Rochester: A Photo Adventure

I originally had no plans of writing about my trip to Rochester that I took in March because it happened before I started this blog. But, in that past few weeks I found an interesting book on the architecture of Rochester and Monroe County at the BirchBark Bookstore.

For those interested in used bookstores, the BirchBark Bookstore, is conglomerate of connected buildings, each filled with used books of all genres. It is located at 40 Ashton Road in Potsdam and it’s only opened on the weekends. It’s one of those unique Northern N.Y. finds.

The book is from 1974 and written by Paul Malo, with photographs by Hans Padelt and “Others.” It was published by Syracuse University Press. The written history is good read and helps highlight the architectural history of Rochester and what was going on socially and economically to inspire the changes in buildings design.


The photographs are amazing, as you can see from the front cover of the book! They’re a great source of what Rochester looked like during the 1970’s. By the way all of the photographs are black and white.

I figured I’d share some of the photos I took while in Rochester. They are not as great as the black and whites but cool to look at, especially if you’ve never been to Rochester. My photos were all taken with my Android phone and from the interior of a car. I was not driving. My good friend, who I was visiting was driving us around Rochester, when I took all of these photos. It was a very cold weekend so we did not do a lot of walking.

Also, when I took all of the photographs, I did not know anything about the buildings at the time. I did a little research using the book and general “Google” searches to find out what I could about the buildings I saw. There are captions for each photograph with information about the location of the building and any history I could find. Hopefully the photographs make you want to visit Rochester sometime!


What is this jargon?!

It’s going to be a nice day here in Northern New York, which is always good when exploring towns and villages in the area. This post is a beginning of a series called, “What is this jargon?!”

I’ve read a few guides on how to write about preservation for the general public and most of them say not to use jargon. AKA: the terms that people with preservation degrees use on a daily basis.

I disagree.

I think it’s important that people always continue learning throughout their life. I have a lot of education in history and preservation, so what better way to help people learn about the built environment in their own neighborhoods than by sharing my knowledge and using actual examples I see on my own adventures. Plus, pointing out random architectural features that you learn about, to your friends and family, educates them and makes yourself sound really smart, which is a win-win for all!

So let’s learn about preservation jargon, one word at a time, to make it not jargon.

Check out quoins, pronounced like “coins,” but they’re not the same thing.

Quoins are either blocks of stone, wood imitation stone, cast-iron panels, or brick that are located at the corners of buildings. Typically, quoins are arranged in alternating patterns of large and small blocks. They are a decorative detail seen on a variety of architectural styles including: Federal, Italianate, Colonial Revival, Beaux Arts, Italian Renaissance, and Second Empire. Some day we’ll look at these types of architectural styles one at a time.

There are lots of examples of quoins in the area!

This is a building I saw on Stone Street in Watertown, NY. The quoins are made of what looks like white stone, which makes for a great contrast to the red brick of the building.
This is the Ives Block located on Market Street in Potsdam, NY and it is part of the Market Street Historic District. It was constructed in 1882. When it was first built, the brick was actually yellow and the quoins were red sandstone! Both have been painted to the colors you see today, which is the complete opposite of the original colors.
This is Trinity Hall located on South Main Street in Geneva, NY; it is part of Hobart and William Smith College. It is one of the oldest buildings on campus. The building was constructed in 1837 of fieldstone and the quoins are stone, not sure what kind. Geneva is not really in Northern New York but it just shows that lots of architectural features can be seen all over New York State!

If you have seen any really cool building with quoins as a decorative feature share its location in the comments. On that note, if you have seen something interesting on your adventures and you don’t know what it is, send me a message and we can figure it out!

A Grave Site Located in the Woods

We’re going to be looking at War of 1812 graves located basically in the middle of nowhere in the woods. It also happens to be the 204th  anniversary of Elijah Sacket’s death and his companion’s death.


This marker is for two soldiers who perished on a march from Plattsburgh to Sackets Harbor in the spring of 1813. The location of the graves and marker are on County Route 24, which is also known as the “St. Lawrence Turnpike” or the “Russell Turnpike.” The road ran all the way from Malone through to Carthage via Russell and was very important during the War of 1812 because it allowed Sackets Harbor to be connected to Plattsburgh via Malone. This allowed transportation of troops and supplies during the war. The actual information on both the roadside marker and grave marker are lacking any real substantial information, so I decided to do some research.

HINT, HINT- If you see something interesting and historic, but lacking information, research it! And, share your findings because someone, somewhere is probably also interested.

