Warren County, New York
Genealogy and History

Short History of the Town of Hague

Introduction

Diane Frasier and Laura Meade prepared a compact history of Hague for the US Bicentennial Celebration. After positioning the town in time and space, the story highlights the evolution of the modern town.

Compiled by Diane Frasier and Laura Meade for the August 14, 1987
Celebration of the Bicentennial of the U.S. Constitution

Short History of the Town of Hague

Hague, once known as Rochester, is nestled in the Adirondack Mountains, on the west shore of Lake George in Warren County, New York. On April 6, 1807, when it was known as Rochester, it was set off from the Town of Bolton. Effective one year later the name was changed to Hague. When the Town was first established there was no town Hall so meetings were held in private homes during daylight or by candlelight.

Hague's place in history prior to the Revolutionary War and during that war does not include important battles such as were fought at Fort Ticonderoga or Fort William Henry, but since Lake George was a primary waterway for the transportation of soldiers in those days, large groups stopped on the shorelines of what is now the Town of Hague. In 1758 General Abercrombie landed at Sabbath Day Point with 15,000 men and the following year, General Asherst landed there with 12,000 men. Both were on their way to battles at Fort Ticonderoga. Major Robert Rogers' famous escape from the Indians by sliding down a rock precipice, took place in the northernmost corner of the Town of Hague, where Rogers Rock Campsite is now located.

In the early 1800s family names included Balcom, Bevins, Hayes, Holman, Cook and Rising, to name a few, some of which are still present today.

The first industries were sawmills, grist mills, tanneries, lumbering, farms, boat building, blacksmith shops plus taverns, stores and "boarding houses", the tourism of its time. Perhaps tourism began with Sam Adams 'House of Entertainment' as far back as 1764. This 'boarding house' was later expanded to be the Sabbath Day Point House and was run by the Carney family for 57 years.

In the early days, the Town was divided into various school districts, each with its own schoolhouse. One such school was on Split Rock Road, one was near Sabbath Day Point and another in West Hague. A log school was located near the present Hague Cemetery. In 1909 a two-room schoolhouse was built in the hamlet. In 1927, the Hague Central School was constructed and all the districts were consolidated to the central location. In 1979, the Hague Central School became annexed to the Tironderoga central School. Now the children are bussed to the Elementary-Middle School or the High School in Ticonderoga. The former Hague Central School has been torn down.

In the mid-l800s, after the steamboat company began transporting passengers on Lake George and docks were built, hotels began springing up along the shores. A hotel built by Garfields in 1810, later called the Phoenix Hotel, and now called the Beachside, has burned and been rebuilt several times. Besides Sabbath Day Point House and Phoenix Hotel one might stay at Uncas Inn (now Silver Bay Lodge), Island Harbor House, the Iroquois (later Trout House and now developed into Trout House Village), the Rising House or Hillside Hotel. Most of these are gone now, having been torn down or burned. Six steamboat passengers met an untimely death in 1856 when the John Jay Steamboat lost control due to burning of a rudder rope and crashed into Calamity Rock south of Island Harbor. The skeletal remains of the boat are well preserved and can be seen when the water is calm.

The present Inn at the Silver Bay Association was built by Silas Paine in 1898, occupied in 1899 and run for three years as a private enterprise, before a Mr. Wishard prevailed on Paine to devote the Inn to use by Christian conferences organized by the YMCA. In 1904, Paine sold the Inn and grounds to the YMCA for $70,000 (then a $125,000 value). In 1910 various boys organizations banded together to form the Boy Scouts of America at a Council Ring on the property. A private boy's school was run at the Silver Bay Association from 1918-1934, during which time many of the small cottages were constructed. The S.B.A. (as it is called) is a bustling place for summer conferences and recently it added a modern dining hall with hopes of expanding into a four-season center.

In 1887 Sam Ackerman discovered the mineral graphite in the Town of Hague. The mine, an open pit, was active only in the summer, with the graphite hauled to a processing plant in the winter because it was easier for a horse-drawn sleigh to move it over ice and snow. The area of the mines came to be known as Graphite and it had its own church, school, store, 3 saloons, and a Post Office, which was in service from 1890 to 1921, the year the mines closed.

In 1880 a water sports club was formed. First called the Hague Rowing Club and later called the Lake George Regatta Association, it was organized for rowing races. When motor boats became popular speed boat races were held in Hague Bay from Island Harbor to Arcady. At Friends Point, the Northern Lake George Yacht Club now holds regular sailboat races for various classes plus running a youth waterfront and sailing program.

In 1906, Col. William Mann, quite a prankster, made a 30 lb. wooden fish to tease Harry Watrous about his inability to catch fish. In retaliation, Watrous created a Lake George "monster" (George) from wood and insulators. It was rigged on a rope pulley so Watrous could pull it up to emerge from the lake depths to scare people, especially Col. Mann.

In 1947, the Hague Volunteer Fire Department organized and was chartered the next year. The Department was located where a laundromat is located now and it started with a Jeep which towed a 200-gallon tank on a trailer. Robert Hoyt, the first chief, was instrumental in getting the building constructed to house updated equipment in 1954, the same year that an ambulance squad was formed. The Fire Police were organized in 1957. A fire department sub-station at Silver Bay provides quick response to emergencies in that area.

The town of Hague occupies approximately 80 square miles and boasts a population of under 1,000. It is served by four churches: The Wesleyan Methodist (1879), Grace Memorial Chapel (1885), Baptist (1912), and Blessed Sacrament - Catholic (1924). Hague's current supervisor is Daniel Belden.

For more detailed history, one may consult with town Historian Clifton West or members of the Hague Historical Society, or one may read back issues of the "Hague Chronicle," a monthly newspaper written and published by volunteers about happenings in town since 1972.

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