The War of 1812


            The following short article was co-written by Woody McLellan in his publication called the Centennial of the Village of Champlain (1873-1973).




            During the first hundred years of its existence, Champlain was very much in a "war zone" ¾ either actual or potential.


            Point au Fer, south of Rouses Point, was occupied by a British garrison until 1796, who claimed all of our area and repeatedly warned the citizens to vacate their lands.


            War seemed inevitable in 1807, after the attack by the British on an American war vessel.  A Committee of Safety appealed to the Governor for protection, who quickly authorized the storing in Champlain of a quantity of arms and ammunition for the use by the citizens, should the need arise.  These arms remained in the community until 1813, when they were turned over to the arsenal at Plattsburgh.


            Pliny Moore's diary contains numerous references to "training and trooping" during this period.   And until the conclusion of the final peace, the diary gives much light on the military activities in the area.   His home, being the largest in the community, was used by both American and British officers as their headquarters.


            Here are samplings from his diary: Gen. Pettit here; Gen. Dearborn; Gen. Fasset; Gen. Wilkinson; Gen. Winder; Gen. Izard; Gov. Provost; Gen. Brisbane; also numerous other officers.   Of particular interest are the entries merely marked "VDK," which indicated conferences between the American leaders and Eleazer Williams of Hogansburg, who organized a "Corps of Observation" or spy ring of Iroquois Indians.


Military activities are also numerous:

            June 3, 1813: Battle of Lt. Sidney Smith & loss of 2 armed Sloops.   July 31: British at Plattsburgh. Aug. 3: Block Houses burnt by British.   Sept. 7: British squadron sailed up the lake. (These last three entries refer to the daring raid on Plattsburgh, Swanton, Chazy and Champlain by the British Col. Murray.)   Sept. 20: The Army passed into Odletown Battle. Sept, 21: Counter Marched. (A defeat for the Americans.) ¾ Mar. 30, 1814: Gen. Wilkinson's Battle of Lacolle.   Mar. 31: Gen. Wilkinson returned to Champlain. (Another defeat.)   July 25: A man shot for desertion. Aug. 28: British Indian Force came into Champlain.   Aug. 29: All peaceable except for one drunken Indian.   Sept. 4: British Army, about 14,000, passed on to Chazy with 16 pieces cannon.  Sept. 6: Battle at Beekmantown.  Sept. 11: Battle of the Fleets. McDonough took the Ship, the Brigg and 2 Sloops.  Sept. 13: British Army passed (in retreat) except one Brigade at Champlain.  Sept. 25: British Army left Champlain. Feb. 22, 1815.  Celebration of Peace.


            During the Canadian Rebellion of 1837 the community again prepared for trouble, as the "rebels" used the United States as places of refuge.


            Finally, during our Civil War, troops were stationed along the border, as war seemed near several times with Britain.  And with the Confederate raid on St. Albans from Canadian soil in 1864, Committees of Safety were for the last time organized by our citizens.





Hugh McLellan as Champlain’s Town Historian


            Many newspaper articles about the history of Champlain and events surrounding historical celebrations were saved by Hugh McLellan over the years.  Hugh was instrumental in bringing awareness of Champlain’s history to the townspeople.  By 1931, Hugh had been living in Champlain for 12 years and was active in many organizations related to Champlain’s history.  He would continue this activity to at least 1958 when he was 85 years old.  His son Woody continued on with this enthusiasm for Champlain’s history. 


            The June 18, 1931, North Countryman had an article about the preparation for Champlain’s Fourth of July celebrations.   Malcolm McLellan was in charge of printing material about the celebrations. 





            Two baseball games, an eight mile marathon, track and field events and a block dance will be features of the Fourth of July celebration at Champlain for which the committees, made up of business and professional men of the village, are planning the most ambitious program attempted in this section in years.  A big display of fireworks will also be arranged for, and a tug-of-war, a four-mile bicycle race and a strong man's running race, in which the contestants will carry 250-pound bags of sand on their backs, are also down on the bills as celebration attractions.


            While all details have not yet been arranged, preparations for the big event are going forward rapidly and features are being added daily to the long list of events already on the program.  So far as is known, the celebration at Champlain will be the only one held in this immediate section and it is believed that big crowds will be drawn to the village.


            The baseball games, scheduled for Nye Field[1], will bring the Rouses Point and Champlain business men's teams together in the forenoon and the Champlain "Border Hawks" and the Rouses Point teams in the afternoon session.  The marathon will be run in the forenoon over a course along the state road from the ball grounds to the Windsor Corner in Rouses Point and return.  Track and field events will be run off in both the forenoon and afternoon and the block dance will take place on Main street in the evening.  The Night Hawk Orchestra, a Champlain organization, will furnish the music for the dancing.


            Arthur Atwood will act as master of ceremonies, while Mayor Arsene Tremblay will be the official in charge during the day.  Foster Strickland is in charge of street decorations; Bill Paquette, of the ball games; Orville Dunn, of the track and field events; Malcolm McLellan, of printing and publicity; Phil Agel, of programs and prizes; Henry Hebert, of concessions and Ernest Mellon and Jas. Gload, of the block dance.  A prize of a suit of clothes will go to the winner of the marathon.


