Adirondack Forum  
Rules Membership Donations and Online Store Adkhighpeaks Foundation ADKhighpeaks Forums ADKhighpeaks Wiki Disclaimer

Go Back   Adirondack Forum > The Adirondack Forum > Adirondack History and Folklore
Register FAQ Members List Calendar Search Today's Posts Mark Forums Read

Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Old 01-19-2011, 11:56 AM   #1
pondhopper
Have creel; will travel
 
pondhopper's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 749
1893: Stillwater Landowner Sues NYS

Today, I read an article in Lowville's Journal & Republic, where the writer quotes an unknown source (not cited) claiming William Seward Webb sued NYS in 1893 for drowning standing timber, caused by dam improvement @ Stillwater Reservoir. I believe, this is incorrect. However, Mary Fisher did & shows how an error can be compounded in following years w/o double checking sources ( a little pet peeve, which doesn't amount to a hill of beans ). So, I'm posting this scan from Vol II. of my 1893 edition of The Annual Report of the Forest Commission for the state of NY for at least, something of interest & possibly, a source for someone:
Attached Images
File Type: jpg 1893 RTFC 1st pages.jpg (144.4 KB, 256 views)
File Type: jpg 1893 RTFC 2cd pages.jpg (140.6 KB, 253 views)
__________________
--"Pete You***?!, Pete You***'s grandson?!...That name is nearly sacred & uttered with awe in THIS house!" : The late Dr. Reed's wife, upon entering her house & being introduced- so to converse with her husband about the old days, a little before he died. The kind of greeting you'll never forget & reinforces your image of the hero you never met. --
pondhopper is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-19-2011, 04:40 PM   #2
fisher39
Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 1,006
Cool and thanks for sharing! Do you think it is safe to assume that the "Albany Lake Bridge" is where the old Albany Road crossed at the west end of Nehasane Lake?
fisher39 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-19-2011, 04:49 PM   #3
colden46
Member
 
colden46's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 1,056
Thanks for sharing! The ADK's West Central guidebook claims William S. Webb sued the state as well, but a specific year is not listed. From p270 of the latest edition (the text is identical to that in the previous edition):

Quote:
The community [of Beaver River] owes its formal existence to W.S. Webb, builder of the Mohawk & Malone Railroad, which became the Adirondack & St. Lawrence Railroad (Adirondack Division of the New York Central). A lumber mill was established at Beaver River Station in 1893 by Firman Ouderkirk to process timber from Webb's land in the area. Webb had sued the state, contending that the 1886 dam on the river had blocked lumbering in the area and that the RR was not a feasible means of shipping the timber. After he won, the lumber was, of course shipped on Webb's RR. Cutting was completed by 1904, Webb sold the surrounding land to the state, and the community shrank to just a few remaining families.
colden46 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-19-2011, 05:39 PM   #4
pondhopper
Have creel; will travel
 
pondhopper's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 749
Cool, glad someone cares.

Fisher39, yes & I noticed that about navigation rights, too.

Colden, I didn't notice that in the WC Guidebook. Seems unlikely, but Barb must have took someone's word (?).
__________________
--"Pete You***?!, Pete You***'s grandson?!...That name is nearly sacred & uttered with awe in THIS house!" : The late Dr. Reed's wife, upon entering her house & being introduced- so to converse with her husband about the old days, a little before he died. The kind of greeting you'll never forget & reinforces your image of the hero you never met. --
pondhopper is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-19-2011, 06:05 PM   #5
fisher39
Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 1,006
Quote:
Originally Posted by pondhopper View Post
Cool, glad someone cares.
I'll be sure to thank you every time - your history posts are some of the most interesting ones on here!

Quote:
Originally Posted by colden46 View Post
Thanks for sharing! The ADK's West Central guidebook claims William S. Webb sued the state as well, but a specific year is not listed. From p270 of the latest edition (the text is identical to that in the previous edition):
Phil Brown repeats it in his article about paddling from Lila to Stillwater "Forbidden River":

Quote:
Locker has no doubt that the river is “navigable-in-fact”—a legal phrase describing waterways open to the public under the common-law right of navigation. He said William Seward Webb, who bought lands around the Beaver in the late 1800s and created a wilderness estate called Nehasane Park, once contended in a lawsuit that the river was “a natural highway.” (In the suit against the state, Webb contended that raising the dam at Stillwater made some of his timberlands inaccessible.)

In a letter to the Explorer Locker writes: “If the original Webb told a New York court in 1893 that the Beaver River was his commercial highway beginning at Lake Lila, then it is a settled matter that the Beaver River is navigable-in-fact and accessible to the public, no matter what any subsequent owner (Webb or not) may claim.”

http://www.adirondackexplorer.org/st...aver-river.php
And here's the letter:

Quote:
River access settled long ago

In 1893, William Seward Webb sued the state of New York for damages he claimed to have suffered from the flooding of the Beaver River, after the original dam was enlarged by the state. The higher water, said Webb, interfered with his ability to remove standing timber from his lands that bordered the river.

