Edward Manning Ruttenber.

Footprints of the red men. Indian geographical names in the valley of Hudson's river, the valley of the Mohawk, and on the Delaware: their location and the probable meaning of some of them (Volume 1) online

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Online LibraryEdward Manning RuttenberFootprints of the red men. Indian geographical names in the valley of Hudson's river, the valley of the Mohawk, and on the Delaware: their location and the probable meaning of some of them (Volume 1) → online text (page 10 of 40)
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were encountered at every turn, while the little stores to be found
at the cross-roads, also dispensed liquor to all comers. Add to this
the fact that the materials from which intoxicating beverages are
manufactured were abundantly grown within our borders, and near
to our shores, and it will be appreciated how naturally the people
fell into intemperate habits.

For a period of nine years, while Dr. Clark, in all extremities
of weather, rode on horseback to the bedsides of his widely sep-
arated patients, the burden of the drink-evil weighed heavily upon
his mind. . He was a man of energy ; one who was not easily
thwarted in the carrying out of his plans. But here was a task that
seemed too hard for him. What could one man accomplish in the
presence of such indifference and overwhelming opposition?

The mode of action that Dr. Clark finally adopted was that of
organization — a working together of the friends of temperance for
a common purpose. This now seems like a very natural solution
of the problem of finding his best means of procedure ; but Dr.
Clark was the first man to announce and to give the idea practical


demonstration, though it is not probable that he possessed any clear-
ly defined conception of the lines along which it was to operate, nor
of the vast proportions which the movement was destined to attain.
Like a prophet under the guiding influence of inspiration, scarcely
knowing what he did, he was yet availing himself of a fundamental
principle of all nature. For, investigate wherever one may, from
the vilest atom of earth to the court of high heaven, organization is
the law of every upward step. The ancients, dimly apprehending
this sublime truth, conceived of the universe, as a gigantic animal,
a cosmic leviathan, w^hole, complete and harmonious in all its parts,
while philosophy has ever striven, though in vain, to demonstrate
by processes of reason what the higher authority of intuition has
proclaimed in all generations.

Dr. Rush, by reason of a liberal education, supplemented by
medical study in the capitals of Europe, and on account of his high
social, professional and Hterary standing, greatly outshone his co-
worker, the struggling country doctor on the frontier of Northern
New York. But these two greatest factors in the advent of the
temperance reformation, and who, it should be said, were acquaint-
ances through the medium of correspondence, each performed his
peculiar part, and who can determine which is entitled to the greater
honor. Dr. Rush manufactured the ammunition, but Dr. Clark
fired the gun, his match being organization.

The idea of forming a temperance society had perhaps been
suggested to Dr. Clark by his connection with the Saratoga County
Medical Society, the first institution of its kind in this state, and of
which he was the founder. He had attempted early in April, 1808,
to interest prominent men, whom he had met at Ballston Springs
at a session of court, in his projected temperance enterprise. His
plan may have been to estaiblish a central society at the county seat
and to encourage the organization of branches in the surrounding
towns ; but, to use Dr. Clark's own words, " they with one accord
began to make excuses and brand our scheme as Utopian and vision-
ary." Previous to this, however, he had taken the initiative in the
work among his neighbors, for he says : " I returned to Moreau
like a bow well bent that had not lost its elasticity, and resumed
the labor there." The determination he exhibited was remarkable,
and one cannot dwell upon the difficulties with which he contended


and meditate upon the unselfish, devoted and humanitarian spirit
by which he was actuated without expressing admiration.

The first successful step in the sublime drama of the temperance
reformation took place in the same month of April, referred to a
moment ago, when Dr. Clark made his memorable visit to his min-
ister. I quote from Armstrong :

" After having projected a plan of a temperance organization,
the doctor determined on a visit to his minister, the author of these
memoirs, who was then the pastor of the flouri.-' ing Congregational
church in the town of Moreau. The visit was made on a dark even-
ing, no moon and cloudy. After riding on horseback about three
miles, through deep mud of clay road, in the breaking-up of winter,
the doctor knocked at his minister's door, and on entrance, before
taking seat in the house, he earnestly uttered the following words :
' Mr. Armstrong, I have come to see you on important business.'
Then, lifting up both hands, he continued : ' We shall all become a
community of drunkards in this town un'less something is done to
arrest the progress of intemperance.' "

The poet has sung in soul-stirring numbers of the midnight
ride of Paul Revere. There are, indeed, certain resemblances be-
tween it and Dr. Clark's historic adventure. It was night ; there
was national peril ; heroes were in the saddle, and the voices of
their fervent appeals were destined to reverberate down the aisles
of time — ■' words that shall echo forevermore."

