Henry Knox Museum, Thomaston, Maine – Book Launch Part 2

Mary Mitchell singing Henry's Big Kaboom to children at the Knox Museum in Thomaston, Maine. Her cousin Haven Younger served as the official page turner.

Mary Mitchell singing Henry’s Big Kaboom to children at the Knox Museum in Thomaston, Maine. Cousin Haven Younger served as the official page turner.

Important things first. My cousin Haven Younger flew all the way from Napa, California, where she had been vacationing, to Maryland, where she lives, changed suitcases, and, on the next morning, flew to Portland, Maine to join me in Thomaston for the second round of my book signing adventure. I hadn’t seen her in ten years.

Haven Younger and Mary Mitchell singing the chorus of Henry's Big Kaboom

Haven Younger and Mary Mitchell singing the chorus of Henry’s Big Kaboom

Equally important, third cousins Amy MacDonald and Charles Fletcher, whom I had never met, and only came to know as a result of this genealogical adventure, joined our event from their nearby homes in Maine.

Third cousins Amy MacDonald, Mary Mitchell, and Charles Fletcher on the steps of the Henry Knox Museum.

Third cousins Amy MacDonald, Mary Mitchell, and Charles Fletcher on the steps of the Henry Knox Museum.

Through my membership in the Daughters of the American Revolution, I found Mary Kay Felton, who is the regent of the Lady Knox Chapter of the DAR as well as a director of the Henry Knox Museum (known as Montpelier) in Thomaston. Mary Kay invited me to read/sing my book and have a book signing during the museum’s “Boom” event about Revolutionary War Artillery. Henry’s Big Kaboom fit right into their theme.

Mary Mitchell and Mary Kay Felton on the eve of the Boom! event at the Henry Knox Museum

Mary Mitchell and Mary Kay Felton on the eve of the Boom! event at the Henry Knox Museum.

Cannon fire demonstration during the Boom! event at the Henry Knox Museum.

Cannon fire demonstration during the Boom! event at the Henry Knox Museum.

I had visited the Knox Museum in 2006 when I first learned I was a Knox descendant. I was disappointed that the family tree of Knox descendants that hung on their wall did not include my great-great-grandfather, Charles Gordon Ames.

Family tree at the Knox Museum missing Charlie.

Family tree at the Knox Museum missing Charlie.

Charles had been an illegitimate child. He was the son of Lucy Anna Thatcher, who was the daughter of Lucy (Knox) and Ebenezer Thatcher. Lucy Knox Thatcher was the daughter of Henry and Lucy Knox. (A stack of family letters that is now in the Schlesinger Library at Radcliffe College proves this.) During the time Lucy Anna was pregnant with Charles, it was socially unacceptable to be an unwed mother. She gave him up to foster care. The foster parents gave Charles his last name Ames. No one yet knows with whom Lucy had her pre-marital affair, so we don’t know what Charle’s father’s last name was. However, as mentioned in an earlier blog post, new DNA results have given us a lead. (To be continued on a later blog post.)

Charles’ existence was kept a secret for a very long time, especially in the Knox family. When I learned I could launch my book at the Knox Museum, I made it my mission to add Charles Gordon Ames and his descendants to the wall. In the process of updating the family tree (see a previous blog post), I got to know, via emails and phone calls, many third cousins including Amy MacDonald and Charles Fletcher (shown above).

Amy MacDonald is also a children’s book author. She brought her books and read two of them. Little Beaver and the Echo and Rachel Fister’s Blister.

Amy MacDonald reading Little Beaver and the Echo. Haven Younger helped turn pages again.

Amy MacDonald reading Little Beaver and the Echo. Haven Younger helped turn pages again.

The museum is a 98% re-creation of the original Montpelier that, until the 1930s, overlooked the St. Georges River in Thomaston. The original was built in 1794. Thomaston has a long colonial history. Montpelier stood where explorer George Waymouth, back in 1605, surveyed the river in search of places for future British colonies.

Original mansion built by Major General Henry Knox and his wife Lucy Flucker Knox.

Original mansion built for Major General Henry Knox and his wife Lucy Flucker Knox.

When Henry died, his daughter Caroline inherited the estate. When she died, her sister (my 4x-great grandmother) Lucy inherited the estate. She left her son Henry the heir. Henry Knox Thatcher wanted nothing to do with the maintenance nightmare. He sold it and the furniture at auction. The house went to ruin.

The Henry Knox Mansion let to ruin.

The Henry Knox Mansion let to ruin.

When the railroad was built through Thomaston, the house had disintegrated beyond repair. It and all but one of the nine outhouses, an old brick farmhouse, were torn down. The railroad turned the farmhouse into the Thomaston Train Station. Now it is the Thomaston Historical Society. The society’s director Susan Devlin kindly showed me around even though the building was technically closed in June for repairs.

Thomaston Historical Society

Thomaston Historical Society in what was once an outhouse of the Henry Knox mansion.

The land on which the original Montpelier stood had been part of Henry’s wife Lucy’s family’s estate. My 7x great-grandfather Samuel Waldo obtained the Waldo Patent way back in the 1600s. It included today’s Waldo and Knox counties in Maine.

