People of Importance, The Second Hundred Years
Dr. Annie Hull
Dr. Annie Hull was one of the first women doctors in Queensbury and Glens Falls. The Hull family came from England in 1629. Daniel Hull came with Abraham Wing to Queensbury. His son Joseph and Polly Burnham settled on the 150 acre farm at West Mountain Rd. called Oak Forest. They became the parents of Leonard, Annie’s father, who married Melissa Sweet. Their children were Eber, Annie and Orville. Annie was born February 25, 1875. She attended a one room school followed by the Glens Falls Academy. Here she boarded with a family on Union Street and graduated in 1899 at age22. T he following fall she enrolled in NY Medical College for Women at West 101 Street, NY City where she boarded with the parents of a fellow student for $5 per week. The trip to NY City took 24 hours going by horse and buggy, trolley car, train, boat and bicycle. Annie interned at Middletown State Hospital and stayed downstate until 1909. She bought the house with a white picket fence at the corner of Pine and Elm Street in Glens Falls which remains today. The garage in back held her horse and buggy until she got a Buick roadster in 1914. Her practice centered around all kinds of patients for which she gave medical care along with produce to feed those in need, laundry for dirty clothes, layettes for new babies and Christmas dolls. Out of wedlock children were her “darling babies”. She never sent bills and accepted payment in kind as necessary. Along with gardening and care of the elderly, Annie had little time for music which she loved and reading medical journals. Personal appearance was of little concern as she wore a starched cotton dress topped with a veteran pork pie hat, a balding fur coat and carried her black bag. She was a member of the Warren County Medical Association, the NY State Board of Medical Examiners, the Health officer for the Town of Queensbury and acted as truant office when needed. Practising 27 years before women had the right to vote, she was an intelligent, resolute and committed doctor. Two days before Thanksgiving she died in her sleep on November 11, 1948. She is buried with her family at Mount Hermon/Van Dusen Cemetery at the corner of Luzerne and West Mountain Roads..
H Russell Harris, Bill Barton
H Russell Harris, Bill Barton - Education in Queensbury moved from one room schoolhouses to a major campus complex when H. Russell Harris , Town Supervisor, led the fight for an independent school district. Local residents wanted their own school and voted 581 to 456 for consolidation. H. Russell Harris along with Erling Odell and Dorrance Branch selected the campus site where the old airport was located. The first elementary wing with room with space for a future high school was opened in the fall of 1950 with 609 students from kindergarten to grade 9. Bill Barton served as the first superintendent of the district from 1948 to 1973. Bill graduated from SUNY New Paltz and New York University. In 1938 he was the principal of Abraham Wing school in Glens Falls at which time he was the youngest principal in New York State. After his retirement as superintendent in Queensbury he served at a County Supervisor from Queensbury from 1977 to 1993. He died September 15, 1994.
Ralph “Pop” Pease, Gus Ham, Francis Poutre
Aviation came to Queensbury after World War I when a barnstormer landed at Miller Hill. In 1928 the Glens Falls Chamber of Commerce leased 80 acres of Captain CM Brownell’s property and the field was christened Floyd Bennett Field in memory of the Warrensburg native who piloted Admiral Richard Byrd to the North Pole. The following year the field was expanded to 105 1/2 acres and Ralph “Pop” Pease was hired as manager. Pease had served in the Air Force where he flew the China Burma India route. Guy (Gus) Ham’s 60 year aviation career found him instructing students at the airport during World War II. Francis Poutre (“Pout”) learned aviation repair and how to fly from “Pop” Pease. He was a pilot and a certified aircraft mechanic who worked at the Miller Hill Airport and later at the Warren County Airport . In 1998, he worked to change the county airport site to the Floyd D. Bennett Memorial Airport. His last flew from the airport at age 91 .
