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Part Two, Summering Among the Thousand Islands


For the past three months, Robert L. Matthews has given our readers a unique peek at those long forgotten illustrators who captured the beauty of our region in books, popular magazines and travel brochures.  In January we met Frank H. Taylor in The Man from Shady Ledge; February brought us Howard Pyle, Illustrator Extraordinaire, In March we met Four More Thousand Islands Illustrators.  In April Robert provided Part I of Summering Among the Thousand Islands and this month he completes the study of illustrators for the Winter with Part II.  Once again, we thank Robert for presenting his research and sharing his wonderful photographs with our TI Life readers.  Both his photographs and his knowledge are appreciated by all.

[All illustrations in this article are from the Robert and Prudence Matthews Collection.]

Part Two:  Illustrations from the article “Summering Among the Thousand Islands”

This article will continue the format established last month where there were illustrations by both known and unknown artists. Again the source of these illustrations is from the article “Summering Among the Thousand Islands” by E. H. Roper which appeared in the September 1881 issue of Harper’s New Monthly Magazine.

This month’s featured artist John H. Cocks was born 1849 in New York City and lived to the ripe old age of eighty nine. He spent most of his life residing in New York and New Jersey. While he painted in both oils and watercolors and drew in pen and ink, he was also a talented sculptor. He illustrated for the various Harper magazines such as Harper’s Weekly, Harper’s Monthly and Harper’s Bazaar, as well as for The Century Magazine. The George Walter Vincent Smith Museum in Springfield, Massachusetts is a recipient of his work.

Cocks’ illustrations, which appeared in Roper’s article, are shown below. Was life back then really as idyllic as it was portrayed?

John H. Cocks
Indian Camp , John H. Cocks

Cocks’ third illustration titled “Poplar Bay” [shown below] was located in Westminster Park. Roper wrote that river pilots marked the location as “Poplar Bay” since a group of five poplar trees lined the banks of the bay. During his assignment to write the article, Roper stayed in the Westminster Hotel which he called “our summer home”. He further claimed, “The location is unquestionably the finest in the Thousand Islands.”

John H. Cocks, Poplar Bay

The next illustration titled “Running the Rapids” credits two artists. The initials “S. & H.” in the lower left hand corner stands for Francis H. Schell [1834 – 1909] and Thomas Hogan [1839 – 1900].

Frequently articles are removed from magazines as selling individual articles is more lucrative than selling just the magazine. Fortunately “Summering Among the Thousand Islands” was bought along with the entire magazine. The author, illustrators and engravers were not part of the article but were mentioned in the index on the inside cover of the magazine. Since Schell and Hogan were listed as illustrators, identifying “S. & H.” was not a problem.

Schell & Hogan, Running the Rapids

Schell and Hogan had a partnership that lasted for thirty years. Both were illustrators and lithographers [a process for printing] and worked for the various Harper magazines.

Of the two, Schell was better known. He also did illustrations for Leslie’s Weekly and Leslie’s Newspaper which published over two hundred of his Civil War scenes. His art work is included in the National Portrait Gallery at the Smithsonian in Washington, DC and in the New York Historical Society, New York City.

In last month’s issue of Thousand Islands Life, the article concluded with two illustrations by unknown artists. This report will also end with two drawings by unknown artists. It is unfortunate that such talent must go unrecognized.

Unknown Artist
Alexandria Bay

 

Author’s note:  All illustrations are ca. 1881.

By Robert L. Matthews

Robert L. Matthews and his wife Prudence (Hooked on Prudence) have one of the most extensive collections of  Thousand Islands memorabilia.  For the past eight seasons the Matthews generously loaned their collection to the Antique Boat Museum in Clayton, NY.  Bob is the author of two popular books:  Glimpses of St. Lawrence Summer Life: Souvenirs from the Thousand Islands: Robert and Prudence Matthews Collection, and in 2009 he published A History of the Thousand Islands Yacht Club.  When not at their beautiful River cottage at Fisher’s Landing, they live in St. Petersburg, Florida.

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Comments

John Bowman
Comment by: John Bowman ( )
Left at: 9:25 AM Monday, May 17, 2010
I'm intriqued by "Running the Rapids" as I had no idea that such large steam vessels were run over the rocks (unless by accident). Certainly, this part of island life wasn't so idyllic!
Peter Glazier
Comment by: Peter Glazier ( )
Left at: 9:39 AM Thursday, May 20, 2010
There is a book on the subject which details several of the vessels which ran the rapids. "The River Palace" by Lewis and Neilson.There were actually channels down through the rapids and rocks, the boats being piloted by locals.It allowed for a quicker transit than using the lock network.
Jack Patterson
Comment by: Jack Patterson ( )
Left at: 10:59 PM Thursday, May 20, 2010
Speaking here of 'Poplar Bay' reminded me that in the early days Lombardy Poplar trees were planted on certain islands by those traversing the islands as an aid to navigating these confusing waters-help folks find their way. The native to France Lombardy Poplar is fast growing and distinctive in form with it's narrow tall and slender shape quite unlike other common trees of the region. A grove or clump could be discerned at great distance. Thus stands of the trees could be used as guides for finding one's way amongst the seemingly myriad islands. I believe the practice was commenced by early French fur trade trappers and explorers , etc . , bateau and birch bark canoe paddlers. Now where was it I learned this except perhaps at my grandfather/grandmother's knee? Is it also in the history books as to this tree's use? I think somewhere...
Mary Alice Snetsinger
Comment by: Mary Alice Snetsinger ( )
Left at: 9:45 PM Monday, May 24, 2010
I've enjoyed this series, and was pleased to see the little drawing of the "Light-house at the Entrance to Lost Channel," which I have always liked. I think, based on the publication date of the article, the purported location, and the image itself, it must be showing Lindoe (Lyndoch) Island.

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