In the autumn of 1917, the well-known hotel and sportsman’s lodge Pauley Place was torn down as part of New York’s pursuit to bring her wilderness back on the path to being forever wild. The hotel was in Arietta, one of the most remote sections of the southern Adirondacks.
This town in Hamilton County spans sixty miles of wilderness, with Caroga Lake to the south and Tupper Lake to the north. The town was so sparsely populated during those years that the 1915 census listed less than four hundred permanent residents, only one physician, and more wilderness guides than farmers.
Today the location is called Powley Place, and the simplest way to get there is by following Route 10 north out of the village of Caroga Lake for sixteen miles and turn left onto the Powley-Piseco Road. After about eight miles on this seasonal dirt road, the woods will thin revealing a sandy plain where a rusting metal bridge crosses the West Branch of the East Canada Creek.
It was here that the Powley family and those before and after them ran a sportsman’s lodge that served thousands of hunters over the 50 years of its existence. The tract of land that encompasses Powley Place is part of lot thirty-two of the Lawrence Patent, a remote wilderness region in the East Canada Creek Watershed. With no navigable streams to move logs to market, the region to this day contains pockets of virgin forest.
The first record of lodging being offered at what would later be called Pauley Place is in the 1860 census for Arietta. Here we learn of Catherine Town, who at the age of eighty was operating a hotel there with Amos Bullock, his wife Affie, and Mariah Andrews, a servant with two small children. Their closest neighbor was lumberman John Ferris, whose name was given to nearby Ferris Lake. In this census, Catherine reported her real estate value at $200, and her personal estate at $300.
During the years that Catherine ran the hotel, it was known as “Auntie Towne’s” according to the Little Falls Journal in an article about Pauley Place written years after she had left the property. Catherine, born in New Hampshire around 1780, is also listed in the 1850 Arietta Census. At that time, she is also with the Bullock family, though no reference is given to the hotel being in operation. In that year Amos Bullock is listed in the 1850 Agricultural Census for Arietta as running a farm with twelve improved acres, 188 unimproved acres valued at $150, and $10 worth of farm implements. His livestock consisted of four milk cows, two working oxen, and two other cattle all worth $200. The farm produced 250 lbs. of butter, 100 lbs. of cheese, and twelve tons of hay.
The only other reference to the name Town in Hamilton County history is of a Richard Town who in 1838 was one of four overseers of roads, though no proof is given that this person was related to Catherine. After 1860 Catherine is no longer found in historical record, and her year of death and place of burial has so far not been discovered. By 1870, sixty-four-year-old Amos Bullock had moved to Stratford in Herkimer County, where he was listed as a laborer in that year’s census. By this time, his wife Affie had passed away and he was married to a woman named Sarah. Seven years later, both Amos and Sarah were housed in the Fulton County Poor House along with one of their sons.
The next person to run the hotel was Ebenezer Coon, managing what one newspaper referred to as the “Coon Place.” In 1870, 60-year-old Ebenezer was living in Arietta with John Powley and his family on the farm where the hotel was located. Even though John Powley is listed as the head of the household, it is next to Coon’s name that the value of the farm is noted, giving strength to the evidence that Coon had likely taken over the property after Catherine Town.
The Powley Era
In February of 1862, John, using the name Pauley, left his wife Rosetta with their newborn William Henry, and 2-year-old son Theodore and enlisted for three years of service in the Civil War as a private in “Conklin Rifles,” New York’s 97th Infantry. By the middle of March, he was in Washington, quartered at Fort Corcoran. In May the regiment was placed under the 2nd Brigade and moved to the area around the Rappahannock River in Virginia where they were assigned picket duty.
John was mustered out due to a disability in July of 1862, only weeks before the regiment engaged in the Battle of Cedar Mountain. By August of the following year, the Conklin Rifles would serve with honor in the battles at Antietam, Chancellorsville, and Gettysburg. John was granted a Civil War pension in April of 1879 as an invalid due to his service in the war and after his death, his wife received a monthly widow’s benefit for the rest of her life.
The Powley farm, listed for the first time in the Arietta Agricultural census of 1870, had thirty-five acres of improved land and one hundred acres of woodlot and was valued at three hundred dollars. The Powley family was comprised of John, age 33, his wife Rosetta, 28, ten-year-old Theodore, six-year-old Charles, and a two-year-old named Harry. At that time Powley had two laborers, Ed Herring, a 42-year-old Irishman, and a 26-year-old Canadian named John Kellog. Their livestock consisted of one milk cow, two oxen, and two other cows valued at $300. The only product listed as farm produce for Powley that year was 100 lbs. of butter valued at $35.
