The Moorsfield Press
In 1919, architect Hugh McLellan established
the Moorsfield Press in the basement of the Session
House (current Knights of Columbus Hall) in Champlain,
New York. The name of the press was derived from
Champlain founder Pliny Moore, whose land grant was
referred to as the “Moorsfield Grant” (Pliny spelled
his name as "Moor" in 1785). Hugh was a
descendent of Pliny Moore and had become profoundly
influenced by the papers he had. Printing had been
Hugh’s boyhood hobby.
When he was in college, he used a press to
help pay his expenses.
Hugh used his press to print the
different letters he had gathered in order to preserve
and distribute these historically worthy papers.
He soon realized that he could supplement his
retirement by printing papers for local
businesses. This soon became his main business
which his son Woody continued until the early 1980s.
Over the years, though, they still tried to publish
The Plattsburgh Daily Press of
Wednesday, May 26, 1920, and Plattsburgh
Sentinel of May
28, 1920, noted
the establishment of the Moorsfield Press:
THE MOORSFIELD PRESS
Clinton County has an acquisition in the cause of
letters and the art of fine printing in the establishment
of the Moorsfield Press at Champlain, owned and conducted
by Mr. Hugh McLellan, historian and Lincoln collector of
that place who has also in his profession as architect won
international fame by his statues of Champlain at
Plattsburgh and Crown Point.
The work of the Moorsfield Press is mainly in
historical lines, with a variation this spring in the
publication of a charming short Christmas story by the
school-girl daughter of the proprietor, Miss Dorothy
McLellan, who is a pupil at the Bishop Hopkins school at
Burlington. This brochure
entitled “The Carol Singers” is a delightful piece of
work, interesting in composition and exquisite in
typographical workmanship reflecting high credit on the
publisher as well as on the talented authoress.
THE MOORSFIELD PRESS
Clinton County has an
acquisition in the cause of letters and the art of
fine printing in the establishment of the
Moorsfield Press at Champlain, owned and conducted
by Mr. Hugh McLellan, historian and Lincoln
collector of that place who has also in his
profession as architect won international fame by
his statues of Champlain at Plattsburgh and Crown
The work of the Moorsfield Press is mainly
in historical lines, with a variation this spring
in the publication of a charming short Christmas
story by the school-girl daughter of the
proprietor, Miss Dorothy McLellan, who is a pupil
at the Bishop Hopkins school at Burlington. This
brochure entitled “The Carol Singers” is a
delightful piece of work, interesting in
composition and exquisite in typographical
workmanship reflecting high credit on the
publisher as well as on the talented authoress.
In a letter written to his cousin, John N.
Moore, Esq., on July 1, 1920, Hugh described his
interest in gathering family historical
information and printing it:
You probably do not know that during
the past several years I have been greatly
interested in gathering together and
studying whatever letters, papers, etc. I
could find bearing on the early history of
Champlain and especially on the life of our
ancestor Judge Pliny Moore. In
those years, I have accumulated quite a mass
Since coming to Champlain to
live I have renewed my boyhood hobby of
printing, and have already printed a few
pamphlets on Lincoln etc.
A newspaper published on December 17, 1931, had a
short note about the letters of Thomas Nye that were
ISSUES INTERESTING BROCHURE
The Moorsfield Press, of Champlain, has
just issued an interesting brochure edited by Hugh
McLellan in which are reprinted two letters
written by Thomas Nye relating to a journey made
by him in 1837 from Montreal to Chicago where he
visited Ariel Bowman and obtained the hand of his
daughter, Corinna, in marriage.
In an interesting foreword Mr. McLellan
says that Mr. Nye was the youngest son of Elias
and Elizabeth (Bartlett) Nye and was born in
Carver, Plymouth County, Mass. on August 23, 1801;
graduated from the University of Vermont in 1822
and took up the practice of law in Montreal after
several years of study in the office of John
died May 15, 1877 in Montreal and was buried in
the family vault in Glenwood Cemetery, Champlain.
The booklet, of which only 48 copies were
published, is nicely printed on laid paper and
By 1936, Hugh had completed his
transcriptions of the Pliny Moore papers. It had
taken him about 20 years to type the 3000 letters
and other material in his collection. He now
had a huge collection of material that was readily
available for his inspection.
Between 1937 and 1939, Hugh published the
quarterly magazine called the Moorsfield
Eight 75-page volumes were published. Hugh
printed a number of family papers that he owned
including papers about Pliny Moore, Abraham
Lincoln and Thomas Nye. Hugh had
called this venture a “fiasco” but his historical
pamphlets and booklets are now an important part
of Clinton County history. Besides
the Moorsfield Antiquarian, Hugh also
published short papers with his press concerning
other family papers that he owned. A
listing of all of the historical publications of
the Moorsfield Press from 1919 to 1932 was
of these publications have been reproduced here.
