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Ballston 1901

Page history last edited by Mr. Hengsterman 12 years ago


History Lesson: A president's, uh, future president's visits to Ballston




BALLSTON — Two U.S. presidents-to-be have visited the town in years gone by.

Both men, incidentally, have been ranked as some of our “best” presidents in polls that have been conducted recently by different groups.  In July 1783, after the Revolutionary War had ended, Commander-in-Chief George Washington had been sampling spring water in the area and decided to pay a visit on Gen. Gordon, the unofficial leader of the rebels in the Ballston area.

Washington wished to express his thanks to Gordon for all he had done for the rebel cause. Traveling with Washington were Alexander Hamilton and George Clinton.  Knowing not where Gordon lived (It was usually by word of mouth that people found each other in those days.), the party stopped at a cabin on Middleline Road, knocked on the door and spoke to the owner, Tom Conner.

Connor was in the middle of dinner and, having no knowledge of the identity of the man at the door, was quite disturbed by the interruption to his meal and is reported to have said to Washington: “I tell you, turn back and take the first right-hand path into the woods, and then stick to it — any darn fool would know the way!”

Connor then slammed the door in the man’s face, supposedly. It was some days later that Connor learned who his “visitor” had been and was said to have been mortified by his words and actions. After Washington finally reached the Gordon house and had dinner, Gordon escorted him to Forts Ferry and would himself, a few years later, serve two terms as a New York congressman.

Theodore Roosevelt, another president-to-be, was a frequent visitor to Ballston while he was governor of New York. Often times, Roosevelt would visit the Bakers who lived in a mansion named Hawkwood, located on the current Route 50, near Middleline Road. 

Roosevelt, coming to fox hunt in the area, would come by railroad and complete the journey by coach. One time, the coach was late and while waiting he bought some ice cream, and many onlookers remarked about his humorous-looking “white mustache.”

On another visit, Roosevelt’s daughter, Alice, accompanied him and supposedly fell into a watering trough on Midline Road. In 1901, then Vice-President Theodore Roosevelt was in the Adirondacks hunting for bear. He was informed that President McKinley had been shot at the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo.  Roosevelt took a train from White Creek and stopped in Ballston Lake for a meal at the Ballston Lake Hotel, now Carney’s Restaurant.

After a meal, he traveled on to Buffalo where he was inaugurated as the new U.S. president the next evening just after the death of McKinley.


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