A Special Place

This is the Saranac River, that cuts right through Plattsburgh. This Picture was taken at the end of the street I grew up on. Many hours were spent fishing here.

This is the Saranac River, that cuts right through Plattsburgh. This Picture was taken at the end of the street I grew up on. Many hours were spent fishing here.


“This is my most special place in all the world. Once a place touches you like that, the wind never blows so cold again”
From the film Field of Dreams spoken by Dr. Archibald Graham played by Burt Lancaster.

The lucky ones among us have a place that fits the description of the above quote. It is a place that defines us, shaped us in our growing years, and gave us the unique outlook we have on the world at large. I have such a place. It is found in northern New York in the Champlain Valley. A place called Plattsburgh.

From the steps of city hall you can see the Macdonough Monument. It has a giant Eagle with it's wings spread on top. This commemorates the American Victory in  the Battle of Plattsburgh. Fought during the War of 1812

From the steps of city hall you can see the Macdonough Monument. It has a giant Eagle with it’s wings spread on top. This commemorates the American Victory in the Battle of Plattsburgh. Fought during the War of 1812

This is looking back toward city hall, from the monument.

This is looking back toward city hall, from the monument.

Many of our ancestors that we research had a special place also. Perhaps they were among the first settlers that brought a location to life and formed a town. Perhaps generations of your family lived in one place leaving their mark upon it, and in turn being influenced and cradled by that very place. The fact is they are the place, and the place is them.

I just recently returned from a place called Digby, in Nova Scotia. My ancestors helped settled the area over 200 years ago. To be able to go there and walk on their land, see the buildings they built, the monuments erected in their honor, walk in the churches they worshiped in, and find their graves, helped me understand them a little better. To have that type of understanding makes all the difference in your family history. Suddenly they are more than names and dates. They start to breathe and come to life. We even begin to understand them a little more.

Front door at St. John The Baptist Church. I must have gone through these doors countless times.

Front door at St. John The Baptist Church. I must have gone through these doors countless times.


The front altar at St. John The Baptist Church.

The front altar at St. John The Baptist Church.

This is looking back from the front altar.  Sitting in these pews is where a large part of my moral code was formed.

This is looking back from the front altar. Sitting in these pews is where a large part of my moral code was formed.


This week I just came back from an all too brief visit to my hometown, Plattsburgh, N.Y.. I have not lived there since the early 70s. However, even today when someone inquires where I am from, Plattsburgh, is my first thought. In the years past I have brought my children and grandchildren to my hometown. They all have received the “tour” more than once. I recounted stories and showed them the special places of my youth.

When I went to school here it was known only as Broad Street School. It was built right next door to the old wooden Broad Street School. We watched the new one being built. I was in 2nd grade when it opened up.

When I went to school here it was known only as Broad Street School. It was built right next door to the old wooden Broad Street School. We watched the new one being built. I was in 2nd grade when it opened up.

This restaurant was and still is a favorite place for my wife and I. Great food at low prices. We would come here after a movie or a dance. Many laughs and meals were shared with good friends.

This restaurant was and still is a favorite place for my wife and I. Great food at low prices. We would come here after a movie or a dance. Many laughs and meals were shared with good friends.

When you have an ancestor that you are trying to learn more about, spend some time learning about where they lived. Did they live on a farm or in town? Where did they worship? Did they go to a small school or a large city school? What type of work did they do? Who were the family and friends they had in the area? You can find answers in town histories, old newspapers, photographs, vital records, old postcards of the area, and searching on the internet. Construct a time line of your ancestor and their home town. This will put events in order for you. Contact a local historical society, they most likely will have much information just waiting for you.

Clare & Carl's  serve great Michigans. If you do not know what they are, that because you never lived in Plattsburgh, N.Y. A simple description would be a hot dog with a meat sauce on top. No, they are not chili dogs.

Clare & Carl’s serve great Michigans. If you do not know what they are, that because you never lived in Plattsburgh, N.Y. A simple description would be a hot dog with a meat sauce on top. No, they are not chili dogs.

They come right out to your cars and serve the food. My mother use to go here well before I was born.

They come right out to your cars and serve the food. My mother use to go here well before I was born.

I would have taken a picture of a Michigan but they were eaten too fast.

I would have taken a picture of a Michigan but they were eaten too fast.

When you learn about a place, you will learn about the people from that place. So get to know your ancestors a little better by getting to know where and how they lived.

Advertisements
This entry was posted in Lets Talk and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

34 Responses to A Special Place

  1. Jimmy M. Sisson says:

    Great reading as always. Makes me want to visit Plattsburgh, NY.

  2. Amy says:

    Wonderful post. Thanks for sharing you special place!

  3. Jim McKeever says:

    Nice, Charles. There’s nothing better than pleasant memories of home.

  4. Marie Lough says:

    Very interesting – thank you for sharing a bit of you and your ancestry.

  5. Bob McGinnis says:

    Love your blog! Can’t agree more with what you are saying here. Visiting where the ancestors lived & walking the streets, the cemetery, sitting in the church pew, and down Main Street really makes them so much more than a name & date! Thanks so much for sharing, Sandi McGinnis From Denmark where an uncle’s & many of my childhood friends ancestors lived.