The Waldon Patent included today's Waldo and Knox counties.

The Waldon Patent included today’s Waldo and Knox counties on Penobscot Bay.

Samuel’s daughter Hannah Waldo married Thomas Flucker – Henry Knox’s in-laws and my 6x-great grandparents.

Hannah Waldo Flucker and Thomas Flucker. The Original paintings hang in Boudoin College along with a painting of Hannah's father, Samuel Waldo.

Hannah Waldo Flucker and Thomas Flucker. The Original paintings hang in Boudoin College along with a painting of Hannah’s father, Samuel Waldo.

Thomas Flucker was a Tory when revolution broke out in Boston. He served as the Secretary of the Province of Massachusetts. He and Hannah were pretty shaken up when their daughter Lucy fell in love with a rebel. But they did consent to the marriage. When Henry’s guns chased the British out of Boston, Thomas and Hannah sailed to Halifax with the British, never to see their daughter again. They also lost their rights to the Waldo Patent. After the war, Henry was able to work with the US government to obtain the lands back. Then he and Lucy built Montpelier.

In the 1930s, the Henry Knox Chapter of the DAR gathered enough money to build the new replica that is now the museum.

Today's Henry Knox Mansion, Montpelier.

Today’s Henry Knox Mansion, Montpelier.

It is about a quarter mile north of the original. In the next photo, I am standing where the old house was. You can see the museum in the distance.

View of the Henry Knox Museum Montpelier from the beach that was in front of the old Knox Mansion.

View of the Henry Knox Museum, Montpelier. from the beach that was in front of the old Knox Mansion.

When I arrived at the museum, Bailey, one of the delightful docents, gave me a tour. She showed me the paintings of my 6x great grandparents Thomas and Hannah (Waldo) Flucker (above). She showed me many paintings of Henry but no paintings of his wife Lucy because none exist, at least as far as anyone knows. Bailey guided me to a painting of Henry and Lucy’s daughter Lucy (my 4x-great grandmother, and one of only three of Henry and Lucy’s thirteen children who reach adulthood). I also saw Henry’s bed,

My 5x-great-grandfather Henry Knox's bed.

Henry Knox’s bed. Lucy had her own room.

Lucy’s piano,

This piano belonged to either Lucy or her sister, Caroline. Either way, my 5x-great-grandmother probably played it.

This piano belonged to either Lucy or her sister, Caroline. Either way, my 5x-great-grandmother probably played it.

one of Henry’s many bookcases,

Henry Knox's bookcase.

Henry Knox’s bookcase.

and the oval room. This oval room is one of only two oval rooms built during that era — the other is in the White House. Henry built his first. Even the doors are shaped to fit the perfect oval. The room served as an entryway meant to impress visitors. On the wall is a painting of Henry. Another painting shows George Washington’s first cabinet. Henry was the first Secretary of War. He served with Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, Edmond Randolph, and of course, George.

The oval room in the Henry Knox Museum.

The oval room in the Henry Knox Museum.

Among his many talents, Henry was a brilliant engineer. He designed this stairway that is supported only by the arches.

The central stairway in the Henry Knox Museum designed by Henry himself.

The central stairway in the Henry Knox Museum designed by Henry himself.

Just up the road from the museum, Haven and I found the cemetery where Henry and his family are buried. The names of Henry’s wife and children cover the faces of all sides of the monument. Only Henry’s name has been preserved so you can still read it easily.

Graves and monument for Henry Knox and his family.

Graves and monument for Henry Knox and his family.

Henry’s daughter Lucy’s husband, Ebenezer Thatcher (my 4x great grandfather) has his own stone with one of Lucy’s daughters, Mary Henrietta (who married a Hyde).

Ebenezer Thatcher's gravestone.

My 4x-great-grandfather Ebenezer Thatcher’s gravestone.

Thanks so much to Director Matt Hansbury, the museum’s board and docents Sarah, Lindsay, and Bailey. Lindsay also helped with the video.

And thanks to my friend Jane Dimitry for trekking the three hours each way from Boston to join me.

Added attractions for the weekend were lobster rolls at McLoons in Rockland.

Cousin Haven outside McLoon's restaurant in Rockland.

Cousin Haven outside McLoon’s restaurant in Rockland.

And on the route between Boston and Thomaston, I stopped to shop at my favorite store, LLBean.

LLBean in Freeport, Maine.

LLBean in Freeport, Maine.

The Henry Knox Trail – From Albany NY to Westfield MA

The difference between telling stories about Henry Knox to friends in California and following his journey in New York and Massachusetts is that here in New York and Massachusetts, people care about Knox. They name businesses after him.

The Knox Trail Lodge near Otis, Massachusetts

The Knox Trail Forge near Otis, Massachusetts

They name art galleries after him.

Knox Art Gallery in Monterey, Massachusetts, along the Henry Knox Trail.

Knox Art Gallery in Monterey, Massachusetts along the Henry Knox Trail.

They name roads after him.

Street Sign for General Knox Road near Blandford, Massachusetts

Street Sign for General Knox Road near Blandford, Massachusetts

On Wednesday, I made it to Massachusetts Marker No. 7 before I needed to head to Maine, where I will give another book performance this coming Saturday, June 16.

