Editor’s Note. Rexford Ennis published “Toujours Jeune, Always Young,” in 2012 and the hard copy book is still available in local books stores in the Thousand Islands region. In 2015 Rex asked if "TI Life" would like to share the book with our readers. We enthusiastically accepted and present this section as the first, of several parts.
"No species of writing seems more worthy of cultivation than biography, since none can be more delightful or more useful. None more certainly enchains the heart by irresistible interest or more widely diffuses instruction to every diversity of condition."
Dr. Samuel Johnson
When I was about ten years old, Richard H. Ennis II, my father and his friend Douglas Howard-Smith took me to visit Calumet Island and the Castle. I remember the visit especially, the ballroom and the fireplaces. Later my dad would buy several artifacts including one of the doors from the castle. It is easy to understand how visiting a castle for a ten year old would leave a lifelong impression.
Some fifty years later as I continued to pass Calumet Island on my way home to the north side of Grindstone, questions started popping up in my mind. Who was Charles G. Emery? Why did his descendants not take care of his castle? How did he make his money? How much money did he have? What kind of a guy was he? How did the castle burn? Why and when was it torn down? What remains of Emery’s Hotel Frontenac? What kind of place was the Frontenac? Who were the guests? Were there any famous people? This book answers all these and just about any other question you can come up with about Emery, Calumet, or the New Frontenac Hotel.
This is a history, it is not a story, it was written primarily from literally hundreds of newspaper articles, some of which are quoted directly. There is a dizzying amount of detail from letters, books, magazines, and even some interviews. There have been conversations with Emery Family members, most too young to have only the slightest memories of Charles G. Emery.
A special thanks goes out to two special women; my wife Janet, who put up with five years of “the book,” and Susan Smith of Thousand Islands Life magazine. Without either of these ladies it would not have happened.
I have to mention FultonHistory.com and Thomas M. Tryniski in Fulton, NY, whose free and fantastic newspaper site provided me with huge amounts of material. I recommend Tom’s site; he has over eleven million newspaper pages.
Another thanks goes to the staffs of the George Arents Collection at the New York Public Library, Rare Books, Manuscripts and Special Collections at Duke University, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Frick Collection, Oil and Gas Museum, in Parkersburg, WV, Orange County Historical Society, CA, Virginia Historical Society, Antique Boat Museum, and most especially the Thousand Islands Museum.
Table of Contents
Published in www.Thousandislandslife.com April 2015 Page 2, 3
- Charles Goodwin Emery – The Man and His Family
- Emery’s Children and Grand Children
- Some of Emery’s Great Grand Children
Part II. Oil, Tobacco, and Crackers
Part III. An Island, A Castle, And A Dream
Part IV. Emery Enterprises
Part V. The New Frontenac Hotel
Building Calumet Castle. Original photograph courtesy of Skip Rawson and enhanced by Paul Malo.
Charles G. Emery – The Man and His Family
Little is known of Emery’s early life; he loved his family, was a nice guy to work for, and an accomplished businessman. He was a social man who enjoyed the company of others, and was a member of a number of yacht and social clubs. If he had one overriding passion, other than family, it was the Thousand Islands, whose future as a major summer resort, he felt was inevitable. He was once called the “Lord of the Upper River,” because of all the islands and island property he owned in the Clayton area. He was one of the largest land owners in the Thousand Islands. He was also called the “Guardian Angel of Clayton,” because of his investments in property and businesses in the Town and Village of Clayton.
Born in New Portland, Maine, on 20 July, 1836, to Hiram and Mary (Goodwin) Emery, nothing is known of his early life. New Portland, incorporated in 1808, was a typical New England town with a post office, three churches, schools and a population of 1,460 in 1860. Dr. Charles T. Jackson, in his 1838 Geological Report, says “New Portland is large and flourishing, having a pretty good soil.” The 1840 US Census shows Hiram A. Emery and his family living in New Portland, but by the 1860 US Census, Hiram had become a dentist in Boston.
The Emery Family is an old and distinguished New England family. Anthony Emery, a carpenter by trade and progenitor of Emery’s branch of the family, arrived in Boston, 3 June 1635, aboard the James of London. In 1640 the family moved to Kittery, Maine. Up to and including Emery’s time, the family was involved in trade upon the sea. The John S. Emery Company in Boston, managed by John S. and Daniel Emery, close cousins of Charles, was one of the largest shipping firms in New England.