            Hugh also helped to organize Champlain’s historical society as this September 17, 1931, edition of the North Countryman indicates.  Hugh was probably able to supplement his historical collection through people giving or loaning him their historical material.





            The village and town of Champlain is to have an historical society as a result of a meeting held by interested residents of the Border Village at the home of Hugh McLellan on last Wednesday evening.  Its purpose will be to collect and record information and data of historical value and to publish such matter of the kind as may be deemed of sufficient interest.  Mr. McLellan was chosen president and historian of the society and Oscar Bredenberg, secretary-treasurer.


            While the newly formed organization already has a large collection of old and valuable documents to draw from, it will welcome everything in the way of old newspapers, letters, books, or other matter pertaining to local history.  Meetings will be held once each month at which papers and reports will be read and discussed covering the various occurrences which have helped to make, the history of the village and town.


            The charter, members of the society are: Hugh McLellan; C. Woodberry McLellan; John Linder; W. F. Branch; Oscar Bredenberg; Arthur Atwood; Arsene Tremblay and Dr. G. R. Allen.


            The October 1, 1931, edition of the North Countryman described Hugh’s involvement in a historical meeting at the Champlain church.  





            Old Home Week services were held in all of the Champlain churches last Sunday and brought out large congregations of villagers and a very considerable number of former Champlainers who are home for the celebration and community exhibit.  Rev. A. J. V. Durban preached the morning sermon at the Presbyterian Church and extended a hearty welcome to the present and former parishioners who gathered at the church.


            At four o'clock in the afternoon an informal gathering, also in the church, was addressed by E. C. Everest, of Plattsburgh, a former resident of the village and a descendant of one of Champlain's oldest families, who traced the history of the village through several generations in a most interesting manner.  Frank Whiteside[2] and Hugh McLellan told something of the village in its early days and the latter exhibited many old photographs and manuscripts of historical interest.  The Ladies' Aid Society of the Church served light refreshments.  The Misses Mary Whiteside[3] and Alice Dudley and Hugh McLellan made up the committee in charge of the day's activities.


            Hugh was also very interested in Abraham Lincoln.  Hugh’s father, Charles Woodberry McLellan, had been a friend of Lincoln while living in Springfield, Illinois, in the late 1850s.  Later in the 1880s, Charles started to collect Lincoln memorabilia and had one of the largest collections in the nation, which was stored in his vault in the cottage of the Pliny Moore house.  In the early 1920s, Hugh and his brother Malcolm sold the collection to John D. Rockefeller who donated it to Brown University.  Hugh still continued to collect Lincoln material for years to come.  


            The February 1, 1938, edition of the North Countryman described a talk that Hugh gave to the Kiwanis Club in Rouses Point about Abraham Lincoln.





            Hugh McLellan, Champlain historian, talked on Abraham Lincoln as the principal speaker at the regular weekly meeting of the Rouses Point Kiwanis Club at the Windsor Hotel Tuesday.  He was introduced by James Codding and the response was made by Dr. R. L. Wooton.


            Nineteen members were present at the meeting and there were two guests besides Mr. McLellan, Dwight Hitchcock, who came with Clifford LaPlante, of Champlain, and Benjamin Copeland, of this village, who was a guest of the club.  Chas. T. Eldridge was the censor and Dr. C. A. Stewart won the door prize.  The latter, a St. Valentine's Day box of candy, was donated by Maynard P. Wilson.


            Mr. McLellan's talk, while brief, was unusually interesting.  He read two little known letters written by Lincoln, one before and one during the Civil War.  Several old newspapers and two autograph albums from the speaker's collection were passed around for examination by the members.


            Jack Ross read a letter from former president Ray Chesney, who now resides at New London, Conn.  Orville Dunn, who presided, announced that a joint meeting with the Plattsburgh Kiwanis Club will be held here on March 15th.


            Hugh McLellan was probably the most accomplished historian Champlain has ever had.  Between 1915 and the mid-1930s, he collected and transcribed over 3000 papers of Pliny Moore’s and also collected other historical material.  He was able to publish this material with his own press and also gave many speeches to various clubs and functions over the years.  By 1945, Hugh was 72 years old and probably had not been doing as much with his papers as he had in the 1930s.  He probably spent most of his time now working to catalog cemetery stones in the hundreds of cemeteries in Clinton County, northern Vermont and southern Quebec.  The February 22, 1945, North Countryman described Hugh’s work with the cemeteries when he gave a speech at the Champlain Literary Club. 





            The Champlain Literary Club held its regular monthly meeting at the home of Mrs. Blair Hawkes on Tuesday evening, February 13, with Hugh McLellan, local historian and owner of the Moorsfield Press, as the principal speaker.


            Mr. McLellan talked interestingly of his work in cataloging tombstones in North Country cemeteries and its importance historically, and in tracing genealogies of families who reside in this section.  He read copies of several amusing epitaphs that he had taken from some of the older stones.


            Mrs. Ferdinand St. Maxens served as co-hostess with Mrs. Hawkes.




