About & Apology

PJF ADK MEMORIES About & Apology


This website is primarily the digital appendix for Onchiota Remembered. The book is a history of the most remarkable Adirondack hamlet where heroic ordinary people created unique institutions that benefited others. I am not a professional writer or historian. Yet it has been a joy to discover and chronicle the developments of Onchiota up to 1975. To my own surprise, I can in good conscience recommend this book to you as you will learn Adirondack lore known by few others and also find encouragement for making your own dreams come true.

You are entitled to know a bit about me and my creative process.



My boyhood summers were spent on the shores of Lake Champlain at Plattsburgh. My roots there go back to the Philip Fitzpatrick who came from Ireland in 1826. He was the first person to be buried in what is known as The Old Irish Cemetery.

The next two generations of the family turned out to be builders and harbor dredgers. You can read their surprising success story in my book Fitzpatrick Contractors available on

My father’s generation was quite the large clan as his father and his uncle married two sisters and they lived side by side for decades. So I was surrounded by numerous cousins, aunts and uncles in my glorious Plattsburgh summers.

The standout my father’s generation was my uncle James A. FitzPatrick. He lead the North Country Republican party and served in the NYS legislature long enough to conceive of the Adirondack Northway, write the legislation for it and see it become a reality. He also served on numerous charity boards including some in Lake Placid where he was counsel for the Lake Placid Club.


I came to Onchiota with my wife, Briggs Larkin, by way of Osgood Pond where we spent some weeks of every summer for years. We never expected to own an Adirondack camp as such places were beyond our means   

However, a small property known as “Pine Haven”  became available at a price we could afford. We renamed it “Wellspent Days” after the Sanskrit Salutation to the Dawn.

      Look to this day !     

      For it is life, the very life of life.

      In its brief course

      Lie all the verities and realities of your existence:

      The bliss of growth;

      The glory of action;

      The splendor of achievement;

      For yesterday is but a dream,

      And tomorrow is only a vision;

      But today, well spent, makes every

      Yesterday a dream of happiness,

      And every tomorrow a vision of hope.

                                           —  Attributed to Kalidasa

I also never expected to fall in love with Onchiota and write a book about it. However, I am glad I did on both counts. Here is an excerpt from the preface of Remembering Onchiota:

This book began without my knowing it when I started to collect postcards and memorabilia of Onchiota….  As the collection grew so did my interest in this place that is a name and a dot on many maps but is without political boundaries. I became convinced that Onchiota’s past is worth remembering.

Once I began researching in earnest I fortuitously received a great deal of unexpected support. After having searched the data base for New York State Newspapers, I first contacted Carol Poole of the Franklin County Historical and Museum Society in Malone, New York. She and her staff welcomed me and allowed me to photograph maps and census rolls. The helpful openness which I benefitted from in Malone was to be the template for my continued research.

The Franklin Town Clerk, Lauren LeFebvre, was just as helpful and very encouraging. Her materials included a box of old photos including some from both the Adirondack-Florida School and Stony Wold Sanatorium.

Michele Tucker of the Saranac Lake Free Library’s Adirondack Research Room, allowed me to set up my tripod and photograph the Library’s tremendous collection of material on the Stony Wold Sanitorium. In using my camera as a scanner I was able to capture and then enhance the images.

Not so long thereafter my neighbor, Faith Lundgren, told me about the Patnode and Tormey families. Faith allowed me to photograph family photos, and she has been so gracious as to edit my drafts of this book.

One day in the summer of 2017 when Briggs and I were driving by the former site of the Adirondack-Florida School, I accosted Leo Mondale who was working with his son at a barn on the side of Meenagah Mountain Road. Leo not only had heard of the school, he and his wife, Sarah, owned part of the original school property. They had a notebook full of original documents which they were glad to lend me for a few days so that I could make copies.

Another helping of generous support came from John Fadden who runs the Six Nation Indian Museum. John sent me links to articles about his family and their museum, and he reviewed my draft chapter on the museum which his father, Ray Fadden, created.

Over the winter of 2017 I hunted down Gloria Pierce, the Archivist of the Ransom Everglades School. That school is the current incarnation of Paul and Alice Ransom’s Adirondack-Florida School. Gloria put me in touch with Arva Parks who had co-authored the authoritative book on the School and also with Harry Andersen who, following in his father’s footsteps, attended and has long supported it.

My final stroke of serendipity happened in August of 2018. I stopped in unannounced at Camp Wa A Wa which has stood where Rainbow Lake flows into the North Branch of the Saranac River since 1916. There I was warmly received by Dan Leonard, the camp historian. Dan not only told me the history of his family camp, but also the story of how the Leonard brothers came to the Adirondacks in 1886. Arthur G. Leonard soon thereafter acquired most of the land on the west side of Lake Kushaqua and the site of Camp Wa A Wa which includes all of Square Pond. He created the Kushaqua Lodge and the Kinsley lumber enterprise.

So the story really wanted to be written and I became its scribe. In the process I have amassed the hundreds of photos which you will find here on this website. 




This is the first website that I have put together. I regret the fact that I have been unable to order the images so that the pages of displayed documents are in numerical ( or any other ) order. This is particularly true for the Adirondack-Florida School and Stony Wold Sanatorium pages.