From the Adirondack Daily Enterprise, May 27, 1989
Bloomingdale's founders predicted prosperity for the budding hamlet
For some obscure reason, very little material has ever been written about the early days in our neighboring community of Bloomingdale. A. L. Donaldson, who did such a masterful job on Saranac Lake, chose to ignore the little village only six miles to the north and Winslow Watson's "History of Essex County" offers a brief paragraph on the Town of St. Armand but nary a mention of Bloomingdale. Early Adirondack writers who came to hunt, fish, and paint avoided the tiny settlement in favor of the more picturesque regions of forest and stream. We can be thankful, therefore, that in 1885, H. Perry Smith captured for posterity a hint of the early history of Bloomingdale.
Apparently, Uriah Sumner could have been the first settler since he had a forge and sawmill in operation, on the stream which bears his name, when Nathan S. C. Hayes arrived on the scene in 1837. At that time, Hayes claimed that there were only seven or eight families living within a five-mile radius of the place. Nathan's father, Jeremiah, worked for Sumner at both the forge and the mill. The only other industry in the area was the Hayes farm, where crops of wheat, oats, rye, and beans were raised. In 1840, a log schoolhouse was built and Harriet Hayes was appointed as the first teacher.
In 1852, a committee of three men — Nathan Hayes, Charles Toof, and James Pierce — was chosen to select a name for the settlement. After due deliberation the name of Bloomingdale was decided upon to forecast a prosperous future for the growing community. A post office was established that same year and Byron Leavitt became the first postmaster. James H. Pierce was credited with the original founding of the village when, in 1852, he brought a work force of twenty men there for the express purpose of building a community. Together they erected the post office, a grist mill, a blacksmith shop, a Yankee gang sawmill, and several houses. One year later, John Campbell built the first hotel and Bloomingdale assumed an air of permanence.
Just when things were looking good, the Civil War erupted on April 12, 1861, with Beauregard opening fire on Fort Sumter. The male leadership from Bloomingdale enlisted en masse. It was reported that, per capita, more volunteers joined the Union Forces from Bloomingdale and Saint Armand than from any other area. Among those who went with the 77th Regiment was Martin Lennon, who signed up as a private and rose to the rank of Captain. He was one of the heroes who fell during the battle of Cedar Creek in Virginia. Captain James H. Pierce led Company C of the 11th Regiment with troops from Bloomingdale, Jay, and Wilmington. In 1864, Pierce was captured at Drury's Bluff and, after seven months of prison, was paroled by the Confederate Army.
Picking, up where they left off during the ante-bellum years, the returning veterans brought a spurt of business activity. In 1873, Pierce and James Skiff completed the construction of the Saint Armand House and the new hotel immediately evolved as the center of community activity. Dan Hough became the first manager. He was followed by Ed Derby who ran the place until 1877 when Pierce finally decided to become his own proprietor.
Fortunately, the hotel's daybook for the years 1874-75 has survived to allow us a glimpse into the accommodations and prices prevalent then. A ledger of this type provides us with a rare insight into the day-by-day activities of our own ancestors. Many persons of note appear throughout the pages of the register, bringing back to life names from our recent past. Paul Smith was a frequent guest and no doubt swapped stories with fellow innkeepers Jim Wardner, Virge Bartlett, Jesse Corey, Milote Baker, and Van Buren Miller who were also hotel customers. Famous regional guides like Pete O'Malley, Duck Derby, Hose Colbath, Jim Carney, Joe Otis and Gardner Maloney often dropped in at the taproom for a drink and a cigar at 10 cents each.
Since the Saint Armand House kept a general store along with the hotel, many family names with a familiar ring appear. In addition to those previously mentioned, such names as Ling, Norman, Newell, McKillip, Nokes, Skiff, Ryan, Hough, Flanders, Lyons, Arnold, Rice, Titus, Martin, Noyes, Woodruff, and Redwood show up in the store accounts. Common items charged to these customers were beef, veal, mutton, and ham, ranging from 6 to 10 cents per pound depending on the cut. Potatoes sold for 40 cents a bushel, milk was 10 cents a quart, eggs 40 cents per dozen, kerosene was 13 cents a gallon, and a pair of boots brought $1.25. Venison, trout, partridge, and oysters were also available. Apparently, the housewife did all the baking at home for not one loaf of bread is listed among the sales during the two-year period.