John Powley purchased the Auntie Town property from Jerome & Henrietta Bleekman in the summer of 1872 for five hundred dollars. In the deed, it was noted that John, whose name is written as Powly, was already occupying the 200-acre property at the time of the sale. Bleekman was a lumber dealer who resided in nearby Stratford, Fulton County.
Jerome and Henrietta Bleekman had purchased the property for three hundred dollars only three years before from James and Eliza Jane Edick. This deed mentions buildings on the property that are included in the sale, which gives evidence that the lodge was rented or leased during the years that Edick was the owner.
The instrument for this sale was a Quit Claim Deed, and no prior deed for this land had been recorded by Edick, so it is impossible to follow ownership back any further. As this story unfolds, we will also see that two generations late the Edick family would again be associated with Powley Place through James & Eliza’s granddaughter Clara.
This sale was one of a number of changes and setbacks for Bleekman during these years. In 1868 Jerome Bleekman’s home in nearby Devereaux was severely damaged during flooding on the East Canada Creek, and in the early 1870s, over one thousand acres of his woodland property was sold for back taxes by the Fulton County Sheriff. By 1880 Jerome and his family had moved to Fort Wayne, Indiana where he again found work in the lumber business.
In the 1880 Arietta census, John’s last name is given as Pauly. By now their son Theodore is no longer with the family and the family now consisted of John, Rosetta, Charles, now listed as being fifteen, and Harry as age 10. The farm that year had fifty tilled acres, twenty-five acres of meadow, and 125 of woodlot, as well as another twenty acres of unimproved land. The farm, land, fences, and buildings were worth twelve hundred dollars, with three hundred dollars’ worth of implements and five hundred dollars’ worth of livestock. John had spent $20 on buildings and repairs on the farm that year.
Powley mowed twenty-five acres of grassland and took in thirty tons of hay that year. He had three horses, nine cows; three for milking, and three that were calves. During the previous year, he had made 200 lbs. of butter and kept sixty-two hens that produced two hundred dozen eggs. He had also sowed five acres in oats that yielded one hundred bushels, and one acre of potatoes that yielded one hundred bushels. Along with farming he also tapped maple trees and made 150 lbs. of maple sugar and ten gallons of molasses.
The money maker for the family was the eight hundred cords of wood that was cut from their woodlot which brought in $1500 that year. To help run the farm, John had his nephew, also named John Pauley, as well as John’s brother-in-law, twenty-three-year-old Henry Mitz, Henry’s wife Marguerite, and their 9-month-old son Charles. The Metz family had their own house on the property. The Powley’s spent $200 in labor and board for 40 weeks of employment for these workers.
Livingston buys Powley Place
After twenty years of working the land and offering lodging at this remote wilderness location, John and Rosetta sold Pauley Place to James Casey Livingston of Little Falls, Herkimer County. In the deed dated March 7, 1891, the couple who are listed again as Pauly, sold the 200-acre property in Great Lot 32 of the Lawrence Patent for twelve hundred dollars. James Livingston would have first-hand knowledge of the history of this property as he was living with the Bleekman family in Stratford during the time that John Pauly had first purchased the property. Livingston and Bleekman were also partners in both a lumber business and as merchants in the town of Stratford. A year earlier, James Livingston and his partner Leonard Hepburn had purchased most of the remaining property in Great Lot 32 as part of a large purchase of wilderness in southern Hamilton County.
Though John Powley and his family had left Powley Place and moved to Herkimer County by 1892, he still came back into the area until at least 1894 as in the spring of that year he was arrested there for possession of deer hides out of season. At the age of fifty-seven, Powley was called “an old landmark,” and someone who was well known by the hunters and fishermen of Herkimer and Fulton Counties.
John C. Powley died at the age of 61 in 1898 and is buried in Salisbury’s Dibble-Tuttle Cemetery. His wife Rosetta and his son William Henry are with him, who died soon after birth in 1862. As mentioned earlier, their son’s gravestone lists his name as Pauly, while John is marked as Powley. Rosetta, who died in 1905 at age 68 does not have their surname on her stone. Their son, Harry, who died in 1945 is also buried in the Dibble-Tuttle Cemetery. On the gravestone, his surname is given as Pauley.
By 1898 Albert Dunning and his wife Cora were renting Pauley’s Place and had taken over management of the hotel. In the census of 1900, he gave his occupation as a farmer and had one employee, thirty-nine-year-old John Lyons. Albert was the nephew of the well-known Adirondack guide Alvah Dunning, who occasionally visited Pauley’s Place in the years before his death in 1902.
During the years that he owned Powley Place, James Casey Livingston was in business with Leonard Fisher Hepburn of New York City under the business name of J. C. Livingston and Company. This company manufactured piano sounding boards, back, bridges, posts, and other spruce, birch, and maple parts for pianos. They also manufactured different grades of lumber supplied from the lands that they owned in the southern Adirondacks.
