North Country At Work is a photo archive and storytelling project that explores the work history of the Adirondack North Country (learn more about the project here, and see more photo highlights in Backward Glances: North Country Historical Photos). We’re collecting photos around our region at photo scanning events; our first was in Hammond.
From the moment we set up in The Hammond Museum on a sunny August morning to our packing the car back up nine hours later, we were busy. Busy sifting through photos, listening to stories and memories of the town and its more colorful characters as seen through the eyes of its residents, and trying to record it all.
Our guide was Donna Demick of The Hammond Museum, who supplied us with museum photos and mountains of undisplayed photo donations from Hammond families. She also dug up family-specific materials for some of the people who came in to speak with us. In a few cases, they had the memories but no photos, and Donna came to the rescue with a folder, saying “I knew we had something about his mother being a school-teacher…”
We heard the same names and places again and again, the town’s collective memory and identity inextricably tied to its work. After just one day exploring Hammond’s work history, we felt as though we knew the town. We knew the famous and beloved Soper Brothers, who ran the mill and several other businesses in town. We heard about dairy farming – its heyday and its collapse (an archetypal story integral to North Country work in the last thirty years). We learned the town’s largest families, their surnames plastered across old photos and documents. We saw pictures of the old Inn at Oak Point, where local teenagers could find summer work, back when summer camp was a family activity.
This is a small selection of photos and stories from Hammond, from both the the museum and community contributors. Stay tuned for more in-depth, individual stories to come!
“Bee Keeping and the production of honey has been a profitable business in our town,” former Town Historian Maxine Rutherford wrote, before relaying the stories of The Elethorp Bee Farm, which had between 250 and 300 bee colonies when it was run by Edgar Elethorp, averaging 20,000 to 25,000 pounds of honey per year, much of which was sold to New York City. Pictured here we believe is Edgar Elethorp and his wife Eliza Elethorp, at the turn of the 19th century.
Teaching in Hammond
Donna Kingsley Chase, a music teacher, shared photos from her tenure covering the school’s every possible musical need from 1948 to 1951 in the Hammond old school. She attended Crane in Potsdam, and then moved to Hammond when she was hired after graduation. She taught all grades, and covered vocal music, band, and even theater productions that they practiced for and performed in the Hammond Town Hall.
Teaching in Hammond
Hammond used to have thirteen individual school houses, and that a meant a lot of school teaching work. The schoolhouse pictured here was one in which Dick Watson’s mother taught, beginning in 1922, at the age of eighteen. He remembers she went to “two summer schools at Potsdam Normal, at the time, and she got a certificate, and that was the only education she had outside of high school.” During the “thirty some-odd years” she taught, the schools centralized and it became a requirement that teachers hold a degree in education. Photo Courtesy of Janet Nicol.
Dairy Farming in Hammond
Joan Hadlock shared this photo of her husband and son, Edwin and Doug Hadlock, filling the grain planter in 1971. She and her husband returned to Hammond, where Edwin grew up, to dairy farm after meeting one another in Washington D.C. They grew feed corn for their cows, and sweet corn to sell at their farm stand. She said it was a common occupation when they began, remembering “my older daughter, who was born in 1971, in her class there were several children from farming families, and in my second daughter’s class, there might have been one.”
Seventh Generation Farm
Everett Thomas’ family has been living at Oak Point in Hammond since “sometime before the Civil War. My grandkids are at least the seventh generation of kids on the farm.” He explained this photo was of Warren Dake, working on his vegetable farm in 1915, which later became a dairy farm in the 1950s. “You see that hoe there?” he asked. “I think I have that hoe in my truck.”
Local Characters: The Soper Brothers
The Soper Brothers need more than just a few sentences, if only because nearly everyone we spoke to mentioned their names and their legendary status in Hammond. Not only did they run the town’s feed and lumber mill, employing many residents, but they also brought electricity to Hammond and loved acquiring all the new technologies as they came along, even owning a plane which was stolen at the State Fair. Pictured here is Norris Soper, circa 1920, fiddling with a radio in his workshop. Photo courtesy of The Hammond Museum.
More Scenes from Hammond (courtesy of The Hammond Museum)
Jim Scanlon’s Ice cream Parlor, located on the northwest corner of Main Street. Pictured is Marg Hazen.
1923, Ralph Lavarnway’s Barber Shop. Later where Icicle Restaurant was located.
The interior of the Orrin Carr Grocery Store in 1941, Lloyd Foote is pictured on the far right. The store was destroyed by fire in 1951. Hammond, New York.
The interior of the office of WD Evans, manufacturer of farm implements. The bookkeeper is Fan More. Hammond, New York, 1914. Note: the newspaper headline begins with Germany; this photo was taken at the beginning of World War I.
Stewart McCormick with a 6 horse hitch, originally from the Watertown Daily Times. Hammond, New York. Date unknown.
“Jumping” hay at Fred Nicol farm on Route 37 South, in Hammond, New York. Date unknown.
Dairymen’s League Cooperative Milk Plant in Hammond, built in 1949. Shows milk cans being conveyed into plant.
Pictured is Ed Denner, a St. Lawrence skiff builder, at Chippewa Bay.
The Steamboat “Riverside” at Oak Point. Hammond, New York. Date Unknown.
The interior of the William Jeffrey Garage, which also served as a gas station. 1930, Hammond, NY.
Drawing stones to build Hammond’s Presbyterian Church, in 1916 or 1917. Charles Dunham on wagon, Frank Dunham on left.
Will Constantine drills a well at Allen’s Park. Date unknown, Hammond, New York.
Four hitch log wagon delivering logs to a sawmill. Date unknown, Hammond, New York.
Many thanks to Donna Demick of The Hammond Museum, for her invaluable help and lovely hospitality!