Monday, January 2, 2012

Ensenore or Culver’s Point

In the previous blog, I posted some photos of Ensenore Glen House. Here are some interesting facts about where the name came from, and how the House came to be:

Few people are aware that Ensenore is the title of an epic-length poem written in 1840, by Auburn attorney Peter Myers. In it, the hero Ensenore whose sweetheart has been captured by Indians and taken to their campground, disguised himself as an Indian chief and followed the band to their summer camp on Owasco Lake, then successfully escaped with sweetheart Kathreen in a rain of arrows and a frantic chase.

Peter’s brother Michael had moved to Auburn in 1817, and brought his younger brother to Auburn where he attended an Academy in Aurora. In 1829 Michael became County Clerk, and appointed Peter as his deputy. Peter continued his legal studies and entered into a partnership with his brother.

In 1870 Peter moved to Auburn, and General William Seward sponsored the reprinting of his poem Ensenore. I found a readable copy of the book containing Ensenore on .

The poem is dedicated to William H. Seward, Governor of NYS, “the scene of which is principally upon the beautiful lake in the vicinity of his country residence.” Here are a few excerpts to give you the flavor of this rather long and flowery poem:

Three times the setting sun has shed
Its light upon their forest way;
Three times the shades of night have fled,
While, in her guarded bough-built bed,

Kathreen, unsleeping, waits the day,
And they, at early eve, have found
Their fav'rite western hunting ground,
Upon the shore of that fair lake,

Whose waters are the clearest, brightest,
Whose silver surges ever break
Upon her pebbled margin, lightest ;
Owasco's waters sweetly slept.

Owasco's banks were bright and green,
The willow on her margin wept,
The wild-fowl on her wave were seen,
And Nature's golden charms were shed.

As richly round her quiet bed,
From flowered mead to mountain brow,
A century since as they are now.

He stood before her come to save
Or share with her a captive's grave.

This poem purportedly became a favorite in Cayuga County, and in 1847 a steamboat was named after it. That boat was launched into Mill Creek and horses dragged it to the inlet. When launched, the boat began to sink. This ended the steamer’s only voyage!

In 1868 Dr. Horatio Robinson asked Ansin Culver for permission to put up some cottages on his Owasco Lake property; he was looking for a location where General William Seward could recuperate from his Civil War injuries. At that time there were mostly farmers located along the shore. Two little cottages of two rooms each were constructed at Culver's Point, later known as Ensenore, in Scipio. Ensenore was a station on the Lehigh Valley Railroad, which stretched eventually from Sayre, Pennsylvania to Geneva NY, and the point was also used as a camp by the men building the tracks for the railroad during construction. Culver's Point then contained two summer cottages, the Scipio post office and a boat landing so area farmers could send produce to market by water.

During his stay in Ensenore, General Seward met a young farmer and ex-soldier named George Clark. Clark was appointed postmaster of the Culver Point post office in 1874, and renamed that office Ensenore the same year.

Clark began to purchase land and began work on a hall that measured 100' x 28'. Ensenore soon became a favorite picnic place. Clark then built a four-story hotel named the Ensenore Glen House, which opened in June of 1875. It had 40 rooms, a huge hotel for our area at that time or even now. Each room had access to porches that encircled the hotel, with a large observatory at the top.

The grand opening of the Ensenore Glen House was held in 1874. The facility according to Clark could accommodate over 100 people. It had a black walnut staircase and a large barroom with an L-shaped bar. Captain Clark had 10 boats, supplies for croquet and other games, and of course you could get a ride on his steamer The Owasco, which was later named Ensenore. The featured attraction that drew people from far and wide was the walk up through the Glen to the falls. Clark had constructive flights of stairs for the trail, some of wood and some carved right out of the native stone, which ended with a downward view of 437 feet.

According to the Oswego County Palladium Newspaper of Friday, September 14, 1894, George Clark was fined $100 for exploding dynamite in Owasco Lake for the purpose of killing fish -I would love to know the story behind that little escapade!

