Herr-Story by Charles Herr A look at local days gone by

A look at local days gone by 

The Forge House: Owners, Proprietor & Managers, Part VI

The Garmon & Crosby Years: 1888-1895 The Utica Weekly Herald of March 24, 1891 published an announced and then a retracted selection of John Studer as the new Forge House proprietor.

Studer was a hotel proprietor in Watson and had reached a verbal agreement with Dr. Crosby. But Garmon had signed a one-year agreement with partners George B. Kitts of Boonville and Mortimer D. Alger of Rome. Kitts was experienced in running hotels at Boonville and later at Rome where he may have met Mortimer D. Alger.

After the one year Forge House lease, he ran the Lewis Hotel in Fulton and then the Doolittle Hotel in Rome.

While at the Lewis Hotel in 1895, Kitts invested in a company manufacturing fire alarm systems for hotels.

At the time of his death of tuberculosis on April 29, 1913, he had been proprietor of the Orlando Hotel in Corning since 1898.

Mortimer D. Alger ran a popular hardware store in Rome for many years until June 1891. After his stint at the Forge House, Alger concentrated on his camp at Big Island on Fourth Lake.

Originally, camp builders erected a camp for guide Fred Rivett and his brother Peter.

They sold their squatters’ rights to Sarah Clarke who sold them to Mortimer Alger. His complex there was called “The Pines” and it remained in the family for many years.

Shortly after the couple celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in 1915, two of their sons died: George of typhoid fever in 1916 and Burt in 1919.

Another son, Ollie, would later take over the island camp. Mortimer Alger died on June 26, 1927.

In 1950, the island’s owners sold it to the state and Alger Island today is a popular stopover for canoers on the Old Forge to Saranac Lake route.

Alger’s Forge House register is at the Goodsell Museum. George Goodsell was a Forge House manager.

The Boonville Herald reported in November 1891 that Alger & Kitts hired Goodsell to manage the hotel over the winter. Goodsell would later build a house in 1900 that is today’s Goodsell Museum.

During 1891 and 1892, the business prospects were both good and bad for Garmon & Crosby.

While they were experiencing operational problems with the Peg-Leg Railroad, another much larger railroad was rapidly progressing to the Forge Tract. Dr. William Seward Webb’s railroad reached Fulton Chain Station in June and would be completed in October 1892.

The partners contracted with Dr. Webb to provide lumber from their mill for construction of the Fulton Chain Station at today’s Thendara.

The improvements to the hotel had been completed, also helped by the nearby sawmill on state land. Its veranda was 80 feet long with a view of the lake.

It contained a large sitting room with a prominent fireplace. Deer approached the hotel from the woods and delighted the guests.

The opening of Dr. Webb’s railroad promised increased business for the hotel, which continued to accommodate 100-150 guests. Arthur H. Springsteen was born in Lewis County on June 30 1865 to Savillian and Luvan Springsteen.

Springsteen learned the hotel business from his father who moved the family to Orwell, Oswego County and ran the town’s hotel.

Springsteen, on harmonica, would accompany his father who played violin in a trio that sometimes included a talented organist, Miss Julia Thompson. He became an accomplished coronet player and played with local orchestras. Springsteen’s life would include both success and family tragedy.

The Orwell Hotel burned in May 1888.

After marrying Julia Thompson on December 27 that year, his father died in December 1889 at the age of 48.

With Julia having just given birth in April 1891, Springsteen was soon forced to temporarily leave his new position as manager of the Underwood House in Dexter to join his wife in burying their month old infant son.

In June 1892, Garmon and Crosby hired the Springsteens as proprietors of the Forge House for the summer.

After the summer, the Springsteens returned to Orwell to manage the “Hotel de June” which they quickly renamed Pulaski House.

After three years, the couple moved to Little Falls where Springsteen operated a grocery Concern.

Continued next week…

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