    From my iPad2 – Have a Great Day!

    >

  6. Bob McGinnis says:

    Charles, I enjoyed reading your great writing, and certainly relate, as I think most will. I frequently go to my special places in my mind, since I seldom go physically.

    Sandi and I have often traveled to the grounds of ancestors. We both descend from a common ancestor, John Coggeshall, and one year traveled to both his birthplace in Castle Hedingham in Essex and his final resting in his private cemetery in the middle of Newport, RI – a special experience visiting his special places.

    Bob McGinnis

    >

    • chmjr2 says:

      No great surprise here, John Coggeshall is my 9th great grandfather. Would love a picture of his birthplace and cemetery if you have any to e-mail me. I do wish I could travel more. The internet does bring a lot of places to me. Thanks so much for reading my blog and taking the time to comment.

  7. Thank you Charles, for the tour and for shaing some of your favorite things! Your own grandchildren and great, great, greats will come across this one day and won’t they be delighted as their ancestor “comes alive”! I love that view of the river, it is so beautiful, surely a special place. i also love the phrase “a large part of my moral code was formed” here! That is bery special!

  8. dkheeter says:

    Thank you for the sincere recounting of your past. I have lived within 5 miles of my birthplace with the exception of college all my life. I recently figured out that I have lived in Chicago for more years than I lived in Evanston, IL where I was born and raised but, I still say I’m from Evanston.

    Thank you for the Moonlight Graham quote from my favorite movie.
    I am glad that there is another ‘old’ soul that enjoys walking where their ancestors tread.

    • chmjr2 says:

      The movie “A field of Dreams” is also one of my favorite movies. At the end I imagine that its me and my Dad playing a game of catch. As you know you can leave your hometown but it never leaves you. Thanks for your comment.

  9. I am heading to Arkansas in just a few weeks to find the piece of land my great grandfather was given under the Treaty of 1839. Of course, it was later taken back by the government but I am hoping in museums, libraries and churches to be able to find out more about their day to day life.

    • chmjr2 says:

      I hope you are able to walk some of the same ground and close your eyes and see your great grandfather. I find that local historical societies have the best resources for what you are looking for. I hope to read about your trip and hope you have great fun.

  10. Great post! That church is so beautiful.

    • chmjr2 says:

      That church was a big part of my growing up. Generations of family went there. Something I wish I had been able to continue. Thanks for reading, I always look forward to your comments.

  11. Thanks for sharing your special place with us. Loved the pictures–what a beautiful church!

    I’d never heard of a Michigan before, but they sound wonderful.

    • chmjr2 says:

      Thanks for reading my blog and your comment. Someday perhaps you will find yourself in the upper right hand corner of N.Y., and you can get a Michigan for yourself. Worth the trip I think. πŸ™‚

  12. That is so cool that you had a river at the end of your street. Nice post.

  13. Pingback: Outdoor Cathedral | pastsmith

  14. What a great post. Will have to follow you. Love, love the church pic. I had one of those myself growing up. Found out it recently closed, and merged communities with 2 others in the area. Town in decline, cannot support so many. I was heartbroken. Not sure what they will do with the building. They just don’t make them like that anymore. Almost Cathedral-like styling. Insipiring!

  15. chmjr2 says:

    I am very glad you liked my post. The church was built in 1874 and is a Gothic Revival. You are so right, they just do not build them like this today. I hope to hear from you in the future.

  16. lbeth1950 says:

    Love your blog. I will be following. I visited my relatives in Virginia years ago and felt just as close to them as the ones I’d grown up with just because of the descriptions and stories I’d heard all my life. Understood immediately why I looked, acted, and felt as I do about things. Thanks for liking “Betty Boo” on nutsrok. It was about my 86 year old mother’s earliest memory. She is collaborating with me on her memoir to make sure family stories aren’t lost. Check out the stories and illustrations. She does all the illustrations, working hours every day. She is really caught up in this project. Thanks for reading and appreciating.

  17. chmjr2 says:

    I think it is great that you and your mother are working on the memoir. These stories should be written down and saved. While your at it don’t forget your own stories. I wish I had stories from my grandmother and other ancestors.

  18. I have written many stories of my life but not one of around town like this. It will be added to my To Do list – now To Find the time. I truly enjoyed the read
    Jeanne

  19. Susan Marg says:

    Great post. Enjoyed your ideas and photos. When my husband and I were writing my family history we took a trip to Meadville, PA, where I was born. My parents, initially reluctant to take the hour and half drive from Cleveland, joined us and showed us around. We saw where my grandfather’s jewelry store once stood. It’s now a tattoo parlor. We went to my great grandparents’ place where, as a little girl, I picked berries. And we got a tour of my parents’ first house, when we introduced ourselves to the current owner. What memories!

  20. jenorv says:

    I too have special memories of Plattsburg as it is where I attended ROTC summer camp. I assume the base is long gone. We spent two weeks on the base not allowed to go off, and then got a pass — going to Plattsburg was like going to heaven. There were people, lights, music in the bars, a real world.

  21. KerryCan says:

    Hello from the North Country, Charles! It’s fun to find others with memories so similar to mine!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s