Dannemora Bulletin Board

Page 1

The New York Correction History Society has added a major new presentation to its web site:
Searching Sing Sing for My Father,
historian Robert L. Gold's original text of an article printed in edited-down form by
The Westchester Historian

Just three of the many interesting elements in the 9-page web presentation:
  • Babe Ruth helping a baseball make a 620-foot escape over a 40-foot high Sing Sing wall during an exhibition game with an inmate team.
  • A professional historian detecting features like his father's in the shadowy face of a player in a prisoners team photo among Warden Lewis E. Lawes' papers in John Jay College of Criminal Justice Lloyd Sealy Library. 
  • His tracking down particulars on the 1924 Bronx prosecution of his dad for robbery, his father having been arrested fleeing the scene of the last in a string of drug store holdups, attempting the getaway in a hired taxi. 
The Searching Sing Sing for My Father web presentation, illustrated with more than three dozen images, is accessible by clicking the Babe Ruth-at-bat/Sing Sing Prison bars icon near the top of the home page of the NYCHS site at  www.correctionhistory.org

Blue Gray Line

 Subject: Dannemora High School
From: Stephen J. Coulon  
< dhsknights@yahoo.com >
Date: 08 June 2004
Hi Rod,
If anyone would like a look inside their old school go to

A 185-image "Virtual Tour of Harlem Prison at Harlem Court:House" is now on-line and can be accessed from the home page of the New York Correction History Society (NYCHS) at www.correctionhistory.org
After 112 years, the Harlem “district prison,” that closed more than half century ago, is the oldest major jail structure still standing in NYC -- with five tiers, 40 cells, double-bunk bed frames, cell doors and other fixtures, all relatively intact as artifacts. Yet it remains among NY's least known historical treasures.
The ex-jail is in the unrestored part of Harlem Courthouse whose restored part the NYC Civil Court and the Harlem Community Justice Center use each business day.  NYCHS appreciates the help of the NYC Civil Court, the HCJC and free-lance photographer and former Correction Officer Gerald Schultz in making this Harlem Prison "virtual visit" presentation a reality.
The virtual tour consists of 75 separate scenes. Each scene has a medium-size image and a large-size image. Twenty-one of the scenes also have framed small-size images inserted into the four main text pages. Clicking those framed small images accesses pages with groups of medium-size images that, in turn, provide access to their corresponding large-size versions.
Access to the 13-Mb presentation is provided via the top icon on the home page of the New York Correction History Society (NYCHS) at www.correctionhistory.org
Thomas C. McCarthy
New York Correction History Society General Secretary/Webmaster
www.correctionhistory.org  nychs@nyc.rr.com
New York City Dept. of Correction Director of Historical Services
66-26 Metropolitan Ave. (Correction Academy) Middle Village, NY 11379
thomas.mccarthy@doc.nyc.gov (718) 417 2315 (voice mail) (718) 417-2326 (fax)

Subject: enquiry
Date: Sat, 21 Jan 2006 14:11:41 +1000
From: Bob Green  < bgreen@dyson.brisnet.org.au >
Looking for a scanned photo of Johnnie K. Baxstrom who I understand
was an inmate at Dannemora prison in the 1960's. He was the subject of a
well known legal decision but I have been unable to locate a photo.
Any assistance you can offer is appreciated,

Subject: Dannemora Hospital Belt Buckle
Date: 18 March 2004
From: Brian Johnson  nscustoms@bendnet.com
 My name is Brian and I have a metal buckle, people have told me that it was a to buckle to tighten straight jackets together. It says State Hospital for the criminal insane, Dannemora, NY, on the back it reads Anson Mills, Pat. Feb 1, 1881. TCOrndorff Sole Manf. Worchester Mass, USA. Do you know if this is worth anything or has historic value? Please let me know if you have any information. nscustoms@bendnet.com .