Map of Markers on the Henry Knox Trail from Albany NY to Westfield MA

Map of Markers on the Henry Knox Trail from Albany NY to Westfield MA

It really is fun driving through the New York and Massachusetts countrysides searching for markers. A historical treasure hunt. I highly recommend it. But two days aren’t enough. I will finish when I return to New England in September for my niece’s wedding.

It was a rainy morning, so the photos are a bit dark.

I found New York Marker No. 24 in front of a church in East Greenbush on Route 20. It was up the road from Marker No. 23. The Hudson Valley Institute Guide stated that the stone and brass plaque indicates the continuation of the route east from where the Train of Artillery landed at the east side of the Hudson River opposite Albany.

Marker No. NY24 of the Henry Knox Trail in East Greenbush, New York

Marker No. NY24 of the Henry Knox Trail in East Greenbush, New York

Marker No. 25 stands in Schodack at a ‘Y’ in the road where Route 9 breaks away from Route 20. Knox came to the same junction in the road. He turned south (continuing on Route 20) on January 9, 1776. The artillery sleds followed later.

Marker No. NY26 of the Henry Knox Trail in Shodack, New York

Marker No. NY25 of the Henry Knox Trail in Schodack, New York

Marker No. 26 stands in the central square of a cute little town south of Schodack called Kinderhook . “This marks a turning of the old road to the east side of Kinderhook Creek.”

Marker No. NY26 of the Henry Knox Trail in Kinderhook, New York

Marker No. NY26 of the Henry Knox Trail in Kinderhook, New York

A pretty barn on the road past Kinderhook

A pretty barn on the road past Kinderhook

During the second week of January, Knox turned southeast on a road near today’s Routes 66 and 9. Marker No. 27 is on the lawn of a house on the corner of Route 66 and Snyder Road close to the village of West Ghent. Crossing Route 66, Snyder Road becomes Cemetery Road.

New York Marker No. 28 was only three miles away. To reach it, I continued southeast on Cemetery Road toward Harlemville. I passed more gorgeous farms. The marker stands on the corner of Taconic State Parkway and Harlemville Road. Very near there is Loudon Road. I wondered if it was an extension of the same Loudon Road I was following for a while in Albany.

Marker No. NY28of the Henry Knox Trail at the corner of Harlemville Road and Taconic State Parkway

Marker No. NY28 of the Henry Knox Trail at the corner of Harlemville Road and Taconic State Parkway

A beautiful farm near Harlemville.

A beautiful farm near Harlemville.

Still the second week of January, Knox reached the point where Marker No. 29 stands on a triangle of grass between Route 21 and 71. I proceeded along 71 as it crossed the state border. A sign for Alford lets you know you are crossing into Massachusetts. The trail marker stands below the sign. The brass plaque on the New York side of the granite marker is the same style we have been seeing up to now. Walking around to the other side of the marker, you see, for the first time, a plaque with the style designed for the Massachusetts markers.

Marker No. MY30 and MA1 of the Henry Knox Trail on the state border between New York and Massachusetts

Marker No. NY30 and MA1 of the Henry Knox Trail on the state border between New York and Massachusetts

The Massachusetts side of the marker on the state line. MA1 of the Henry Knox Trail

The Massachusetts side of the marker on the state line. MA1 of the Henry Knox Trail

A post hiding behind the marker confirms that you are on the state line. Notice how it faces a different direction from the marker.

Post denoting state line between New York and Massachusetts - New York Side

The New York side of the post denoting the state line between New York and Massachusetts.

Post denoting state line between New York and Massachusetts - Massachusetts Side

The Massachusetts side of the post denoting the state line between New York and Massachusetts

People in East Egremont, Massachusetts, are very proud of their Henry Knox Trail marker. It stands in front of the general store and is decorated with flowers. Another plaque at the base dedicates the monument to everyone who has died for their country, including victims of 9/11.

Marker MA2 of the Henry Knox Trail in East Egremont, Massachusetts

Marker MA2 of the Henry Knox Trail in East Egremont, Massachusetts

The proprietor of the general store told me that the building to the east used to be a tavern and inn. Henry Knox and his men stopped there for refreshment on their way through town.

Old inn in Egremont, Massachusetts, where Knox and his men stopped for refreshment on their way through town.

Old inn in Egremont, Massachusetts, where Knox and his men stopped for refreshment on their way through the village.

Over very hilly lands, the train forged eastward through Great Barrington noted by Marker No. MA3 at the north side of town.

Marker No. MA3 of the Henry Knox Trail ialong Route 23 in Great Barrington, Massachusetts

Marker No. MA3 of the Henry Knox Trail beside Route 23 in Great Barrington, Massachusetts

In the middle of the mountains, the route passes through another adorable village, Monterey. Marker No. MA4 is at the north end of town. As I did for the library in Hudson Falls, I stopped at the library across the street to obtain an address from the librarian so that I can send him a donated copy of Henry’s Big Kaboom. The librarian’s assistants were very excited about their trail marker. In Hudson Falls, the librarian didn’t know why there was a maker on the library’s front lawn. It is time to put the Henry Knox Trail back on people’s travel radar screens.