Researching Elijah Sacket was not easy. There’s still some unanswered questions. Records are not the clearest and some have been lost to time. So from what I could find, this is the story of Elijah Sacket, a militiaman during the War of 1812.

First off, there are two Elijah Sacket(t)s! Both lived during the same time and were involved in their local militias.

Just for your records, the first Elijah Sackett (two “T”s) was born in 1751 and lived in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania. He was involved in the American Revolution; eventually he moved to Ohio and died at the old age of 86 in 1837. He’s not our guy but at least he seems to have lived an interesting life!

Back to our Elijah Sacket (only one “T”).

Elijah was born in 1768 in Sheffield, Massachusetts. He moved with his parents (Benjamin and Dorothy) and siblings to New York State shortly before the American Revolution began. In 1789, he married Dorothy Hitchcock. Eventually with his wife he moved to Hartford, NY located in Washington County. Elijah and Dorothy had five children: Elisabeth, Erminia, Electa, Ebenezer, and Erwin.

Elijah had been part of the militia in Washington County from 1800 to 1807 in Colonel Solomon Baker’s Regiment of the Brigade of the Militia of said county. During that time, Elijah was promoted from private to lieutenant.

Sometime between 1807 and 1809, Elijah decided to move his family to Northern New York. They settled in Gouverneur, where Elijah worked as a miller. He must have decided to join the local militia, the 123rd Regiment, which was also known as Benedict’s Regiment (Thomas Benedict) located in St. Lawrence County.

Elijah’s movements during the War of 1812 are unclear thanks to the lack of both surviving and digitized documents. His name does not show up on any digital records of muster rolls for the regiments of St. Lawrence County. Solely based on his grave site in Pierrepont, NY, we know that Elijah was en-route to Plattsburgh from Sackets Harbor. He died from some kind of sickness, which was very common in the military camps during the War. Oddly enough, Elijah has a second gravestone in Gouverneur, where his wife and some of his children are buried.

The unknown soldier is still a mystery. I haven’t been able to find any real information from the muster rolls for St. Lawrence County. As I already mentioned, Elijah is not listed on any lists I was able to find online and there was nothing related to the death dates of April 7th and 13th.

Researching Elijah Sacket was difficult. Many of the online resources I found had a lot of conflicting information or just general lack of information, which made things confusing.

For example on I found a record that listed Elijah Sacket as “Benedict’s Regiment, NY Militia, Private” and another listed him as “Elijah Sacket (1768-1813) lieutenant, Washington County Regiment, NY.” This is the same Elijah, just the information is not a lot to go on and are about two different times during Elijah’s life. Finding other sources online helped piece together what little is known.

I also think it’s interesting to look at the maintenance of a very small grave site, along with the remembrance of soldiers who died during the War of 1812. A lot of books and articles on the War of 1812 call it the “forgotten war.” Have we forgotten the War of 1812? I’m not sure. Being a historian who’s interested in local and early American history, I know it happened and I’ve done some research on it (as in this blog post). I also know that Northern New York played a very important role being the Northern frontier to Canada (British Territory) during the War.

The town of Pierrepont is in charge of the maintenance of the property. As you can see in the images, it’s not a very noticeable place and parking isn’t easy. Today when I was at the site taking pictures, it was obviously I had been the only visitor so far. So what happens when a place isn’t easily accessible. Do we forget about it? Should the effort be put in to preserve it and remember it? How do we make it so that people notice this marker more?

Maybe by spreading the word that it exists. I’m not sure if there are “right” answers to these questions. But on that note, this is the final resting place of two soldiers who fought to protect early America and they died 203 years ago to the day. Let’s spread the word that they lived.


If anyone has thoughts or ideas on how to find more information on Elijah’s movements during the War or how to figure out the identity of the unknown soldier, leave a comment or send me a message.

The following is a list of resources I found online that were helpful in figuring out the story of Elijah Sacket. They also might be helpful if you have your own personal genealogical research you’re working on.

Elijah Sacket Family Tree Information:

Thurmon King’s New Sackett Family Tree,, accessed 04/09/2016.

The Sackett Family Association: Sacketts in the Military,, accessed 04/08/2016.

Information on the Grave Site:

Soldier’s Graves, War of 1812, Town of Pierrepont,, accessed 04/11/2016.

Images of the Grave Site:, accessed 04/09/2016., accessed 04/10/2016

Elijah Sacket and St. Lawrence County:

What was going on in St. Lawrence County 200 years ago? Here’s a town-by-town look, from Canton to Waddington,” July 3, 2012., accessed 04/08/2016.