Subject: Dannemora My USA v. Russia  Miracle on Ice Story
Date: 09 Jan 2004
From: Terry Ryan < tryan@icebuilders.com >
I may have told you this before, however I thought a re-cap was required, after seeing your name in the paper today commenting on Peters jumping the glass and wrapping Jim Craig with the flag after the victory, and in light of the new Miracle On Ice movie due out, which it sounds like you were able to see the premier of this week.
In Dannemora, NY, a group of Russian entertainers were staying at our local Tings motor lodge.  They were Classic Russians,,,with the long fur coats and fur hats, and spoke with a deep Russian accent!  They stayed there for two weeks. They would come down to our local lighted outdoor rink and watch the locals skate and play hockey.  One of my  best friend's at the time, a hockey goalie on our High School Team whom worked at Tings Restaurant in Dannemora, told me that it would be worth my while to show up at Tings Restaurant the following day, and go around to the back door at 2PM.  Well I did,,,,,only two my surprise to be a spectator in a special show put on by the Russian entertainers and in Russian ( Singers, Comedians, Piano players, etc. )  for the Russian Hockey Team whom arrived via bus from Lake Placid along with a  few select local townspeople with hockey interest.  I sat a a table with Tretiak, Krutov, Makarov, Larionov, Fetisov and Stan Laurel ( Boris Mikhailov ).  Needless to say I was at a loss for words, to be in the presence of these Hockey Gods in my  own hometown and having been a huge hockey fan and respecting these guys for there skills and fearing the fact they were Russians in the heart of the Cold War! I was able to get all their autographs and shake hands etc.  They proceeded over to our small Pearls Dept. store to buy Wrangler Jeans and the classic Moon Boots of the day.  As they were getting on the bus to head back to Lake Placid, one of  my Best Friends Mom's (God Rest her Soul) began hysterically yelling at them telling them they were going to get killed by the USA in the game the very next day and to get on that bus and get out of town.  As young kids we were embarrassed at the outburst and were telling her to be quiet and she did not know what she was talking about.  Well to this day we call it the Sharie Jinx! 
See it all Started in a sleepy little Prison Town in Upstate NY!!!! Dannemora!!!!
Needless to say when Al Michaels counts it down ,,,,,10,9,8,7, DO YOU BELIEVE IN MIRACLES,,,,,,,I DID AND ,,,,,,I get shivers up my spine every time!
Terry Ryan

Subject: New on Correction History site: Inside Rikers & Abraham House
Date: 07 Feb 2004
From: NYCHS <nychs@nyc.rr.com>

ABRAHAM HOUSE history pieces
a companion presentation to its presentation of excerpts from
Fr. Pierre Raphael's

INSIDE RIKERS ISLAND: A Chaplain's Search for God

A Rikers chaplain throughout the '80s, Fr. Raphael is now spiritual director of Abraham House, an incarceration alternative residence program in the South Bronx that he and other Correction chaplains and Correction Officers began in the early '90s.
The NYCHS site's 13 web pages of excerpts from INSIDE RIKERS ISLAND: A Chaplain's Search for God detail his decade on Rikers that concludes with the beginnings of what has become Abraham House. 
ABRAHAM HOUSE history pieces is a 3-web page presentation of excerpts from newsletters and brochures reflecting the emergence and growth of inmate residence program.

Both web presentations, illustrated with scores of special Rikers and Abraham House images, are currently accessible from the home page of the NYCHS site at  www.correctionhistory.org
Thomas C. McCarthy
general secretary, New York Correction History Society
webmaster@correctionhistory.org or nychs@nyc.rr.com

director of historical services
Correction Academy, New York City Department of Correction
66-26 Metropolitan Ave., Middle Village, NY 11379

(718) 417-2315 voice mail
(718) 417-2326 fax

Subject: Lyon Mt., Redford, Chazy
Date: 08 Feb 2004
From: "Ron & Pat Leight" siberian@ccsisp.com
Hi, wasn't sure how to post to your lyon mountain bulletin board so I thought I would email you. Great site!
I am descended from 2 early settlers- OLYER and TROMBLEY. Thrilled to see them both mentioned in your St. Bernards Early Parish Life history page!  Willing to share info on both surnames.  Phillip Olyer was my earliest known ancestor b. 1822 Dannemora, NY. Check out my webpage:  http://webspace.ccsisp.com/siberian/gen/genealogy.htm
My Olyer ancestors are buried in the Stone School Lot cemetery, Moores Forks, NY. Would love if anyone can send photos of possible headstones. 
Also, does anyone have any info on Spring Cove, NY or old photos they are willing to share? My great grandmother was born and married there but nothing stands there today.
Thank you
Patricia Trombley Leight

Subject: Dannemora
Date: Tue, 26 Aug 2003 23:26:54 -0400
From: "Charles Hansen" <velotrain@peoplepc.com>
 Hi Rod -
I'm writing a book on bike rides in the Lake Champlain region and came
across your site while researching Dannemora.  I'm going to use the
information, but plan to rewrite it for my needs.

I was wondering if you know whether the "courts" still exist and also if you
know anything more about the fellow who wrote the article for the
Architectural Record and in particular what issue it was in.
thanks, Charles
see link: http://www.correctionhistory.org/northcountry/dannemora/index.html

