to a depth of nine inches, put on in three courses of layers, the center to be four inches higher than the side. The width of the stone road is to be 12 feet. Separate bids will be received for the grading and preparing of the road.”

The Munn wedding

“A pretty late April wedding was that of Monday morning at St. Bernard’s church when Miss Agnes DeLisle and Mathew Munn were married by the Rev. J. J. Waters. The ceremony took place at 6:30 o’clock [seems very early unless that was a typo?] and was attended by a large number of relatives and friends of the contracting parties.

“It was a fine spring morning and all the pretty finery of the season was on display.

“The bride looked very pretty in a traveling gown of dark blue panama. She carried a prayer book. Her bridesmaid, Miss Rena DeLisle, her sister, was also attired in blue panama. Earl Finnegan was the groomsman.

“Miss Jennie Morgan presided at the organ and W. F. Jordan rendered the solo ‘Oh, Promise Me’ in excellent voice. Following the ceremony there was a wedding breakfast at the home of the bride’s parents on Woodruff Street.”

School principal hired

“The Board of Education has made a contract with George E. Brownell of Syracuse for the position of principal of Saranac Lake High School. It appears that the contract made with Prof. James E. Weld is for the position of Superintendent of the Saranac Lake schools. Prof. Brownell is to receive $1,500 while Prof. Weld will receive $1,700.

“The creation of the office of superintendent is one of a crop of ideas. Some of the school board members believe the situation requires a superintendent to deal with it and have accordingly planned to add $1,700 to the annual school budget which will come up for the taxpayers approval at the election in August. [The story is confusing since it reads as through Professor Weld has already been hired — but wait, there’s more.]

“The State Superintendent of Education may authorize the engaging of a superintendent of schools in Saranac Lake but one important condition must be met. The population of the school district or the village must be at least 5000. The last census shows a population of 4200.

“Prof. Brownell, Ph.D., is a graduate of the Albany Normal School and Illinois Wesleyan and has been teaching in Savannah, Sandy Creek and Pine Plains, respectively. He is 32 years of age and married.”

Union goes out on strike

“Building operations in Saranac Lake and vicinity were interrupted Wednesday when the carpenters, painters, masons and plasterers went out on strike. The demands of the men are set forth in the following [edited] statement:

“Upon April 20, 1907, Local Union No. 600 of Saranac Lake of Carpenters and Joiners of America, served written notice on the contractors asking better working conditions; namely, a 9 hour work day with no reduction in wages; time and a half for over time and double time for Sundays.

“Except for one, the demand was ignored by the contractors.

“On Tuesday evening, April 30, without one opposing vote, the Local Union, No. 600, decided to go out in support of the demands made.

“The scale of wages is said to be about $2.75 per day and a schedule of ten hours a day. The master builders claim to grant the demands, of which call for a working day of nine hours with the same pay, would mean an increase of about 10 per cent.

“The builders say they grant the men at once a working day of nine hours but at the rate of pay for nine hours.”

[In 1907 my grandfather, Patrick Riley, a widower at a young age, was working as a teamster for Branch & Callanan. At that time he was delivering wagon loads of supplies every day being used for construction of one of the buildings at the New York State Tuberculosis Hospital in Ray Brook. My dad, Dennis, used to ride with him making those deliveries. When I asked Dad, who at that time was about age 8, ‘what about school?’ He replied, ‘I went once in a while but I was more of a drop in than a drop out.’]



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