Champlain’s Sesquicentennial Plaques of 1938


            In 1938, Champlain celebrated the 150th anniversary of its founding by Pliny Moore.  A huge celebration was planned that included the unveiling of a large bronze plaque, dedications of six smaller historical plaques given to the town by the State of New York, historical speeches by Pliny Moore relatives and state dignitaries and a town dinner.  Hugh was instrumental in gathering the historical information that was placed on the plaques.  His papers also show that he was involved with the planning of the celebrations and correspondence with the dignitaries. 


            By August, the town was almost ready for the celebration that was planned for Saturday, August 20.  The August 4, 1938, North Countryman described the preparations.  Hugh had determined the wording and designed the plaque that was placed in front of the Village Hall at the corner of Main and Church Streets. 



Champlain to Celebrate Year of Founding, 1788


            The Sesquicentennial of the founding of the Town of Champlain and the arrival of the first settlers is to be celebrated at Champlain on Saturday, August 20th.  A committee, headed by Mayor Arsene Tremblay, is progressing with a program which should prove to be of interest to every resident of the North Country.


            A bronze plaque, commemorating the events of 150 years ago, will be erected.  It is to be mounted on a granite boulder in front of the Village Hall in Champlain and dedicated with appropriate ceremonies.  Furthermore, the State of New York is presenting six markers, to be erected at selected points of historical interest.  These will describe the following:


            The First School — where Dr. William Beaumont taught 1807‑10.

            The Birthplace of Jehudi Ashmun — first colonization agent from the United States to the Republic of Liberia 1822‑1828.

            The East Battery of Gen. George Izard's Artillery in 1814.

            The Camp Ground of the British Army, 1814.

            The Old Burying Yard, where lies the remains of Lt. Col. Forsythe, killed at Odelltown, June 28, 1814.

            The Site of the First Sawmill and Habitation — erected 1788.


            The ceremonies will begin with the unveiling of the tablet at the Village Hall in the afternoon.  The actual unveiling will be performed by Miss Eunice Burton, of New York City, great-great-great granddaughter of Judge Pliny Moore, and by George Ashline, a direct descendent of Pryx Asselin, one of the Canadian refugees who located in the town after the American Revolution.  The plaque will read as follows:


1788                                                   1938

To Commemorate the Founding

of the


March, 7, 1788

And the Arrival of the First Settlers

Pliny Moore                           Joseph Rowe

William Beaumont                Elnathan Rogers

Samuel Ashmun                    Caleb Thomas

May 23, 1788


Also As a Tribute To

Those Canadians, Early Inhabitants

of the Town,

Who Supported the American Cause

In the Revolution


Erected by the Citizens of Champlain

Aug. 20, 1938


            In the evening, a dinner will be served in the Village Hall to which the public is invited.  Tickets are $1. each and may be procured from Mrs. Mary Deal, Mrs. Lola Nason, or John Fallon.  Reservations should be made well in advance, in order to facilitate the arrangements for the committee.  During the dinner there will be Revolutionary War songs by a quartet, and a tableau, “Episode from the First School,” with costumes and authentic books from that period.  The principal speaker will be Dr. Alexander C. Flick, Historian of the State of New York.  Also among those present will be prominent state and local officials from nearby communities.


            An exhibit of early historical material will be on display in the Village Hall, including the earliest known painting of Champlain, 125 years old; numerous photographs, Judge Pliny Moore's early papers, Indian relics, etc.



            The committees in charge are as follows:


            Arsene E. Tremblay, honorary chairman.

            Rev. A. J. V. Durbin, chairman.

            Hugh McLellan, historian and markers.

            Mrs. Mary Deal, Mrs. Lola Nason and John Fallon, invitations and tickets.

            Walter B. Spelman, dinner program.

            Clarke Washburn, decorations.

            Mrs. George Glode, banquet.

            Oscar E. Bredenberg, publicity

            C. W. McLellan, secretary.





            Interest in the 150th anniversary of the birth of Champlain has extended to the churches and the various congregations of Champlain.  With the prospect of many out-of-town visitors for the "Old Home" week-end of August 20, the church authorities will emphasize the early development of the church, the courage of its leaders, and the fine type of Champlain's pioneer men and women.  Rev. A. J. V. Durbin, of the Presbyterian Church, promises a sermon of the style of 1830.


            Added to the list of speakers is the name of Edmund Seymour, of Chazy and New York.  Mr. Seymour is a former president of the Lake Champlain Association and also of the Bison Society of America.


            Invitations to attend have been extended to Mrs. Ernest J. Robinson, president of the D.A.R. of Clinton County; Orville Glode, County Commander of the American Legion; the Honorable Bertrand H. Snell, Member of Congress; Benjamin Feinberg, State Senator; E. J. Roach, State Assemblyman; Dr. Charles A. Stewart, Mayor of Rouses Point, and Kenneth Knapp, Mayor of Mooers.


            The program of the celebration follows:


Saturday, August 20, 1938:


            3:00 P.M. ‑ Dedication of Memorial Plaque at Village Hall.

            3:30 P.M. ‑ Erection of six State Markers on sites of historical interest.

            6:30 P.M. ‑ Banquet and program with music in Village Hall.


Sunday, August 21, 1938:

            Sesquicentennial Services in the churches for “Old Home” guests.