Subject: Dannemora
Date: Sat, 11 Jan 2003 16:49:59 -0500
 From: Fran Kubick <cruises@visi.net>
 Hello Mr. Bigelow.  I was just looking at your site about the history of Dannemora.  Are you familiar
with the Buck family?  My uncle, Norton Buck lived at 4 Thayer Ave with wife Ethel and 5 children.
From  your description of  where you lived, I think it must have been nearby.  He was a prison guard.
My father, Ellsworth, once told me that he worked for a time washing dishes at the State Hospital.  My
father moved to Utica when he married my mother but as children we visited our grandparents at least 4
times a year and spent a lot of time playing with our cousins at 4 Thayer Ave.  They were, Mary Ann,
Arlene, Carolyn, Patricia and Donny.  Uncle Norton died sometime in the 60's and Aunt Ethel just died
a couple of years ago.
My grandparents were McKenzie and Gertrude Buck who lived right across from the school - Bouck
Street?  As children we used to watch the prisoners walk down the hill right past the house to work on
the railroad tracks.   They'd go back to the prison for lunch and back again.  I remember my cousin
Carolyn and I once set up a lemonade stand but of course no one bought from us.  They just laughed as
they marched by.
McKenzie Buck, my grandfather, was a son of George and Sadie Buck.  His siblings were Harry, Miles
(a dentist), Ruth who married Tom LaMar   The other sister was Sadie who married George Meyers.
My sister and I are interested in learning more about Dannemora and the Bucks.  Any idea where we
could find further information?  I noticed you used as one of your sources "The Village People of
Dannemora" by Gilroy.  I'll have to look for that; must be interesting.    I understand that the Bucks
came from Buck Hollow, VT but having trouble finding more info on them. Fran Kubick

Subject: Dannemora State Hospital
Date: Fri, 10 Jan 2003 15:28:32 -0500
 From: TNGQUEES@aol.com
 Dear Rod,
First I must tell you how much I enjoyed your website about Dannemora.  It is both interesting and very informative.  I am writing to you to see if you can possibly help me.  I am doing genealogy research on a relative that was in Dannemora State Prison/Hospital back in the late teens through at least 1930 and I have not been able to obtain any information at all.  I've been told that you cannot visit the prison and that the archived records are not kept there.  I am desparately trying to obtain any information regarding this person and the crime committed.  If you can be of any help in this situation it would be greatly appreciated.
Tracey Vizzini

Subject: French Settlement Road
Date: Sun, 2 Mar 2003 03:19:53 -0500
 From: crowscaw@juno.com
 Hi. I saw your Dannemora site on the internet and was wondering if you
know anything about "General Leroy Manor Road" or what I have recently
discovered was called the "French Settlement" Road. I believe I live in
one of the oldest homes on this road. It was built, I think, around the
turn of the century and it is like a house on top of a house, built
around a very old foundation with an ancient-looking chimney, etc.
Any help in this mystery would be appreciated.

Subject: Dannemora officers
Date: Sun, 27 Apr 2003 11:45:55 EDT
From: PSG41@aol.com
 Mr. Bigelow...in researching the Clinton Prison for information on early officers at
the prison I came across your site. (very nice).
I am trying to obtain information on Henry Witte who was in a high position in
1881. I am also looking for information on an E. LaPort for which I have an ivory
or bone scrimshawed piece that came from Clinton.  I have a letter written by
Henry Witte to my great-grandfather in presenting to him a carved box that was
made by a prisoner for a gift to my grandmother for her 1881 wedding.
Any information available would be appreciated.
Phil Gordon 
Subject: Dannemore Prison: inmate query
Date: Wed, 18 Dec 2002 11:17:27 -0500
From: AproPoe@aol.com
Dear Mr. Bigelow,
I came across your web site in my search for information about an early 20th-century inmate (and ancestor of mine) named Alonzo J. Whiteman: in his day, America's best-known embezzler, the subject of a chapter in New York State writer Carl Carmer's "Dark Trees in the Wind," and, to my knowledge, last written about in "True Magazine" in the middle 1950s....
I spoke with a research librarian at Clinton Correctional a couple years ago, who informed me that the facility's records didn't go back that far, and I've since been unable to track down exactly WHERE early 20th-Century Dannemora prison records are kept.
Briefly: Alonzo J. Whiteman was from Dansville, New York, and, by the end of his criminal career, was credited by detective William Pinkerton (son Alan Pinkerton) as "the ablest criminal now active in the United States." Whiteman was initially sent to Auburn prison, about 1905, and later transferred to Dannemora (where, I understand, he started the first prison "business course" in U.S. penal history). After his release, it's my understanding that he died in Georgia in 1916.
Would you happen to know if 1900–1913 Dannemora prison records exist, and, if so, how they might be accessed?
Thanks so much.
(Franklin Academy, class of 1968. Web Site: www.poetogo.com)
"All records were sent to N.Y.S. Archives. The Bldg. is located in the State Educational Bldge on the 11th floor in
Albany, NY"
NYS Department of Correctional Services
        Building 2
        1220 Washington Avenue
        Albany, New York 12226-2050
Contacting us by phone - (518) 457-8126
Contacting us by EMail - MediaInfo@docs.state.ny.us

