erected from Dickinson in 1880, and then comprised six townships, or 146,466
assessed acres. By the forming of Altamont in 1890 its area was reduced by
almost exactly one-half, or to 77,254 acres as assessed - which, quality
considered, is quite sufficient, as the land generally has little value after
the removal of the timber. It is uneven, rocky, almost sterile in parts, and
even where the soil is seemingly fairly good it is often cold, repaying
cultivation but poorly, though affording reasonably good grazing.
The entire south
third of the town is included in the William Rockefeller private park or
preserve; most of the middle third and a part of the north third are in the
condition that extensive lumbering operations would naturally leave a wilderness
tract.; while two-thirds of the north third, or less than a quarter of the
whole, is nearly all cleared and in cultivation, with a number of good farms,
though mostly rough and rolling, so that it is not feasible to use machinery
advantageously, and a good deal of hand work is required in planting,
cultivating and harvesting the crops. Thin and acid in some localities, the land
nevertheless produces good hay and most kinds of grain, as well as potatoes as
fine as are grown anywhere in the world - two prizes having been awarded to
Waverly growers at the Cornell potato show in 1916.
seasons are sometimes too short for potatoes to ripen fully, that disadvantage
is more than compensated if the product be marketed for seed, as the unripe
potato sprouts quickest, and enables southern growers to produce earlier, when
prices are highest. In the hope of affording suggestion for safeguarding the
future, after the disappearance of the forest, H. E. O'Neil has given local
agricultural problems no little study, and from personal actual demonstration
believes that the growing of potatoes for seed, which always commands a better
price than for consumption, and stock raising along given lines can be made to
yield handsome returns. Calves bought in midsummer, grazed on cheap lands until
winter, then fed economically, grazed again the following summer, and finally
prairied for a few weeks have paid a hundred per cent and more on the original
investment - the intermediate care and cost having been trivial. Dairying on a
large scale can not be expected to be prosecuted profitably, though affording
promise of fair success in certain enclosed areas.
climatic and soil conditions such that lands are rarely too wet for working in
the spring, and never crust or bake, while underlying moisture minimizes drought
effects, it is believed that with due enterprise and employment of intelligent
methods farming in the northern part of the town could be brought to realize
quite as much as is at present paid out for wages by the mills in the village.
But even this could not be counted upon to preserve the village itself in its
present size, for with the exhaustion of the timber the mills must close, and
there would remain no sufficient employment for the common labor which
constitutes so large a part of the municipal population.
NATURAL RESOURCES AND REFORESTATION
Apart from the soil the natural resources of Waverly
consist almost altogether in its forests, of which the industries upon which the
business activities in the village of St. Regis Falls depend are destructive.
The cooperage company is denuding large tracts of hard timber at a rapid rate,
and the pulp mill consumes great quantities of the soft woods. Manifestly this
can not continue forever unless there be replacement other than that which
Nature can supply, and with the forests gone, and three-quarters of the town's
area practically worthless for agricultural purposes, the conclusion is
inescapable that Waverly's then future would he precarious in the extreme.
Consequently unless there be instituted and determinedly prosecuted a policy of
reforestation, the mills must become idle in the course of a few years, and St.
Regis Falls lose its prosperity and a large percentage of its population,
regardless of how agriculture he developed. The alternative to such decay is of
course a stupendous proposition, but men who are experienced and skilled in
forestry insist that it is not only altogether feasible, but that it promises
actual profit. A thousand young pine or spruce per acre are required to reforest
a tract, and forty to forty-five years will be required for them to attain a
growth which would fit them for merchantable uses. But foresters tell us that at
the end of such period the harvest would have a money value which, reckoning
every item of cost, including land and compounding the interest on the
investment, would give a return of five per cent to the operator. A generation
or more is undeniably a long wait, but it is certainly preferable to hopeless
barrenness and utter loss of lands, which, treated as suggested, might make an
industry perpetual instead of short lived, with the tract worth incalculably
more than it was even as virgin forest, because with the steadily decreasing
timber area stumpage can not fail to gain in value.
that, one needs but to visit the neighborhood of Wawbeek in Harrietstown, where
there is a replanted forest fifteen to eighteen years old, to be delightedly
impressed by the attractiveness of lands thus treated as compared with those
that have been stripped and practically abandoned. The Brooklyn Cooperage
Company is already putting out half a million young trees on lands owned by it
in St. Lawrence county, and like action must be had in Waverly if there is to
remain anything of consequence in the town besides a memory and its name.
