Archive for November 18th, 2009

I wrote the other day about doing some genealogy about my great-grandfather, Gilbert Perry, and how interesting it has been in reconnecting with an ancestor about who I knew so little about.  One of the great pleasures has been reading the old newspapers from the late 1800’s that are available online via  the Northern New York Library System.  I am constantly fascinated in browsing the ads and notices of the times, seeing how day to day life changed and evolved.

This ad for a balloon ascension with Professor Squire, a la The Wizard of Oz, at the Franklin County Fair in Malone, NY appeared in the September 2, 1872 edition of the Malone Palladium.  It was on the front page alongside accounts from the Republican convention of that year where Ulysses S. Grant was nominated for the presidency as well as death notices, ads for pianos (they were selling Steinways up there!) and dry goods.  Ads looking for tin peddlers, a furniture dealer selling metal burial caskets, a lumber dealer, carriage painters and a mail order ad for a tea dealer on Wall Street in NYC.  There was a list of  rules of behavior that would be enforced at the Fair.  No drinking or betting on the trotters.

It was all pretty interesting, a glimpse into that time, but the part that caught my eye was near the top of the page, just under the death notices.  It was a Notice of Liberation where my great-great grandfather, Francis Perry, was giving Gilbert Perry, my great-grandfather, the remainder of his minority, giving him freedom from furhter financial obligations to his father.  Gilbert was free to transact business as he saw fit.

It was at this point that Gilbert formed his first crew and headed into the North woods with his first contract to deliver logs.  He was just 18 years old.  He continued to be a logger for the next 60 years, only stopping a few years before his death at age 81.  My Aunt Norma has recollections of visiting his farm in St. Regis Falls when she was small girl in the early 1930’s.  She said there were big log sleds scattered all around, the type pulled by teams of horses.  He was throwback even then to an earlier time before big tractors and chainsaws.

So in this little piece in this little newspaper from the north I see the beginning of my great-grandfather’s world, one that led to my grandmother’s much different world and to my father’s even more different world to my world which would probably seem incomprehensible to a man so at home in the woods.  Or maybe not…

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