Albert & Cora Dunning 1873
After his partner’s death at age of 64 in January of 1900, Livingston began the process of closing the business and selling off its assets including thousands of acres in Hamilton County. The largest of these sales was in June of 1900 when J. C. Livingston and Company sold over 10,000 acres in Hamilton County spread across 20 Great Lots in the Lawrence and Oxbow Patents to the State of New York for sixty-four thousand dollars.
Powley Place, in the Northeast corner of Great Lot 32 in the Lawrence Patent, was part of this land sale. Though considered squatters once the state took over ownership of the property, those who lived at Powley Place were allowed to stay and provide lodging for the sportsmen who came into the area to hunt and fish. Once the state took ownership, there was much debate about the benefits of leaving the buildings up and available as a place for hunters to stay. At one point there was even talk of using the lodge as a ranger headquarters for that section of the forest preserve.
When the state purchased the property Livingston had tried to reserve the land around Powley Place from the sale. The state would not agree to this, as they were even then considering making use of the buildings. At that time, Albert Dunning was appointed by the state as a game warden and special agent to patrol the woods in that area and prevent timber theft. As part of this agreement, Dunning was also allowed to accommodate hunting and fishing parties at his lodge at Powley Place.
The Frank Fournia Years
The most notable proprietor of Powley Place was Spanish-American War veteran Frank Otis Fournia. The son of Charles and Caroline Fournier, Frank was born in Rome, New York in 1873. During his life, he would be identified with the last names already mentioned, as well as Fornia and Forney. Frank’s father was a native of Canada and a Civil War veteran who had joined New York’s 16th Infantry one day after the start of the Civil War. After he was discharged in May of 1863, he reenlisted in the 2nd Volunteer “Harris Light” Cavalry, and over the next two years, he fought at both Appomattox and Harper’s Farm.
On May 8, 1898, Frank Fournia joined the 21st Infantry Regiment in Plattsburgh, New York for a three-year enlistment to fight in the Spanish-American War. Only 45 days later his regiment participated in the assault on San Juan Heights in Santiago, Cuba. The regiment helped capture the heights after fierce fighting with Spanish troops. During this battle, Fournia assisted in the rescue of the wounded from the Great Lot 32 Land Purchase by the State of New York front lines while under heavy fire from the enemy. For his gallantry that day, Frank Fournia was later given the Medal of Honor. His Captain during the war said this when recalling his bravery:
A number of poor fellows, wounded, lay there, and when we go back, we were called upon to bring them back to shelter. Fournia was one of the first to respond, and under a galling fire calmly went forward and one after another brought back his wounded comrades, assisted by others, who were also decorated with the medal. He done his duty that time as calmly as one would at drill.
Due to an outbreak of disease that was depleting the regiment, the 21st was withdrawn from Cuba in August of 1898. Private Frank O. Fournia was honorable discharged in November of that year. Less than two years after leaving the Army, Fournia was appointed by Governor Theodore Roosevelt to the position of Game Protector with the Forest, Fish, and Game Commission of the State of New York. He was assigned to patrol the wilderness in Herkimer and Hamilton Counties in the Southern Adirondacks to enforce game laws as well to protect the vast tracts of state land from timber theft and other illegal activity.
Fournia quickly assumed the task of enforcement and in February of 1902 arrested David H. Knox of Salisbury, known throughout the region as the “Terror of the Adirondacks,” for the possession of venison out of season. As the evidence of this crime was three hindquarters of a deer found by Fournia in Knox’s residence, he settled with the game protector to avoid being brought before a judge.
Frank Fournia had taken over Pauly Place by 1905. Under Fournia’s management, it was made into a boarding house that in the 1905 census was reported to have seven boarders. Also living with the Fournia at that time were his parents, sixty-nine-year-old Charles who was listed as a farmer, and his sixty-year-old wife, Caroline.
In 1906 Frank Fournia was brought before the Hamilton County Court charged with attempting to influence the outcome of his election to the Arietta town road commissioner by inducing residents from the neighboring town of Salisbury in Herkimer County to participate in the Hamilton County voting.
Once the Hamilton County Grand Jury heard the evidence of the indictments that were brought against him, there was little that Frank Fournia could offer in his defense. One by one the twenty men who he had both put up in his hotel and personally taken to the polls testified and each gave evidence of seeing the others illegally voting. In the end, all twenty were convicted of voter fraud and were given two Frank Fournia years in prison, a punishment that was immediately suspended.