Board and room at the hotel cost one dollar per day, dinner was 40 cents, and your horse would be cared for, including hay and oats, for 25 cents. To hire a horse and buggy for a trip to Saranac Lake, the rate was three dollars. In the bar, whiskey and gin was one dollar per quart while fine brandy brought two dollars per bottle. Treats were 10 cents each and were frequently listed in groups such as "3 treats — 30 cents." It would be interesting if some senior citizen could explain exactly what a treat was.
As the Village of Bloomingdale grew-and prospered, many a new business venture was added to the community. In 1899, John H. Titus put out a little booklet containing some of Paul Smith's favorite stories and a lengthy poem by E.J. Phelps entitled "Essex Junction." The poem ridicules the woes of a passenger stranded at this Vermont R.R. station while awaiting a train which is nine hours late. The closing verse reveals his consternation:
"He jumped on board a train, (the wrong one) And as he vanished in the smoke, He shouted with redoubled unction, I hope in hell Their souls may dwell Who first invented Essex Junction!"
Much later David Nicholson answered the lampoon with this rebuttal:
"Friend Phelps, a change has taken place, So modify your classic unction; The hostelry of landlord Chase Fully atones for Essex Junction."
The Titus pamphlet was entitled "Adirondack Pioneers" and, in addition to Paul Smith, he offers brief biographies on Jim Wardner, Ferd Chase, George Stevens, Joseph Nash, Henry Allen, Virge Bartlett, John Harding, George Tremble, and, of course, James H. Pierce of Bloomingdale. Hotelmen seemed to be the respected nobility of the era.
John Titus lived in Bloomingdale for 31 years and expressed both pride and interest in the place. He mentions three first-class general stores supported by the community and managed by: S.W Barnard, M.B. & F.B. Norman, and John P. Mulligan. The Titus drug store he claimed to be "as fine a drug store as there is in the Adirondacks." In addition to the village hotels, there were two large boarding houses kept by Hattie J. Gillespie and by Seth Wardner. A brand new innovation was about to be added to Sid Barnard's store with the installation of gas lights. Bloomingdale was in its ascendancy.
The first calamity to be visited upon the village by Mother Nature came in the form of a flood. Sumner Brook, which powered the infant industries in Bloomingdale's history, flows through the heart of the community before entering the Saranac River one mile south of the village. Only two miles in length, the stream is joined by a total of five contributing brooks which drain an area of some 70 square miles. These feeder brooks are Fay, Twobridge, Rickerson, Negro, and Lyon. On April 15, 1916, a heavy rainfall over the drainage area caused swollen tributaries to carry, a deluge to the point of entry into the Sumner. Sweeping across East Main Street, the rushing, waters wiped out the bridge; cutting off west to east travel on what is today's route 3. Those fortunates living west of the bridge had access to all of the village stores while those on the east side had to travel 4 miles to Vermontville for supplies until a temporary footbridge could be installed.
At one time, Bloomingdale was larger and more prosperous than Saranac Lake but when the health industry created many jobs and business opportunities in Saranac Lake, many Bloomingdale families migrated in that direction. One such family was the Gladds. Joe Gladd ran the blacksmith shop in Bloomingdale for 17 years before answering the siren's call. His sons and grandsons established an automobile dynasty which has lasted to the present time. Several of Bloomingdale's boarding house operators crossed over to join the cure cottage boom in Saranac Lake. To note an odd twist of fate, when Dr. Trudeau was forced to leave Paul Smith's Hotel in the fall of 1876, he had to find some winter quarters. In his autobiography he wrote "We tried Bloomingdale, but no suitable house was to be found there, so we drove on to Saranac Lake. Bloomingdale was his first choice because it was nearer to Paul Smith s, where he still intended to pass the summers. It is tempting to contemplate "what if" he had found adequate housing in Bloomingdale.