            The State of New York has completed the six markers which have already arrived.  Furthermore, the finance committee, the chairman of which is Phil Agel, reports that the subscriptions have passed the half way mark.  All persons interested in the commemoration should give their subscriptions to the chairman at Champlain.


“SCHOOL IN 1807”


At “Sesqui” Banquet


            “What territory lies east of New Hampshire?”

            “How do you spell "conscience"?”

            “What is the surveyor's unit of measure”

            “Recite the Twenty-third Psalm.”


            These are some of the questions asked at Dr. Beaumont "School" as it existed in 1807 and as it will re-exist on August 20, 1938.  The actual textbooks used at that early time will be demonstrated and Dr. Beaumont himself may be present in "dramatis personae."


            The life and career of Dr. William Beaumont, early teacher in Champlain's first school, are an inspiration.  Reading by candle light in the pioneer home in New, Lebanon, Conn.; studying medicine at night while teaching in Champlain; twenty-eight years as surgeon in the United States Army; the series of experiments and research studies in medicine; the honorary degree by Columbia University, and the publication of the “Physiology of Digestion” — these are the milestones of Champlain's greatest schoolteacher.


            The preparations for Champlain’s celebration were finally complete as the August 18, 1938, edition of the North Countryman noted.  Hundreds of invitations had been mailed to people around the country that had either lived in Champlain previously or had relatives who did.  Several descendents of Pliny Moore attended this celebration.  Over 150 people planned to attend a dinner in the Village Hall and hear Hugh McLellan give a talk about the historical background of Champlain.  The historian of the State of New York also planned to give a speech. 


Sesquicentennial Program Completed For

Saturday's Observance at Champlain


            The completed preparations for the Sesquicentennial Celebration of the founding of the town of Champlain and the arrival of the first settlers indicate that the day will be remembered as one of the outstanding occasions of the North Country.


            In response to the hundreds of invitations which have been sent to former residents in all parts of the country, the reservations for the dinner and evening program are being received from far and near.  Among the more distant guests are Mrs. Edna McDowell Barcklay, of Lincoln, Nebraska; Miss Margaretta Brown[4], of Winnetka, Illinois; Mr. and Mrs. Claude Bailey[5], of Burnt Hills, N.Y.; Dr. and Mrs. Hackett, of Leonia, N. J.; James A. Hagerty, New York Times correspondent, and Mrs. Hagerty; Mr. and Mrs. John Staley, of Albany, as well as many others from Washington, D.C., Brooklyn, N. Y., Montreal, Plattsburgh, Fort Covington, Bryn Mawr, Pa., and elsewhere.


            The arrangements for the dinner were necessarily limited to 150 guests and all indications are that the capacity of the Village Hall will be taxed to its utmost.  It was stated yesterday that all reservations for the dinner have been taken up.  Among the notables present will be Arsene E. Tremblay, Mayor of the Village of Champlain; Hon. Emmett J. Roach, Member of Assembly; Leslie G. Ryan, Supervisor of the town of Champlain; Dr. Edward J. Alexander, director of the New York State Historical Association; Dr. Alexander C. Flick, Historian of the State of New York; Edmund Seymour[6], New York banker, and Egbert C. Everest, of Plattsburgh.


            Initiating the evening's program, little Miss Eunice Burton[7], "the girl of 1788," will greet Dr. Flick, historian of 1938.  The dinner in the Village Hall will begin at 7 o'clock and will open with an invocation by Rev. Robert Duford and a word of welcome by Mayor Tremblay.  During the dinner music will be furnished by Hudson's string trio.


            Mr. Seymour, as toastmaster, will introduce the various speakers of the evening.  Hugh McLellan will deliver a talk on the "Historical Background of the Town of Champlain"; Mr. Everest will talk on "Early History and Reminiscences," and Dr. Flick will deliver an address, his topic being "The History of Clinton County and Lake Champlain."


            A tableau will be presented on the stage, depicting a school of 1807 in Champlain.  An interesting feature of the tableau is that the books, maps and other material used are all authentic originals of the 1800 period.  Old songs will be presented by a quartette, and group singing will close the program.


            On exhibition during the dinner will be Indian relics, the original survey of the Pliny Moore Grant of 1785, day-books, journals and diaries of 1785‑1788; early paintings, portraits and photographs, original letters of Jacques Rouse, Laurent Olivier, Pryx Asselin, Dr. William Beaumont, Judge Moore and other early settlers, as well, as many of the prominent people who were intimately connected with the early settlement including John Jacob Astor, General George Izard, General Wade Hampton and others.


            In the afternoon, at 3 o'clock, the citizens and their guests will formally dedicate the bronze tablet, which will be mounted on a granite boulder in front of the Village Hall.  The principal address will be given by Dr. Alexander.  Mayor Tremblay will accept the tablet in behalf of the village.


            Immediately following the unveiling ceremony, a pilgrimage to historical sites will be made and six historical markers, the gift of the State of New York, will be dedicated by appropriate ceremonies.  Among those who will speak at this time are Hon. Ezra Trepanier, Dr. George R. Allen, Oscar Bredenberg, Hugh McLellan and others.


            A sound amplifying system will make the words of the various speakers and the concert available to the large attendance which is anticipated.