A July 3, 1937, newspaper article
about Hugh’s quarterly magazine stated:
EDIT NEW HISTORICAL MAGAZINE
The first issue of "The Moorsfield
Antiquarian," a Quarterly Magazine of American
History, has just been published by the Moorsfield
Press, of Champlain, with Hugh and Charles W.
(Woodbury) McLellan as editors. Its
"John Jacob Astor Correspondence — Fur
Trade with Lower Canada"; "Lincoln's Visit to
Richmond in 1865"; “On the Outbreak of the
Papineau Rebellion”; "Letters from New Madrid,
Missouri"; "Opening of the Pacific Telegraph in
1861"; "A Frontier Committee of Safety"; and
"Inscriptions from Old Graveyards".
The magazine is nicely printed on deckle
edge book paper and bound in an attractive cover. For the
most part the text mater is in the form of old
letters, valuable and interesting historical
magazine is to be issued quarterly at the
subscription price of $8.09 a year.
Hugh McLellan is widely known as a local
historian and has a large and valuable collection
of letters written by and to early settlers in the
His son, Woodbury McLellan, co-editor of
the "Antiquarian," has been associated with his
father in gathering and classifying the letters
and other historical matter.
Three months later, Hugh published the
second quarterly issue of the Antiquarian. A note was
published on September 2, 1937.
ISSUE OF "ANTIQUARIAN"
OFF THE PRESS
The second number of the "Moorsfield
Antiquarian," a quarterly magazine of American
history edited and published by Hugh and Charles
Woodbury McLellan, of Champlain, is off the press
and not only presents a most attractive appearance
but contains a large amount of interesting and
valuable historical material. The
magazine is entirely hand-set, is printed on a
good quality of deckle edge book paper and is made
up of 152 pages.
The contents include:
"Garrison Orders, Burlington, Vt., July
13—Aug. 4, 1813," with an alphabetical list of
names appearing in the orders; "The
1860 Presidential Campaign"; "Letters of Cassius
M. Clay to Cephus Brinerd"; "John Jacob Astor
Correspondence, Part 2"; "A Minnesota Farmer in
1862"; "Dupree & Janqueray and Jacques Rouse";
"An Address to the Grand Jury of Clinton County";
"An After Effect of the Civil War"; and
"Inscriptions from Old Graveyards in Altona, Chazy
and West Chazy."
The Rouse story is a copy of an address to
the grand jury charging Rouse, the first permanent
white settler in Rouses Point and a captain in the
State Militia, with a "murderous assault" upon the
It would appear to have been a battle of
words only as no blows were struck and only the
feelings of the men were injured. There is
no record of the disposition of the case, if it
ever came to trial, and it might be inferred that
it was a spite affair as it is mentioned that
Rouse had an action pending against them at the
Copies of the magazine may be obtained from
the Moorsfield Press at Champlain.
By February 1938, Hugh had
published another set of articles for his Antiquarian. A March
17, 1938, newspaper article notes this.
Has Interesting Articles
The February, 1938, issue of the
"Moorsfield Antiquarian," a quarterly publication
of the Moorsfield Press, Hugh and Charles W.
McLellan, of Champlain, contains a lot of
exceptionally interesting material of interest to
North Country people.
Among the articles is one under the title,
"Pierre Huet de la Valiniere, Priest," which
shows, through the reproduction of certain
correspondence between Judge Pliny Moore and the
Catholic missionary that the earliest Catholic
church on the Northern New York shares of Lake
Champlain was built in 1790 at what is now
Cooperville instead of at Split Rock, in Essex
County, as contended by some historians.
Other articles include: "From Alleghney
[sic] to Lake Superior"; "The Journal of George M.
McGill; "The John Jacob Astor correspondence on
the fur trade with Lower Canada"; "Carlyle and
Lord Russell on Lincoln"; "A Letter from Lord
Stanley, of Alderley, dated in 1864"; "A
Southerner On Reconstruction"; "A Letter from,
Elyria, Ohio, in 1837"; and "Inscriptions from Old
One of the inscriptions taken from a stone
in the Perrys Mills Cemetery and copied in the
article is on the stone above the grave of John
True, who died on April 27, 1850, at the age of 30
years and three months. It reads
Was born in Ireland brought o’er a child,
And lived in Bogtown, meek and mild.
Lamented by one, lamented by all,
Who heard of his fate or sad, downfall.
By crossing a rapids in this river,
Life, soul and body soars did sever.
