This small Geocache is quite attached to history.
The communities within the Adirondack Park’s blue line all have a unique history of their own. Each town, village, and city develops their own culture through trials, challenges, and the environment around them. All communities in the Adirondack Mountains have so much in common because of the mountains and yet they are diverse because of the mountains. The Town of Lake Pleasant is no exception.
The best way to understand the Town of Lake Pleasant and its culture is by understanding the town’s past. Have you ever heard people talk about a new born child and comment what that child will be like when they grow older, just by how the infant reacts to their new life environment around them? Well, this can be said about communities. Learn about the Birth of a Town, and you will understand the people. I understand that this is not always true, but I will argue that the spirit or character of the community will always live on, and will always stay the same no matter what time and changes are thrown at them.
So I believe this is true about Lake Pleasant. As you understand the history of this isolated town surrounded and entwined by wilderness, you will learn of a constant struggle of keeping up with the American Progress, while living in harmony with God’s Creation. In other words, a town that wants to be proud as Americans but wants to be left alone. It’s hard to explain unless you have lived there. It can be hard to translate this phenomenon into the minds of those who live outside the Adirondack Park.
Again, I believe the best way to help you understand the people of Lake Pleasant is by telling you their history or at least their birth. The birth of this town was how most births in Hamilton County began; a division from a mother town. The joys of Lake Pleasant becoming a newborn were quickly short lived. This town almost died as soon as it was born, but I am getting ahead of myself. Here is the story on how Lake Pleasant became.
After the American Revolution the Northern and Northwestern frontier of New York State was open for settlements. The place that we now call Lake Pleasant & Speculator was once part of the Town of Wells in Montgomery County. The Town of Wells covered most of what is now Hamilton County and then some. It was impossible for the head of this town, located around the now existence of Lake Algonquin, to oversee the other communities being formed up north. The mountains, wild forests, and rugged roads made it almost impossible to govern the town as a whole.
In 1812, Montgomery County saw fit to grant the settlers around the lake, Lake Pleasant, their own town. This made it easier for the Town of Wells to govern themselves and allow the new town, Lake Pleasant, to form their own community. However, just as Wells had trouble governing their northern territory, so did Lake Pleasant have trouble governing their northern settlements. Soon, those settlements would become towns of their own and within the Town of Lake Pleasant, a Village would be created.
All this was only child laboring pains for the Town of Wells, but the true birth of Lake Pleasant wasn’t until Thursday April 7th, 1812. This day was Lake Pleasant’s first Town Meeting. The town meeting was located in a more humble setting at the home of Joshua Rich. The location of his house was at the outlet of Round Lake, now known as Lake Sacandaga, on Lake Pleasant’s shore. Rich’s house was chosen because of the location. A good number of settlers lived near there, and paths by foot, wagon or water all met at this spot. Rather by foot, ox cart, canoe, boat, or horse all who attended this meeting could travel there by their own means. Because of this location, Joshua and his wife Anna would house travelers throughout the years.
The first innkeeper, George Wright, of Lake Pleasant was elected the first Town Supervisor. Wright moved from the Town of Caughnawaga, Montgomery County. Wright’s Inn was located south of Lake Pleasant’s inlet within the Village of Lake Pleasant. The Village of Lake Pleasant is no longer in existence. The Village was located where the County Buildings now stand. It was here where a Native American Village once was, and thus was a natural location to create a settlement.
William Burke Peck was elected first Town Clerk. William Peck moved to Lake Pleasant in 1811 with his father Loring Peck. Loring Peck was a captain in a few Rhode Island Regiments of the Continental Army during the American Revolution. After the war, Loring Peck became a Lieutenant Colonel of Bristol & Tiverton Rhode Island Regiment. By 1811, Col. Loring and William Peck bought the home of Ebenezer and Amos Green in Lake Pleasant. There they started a farm with their wives Sarah and Elizabeth Peck, respectively.