            The committee in charge reports enthusiastic response from the public.  The exhibit of old photographs in Hogge's store is attracting a great deal of attention, with amusing endeavors by old-timers to identify the portraits and old landmarks.


            The granite boulder, on which the tablet will be mounted, has been presented by John Scales, of Scales' Point, and is now in position in front of the Village Hall.  The boulder weighs more than two tons.


            Special programs are being arranged in the different churches for Sunday, August 21st, and many other attractions over the weekend are being arranged.


            Besides the dinner and speeches, various historical plaques were to be erected.  The largest one was placed in front of the Village Hall.  Today it is still present.  Smaller historical plaques, common thoughout the state, were placed at the various points of interest under Hugh’s direction. 


            The August 18, 1938, edition of the North Countryman noted the plaque placed in honor of Colonel Benjamin Forsyth who was killed by the British in Odelltown, Quebec, in 1814.  He was brought back to Champlain and died in the basement of the Pliny Moore house.  He was buried in the Old Cemetery.  Interestingly, the plaque was not placed near the Old Cemetery but instead was placed at the entrance to the Glenwood Cemetery which is up the road.  The plaque stood here from 1938 until the summer of 2001 when I noticed it was moved to the yard of a house where the cemetery had been.  I was told by Marshall Maynard of the Glenwood Cemetery that in 1938, Oscar Bredenberg’s wife did not want the plaque placed in her yard so it was instead placed up the road.  Today, the plaque is in the correct location. 





            One of the six historical markers to be erected by the State of New York in connection with Champlain’s Sesquicentennial on Saturday, August 20th is to honor Col. Benjamin Forsyth who died in Champlain on June 28, 1814 as the result of gunshot wounds sustained in a fight with the British earlier on the same day at Odelltown, Que.


            Col. Forsyth's remains lie in an marked grave in what was known as the "Old Burying Yard."  This plot of ground is on the west side of Oak street and is now occupied by the residences of Blair Hawkes and Oscar Bredenberg.  The old cemetery ceased to exist in 1866 when the present Glenwood Cemetery was laid out.


            Also during the celebrations, photographs of early Champlain were displayed in the Hogge drug store.  Many of the village residents contributed to the display.  It was noted that the old bank building was shown with only one story on it.  This is the building adjacent to the Session House at the bridge.  Similar photographs of the building are shown in this book.  Perhaps Hugh contributed some of these photographs then.  The August 18, 1938, North Countryman described the exhibit. 





            One of the most interesting of the exhibits in connection with the Champlain Sesquicentennial is in the windows of the Hogge drug store where more than 150 photographs, some of them as much as 70 years old, are on display.  The exhibit is causing a good deal of interest and comment and hundreds of people stop daily to recall events of years ago and to attempt to pick out faces that were familiar in the village a half-century and more ago.


            The oldest picture in the display, according to Wm. Hogge, who arranged the exhibit, was taken about 70 years ago.  To noon Wednesday there were 161 pictures in all and more were being added constantly.  The photographs are the property of villagers who have loaned them for the purpose and to whom they will be returned. 


            Included among the pictures are many that show the main street of the village as it appeared during various periods during the past 60 years.  Among them is an old one of Father Chagnon, early pastor for of St. Mary's Church, another of Rev. Wm. Frasier, a former Presbyterian minister in the village.  There are several pictures taken at the unveiling of the Champlain monument and an old one showing the Champlain bank when it was a one-story building.  A picture of the Angell & Spellman store is included in the display and one of the "haunted house," which used to stand on the road between the village and what is now the Meridian.


            The Sesquicentennial celebration was held on Saturday, August 20, and also on Sunday.  A week later, the August 25, 1938, North Countryman described in detail how the celebrations went.  Several Pliny Moore relatives were involved in the celebrations besides Hugh McLellan.  Eunice Burton and her grandfather, Edmund Seymour, were both involved with the dinner celebrations. 


Sesquicentennial at Champlain on Saturday

Drew Large Crowds


            Champlain's Sesquicentennial held on Saturday of last week, attracted large crowds throughout the day and evening and was one of the most successful events of the kind held in this section in years.  Many former residents of the village were back for the ceremonies and more than 150 persons attended the banquet held in the community hall at night.


            One of the highlights of the ceremonies was the unveiling and dedication of a memorial tablet in front of the village hall by Eunice Burton, of New York, great-great-great-granddaughter of Judge Pliny Moore, one of the founders of the town, and Lionel Ashline, a great-great-great-grandson of Prisque Ashline, another pioneer settler.


            The dedication took place at 3 o'clock in the afternoon at ceremonies in front of the hall and with Walter B. Spelman, of Chicago, presiding.  Following an invocation by the Rev. Paul Thomas, of the Methodist Church, the tablet was unveiled and presented to the village by Phil Agel and accepted by Mayor Arsene Tremblay for the community.  Dr. Edward P. Alexander made a historical address, which was exceedingly interesting, and the benediction was given by the Rev. Robert Heron, of Christ and St. John's churches.  The 26th Infantry Band, of Plattsburgh Barracks, gave a concert under the direction of Sergeant K. H. Hodgeman, leader.