Fournia pleaded guilty to the charge of violating the state election laws and he was given a suspended sentence with the provision that he remained outside the borders of Hamilton County for the next five years. Afterward, it was alleged by Fournia that several violators of the state’s game law whom he had arrested “pooled their grievances” and pushed to bring this indictment against him.
This was not the first time that an attempt to discredit Fornia had been attempted. In what was headlined as “Played Badger Game,” it was reported that a woman accused him of criminal assault while he was trying to deliver a subpoena to her husband concerning an alleged violation of the game laws. The allegations were quickly dismissed, with Fournia acknowledging that past game violators residing around Stratford were known to resort to “all kinds of tricks” to get him to leave them alone.
At 6 am on Thursday, June 14, 1907, a fire caused by a defective chimney destroyed the Pauley Place hotel. While no one was injured in the fire, many of the sportsmen who were staying there had narrow escapes, barely able to save their personal belongings. All that was saved from the building was a barrel of flour and some bread and cookies. The owner, Frank A. Fornia, who did not have insurance to cover the loss, immediately announced his intention to rebuild.
In 1907 Frank Fournia left his position as game protector, and by 1910 he was living with his parents in Petersburg, Rensselaer County, New York where he had taken up farming. Soon after this, he began working for the New York Central Railroad as a freight brakeman. Tragically, while working in a freight yard in Rome, New York on February 9, 1912, Frank Fournia was killed when caught between two railroad cars while working from a switching engine. His body was returned to Albany, and on Sunday, February 11, 1912, he was buried in St. Agnes Cemetery in Menands, New York with military honors. He was laid to rest next to his father.
While no record has surfaced so far about exactly when the hotel at Powley Place was rebuilt, by 1910 Fred & Harry Fish were running it as a lodging place for sportsmen coming into the area. In the Fall of that year, newspapers both in Little Falls and Utica told of successful hunts by those staying at the Fish photograph of Pauley Place, Proprietor Henry Radley Camp. At least one of the brothers had been in the area as early as 1905, as in that year one of the boarders at the Fornia boarding house was the then 23-year-old Fred Fish.
In the 1910 census for Arietta, 43-year-old David Warren Fish is listed as a farmer on rented property in Arietta with his 27-year-old nephew Frederick A. Fish. Fred was listed as a laborer on the farm. Living with David and Fred was 52-year-old Henry W. Radley and his wife Mary, with Henry working for Fish as a hired man and Mary listed as a servant doing housekeeping.
The Demise of Pauley Place
In the May 10, 1911, Amsterdam Evening Recorder, it was announced that Henry Radley and his wife had purchased the summer resort at Pauley Place. Henry and his family made the hotel their year-round home, even celebrating Christmas that first year by inviting families from nearby Knappville to spend the holiday.
In 1912 the state of New York identified Fred and Harry Fish as squatters at Pauly Place. The next year Fred married Hattie Lyons and relocated to Salisbury, Herkimer County. In 1913, the State of New York reported Henry Radley as a squatter on the property.
In 1915 fifty-five-year-old William Henry Radley, who went by the name of Henry, is listed in the census as the “keeper” of a boarding house in Arietta. At this time Henry was also a New York State forest ranger working in the region that included Powley Place. With him are his wife, Mary, age 53, and their two sons, 32-year-old Henry Jr., and 24-year-old Lloyd. Both Henry Jr. and Lloyd listed their occupations as guides in the census. Pauley Place was a family business during Henry’s years as the proprietor. Along with Henry, Jr. and Lloyd, another son, William H. was at the lodge, working alongside his father as a proprietor. Others in this extended family that was living at Powley Place during these years included Isaac Radley, a son of William H., and Isaac’s wife Clara, whose grandfather, James Edick, had owned the property nearly forty-five years earlier.
After fifteen years of ownership, New York State finally stepped in to remove the squatters and buildings from Powley Place. The Little Falls Courier gave this report of the news in their November 21, 1916, edition:
“Mr. and Mrs. Henry Radley have moved out from Pauley place and the buildings are torn down. Thus ends one of the most frequented fishing and hunting resorts in this section. Thousands of sportsmen have enjoyed the hospitality of the different people who have kept the place and will regret that they cannot go there and enjoy the accommodations without being obliged to camp out. It seems too bad that the state is obliged to destroy so many camps that would have been a convenience and perhaps save the lives of some lost and tired hunters.”
Illustrations, from above: 1906 USGS Piseco Lake Quadrangle Topographic Map (USGS); photograph of John C. Powley gravestone (findagrave.com); photograph of William Henry Pauley gravestone (findagrave.com); photograph of Frank Fournia (Ancestry.com); Great Lot 32 Land Purchase by the State of New York (Hamilton County Real Property Tax Service); and photograph of Pauly Place (Hamilton County Historical Society Archives).