Skaneateles, circa 1838

The Rev. James Jay Bolton was born in Dorset, England, in 1824. He was 12 when his family came to America, where he studied under Dr. William Muhlenberg at St. Paul’s College, in College Point, Queens, N.Y. At some point between 1836 and 1840, he visited Skaneateles. Twenty years after, he wrote about the visit for the Church of England Sunday School Monthly Magazine for Teachers:

“Travelling in the interior of the State we spent a day or so at the fairy Lake of Skaneateles. It was surrounded with woods and dotted with islands. There was no boat on it but ours. We glided about shooting at bitterns and squirrels.

“Presently we noticed that we were being pursued by swarms of large perch; we speedily rigged some tackle which we had with us and commenced operations. They fairly quarreled for precedence in being dragged to the gunwale; no sooner was the steel amongst them than (as we could see for the lake was as clear as crystal) it was occupied. The mere smell of the bait was sufficient to impel them to suicide; — we captured scores; far more than we could cook.”

His memory, you will notice, dotted Skaneateles Lake with islands. As complimentary as he was to the scenery, I am sure the bitterns (small birds of the heron family), squirrels, and perch were relieved to see him go.

At 16, he returned to England. Ordained in 1849, he was known as a great preacher to children, and wrote often for religious magazines. He died in 1863, at the age of 39; his published writings filled 35 volumes.

* * *

“What We Learnt from What We Saw” No. VIII in Church of England Sunday School Monthly Magazine for Teachers (1859) by the Rev. James Bolton


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