Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Literary history news from the Adirondacks, with a personal angle 

The Nature Conservancy has acquired Follensby Pond, a fairly large and quite remote private lake near Tupper Lake, New York. Follensby is reputed to be the largest private lake in the eastern United States, and is freighted with greater historical significance than most because it was the birth place of an American literary and cultural movement:

The pond was the location of the Philosopher's Camp where Ralph Waldo Emerson, William James Stillman, Louis Agassiz, and others helped birth the Transcendentalist movement, often cited as a important precedent for the modern environmental movement....

“The philosophers’ camp at Follensby may have been as much intellectual firepower—in the humanities and sciences—as ever gathered together in the U.S., at least under the open air. What one would give to have been privy to those conversations. In due time, we'll all be able to see the scene that inspired them so,” said Bill McKibben, author and Middlebury College scholar-in-residence.

My family actually has a personal connection to Follensby. Roughly 100 years ago -- perhaps 50 years after Emerson -- Follensby fell into the hands of my great-grandfather, Ferris J. Meigs, who owned the Santa Clara Lumber Company and a nice chunk of what is today the Adirondack Park. His family, including my grandmother and her sisters, spent their summers on Follensby when they were young. Our grandmother used to regale my cousins and me with stories of that idyllic place, which seemed to have moved her almost as much as her more famous predecessors. Sadly, I have never been there, but perhaps my chances have improved with the passing of the property to the Nature Conservancy. Either way, my grandmother was a great old school conservationist, and would have approved, I think, that the Nature Conservancy will now protect Follensby forever.


By Anonymous Anonymous, at Thu Sep 25, 09:34:00 AM:

"...that the Nature Conservancy will now protect Follensby forever."

I certainly hope so.

You know, in a few years, Tigerhawk, this blog is going to contain an outline for a very interesting family history.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Thu Sep 25, 11:22:00 AM:

Very cool.

By any chance are you related to Return J. Meigs, a former Ohio governor, and the man whom Fort Meigs was named for?

Just curious.  

By Blogger GreenmanTim, at Thu Sep 25, 04:09:00 PM:

That would be Return Jonathan Meigs, companion of Arnold on the march to Quebec, whose name came from the courtship of his parents. Apparently his father Jonathan, all his advances rebuffed, was marching off in a huff when he heard his coy mistress call after him "Return, Jonathan!" Or so the story goes. No idea if Tigerhawk is related (other side of the family), but I bet he does.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Thu Sep 25, 09:14:00 PM:

I pretty much always learn something here at TH. :-)

Meigs doesn't seem to be an extremely common last name (which is what got me thinking...)  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Mon Sep 29, 01:46:00 AM:

The NATURE CONSERVANCY is just like any other enviromental group a big time RIP OFF they are a bunch of crooks  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Mon Mar 02, 09:16:00 PM:

Am doing a bit of research on Violet Oakley who knew your g grandfather Ferris Meigs.
I work at the PA Capitol where we have 43 murals by Oakley. I have read many letters between your ggrandmother Louise and Violet.
Is the house Meigs had built still standing at Tupper Lake and if so is it open to the public?
Would you know of any of your family who may have saved correspondence between Oakley and Louise?  

By Blogger TigerHawk, at Wed Mar 04, 06:06:00 AM:

ruthann, this is an old post and I almost rejected your comment as spam. I'd be happy to help if I can; send me an email at the address on the right sidebar (tigerhawkblog "at" gmail "dot" com, obviously substituting @ and . where appropriate).  

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