Everybody in the town who has its welfare at heart and possesses any denuded
land unfit for cultivation should practice the policy here suggested in some
degree at least, and those who can not themselves so operate ought not to
neglect opportunity to urge action upon others. If neglected the town will be a
waste within a measurable period, and must lose most of its population. The same
proposition is applicable equally to Altamont, Brandon, Duane, Franklin and
Santa Clara, the truth of which is exemplified by Waverly's own experience.
Comparing conditions there in 1895 with those which had obtained earlier, the
late Hon. William T. O'Neil wrote that where there had been two mills at Shanley
there were then none and the houses for the operatives were deserted and empty;
that a planning mill and box factory at St. Regis Falls which had employed
thirty hands had gone into disuse; that a saw mill which formerly worked a
hundred men was employing only eleven; that the railroad shops, with sixty
workmen, had removed elsewhere; and that lumbering operations that had had camps
containing five hundred workers had ceased altogether. The tannery was then
running, but closed later, and has not been replaced, and more recently the mill
has closed because the preparation of pulp wood by that process has been found
to be too wasteful. All of these changes except the loss of the railroad shops
were due solely to the fact that the pine and large spruce in the vicinity had
all been cut, and most of the hemlock stripped of its bark. The outlook for the
time seemed black enough and hopeless and only that industries using hard woods
and cutting the smaller spruce for pulp wood came into existence there could not
have been much more of a future for St. Regis Falls than for Everton, Santa
Clara, Shanley and Branclon. But within a dozen or fifteen years the supply of
hard wood and pulp stock will have been exhausted, compelling abandonment of the
mills and leaving no field of employment open to labor. Can such conditions mean
anything except one more practically deserted village in the event that
reforestation is not undertaken soon?
True, a summer resort business might be rebuilt up to
some extent if capital and enterprise for it could he enlisted, but vacationists
and pleasure seekers will not favor a locality that lacks woods and water.
It appears from the supervisors' records that Waverly
twice escaped by a narrow margin a different christening. In 1861 the
proposition was put before the supervisors to set off six townships from
Dickinson, and to call the proposed new town Hammond's Falls - Charles F. and
John U. Hammond of Crown Point having purchased large tracts of wilderness lands
in the vicinity a short time previously, and erected a saw mill at what is now
St. Regis Falls. The supervisors voted adversely, however, and no further
suggestion for the partition of Dickinson was presented until 1880. The proposed
act as then offered gave to the new town the name Greenville, in compliment to
Ira C. Green, a pettifogger, a justice of the peace, and an active worker in
local politics, but busy rather than strong. The measure failed of passage by
one vote. A few days later Hon. William T. O'Neil, who became the first
supervisor, and who was for more than a quarter of a century the leading citizen
of the place, appeared before the supervisors in advocacy of the proposition
except that he suggested substituting Waverly for Greenville as the name which
the town should bear. His arguments and personal influence induced one
supervisor to change his vote, and the measure carried.
Yet another incident of name designation attaches to
the locality which it is worth while to chronicle. During the civil war, when
practically. everybody in all that section was an ardent Unionist and admirer of
the President, it was desired to have a post-office established, to be called
Lincolnson. A Democrat of a neighboring town was engaged to draw the petition,
and in the narrowness and bitterness of partisanship then so prevalent he wrote
the name "Linkinson," and, rather remarkably, it slipped through the post-office
department with approval. In consequence the place was known for years as
Linkinson," but with change eventually to St. Regis Falls.
