Category Archives: Doris B Morton

A Trophy

Some people like to have mementoes of the hunt on their walls. Usually the head is the result of their prowess in the field of sport, hunting or fishing. But a trophy reported in December 1886 was of a different kind. The partnership of Skeels and Martin was a meat market. In it was displayed the head of a full-blooded Jersey bull which Home Martin had prepared himself for a wall ornament.

It seems this was the head of “Charley Bell” with a famous pedigree. He was a vicious creature killed for prudential reasons. Editorial comment was that the formidable head impressed one with the idea that it would be very unpleasant to have met its owner in a treeless field.

Doris B. Morton, Town Historian – The Whitehall Times – December 4, 1986

Some bits and pieces of Whitehall In 1922

Stories of the supposedly extinct panther are cropping up in the magazines today by people who are familiar with the woods. In 1922 many wild animals were being seen in Whitehall, driven out of the forest because of the fires, foxes, bob cats and panthers (puma, cougar, and mountain lion). Murray Brown saw a panther near Clear Pond. Then there was Edward Jones’ panther story. “Deacon Jones, a hunter and trapper, was hunting with his dog near Ed Moore’s. A panther came out of the woods with a loud scream. If you know the scream of a panther you never get over hearing in your mind its sound. It has the horrifying and terrifying sound of a woman in extreme agony. This one took after Ed’s dog. All three men, dog and panther went down the side of the mountain. It was [lie panther that gave up and went back into the woods.

Doris B. Morton, Town Historian – The Whitehall Times – November 21, 1985

Bear Hunting

Did a bear killing make news this fall? Writing in 1922 brought forth the story of a bear hunter of that time. It was triggered by this event.

A claim was made against the D & H Company by John Harris, a farmer who lived near the Kinner Bridge. Six of his cows had been killed on the track and another was badly injured. He claimed the cattle had been driven from his field by a bear that had been near the bridge for some time. Through their fear of the animal they had taken refuge on the track and were killed by the locomotives. Other farmers had had cattle scared by bruin at various times.

Engineer Doug Merrill had seen the bear in the fields and said he would be happy to have a try at it. It seems Doug was called the “Leather Stocking” of Clinton County. His father had been a pioneer farmer of that county near Sciota. The first calf increase on his farm had been killed by a bear. Doug swore vengeance on any of its relatives. He roamed the hills and woods and it was related that it was nothing for him to kill ten or twelve during a vacation in the North Country. He kept a diary of his killings with notches on his gun stock.

Over the years he had watched the number in the wild decreased. About eleven years ago he had been out looking for a cougar when he discovered the fresh track of a bear. Searching the area he came upon a bear that had just come out of hibernation and of course killed it. The pelt was a beautiful one and well haired. It made the 99th kill, if he took the one down by Kinner’s bridge he would mark up his 100

The score on the gun tallied eleven grizzlies, fifty-three blacks, twenty brown, and fifteen cubs. Besides being a hunter, Doug was also a good fisherman. He was a most popular and well liked engine driver.

A toy fad right now is the brown bear which comes in all sizes, and even some dressed to represent actual people. I wonder if the unpleasant grunt of the bear or the scratchy squeal of the cubs has been duplicated.

Doris B. Morton, Town Historian – The Whitehall Independent – Wednesday, December 4, 1985

Peanut, Dick, and the American Express

Who were Peanut and Dick? A beautiful large team of gentle horses, the memory of which lingers in the minds of some Whitehallers. These brown animals belonged to the express company. They drew the express wagon in all kinds of weather, in blinding rain, and in snow storms, faithfully and patiently starting and stopping on the delivery routes.The last drivers of the team were Henry and Howard Bruce. They had the full care of the team and the express wagon, feeding and grooming them in George Shattuck’s barn on Williams Street near the Rush residence. Claude Bruce remembers riding behind them as a small boy and George King recalls the beautiful pair they made. Other Whitehallers must have a recollection of them as they performed their duty.

In November 1926 the speed of Peanut and Dick was not in keeping with the demands of the times, so they were retired to be housed in George Chadwick’s barn, the second site south of the armory. Their place was taken by a Ford truck that took over the delivery of the express service.

Henry Bruce drove the truck until 1949, when he retired. After that, various agents took over the duty some of whom were Eugene and George Noonan, and Mr. Parker. The import of bread was an example of one product delivered by express. The loaves were brought in crates to the village on the morning train from the south. It was a perishable product. Monday morning was an especially critical time for weekends depleted the supply. A would be purchaser would often be told “We’re all out of bread. It will be in on the morning train.”

At the time of the retirement of Peanut and Dick, William Farrell related some history of the express company. He told that his father James Farrell was the first person to drive the delivery horse for the company in 1848 when the railroad came to Whitehall. From then until 1926 horse drawn vehicles were used for the delivery of freight. James Farrell was also the first person to have a contract to carry the mail from the post office and the train. He met with rough conditions as he had to wallow in the mud of unpaved streets and no street lights.

William Farrell himself entered the employ of the National Express Company in 1873 and worked in the office for three years. He then became an express messenger and was the oldest messenger in service in New York State and one of the best known men along the railroad between Albany and Whitehall in 1926. So great was the esteem in which he was held that he was never bonded.

Carrying the mail is brought to mind in this connection with carrying the express. The mail sacks were picked up at the post office and delivered to the mail car and the sacks for Whitehall taken from that car and on to the post office. Some names in the service were Paul Jasmin, Mr. Gallagher, and Mr. LaFleur. I’m sure other names and experiences can be given to the historian for both of these services, now no longer a part of Whitehall life.

Doris B. Morton, Town Historian – The Whitehall Independent – Wednesday, April 4, 1984

The Mule

Doris B. Morton, Town Historian – The Whitehall Times – February 10, 1983
Today it is often forgotten that the mule furnished the transportation power of the canal. But in earlier times it was a common sight around Whitehall to see mule barns near the locks, the bridge leading from the lower bridge to the tow path, the winter boarding of the animals by hundreds on nearby farms, and the sight in springtime when the mules were brought into the village hitched by fourteens to resume their work in hauling cargo boats.
The editor of The Whitehall Times once answered a toast thrown at him about mules.
The toast: “Mules, the backbone of the raging canal.” His reply: “I love a mule. I will stand to his back until his ears drop off, if you will only chain down his heels. For four years I once watched this noble beast hauling boats on the canal while I hauled in my salary as canal collector with promptness and dispatch.”
The mule has done more for commerce than any other animal in existence, even the American eagle. Like the ballet dancer, it carries its attractions in its heels and, – like the ballet dancer, the mule knows how to use them. A good mule is the concentrated essence of dynamite, nitroglycerine, and Susan B. Anthony’s tongue. A canal without a mule would be like Hamlet without a Booth, Joe Cook without a dictionary, Dennis Kearney without the Chinese, Bob Ingersol without Bob Butler, and a Chicago girl – without number eleven shoes.
When we need a good fresh’ joke, we saddle the mule.  When we want something with a hornet’s nest tied to it, we tickle the mule’s heels. When we realize the sublime jokes which fertile brains have evolved from the mule, is it any wonder the animal once in a while kicks back? His “heehaw” comes to us like angels whispering — when they have the croup.
But just pause; if I have said anything in favor of the mule, remember that I am only trying to do right by the animal that furnished the steam for every canaler’s team-boat, the salary for every canal official, the butt for every paragrapher’s joke. The mule is the most successfully abused creature that stands up, with the single exception of a newspaper editor.

Continue reading “The Mule” »