The settlement of Redwood came before my day, but I recall hearing that it had a nice glass factory and lime kilns that employed many people who came from other countries. Mostly Germans and French built the homes on one street called French Hill. These were thrifty people.
Redwood was once a busy place where people thrived and were prosperous. It was surrounded by lakes and the prospects of it being the proper place to start a lasting industry were good. My father's farm in Goose Bay was six miles from here, but most of our needs could be found in the numerous stores they had.
The Holmes brothers, Wallace and Gilbert, had a full line of dry goods and groceries, men's suits, overcoats, shoes, boots, silverware, dishes and other items. Adam Bickelhaupt's store across the street carried the same line of items. George Crawford was also well supplied with people's needs.
There were also smaller stores: Fred Hofferberth and Fred Carmon, who also had charge of the telephone line. There were very few telephones installed in Redwood.
As this area was rural and farming was the chief source of income for most people, horses were the only transportation. And since all of the farming was done with horses, they had to be well shod. The many blacksmith shops were kept busy. Some of the blacksmith shops were owned by William Kimball, Louis Bruso, Alfred Preston and Philip Quincer. Frank and Clark Layng were always busy with leather and harnesses. They also carried other things of interest, one being the graphophones with cylinder records and big horns. George Kabel's shop was supplied with wagons, cutters, and other small vehicles.
I believe there were two meat markets, but George Roy kept most of the people supplied. He also delivered in the countryside with horse and covered wagon.
There were three barber shops owned by Fred Cannon, Frank Dillon and Henry Ordway. Christian Ahles stayed busy like all of the rest in Redwood. He made shoes and did good cobbler's work.
Jerry Rexford was very proficient in his work of watch and clock repairs and also jewelry.
Benton Cook had a sawmill which kept him busy as he made cabinets, cupboards, window frames and other millwork. James Marsaw built many houses and barns in Redwood. Ellis and Fred White carried a full line of hardware and also did some plumbing. The Holmes Brothers had a feed mill where farmers could get their own grown grains ground into feed for their cows and horses.
Nean Springer had big ice houses in Alexandria Bay and supplied the ice boxes in Redwood which a few people had. Only a small amount of electric power was provided by the Holmes generator at the mill and this was limited for lights at night until midnight.
Jacob Quincer had a big business with lumber, cement, bricks, coal, paint, wallpaper, furniture of all kinds, carpets, rugs, dishes, and other things. Coal was delivered to those who were in need.
Adam and Carl Bickelhaupt had a big cold storage building where Limburger cheese from the numerous factories was stored, until it was shipped out by train to most any place in the United States. Several men were employed to fill the big ice houses in the winter. Some with horses and sleighs were also hired, but for a short time.
Two milliners kept the ladies up on the latest hat styles, and they would make hats to suit various needs. Elizabeth Ahles and Martha Cassey were kept busy, as all ladies had to have many hats to correspond with what they wore.
Farmers and Buyers
William Brown was the milkman who delivered the milk to homes that supplied their own container. The men who bought the farmers' hay and built big hay barns for storage, were Fred and Ferd Rebscher, Will Cosgrove, William Getman and a Mr. Evans from Hammond. The Rebschers also bought cattle and calves. In the spring, Saturday was a big day when they had a car on the track ready to ship them out; and the farmers were waiting around to get them weighed and sold. Addison Bare was the man who drove herds of cattle for the Rebschers to a storage barn and from there sold to dealers or shipped them out on a train for out of town markets.
Chester Tanner's drugstore was well stocked with all medical supplies except for drugs which were ordered by prescriptions of a doctor. He also had a small ice cream and soda fountain and this attracted many young people. Near "Tanner's was a little store or lunch place which Mrs. Andrew (Kate) Dollinger managed. This attracted the teenagers as she had many little things they could buy. Henry Ahles had a combination store of groceries and small soda fountain with ice cream. These three places were nice as they gave the young people a good place to go and pass away the time.
In the early days Redwood had five churches. All five were well attended. But as times changed, so did the congregations. The Catholic Church was the oldest and it was constructed of native stone. An annex had to be added, as the church became too small to contend with the lake people who came in the summer.
