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A Great American Biography

Under An Adirondack InfluenceFor Immediate Release
Contact: Roy Reehil
(315) 675-9704
info at theforagerpress.com

American and Regional History as Lived Through One Extraordinary Life

Under an Adirondack Influence follows the life of the Reverend A. L. Byron-Curtiss from 1871–1959. He was the son of a drifter, who was raised by his grandparents and was taken under the wing of Bishop Frederic Dan Huntington, the first Bishop to serve in the Central New York Diocese of the Episcopal Church. At age twenty-one Byron-Curtiss was assigned to a wilderness mission in Forestport, NY, in the Southern Adirondacks, an experience that changed his life. After becoming the assistant to a frontier doctor and befriending an Irish tavern-keeper, he became so thrilled with his daily adventures that he began writing them down. He never stopped.

His next assignment was in Rome, NY, an Erie Canal boom-town, where he began a career long campaign to protect workers, particularly children, from workplace abuse, but his heart remained in the Adirondacks. During frequent visits back to Forestport he began researching his first book, Nat Foster, Trapper and Hunter of the Adirondacks, which was published in 1897. The book contended that Nat Foster was the real-life frontiersman after which James Fenimore Cooper had modeled his character Hawk-eye, the hero of the classic Last of the Mohicans. The book was very popular and established Byron-Curtiss as a nationally recognized author.

Not content as merely a visitor to the Adirondacks, Byron-Curtiss purchased a shanty on North Lake in 1901 and promptly named it "Nat Foster Lodge." The camp became the center of his life and a base from which all of his professional and backcountry adventures were pursued.

Beside his work as a minister during the fifty years spanning two world wars and the Great Depression, A. L. Byron-Curtiss worked as a chaplain at an insane asylum, a probation officer, a reservoir gate-keeper, a lumber-camp bookkeeper and Captain of the White Swan barge. He ran for congress four times on the Socialist Party ticket, served as the National Secretary for the Church Socialist League and became a Commodore in the U.S. Volunteer Life-Saving Corps. And he continued writing—about politics, history, folklore, nature and conservation. His work appeared in books, newsletters, magazines and newspapers and helped to chronicle his life, but he also kept camp log books through which he celebrated an exuberant rustic existence. In the log books the fish were plentiful and laughter filled the air. When tragedy and infirmity punctuated his life, the log books were where he laid bare his vulnerabilities.

By the time Byron-Curtiss’s Adirondack neighbors started calling him "the Bishop of North Lake" he was one of them, a trusted friend and a story-teller worthy of membership in the "Liar’s Club." He was a co-conspirator when tricks were played on the game protectors by the "Dirty-Dozen," and he was a dependable drinking companion—even during prohibition. His country-styled humor served him well away from North Lake too. During assignments in New York City, he met and befriended prominent politicians and clergymen and became widely known as an effective orator and political organizer on a national scale.

A. L. Byron-Curtiss was a friend to bishops and lumbermen, a hard-working minister who enjoyed life through all its ups and downs. He shared his faith, wisdom, and humor from a pulpit and through writing, qualities he nurtured by living attuned to nature. He used these words to describe how he felt each time he neared the Adirondacks: "The mountains by their grace, are to be approached, not in the manner of one going to a horse race or a circus, but in the mood of one about to enter a great cathedral; indeed of one seeking admittance to the very throne room of God. When going to the mountains, one should take time to feel them drawing near." That feeling lasted from his first visit to the mountains until the end of his life.

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We Use Recycled PaperUnder An Adirondack Influence
The Life of A. L. Byron-Curtiss — 1871-1959

by William J. O’Hern and Roy E. Reehil
6 x 9 – 352 pages – Photos – Index – Bibliography
Printed on Recycled Paper
Hardcover – $29.95 – ISBN 0-9743943-4-3
Paperback - $21.95 - ISBN 0-9743943-5-1


Back coverFrom the Back Cover:

He first traveled to the Adirondacks in 1892, at age 21, to take over a wilderness mission that changed his life. During the next sixty years, spanning two world wars, prohibition and the Great Depression, A. L. Byron-Curtiss wrote about everything important to him: his family, his outdoor adventures, the colorful North Country characters he befriended and the tall tales they shared around a campfire. He wrote about nature, history, folklore, conservation, philosophy, world affairs, his greatest joys and most unnerving tragedies. He brought passion and humor to all his endeavors, as a father, a fisherman, a preacher, a drinker, a social activist and a scofflaw. Through all his life, the unofficial "Bishop of North Lake" displayed an unshakable faith, uncommon wisdom, and an everlasting love for life in the Adirondacks.


A. L. Byron-Curtiss was in many ways an Everyman, displaying good traits and bad. Perhaps more than in most of us, though, those traits stood out like the contrasting colors on an Adirondack autumn hillside. Authors William J. O'Hern and Roy Reehil tell the sometimes rollicking, sometimes poignant life story of this man of the cloth who loved the backwoods of the Black River headwaters and came to know them as well as anyone.

--Neal Burdick, Adirondack editor and writer

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