August 17, 1963 – Minutes of the 19th Annual Meeting – LGPA

  • August 17, 1963 – Minutes of the 19th Annual Lake George Protective Association Meeting

The nineteenth annual meeting of the Lake George Protective Association was called to order at 6:30 P.M., August 17, 1963, at the home of Mrs. A. K. Christie, Bolton Landing. Mr. M. F. Witherell, president, presiding.

The secretary’s minutes were read and approved, with congratulations to Miss Dorothy Mersereau on her fine report.

Mr. Philip Ham, Legislation Committee, stated that the Anderson-Bartlett amendment had not been introduced in the legislature because of 1963 being an odd-numbered year. He called attention to articles in the July issue of “The American Forest” and the August “Harper’s Magazine” on pesticides and insecticides, and to Rachel Carson’s book “Silent Spring.”

Miss Fay Witherell, custodian for Dome Island, reported that there had been no fires and that everything there was going very well.

Mr. Claude Huston reported on the Board of Director’s Meeting held August 4th, when the Board recommended that the Lake George Protective Association should remain in session, that those present at the Board Meeting should constitute the Nominating Committee, and that all officers and directors should continue.

Mr. Witherell then called upon representatives who had been asked to speak in behalf of organizations closely associated with Mr. John S. Apperson, the late founder of the L.G.P.A.

Mr. David L. Newhouse presented the statement for the Adirondack Mountain Club, Inc.


“For several decades, John S. Apperson devoted his really amazing energy and skill to the restoration and preservation of Adirondack forests. There is no question that his was a strong influence in the building of the Forest Preserve, as we know it today. He exerted his influence both as an individual and through a number of organizations in which he was active. I would like to speak of his activities in the Adirondack Mountain Club.

The Club was formed in 1922 during a period of intense controversy about the manner in which the Conservation Commission was acquiring land for protection of steep mountain slopes. When it is considered that Apperson was in the heart of this controversy and that members of the Commission were instrumental in forming the Club, it is noteworthy that he was numbered among about 200 prominent and public spirited persons who were invited to be charter members of the Club at its founding.

His early activities in the Club included membership on the Conservation Committee in 1923 and 1924. He drafted and promoted a bill in 1923 to create a Lake George State Park which would have added a major part of the wild country of Lake George to the State Park system. He was very influential in the development of the Club policy as it related to the protection of the Forest Preserve, both during the period of his direct participation and later when there was frequent collaboration between him and the Club in a number of ways, including preparation and publication of pamphlets on various issues.

He had great and detailed knowledge of past misuse of the preserve and could discern new threats to the Preserve however well disguised. He was a master of strategy and maneuver and was an invaluable source of knowledge and counsel to the Club over the years.

Warwick Carpenter, who was Secretary of the Conservation Commission during the period 1919 to 1921, spoke of Apperson’s efforts during the period of the land acquisition question in the following words:


‘Throughout this long sustained effort, running through several years, John Apperson’s lucid thinking and unrelenting effort were the most important factors in whatever good results were accomplished. There was not a moment when his pressure behind the scenes was relaxed. He tried always to stay behind the scenes, and for that reason very few people know how much he has done for forest conservation, and through it for the Adirondack Mountain Club.”


Mrs. Lambert D. LeMaire represented the Federated Garden Clubs of New York State, Inc., reading excerpts from the following tribute:


‘In 1900 a young man from Virginia arrived in Schenectady to work as a test engineer for the General Electric Company – it was John S. Apperson. An outdoor enthusiast, he became interested in the Forest Preserve and Lake George. His interest in conservation and in preserving the great beauty of this lake became his life work.

In 1909 he began rip-rapping islands in Lake George and during his lifetime did this work on at least fifty. Some eight years after he started the work, at his insistence, the state began using the technique of placing stone protective walls on the shores to reduce the damage caused by wave action as a result of the high water levels.

He helped the state remove the “squatters” from the Forest Preserve by supplying evidence of illegal occupancy. Some 700 such cases were disposed of in a few years time. During the Constitutional Conventions of 1915 and 1938, his untiring efforts were directed to the protection afforded the Forest Preserve in Article XIV, Section 1. During the eleven years that Mrs. John William Draper served as our state conservation chairman, she asked and received help and guidance from Mr. Apperson. He always gave great credit to the work the garden clubs did in protecting the ‘forever wild’ clause in the Constitution during the 1938 convention.