Central to Webb’s case was his assertion that the Beaver River and its tributaries were a “natural highway” for the transport of his logs and timber starting from its source in Lake Lila (also known as Smith’s Lake).
In 1896, while Webb’s case was pending in court, the state settled with him after the legislature appropriated $600,000 to purchase seventy-five thousand acres. Today, most of the Webb Purchase lies within the Five Ponds Wilderness.

If the original Webb told a New York court in 1893 that the Beaver River was his commercial highway beginning at Lake Lila, then it is a settled matter that the Beaver River is navigable-in-fact and accessible to the public, no matter what any subsequent owner (Webb or not) may claim.

George Locker, New York City

http://www.adirondackexplorer.org/le...ers-july10.php
fisher39 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-19-2011, 06:09 PM   #6
colden46
Member
 
colden46's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 1,056
Quote:
Originally Posted by pondhopper View Post
Cool, glad someone cares.

Fisher39, yes & I noticed that about navigation rights, too.

Colden, I didn't notice that in the WC Guidebook. Seems unlikely, but Barb must have took someone's word (?).
PH, That was from the Adirondack Mountain Club's book, not the Discover series. Though the latest Discover the Northwestern Adirondacks has a similar passage on p25 (in this case too, this passage is identical to one in the previous edition):

Quote:
It is interesting to note that when the state built the dam at Stillwater, some of the land it flooded was in Dr. William Seward Webb's Nehasane Park. He claimed the subsequent raising of the dam damaged his timber resource and made it impossible to harvest timber on 66,000 acres.

In a shrewd and ethically controversial move, Webb filed a lawsuit against the state. Arguments fell in his favor and the state was forced to buy 75,000 acres for $600,000 -- the largest single acquisition the state has ever made for lands for the Forest Preserve. The cost was higher than the going rate for forestland and made quite a profit for Webb.
...
The Webb purchase included forest both north and southeast of the reservoir ...
(By the way, I'm not suggesting anyone is right or wrong here, just posting some of the meager resources I have available to me!)
colden46 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-19-2011, 06:28 PM   #7
pondhopper
Have creel; will travel
 
pondhopper's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 749
Thanks guys! One of my reasons for posting something like this is for me to learn, too. I certainly, may be wrong with my belief that WS Webb didn't sue & wouldn't have any "pride" offended by more info. Hey, looks like it didn't happen in 1893, anyhow.

Look how I misread Colden's initial post (lol).
__________________
--"Pete You***?!, Pete You***'s grandson?!...That name is nearly sacred & uttered with awe in THIS house!" : The late Dr. Reed's wife, upon entering her house & being introduced- so to converse with her husband about the old days, a little before he died. The kind of greeting you'll never forget & reinforces your image of the hero you never met. --
pondhopper is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-19-2011, 06:46 PM   #8
fisher39
Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 1,006
Quote:
Originally Posted by pondhopper View Post
Thanks guys! One of my reasons for posting something like this is for me to learn, too. I certainly, may be wrong with my belief that WS Webb didn't sue & wouldn't have any "pride" offended by more info. Hey, looks like it didn't happen in 1893, anyhow.

Look how I misread Colden's initial post (lol).
You're welcome! You got me Googling. Search the NY Times site. Webb did indeed sue the state, and here's a little taste of what's available on the site:

http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive...D9405B8585F0D3

http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive...DA415B8585F0D3

Last edited by fisher39; 01-19-2011 at 07:06 PM..
fisher39 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-19-2011, 07:16 PM   #9
Paradox6
Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: Washingtonville, NY
Posts: 254
Interesting read, suits against the State are generally in the Court of Claims, and I don't know how far back that goes. Some of the old Court indexes might not be accessible, except by going to the courthouse and checking them. The official "reporters", the sets of books with all of the reported decisions only include decisions where there were written decisions, which does not happen in every case. Seeing if a lawsuit was actually started probably entails going back to the County Clerk's office or checking the Court of Claims records.

This is probably the historical equivalent of a commission "determination." There was a hearing, evidence was taken, all parties had an opportunity to be heard, the comissioner made findings of fact and conclusions of law. Interesting historical and contemporaneous findings about the extent of commercial use of the river, that may very well come into play in the Shingle Shanty Brook dispute and be given a lot of weight.
Paradox6 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-19-2011, 07:34 PM   #10
colden46
Member
 
colden46's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 1,056
Check out this article in the December 7, 1895 New York Times:

http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstrac...DA415B8585F0D3

(Click "View Full Article" to read the entire thing, or try this direct link)

The quick summary:

Quote:
The State Comissioners of the Land Office today approved the recommendation of the State Fish, Game and Forest Commission that the State purchase 75,000 acres of land in Herkimer and Hamilton Counties within the boundaries of the Adirondack State Park. ... The land belongs to Dr. W. Seward Webb ... [who] has now pending against the State claims for damages to this land amounting to about $400,000, and these claims are extinguished by the State purchasing the land.
At the time, the stated owned around 600,000 acres within the Park, so this was a huge acquisition.

