Adirondack French Louie
By Harvey L. Dunham
If you enjoy the outdoors and the nostalgia of the old days then you'll
enjoy Adirondack French Louie -- Early Life in the North Woods.
It was published in 1952 by amateur historian Harvey Dunham, who Author Paul F. Jamieson described as "a woodsman by hobby, a commercial artist by vocation, and a literary artist by accident." Dunham penned Adirondack French Louie in 1952, following almost thirty years of research.
The story of "French" Louie has become an Adirondack Mountain regional classic in part due to Dunhams dedication to the research process. The first-time writers dogged insistence that he record only firsthand sources, stories told by old-timers who knew Louie, captured the North Woodsmans picturesque life-story. The book also elevated the simple trapper-woodsman into the halls of Adirondack legend.
Photo right: Louis "French Louie" Seymor, Courtesy Edward Blankman, The Lloyd Blankman Collection
The book Adirondack Characters and Campfire Yarns also contains about fifteen pages about the old Hermit.
Recently Harvey Dunham's early tramps in the mountains were found in two homemade, leather bound journals dated 1919 and 1924.
The first contained the record of a camping trip to the wilderness north of the Beaver River Flow--known today as Stillwater Reservoir. He traveled in the company of his brother Raymond, Jess Seitz, and a fellow lover-of-the-woods ten years his senior, Bob Gillespie. The well illustrated and written journals details the trios jaunts, deer hunts, and trout fishing excursions. The vintage story of their two-week stay is also peppered with campfire humor. A trademark Harvey would refine.
The 1919 Beaver River excursion bonded Dunham and Gillespie. Not only did they become lifelong friends, but they also became business partners, investing wisely in land along the West Canada Creek. Deep in the heart of "French Louie country" where they constructed small cabins they rented to city sportsmen and wealthy adventurers.
In 1924, the partners developed a second journal. That photo-journal documents a two week adventure into the West Canada Creek headwater country. Like their first journal, the vintage photographs and detailed writing displays real enthusiasm for outdoor adventure and the mens flair for authoring. The men and their journals are the subject of an upcoming book entitled Adirondack Adventures, by William J. OHern and Roy E. Reehil.
Unfortunately, Dunham died only four years after the publication of Adirondack French Louie, but because of his knowledge of the region and his patience in the recording of the history of people and a region that he cared for, we can share a glimpse of what it was really like to live back then, as a logger, trapper, hunter, drinker, hermit and outdoorsman around the turn of the century.
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