BEGINNING AND GROWTH OF ST. REGIS FALLS
The year when activity began at St. Regis Falls can not
be fixed with certainty, but probably was 1858 or 1859. Beginning in 1855 and
continuing yearly to 1859, the Hammonds made extensive purchases of timber lands
in the vicinity, and certainly not later than 1860 had a mill in operation,
which had been built for them by Amos Harvey, with Hiram Cook, Julius Rising and
Kirby and Josephus Titus comprising a part of his working force. Until then the
present town of Waverly had had no inhabitants at all except perhaps two or
three hunters and trappers. There were no roads other than trails and the
Northwest Bay road leading into it, and forests shut it in for miles on every
side. The first schoolwas taught in 1860 by Miss Amy Saunders (afterward Mrs.
Philip Shufelt) at a compensation of one dollar a week and board! The rear of a
log house, in the front part of which a family had living quarters, was the
school room, and the only frame structure in the place, with the exception of
the saw mill, was the dwelling house of Benjamin Babcock, who was the mill
superintendent. Other than these there was nothing except a few log cabins on
Main Street and the lumber camps back in the forests. Mr. Babcock remained as
superintendent until 1865, when he was succeeded by his brother John, who was
the father of Dr. L. W. and Brigham W. John died in 1867, and Oren Grimes, who
came from Crown Point, afterward engaged in lumbering in Duane with his
son-in-law, Fred O'Neil, and now resides in Malone, then took charge, and so
continued until the Hammonds sold to Orson Richards of Sandy Hill in 1820. Mr.
Richards associated Thomas O'Neil with him as resident manager and partner in
the business, but without proprietary interest in any of the lands. They
expected to cut eight million feet of lumber per year. Mr. Richards was
interested in large enterprises elsewhere, and some of these going wrong he
failed in 1829 for two and. a half million dollars. In consequence the property
here passed to the ownership of S. F. Vilas of Plattsburgh, and Vilas & O'Neil
ran the mill until 1882, when it was sold to Hurd, Hotchkiss & Macfarlane - the
latter a Michigan lumberman of large experience, and the other members of the
firm being capitalists from Connecticut, who had been associated in a similar
business with Mr. Macfarlane in the West, and who had become convinced that the
field here offered opportunity for profitable investment and operation.
Their original purchase comprehended a tract of some
sixty square miles, to which they added soon afterward half as much more. Their
plans were large and their action so energetic that most people in the locality
received them with amazement and incredulity, unable to comprehend that
lumbering could justify the building of a railroad through a difficult arid
sparsely settled country. Nevertheless by the autumn of 1883 they had completed
a railroad from Moira to St. Regis Falls, greatly enlarged the old Hammond mill,
opened a store, and established logging camps which were to turn out vast cuts
of timber. Their expenditure within half a year of the time that work was begun,
including land purchases, was said to have reached a million and a half of
dollars; and this proved to be little more than the beginning. Besides enlarging
the old mill, they added steam for power, installed machinery for making
clapboards, lath and. broomsticks, built a machine shop and box factory, and
conducted a general store which had a trade of seventy-five thousand dollars a
year. The effect upon St. Regis Falls was marked. Real estate values quadrupled,
and the population was multiplied by five or six, with more money circulating
than at any other place in the county. in the course of the next two or three
years the railroad was extended southerly through Waverly into Santa Clara. The
pace having become apparently too swift for Mr. Macfarlane, he withdrew from the
concern in 1885, and Mr. Hotchkiss dropped out a little later. Mr. Hurd, having
become absorbed in the work of extending the railroad and in the operation of
mills which he had built elsewhere, sold the St. Regis Falls plant to Dodge,
Meigs & Co. of New York, or the Santa Clara Lumber Co., which sold later to the
St. Regis Paper Co., the present owner.
Following the history of the Hammond mill, Watson Page
and B. W. Babcock leased it from the St. Regis Paper Co. in 1896 and operated it
for a shore time in the manufacture of hard wood lumber, after which the Watson
Page Lumber Company was incorporated by Mr. Page, William T. O'Neil and H. E.