If for some reason you can't access it, I can send you a PDF of the article.
colden46 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-19-2011, 09:17 PM   #11
colden46
Member
 
colden46's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 1,056
Well, since someone has tuned the TV to American Idol, I might as well do some more looking around. A few other relevant articles:

Reporting on arguments in the case (yeah, these get a little boring):
January 11, 1895
January 12, 1895
January 26, 1895 (just says hearings are being postponed until February 25)
February 28
March 1 (just says Webb finished his case)

First mention I could find of the state proposing to buy the land, when the Forest Commission took a field trip to Stillwater: July 23, 1985

More discussion of buying Webb's land: November 27, 1895

Interestingly, this whole Beaver River fiasco appears to be one of the major reasons why the "or destroyed" clause appears in Article 14. Here's the account of the 1894 Constitutional Convention, where that wording is proposed to be added to the Constitution (p141, Mr. Goodelle's remarks)



And not to threadjack/change the subject, but PH, do you have Edwin Wallace's Descriptive Guide to the Adirondacks? I found a copy online, and it's interesting to see how the names of some of these places have changed over the years (and not just the racially-inspired name change of a certain lake north of Stillwater), and get some history behind the names. Of course it's frustrating to see names that have changed since publication and not know why! For example, who was the Diana that inspired Dog Pond to change its name?

It's also the only place I've ever seen that says the Red Horse chain was named after a fish supposedly once found there, which seems more plausible than the story about the water looking like galloping horses.
colden46 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-19-2011, 10:49 PM   #12
pondhopper
Have creel; will travel
 
pondhopper's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 749
Excellent & thanks for the links, everybody . I had a hunch this may, be related to something else going on.

Quote:
Originally Posted by colden46 View Post

And not to threadjack/change the subject, but PH, do you have Edwin Wallace's Descriptive Guide to the Adirondacks? I found a copy online, and it's interesting to see how the names of some of these places have changed over the years (and not just the racially-inspired name change of a certain lake north of Stillwater), and get some history behind the names. Of course it's frustrating to see names that have changed since publication and not know why! For example, who was the Diana that inspired Dog Pond to change its name?

It's also the only place I've ever seen that says the Red Horse chain was named after a fish supposedly once found there, which seems more plausible than the story about the water looking like galloping horses.
Colden, yes I have an edition, which was in very good condition, when my father presented it to me. Now, it's not in very good shape from repeated openings. There are small errors in it, because Wallace used word-of-mouth from guides @ the establishments he visited & sometimes, they embellished. For example: it claims there is a "natural rock shanty" near the Ardison Trail, which is the original name for the Jake's Pond Trail & I'm absolutely, positive that is/was a false claim based on info from people I respected & personal knowledge. The story for the name of the Red Horse Chain, which I heard from people coincides with Wallace's claim & that species of sucker does run the creek. I don't know how Diana got its name changed, but most likely IMO, it was the name of a family member of the Fisher family, whom owned & re/named some of the ponds.

edited to add: I should mention that suckers still run many of the inlets, including the river in Spring. And most people weren't/aren't biologists & coloration may, cause many people, including those far back in the past to possibly, mislabel the fish as the Redhorse species.
__________________
--"Pete You***?!, Pete You***'s grandson?!...That name is nearly sacred & uttered with awe in THIS house!" : The late Dr. Reed's wife, upon entering her house & being introduced- so to converse with her husband about the old days, a little before he died. The kind of greeting you'll never forget & reinforces your image of the hero you never met. --

Last edited by pondhopper; 01-21-2011 at 07:47 AM.. Reason: regarding suckers
pondhopper is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-25-2016, 01:21 PM   #13
ndoggac
Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2014
Posts: 16
https://sites.google.com/site/stillw...gation/history

Also check the "Paper Maps" page for maps that show details of the Mary L. Fisher survey for the lawsuit.

From what I've been able to gather...

Both brought lawsuits. Mary L. Fisher brought her suit after the original wooden crib dam was built in 1887, flooding 1,594 acres of her land .

Webb sued the same year after the dam was raised 5 ft in 1893, flooding an additional 2,148 acres. His lawsuit claimed that the impoundment had isolated some 66,000 acres of land making it unavailable for timber harvest. The suit eventually resulted in the largest acquisition and addition to the Forest Preserve ever made.

1895-6 - NY State buys 75,377 (or 74,585? - conflicting numbers) acres for $600,000 as a result of the W.S. Webb case
ndoggac is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply


Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -4. The time now is 10:31 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.4
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.

DISCLAIMER: Use of these forums, and information found herein, is at your own risk. Use of this site by members and non-members alike is only granted by the adkhighpeak.com administration provided the terms and conditions found in the FULL DISCLAIMER have been read. Continued use of this site implies that you have read, understood and agree to the terms and conditions of this site. Any questions can be directed to the Administrator of this site.