            Historical sights in and about the village of Champlain were marked with appropriate tablets presented by the Education Department of the State of New York.  Dedicatory remarks were made by the Hon. Ezra Trepanier, Hugh McLellan, Rev. Robert Heron, Hugh M. Flick, Oscar E. Bredenberg and Dr. George R. Allen.  Sites marked were those of the first sawmill, erected in 1788 by Pliny Moore and Elnathan Rogers; the East Battery, of the American Army's artillery under Maj.-Gen. George Izard, erected in 1814; the camp ground of the British Army in 1814; Champlain's first school; the original burying ground and the birthplace of Jehudi Ashmun.


            The following program was presented at the banquet in the evening:


            Greetings — Young Ladies of 1788 — Joan Durbin, Sydney Ann Allen, Constance Spelman, Mary Helen Adams.

            Invocation — Rev. Robert O. Duford, Champlain.

            Welcome — Arsene E. Tremblay, Mayor of Champlain.

            "The Occasion" — Edmund Seymour, New York City.

            Address — Mrs. Edith McDowell Barclay.

            "Historic Background" — Hugh McLellan.

            Champlain's First School, And Episode, 1809 —

Electa, Alice Bartlow; Noahdiah[sic], John Whitman; Mehitabel, Jeanette Coonan; Sophronia, Elizabeth Bredenberg; Orson, Gerald Coonan; William Beaumont, schoolmaster, Walter B. Spelman.

            "Early Settlers and Reminiscences" — Hon. Egbert C. Everest, of Plattsburgh.

            Music — Trio — Fred C. Hudson, cello; Lucy A. Hudson, violin; Margery Strong, piano.

            "The North Country" — Dr. Alexander C. Flick, Albany, State Historian.

            “America the Beautiful”

            Benediction — Rev. Arthur J. V. Durbin, Champlain.

            Committees in charge of the Sesquicentennial were:

                        Honorary Chairman, Mayor Arsene E. Tremblay.

                        Executive Chairman, Rev. Arthur J. V. Durbin

                        Historian, Hugh McLellan

                        Secretary, Woodberry McLellan

                        Financial, Philip Agel

            Special Committees —

                        Invitation, Mrs. Elmer Deal

                        Tickets, John Fallon

                        Boulder, Oscar E. Bredenberg

                        Public Address, John Craig

                        Banquet, Mrs. Lola Deal Nason

                        Decoration, G. Clarke Washburn

                        Program, Walter B. Spelman

            General Committee —

Victor E. Bredenberg, William Bullis, John Coonan, Orville R. Dunn, Edmund A. Gallant, Mrs. George Gload, Clifford C. LaPlante, Israel Monnette, William O. Roberts, Ralph L. Robie, Charles E. Southwick, Richard L. Wootton.


            The September 8, 1938, edition of the North Countryman had more information about the historical marker in front of the Village Hall as well as the six historical markers placed around the village.  Hugh had determined the wording on all of the plaques.


Memorial Tablet and Historical Markers

Are Erected At Champlain


            Perhaps the most interesting event on the very elaborate program presented at the Champlain Sesquicentennial on August 20, 1938, in honor of the founding of the town 150 years before, was the dedication of the memorial tablet attached to a huge boulder permanently placed in position in front of the Village Hall.  While hundreds of persons saw the dedication and heard the dedicatory remarks of the speakers, there were many who did not have the opportunity to read the inscription on the tablet.  It follows:


1788                                                   1938

To Commemorate the Founding

of the


March, 7, 1788

And the Arrival of the First Settlers

Pliny Moore                           Joseph Rowe

William Beaumont                Elnathan Rogers

Samuel Ashmun                    Caleb Thomas

May 23, 1788


Also As a Tribute To

Those Canadians, Early Inhabitants

of the Town,

Who Supported the American Cause

In the Revolution


Erected by the Citizens of Champlain

Aug. 20, 1938


            Inscriptions on the six historical markers placed at sites in and near the village are as follows:


            "Near this Site the First Saw Mill Was Erected In 1788 by Pliny Moore and Elnathan Rogers"

            "East Battery.  On this Hill Was Encamped the Artillery of the American Army Under Gen. George Izard, 1814."

            "Camp Ground of the British Army, 1814.  Opposite is the Farm of Pliny Moore, Built in 1808; and Used by the Commissary"

            “In the First School, Which Stood Near This Site, Dr. William Beaumont, Surgeon and Physiologist, was Schoolmaster, 1807—10”

            “Site of the Burying Yard in Which Was Interred Lt.-Col. Benjamin Forsyth, Killed at Odelltown, L. C., June 28, 1814”.

            "Site of the Birthplace of Jehudi Ashmun, April 21, 1794, First Colonization Agent At Liberia, Africa, 1822‑1828".


            In the same September 8, 1938, edition of the North Countryman, it noted that the Town of Champlain extended from the St. Lawrence River to Vermont when Pliny Moore organized it in 1788.  Over the years, however, as more people settled the area, smaller towns such as Mooers, Chazy, Rouses Point, and Ellenburg were formed from the Town of Champlain. 


Town of Champlain Once Extended to St. Lawrence


            The town of Champlain, when it was organized in 1788, was very much larger than it is at the present time; in fact it claimed what is now a part of Vermont and extended west to the St. Lawrence River. 