O'Neil, and continued the business successfully until 1904, when the Brooklyn
Cooperage Company, seeking opportunity to do business here, was permitted to
take over the mill under lease-the gentlemen composing the Watson Page Lumber
Company consenting to the arrangement out of pure public spirit, so that the
hamlet might benefit through the establishment of a larger industry. The
cooperage company is still in possession, operating the plant as a stave and
heading factory. Though it owns no lands in the immediate vicinity, it buys big
lots of stnmpage or immense quantities of logs from others. It has a railroad
running half way across Waverly into and through Santa Clara, and half way over
into Brandon for hauling stock. It has on its payrolls in connection with the
St. Regis Falls business about three hundred men.
In 1865 the Hammonds sold a parcel of land at and
adjacent to St. Regis Falls to Solomon R, Edward and Francis Spaulding of
Boston, Mass., and James H. Young (the father of Mrs. W. T. O'Neil and Frank R.
Young of St. Regis Falls and of Charles H. of Malone) proceeded at once to bound
a sole-leather tannery for them, and then to operate it as superintendent. The
firm became Spaulding & Bumstead a little later, and did business until 1878,
when it failed. The tannery was then operated under lease for a year or two by
Perley D. Moore & Co. Shaw Brothers of Boston bought it about 1880, converted it
into an upper-leather works, and, including bark peelers and teamsters, gave
employment to a hundred and fifty hands. Mr. Young retired from the
superintendency in 1882 after seventeen years of practically continuous service.
Shaw Brothers had other large tanneries in Hamilton County and in Pennsylvania,
and had so overextended themselves that they failed in 1884 for five million
dollars. The establishment was sold to Arey, Maddock & Locke of Boston, and was
run by them, first in the firm name, and then under the title of St. Regis
Leather Company, with Samuel Smith as superintendent, until they also failed in
1901. The building was bought soon afterward by William T. and H. E. O'Neil, who
converted it into a chair factory, which had a capacity of six hundred chairs
per day, and later transferred to it the electric lighting plant which had been
established originally in the Page lumber mill. Both chair factory and the
electric works were run successfully until 1909, when fire wiped them out. The
name was changed to the Cascade Wood Products Company, and Alexander Macdonald
and Dr. L. M. Wardner became interested in it. A dam and pulp mill were erected
on the tannery site, and an electric railroad five or six miles in length
constructed out into timber lands for hauling logs. While the concern's supply
of timber lasted it sold the hard wood to the cooperage company, and itself
worked up the soft wood. The railroad is no longer - in existence, the rails
having been taken up and sold for old iron; and the pulp mill is temporarily
idle. H. E. O'Neil is the president and general manager. Acceptance of the
office of deputy conservation commissioner compelled Mr. Macdonald to part with
his interest in the property. The company owns also a small saw mill down the
stream from its principal works, which it operates for custom business.
To the progressiveness of H. E. O'Neil St. Regis Falls
owns installation of an. electric lighting system at a comparatively early date.
While yet hardly more than a boy, in the face of discouragement and scoffing by
many of his elders, he installed a small dynamo in 1898 in .the planning mill of
the Watson Page Lumber Co., and organized the St. Regis Light and Power Company.
Enlargement becoming necessary because of increase of business, the plant was
removed to the chair factory, and after the fire there an excellent power was
developed at Ploof's Falls, about two miles down the river, in the town of
Dickinson, and as complete works were constructed as are to be found anywhere.
Both dam and power house are of concrete, thorough and modern in construction,
and adequate to all demands that are likely to be made upon it. A tub factory is
operated in connection with it. All of the stock having been acquired by members
of the family, the corporation has been dissolved, and the business is now
conducted under the name O'Neil & Co.
About 1868 Benoni G. Webb, from Bellmont, built a saw
mill three quarters of a mile below the village. It was operated by Webb &
Stevers until the firm failed, when it was acquired and run by Hubbard & Lowell.
It burned in 1873. Charles H. Young rebuilt it in 1883, and in the course of two
or three years sold it to J. W. Webb. R. P. Lindsay and then H. E. O'Neil
followed in ownership. Hugh Raymod next had it, and now it is owned by the
Cascade Wood Products Co.
Other mills in Waverly have been a shingle mill,
near Guide Board, built by W. T. ONeil about 1876, but long out of existence,
two mills at Shanley, and a large rossing mill, built a few years ago by the St.
