LONG LAKE HISTORICAL SOCIETY NEWSLETTER
February 27, 2012
A large crowd assembled Monday afternoon in the Community Room of the Wesleyan Church to listen to Tom Bissell expound on his beloved Endion.
He started off by declaring he lived on Lot 79 of the Totten and Crossfield Township 21. Most of the Town of Long Lake is in Township 21. Totten and Crossfield, mariners from NYC, made a deal to buy 1 million acres from the Indians. The deal became final after getting permission from the British government and in 1772 the land was surveyed into great lots ½ mile wide and 5/8 miles long. Tom emphasized how lucky Long Lake was because our land was surveyed whereas the land in Raquette Lake was not, and they’re still trying to figure out who owns what.
Endion, Tom explained, was 82 acres. The rest of the great lot is in the lake. The acreage here was settled early because like the Kickerville Road and Big Brook area, the land was flat and more suitable for farming. Tom’s grandmother, Lena Talbot Bissell, together with her husband, James Bissell (they were married in 1879) and Andrew Fisher bought the property from Robert Shaw, the Renaissance man of Long Lake (he doctored, he lawyered, managed investments, ran a store, the town and the Wesleyan Church). James was an accomplished carpenter and cabinet maker, and Andrew was a builder. He built St. Henry’s church and also built in Deerland.
The original hotel building was in the Queen Anne style, later additions changed the original design.
Endion in 1893.
Frederick Durant, a relative of William West Durant, built the Prospect House in Blue Mountain Lake in 1882. He advised Lena to purchase Endion in 1887. Technically, Andrew Fisher bought the 82 acre property for $12,000 and Durant held a mortgage of $300. Tom added an aside here, regarding the timing of the purchase of Endion. “The flush toilet had been invented by the time Endion was built, so unlike the Prospect House, there was no need for a two-story outhouse.”
Endion was named Endion in 1894. Supposedly Frederick Remington learned that “Endion” meant “Home.” It was aid that he learned the word from an Indian he met on a canoe trip in Canada. Tom later learned that Remington’s residence was also named Endion.
We next heard about Clayton Cole who owned Lot 78 just south of Endion. At that time it was common to set fire to the woods to improve the blueberry crop. Harney, one of the hermits on the lake was known to have burned three mountains. Canned blueberries were essential to the winter diet of Long Lakers since there were no grocery stores to provide the settlers with fruit or vegetables during the cold months. Lena Bissell bought out Mr. Cole in 1903,when two of his fires came too close to Endion.
Cole had a son, Sylvestor, known to everyone as Vet Cole. In 1938 in his old age, he lost his home to a fire.. Neighbors all chipped in and built him a new home with new furnishings. One neighbor stopped in to take a look and found the bathtub in the new home filled with coal up to the top. Apparently, keeping warm was more important than keeping clean.
Vet had a guideboat and he would row up and down the lake trolling for fish and often stopped for a meal at Endion. One day he stopped and Tom’s mother (not Lena) invited him for a meal. Vet agreed and took a seat on the porch step (outside the building). Mrs. Bissell carried out a plate of food and had to lean down to hand Vet the food. Glancing up at her face, Vet pronounced, “Mrs. Bissell, you’ve lost your looks.” Tactfulness as with cleanliness was not Vet’s strong point. Mrs. Bissell didn’t seem to mind as she was the one who told the story, according to Tom.
Vet Cole with fish c. 1920
In 1904, Tom’s grandfather James, moved to Newcomb leaving Lena, their son Talbot, and daughter, Louise, and Andrew Fisher at Endion. Tom found a penciled note years later when he was renovating the dining room in his home. It read “Wish I were dead, my troubles are great.” But, there were no details in the note regarding what kind of troubles he was talking about although, his wife, Lena, claimed that he was a big drinker. Later that same year, Andrew Fisher died. According to Tom, James Bissell got some of his Newcomb friends together and they came over to Long Lake and had a “horning” to celebrate Andrew Fisher’s death.
Tom’s father, Talbot Bissell was born in 1888, his sister Louise was born in 1893. Talbot went to the Deerland School and later to the prep school, Lawrence Academy, in Groton, MA. Lawrence Academy is where he met Alice Williams, his wife-to-be. She was visiting her sister who was married to the headmaster. Now everyone knows how a young woman from Charleston, South Carolina met a young man from the Adirondacks. They had two sons, Talbot, Jr. and Tom. Talbot, Sr. died in 1941, Talbot Jr. (Tally) served in the Pacific during WWII. Tom’s mother and eventually Tom continued to operate Endion. The property had been left in a trust in order to protect Sister, Tom’s aunt, who had had polio and meningitis when a child. Thanks to one of Endion’s visitors, Walter Saul, the trust was broken so that Tom and his mother could deal appropriately with the property. The Saul family had been guests at Endion for years. Eventually, there were so many children and grandchildren there was not enough room for them at Endion so they bought Forked Pine, a camp, down the lake near Round Island.
Lena Talbot Bissell 1863-1926
The hotel only had about 8 or 9 bedrooms, as Lena had decided to build cottages instead of adding on to the main house.
The 1890s until WWI were very profitable for the hotels in Long Lake. The 20s were also profitable but the thirties were a disaster, economically speaking, because of the great depression. It was a major accomplishment if one was able to keep one’s property. After WWII, the automobile made the Adirondacks very accessible and the old way of staying in one hotel or resort for a month or the entire summer ended. The main building at Endion was torn down after WWII and the Bissells, Jane and Tom, rented their cottages until the mid 1960s when Tom decided to sell the cottages. Many of the families who had been coming to Endion for years jumped at the chance to have their own cottage.
This is just a brief summary of Tom’s talk. Here’s a picture of Endion as it looks today. This is a hand hewn log cabin built by Tom circa 20 years ago. It is located on the site of the hotel, next to Tom and Jane’s home.
Long Lake Historical Society
P. O. Box 201
Long Lake, NY 12847