Charles Crossmon of Alexandria Bay




( From Haddock, John, The Growth of a Century pages 157-159.

CHARLES CROSSMON came to Alexandria Bay in 1846, and no one of the energetic men who have become so prominet in that locality has done more (and very few as much) to bring into prominence that most deserving and popular summer resort than Mr. Crossmon. Without any special influence to aid him, and without any capital save his own right hand and the clear head to govern it, aided by one of the most capable and industrious wives the country has ever produced, he grew into a great success as a hotel-keeper, and left an indelible impress upon the Bay that will not be soon forgotten and can never be altogether effaced. He was born in Watertown, NY and had but few advantages in his youth, his education having been confined to the common school grades of instruction. Unluckily for him, and certainly an unpromising beginning of a business life which has proven so successful, he was one of the youngsters who were seduced into that "Patriot" army that undertook in 1837 to invade Canada and redress the "wrongs" which a few Canadian malcontents had glowingly depicted in "Hunter" lodges and elsewhere. Crossmon was one of those who were "cooped up" in the old windmill below Prescott, and who courageously refused to desert Von Schoultz, their leader, when Preston King came at night with the "Paul Pry" and offered to carry them away to the American shore. He was about twenty years of age at that time, and on account of his yurth was finally paroned by the British authorities, and released, after and anxious and somewhat protracted imprisonment in Fort Henry at Kingston, from which several of these "patriots" were marched to a felon's death upon the scaffold.

He commenced hotel keeping in an humble way at the Bay in 1848, succeeding his father-in-law in a small country tavern adapted to the wants of that early day. There were, however, even then some visitors to the islands and river in pursuit of fish and rest. Among the distinguished men who made the old "Crossmon" famous were William H. Seward, William L. Marcy, Martin Van Buren and his son John, Silas Wright, Frank Blair, Preston King, Rev. Dr. Bethune, General Dick Taylor, the Breckinridges, and many others equally distinguished.

As the tide of pleasure travel set in toward the St. Lawrence and its islands, the Crossmon was from time to time enlarged, and finally the present magnificent hotel was built on the site of its earliest predecessor. In the new structure everything that is desirable in a first class hotel has been provided for, and in its management every facility is furnished, and the fullest attention is given to the wishes and requirements of its guests. Its rooms are all pleasantly situated, affording charming views of the neighboring scenery. There are suites for families, with private bath-rooms and all conveniences, besides single and connecting rooms in every part of the house, all handsomely furnished. The elevator is in operations constantly, and the stairways are broad and easy. There are spacious and elegantly furnished drawing-rooms, wide corridors and broad verandas, and from the latter, one of the most delightful views to be found in this entire region may be had. The main dining room is on the river side of the house. Its tables are furnished with costly china, silver and cut glass and the finest linen, and supplied with the rarest fruits and delicacies. Its service is unexcelled. A pleasant dining room is provided for children in charge of nurses. The importance of providing special comforts and amusements for the children is recognized in and about this establishment. There are accomodations for nurses in their care of the little ones, and opportunities for wholesome sports are at hand.

The Crossmon's surroundings are attractive. Every crevice of the immense rock upon which its river side rests is adorned with a bed of flowers or a small shrub. On the street side are graveled walks and drives, and a circular plat for out door games, with easy benches protected by a canopy. Stretching eastward from the hotel is Crossmon's Point, with its broad, level lawn, bordered by docks and landings for steamboats and skiffs.

At night the Crossmon, in-doors and out, presents a scene of brilliantcy. Rows of colored lights illumine the verandas, and shine from its many towers, shedding a wealth of color upon the water. The drawing-rooms are filled with guests engaged in social pastimes, and all about the place there is light and life and gayety. The arrival of the steamers at evening is celebrated with a display of fireworks in front of the hotel and on the neighboring islands, making the picture indescribably beautiful.

In speaking thus extendedly of "The Crossmon", we have really been illustrating the successful efforts of Mr. Crossmon himself, hor his htel was his life, and upon it he lavished all his energy, and it rewarded his honest faith. No trouble was too great for a guest; the sick had all the care possible if by chance they fell ill thee, and the result was that every guest became a personal friend. In that way "The Crossmon" has enjoyed a steady return of its old patrons year by year. Indeed, one patron has spent thirty-eight consecutively recurring summers there.

Personally, Mr. Crossmon was unassuming, earnest in his friendships, steadfast in his purposes, and loyal to all those that aided to develop Alexandria Bay. In the midst of his complete success he was called away to another country, leaving a name unblemished, and a memory sweet and grateful.

The elder Crossmon having died in 1892, Mr. Charles W. Crossmon succeeds the firm of Crossmon & Son, whose management has made this hotel noted throughout the world, and the favorite headquarters in later days of such men as President Arthur, Gen. Sheridan, Cardinal McCloskey, Herbert Spencer, Charles Dudley Warner, B.F. Reinhart, Will Carleton, and other notables, whose spoken and written praises have added greatly to the popularity of the islands and the Crossmon.

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Nan Dixon

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