Regis Paper Co. a half a mile above the village, which shut down permanently two
or three years ago. It had a capacity of fifty thousand cords of pulp wood
annually. Following the murder of Orrando P. Dexter in 1903, the Brown Tract
Lumber Co. of Lewis County acquired the lands composing Mr. Dexter's private
park, and built a mill at Goose Pond (now Gile) to work up the merchantable
timber. That having been. accomplished, the mill was dismantled and removed.
St. Regis Falls has a mica factory, established a few
years since by Canadian capitalists, which employs twenty to thirty hands -
mostly women and girls. The raw material is brought from Canada, and worked up
here because the duty on. the crude mica is less than on the finished product.
Only the inferior grades of mica are handled. When manufactured, mica is used
for coating the cheaper kinds of wall paper, for giving toys and stage scenery
the effect of having been frosted, as a lubricant in axle grease, etc., as an
absorbent of glycerine in the manufacture of explosives, in making buttons, and
in flake form for electrical insulation. The product of the St. Regis Falls
factory is utilized mainly for insulation purposes.
Upon the withdrawal of Peter C. Macfarlane from the
firm of Hurd, Hotchkiss & Macfarlane, he and W. J. Ross formed a partnership, to
which H. W. Stearns of Bombay was admitted a few months later, and built mills
at Everton, as told in the sketch of Santa Clara. Reference to the undertaking
is pertinent here only because the concern's railroad to Everton began at St.
Regis Falls and extended half way across the town of Waverly.
The most casual consideration of the class of
establishments which put St. Regis Falls on the map at all, and to which for a
third of a century or more the activities of the place were almost wholly
confined; can not fail to suggest plainly the character and conditions of the
body of the people. There were of course a few men of intelligence, enterprise
and force but the great majority were only common laborers, unlettered, many of
foreign extraction and not naturalized, rough in garb and conduct, a proportion
of them loitering if not lawless, and, not reckoning upon permanency of
residence, had no particular interest for community welfare, and lacked
individual enterprise and civic pride. Wages were squandered, and the liquor
traffic grew and prospered. But marked and wholesome changes have occurred in
recent years. While employment in the mills still affords the means of
livelihood to most, the second generation of mill hands and lumberjacks, having
had educational advantages, and grown to realize that the village is more than a
temporary camp, and that even the poorest inhabitant has a stake in the general
welfare, is a much more substantial type than the pioneers had been; the class
of buildings has greatly improved; public order is far better enforced; the
average of decency and morality is higher; and an interest in the schools and
generous support for them are gratifyingly and commendably evident. In place of
the single original schoolroom in the rear of a hovel the village now has a
building which cost about nine thousand dollars, accommodates more than four
hundred pupils, and employs eleven teachers. The higher branches are taught. J.
L. Blood has been the school's efficient principal for eleven years. Individual
enterprise has provided an excellent system of water-works, established an
electric plant for lighting the streets, houses, stores and offices, a
newspaper, a bank, fairly good hotels and satisfactory stores. The saloons and
bars have been proscribed, and, all in all, the hamlet compares favorably with
even larger places in respect to the requisites for comfortable and enjoyable
living and home advantages. It incorporated a few years ago as a village, but
subsequently rescinded such action. It has a population of probably between
twelve and fifteen hundred. Besides the industrial works, it has three churches,
public and parochial schools, fifteen or eighteen stores, a bank building and
four hotels - only two of which, however, are open for business.
The first hotel was built by Henry Bickford (the father
of the murderer of Secor) from Dickinson, and is now known as the Frontier
House. It has had many landlords since Bickford's time, among whom have been D.
I. McNeil; Kenneth W. Kinnear, W. J. Alfred and Alexander Johnson. It is now
owned by Evariste LeBoeuf, but is closed as a hotel because not permitted to
have a bar. The Waverly House was built by William T. O'Neil in 1S84, and kept
by him for a. year or two. He sold to Watson Page, and the latter to L. C.
Goodrich, who sold to W. J. Alfred, and he to George Prespare. George Bishop
runs it as lessee. J. W. McNeil built over a store in which O'Neil & Young had
traded, and sold it later to Simon McCloud, who keeps it. The St. Regis House
also was formerly a store building, erected by O'Neil & Parks, and remodeled by
George Bishop, the present owner. It is closed because the town is "dry."
