Moriah reflects on past

PORT HENRY The founders of the town of Moriah were visionaries, but their personal hygiene left something to be desired. Present-day Moriah residents learned that during the communitys bicentennial celebration April 26 at Moriah Central School. During a re-enactment of the first-ever Moriah town board meeting, one of the first items of business was a request by Supervisor William McKenzie, portrayed by current Supervisor Tom Scozzafava, for board members to bath before their next gathering. Trustee Enoch Reed, played by former Supervisor Walt Rushby, protested pointing out local streams are still cold during April. Reed then made a request of his own, that grog be available at all future town board meetings. The board then adopted several resolutions to get Moriah off to a good start. We lived up to the definition of government, Scozzafava quipped as the meeting concluded. We met for 10 minutes and spent $135. The re-enactment was part of a program celebrating 200 years as a community. Moriah officially became a town Feb. 12, 1808, when the state legislature approved Moriahs request to become separate from the town of Crown Point. Following the town board re-enactment, Scozzafava welcomed those attending. He noted Moriah has been challenged throughout its history and has always risen to the occasion. When the mines closed in 1971, he noted, people stayed. I believe this says something positive and good about our community, Scozzafava said. People have chosen to live in Moriah because its a wonderful place. The supervisor also noted the accomplishments of local residents, pointing out Congressional Medal of Honor winner Raymond Buzz Wright and Johnny Podres, Most Valuable Player of the 1955 World Series. We are the home to heroes, Scozzafava said. Many who go about their lives quietly and others who have reached national stature. He pointed out Moriah has more combat veterans than any other town in Essex County. Im proud to call Moriah my home, he said. Im extremely proud and pleased to represent this community and all the great people who live here. Joan Daby, town historian, presented a history of Moriah as a classroom lesson. She portrayed a teacher surrounded by students. Daby was then cited for her work in preparing the bicentennial celebration, garnering a standing ovation. Its been a pleasure being historian and meeting so many wonderful people, Daby said. I want to thank the bicentennial committee. Theyve been a pleasure to work with. Joining Daby on the bicentennial committee were Richard Carpenter, Elaine Adkins, Barb Brassard, Diane Lashway, Mark Lashway, Greg Moore, Georgiana Scott, Catherine Sprague, Barton Swan, Shirley Tedford and Esther Waldron. Tom Walters, a Crown Point town trustee, addressed gathering. The town of Moriah has much to be proud of, he said. Congratulations from your neighbors to the south. Joe Provoncha represented North Hudson, which was part of Moriah before it became a town in 1848. He recalled Frontier Town, which employed many teens from Moriah and North Hudson. I looked forward to summers and renewing my friendships with people from Moriah, Provoncha said. I have many loyal friends from the town of Moriah. Assemblywoman Teresa Sayward presented the town with a legislative resolution from the state Senate and Assembly congratulating the community. She also read a letter of congratulations from Gov. David Paterson. I feel so fortunate to represent the area I represent, Sayward said. Moriah is a proud community. Im proud to be here and say Happy Birthday. The Rev. Paul J. Kelly delivered an invocation and benediction. Music was provided by John Brooks and the Moriah Central School band directed by Mark Pray. The band performed the Port Henry Triumph Rag-Time March, which was written by Moriah resident Perley Helms in 1902. The program opened with a slide presentation created by Moriah students assisted by the Adirondack History Center. Moriah traces its history to the 18th Century. After the Treaty of 1763, soldiers were given land by King George for their service in the French and Indian War. Iron ore was discovered in those lands, lumber and grist mills sprang up, farms started, furnaces were built, and the shipping of ore started, first by water, then by railroad. Many families came to work in the iron ore mining industry, which flourished from around 1824-1971. Mines were privately owned, then became the property of Witherbee-Sherman & Co., and finally in 1938 the Republic Steel Corporation. In the late 1800s and early 1900s most of the large hotels, homes, churches and schools were built, many still existing today.

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