As far as religion and politics are concerned, Emery appears to have been Episcopalian and Republican. This became evident in his later life when he and the family attended All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena, California. Grace Bickford, New Frontenac stenographer, wrote home in 1908 that the men in the office were Republican.
From the Goodwin Papers in the Arents Collection, at the New York Public Library, Emery started work for his mother’s brother, Eben Goodwin, at the age of 18. Eben founded Goodwin & Co., dealers in mostly plug (chewing) tobacco, in about 1840. Emery would remain connected with the tobacco business, until his death. His education is unknown although, in a hand written document, author unknown, at the Town of Clayton’s Historian’s Office, it claims he attended Yale University. However, the Yale Archives have no record his attending.
On 21 December 1863, he married Francena E. Libby of Limington, Maine. Shortly thereafter, they moved to San Francisco, California; there, three of their five children were born: Frank Whitney, born 3 May 1865, Charles Libby, born 26 September 1866 and Mabel, born 6 March 1870. Charles Libby died in California on 1 May 1869; the family returned east to Brooklyn, home of Goodwin & Co., arriving aboard the SS Rising Star, 16 February 1872. A daughter, Gertrude, was born 20 October 1874, in Brooklyn and died a few months later. Francena, their fifth and last child, was born 20 October 1880.
In the 1870s the Thousand Islands received national publicity, with the visit of President Grant. The Islands became a prime summer resort. Brooklyn in the summer was hot and crowded and families of means looked for relief at hundreds of resort hotels. America’s railroads provided the transportation; trains could be taken just about anywhere. The Islands were just an overnight trip from Brooklyn, in about 1878; Emery took his family to the Islands. In 1882, he built a large wooden house on Calumet. It proved insufficient for the family and it was torn down in 1893, and replaced with what Emery called the “Stone House,” which later became known as Calumet Castle.
At the age of 55, Francena Libby Emery passed away, 8 December 1899, at 3:30AM, at the Netherlands Hotel in New York, after a long fight with breast cancer, according to her death certificate.
Ten months after Francena died, Emery departed for Europe aboard the SS Oceanic, on 30 October 1900, for an extended visit. In London, he married Mrs. Irene Smith Boynton, on 15 February 1901. Formerly married to George A. Boynton, of the Boynton Furnace Company fortune; after the divorce she lived in New York at 145 West 58th street. She began divorce proceedings in San Francisco, on 20 June 1895. Emery and Irene returned to the US aboard the SS Deutschland, on 10 April 1902.
George Boynton and Irene had two children, Annie and Irene Boynton. Annie Boynton married Geneva, NY, furnace manufacturer Francis Herendeen. Irene Boynton married Alonzo E. Conover in 1893. Ironically, Alonzo’s family owned J. S. Conover & Co., also a furnace manufacturer. Irene S. Emery would set up a trust with her daughter Irene, in her will, because “my said daughter Irene is, in my opinion, not capable of looking after her own interests.”
Just when Emery met Irene is unknown, but newspaper reports claimed they met at the New Frontenac, in the summer of 1900. However, just two weeks after Francena’s death, he spent Christmas 1899 at the Lakewood Hotel in New Jersey, with Mrs. Boynton and her family. Although newspapers said she was from a “wealthy California family.” Genealogical and Census records show her mother and father, Ira and Anna (Hayes) Smith, lived near Geneva, NY. The papers also reported that she owned a ranch in Santa Barbara, California.
Coming just at the end of the Victorian Era, Emery’s marriage to Irene so soon after Francena’s death resulted in considerable gossip. The Watertown Herald of 9 March 1901, carried a front page story, which expressed what many were thinking.
Visitors at the Frontenac last summer, noticed his partiality for the company of Mrs. Boynton, and they were much together, taking frequent rides on Mr. Emery’s yacht, but no one expected he would marry so soon, after the death of his first wife. They were a devoted couple and his beautiful summer home on Calumet Island was built to comply with her views, frequent and costly changes being made, because she expressed a desire to have them different.
Paul Malo, in his book Fool’s Paradise, quotes Julia Bingham McLean Hass, concerning the rumors that Emery had a mistress: “The gossip was that Charles, Senior, fitted up his big old house, as a pied-a-terre for his mistress, who stayed on Picton and never set foot on Calumet.” We know that Francena had been ill for some time and it was the Victorian Era and mistresses for prominent men were not unusual. Irene was well known at the New Frontenac; was she Emery’s mistress? It probably will never be known.