Judge Austin was born on May 31, 1935, the son of John and Mabel Bascom Austin. He attended Jackson Heights and Broad Street schools in Glens Falls and the District 4 schoolhouse in Queensbury, graduating from Glens Falls Jr.-Sr. High School in 1953. He then graduated from Dartmouth College with a BA degree in sociology. John entered the US Army and served in Germany. Upon returning to this area in 1960 he became the Editorial Director for the Glens Falls Times. He entered politics as Republican Committeeman in Queensbury. In 1969 he earned a law degree from Albany Law and opened a practice in Glens Falls. The same year he married Marcia Behan, a Queensbury elementary teacher. They became the parents of two children , Jay D. III, an ad executive in NY City and Susan, a film producer and college teacher at Parsons in NY City. The same year he was appointed a Queensbury town councilman to succeed Ted Turner and was subsequently elected to the Town Board. In 1972, he became an at- large supervisor at the county level. He was appointed Town Supervisor when Jerry Solomon went on in politics. He campaigned door to door for office with his son Jay. At the county level he assumed the role of budget officer, social services chairman and served on the personnel, legislative, real property tax and sheriff’s committees. For the Town of Queensbury he sought funds for fire protection, reconsidering planning and zoning plans, and worked on plans to construct the Highway Building in back of the town hall and legislative restrictions on residential mobile homes. In 1974, John resigned to pursue his law career becoming a law assistant at Warren County Court and the Surrogate Court. In 1980, he became a fulltime assistant in the NYS Supreme Court. He served by appointment until 1984 and was subsequently elected to Warren County Family Court and Surrogate Court Judge from 1999 to 2004 when he retired. He then served as Warren County Historian retiring in 2008 when he was named Historian Emeritus. Judge Austin avidly pursued genealogy as an avocation researching early Queensbury and Glens Falls families. He also served as President of the Northeastern NY Genealogical Society. He is a fellow of the prestigious American Society of Genealogists , a select group of fifty people. John also played a large role in the publication of the 1963 and 2009 Warren County histories.
Charles R. Eisenhart
Dr. Eisenhart was the first President of Adirondack Community College (now called SUNY Adirondack) from 1961-78. He led the two year college in its initial growth and development. Born March 12, 1912 in Binghamton, NY. , the son of John and Nellie Van Patten Eisenhart, he married Judi Russell. He graduated in 1929 from Windsor, NY high school completing four years in three. Then followed a bachelor’s degree from Muhlenberg College in 1933, a Master of Arts in 1940 from Albany State, and his Ed.D. in 1954 from Columbia University Teachers College. From 1933-43 he taught mathematics, history, education , Latin and dramatics in NYS public schools. He entered the US Army Air Corps in 1943 as senior instructor of meteorology. After his discharge in 1946 he became dean of men and associate professor of mathematics at Hartwick College in Oneonta. Remaining there until 1954 he then became dean of Jacksonville, Fla. Junior College. From 1956 to 1961 he was dean of Defiance College in Ohio. Dr. Eisenhart became President of Adirondack Community College and made his home in Queensbury on Bay Road near Halfway Brook where many ducks in the nearby water attracted the public. The Eisenharts were the parents for three children. Upon his retirement he became the Historian of the town and completed a field survey of all of the town’s cemeteries. He died in Glens Falls on February 16, 1991 at age 78-11-4. Today Eisenhart Hall at the college carries his name.
Frances Walter and Betty Monahan
It would be the twentieth century before women would play a role in politics in the town. Betty Carpenter Monahan came from a political family. Her father, Preston Carpenter, was a Republican committeeman. Betty participated in discussions and debates about politics over the kitchen table and participated at the polls at the Mohican Grange. Joining the League of Women Voters gave Betty the opportunity to research and learn more about politics. At the right time she entered government and was voted a town councilperson, a job she held for 16 years. She was noted for her good research on issues, especially planning and zoning regulations.
Frances Walter (1939-1991) became the first woman supervisor of the town. She served from 1977- 1988 on the town board, as supervisor and deputy supervisor. She served during a period of strong growth and development of the town. She also served on the country board as a conservative and was viewed as a “gutsy fighter”. Mrs. Walter was named to the National Women’s Hall of Fame in Seneca Falls.
Hammond Robertson, Jr.