The first store was a Hammond concern, run by their
mill superintendent, Mr. Babcock; the second, Samuel W. Gillett's; and the
third, Wm. T. O'Neil's. Richards & O'Neil and then Vilas & O'Neil continued the
Hammond store, and then followed George W. Orton and Ira C. Green, Harrison - G.
Baker, Silas P. Fleming, and Charles H. Young - the latter as the partner of Mr.
O'Neil The Fleming store, which was a continuation of the first mercantile
venture of Wm. T. O'Neil, was bought later and. run by the Shaws in connection
with their tannery.
The St. Regis Falls National Bank was chartered, and
opened its doors for business in May, 1905, with W. T. and H. E. O'Neil,
Alexander Macdonald, Frank S. Young, E. P. Tryon and B. H. Burns constituting
the board of directors. H. E. O'Neil was the first president, and continued in.
that capacity until 1916, when, other interests claiming most of his time, he
was succeeded by A. S. O'Neil, a brother. A. May, the first cashier, is now with
the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, and H. L. Ketcham, assistant cashier, is
treasurer of the St. Lawrence Trust Co. at Ogdensburg. T. H. Delaire, a St.
Regis Falls boy, is the present cashier; and. A. S. O'Neil, Dr. W. A. Wardner,
O. L. Wilson and E. L. Hulett have taken the places of Messrs. W. T. O'neil,
Macdonald, Tryon and Burns in the directorate. The bank is capitalized at
$25,000, has an earned surplus of upwards of $12,000, and its deposits total
over $100,000. That the management means that it shall be helpful first to local
interests is indicated, by the fact that all of its available resources are in
loans and discounts, next to nothing being locked up in bonds except such as are
required to be owned to secure circulation. Its banking house and fixtures are
carried in assets at a valuation of $5,000.
An unexpected murder was committed September 9, 1903,
at Dexter Lake, which lies four or five miles east of south from St. Regis
Falls, and at which Orrando P. Dexter from New York city had established a
private park and built a costly cottage a dozen years or more previously. In
accordance with his daily custom, Mr. Dexter had started this morning to drive
to Santa Clara for his mail, but had proceeded hardly more than an eighth of a
mile when he was shot. The bullet, evidently fired from a high-power gun,
penetrated the buggy back, struck Mr. Dexter near the shoulder blade, passed
completely through his body, just above the heart, and imbedded itself in the
horse's rump. A few rods farther on Mr. Dexter fell from the buggy, and was
found almost at once by one of his employees who had heard the report of the
gun. He was then breathing, but died without having spoken. The generally
accepted theory at the time was that the murderer, aware of Mr. Dexter's custom,
had laid in ambush at one side of the drive awaiting him, and after he had
passed stepped into the road and fired. Certainly he could not have shot from
his place of concealment, for the course of the bullet proved that it came from
straight behind, and not at a tangent. No evidence could be found pointing to
the murderer. Mr. Dexter's father, who was the head of 'the American News
Company, offered a reward of five thousand dollars for evidence that would
justify an arrest and secure conviction, but though the best' detective ability
in the locality and from outside as well gave effort to unravel - the mystery
not the faintest definite clue was ever developed - which, however, is not to
say that the identity of the murderer was not strongly suspected in some
Mr. Dexter had been in continuous contention with many
people almost from the day of his coming to Waverly, and had had litigation with
some of them. At one time he lodged charges with the Governor against the
county's district attorney, and pressed them through a trial the costs of which
mounted into thousands of dollars, and the finding in which exonerated the
accused. He brought civil and criminal proceedings against other well known
residents also for alleged conspiracy, and sued at least one newspaper publisher
for libel because of publication of an item in town correspondence which two of
the attorneys whom he sought to retain advised him was not libelous at all. He
transferred his legal residence from New York to Connecticut in order, as was
believed, that he might bring his actions in United States instead of in State
tribunals. He had other troubles also, arising from lumbermen attempting to
cross his preserve. It was thought that some enemy he had made by his
contentious disposition must have committed the crime, though it is not, and was
not at the time, conceivable that any one of those with whom his quarrels had
been the most bitter, and which loomed largest in the public mind, could have
been capable even of contemplating such a crime - much less of having committed
Mr. Dexter was forty-eight years of age at the
time of his death, was an admitted attorney at law, and in ordinary personal
intercourse easily made himself agreeable and interesting; but when in
antagonism with any one over real or imagined affronts or grievances seemed to
be unrelentingly pugnacious and implacably vindictive.