The Episcopal Church was also one of the oldest. It had a small congregation and services were not held regularly. The Methodist Church also had a small congregation. St. Paul's Lutheran Church is one of the older churches and was first used by the early German people. They had a pastor who could speak both English and German and would alternate services to please everyone.
The Baptist Church at one time had a rather large congregation when a Reverend Shaffer presided. He was an ardent worker and by donations from parties and other means of raising money, they were able to carry on. But as the older members were no longer able to help and others died, the church was closed. The church and the parsonage were then sold to the school.
The mail service was quite different from the present day. It came in to Redwood by train and was left at a depot from where it was then taken to Alexandria Bay by horse drawn wagon or sleigh in the winter. At Redwood, the faithful Thomas Martin met the train with a hand pushed two-wheel cart which he used to transfer the mail to the post office, which was at one end of the Dyer Hotel. Henry Ahles was postmaster. Several of the postmasters through the years were: Louis Martin, Bos-well Steacy, Richard Gates, Lowell Felder and Lyle Spies.
Mr. Martin was swamped with mail as people in the early days did a lot of buying from catalogs; and many packages came in the mail from the stores. For rural people this was especially convenient, since they had no cars to get around in. Horses were in use on the farms, therefore, the rural mailman would have his conveyance so full that sometimes he wouldn't have enough room for everything. The mail was posted enroute at some designated location. Bert Hawkins carried the rural mail after Edward Elliott retired and before his son, Albert took over the route.
When the tracks were laid for the railroad throughout the lowland south of the village, a great convenience was assured everyone, as in times past they had to go
to Watertown to transact all of their business. Redwood did not have a bank of its own. The railroad helped the booming business in Alexandria Bay, as the big hotels became a popular vacation place.
Good train service encouraged the building of a livery barn by Charles Spalsbury. He had horses and vehicles at the railroad depot to meet the trains and deliver the passengers to their destination. I remember standing at the depot and watching the porters load the baggage cart high with big trunks and other types of baggage.
Each day there were several trains going both north and south. They met each other coming and going at about 8:00 A.M. To drive six miles with a horse to meet the train was not an easy task for my father, as he had to eat his breakfast and get his barn work done before he started out. For several years on a Monday morning we girls had to get a train on our way to Antwerp where we were in school. We never missed a train and arrived in time for the 9:00 A.M. classes.
There was a milk station in Redwood. The milk train came from the north arriving about 11:00 A.M. The milk from the Redwood milk station was loaded and, I think, made collections along the way to its destination which was New York City. This train had one passenger car which was an accommodation for people not in a hurry, as the traveling was interrupted by loading so much milk. As cars and trucks took over the freight and transportation, people began to rely on them more. Thus the railroad soon became a thing of the past. The tracks and the depot were discontinued.
Redwood had good doctors, dentists and lawyers in years past; but now (1978), we have to go elsewhere for their assistance. Dr. Elmer Eddy was always ready when he was called upon to come to a home and attend to any illness, and also to deliver babies. In his later years he once told me that he had delivered over one thousand babies and had lost only one mother. He did most of his traveling by horse and had one man to help him. His name was "Little" Eddy Smith as he was a very small man. He helped care for the doctor's horse and drove him wherever he was called to care for the sick.
Dr. James Ryan had his brother Charles drive him and care for his horses. Dr. Catlin had served in the army as a doctor and was often called in on cases as a consultant. He did not take on a regular practice because of his age. There was also a Dr. Klink and his son, Michael, to administer to patients as well.
As far as the dentist was concerned it was difficult to get an appointment with him, as he would mostly extract a tooth that was giving a person pain.
Another merchant was Mark Jewett and his son, Morris. They had the biggest fur trading business in the United States at one time. They travelled over most of the United States and also into foreign countries for some very valuable furs.
Old Stone School House
My mother and I attended the Old Stone Schoolhouse where so many others had gotten their high school education. It was beautifully built with native stone and only had two floors in the beginning. An extra classroom had been added when I attended, using the big room for students. Classes were held on the second floor. On the first floor were two rooms which had pupils up to the seventh grade. After a few years there was more classroom for grades downstairs and a larger auditorium and classroom upstairs.