Hammond Robertson, Jr. played a large role in both town and county politics. He was born on September 7, 1925 the son of Hammond and Evelyn Bovee Robertson. Growing up in Slingerlands, he joined the Boy Scouts and became an Eagle Scout . He joined the Navy in WWII and served on the aircraft carrier Bougainvillea in the South Pacific and was discharged in 1945. He resumed college life and earned a degree in mechanical engineering from Worcester Polytech. He went on to pursue an engineering career and married Joan Ahr. He served in the Slingerlands Fire Department for many years. The Robertsons moved to Queensbury where Hammond served as a member and past president of the North Queensbury Fire Department. Three children were born to the couple – Hammond (Skip), Beth Amy, and Douglas. At Harrisena he became scout master of Troop 15 as his two sons and others became Eagle Scouts and his daughter achieved Curved Bar, the highest Girl Scout award. Hammond entered town government and became a charter member of the Planning Board in 1962 following which he was elected to the Town Board as a councilman. He was involved in the transfer of Queensbury to a first class town. In 1982 he became a member of the Warren County Board of Supervisors and served as budget officer for some years. He completed his political career as Chairman of the Board of Supervisors. He said his main focus over the years was “to preserve the beauty of Lake George.” Retiring in the early 1990s he spent time on his hobbies of growing orchids and reading. Hammond died at age 81 on December 6, 2006.
Poodles and Gracie Hanneford
Edwin “Poodles” Hanneford was born June 14, 1891 in Barnsley, England where his parents worked with the Lord John Sanger Circus. His aunt Kate gave him his longtime nickname when she remarked that at age three days “he looks more to me like a big happy poodle” From a long line of circus performers going back to 1690, Poodles came to be considered among the greatest trick riders in history. He was the first to do a back somersault from one running horse to another. He created the “stepoff” in which the rider stepped off the side, not the back of the horse, straight legged as it gallops, then calmly strolls off. This has never been duplicated. He developed his clown act introducing an infusion of comedy into his routines. He held the Guiness Record for performing a running jump onto a horse and stepping off 26 times in a row. Poodles made more than forty short films beginning in 1922. One of his roles was with Shirley Temple. He retired in 1954 from Barnum and Bailey but worked at Frontier Town with his daughter where he played the part of the Old Prospector as well as clowning. He died December 9, 1967. The following year he was enshrined in the National Circus Hall of Fame in 1968. His wife of 48 years died in 1984.
Gracie, the daughter of Poodles and Grace Norma White Hanneford was born October 9, 1930 in New York City. She made a career as a circus performer like her family for generations. She moved to Lake George in the 1950s residing on Hanneford Road off Warner Bay in Queensbury. She later worked at Frontier Town with a trained dog act. She died in 2006, creating a scholarship legacy for the Lake George Scholarship Association in excess of $900,000 in honor of her father. The Hannefords are buried in Pineview Cemetery, Queensbury.
Richard Schermerhorn, Jr.
By 2008 Rich Schermerhorn became the largest major local developer in Queensbury. A native of Queensbury, he was graduated from Queensbury school in 1985. He began working with contractors and soon joined the Woodburys in their Hidden Hills development. On his own he began building storage units, apartments, townhouses, senior housing, and professional offices in keeping with the town’s master plan for development. His organization grew and he now owns and manages more than 1000 residential units in the town while continuing ongoing development projects.
Michal and Claude Brandt
Michal Brandt and his brother Claude founded the West Mtn. Ski development in 1961. It was opened with two rope tows. A chair lift followed in 1963. In the late 60s snowmakers aided the slopes. Today the slope has 22 trails, 2 double chairlifts, 1 triple chairlift, 2 rope tows, and 2 tubing tows. A main lodge renovated in 1988 has a cafeteria on the first floor and the West Side Grille on the second floor. Backcountry skiing is available on the mountain through June due to artificial snowmaking. West Mountain also offers night skiing which is visible from the east side of town. Mr. Brandt, a native of France, became active in politics and served two separate terms as town supervisor. The ski development was sold in 2007 to Mr. Brandt’s long time manager Mike Barbone. Mr. Brandt continues to pursue a large scale residential/recreational community on the mountain.
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