Due notice having been given to the people of the toW\ns of
Moreau and Northumberland, a meeting for the purpose .of forming
a temperance society was held at the pubHc house of Captain Peter
L. Mawney, at Clark's Corners, on April 13, 1808. Resolutions
were adopted, the chief of which was that " in the opinion of this
meeting it is proper, practicable and necessary to form a temperance
society in this place; and that the great and leading object of this
society is wholly to abstain from ardent spirits." A committee, of
which Dr. Clark was chairman, was appointed to prepare the By-
laws for the organization, and twenty-three persons enrolled them-
selves as members.

The following is the Hst of the signers : Isaac B. Pav-n, Ichabod
Hawley, David Parsons, James Mott, Alvaro Hawley, Thomas Cot-
ton, David Tillotson, Billy J. Qark, Charles Kellogg, jr., Elnathan


Spencer, Asaph Putnam, Hawley St. John, Nicholas W. Angle,
Dan Kellogg, Ephraim Ross, John M. Berry, John T. Sealy, Cyrus
Wood, James Rogers, Tlenry Martin, Sidney Berry, Joseph Sill,
Solomon St. John.

The meeting having adjourned one week, to April 20, at the
Mawney house, a long and comprehensive system of By-laws was
then adopted. Article I stated that " This society shall be known
by the appellation of Union Temperance Society of Moreau and
Northumberland." Like Dr. Rush's essay, the Constitution of the
society took grounds only against spirituous liquors, making ex-
ceptions regarding the use of them in circumstances of religious
ordinances, sickness and public dinners.

It was not until 1843 that the society " after a long season of
declension," on a motion put by Dr. Clark, adopted a resolution of
total abstinence.

Col. Sidney Berry, ex-judge of Saratoga county, was chosen
president and Dr. Clark secretary of the new society. As there
exists an apparent contradiction as to the particular roof under
which this historic meeting was held, one account stating that it
occurred at the Mawney house and another at the neighboring school
house, it is proper to say here that this discrepancy is removed by
the statement made in Judge Hay's book, page 22, that the session
opened in the Mawney house, but that " the society completed its
organization " in the school house. In the association, as a coherent
institution, coming into existence within the walls of suOh a build-
ing, may be found a prophecy of what the temperance movement in
the future was to lay particular stress upon — that is, upon tem-
perance teaching in the public schools. Indeed, it should be said
that the Moreau society itself was an educative organization as
well as a moral one, having a circulating library and maintaining a

But, although it had at its head intelHgent, hig^-minded and
enterprising men, its career was hard and discouraging to its mem-
bers. " That little, feeble band of temperance brethren," says Arm-
strong, '■ holding their quarterly and annual meetings in a country
district school house from April, 1808, onward for several years,
without the presence of a single female at their temperance meet-
ings ; who were made the song of the drunkard ; who were ridiculed


by the scoffs of the intemperate world ; und'isciplined in arms of
even moral suasive tactics for warfare, and unable of themselves
to encounter the Prince of Hell, with his legions of instrumental-
ities * * * were, nevertheless, the seed of the great temper-
ance reformation."

That Armstrong deplored the narrow ideas which prevailed to
the discouraging of women from fraternizing with the society, is
more explicitly shown in tjhe words which express his gratification
in the great numbers of women who, by their presence and co-
operation, subsequently aided so much in the promotion of tfhe work.
Dr. Clark also protested against the exclusion of women from mem-
bership in the temperance societies. These statements are intro-
duced that it may be known that the two leading men in the Moreau
society would have hailed with delight the advent of the Woman's
Christian Temperance Union. That great institution, not reckoning
many others devoted to the same cause, is of itself alone a glorious
monument to the pioneers of Moreau who, in a tempest of scorn
and ridicule, laid its foundations. Wisely the Woman's Christian
Temperance Union, as the name implies, built up its sublime edifice
of the same material — the granite of organization. From towns,
through counties, states, nations and the civilized world, it carries
on systematically its vast and beneficent enterprises. Words cannot
express, nor the mind conceive, the power of the prodigious en-
ginery which, distributed in a diversity of directions, is being ex-
erted daily, hourly and momentarily by this great association of
consecrated women. And here let me say that not only did the
temperance reformation come into existence within the borders of
our commonwealth, but tjhat the late Frances Elizabeth Willard,
the great light in the organization of which I have been speaking,
was a daughter of the state of New York.