St. Lawrence County Quarterly, Volume 3, 2011. The entire journal is about the War of 1812 in St. Lawrence County. There’s a lot of cool information and a little information on Elijah Sacket. I found a copy at the Potsdam Public Library.

De Kalb’s Own General: Thomas Benedict,” Bryan Thompson, De Kalb’s historian., accessed 04/10/2016.

Documents of the Senate of New York, Vol.9, accessed 04/09/2016.

Information on the War of 1812:

War of 1812 Bicentennial,, accessed 04/07/2016.

St. Lawrence County War fo 1812 History Trail,, accessed 04/07/2016.

A note on I do not have a subscription to, the Potsdam Public Library does. If you’re in the Library using their WiFi, you can get access to through their website. It’s really cool that the Library has access to and it helped when I was researching!

St. Lawrence Academy

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This low-key monument is located outback of the apartment building I live in (it’s low to the ground. Wink, wink, see what I did there). I walk by it occasionally on my way to the local library. It’s located on Union Street in Potsdam. If you’re in the area, you should check it out!

As you can see this monument, was laid in 1916 celebrating SUNY Potsdam/ the Potsdam Normal School’s 100th birthday. Last week, SUNY Potsdam celebrated its 200th birthday, which is really awesome.

What’s interesting is that this monument has been placed in the location of the original St. Lawrence Academy. The Academy is the precursor of SUNY Potsdam. So what happened to the original building?

It’s history-research adventure time!

Today’s adventure has been brought to you by NYS Historic Newspapers. But seriously, this website is amazing and a wonderful resource for people interested in researching Northern New York. A link can be found in the “Resources” page.

Using newspapers, I discovered that the original St. Lawrence Academy was built-in 1810 by Benjamin Raymond, one of the first settlers of Potsdam. The building was used as a meeting place for the locals. From 1816 to about 1825, the building was used for the St. Lawrence Academy. It had grown too small for the growing number of students the Academy was attracting.

The building was described as a one-room wooden building, 24×36 feet and it had a vestibule, a cupola, and a belfry. The close-up of the plaque shows the original Academy building.

After 1825, the building was no longer in use. So it was bought by Anthony Elderkin, another early settler of Potsdam. Mr. Elderkin moved the building to Main Street (65 Main Street to be specific). It was called the “Red House Lot” after it was moved.

On that note, can you imagine moving a building in the 1820’s. It doesn’t sound easy or fun!

The building was remodeled into a residence for Mr. Elderkin. It passed on to his son and then the building had a series of owners, the last being Joseph Ross. In 1949, the building was demolished, along with two others, to make way on Main Street for new science buildings for Clarkson College.

This is the general location of what the “Red House Lot” would have been located on Main Street. Today the area is home to part of Clarkson University’s campus.

The old St. Lawrence Academy building had a very interesting history, especially with it being moved and being used for such a long time. Sadly though it was demolished, which isn’t uncommon when it comes to researching old buildings. On an uplifting ending because of the St. Lawrence Academy we have SUNY Potsdam, which is one of the oldest colleges in the SUNY system, if not the oldest.


“Bronze Plaque Marks Site First School House, Church,” Courier Freeman, Sept. 4, 1958, pg. 1.

“Stone of Old School,” Commercial Advertiser, March 28, 1916, pg. 1.

Adventure With Courtney

This blog, it’s a history adventure blog and I’m your host, Courtney (check out the “About Page” for more details on me)!

Let’s be honest, I’m a history nerd, dork, geek- whichever word you want to use. I have an M.S. in historic preservation and a B.A. in history and archaeology. So obviously I live, breathe, and eat history.

Wait. That may be going too far but anyways you get the point.

I’ve discovered that too many people forget that there is history literally everywhere you go. That street you’re walking down, other people have walked down that same street over 50, 100, or 200 years ago.

History is an important aspect of everyone’s life. History can start off small, think about your own family history, and it can grow into something bigger like your community’s history/heritage/culture, or huge, like National history huge (think George Washington or Martin Luther King Jr.).

So, I want to talk with you about history because learning about the history around you is something everyone can do, not just the people with degrees. And it’s something you can do and see everyday.

I hope by me adventuring around, checking out the history in Northern New York and other places I visit, that it inspires you to look for the forgotten or hidden history in your own adventures. And most importantly, that you share what you find with others. Thanks for adventuring with me!

Stay tuned for another exciting post, which will probably occur this weekend!