Ebenezer Dunham, Joshua Rich, and Ephraim Page were elected Assessors. George Wright, George Peck (also son of Col. Loring Peck), and Amos Green were elected to build roads. John Dunham was named Collector, and Constable. Plus, Ether Barnes was named Constable. Joshua Rich and Joseph Davis were elected Overseers of the Poor.
The Town of Lake Pleasant’s biggest concern at the time was livestock getting loose from the resident’s properties. The main livelihood at the time was in livestock and lumber mills. Caleb Nichols and Col. Loring Peck were named Fence Viewers, to help build fences around the community’s private properties and just in case a livestock does escape. Daniel Fish, and William Peck were named Pound Masters or what we would call today Pound Catchers. This problem of loose livestock also brought about Lake Pleasant’s first law. “Swine should not be allowed or permitted to feed or run at large unless they adjudged by fence viewers.” Again, it was resolved that, “any ram or rams that may be found off of or from the enclosure of its owner at any time between the first day of September and the first day of December in any year shell be forfeited from and belong to the persons apprehending and taking up the same.”
As Supervisor, George Wright took his seat with the Board of Supervisors of Montgomery County which, on October 6, 1812, was at the county seat in Johnstown. The Town of Lake Pleasant had 159 taxpayers. The value of real estate was $138,232. County Tax was $39, Town Tax was $38.84, and $200 was for roads and bridges. There were no school taxes until the year 1815. The reason is because there were no school houses yet to be built. Now I’m sure you find this to be strange that the people of Lake Pleasant would not allow their children to be educated for over three years. I assure you that it wasn’t because they didn’t want their children to be educated. Far from it. I personally believe the reason for this set back was because it was too dangerous for the local residents to send their young ones to school. This is why......
You would think that Lake Pleasant was and always has been a quiet town with problems that to us would be silly at the least. However; 1812 proved to be a year that the first settlers would never forget. The United States of America declared war with the British Empire on June 18th 1812. With the empire busy dealing with Napoleon Bonaparte in Europe, the United States believed they found a way to take Canada and save her from imperial hands. This, however, was a mistake. Canada did not want rescuing and were very loyal to her Mother Land, Briton. The War of 1812 between Canada and the United States would last almost three years.
At the beginning of the War of 1812, Canada could not rely on the British Empire to protect her from the United States. As such, they turned to other allies, the Native American Tribes. About 35 tribes under the leadership of a Shawnee War Chef, Tecumseh (Shooting Star) and his brother Tenskwatawa ( the Shawnee Prophet) allied with the British Empire. They called themselves, the First Nations.
The First Nations agreed with the British Empire to help prevent USA’s expansion west of the Appalachian Mountains. This was a concern to many USA frontier towns near the Canadian border. The First Nation along with Canadian Militias attacked successfully in Wisconsin and the Upper Great Lakes. Even though Lake Pleasant wasn’t as near to the Canadian border as many towns who did battle with the First Nation, this didn’t mean that they were safe from any attack.
Native Americans were no strangers to the Town of Lake Pleasant. The settlers were living in Mohawk hunting grounds, and the town’s folks were quite comfortable having Natives as neighbors. Intermarriage between Native Americans and the Settlers was not uncommon. One particular neighbor was a Mohawk named Captain Gill.
Captain Gill was one of the first guides in the Adirondacks after the American Revolution. He knew Lake Pleasant like the back of his hand, and why not? He and his people hunted in these mountains way before the first European descendant settlers came. By the time Lake Pleasant became a town, Captain Gill was living in a wigwam at the outlet of the lake, Lake Pleasant. He had a wife, Molly, and a daughter, Molly Jr, whom he made clear wasn’t his own child.
After the USA declared war on the British Empire, there were sightings of Native Americans from Canada hunting and fishing in the forest of Lake Pleasant. The Towns folks were full of terror and all but the Peck family left for southern Montgomery or other neighboring Counties. Many families from the Town of Wells fled in fear. Because of this, the future of Wells and Lake Pleasant was in great peril.