Dr. Clark continued in the practice of medicine for a quarter
of a century after the formation of the Moreau temperance society,
making his residence on the farm of his original purchase. Of
this long period of professional labor there remains no memorial,
though in common with the routine duties of medical men, it un-
doubtedly abounded in elements which, interesting of themselves,
would be all the more so as belonging to the life of one so distin-
guished in the annals of reform. Beginning to experience the phy-



sical effects of his protracted devotion to his profession, and hav-
ing accumulated considerable property, Dr. Clark in 1833 purchased
real estate in Glens Falls and emibarked there in the retail drug
business. This successful enterprise engaged his attention until
1849, when he retired from trade. Two years later, longing for
the quiet life on the farm, he returned to reside at the old home
at Clark's Corners. He was now at the age of seventy-three, but
enjoyed, with the exception of a gradual failing of the sense of
sight, an almost unimpaired mental and physical vitality. But the
gloom before his eyes grew remorselessly thicker and thicker until
every familiar scene and tihe faces of family and friends faded from
his view. In the custody of this great affliction, the spirit of Dn
Clark was not crushed, but rather purified and exalted, so that he
who in earlier years had been conspicuous as the heroic leader,
was now none the less remarkable for his Christian humiTity, hope
and love. A few years longer he tarried upon the eartfh, in order
that there might be registered upon the hearts of men the beauty
and nobility of the character that was his. And then, at Glens
Falls, in the home of his son, James C. Clark, the spirit of the
great reformer went to its long home. His death occurred on
Wednesday morning, September 20, 1866. Dr. Hoi den says :
" The intelligence of his departure was swiftly borne through the
place ; his name was on every lip as all, with hushed reverence,
bore testimony to his virtues, and to the usefulness of a life lumin-
ous with the light of a Christ-born principle."

Notwithstanding his portrait, in its severe lines, gives evidence
of his decisivie mind and undeviating purpose, he yet possessed
elements of character that endeared him to all. While in terms
of affectionate banter, alluding to his spirit of determination and
his practice of proposing to formulate the mind of public meetings
in resolutions, he was sometimes spoken of as " Resolution Billy,"^
the people knew that beneath the crust of self-reliant earnestness
dwelt the loving humanitarian and the undying fires of a moral'

Unlike the experience of the most of those wlho entertain pro-
nounced ideas and proclaim them in the face of established custom,
Dr. Clark seems to have retained his popularity. Evidently he
was a very tactful man. In 1809, the year following the forma-


tion of the temperance society, he was made supervisor of the
town of Moreau, and although his activity, constant, wide and
diversified, was being powerfully directed against the intemperate
habits of the people, he seems to have maintained their confidence
and friendship. He was again chosen supervisor in 1821. We
may derive a hint of his high standing in the public estimation
from the fact that he was chosen in 1848 for the New York Elec-
toral college, whose choice was Taylor and Filmore.

The funeral address of Rev. A. J. Fennel, of the Glens Falls
Presbyterian Church, has been preserved and appears as a supple-
ment to Dr. Plolden's obituary article. Rev. Mr. Fennel having
been Dr. Clark's pastor, his discourse is of great biographical value.
His opening remarks were particularly well chosen and impressive.
He said :

" I feel, my friends, that Providence calls us to perform no
mean office to-day. We are to convey to their final resting place
the mortal remains of one who has been a power in the world for
great good to the children of men — whose name will enter into
history as that of a benefactor of the community ; and whose in-
fluence, as an element in the temperance reformation, will run on
into future generations. It cannot do us any hurt, it ought to do
us good, to pause a few moments in this habitation now made
sacred as the spot whence the earnest spirit of so devoted and use-
ful a man took its departure to the heavenly rest, and reflect on his
life of activity and toil, and observe how Providence used him for
our good and the good of our children."

