Herr-Story by Charles Herr

The Worst Guides… and The Worst Landowners


Before railroads and automobiles, travelers depended on the quality and skills of North Woods guides to show them the region’s natural beauty, to feed them and provide the best in hunting and fishing.

Often, guides were entrusted with taking ladies in the woods.

The guides, especially those not aligned with large hotels, depended on per diem fees for subsistence and quality reputations for honesty, dependability and woodcraft benefited all guides.

So when two guides brought dishonor to the profession, guides hoped people realized these two were the exception.

In 1901, a group including the largest Adirondack landowners formed the Association for the Protection of the Adirondacks.

This group’s goals have been to preserve the health of the Park’s forests and inhabitants for present and future generations.

Its initial critics felt it formed to protect its members’ large preserves.

But its immediate opening of the membership to individuals helped bring about a broad base of support and today it is still a force benefiting the Park.

But two preserve owners brought unneeded bad press nationally upon the group.

Charles Parker. Charles Parker had served time in a Vermont prison and had outstanding warrants for forgery and theft.

As a part time guide at the Forked Lake House, he had a bad reputation among guides and he knew it.

It was thought he intended his later actions to ruin the guides that despised him and who later combed the woods in his pursuit.

The wife of George Bull, a political leader in Philadelphia, arrived with friends at Blue Mountain Lake in late July, 1881.

Her trunk had not yet arrived so she bade farewell to her friends and agreed to meet them later at their destination, the camp of Connecticut senator Platt at Long Lake.

The next day, when guide Charles Parker was pointed out as a safe, reliable guide, Mrs. Bull hired him to take her to Long Lake via the Forked Lake carries.

At the Buttermilk Falls carry on July 23rd, Charles Parker grabbed her by the neck and assaulted her and threatened to drown her and hide her body if she didn’t promise silence about his actions.

Parker later claimed that Mrs. Bull was drinking and wanted to stop at Kellogg’s Hotel for cloves to scent her breath.

There Mrs. Kellogg noticed either there was no dress or it was drawn up, revealing the petticoat.

She provided Jamaican ginger but Mrs. Bull remained silent though visibly shaken since still under Parker’s control.

Arriving at Platt’s camp in Parker’s boat, Mrs. Bull became hysterical and fainted and the friends awaiting her quickly attended her.

In the confusion, Parker was initially delayed but got away, reached his camp and got his rifle, then sold his boat at Forked Lake and fled.

He passed through Lowville, traded in his gun for a new suit of clothes, got to Watertown, took the train to Cape Vincent and wound up in Kingston, Canada.

He was captured by Canadian officials and escorted back to Long Lake.

This time Parker was placed in Constable Warren Cole’s custody until testimony could be taken.

Parker was in leg irons attached to Cole’s legs and also handcuffed. Another person was assigned as extra guard.

After the attached Cole and Parker went upstairs to bed, the additional guard felt unneeded and left.

Cole awoke in the morning, August 1st , with Parker gone and both men’s pants undisturbed, prompting the question about what pants Parker wore.

Enraged guides took off after him.

Mr. Bull accompanied Cole and they tracked Parker down.

Cole urged Parker six times to surrender and then shot him.  

Continued next week..

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