If God deprived him of some reason,
We trust his soul is now in heaven.
Another rather peculiar epitaph in the same
graveyard is that on the stone of Titus Perry, who
died in December, 1857. It is:
Thou has gone to rest in Jesus' love
I hope to go soon and meet the above.
An inscription on a
stone in the Stevenson lot reads:
"Elizabeth, daughter of John and Mary
Stevenson, murdered, Dec. 26, 1832, in her 18th
In June, Hugh published yet another
group of articles in his Antiquarian, as a June 9, 1938,
newspaper article reveals.
HAS MANY ARTICLES OF
"With the American Fur Co. in the
Michilimakinac Dependencies," a series of letters
written by Samuel Ashmun, Jr., and John H. Fairbank,
Champlain youths who tell of their adventures with
the American Fur Co. in Michigan, Wisconsin and
Minnesota between the years 1818 and 1822. The
letters were all addressed to Bartlett Nye, who had
intended to accompany them West but who had changed
his mind at the last minute.
Another very interesting issue of "The
Moorsfield Antiquarian" has come from The
Moorsfield Press at Champlain, edited by Hugh and
"With General Butler at New Orleans," a
letter from John Coddington Kinney to Miss Eliza
Button dated May 30, 1862, gives interesting
sidelights on the daily lives of the soldiers
during the Civil War.
Other titles in the May issue include:
"Maine Troops on Lake Champlain and the
Loss of the Eagle and the Growler, May‑July 1813";
"Letters from California‑1852 to 1859" (Wallace W.
Bordwell to Benjamin Booth); "The
Year 1781 at Saratoga," Col. Marinus Willett's
Regiment of Levies (From the Pliny Moore Papers),
and "Inscriptions from Old Graveyards."
In the latter department, a regular feature
of "The Antiquarian," the inscriptions reproduced
are from the old graveyard at Odelltown, Que.,
four miles north of Rouses Point. Among them the
following family names appear:
Brothers; Canfield; Durham; Fisher; Force;
Geddes; Hatch; Johnson; LaBounty; McCullough;
McFarlane; Masten; Paro; Schriver; Shipley; Smith;
Statcliff; Tate; Tompkins; Willsey; Wilson, and
For several years, Hugh published his
historical papers using the Moorsfield Press. He soon
realized he needed to supplement his income. Since
Champlain did not have any commercial printers, he
found himself printing for businesses. In a 1932
Moorsfield Press publication, Hugh described how the
Press was becoming more of a business venture and less
of a historical publication press.
Press, Champlain, N. Y.
THE MOORSFIELD PRESS was established in 1919 as a
private press, primarily for the printing of such
unpublished historical matter as seemed worthy of
preservation. It was really
the rebirth of an old interest in printing, and after my
father's collection of Lincolniana had gone to Brown
University, it became, with my interest in the history
of the Champlain Valley, my principal hobby. It was not my intention to
produce merely fine examples of printing, but rather to
follow the typography of the eighteenth century in
There was no thought of making the Press a
commercial venture, and its productions were distributed
freely. But, because of the
lack of other printing facilities in the community, the
Press was compelled to devote itself to commercial work,
almost to the exclusion of the publications which had
brought it into being.
The old desire remained, however, and it is now
the intention of the Press to continue the production of
these historical pamphlets. But
the policy of distribution will be revised, so that the
Press may receive some return for the use of its
facilities; in other words, a price will be placed upon
each publication to cover the cost of its production. In this way the various items
will be distributed to those persons and libraries that
are seriously interested in them.
Twenty-one of these monographs have already been
issued, in limited editions, as noted in the subjoined
list. These include five
items of Lincolniana. The
larger number, however, have been drawn from material in
my historical collection, consisting mainly of the
papers of Judge Pliny Moore, (1759‑1822), which may be
divided into three groups, as follows: Columbia County,
N. Y., before the Revolution; the Mohawk Valley during
the Revolution; and Clinton County, N. Y., and adjacent
parts of Vermont and Canada, from 1787 until Judge
Moore's death. These papers
include correspondence with Elkanah Watson, James Dean,
John Jacob Astor, Benjamin Mooers, Peter Sailly, James
Woolrich, John Tayler, John Williams, etc.; also many
papers relating to the activities of American and
British forces on the Canadian frontier during the War
The John Jacob Astor correspondence will be
issued shortly; also several unpublished items of
Lincolniana, an Orderly Book of the War of 1812, and the
documents of a Committee of Safety during the warscare
of 1807. It is hoped that
sufficient interest will be shown to permit the printing
of a large number of these monographs.
Announcements of future publications, as issued,
will be sent to those requesting
of publications of the Moorsfield Press