Erik Schlimmer dedicated three years of research to produce the two-volume With an Ax and a Rifle: Settler and Onomastic History of the Adirondacks (Beechwood Books, 2023). Onomastics is the study of the etymology, history, and use of proper names.
This tome consists of 92 chapters that tell the settlement history of each of the Adirondack Park‘s 92 towns. With an Ax and a Rifle totals 1,200 pages, includes nearly 200 images, and comes with a settlement poster map.
As Schlimmer’s ninth book, With an Ax and a Rifle conveys his interest in how towns, hamlets, and natural features got their names. As he writes in the introduction, “I developed a bottomless interest in Adirondack settlement, particularly how, when, and why those who arrived in this range during the 1700s and 1800s ended up naming natural features, such names dubbed toponyms.”
Town of Chester supervisor Craig Leggett echoes this in the foreword. “Erik pulls out the stories from the hills and valleys of this place we call the Adirondacks. These stories, this history, give readers a better sense of where they are and create a feeling of belonging to something special.” Leggett lives in the house his ancestors raised in Chestertown in 1796.
Schlimmer is the also author of Thru Hiker’s Guide to America, Blue Line to Blue Line, History Inside the Blue Line, Among the Cloud Splitters, and My Adirondacks, this last title winning the Adirondack Center for Writing’s prestigious Best Memoir award. He has also written for national periodicals including Canoe and Kayak, Mountain Biking Magazine, and National Geographic Adventure.