Subject: Dannemora brass buckle
Date: Fri, 21 Jun 2002 00:37:16 -0500
From: "thomas j. driber" <  tdriber@bellsouth.net  >
 Being the son of the last prison "warden" of the Trenton State Prison, now the New Jersey State Prison at Trenton, I have collected a few artifacts of by-gone days from the prison. Recently, a friend knowing of my interest, presented me with an old relic from Dannemora. It is a brass buckle of some sort with the following printed on the front in raised letters; State Hospital For The Criminal Insane, Dannemora, NY. On the reverse is the name of the inventor of the buckle whose name is Anson Mills. He received a patent on the buckle on February 1, 1881. TC Orndorff is shown as the sole manufacturer in Worcester, Mass. USA. Because of the rear fastening hooks it clearly would not be something that would be used for a standard pants belt. It also has a vertical shape suggesting that it was used on a large surface area, perhaps the back of a person restrained in a straight jacket. There are three fasteners on the back of the buckle, two sets on the left and on large fastener on the right. The upper  and lower fasteners on the left rear suggest from their shape that they perhaps hooked around an upper and lower set of loops. The inner rear left fasteners are triangular shaped and pointed with an inward curvature to the points suggestig that they were designed to dig into something for holding power especially against resistance. Perhaps they were meant to bite into a leather strap placed vertically down ones back or front. On the right rear is one large fastener that is also triangular shaped, but the curvature is outward suggesting that it was used to slip between two layers of leather or fabric. I cannot think of anything that such a buckle might be used for except to fasten a straight jacket from behind the prisoner especially considering that it is labelled according to the hospital for the criminal insane. Have you any idea as to what this may be and how it was used? I would love to hear from you on this item.
Tom Driber
Nashville, TN

Subject: Dannemora history
 Date:  Mon, 1 Apr 2002 17:29:32 -0500
 From:   Brian.Payea@corp.terralycos.com
 Hi,  I have enjoyed reading your web page regarding Dannemora history. I
am doing some genealogy research regarding an ancestor, Louis
Paille/Paye who, family folklore says, moved from Montreal to Dannemora to work on
the construction of the prison, sometime after 1842.    His family
specialized in the construction of mill equipment, so possibly he arrived to work
on something associated with the iron mine at the prison.
Anyway, I was wondering whether, in your research, you came across any
company records from the construction of the facilities up there.   I contacted the prison and they referred me to the local
historians....and that led me to you.
Any information you could provide would be appreciated.   I have
already researched the church records and census data, and found that he was
living there, but can't pinpoint an origin or any other data.
Brian Payea

Subject: Dannemora
Date: Mon, 3 Dec 2001 21:00:27 EST
From:    Krisstt912@aol.com
Dear Mr. Bigelow;
 I am a student and am trying desperately to find information on Dannemora Prison's rehabilitation center without any luck.  I
visited the prison about 3 years ago, and am interested in writing a research paper on my experience and how the prison is
working to reward those prisoners who cooperate with the system.  If you have any information or know of anywhere I could
obtain some, I would appreciate a reply.
Thank you very much,

Subject: Dannemora
Date: Mon, 3 Dec 2001 13:42:49 -0500 (EST)
From: SharonWarburton@webtv.net (Peter Warburton)
 My name is Dustin Warburton. I am a paranormal investigator in upstate
New York. I need to reach Ronald Defeo, who is currently in Dannemora
prson. I need the address of the prison in order to contact Ronald
Defeo. If you know it, could you let me know. Thank you very much.

Subject:  dannemora maximum prison
Date: Sat, 19 May 2001 21:10:32 -0400
From: michelle <  zookeeper101@webtv.net  >
I am writting plainly out of curiosity on a question i had about your visit to the prison. i am sure you are familar with the case of ronald defeo jr. back in nov.  74(amityville case). i was wondering when you visited the prison and if you even know what became of him. all research sites and other sites never mention his sentence or what happened to him. i study crimes as a hobby and on my own study criminal behavior. if you know any infor that you can share i would greatly appreciate it.thank you for your time.        michelle

Subject: Prison Photo
Date: Sun, 03 Jun 2001 00:00:46 -0400
From:  Martha/Art   <  mmcdonald@snet.net

Hello Rod,

I' m settling my parents estate and I found alot of pictures in the attic. I knew my Great Grandfather, Morgan Van Gorder (pictured) was a guard at the prison from family stories. I searched the net for the prison and found your nice web page. Thanks for it.
I think this picture may be a Historian's treasure because it has all the names on the bottom. I don't know the exact year, maybe someone on your end will. My computer wizard friend did a great job scanning these pictures and I want him to do more when he can.
I hope you enjoy them and please tell me anything you can about it.

For the Zoom picture click here.

Return to Dannemora Page.

Histories of the surrounding areas such as Chazy Lake and Lyon Mountain are linked on History Page 1.

Blue Gray Line
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Rod Bigelow

Box 13 Chazy Lake
Dannemora, N.Y. 12929