A New Adirondack Classic!
Adirondack Characters and Campfire Yarns:
Early Settlers and their Traditions
By William J. O'Hern
Press Release - New Title
Announcement - July 2003
The Forager Press, LLC is pleased to announce
Adirondack Characters and Campfire Yarns by William J. O'Hern, a mosaic
history of the lives and traditions of the settlers of the Southern Adirondacks.
This handsome 256-page book is a treasury of Adirondack history,
folklore, and traditions with over seventy articles by nine different authors including
O'Hern, Lloyd Blankman, Mortimer Norton, and Harvey Dunham, the author of Adirondack
French Louie. The book also features more than eighty vintage photographs.
The articles are organized into three major
I) Adirondack Characters, II) Adirondack Traditions and III) Campfire Yarns.
The book begins with profiles of "Great Adirondack Guides"
and "Old Men of the Woods," and introduces guides Slim Murdock (pictured
at right) and Sam Dunakin, while adding to the legends of more famous characters such as
"French Louie" and Alvah Dunning.
A lengthy collection called "The Conklin's of Wilmurt; A
Pioneering North Woods Family," chronicles the life and struggles of the descendants
of Henry Conklin, a Civil War veteran who moved to the Adirondacks in 1845 and raised his
family there. Their story is told through articles written by Lloyd Blankman, who
interviewed the aged grandchildren of Henry back in the 1950s and wrote about them, as
well as their hunting, trapping and fishing experiences for The Courier, Clinton, NY.
Blankman began writing columns for his hometown newspaper in 1953 under
the banner "Adirondack Characters" after being inspired by Harvey Dunham's 1952
book, Adirondack French Louie. The two writers became
At the same time Blankman was writing for The Courier,
Clinton, NY, Mortimer Norton was writing articles about fishing for the Utica Press
& Dispatch. Coincidentally, Mortimer lived only a mile from Lloyd and they too
became good friends.
After Dunham and Norton passed
away, Blankman dreamt of organizing his newspaper and magazine articles, along with
articles by his friends, into a book. Sadly, he died before getting very far into the
Through a series of coincidences, William J. O'Hern resurrected
Blankman's vision, by joining his original writing with the enduring works of Blankman,
Dunham, Norton and several of their contemporaries in Adirondack Characters and Campfire
Blankman's articles make up the bulk of the vintage material along with
dozens of previously unpublished photographs from his personal collection. In sections of
the article "Burt Conklin-the Greatest Trapper," the struggles of life on the
trapline whisk you away into the frozen wilderness. In other articles, traditions lost to
time, such as Spruce gum picking, are illustrated in detail and we learn why one
Adirondack spring got it's name "Whiskey Spring!"
Mortimor Norton's contributions include vivid recollections of fishing the turbulent
waters of the West Canada Creek and an entertaining sketch about "Old Lobb," the
eccentric hermit of Piseco Lake (pictured right).
Harvey Dunham's article, "French Louie, an American
Character" appeared in New York Folklore Quarterly in 1946, six years before the
release of his famous book about the old woodsman.
William J. O'Hern's writing weaves seamlessly between the vintage
articles, framing some stories, telling others. His work is clearly that of an aficionado
of everything "Adirondack."
The last collection in the book, "Campfire Yarns," features
O'Hern's colorful interpretations of one of his favorite Adirondack characters, the Rev.
A. L. Byron-Curtis. Byron-Curtis fell in love with the mountains while serving as the
twenty-one year old deacon of Christ Church in Forestport in 1892. The stories and
journals he wrote over the course of sixty years are a treasure trove which O'Hern has
mined for the humorous anecdotes that form the basis for each of his "Campfire
Adirondack Characters and Campfire Yarns not only fulfills
Blankman's dream, it fills a void in the recorded history of a seldom written-about region
of the Adirondacks and the people who settled it.
For information or review copies write or call: Roy Reehil,
email:roy at theforagerpress.com. (replace the word "at" with the @ symbol)
Signed Paperback $19.95
More about the book:
Table of Contents |
Written Description | Edition
Author Bio |
Back Cover Copy