My mother told me of the early teachers she had in the older part of the school - - Don Watson and William Cosgrove. She also had attended Lafargeville School where Dr. Eddy was one of her classmates. The only two high school principals that I had in 1905-07 were William Laidlaw and Frank Hyle.
With the tracks, trolley cars, and the old school building gone, it seemed that we were left to nestle up with the numerous lakes and enjoy their beauty: Mud, Butterfield, Millsite and Crystal Lakes. The quietness is enjoyed by everyone from all around. Even though the stores are few, and the nice tree that was over the town pump was taken away by the highway, I hope to remain a resident in Redwood in my twilight years.
Redwood did have two good sized hotels that served meals, the Dollinger Hotel and the Dyer Hotel. One could go in during the day at most anytime and be served a good meal. They both had a dance hall and sometimes
they would have dance parties going on at the same time, with music filling the air and the patrons' horses all tied up outside.
In the winter time, there were three days of horse races conducted on the frozen Butterfield Lake. Since the horses were well cared for and stabled properly, all went well for the racers. There were large crowds of people from everywhere. The Canadians came also as they had some of their horses entered in the races.
As the century changes, it seems other things also appear to bring about those changes that are needed for progress and advancement in our everyday living and ways of travel.
In 1874, some changes came in Redwood when the Rome, Watertown and Ogdensburg Railroad (which had been completed as far as Evans Mills) was extended to Clayton and Morristown. This was a great help for the area, as with this service people could travel and were able to get the things they needed more easily. Milk plants were built and farmers were able to ship their milk by train to a fluid market, other than to a factory to be made up in cheese. But all in all, the railroad did help the cheese market.
Every Saturday in the spring there were cars on the track loaded with young calves that the farmers were willing to sell to the dealers from Redwood. This was a great convenience for both the farmers and the dealers to have them weighed and put directly onto the train. Other times the farmers sold hay to dealers and it was a good help to load this in a rail car to be shipped out. Other commodities came to this town in larger quantities, especially coal. Every home had to use wood for heal thus more coal could be used than before.
Passenger service also increased as several trains a da; passed through Redwood. The train carrying milk also had one car for the people to use and this was once each day in the mid part of the afternoon. It was a bit slower having to stop to load the milk from the milk plants their this area.
Owing to tourist travel to the Thousand Islands increasing and stage or livery service to Alexandria Bay not so convenient, lots of these people did go to Clayton and take a boat from there. This was better, but this they did not care to do as transferring baggage and other things was not pleasant for them. Therefore, about the turn of the century, people also felt travel from Redwood to Alexandria Bay should be better.
At this time Martin Springer, a farmer who had a farm in Goose Bay, became the road commissioner, and with others, thought out a plan to remedy this. There was also a lot of freight to be moved. A trolley line between the two places was considered the proper thing to build. Therefore, after discussions and deliberations, the electric company was incorporated on February 6, 1990 (sic, probably 1900). It was named The International Electric Railroad and Land Company. A franchise to construct a railroad was secured. It was backed by Charles H. Remington and B.B. Taggart in Watertown and Jacob Amos of Baldwinsville.
The construction of the line was seven and a half miles long. The first run was August 18, 1902 on a Sunday. Many had waited for this day to come, and I can say that I was one of those who had a free ride on that first day. My father took my sisters, Edna and Arloine, also Glenn Zoller, who was then living in Goose Bay with us.
The trolley was sold for junk and the remaining assets of the company were sold to The Northern New York Utilities Company, later a part of Niagara Mohawk Power Corporation. At that time, John B. Taylor, treasurer of Northern New York Utilities, owned the whole concern. The line was then sold to Hurwits Brothers of Syracuse, junk dealers who in turn sold the rails to James Smitt of Cortland. The trolleys are said to have been sold to private individuals who transformed them into camps on Millsite Lake near Redwood. Today all that remains is the old stone trolley barn in Alexandria Bay which is used as a storage place by Niagara Mohawk.
[Editor’s note: Chapter 4 will be posted shortly.]