The Federated Garden Clubs in 1949 awarded Mr. Apperson a Silver Medal of Achievement ‘in recognition of long active interest in conservation,’ and in 1950 when the consultants were listed in the Federation Directory, his name then appeared although he had been helping in this capacity whenever asked.

During the depression years of the 30’s he went to his camp at Lake George and saw white markers on many of the trees on Dome Island. Upon inquiry found that it was to be sold for five thousand dollars and the new owner expected to put up campsites on it. He immediately borrowed enough money to buy the island himself so that it could be preserved in its natural state. It always have him a chuckle to think he had the courage to do this, and when in 1956 he gave Dome Island, one of the great loves of his life,’ to the Nature Conservancy, the real estate appraisal was set between $100,000 and $150,000. The Life Membership Education Fund contributed $1,000 to the endowment.

Mr. Apperson organized and served as President of the Forest Preserve Association of New York State, was a charter member of the Adirondack Mountain Club, and an incorporator of the Lake George Protective Association. He gave of his services to many of our state governors, mainly: Miller, Smith, Lehman and Roosevelt.

He was a man dedicated to one purpose – the protection of the Forest Preserve as written in Article XIV, Section 1 of the New York Constitution. It was his work, his goal, his ambition, and his life. – to preserve the wild beauty of our state.

We who have known him and been in day-to-day contact with him, have been fortunate for we were able to learn much from his keen mind, his uncanny perception, his method of building up the facts to the solution of a problem, his sensible approach that undoubtedly the adversary was better equipped. So that to win the conservationist had to be on the side of ‘right’; had to work hard; could not depend on luck and must never lose hope. As we part with him at 84 years young, we must not think of it as a loss, for so many people of this generation and generations to come have gained a great deal for his having ‘come our way.’

In Memoriam, contributed to

The News of the Federated Garden Clubs of New York State, Inc.

By Mrs. LeMaire

Mrs. George Cable, Secretary, Federated Garden Clubs of N.Y, State, Inc. had sent the following statement:

“Last month you so kindly sent us a copy of the resolution recording the great influence that Mr. J. S. Apperson had on Conservation and the Forest preserve of New York State.

We are most grateful to you for this. The Federated Garden Clubs have always felt that Mr. Apperson was an invaluable friend through the years.”

Mr. Sidney S. Buckley, United State Soil Conservation Service, said:

“We have lost a great amateur Conservationist.”

Future generations will be indebted to John S. Apperson for the very real help he gave to Dr. Hugh Bennett and the Soil Conservation movement in the United States.

Mr. Apperson knew the effects of soil erosion through many years of personal observation. On July 17, 1934 he read an article in the New York Times written by Dr. Bennett on the national menace of soil erosion and improper lean use. At once he offered Dr. Bennett his support.

Dr. Bennett replied he greatly needed funds to publish a bulletin describing the dangers of soil erosion.

In about one month, at a cost to him a several thousand dollars, Mr. Apperson had this bulletin “The Tragic Truth About Erosion” printed. The text and all pictures, except the two covers, were provided by Dr. Bennett and the Soil Erosion Service.

It was in such demand that at least five printings were made and it attained worldwide distribution.

Later on after the Congress passed the Enabling Act Mr. Apperson worked hard to convince our governor and the State Legislature to pass the Soil Conservation District Law. This law allows a county to declare itself a Soil Conservation District and to obtain technical help from the Federal government in combatting soil and water losses.

Mr. Apperson always made sure what he was talking about. He visited eroded areas and farms where erosion control practices were being used by farmers. Once I went with him to see the sedimentation in the Gilboa Reservoir.

All of us in the Soil Conservation Service feel we owe a great deal to John S. Apperson for his lifetime of highly effective work for soil and water conservation.”

Mr. Philip W. Ham spoke for the Forest Preserve Association:

“These brief remarks will touch upon the important basic principles and activities established within the Forest Preserve Association by Appie, who founded the organization in 1934 with a minimum of organizational structure so as to enable it to act promptly in the rapidly developing emergencies threatening the maintenance of constitutional protection of our priceless heritage, the state forest preserve. During these thirty years, the ability to act with speed has proven to be most valuable and effective. For example, during the 1938 constitutional convention, the delegates often received printed comments on the numerous proposals to change and nullify the ‘forever wild’ clause before they received the printed bill from the print shop. These statements, in the name of the Association, anticipated the principle claims of the proponents of these devastating proposals. Appie insisted that we be well-acquainted with a Forest Preserve problem before taking action on it.

Under Appie’s guidance, all efforts of the Association were directed to maintenance of the Preserve so that the public might continue to enjoy the multiple benefits derived therefrom. Under this single principle as stated in the Articles of Incorporation, members of the Association gave their unswerving support.