SOME OF THE LEADING MEN OF THE TOWN
While but few Waverly men have held county or district
offices, it must be recognized that those who won distinction in that field
chose discriminatingly, so that they enjoyed 'the best that was to be had, and
in generous measure. William T. O'Neil was elected to the Assembly in 1881, and
also in each of the three immediately following years. His service was
excellent, and in one of his terms he was prominent as a candidate for the
Speakership. He and Theodore Roosevelt became hearty co-workers in the Assembly,
and were warm personal friends. The latter was of course the more dramatic
figure and the more aggressively combative, but he himself, as well as others
generally, recognized that Mr. O'Neil possessed the calmer and safer judgment,
and thus acted often as a counterpoise to Mr. Roosevelt's sometimes too great
impetuosity. The friendship formed between them in this period continued
unbroken to the time of Mr. O'Neil's death in 1909, and both when Mr. Roosevelt
was Governor and when President Mr. O'Neil was his guest by invitation at the
executive mansion. Mr. O'Neil was elected to the State Senate in 1906 and again
in 1908, but died during his second term. While in the Senate his exceptional
abilities commanded for him 'the most respectful consideration, and his
committee assignments were among the very best and most responsible of those not
requiring a legal training. William H. Flack was county clerk from 1898 to 1904,
and served one full term and a part of another in Congress from the
Essex-Clinton-Franklin-St. Lawrence district. He died in office. Alexander.
Macdonald came to St. Regis Falls from Nova Scotia after graduation from
Middlebury College to become principal of the high school. Almost as soon as he
had been naturalized he was elected school commissioner for the second
commissioner district, and held the office continuously for nine years. In 1910
he was elected to the Assembly, in which he served with distinction for six
terms. In 1914 he was a leading candidate for the Speakership, his prominence in
the contest joined to recognition of his excellent abilities and long experience
gaining for him the chairmanship of the committee on ways and means - a position
which he held again in 1815. In 1916 he was appointed deputy State conservation
commissioner at a salary of six thousand dollars per annum. Mr. Macdonald is a
son-in-law of the late William T. O'Keil.
CHURCHES AND SOCIETIES
So far as
known, the Roman Catholic services at St. Regis Falls were of only - occasion.al
occurrence in early times, and were held by priests from Brushton in private
houses; and in 1883 Father Normandeau of Brushton brought about th.e
incorporation of St. Regis Church of St. Regis Falls, N. Y., with J. Quesnel and
J. S. Bushey as the lay trustees. A short time afterward Rev. Father F. J.
Ouellet located, in the village, and effected a new incorporation on August 22,
1883, under the title Saint Ann's Church, St. Regis Falls, with Joseph Bushey
and E. St. Hilaire as the lay trustees. Services were held for a time in one of
the hotels, but the erection of a church edifice was quickly undertaken, and
completed in 1884. Father Ouellet carried his ministrations also to Everton
Santa Clara, Spring Cove. and Brandon, and often to the logging camps at remote
points in the forests. His rectorship at Regis Falls has continued
uninterruptedly for thirty-odd years, and for the past few years he has had an
assistant. The present membership of the church is about nine hundred, having
fallen off a little from the high point through the removal of mill operatives
on account of dissatisfaction with the scale of wages in the mills. The present
lay trustees are J. B. St. Onge and Frank Henry.