            Clinton, the second county be formed after the Revolutionary War, was taken from Washington County the first to be established, on March 7, 1788.  At that time it embraced all of the land on both sides of Lake Champlain as claimed by the State of New York.  The claim east of the Lake was abandoned upon the recognition of Vermont as an independent state in 1791.


            At the time of its formation, and for several years afterward, Clinton included what is Clinton, Essex Franklin and parts of St. Lawrence counties.  Then it had four towns: Champlain, Crown Point, Plattsburgh and Willsborough.  The Town of Champlain, besides claiming Alburgh and Isle la Motte extended west to the St. Lawrence River, and included what is now Chazy, Altona, Mooers Ellenburg, Clinton, Chateaugay, Burke, Malone and many others since formed in the territory it then embraced.


            Hugh McLellan, Champlain historian, has early charts of the town showing it as it was first laid out by its founders.  These were among the many interesting and valuable documents that were exhibited at the Sesquicentennial in August.





Views of the Historical Plaques — Past and Present


            Hugh McLellan designed six historical plaques that were placed at important locations around Champlain in 1938.  He also designed another plaque that commemorated the founding of the Town of Champlain by its first group of settlers on May 23, 1788.  Today, the plaque is on a rock at the corner of Main and Church Streets in Champlain. 


            On the plaque are several important names:  Elnathan Rogers married Pliny’s sister Olive.  William Beaumont is the doctor that Beaumont Hall at Plattsburgh State is named after.  He studied the digestive process.  Samuel Ashmun is the father of Jehudi Ashmun, the founder of Liberia, Africa, for freed slaves. 


            The following are pictures of the plaques taken during the celebrations in 1938 as well as current photographs of the same plaques.  It is nice to know that the plaques have survived intact for over 60 years. 


1788                                         1938








MARCH 7, 1788




                                                              PLINY MOORE                         JOSEPH ROWE


SAMUEL ASHMUN                     CALEB THOMAS


MAY 23, 1788









AUGUST 20, 1938




            Colonel Benjamin Forsyth also has a historical marker.  He is still buried in the Old Cemetery in an unmarked grave.  His marker has an interesting story associated with it. 


            Although Forsyth was buried in the Old Cemetery, the historical marker was placed in 1938 at the entrance to the Glenwood Cemetery down the road.  In the 1860s, most of the people in this cemetery had been moved to the new cemetery but since Forsyth’s grave was unmarked, he was probably not moved. 


            The site of the cemetery was behind Oscar Bredenberg’s house in 1938.  It is said that his wife did not want a historical marker placed in her yard.  A compromise was made and the marker was moved down the road and placed in front of the Glenwood Cemetery.  Hugh would have been very aware of this. 


            The following speech was read at the dedication of Forsyth’s historical plaque:


       One of the markers to be erected by the State of New York in connection with Champlain’s sesquicentennial on Aug. 20th, is one honoring Colonel Benjamin Forsyth, who died in this village, June 28, 1814.  His remains lie in an unmarked grave in what was known as the “Old Burying Yard”.  This plot of ground is on the west side of Oak Street, and is now occupied by the residences of Blair Hawkes and Oscar Bredenberg.  The old cemetery ceased to exist in 1866, when it was moved to the present Glenwood Cemetery.


            Col. Forsyth was mortally wounded at Odelltown, P.Q., June 28, 1814.  His commanding general had ordered a small party of Americans to attack a larger party of British and then to beat a hasty retreat, leading the pursuing party into an ambush which had been formed.  In the Raleigh, N.C. Register of July 15, 1814, we find this account:


            “At a short distance from the road, Colonel Forsyth lay with a party of riflemen in ambush.  It is said that the Colonel had also been ordered to retreat if discovered by the enemy while advancing; and that, had the orders been obeyed, a strong detachment then moving in the skirt of the wood would have gained the enemy's rear and captured them.  But unfortunately for the service as well as himself, Col. Forsyth, as soon as the enemy came up, gave them battle.  They suspected the ambuscade, returned two fires and then retreated.  At the first fire, Col. Forsyth fell.  He received a shot through his breast and shortly thereafter expired.  Col. Forsyth was a brave and intrepid soldier.  On our part, except the Colonel, two only were wounded, and none killed.  Of the killed and wounded of the enemy we are not informed.”


            Forsyth's exploits were not confined to this locality.  From 1800 on, he had had intermittent military service in the regular Army.  He had also served two terms in the North Carolina Assembly.  In Sept. 1812, he led a raid on Ganonoque, Onto, destroying military stores and taking some prisoners.  Later, in Feb, 1813, while commandant of the post at Ogdensburgh he led a raid on Elizabethtown, Ont, capturing 57 prisoners and a quantity of military stores, returning without the loss of a single man.  However, in a few days, the British retaliated by attacking Ogdensburgh with 1200 men, and forced Forsyth to retreat to Black Lake.  Nothing daunted, Forsyth appeared shortly thereafter at the capture of Fort George in Canada.


            “For distinguished services” Major Forsyth was first given the brevet rank of lieutenant colonel, and was later (April 15, 1814) commissioned lieutenant colonel of the 26th. Infantry.  It is interesting to note that this same regiment is now quartered at Plattsburgh Barracks.