Marker No. MA4 of the Henry Knox Trail in Monterey, Massachusetts beside Route 23

Marker No. MA4 of the Henry Knox Trail in Monterey, Massachusetts beside Route 23

Monterey Public Library where I will be sending a copy of Henry's Big Kaboom.

Monterey Public Library where I will be sending a copy of Henry’s Big Kaboom. (The blue circle on the left is a statue, not one of my circles showing the location of a marker.)

Still heading east on Route 23, the route passed through another cute mountain village called Otis. But the marker isn’t in town. It is tucked among the bushes alongside Route 23 about ten or so miles farther up the road. The position of the marker looks nothing like the photo in the guide, which places it by buildings. Maybe the marker was moved after the guide was published. To add to the confusion. the map on the guilde shows the marker near the intersection of Gibbs Road and Route 23. There are two intersections of Gibbs Road about eight miles apart. I nearly gave up on this one.

Marker No. MA5 east of Otic on the south side of Route 23

Marker No. MA5 east of Otis on the south side of Route 23

After passing through the tiny hamlet of Blandford with nothing more than a general store and a post office, the route turns right on General Knox Road. Three miles up the hill, I spotted Marker No. MA6 hiding behind a road work sign.

Marker No. MA6 of the Henry Knox Trail in Blanford on General Knox Road

Marker No. MA6 of the Henry Knox Trail in Blandford on General Knox Road

Following today’s Route 20, the route next passes through the relatively large city of Westfield near Worchester, Mass. You have to be on the lookout for the marker as you turn the corner of Main Street. The marker faces inward toward the sidewalk, not at the street like the other markers do. This allows pedestrians to read it, which is handy.

Marker No. MA7 of the Henry Knox Trail on Main Street in Westfield, Massachusetts

Marker No. MA7 of the Henry Knox Trail on Main Street in Westfield, Massachusetts

A block down Main Street, I filled my rental with gas. Then I retraced my tracks north to find the Mass Pike and head to Maine. As I said, I will continue this journey in September. My next post will be about my time in Thomaston, Maine, where Henry Knox spent his later years.

Ticonderoga to Albany – Henry Knox Trail Markers 6 to 23

Starting at 8:30 am, I touched down at Markers No 6 through 23 on Tuesday, all in the state of New York. At 5:15 pm, I crashed at the Colonial Inn on Route 20 between Markers 23 and 24. Hungry for vegetables, I happily followed the inn proprietor’s suggestion to eat at the sushi place across the street.

Map of Markers 1-23 of the Henry Knox Trail

According to the Hudson Valley Organization’s guide to the Henry Knox Trail, this is the route I followed:

Leaving Sabbath Day Point, where, in the words of my 5x-great-grandfather Henry Knox, they rescued the scow that had “run on a sunken rock, but not in such a manner as to be irretrievable that they had broken all the ropes which they had in endeavoring to move her off”, the Train of Artillery pushed on south. (I mistakenly wrote in previous posts that they were traveling on frozen-over rivers in sleds. They were not. They traveled down Lake George in boats. The sled part is when they ford the Mohawk and Hudson Rivers later. I will correct my previous blog.)

Marker 7 of the Henry Knox Trail in Roger's Memorial Park, Bolton Landing, New York

Marker 7 of the Henry Knox Trail in Roger’s Memorial Park overlooking Lake George in Bolton Landing, New York

In his journal on December 10, 1775, Knox wrote, “…the crew of the Battoe [batteau], after having refresh’d themselves, told me as they were not very deeply loaded that they intend’d to push for Fort George [at the south end of lake]. Accordingly I jump’d into the Boat & ordered my man to bring my baggage & we would go with them — accordingly we set out it being eleven O’clock with a slight breeze ahead the men rowed briskly, but we had not been out above an hour when the wind sprang up very fresh & directly against us – the men after rowing exceedingly hard for about four hours seem’d desirous of going ashore to make a fire to warm themselves & knowing them to be very exceedingly weary.” (Marker No. 6 – Bolton Landing) “… we warmed ourselves sufficiently and took a comfortable nap – laying with our backs to the fire …”

Marker 7 of the Henry Knox Trail in Roger's Memorial Park, Bolton Landing, New York

Marker 7 of the Henry Knox Trail in Roger’s Memorial Park, Bolton Landing, New York. All the markers in New York look like this but aren’t as well maintained.