In 1875, it was two dollars a day for board (about $40 in 2011 dollars) and $.50 for meals. Clark, ever the enterprising individual, decided to bring boat racing as well to the area. Spending a few minutes on the website brought up lots of articles about those races and the several hundred people who attended them. There were some articles in local newspapers about the Ensenore Glen House and her attractions, pretty smart advertising by the Clarks.

George’s obituary reads:
George G. Clark, proprietor of the Ensenore Glen House, died Wednesday November 28, (1906) after an illness of 2 weeks. He was 65 years of age. He was born in Sullivan, PA, and when he first came to this section his house was in the Town of Sempronius. Later he moved to Scipio and about 30 years ago he built the Ensenore Glen House, which he has since conducted.

I also found his wife’s obituary, published in the Auburn Citizen of Friday, January 14, 1916 and it yields even more information: Joanna Melvina Johnson Clark was born in Sempronius June 8, 1837. She was the daughter of Mr. And Mrs. James H. Johnson. She lived with her parents in Sempronius up to the time of her marriage to George G. Clark of Sullivan, PA on September 6, 1863. In the spring of 1865, having purchased the Hiram Close farm, Mr. and Mrs. Clark took up their residence in the town of Scipio about one mile west of Ensenore where they resided for 40 years. They then took up their residence in the Ensenore Glen House which Mr. Clark had recently built.
Mrs. Clark made this her home until the death of her husband, November 28, 1906. She then went to live with her son, Frank Clark of Ensenore, where she remained until her death January 5 last, with the exception of several winters, which she spent with her son, Prof. George Clark of Boonton, NJ. Mrs. Clark is survived by two sons Frank and George, having buried one son, Seward, at the age of 13 in the year 1889. She is also survived by one sister, Mrs. Minerva Rhoades of Cortland, and several nephews and nieces. Mrs. Clark was a member of Scipio Chapter No. 173, Order of the Eastern Star, having joined the Chapter November 11, 1902. She was a devoted and active member of the order up to the time of her death.
The funeral was very largely attended Sunday last, at the home of her son, Frank J. Clark of Ensenore. Rev. Mr. Warner of Venice officiated. The Eastern Star service was beautifully rendered by the members of Scipio Chapter No. 173, assisted by Brother Noble T. Merritt, past assistant grand lecturer of the 27th Eastern Star district of the state of NY. A large number of floral pieces were banked around the casket as a silent tribute of the high esteem, love and respect in which she was held by the people who knew her. Burial was made in the family plot in Indian Mound Cemetery, Moravia. Both obituaries were found on
With this information, I located George and family in the 1870 and 1880 Scipio census records – Mrs. Clark apparently using her middle name of Malvina. In the 1900 census, George and Malvina were still living in Scipio, right next door to his son Frank, his wife Emma and their children Alpha and Louisa.

Quite an entrepreneur, George brought many visitors and tourists to Scipio and Cayuga County through the use of clever advertising and of course a beautiful location in our lovely Finger Lakes!


Roger A. Post said...

Sandie, it was interesting to learn the history of Ensenore, a name that now seems to have sunk into relative obscurity from its local prominence in the late 19th and early 20th century. An example of Ensenore's prominence is given by the fact that some of the old weekly news columns recounting events in the eastern portion of Scipio during the later portion of this period were titled "Ensenore Heights." This area seemed to include at least the area between Wyckoff Road and today's Route 38, extending as far south as the Sherwood Road. I'm not sure how far north the name applied, though.

Also, as late as 1917 our respective grandparents near the north end of Wyckoff Road had postal addresses listed as "Ensenore Scipio" in The Farm Journal Illustrated Rural Directory of Cayuga County New York 1917-1922. Perhaps the end of the Ensenore Post Office spelled the end for the name Ensenore being in everyday use in Scipio.

Another note with reference to the Lehigh Valley Railroad (LVRR)is that it also extended north to Fairhaven in the town of Sterling on Lake Ontario where at one time coal from Sayre was transferred to ships or barges for transport on the lake. A locally important function of the LVRR was to take the milk produced by eastern Scipio dairy farms to market.

Sandie Stoker Gilliland said...

I am actually working on the Post Office question now. There was a mailman named Harry Lawler, and he was postmaster at Ensenore and when it closed and moved to Scipio. Stay tuned!