Summer in central New York means many things, but one of the most popular is the yard sale. On a sunny Saturday morning you are bound to find one in your travels.
Every few years I pick my way along the annual “Route 90 Sale” looking for things I don’t need. I am always browsing for old books, and this year I found one that lends itself to a Scipio story - Little Loo by W. Clark Russell.
A prolific writer, Russell authored a total of 57 novels; collections of short stories and newspaper articles; a volume of historical essays; popular biographies and a collection of verses.
When I opened the front cover of Little Loo, I found that it had been a Christmas gift in 1900. The flyleaf is inscribed “Presented by Grandma Clark to Alpha Clark December 25, 1900.”
I thought those names were familiar, so I checked into the historical family records I have for Scipio and there it was. Grandma Clark was actually Joanna Malvina Johnson, wife of George Clark who built and ran Ensenore House. Her son Frank and his wife Emma had two girls – Alpha and Louisa.
In June of 1863, George Clark registered for military service in the 24th Congressional District. The register shows he was a 22-year-old unmarried carpenter. He was mustered in to the 1st Engineers (or Serrell’s Engineers) on February 16, 1863. As a Private, his pay would have been $13 a month. By September of 1863, he married Malvina.
In the spring of 1865, Mr. and Mrs. Clark bought the Hiram Close farm and took up their residence in the town of Scipio about one mile west of Ensenore where they resided for over 40 years.
In the 1900 census, I found that George and Malvina were still living in Scipio, right next door to his son Frank, his wife Emma and their children Alpha and Louisa. In fact, after George Clark died in 1906, Malvina moved in with Frank’s family until her own death in 1916.
You may already know that George Clark built a four-story hotel and named it the Ensenore Glen House, which opened in June of 1875. It had 40 rooms, a huge hotel for our area. Each room had access to porches that encircled the hotel, with a large observatory at the top. In 1875, it cost two dollars a day to stay (about $40 in 2015 dollars) and another fifty cents for meals. The Ensenore House 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 renamed The Ensenore. The featured attraction that drew people from far and wide was a walk up through the Glen to the falls. Clark had constructed 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 – almost one and a half times the length of a football field!
The recipient of Little Loo, Alpha Clark, married to Dr. Benjamin Fordyce, a well-known and respected man of Scipio who spent over two years accumulating the cobblestones from Lake Ontario to build their home in 1843; it still stands just west of Scipio Center.
I can't wait to see what treasures I find in this year's yard sales!