The next morning, they started again, “… about half an hour before day break that is about a quarter after rising we set out and in six hours & a quarter of excessive hard pushing against a fresh breeze, we reached Fort George.” (Marker No. 7)

Marker 7 of the Henry Knox Trail, Lake George, New York

Marker 7 of the Henry Knox Trail, south end of Lake George looking north, New York

There is a gap in Knox’s journal between December 18 and 23. This is what historians think happened:

Knox and his men had to search for sleds to drag the cannon south from Lake George to the Hudson. They also had to wait for sufficient snow to make the roads passable for those sleds. The Train of Artillery would eventually follow the route from Lake George to Fort Miler shown by Markers 8 through 11. It follows the Hudson River along today’s Routes 4 and 9. They passed the intersection of Bloody Pond Road (Marker No. 8),

Marker 8 of the Henry Knox Trail at the crossing of Bloody Pond Road and Route 9 south of Lake George

Marker 8 of the Henry Knox Trail at the crossing of Bloody Pond Road and Route 9 south of Lake George

and through Glens Falls (Marker No. 9),

Marker No. 9 of the Henry Knox Trail at the southeast corner of Crandall Park, Glens Falls, NY

Marker No. 9 of the Henry Knox Trail at the southeast corner of Crandall Park, Glens Falls, NY

Hudson Falls (Marker No. 10),

Marker No. 10 of the Henry Knox Trail in front of the Public Library in Hudson Falls, New York

Marker No. 10 of the Henry Knox Trail in front of the Public Library in Hudson Falls, New York

and Fort Edward (Marker No. 11).

Marker No. 11 of the Henry Knox Trail in front of the high school in Fort Edwards, New York

Marker No. 11 of the Henry Knox Trail in front of the high school in Fort Edwards, New York

On December 24, Knox forged ahead of the group on foot, scouting good roads and places to ford the rivers. He stopped at Fort Miller (Marker No. 11.5), “where Judge Dewer procured me a sleigh to go to Stillwater.”

Marker No. 11.5 of the Henry Knox Trail marking where Knox visited Fort Miller along the Hudson

Marker No. 11.5 of the Henry Knox Trail marking where Knox visited Fort Miller along the Hudson

Knox crossed the river by ferry to the west side (Marker No. 12) near the hill (knob) General John Stark of New Hampshire would later defend and prevent the British from “retreating north.”

Place where General John Stark of New Hampshire held the British at bay from going north.

Place where General John Stark of New Hampshire held the British.

A small park was created in 2000 where Monument No. 12 now stands, hidden in the brush. A modern statue of one of Henry’s ox carts keeps it company.

Marker No. 12 of the Henry Knox Trail at Stark's Know, named after the hill Stark defended during the Revolutionary War to prevent the British from moving north.

Marker No. 12 of the Henry Knox Trail at Stark’s Knob, named after the hill Stark defended during the Revolutionary War.

Marker No. 13 of the Henry Knox Trail marking where the Train of Artillery passed throught Schuylerville, New York

Modern-day statue of one of the teams of oxen pulling cannon with the Trail of Artillery, Stark Knob, New York

and arrived at Schuylerville (Marker No. 13), which he called Saratoga. [I can’t remember which of my photos this is, sorry.]

“… we dined and set off about three OClock, it still snowing exceeding fast … after the utmost efforts [of the] horses we reach’d Ensign’s tavern 8 miles beyond Saratoga [was Marker 14, now missing)” where, “we lodg’d.”

Position where Marker No. 14 of the Henry Knox Trail once stood where Ensign's Tavern once stood, just north of Saratoga Historic Park.

Position where Marker No. 14 of the Henry Knox Trail once stood marking the location of Ensign’s Tavern where Knox stopped and dined. It is just north of Saratoga Historic Park. The marker is missing.

Marker No. 15 in Bemis Heights shows the location of the house where Knox stayed on Christmas Eve.

Marker No. 15 of the Henry Knox Trail near Bemis Heights, New York.

Marker No. 15 of the Henry Knox Trail near Bemis Heights, New York.

On Christmas morning, Knox woke to find two feet of new snow on the ground. He forged on to Stillwater (Marker 16),

Marker No. 16 of the Henry Knox Trail in front of the Public Library in Stillwater, New York

Marker No. 16 of the Henry Knox Trail in front of the Public Library in Stillwater, New York. Note the Hudson River behind the library.

where he obtained another sleigh that would take him to Albany. He passed through today’s Mechanicsville (Marker No. 17).

Marker No. 17 of the Henry Knox trail next to the Post Office in Mechanicsville, New York

Marker No. 17 of the Henry Knox trail next to the Post Office in Mechanicsville, New York

At Waterford (Marker No. 18) he forded took a ferry across the Hudson to the east side.

Marker No. 18 of the Henry Knox Trail by the bridge crossing the Hudson, Waterford, New York

Marker No. 18 of the Henry Knox Trail by the bridge crossing the Hudson, Waterford, New York

Plaque in Waterford, New York

Plaque in Waterford, New York

He wrote, “…the roads not being broken prevented our getting farther than New City [today’s Lansingburg], about 9 miles above Albany — where we lodg’d.” Henry may have crossed the Hudson via the Lansing’s ferry.

Albany is on the west side of the river. But the Train of Artillery had to deal with the confluence of the mighty Mohawk River and the Hudson River, a complicated and busy geographic roadblock. Knox first tried the “usual crossing” at Half Moon near Cohoes. The ice was too thin and he lost a sled and cannon. So he ordered the rest to cross “At Sloss’s [Claus’s/Klaus’s Ferry] as the ice was so much stronger …” Marker No. 19 in Crescent stands by Route 9 south of the Mohawk River.

Marker No. 19 of the Henry Knox Trail along Route 9 south of Crescent, New York

Marker No. 19 of the Henry Knox Trail along Route 9 south of Crescent, New York

On January 5, after crossing the Mohawk at Claus’s Ferry, the Train of Artillery headed south along today’s Loudon Road (Route 9) toward Albany (Marker No. 20 in Latham).

