The Maples of Mott Cottage

“They grew in the forest tall and fair,
Until man the destroyer came,
Felling their brothers for light and air,
And to nourish the household flame.

Musing a while on the hill, he stood,
Watching the day’s decline;
Why do I fell these lords of the wood,
Planted by Hand divine?

Sickly exotics from sunnier climes,
These natives can never replace;
Leaves softly murmuring like evening chimes,
It seems like a hallowed place.

A group of trees by this purling brook,
A cottage would shade and adorn,
Peace for a pilgrim in yon quiet nook,
Repose for the weary and worn.

Bared to the sun, cheered by the breeze,
Half a century of seasons have sped.
The maples now are grand old trees,
And the woodman who spared them is dead.

They catch the first gleam of morn’s early light,
See the shadows steal over the lake,
The sun’s parting rays linger at night,
Tinge with gold the wood and the brake.

Here may life close in quiet and ease.
Weary the path I have trod,
I can list to the murmur of the trees
And silently worship God.”

— An excerpt from a poem written by Susan Kellogg Lee, wife of Benoni Lee, in memory of Lydia P. Mott; originally published in the Skaneateles Democrat, December 7, 1865. In her last years, Mrs. Mott was confined to her cottage on West Lake Road, and Mrs. Lee would visit almost daily and read aloud to her, to help her pass the time. Mrs. Lee came to love the trees around the Mott cottage, and did not want to see them go.

Convicts on West Lake Road

“From thirty to forty Auburn prison convicts, under the charge of Supt. Sarr, are engaged in resurfacing West Lake State roads, having quarters at ‘Camp Sarr,’ the tenant house on the Dowling farm. They work in gangs of sixteen men, each under the charge of a foreman. Gangs of prisoners are also engaged in repair work on State roads in the town of Owasco.”

The Marcellus Observer, July 21, 1916


Imagine someone putting “Skaneateles” on something and selling it as an authentic souvenir of our fair village. Well, you don’t have to use your imagination, because eBay recently had three items for souvenir hunters, including two postcards that picture Skaneateles and Skaneateles Falls as ocean resorts, and a sailboat ashtray that had me pondering a bid.

A Specimen of Beauty

“But as to whisky or tobacco-smoke, discard them altogether. Give me the pure air of good old Skaneateles, summer and winter. You can never improve it by modern perfumes. God made that beautiful place for a purpose, and gave it as a specimen of beauty and purity. Improve and use it, but do not abuse it — at your peril do not!”

— “Early Recollections of Skaneateles” by John R. Kellogg, October 23, 1867, quoted in Skaneateles, History of its Earliest Settlement and Reminiscences of Later Times, Disconnected Sketches of the Earliest Settlement of This Town and Village, Not Chronologically Arranged, Together with its Gradual and Progressive Advancement in Business Prosperity and Higher Education, with Notes of the Individuality of Prominent Citizens by Edmund Norman Leslie (1901)