Like so many other Adirondack communities, Bloomingdale has had its ups and downs during the past 150 years. A major turnabout, however, occurred on Dec. 3, 1985, when Bloomingdale elected to abandon its village identity by wiping out its incorporated form of government, to be absorbed into the civil realm of the Town of Saint Armand. Shades of Uriah Sumner and Captain Pierce!
The Franklin Gazette, , May 31, 1878
BLOOMINGDALE, May 25, 1878.
Come one, come all, these rocks shall flee From their firm bases sooner than we.
We do not know what is the cause, whether it be the darkening of the Eastern war cloud, the active military preparations now going on in England or the whispered rumors of a Fenian uprising but certain it is that Bloomingdale is now in a perfect blaze of military enthusiasm. For the past few weeks it has been evident to the most casual observer that something was brewing. The presence of Major General George W. Pay among us was in itself enough to give rise to speculation, and when the following general order appeared last Saturday morning we were not taken entirely by surprise:
DEPARTMENT OF THE ADIRONDACKS, BLOOMINGDALE, May 18.
General Order, Number 1.
Major General George W. Pay having assumed command of the forces now stationed in that section, known as the Department of the Adirondacks, takes great pleasure in announcing his staff as follows:
I. Col. Charles O. Town is hereby appointed Ass't Adj't General and Chief of Staff, and will be obeyed and respected accordingly.
II. Col E. Wellington Touf, A. C. S., is hereby appointed Chief Commissary of the Dept., and will be obeyed and respected accordingly. All officers commanding detachments, heads of families, & c., are hereby recommended to make their requisitions upon him for beef without delay.
III. Lieut. Col. Levi Noble, A. Q. M., is hereby appointed Chief Quartermaster of the Dept., and will be obeyed and respected accordingly.
IV. 1st, Lieut. P. Banks Dudley Is hereby appointed A. A. A. G. and A. D. C, and will be obeyed and respected accordingly.
V. Major Warren Flanders is hereby appointed Chief Commissary of Musters, and will be obeyed and respected accordingly.
VI. Brig. General George E. Martin, having been assigned to duty, will report at these headquarters without delay.
VII. Brig. General Henry Pay, having been assigned to duty, will report at these headquarters without delay.
VIII. The General commanding would hereby warn all civilians, women and small boys to hunt their holes at the tap of the drum or sound of the bugle, as he will not be responsible for accidents, such as being trampled under foot or the cutting off of promiscuous heads during the sabre drill, which otherwise might occur.
By order of George Washington Pay, Major General Commanding. [Signed] Charles C. Town, A. A. G.
In pursuance of the above order there was a general massing of the troops belonging to this Dept. on the afternoon of the 18th, when they were reviewed by General Pay in person. It was truly a grand and imposing array, and as the vast column of cavalry moved down Central Avenue (followed by a band of the inevitable small boys) the very earth shook beneath the tramp of their iron hoofs. Even old White-face was observed to turn pale and tremble visibly. The Bloomingdale infantry were also present in full force, up in arms ready for breastwork or any other duty appertaining to that arm of the service.
On Wednesday last, the rumor reached us, that the Presidentess, daughter and Vice President were to pass through here en route to Saranac Lake, Gen. Pay ordered out a strong detachment of cavalry, under the command of Brig. General Pay, to meet and escort them into town. As the Presidential party, however, stopped over at Paul Smith's, and went through Harrietstown to Martin's the next day, the gallant General met only with disappointment. His command, however, fell buck upon B'dale in good order.
Bloomingdale can now certainly congratulate herself upon being on a war footing equal to that of any other town the Slate. Our Town Corps, under the management of Major Oren L. Flanders, ably assisted by Capt. Ferdinand Costin, in point of talent at least, if not in numbers, is equaled by few and excelled by none, with one exception. We grieve to say our bass drum is a failure. Capt. J. H. Pierce until very recently blowed that necessary and soul stirring instrument, and blowed it well too; in fact he blowed it not wisely but too well, for he blowed the head in, in short busted it. Since that last blow there has been no more ring to that drum than there is to Geo. Martin's celebrated big cow bell.