Marker No. 20 of the Henry Knox Trail in front of the Mason Temple on Loudon Road, Latham, New York

Marker No. 20 of the Henry Knox Trail in front of the Masonic Temple on Loudon Road, Latham, New York

Marker No. 21 locates where the road turned into Albany. Today that “turn” is a major freeway intersection.

Marker No. 21 of the Henry Knox Trail across from the Albany Hospital, New York

Marker No. 21 of the Henry Knox Trail across from the Albany Hospital, New York

Marker No. 22 is now missing, It used to mark the place where the train forded the Hudson at Albany, placing the group on the west side on their way to Massachusetts.

Memorial Bridge crossing the Hudson River from Albany to Rensselaer, New York

Memorial Bridge crossing the Hudson River from Albany to Rensselaer, New York

From the exit off the bridge in Rensselaer, the trail follows today’s Route 20, where I passed by Marker No. 23. It is surrounded by weeds. I bet few people who pass it know why it stands there.

Marker No. 23 of the Henry Knox Trail, Route 20, Rensselaer, New York

Marker No. 23 of the Henry Knox Trail, Route 20, Rensselaer, New York

From here I travel southwestward toward Boston.

Henry Knox Trail – Markers No. 3, 4, & 5 – Lake George

Map of Henry Knox Trail Markers 1 to 5

Searching for the markers for the Henry Knox Trail reminds me of geocaching. Marker No. 5 was especially difficult to find because it is on private property in the backyard of someone’s home overlooking Lake George. We had to trespass to reach it.

From Fort Ticonderoga (Marker No. 1), Knox hauled his sixty tons of heavy weaponry down the road from the fort (Marker No. 2) to the lake, where, on December 6, 1775, they were shuttled from the peninsula to Ticonderoga (Marker No. 3) on boats. Knox wrote in his journal, “Employed in getting the cannon from the fort on board a Gundaloe [gondola] in order to get them to the bridge.”

The boats were sailed or rowed around the peninsula of Ticonderoga into LaChute, a creek that tumbles over several waterfalls from Lake George to Lake Champlain. At the bridge, the artillery was transferred from water to land carriage. Loaded carts were pulled by ox and horses over the Portage Road – which still exists by that name – to Lake George.

At today’s Mossy Point Boat Launch (Marker No. 4), the guns were transferred to a flotilla of boats to sail down Lake George. the heaviest pieces were placed on a “scow.” Henry also had a “pirogue” and a “batteau” at his disposal. He wrote, “Employ’d in loading the Scow, Pettyaugre and a Battoe. At 3 O’Clock in the afternoon set sail to go down the lake in the Pettyaugre, the Scow coming after us ran aground, we being about a mile ahead with a fair wind to go down but unfair to help the Scow. The wind dying away, we with the utmost difficulty reach’d Sabbath Day Point about 9 O’Clock in the evening – went ashore & warm’d ourselves by an exceeding good fire in an hut made by some civil indians, who were with their Ladies abed – they gave us some Vension, roasted after their manner, which was very relishing.” (Marker No. 5).

Map Location Marker No. 3

Heading from the fort toward the town of Ticonderoga, just after crossing Route 22,  I found Marker No. 3 on the left (south) side of the street amongst a triangle of monuments.

Henry Knox Trail Marker No. 3

This is looking at the triangle from the other direction.

Henry Knox Trail Marker No. 3

Then I enjoyed walking around town. In this photo, LaChute is to the right and the Portage Road to the left. I’m facing the direction Henry would have traveled to get to Lake George.

This photo was taken facing the hill, Knox traveled from Marker 3 toward Marker 4. Marker No. 4 is at the Mossy Point boat ramp at the north end of Lake George.

 This is the last waterfall along LaChute before the waters flow into Lake Champlain.     

To get to Marker No. 4, we (Charlie, Paula and I) drove through town and south to Black Point Road. The marker is at the entrance to Mossy Point Landing. The markers in New York look exactly alike. They don’t have anything on them identifying what number they are.

Map Markers 3 to 4

Henry Knox Trail Marker No. 4 

This is where the guns were loaded onto sleds on Lake George. From here we had to retrace our steps to Highway 9, then follow it south along the west side of Lake George to Sabbath Day Point.

This map is the result of a lot of walking around Sabbath Day Village and asking people where the marker was. Not a soul had heard of it, not even a woman who had been spending summers in the village her whole life. An elderly resident figured out it had to be at the end of the point which was the back lawn of the residents who lived there. He pointed to this point.

Marker No. 5 point

So we mustered the courage to trespass and found it.

 

On the way out, I took this photo of the street signs for others to follow to reach Sabbath Day Point Village. One of the residents recommended we take a look at the historic Grace Chapel.

So we backtracked. It was built in 1889.

 

Fort Ticonderoga – the Henry Knox Trail Markers No. 1 & 2 – My Book Launch

Henry Knox Trail Marker One Fort Ticonderoga

Marker No.1 for the Henry Knox Trail stands in the middle of the Parade Ground at the center of Fort Ticonderoga.

