Under An Adirondack Influence
The Life of A. L. Byron-Curtiss
By William J. O'Hern and Roy E. Reehil
352 pages - 6 x 9 -
Over 60 Vintage Photographs
Includes an Index and Bibliography
Click here to order signed
A biography filled with Adirondack
Central New York history:
At age 21, Byron-Curtiss was
sent to run an Episcopal Mission in Forestport, NY, spending a year
there that changed his life. It was 1892. Once he started writing about the people he
befriended there, a frontier doctor, lumberjacks, guides and
tavern-keepers, he never stopped writing.
He purchased a lakeside cabin for $15 in 1901 and was soon dubbed
The Bishop of North Lake by the local guides and fishermen he tramped
the countryside with.
During his second assignment, in Rome, NY,
he finished his first book, the biography of the legendary woodsman Nat
Foster, one of the first settlers of Old Forge, and allegedly the model
for James Fenimore Cooper's Hawk-eye character in The Last of the Mohicans.
Through an interest in Adirondack folklore, Byron-Curtiss became
a friend and mentor to local authors Thomas O'Donnell and Harvey Dunham
who later authored Birth of a River and Adirondack French Louie
respectively. Byron-Curtiss is featured prominently in Birth of a River.
Byron-Curtiss enjoyed sixty seasons of hunting and fishing at
his beloved camp on North Lake and recorded his most memorable
adventures in camp journals. His stories, tall tales and nature
observations punctuate an intriguing life. He is at different times
either a friend or foe to Conservation Officers and the Adirondack
League Club. He has stints as a barge operator (ferrying lumberjacks and
supplies), a lumber camp bookkeeper and a reservoir gatekeeper. His camp
log books celebrate a rustic existence where laughter and fish were
plentiful. They also reveal his vulnerabilities when tragedy strikes as often
The Reverend was a wise and courageous man who was
ahead of his time. He was as comfortable in Manhattan as he was in the
backwoods and as friendly with bishops as he was with lumberjacks and
guides. His experience has touched readers and his story, and the history that accompanies it,
should not be forgotten.
From the Back Cover:
A. L. Byron-Curtiss 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, he 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.
Printed on Forest Stewardship Council certified 30% post-consumer
recycled paper as part of the Green Press
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