An application was then written by the remaining families in Wells and Lake Pleasant. This application was an order to raise a company of volunteers to create guards for the town of Wells and Lake Pleasant. By doing so this would bring courage back into the communities, defend the citizens from a massacre, and encourage families to return home. William Peck (who just became the father of his first born daughter Harriet) of Lake Pleasant, John Francisco of Wells, and possibly a few other men left their unguarded homes to deliver the application to Albany.
In Albany the Governor of New York, Daniel D. Tompkins (who later became the sixth Vice President of the United States under James Monroe) received the application. Tompkins then followed the Second Amendment to US Constitution which states, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” In doing so, Governor Tompkins commissioned William Peck as Captain and John Francisco as Lieutenant of the Wells and Lake Pleasant Home Guards. Governor Tompkins placed the Home Guard Militia under Company C of Montgomery County’s One Hundred and Twenty Second Regiment. At the time, James Ford was Lieutenant Colonel of this regiment.
Governor Tompkins then provided muskets, ammunition, and what-ever else was needed for the militia. However; all this must be returned to Albany after the war ended. The most popular musket that was given to soldiers during the War of 1812 was the 1795 Springfield musket. Those in the Wells and Lake Pleasant Home Guards who did not own a rifle or musket may have been provided with one of these. The 1795 Springfield Musket has a .69 calibre, and a 44 ¾ inch long round barrel. The Musket itself is 60 inches in length and weighs around 10 pounds.
Once the volunteers were recruited into the home guard militia, they then had to learn the art of war. The Militia had their own musicians. Gardiner (Gardner) Odell, a farmer in Wells, played the Drums while Jesse Whitman, also a farmer in Wells, played the fife. Those who carried the muskets were John M. Craig, Henry Overaker, Joel Vanderhoof, Henry Vanderhoof, John Vanderhoof, John Sisco, John Begle, James Beagle, Asher Osburn, Peter Beagle, Michael Overacker, John Arnol, Thomas Turner, Rose Turner, David Winna, Michael Sisco, Giles Vanderhoof, Gilbert Vanderhoof, John Smith, James Snow, Joel Swet, Samuel Picket, George Spaldin, Henry Walker, John Dunham, Richard Peck, John M. Craig , and David Winna. In 1814, Capt William Peck became Lake Pleasant’s Town Supervisor. I believe that because of this, John Francisco became captain, Cornelius Francisco became Lieutenant, Josiah Wadsworth became Ensign, and Gilbert Vanderhoof became 1st Captain.
There was one man from the Town of Lake Pleasant who joined to fight in the War of 1812. Daniel Fish and his wife Susannah Fish, moved from Rhode Island to Lake Pleasant NY in 1801. They had a farm on Fish Inlet, which is now known as Cherry Brook. When the war broke out, Daniel Fish joined the 23rd Regiment of the United States Infantry. The 23rd Reg fought many battles along the St Lawrence River and other parts of the Canadian border. From August 4th – September 21st 1814, the USA siege Fort Erie. During one of the battles, Daniel Fish was killed. Possibly the last time he saw Lake Pleasant, was if the 23rd Regiment marched through town along the military road.
Because there was mostly wilderness between Albany New York and the Canadian Border, roads needed to be built to transport supplies and men. On June 19th, 1812, just a day after war was declared, “ An ACT for opening an making a Road between the City of Albany and the River St. Lawrence”, was passed. The military road passed through the Totten and St. Lawrence turnpike at Russell where there was an armory. Perkins Clearing was part of the Totten and Crossfield Purchase at the time.
After the War of 1812, the town folks of Lake Pleasant tried to begin their lives anew. Capt. William Peck started the Town’s First General Store. Two log school houses were built. Roads were repaired. The local Native Americans and settlers tolerated and respected each other. A promising future was in reach and the quiet years began.