We do know that Irene was 15 years younger than Emery and that she had a profound effect on the New Frontenac and the “Stone House” on Calumet. It was said that she had inspired, if not requested, the construction of Calumet’s west wing or ballroom; which was reputed to be the largest private ballroom in the State of New York. Irene was very popular in social circles in the Islands. She held charity events at the New Frontenac, to support the Clayton Boys’ Club, and set the tone for the Winter Carnival at the hotel. She was a gracious hostess at Calumet Island, the New Frontenac, and aboard the yacht Calumet.
Irene and Charles spent the summer of 1906 in Europe and Calumet Island was closed for the entire season. Their marriage was short, Irene Smith Emery, 56, died on 20 July 1907, Emery’s 66th birthday, at 11PM in Calumet Castle. She had been ill for some two years and her death certificate gave the cause of death as “chronic parenchymatous nephritis.” She arrived at the river on 7 July 1907, by private railway car, to spend her last days. Her funeral would be an extravagant affair, held on Wednesday, 24th of July, in the ballroom of their friend George C. Boldt’s Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. Her obituary on the 22 July 1907, edition of the Watertown Daily Times proclaimed, “She was probably the best known and one of the most popular women who spend the summer on the St. Lawrence.” Her popularity was reflected in the fact that flags all over the Thousand Islands were lowered to half-mast.
Grace Bickford, in a 16 October 1908 letter to her parents, pondered the possibility of Emery’s third marriage.
“We are having some interesting speculations with regard to our chief. You know he has been alone about long enough to be ready to sit up and take notice and I judge from what I see and hear that he has been noticing so much that the reporters have also noticed. He read me a long lecture on the folly of marrying the other day and announced that he intended to let it alone here after. I wonder if he thinks I’m blind – if not he must be as gay a deceiver as many a younger man. Well for the sake of his friends I hope he does not get altogether foolish which he would be to marry the woman I saw.” (Letter is courtesy of a private collection. Emery was often referred to as “chief” in the office.)
Grace acknowledges that Emery was a man of good humor, who liked to tell a good story. This was documented in the Syracuse Daily Standard on 10 July 1895.
Besides being a prominent benefactor to the River Charles G. Emery of New York, the owner of the beautiful summer palace on Calumet Isle is an in-irritable joker. The other day a pokey old resident approached Mr. Emery in regard to the removal of a large rock which protruded above the water level in front of Calumet isle saying “Say, Mister Emery what you going to do with that big reef in front of your island?” Quicker than it takes to write it, Mr. Emery moved the old fellow under the arm and in a tone of confidence said; “Now, I’ll tell you, John, if you’ll keep it between you and me. I going to build up around that rock and put a cathedral on it.” A few days later Mrs. Emery was approached by a lady friend who remarked: “Is your husband, Mrs. Emery, a very devout churchman?” It is needless to say the question created much surprise and it was not immediately settled until explanations in regard to the “confidential” talk were made.
Charles Goodwin Emery died in Apartment #1 at the “Dakota” in New York on 15 January 1915 in his 79th year of “chronic interstitial nephrites.” The funeral arrangements were with the E. Willis Scott undertakers. His estate, according to the New York Times of 6 October 1915, was valued at $4,000,000. It is interesting to note in the same New York Times article the value of other estates of millionaires who died in 1915: J. Pierpont Morgan, $3,000,000, Alfred G. Vanderbilt, $10,000,000, and John Jacob Astor, $1,000,000. Generally speaking, Emery’s estate was divided equally among his three surviving children. There were specific bequests to servants, Pauline and Nannette Wanner, each for $4,000 and to his grandson Charles Goodwin Emery, II of $50,000, and to his nephew William F. Emery of $20,000. A trust in the amount of $100,000 was to be created for the maintenance of Calumet Island. Emery was buried in the family mausoleum in Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn, Lot #30566 Section 138.
Emery’s Children and Grand Children
Frank Whitney Emery, lived in Pasadena, CA, most of his life until his death on 14 August 1920, at only 55 years old of a “brain hemorrhage.” On 17 November 1886, he married Katherine Sinclair Hill, daughter of Chicago businessman Charles Edward Hill. Hill was known in the islands as C. E. Hill the owner of Wau Winnet Island. They had three children; Helen Kent born 13 September 1887, Kathryn born 18 Jane 1897, and Charles Goodwin the 2nd born 28 January 1899, known as “Chuck.”