I approached the fort from Norwich, Vermont, where I had spent the night with my brother, Tom Ames and his wife Marguerite. Highway 73 took me through the adorable towns of  Bethel, Rochester, Brandon, and Orwell, as well as the Green Mountain National Forest, as in the Green Mountain Boys who helped Knox with his expedition.

As I came over the ridge, I could see the valley below leading through cow farms to Lake Champlain.

Lake Champlain is 124 miles long and averages only 14 miles wide. Highway 73 meets up with Highway 74 and crosses the lake to the New York side via a ferry, “one of the oldest ferry crossings in North America.”

About 800 feet beyond debarking the ferry I found the entrance to Fort Ticonderoga. I would stay for three nights at the nearby Best Western (the only place in town, but quite nice) and come and go from the fort. For this blog, I’ll combine the images into one event.

A friendly staff member greeted me at the gate, “Hi Mary.” without me even introducing myself. Chelse Martin, the manager who organized my book signing, had done her homework. This treatment – Queen for a Day – continued throughout my visit. The gatekeeper gave me the fort’s information brochure and blessed me on my way.

A peaceful tree-lined drive led me to the parking lot and Visitor’s Center.

Entrance to Fort Ticonderoga

A table display at the entrance to the Visitor’s Center told me I was expected.

My book signing/singing event took place the second day I was at the fort. I spent the first day taking all the tours and looking around. Not until the very end of the day did I drive to the top of Mount Defiance and take this photo. It gives you the lay of the land. You can see how Fort Ticonderoga is on a peninsula that sticks into the middle of Lake Champlain. Lake George, an important waterway leading to the Hudson River, thence to New York City, is behind me as I take the photo. “Ticonderoga” is the Mohawk word for “land between two waters.” When the French built the fort starting in 1755, they called it Fort Carillon. The American’s changed the name when they took it four years later in 1759.

Fort Ticonderoga from Mount Defiance

The general  “Key to the Continent Tour” starts at the American flag in front of the tunnel that leads into the Parade Ground. “Cannon in their wooden stock” and “mortars squat and fat” line the wall overlooking Lake Champlain.

I attended a gun demonstration for which they fired a replica of a 1775 cannon. I toured the displays of artillery in the museum. And I enjoyed the view of Lake Champlain.

I walked the rooms showing where the cobblers worked, the soldiers slept, and where the clothing was made. Dressed to match this season’s theme of 1781, staff members enacted the various activities that went on in the fort. For some seasons, the fort highlights periods when the English held the fort. Sometimes they highlight when the French held the fort. The uniforms change with the theme. This man is one of the uniform tailors.

I ate lunch with my second brother, Charlie Ames, and his wife Paula at the fort’s cafe overlooking the lake. Charles and Paula drove from their home on Buffalo to join me.

I took the boat tour to get a feel for the geography Henry Knox faced when he transported the guns.

I walked the tour of the Kings Gardens. After the Revolutionary War, the fort fell into decay. In the 1800s, the Pell family purchased it and rebuilt the fort, an early act of historic preservation. The Pell home, known as the Pavillion, and it’s beautiful gardens are just a short walk north of the fort.

  

By the time of my book signing, I was well versed about Fort Ticonderoga and all the battles of French and Indian War and the Revolutionary War that took place there. I was also reassured that the story about Knox’s expedition, as I told it in my ballad Henry’s Big Kaboom was correct. The audience was small but mighty.

Here I am singing the verse about Henry finding the guns at Fort Ticonderoga. Paula helped turn pages.

Here I am signing the chorus for the final time. My little audience helped.

This is Chelse Martin displaying my book in the fort’s gift shop.

As I exited the fort, I passed and photographed Marker No. 2 of the Henry Knox Trail. It stands along the long driveway through former battlefields where many French, American, British, and German soldiers lost their lives fighting for their homes, independence, and/or their kings.

Added on July 8, 2018

On YouTube, I posted a video that combines this post with the others about Fort Ticonderoga. Check it out:

200 Cousins

I will be reading/singing by ballad Henry’s Big Kaboom to groups of children at Fort Ticonderoga in New York this Sunday and the Henry Knox Museum in Maine next Saturday. Both Chelse at the fort and Mary Kay at the museum have asked me to introduce myself and explain my connection to Henry Knox. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words. I have been a graphic designer for forty years. I have been gathering information about my family for nearly as long.

So, I drew a chart of my branch of the family that descends from Henry. In this case, the picture has a thousand words. I included a photo of the painting of Henry that John Singleton Copley painted. The original hangs in the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. The painting of Henry’s daughter Lucy Flucker Knox (who married Ebenezer Thatcher) hangs at the Knox Museum. I found the ‘tin print’ of her daughter Lucy Anna Thatcher in the Massachusetts Historical Society. We don’t know who Lucy had a pre-marital affair with to produce my great-grandfather Charles Gordon Ames. Rules of society in those days required that she give up her baby and pretend he didn’t exist.

