Horicon NY historic photo of house lake and people

History

In the late 1700's Moses Stickney purchased most of the land that is now known as Horicon for $0.25 an acre as well as the water rights throughout the region. The land was labeled "a dense wilderness"—exactly what Stickney, who hoped to make his fortune in lumbering, was looking for.

Stickney built the first dams on the creek coming from Brant Lake, creating first mill pond. He built the first saw and grist mills as well as having interests in early hotels and mercantile, all support businesses for the loggers in the area working Stickney's land. In 1813, Stickney and his son Frank were said to be the first loggers in the area to float logs down the Schroon River to the Hudson and on to the Glens Falls mills.

The town was incorporated on March 29, 1838 from portions of Bolton and Hague. By this time Stickney had sold much of his holdings to his nephew Judson Barton, who was born in Warrensburg. Barton, and eventually his sons, built many of the frame houses that still stand around the Mill Pond. They built or had a hand in owning and running most of the businesses in town. Judson's sons built the general store in 1895, which was destroyed by fire August 1, 2006. This was, as in many communities, the hub of the town, providing not only the regular general store supplies, but housing the post office and community room upstairs. This room held town meetings, dances, and as one story goes, donkey basketball games. Getting the donkeys up the steep, narrow stairway wasn't bad, getting them back down was another story.

Although many of the town's records were destroyed by fire, the Barton family kept wonderful records which eventually passed to a descendant, Mrs. Edith Barton Clifford, who became the first town historian.

By the mid 1800's the Mill Pond was surrounded by general stores, a cabinet shop, a hotel, a hat shop, a saw mill, grist mill and blacksmith shop. There were also an abundance of churches. As one town recorder observed, "As a town we were either extremely religious or extremely wicked."

By the mid 1800's the town also boasted several hamlets, each with its own school. The largest of these hamlets were Adirondack, Bartonville, South Horicon, and Hayesburg. South Horicon and Adirondack each had a tannery, the one in South Horicon being the largest in New York State. Hides were brought in by train to Riverside and drawn by teams of horses and in the case of Adirondack, by steamboat, to the tanneries. The hemlock bark needed to tan the hides was cut thorough out the area, but especially in the Pharaoh Lake Wilderness area. Through the 1950's piles of stripped hemlock logs could still be seen in the area as ghostly reminders of these forgotten days.

With the tanneries came the support systems of hotels, boarding houses and taverns. Looking at the census of this time one can see many of the Irish families that came to work in the tanneries, many who left when the bark ran out, but some names remain with us today.

During the Civil War our town held the proud distinction of providing more men in proportion to population than any other town in New York State, with only one man being drafted. These two hundred volunteers made up portions of the 22nd, 93rd, 118th and 142nd regiments.

By the mid 1880's another major industry was developing. The earliest hotel on Brant Lake, build originally by Benjamin Hayes as a log cabin, was added to and renovated into what is today Sunset Mountain lodge. Many interesting and wealthy visitors came to the area to check out the natural beauty as well as the wonderful fishing and hunting opportunities. When looking through the earliest guest register one can see that many of the early visitors loved the area enough to purchase property on the lake and build many of the grand and modest homes there. Many wealthy and influential friends of these people, including Teddy Roosevelt, enjoyed weeks of fishing on the lake.

Hotels sprang up around the lake, this time catering to wealthy families visiting for the summer rather than the loggers, tanners, and teamsters of previous times. Summer camps for boys and girls also were established around the turn of the century.

Many of the local, year around families lived by subsistence farming. The landscape is still sprinkled with these small, hardscrabble farmhouses. Our museum is a fine example of such farmhouses.

The town has always had a history of a shared community. The best example of this can be seen in the little one story library sitting at the water's edge of the Mill Pond. About 1900, Mrs. Emily Hienzelman, a summer resident and homeowner on the lake, donated 150 books for the library. The library was housed in the home of the town doctor and stood where the new Community Center stands. Through the efforts of both summer and full time residents, books were donated. Between the years of 1903 and 1908 all forms of local public socials continued to raise funds through card parties, fairs, food sales and ice cream socials, raising money not only for books, but the stone building itself. Eventually, the picturesque little library building was bursting at the seams and has moved into the new community center. The stone building has met the community's original mandate, set over one hundred years age, by staying a historical library and the town historian's office.

In conclusion, the words of one of the past Horicon historians, Miss Helen Persons, sums up our history: "Horicon is off the pathway of great historical events, but its development through the spirit and help of her people is a fine example of community life,"

View of historic Horicon

Town Historian

The Town of Horicon Historian collects Horicon history and responds to all inquires from genealogical researchers.

Colleen Murtagh can be reached at (518) 494-4359, by mail at 338 Valentine Pond Road, Pottersville, NY 12860 or by email crmurtagh@yahoo.com.


Town of Horicon Historical Society website

Town of Horicon - History