With appropriate public demonstrations, the remains of Dr.
Clark were borne to the burying ground of the Union Meeting
House, in Moreau, and placed to rest beside the grave of his wife.
There, two miles froin the historic spot where he unfurled the ban-
ner of a world-wide moral movement, his aslies mingled with the
soil that his devotion has made of honorable distinction.

Thus, have I attempted to disentangle, gather up and lead in
continuous discourse the scattered threads which I have found in
my study of this neglected subject. If I have rendered more co-
herent and tangible the life and achievement of a universally in-
fluential philanthropist, I shall 'be pleased ; but I hope, besides that
good result, the consideration of the memoirs of a man who had


a great mission in the world and who ably and conscientiously dis-
charged it, will serve to impress upon us a sense of the power of
elevated ideas when duly championed by even one consecrated soul.


In expressing my appreciation of the assistance which has been
rendered me in the collection of materials for the preparation of
this paper, I would particularly mention Mr. James A. Holden, of
Glens Falls, who has furnished me, from the library of his father,
the late Dr. A. W. Holden, with most valuable matter, some of
w^hich could have been obtained from no other source. I also duly
acknowledge my indebtedness to Hon. Grenville M. Ingalsbe, of
Sandy Hill, wiho interested himself in my search for data, and
feel myself under obligations to the SchuylennUe Standard and to
the Glen Falls Times for gratuitously publishing my request for


From the letters relating to the subject in hand which I have
received, I glean the following. I might say that the discrepancy
which appears in the descriptions of Dr. Clark's person may be
accounted for by the different ages and conditions of healtih in
which he is best remembered by the several observers :

From Dr. Albert Mott, Cohoes : " The location of the Union
Meeting House was -d Reynold's Corners, about four or five hun-
dred feet from the corner, directly east. The burying ground was
north and across the road from the meeting house."

From Rev. Dr. Jos. E. King, Fort Edward: "In 1858 tlie
old church (Union Meeting House) was filled, to enjoy tihe com-
memorative exercises of the 50th year since the origin of the tem-
perance cause, and I heard Hon, Judge McKean, of Saratoga, ad-
dress the congregation. There was singing, prayer, a poem by
Lura Boies, &c."

Statement of Judge Lyman H, Northrup, of Sandy Hill, v^Hho
remembers Dr. Clark : " He always carried upon his countenance
a mild, genial, pleasant expression ; dressed v^^ith neatness, and
appeared to be a good sort of a fellow, and exhibited not; at all that
asperity which we associate in our minds with the active reformer."


From William Gary, of Gansevoort, who was intimate with Dr.
Clark : " He had rather small, black eyes, which would be gen-
erally considered rather piercing. His hair was black and very
profuse ; eye-brows very shaggy. His height I should put at 5 ft.
10 in., and weight about 170 lbs."

From B. F. Lapham, of Glens Falls : " I was well acquainted
with Dr. B. J. Glark. He lived on the same street we did for
many years, and when he died 1 helped prepare his body for burial.
He was rather eccentric in many tJhings and very resolute. There
never was a meeting held but he wou'ld suggest some resolution,
so they nicknamed him ' Resolution Billy.' Dr. Clark's name will
be famous through all time as the originator of the first temperance
organization that ever existed. He was an ardent and efficient
laborer all his life."

From Miss Anna Mott, of Glens Falls. Miss Mott is a daugh-
ter of James Mott, who was a co-laborer in the temperance cause
with Dr. Clark, and his neighbor at Clark's Corners : " As I re-
member Dr. B. J. Clark, he was a cultured, refined man, with fine
sensibility. He ihad a kind word and look for every one that was
worthy of it. He was of medium height and size. His hair and
eyes were black; his fordhead high and broad. His mouth and
chin bespoke firmness. His complexion was dar'k. As I saw Dr.
Clark, he was a very kind, gentlemanly old man, and appreciated
every kindness he received."

From x\ustin L. Reynolds, of South Glens Falls. Mr. Rey-
nolds knew Dr. Clark for many years, and assisted him in the
temperance work : " Dr. Clark's name was Billy, instead of
William. He was stocky in form, and weighed about 175 lbs.
His height was about 5 ft. 6 in. ; complexion fair ; dark hair and
eyes, and very heavy eyebrows. He was pecuniarily successful as
a physician and as a business man. Was the owner of several
farms and was interested in a paper mill, situated on w'hat is known
as Snoot Kill Creek. Later, he moved to Glens Falls and was
proprietor of a drug store for a number of years in that village.
Then he returned to Clark's Corners wit^h his daughter, Mrs.
Alfred C. Farlin (widow), as housekeeper, and remained at his


homestead for several years. He lost his eyesight and was en-
tirely blind. Then he returned to Glens Falls, and died in 1866.
He left one son and three daughters, all of wboin are now dead."