Charles took on the Ames surname from his foster parents. The tin print of him with his first wife, Sarah Daniels, and their son Charles Wilberforce Ames is also in the Massachusetts Historical Society archives. The photos of Charles and his second wife, my great-great grandmother Fanny Baker are in folders in my closet. The painting of their daughter Alice Vivian Ames hangs on my living room wall. She married Thomas Winter from England. The photo of their daughter, my grandmother Edith Ames Winter, stands on my bookshelf in my bedroom. She married Knowlton Lyman Ames Jr., nicknamed Snake, and had three sons. My dad, Thomas Ames, was the middle one, but I didn’t include photos of his generation or of mine, my children’s or my grandchildren’s.

My chart shows all Charles Gordon Ames’ descendants. Over two hundred are living today and several of them will be there helping me sing. With the chart rolled up in a cardboard tube, I have also packed my ukulele.

Following the Henry Knox Trail

Marker for the Henry Knox Trail

In 1926, honoring the sesquicentennial (150-year) anniversary of the Revolutionary War, the states of New York and Massachusetts erected 56 stone markers with brass plaques commemorating Henry Knox’s 1775 expedition from Fort Ticonderoga and Crown Point (New York) to Dorchester Heights outside Boston, Massachusetts. The markers trace the route, which looked something like this:

Sketch of the Henry Knox Trail

I first learned about these markers when I was researching Henry Knox in 2007. My corgi, Annie, and I were on a road trip circling the US in a BMW 3-series station wagon. We spent nights in Motel-6es – they love dogs – or with my relatives. I had just learned I might be Henry’s greatx5 granddaughter and wanted to take a look-see at Fort Ticonderoga. But I was traveling in April and the museum was still closed.

I did, however, pass this marker as I traveled north alongside the Hudson River (the same marker that I show above).

Henry Knox Marker by Road

Since 2007, I proved my Knox heritage through the Daughters of the American Revolution. Here’s the line:

Hereditary Line from Knox to Me

Then I wrote an illustrated, sing-along children’s book to teach my grandchildren about Henry’s expedition. It’s called Henry’s Big Kaboom.

Henry's Big Kaboom Book Image

Book Signings

This Thursday, I am traveling from my home in Northern California to New England to attend two book signings. In between the book signings, I will follow the Henry Knox Trail.

On Sunday afternoon, June 10, I will be at Fort Ticonderoga. I am so excited to finally see the fort. I will be sitting by one of the cannon Henry transported.

The following Saturday, June 16, at 10:00, I will be signing more books at the Henry Knox Museum in Thomaston Maine. They are holding an event honoring the Society of the Cincinnati that Henry helped found. The event is titled “Boom.” It will be one big “Boom” weekend.

In between the signings, I will follow Henry’s route, hunting down the markers one by one. Luckily, through the Hudson River Valley Institute’s website, I obtained a detailed guide for finding the markers. The guide includes maps and explanations for why each marker was placed where it was. In most cases, it quotes what Henry Knox wrote in the journal he kept during the expedition. (I believe the original of the journal is housed at the New York Historical Society.)

Henry Knox’s descendants

Henry and his wife Lucy had thirteen children, but only three lived to adulthood. Only one of those three, Lucy Flucker Knox, left descendants. In other words, there are no descendants with a direct male line or with the last name Knox.

Our line was a sticky thing to prove because Henry’s granddaughter Lucy got pregnant with my great-grandfather Charles when she was not married. The Knox family and Lucy’s father’s family, the Thatchers, tried to keep Lucy’s pregnancy a secret. Lucy married later, but her husband never found out about her affair.

Charles met his mother once. The tender letter in which he describes this meeting is part of a document I have on my website that explains this whole ordeal. After Lucy and her husband died in 1863, Charles tried to contact the Knox and Thatcher families to find out who his father was. They did not cooperate. A cousin led him to believe that his father was a sailor who perished at sea two years after the affair. It turns out there was no such man.

Lo and behold, as a result of seeking genealogical roots through DNA tests, a man named Burt Williams in Kentucky came up with a ‘zero distance’ match to my third cousin-once-removed Peter Lesley Ames who lived part-time in Venezuela and part-time in Florida. My great-grandfather Charles Gordon Ames (he took the last name of the people who adopted him in 1830) has 250± living descendants, but only Peter and his son Charles Gordon Ames the Second have a direct male line to CGA the First. Peter passed away this year, but we still have Charlie, who lives in Louisville, Kentucky.

Burt Williams’ family has traced the Williams male line to the family’s emigration to America in the 1600s, but not, yet, to England. Burt’s cousin Nancy Magnuson is diligently working on this project. She found a Williams family living in Thomaston, Maine, at the time Lucy Anna became pregnant. But their male forefathers don’t match Burt’s. The common ancestor must have lived in the 1500s before the families migrated to America. “To be continued.”

250 Cousins

As a result of this genealogical work, I updated a family tree that includes all 250± of Charles Gordon Ames’ living descendant by his two wives. Through emails, I met my third cousin Amy MacDonald (she is one week older than I am) living in Maine not too far from the Knox Museum. She also writes picture books for children. We have joined forces. She will be there on the 16th with her books, too. I can’t wait to meet her.

Here is Henry Knox’s family tree through the first three generations.

Henry Knox Family Tree