Frank bought the 1,100 acre Mouliet Ranch near Buena Park, CA in 1884.
In 1912, Standard Oil leased 80 acres on the Emery Ranch, in the West Coyote Hills. On Christmas of that year oil was struck at Standard’s Emery #2, bringing in over 1000 barrels a day. This lease became known as Standard’s “Big Bonanza Lease,” when in October of 1913, the biggest gusher of them all, Emery #7, came in with over 10,000 barrels. At the time, it was called the largest gusher in Southern California. (Orange County Historical Society, 28 October 2005.)
Frank was a major stockholder in the Standard Oil Company and was reported to have had oil royalties exceeding $3,500 a day at the time of his father’s death in 1915. Frank visited Calumet frequently, but never had time to devote to it before his untimely death. In addition, newspaper reports showed that the Frank and his wife generally stayed on Wau Winnet Island with her family.
After Frank died, Katherine, his widow, sold their estate in California to Mary McCormick, daughter of Cyrus McCormick founder of the International Harvester Company and inventor of the horst-drawn reaper. The McCormick’s were summer river people.
Mabel Emery married Charles Wilmot Tracy in about 1892. They had two children: Emery Wilmot Tracy born 18 December 1893 and Francena, born 28 May 1898. Charles W. Tracy died in 1924 and Mabel in 1952; they lived in Brooklyn, NY.
Francena Emery or “Nina” married Charles Mortimer Henderson on 1 June 1904; she was the youngest. Her wedding was postponed and invitations withdrawn when Emery suffered a serious accident, the day before the scheduled event. He fell when getting off a street car in Pasadena, suffering a severe gash on his head and was unconscious for several hours.
Nina divorced Henderson in 1912 claiming that he was lazy. She was quoted in the 7 June 1912, New York Times “He always got his breakfast in bed, and then lay around the house the rest of the day, I wanted him to go to work, but he would not.” They had two children Charles Mortimer Henderson Jr. born 27 June 1905 and Francena Elizabeth born 9 November 1906.
Frank’s daughters; Helen Kent and Kathryn Mary married. Helen married Edwin Joseph Grant and Kathryn married Reese Hale Taylor Sr. Taylor was a Cornell graduate and President of the Union Oil Company of California. Kathryn died on 24 September 1943.
Charles “Chuck” Goodwin Emery II, was born in 1899; he inherited life use of Calumet, but did not come to the island after 1940, except in 1947 and 1950, to appear in court, in an effort to dissolve the Calumet Island Trust. In 1950, the judge in the action allowed the sale of the Calumet and dissolution of the Trust. Unfortunately, Chuck passed away in 1955, before final distribution of funds. Chuck’s life appears to have been a turbulent one; he was married six times and was accused by one wife of being a “masterful drinker.” Emery left Chuck $50,000 in trust, provided “that he shall abstain from the use of intoxicating liquors and of tobacco until he reaches the age of thirty years.”
Chuck’s third wife came to Calumet in the summer of 1935 and loved the River. They made plans for restoration, however, she died in 1936 of pneumonia and Chuck lost interest in Calumet. He was active in the Clayton Yacht Club and even participated in a parade of yachts, connected with the opening of the Thousand Islands Bridge, in 1937. His fourth wife was Mary Eaton, the thirties film star.
[NOTE. This hard copy book is available at Corbin's River Heritage Book Store, in Clayton, NY, as well as on Amazon]
To be continued, May 2015
Copyright 2010 Rexford M. Ennis All Rights Reserved
Rex Ennis has written several articles for TI Life. His bio is recorded in Contributors, in December, 2008. In recent years, Rex has published two important books on the Thousand Islands. The first, published in 2010, is Toujours Jeune Always Young, the biography of Charles G. Emery and was reviewed in the June 2010 issue. The second, Saints, Sinners and Sailors of the Gilded Age: A compendium of biographical sketches, centered on the Gilded Age in the Thousand Islands, describes the biographies of every name appearing on an 1889 map, published by Frank H. Taylor, called: “Map of the Thousand Islands; Hotels, Parks and Cottages.” See the book review in our July 2011 issue; you will find the map described in the July issue and in the August 2011 issue. Luckily for TI Life readers, Rex is hard at work on a new book – so stay tuned.