            Col. Forsyth's death was so greatly lamented that on March 24, 1817, the Common Council of the City of New York directed that the name of Second Street in that City, be changed to Forsyth Street in his honor.  The State of North Carolina honored Forsyth by presenting his only son with a sword and by voting $250 annually for 7 years for his education.  This son graduated from Annapolis, received his commission and was lost at sea in the wreak of the Hornet in 1829.  In 1849, by act of the General Assembly of the State of North Carolina, Stokes County was divided and out of it was created the County of Forsyth in honor of its native son, “who fell on the northern frontier in the late war with England.”


            A second plaque has been dedicated in honor of Jehudi Ashmun.  This plaque was dedicated 21 years later in 1959.  It is located on the grounds of the elementary school in Champlain. 


            Most of the historical markers that Hugh had commissioned for the 1938 Sesquicentennial celebration exist except for one.  The “East Battery” was a location that the American Army encamped at in 1812.  It was near the corner of Pine and Spruce Streets.  The encampment is now (and was in 1869) surrounded by numerous houses that line the hill adjacent to St. Mary’s Church.


            An article about the Sesquicentennial celebration gave the inscription that was on the missing marker:


"East Battery.  On this Hill Was Encamped the Artillery of the American Army Under Gen. George Izard, 1814."


            In Pliny’s Will, he noted that he wanted a church built at the site of the former East Battery.  Hugh was able to determine the location of the East Battery based on Pliny’s description and early maps of Champlain.  He read the following at the dedication of the marker:


            It is from the Will of Judge Pliny Moore that we are able to locate quite accurately the site of the East Battery, and of the Artillery Encampment of the American Army, commanded by General George Izard in 1814. 


            I will read that portion of Judge Moore’s Will which has given us this information. 


            "I give and devise to the first Congregational Church & Society in Champlain one acre of land for the purpose of erecting a Meeting house & other buildings for the accomodation of People attending meeting to cover their horses in bad weather on any part of my land within half a mile of the village & not on the low ground where the buildings in the village are


            “it should be built on the hill a little south of the East Battery near where the Artillery were incamped


            “it is my purpose should life & health be continued to me an other year to designate a Site on that hill with a proper space for a Green and open a Street from the Corbin Barn (which stood near the present store of Ralph Lewis), through the Brick Yard (between Mr. Tremblay’s blacksmith shop and the brick Row), up to a street from the highway on the hill (Church Street) beyond my son Noadiahs house by the south fence of a small pasture he has enclosed straight through to the highway leading to Chazy (This cross street that on which we are gathered today). 


            General Izard, with a force of about 4,500 men, was in command of the Northern Frontier, with headquarters at Chazy, and his outpost at Champlain.  Much against his own judgment, he was withdrawn from this position in the latter part of August.  In a letter to the Secretary of War, on August 20, 1814 (just 124 years ago today), he wrote”  I must not be responsible for consequences of abandoning my present strong position”.


            The British Army occupied Champlain the day following General Izard’s departure.


            More information about the location of the East Battery was found in Hugh’s Moorsfield Press publication on the history of the church by Charles Freeman Nye.  Hugh also noted the current names of the streets in 1938.  


            A very early map of the Village of Champlain indicates the "Corbin Barn" on the lot occupied successively by Dunning & Dickinson, William Broder, James DeF. Burroughs and now by Ralph E. Lewis' hardware store; and the "Brick Yard" as extending along the south side of Cedar Street, from Hormidas Tremblay's Shop to the "Brick Row."   It is therefore evident that Judge Moore’s suggestion was to build the church on Third Street, (sometimes designated as Pine Street), opposite the northern end of Center Street, (sometimes designated as Spruce Street); and to approach it by the continuation of the eastern crook of Cedar Street, (sometimes designated as Second Street), from Main Street, through the "Brick Yard" and up the hill to Third Street.



[1]   Nye field was a large field to the right of the Nye families’ Locust Hill house (later Savoy).   In 1942, the Champlain Central Rural School was built on this field to replace the school that burned down on December 16, 1941.  This school was dedicated less than a year later in November of 1942.  Hugh McLellan may have been one of the architects since it is noted that “Inman and McLellan” were the architects.  Perhaps Hugh teamed up with a person named Inman. 

[2]   Frank Whiteside (Aug. 26, 1852 - May 2, 1933) is related to Pliny Moore through his daughter Sophia. 

[3]   Mary Lizzie Whiteside (Oct. 12/17, 1857 - July 13, 1936) is Frank Whiteside’s sister.  Both were unmarried.

[4]   Margaretta Brown (Nov. 23, 1884 - ) is related to Pliny Moore through his daughter Sophia.  Her mother was a Whiteside.

[5]   Mrs. (Emily) Claude Bailey is related to Pliny Moore through his son Amasa. 

[6]   Edmund Henry Seymour (Oct 3, 1858 - Dec. 17, 1949) is a Pliny Moore relative and good friend of Hugh McLellan.  He is related to Anna Moore Hubbell.

[7]   Eunice Burton Hafford (1927-1950) is a Pliny Moore relative.  Her grandfather is Edmund Seymour.

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