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New York Folklore Quarterly, Vol. IX, No. 2, Summer 1953

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Vol. IX, No. 2, Summer 1953

Donnal V. Smith

THIS is a “letter to the editor” about the ”North Country” that I don’t know very well, but for which I have a deep affection. The people up there, at least the ones I know, are all genuine folks and have a charm and character all their own that designate them as a part of the most distinguishing feature of our State, the Adirondacks.

The man about whom I really want to write I never knew, but in one way or another I have heard so much about him that I have to tell you a few of the stories. You may be able to get others to recall his stories, which must have been almost endless. If they are like the ones I know, they are amusing and illustrative of both the country and his time. Let me begin this way:—

“Pants” Lawrence died about a year and a half ago. In a way his passing marks the end of an era—the end of an era when the Adirondacks, almost uncrossed by east and west roads, had only a few trails north and south—up along Lake George and Champlain, up the Fulton Chain, and through the Black River Valley; a few trails followed by a few men, supported by dreams of one kind or another. Once it was an engineer who thought a string of lakes might be connected so that there would be ready travel between the St. Lawrence and the Mohawk. French explorers, English explorers, Indian traders, Indian raiding parties, British armies, and Green Mountain Boys made the pathway up the lakes well known. And then in the 1830s when the people in the Black River Valley believed that it would be the great dairy section of the State, just ordinary families made a trail up to the North Country. Only a few hardy souls who crossed back and forth, east and west, knew the interior of the Adirondack country. One of these was “Pants” Lawrence.....

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