Resource for Historians, Educators, Students and Visitors since 1997
James G. Bailey
America's Historic Lakes Contribution: The Forgotten Graves of Crab Island
A native of Elizabethtown, N. Y., Jim Bailey graduated from the local high school there in 1953, and went on to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy. After 2 years, he transferred to SUNY, Albany, earning a Bachelor's degree in 1957 and a Master's degree in Mathematics in 1958. He taught at Beekmantown Central School for 12 years, and as an adjunct instructor in Mathematics at SUNY, Plattsburgh. In 1968, Jim attended Cornell University to earn a second Master of Arts in Teaching. From 1971 to 1976, Jim served as the director of the Essex County Historical Society's Adirondack Center Museum in Elizabethtown, initiating a popular lecture series at the Essex County Court House, and reviving the annual Maple Sugar Festival.
For many years, Jim has been employed at the Clinton County Real Property Office, and he served as the Historian of the City of Plattsburgh. Jim has always taken delight in the fact that his birthday, September 11, coincides with the most famous day in the history of Plattsburgh: September 11, 1814. He has been active in many civic and community organizations including the Algonquin Chapter of the Adirondack Mountain Club, the Adirondack 46'ers, the City of Plattsburgh Centennial Commission, the Plattsburgh Riverwalk Committee, the Battle of Plattsburgh Celebration Committee, and the Association of Municipal Historians of New York State. In most of these organizations, he has served in leadership positions, notably as the editor of the Algonquin Chapter newsletter for 20 plus years, and as Treasurer of the Municipal Historians' Association.
As part of the city's 90th birthday celebration, Jim researched all of the mayors of the city, and procured photos of all but one. The portraits now hang in the Common Council Chambers in City Hall. Jim cleaned and restored the interior of the McDonough Monument in downtown Plattsburgh, and regularly opens it to climbers for holidays and to school groups, by appointment. For several years, he conducted Sunday afternoon walking tours of historic sites in downtown Plattsburgh. He is also a member of the First Presbyterian Church of Plattsburgh, currently serving as co-chair of the Outreach Council and as a member of the Presbytery Committee on Inclusion. The author of numerous articles in the ADK's " Adirondack" magazine and in the Clinton County Historical Association's " Antiquarian," Jim enjoys researching answers to the many requests that come to him as City Historian. He helps with the local history archives at the Plattsburgh Public Library.
Through his careful scholarship, Jim waged a battle against private acquisition of Crab Island, to ensure that this War of 1812 burial ground remain as state and public property . Besides his passion for local history, Jim enjoys many outdoor activities including mountain climbing, cross country skiing. and tracing old wilderness routes in the Adirondacks. Currently, he helped the Curator of American Art at the Brooklyn Museum to research the sites of the landscapes of Adirondack painter William Trost Richards in preparation for an exhibit at the Adirondack Museum, in Blue Mountain Lake, in the summer of 2002.
Jim has contributed to the community in many ways, and he has never shied away from service to others, in spite of his handicap of deafness. He is not only a role model for all able bodied citizens of the city, but especially from those who suffer from disabilities. He has devoted himself to volunteer service on behalf of the City of Plattsburgh for over thirty years with intelligence, good humor, and hard work. Jim lives in Plattsburgh, New York with his wife Anne (née Biesemeyer) originally of Keene, N.Y. Their son, Walter lives in California, and a son David is deceased. All 4 Bailey's are Adirondack 46'ers, having climbed the 46 peaks in the Adirondacks over 4000 ft.
Jim was presented with the prestigious Franklin D. Roosevelt Award by the Association of Public Historians of New York State in recognition of his many contributions to the promotion of local history in the region.
America's Historic Lakes is very happy to acknowledge Jim Bailey's contributions to the preservation of local history in the historic lakes region. We are thrilled to have him as a guest contributor and thank both he and the Clinton County Historical Association for their generous contribution of this article. [JPM]
"...a superb job of documenting the history of Crab Island. Secrets of Crab Island has made a significant contribution
to the public awareness of this important historic site."
Dr. Russell P. Bellico— Historian/Author- "Sails and Steam in the Mountains: A Maritime and Military History of
Lake George and Lake Champlain"
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