We feel great satisfaction in having constituted ourself war correspondent of the Gazette and will endeavor to keep its readers advised of all the army movements and military gossip.
Plattsburgh Sentinel, August 1, 1879
DRIVES AMONG THE MOUNTAINS AND LAKES.
Our Great Summer Resorts
As the hot season approaches, the tide of travel from our large cities sets toward the great summer resorts of Northern New York. Our hasty letter of last week was sent from the center, or "hub" as we termed it, of a great system of these resorts known as the Saranac and St. Regis regions. By looking at the Stoddard map, which is the standard authority, imperfect as it may be, it will be seen that Bloomingdale occupies a very important position. A person wishing to go to almost any point in this region will be perfectly safe to aim directly for Bloomingdale. As the fellow said of Port Kent, you can start from there and go to any part of the world! Only 10 miles to Paul Smith's, of the St. Regis, 7 miles to Rainbow Pond 13 miles to Derby's (the Prospect House), on the Upper Saranac Lake, 8 miles to Martin's at the foot of the Lower Saranac Lake, and an equally short distance to other important resorts. Representatives of either Clinton, Essex or Franklin counties, pushing for the wilderness, will meet at Bloomingdale, and stage lines cross from all directions. Bloomingdale has nearly doubled in size within the past six years, and numbers among its new buildings two stores, a handsome church, a first class school house and a, large hotel, the St. Armand House, kept by Capt. J. H. Pierce, beside several handsome residences.
Malone Farmer, March 1, 1916
The Misses Helen and Lydia Flanders, of Bloomingdale, died within a few hours of each other last Wednesday, after a brief illness. The funeral was held from their home, Thursday and was very brief, as their niece, Miss Evelyn Flanders, was ill of pneumonia. N. B. Flanders and Warren Flanders, of Saranac Lake, are brothers of the deceased ladies.
The Essex County Republican, January 20, 1939
ST. ARMAND In 1880, Richard H. McIntyre came from Ausable Forks and established a hardware store in Bloomingdale and remained there for almost ten years.
Some of the officers of this decade were R. H. Mclntyre, justice of the peace; H. H. Banard, town clerk; Jacob Hayes, highway commissioner; C. D. Hickok, constable; election officials were N. Goodspeed. Erastus Simonds, George S. Hewitt, E. G. Ricketson, W. S. Hough and Judson Woodruff. The assessors were Seth Waroner, Varnum Hemitt and Horace Morehouse. Elijah Weston was a justice of the peace and John M. Wilson was an overseer of the poor.
In tht 80's the Temperance House was run by Charles Jason Stickney; John O. Walton was a mason contractor; Dr. Church was a practising physician; Harry H. Barnard had a general store, J. B. Miller ran a grist mill; C. H. Kendall ran a hotel and livery stable; J. W. Miller was postmaster In Bloomingdale and was succeeded by James H. Pierce; Dr. Samuel Stork; E. Burdick had a furniture store and Gillesple ran a general store.
The Episcopal Church was organized in 1882 and a building put up the same year.
In 1889 Walton and Callanan bought out the R. H. Mclntyre hardware business and continued it.
In the gay nineties we have three postmasters, Levi Dudley, Sidney W. Barnard and Marion D. Tremble.
At this time we have a few new enterprises in the town. Freedom E. Noble was a druggist; Sidney W. Barnard and brother ran a general store; the Crystal Spring House was under the management of M. Baldwin until 1894 when Robeson and Sharland took it over; The Mountain View House was under the management of C. H. Wardner; Titus had now sold out his interest in the Town & Titus Drug Store; Macabee Tent was organized in Bloomingdale in 1890 by Daniel Seckington. This was over the saw mill near the bridge. R. L. French ran a hotel.