While it is presumable that Methodist services were
held from time to time at an early day by clergymen located at Nicholville or
Dickinson Center, the first recognition of St. Regis Falls by conference as a
station or parish was in 1882, when it was joined with Dickinson Center, and
since which date one pastor has served both places. Services were held at first
in the lumber company's hall, and in 1887 the erection of a church edifice was
begun, which was finished the next year at a cost of $3,100. The present
membership of the church is about one hundred and fifty. The society has
provided a comfortable parsonage, and the pastor makes his home at the Falls. At
the first election in 1886 William F. King, Mrs. Esther Macfarlane and Daniel W.
Flack were chosen trustees. The present trustees are M. A. Rowell, A. A.
Southworth, B. E. Ames, E. F. Bondry, J. A. Ketcham and Leslie M. Saunders.
The First Free Will Baptist Church of St. Regis Falls
owes its organization and even its continued existence to Rev. Nelson Ramsdell,
now eighty-four years of age, who came from Dickinson Center to make his home in
old age with one of his sons. The church was organized March 23, 1893, and for a
year or more worshiped in J. W. Webb's hall. The church edifice, begun in 1894,
was not finished until six years later, though it was occupied from 1895. Mr.,
Ramsdell has been the pastor for two periods besides having officiated at other
times when there was a vacancy. In 1913 the society voted to close the church
doors because the attendance had become small and because also so many of the
members refused to contribute to the support of a pastor; but interest revived
the next year, and the church has since remained open. The records give one
hundred and eight as the maximum membership at any one time, and now the number-
is just under fifty. The society entered into fellowship with the St. Lawrence
Baptist Association in 1913.
At Guide Board, a very small hamlet four miles south of
St. Regis Falls, is a mission church, erected in 1896 through the generosity of
wealthy people then residing in the vicinity or accustomed to spend their
summers in the locality. The church is Presbyterian, and under charge of the
Adirondack mission, whose headquarters are at Keese's Mills in Brighton.
Services are conducted regularly throughout the summer seasons, usually by
divinity students, while in winter neighboring clergy officiate at intervals.
The St. Regis Falls Universalist Church was formed in
June, 1916, since when services have been held every alternate Sunday in
I4emieux's hail by clergymen or divinity students from St. Lawrence University
at Canton. The movement has developed a considerable interest, and the
attendance at the meetings is in respectable numbers.
Durkee Post, G. A. R., No. 504, was organized a number
of years ago. The same pathetic condition obtains here that prevails in this
order everywhere - the membership decreasing steadily, and the organization
doomed to die, as infirmity and dissolution are fast summoning the veterans of
the civil war for the final roll call. The post had sixty members at one time,
and now has hut fourteen.
St. Regis Falls Lodge No. 100, I. O. O. F., was
organized in December, 1886, with Hon. William H. Flack noble grand, and S. R.
Gile vice grand. It soon erected a building for a home, which fire destroyed,
and something like ten years ago it built a larger and better structure at a
cost of about eight thousand dollars, the upper floor of which it occupies as
its own lodge room, and rents to the Masons and other organizations. The ground
floor is finished for two business places, one of which is occupied for a
post-office. The lodge has about one hundred and twenty-five members.
Blue Mountain Lodge No. 874, F. and A. M., was
organized June 29, 1909, with Jerry LaPoint worshipful master and J. L. Blood
senior warden. It has sixty-eight members.
A sanatorium for treatment of the liquor and opium
habits, which was located originally at Tupper Lake, was transferred to St.
Regis Falls in 1893, and for two or three years had a considerable number of
patients. It accomplished cures which actually "stuck" in a number of cases,
some of which had been decidedly tough. It also treated patients for other
ailments, but business failing to continue in paying volume the establishment
The population of Waverly at the date of erection is
unknown, there having been no census between 1880 and 1890. In the latter year
it had 2,270 inhabitants, who had decreased in 1892 to 1,750, mainly by reason
of the partition of the town to erect Altamont; and in 1900 the number had
fallen further to 1,615 because of mills having closed and lumbering operations
having been discontinued. Recovery came to a considerable extent as the hard
woods began to be used and pulp mills were started, so that in 1905 the
population had jumped to 2,160. It has since continued practically unchanged -
the figures for 1915 having been 2,133, of whom 147 were aliens.
Referenced by: http:history.rays-place.com