A Visit to Clark's Corners.

In order that I might obtain a better understanding of the
topography of the neighborhood, I visited Clark's Corners on a
day in August, 1905. Driving west from Fort Edward, at a dis-
tance of three miles I came to Reynolds' (four) Corners. I was
very courteously received by Mr. Austin L. Reynolds, who gave
me full information as to all the historic spots connected with the
Moreau society. Mr. Reynolds is at an advanced age, more than
eighty, but he promptly and clearly communicated to me the facts
herewith set forth.

The roads at Reynolds' Corners run toward the cardinal points,
and the burying ground of the Union Meeting House is at a short
distance east of the corners, as already has been stated by Dr. Mott.
The remains of Dr. Clark were removed from this, the place of
their first burial, and were re-interred at Glens Falls. The site of
the Union Meeting House is unoccupied, the present chapel stand-
ing on other ground, some distance to the west. The Union
Meeting House was Dr. Clark's place of worship, and his pastor.
Rev. Lebbeus Armstrong, resided at the parsonage, one-half mile
south of the church and on the west side of the hig^hway. The
cottage which stands on the site of Armstrong's home is now the
residence of Mr. Halsey Chambers. It was here tJhat Dr. Clark
came in the night upon his historic errand.

Clark's (four) Corners are directly south of Reynolds' Corners
and two miles distant. The north and south road is crossed at
right angles by the other. Both of these locatities are open coun-
try, that of Clark's Corners having the appearance of fertility and
thrift ; pleasant homes and commodious buildings being numerous.
Clark's Corners may be conveniently reached from the village of
Gansevoort, on the Delaware and Hudson Railroad, two miles

The site of the Mawney house is at Clark's Corners. It stood
on the northwest corner. Another building has since been erected
upon this ground. Dr. Clark's home stood across the road, on


the southwest corner. The house has disappeared, but the cellar
walls stand almost intact. About forty rods south of the corners
and on the east side of the road is the site of the school-house in
which the Moreau society held its meetings. A dwelling house,
the home of Mr. George Haviland, now occupies that plot of

The sites of the Union Meeting House, parsonage, Mawney
house. Dr. Clark's house, and the school house, should be ap-
propriately marked.


By Hon. Milton Reed.

The shrewd saying of the Swedish lOhiancellor Oxenstiern,
'An nescis, mi iili, quantilla prndentia regitur orhis? " — "Dost
thou not know, my son, with how little wisdom the world is gov-
erned ? " Oias been substantially true in every epoch in the world's
history. Everything human must needs be imperfect, and in noth-
ing is imperfection more plainly exhibited than in the successive
sdhemes of government which men have attempted. Some have
been broad-based and have lasted for what we, in our ordinary
reckoning, call a long period of time. But most of them have been
built on the sand ; a few storms, shocks, convulsions, and they have
fallen. Men have generally made but sorry work in trying to
govern each other. The individual may govern himself after a
fashion ; but to govern wisely another man, or, still harder, great
masses of men, even where there has been community of public
interests, of language, religion and custom — aye, there has been
the rub! Human history has often been called a great tragedy;
but no tragic element is more ghastly or more overwhelming than
the catastrophes in which most governments have collapsed. Am-
bitious attempts at world-power, the most splendid combinations
to group nations into a civic unity, have tottered to their fall, as
surely as the little systems which have had their day and ceased to
be, — shifting, fleeting, impotent.

It is not diflicult to see why this has been so. Social life is
only one plhase of the great organic life of the species; one scene
of the human drama of which the earth has been " the wide and
universal theatre." Change, transition, development, birth, growth,
death, are universal elements in the cosmic order. Of the slow

Online LibraryEdward Manning RuttenberFootprints of the red men. Indian geographical names in the valley of Hudson's river, the valley of the Mohawk, and on the Delaware: their location and the probable meaning of some of them (Volume 1) → online text (page 10 of 40)