Fortunately, over the years, I had opportunities to share stories and experiences with the known writers of that day who are no longer with us. Harvey Chalmers, Amsterdam author, Barney Fowler, Albany newsman, and Maitland DeSormo, author of great Adirondack books, supported me in my early beginnings. One word from them and my books sold. Barbara McMartin, Anne Labastille and Stella King deserve great admiration for their extensive works. I am glad I shared their world. And, luckily, there is still a long list of Adirondack authors turning out good Adirondack books whom I am getting to know.
In my 50-some years of Adirondack research I have met other great authors who created the vast store of Adirondack literature that we enjoy today. Jebediah V. Huntington came to Lewey Lake in the Adirondacks in 1840 and wrote the first Adirondack novel, "The Forest," published in 1852. Robert L. Stevenson spent time and wrote while a TB patient in Saranac Lake. Playwright Eugene O'Neill, if I remember right, wrote "Ah, Wilderness" in the Adirondacks. Charles Dudley Warner's "In the Wilderness" was required reading in the schools by the New York State Regents.
There were, and are, three types of Adirondack writers: those who came to write about the Adirondacks, those who came to write their non-Adirondack works, and those who wrote about the Adirondacks but never came to the mountains. Theodore Dreiser wrote the great American novel "American Tragedy" in 1925, based on the Gillette murder case, and Jeptha Simms, one of the world's best historians, wrote about the Adirondack hunters and trappers.
Writers came from all walks of life. The Rev. John Todd wrote of his experiences at Long Lake in the 1840s, predicting that it would become a prosperous Christian farming community and that the Adirondacks would support a "million of people." Another author of that day, Joseph Headley, said "no," the farmers would be attracted to the good hunting and fishing and not take care of the farm and animals. The Rev. William Henry Harrison Murray, nationally known preacher and high on the list of great Adirondack writer, wrote "Adventures in the Wilderness" in 1869 and brought thousands to the Adirondacks. And his books of "Adirondack Tales" were best sellers. William E. Porter, a sportsman magazine editor, wrote "A Sporting Expedition in the Adirondacks" in 1840 and was influential in the evolution from hunting for food to becoming a sportsman.
Those who recorded Adirondack history and details deserve our thanks. Harold K. Hochschild did a masterful job in his box sets of "Township 34." Harvey Dunham's "French Louie" is really an Adirondack history book. Frank Graham Jr.'s "The Adirondack Park" is a welcomed reference book. Murray Heller's "Call Me Adirondack" provides the origin of Adirondack names. Paul Jamieson's "Adirondack Reader" shares the Adirondack literature collection. And Donaldson's 1921 "History of the Adirondacks" is certainly a labor of love for the Adirondack region.
The list goes on. My Adirondack hard-covered book collection numbers well of 200 books, and they all add to the works of the writers of yesterday and today who share the unique Adirondack region in upstate New York.
DON WILLIAMS was born and raised
in the Adirondacks. He is a retired Gloversville school principal and magazine author. He lives in Gloversville.