The patriotism of this township was at its height for at the time of the Spanish War several from this town enlisted in the army. They were Roger R. Hickok, Fred Knapp, Fred Noyes, and Frank Knapp, all residents of the town when they enlisted. (To Be Continued)
Adirondack Daily Enterprise, March 18, 1955
Velma's Home Made DONUTS
Mrs. Martin Emmons, Bloomingdale
Tupper Lake Free Press and Herald, Thursday, January 15, 1959
One of Tupper's well-known citizens, Barney Lantry, figured in a lawsuit which had its amusing side 50 years ago. The case had its origin in 1902 when two personable strangers turned up in Bloomingdale and introduced themselves as "Madame Detoneay", widow of an Austrian duke, and Adjordan", champion billiard player of France. The pair pretended to be greatly impressed with the beauty of the country around Bloomingdale, and proposed to erect a huge hotel which would make that sleepy little hamlet the metropolis of the Adirondacks. The good people of Bloomingdale purchased an 850-acre tract of land as a fitting site for this magnificent hotel, and B. B. Lantry got the contract for the foundation wall. On the day the cornerstone was laid, the Herald noted, "great excitement reigned in Bloomingdale. A bottle of champagne was broken over the cornerstone and quite a few bottles were opened without such wasteful spilling". The hotel never got any higher than the foundation wall, and Mr. Lantry was left holding the bag for the outlay, the glib strangers having skipped the country. Mr. Lantry filed a lien on 200 acres of the land and the case dragged for six years through the courts. The land, the Herald glumly noted, "probably wasn't worth the original amount of the claim".
Adirondack News, January 25, 1896
Mr. Monroe Hall, of Plattsburgh, has just sold two lots at Bloomingdale, one of which will be used as the site of the new hotel to be erected in the spring. The location is a fine one, healthful and beautiful. It borders on Bloomingdale brook, and a boat landing will be built and boats kept for the use of guests. The hotel will be under the charge of Mrs. Wm. J. Gillespie, and will doubtless be a popular summer resort. A new store will also be built by the Normans in the pleasant hamlet, which will be an [illegible].
Franklin Gazette, January 21, 1881
BLOOMINGDALE, January 17, 1881.
What a busy, busy town is this we live in! Streets crowded with men, women and children; wood teams, log teams, lumber teams, mill teams, farm teams and pleasure rigs blocking up our thoroughfares; men swearing, women screaming and children howling. McIntyre, the celebrated hash and cider[?] man, pounding away in his tinshop, making the air hideous with his infernal clatter, and premeditating an action for slander against our devoted self; Lon Lewis and Jim Reynolds equally busy, but making less noise about it; Capt. J. H. Pierce and his first and second lieutenants dispersing the hospitalities of his house to his numerous guests for a consideration; Eugene White rushing around and using his favorite oath, "By Jinks," more frequently than ever; George Costin, white with flour and wet with sweat, flying around like a hen with her head cutoff, and speaking French and English in one breath; Henry Rock[?], making little disturbance but turning out new and repaired sleighs and sleds as fast as possible; Messrs. Bushey and Matthews pegging away at other men's shoes; the hum of Burdick's furniture manufactory, and Chas. Town making his anvil ring even more constantly and continuously than the giant bell up in the M. E Church. Such is everyday life in Bloomingdale.
To an active, energetic and [illegible] man all this din and hubbub furnishes a pleasant excitement; but to a quiet, unobtrusive, studiously inclined individual, like ourself, it is bewildering, and we fear that we shall be obliged to week a more quiet abiding place—Vermontville or Saranac Lake, for instance.
- Baldwin's Drug Store
- Baron Ling
- Bloomingdale Firemen also known as the 'Dalers, a baseball team
- Bloomingdale Fire Department
- Bloomingdale Hardware
- Bloomingdale Pilgrim Holiness Church
- Bloomingdale Road
- Bloomingdale Schools
- Crystal Spring House
- Earl Derby
- GAR Post No. 490
- Gillespie's Furniture Factory
- Harriet Noble Gillespie, an early resident
- W.J. Gillespie
- Mrs. George Martin
- Norman's Store
- Parson's Mill
- Paul Smith's Electric Railroad
- Sumner Brook
- St. Armand Hotel
Dairy farmers in Bloomingdale listed in the January, 1923, Board of Health records include 3
- Fred VanCour, 12 cows;
- W.J. Johnson, 30 cows;
- William Williams, 11 cows;
- Sewell Wardner, 10 cows;
- Frank Norman, 12 cows;
- Francis O'Neil, 10 cows