We who now continue the work of the Forest Preserve Association realize that no one person can possibly replace Appie as guide, mentor and hardest worker in our group. We can only do our best to continue toward the goals beyond those thus far so successfully achieved.

One of the happiest aspects of the past is the effective education of the public accomplished by Appie through the publication of many pamphlets and bulletins, resulting in active participation by several other organizations in behalf of the irreplaceable values of the Preserve. This educational work we must continue, lest it be laid aside and forgotten with results damaging to the preserve through increasing pressures resulting from the increasing numbers and mobility of our people.

The officers, directors and members of the Forest Preserve Association must aim to develop additional ways to be effective, while retaining our traditional ability to act promptly and directly.”

Mrs.. Ralph A. Atwater had forwarded the following:

“The following resolution was adopted and recorded in the minutes of the Oneida County Forest Preserve Council at their Annual Meeting on March 12, 1963, copies of which will be sent to the family and interested organizations.

WHEREAS few men have had a greater influence on Conservation and the Forest Preserve in New York State than J. S. Apperson,

WHEREAS our Council is greatly indebted to him for advice and thoughts concerning the Forest Preserve which will guide us for many years to come,

WHEREAS the People of New York State have been and will be for many years beneficiaries of his unselfish work

BE IT RESOLVED that the Oneida County Forest Preserve Council expresses its sorrow at its great loss.”

Mr. Larry H. King said:

“Anyone who admires the natural beauty of Lake George must also hold Appie in high regard; and if we love Lake George as he did, we must find a solution to the unresolved problem of continuing damage to the Forest Preserve by sustained high water caused by the mill dam.

Mrs. Roger McCane, Izaac Walton League of America, wrote:

“There are no words which can be used to express the loss we have all suffered in the passing of J. S. Apperson. His entire life was dedicated to the cause of conservation.

He always had time for any problem no matter how small.

He would drop everything to save trees, land or water, no matter how small.

There is no one who can replace Appie, as we all affectionately call him, to battle for the God-given Nature in this country of ours.”

Mr. Edward Clements represented the Nature Conservancy:

“I bring you greetings of Nature Conservancy. Our local chapter chairman, Dr. Robert Rienow was unable to be here and he asked me to represent our organization at this meeting. Bob and Lee Rienow rarely miss the opportunity to attend your meetings at this time each year and they both send their regards and also their regrets at being unable to be here today.

Each year when it has been my privilege and pleasure to visit with you good folks, I have been deeply impressed by the manner in which our mutual friend, John Apperson, has conducted the meeting. Your agenda has always included people who have something positive to say on the broad topic of conservation.

As you know, conservation was Appie’s “religion.” He was correctly referred to as a conservation giant. Long before I had the opportunity of meeting him personally I remember his name always linked with aggressive conservation action. His passionate love and concern for Lake George consumed much of his time and money. His slogan of “undisturbed natural processes” became a password among his associates. Single-handed he spear-headed battle after battle to preserve the “forever wild” character of the Adirondacks. Understandably, John attracted others who had these same desires. Dr. Langmuir and Alvin Whitney were two who had his confidence and served with him in the New York State Forest Preserve Association. Together they formed a formidable foe to those who would exploit our natural areas.

Now all three have passed on and left us with much unfinished business. May we be infected with their devoted efforts and carry on the good fight to ever protect our remaining green spots.

It would not be Appie’s wish for us to meet in an atmosphere of sadness and depression over his passing, rather that our lives be an extension of his continuous endeavor to represent the good things of life.

In reverence to John’s Memory I will read Henry Thoreau’s poem “Brother Where Dost Thou Dwell”

This quotation from the Farm Journal reminds me so much of him:

‘I sure hope I find trees on the other side of those pearly gates. I don’t want golden streets where the sun never sets – not me! I want sunsets, green meadows, October frosts and January icicles – with a few March gales thrown in for good measure.’

Dr. Arthur Newkirk showed an artist’s representation of the plaque to be installed early in the summer of 1964 in the Dome Island Memorial Sanctuary, at the northwest end of the island, and said that funds for the Apperson memorial were still being received.

Miss Hilda Loines moved and Mr. Huston seconded the motion that the report of this 19th annual meeting, including the foregoing testimonials, be sent to the individual members of the L.G.P.A. Motion carried.

Speaking in behalf of the L.G.P.A., Mr. Witherell expressed appreciation for all the testimonials, to which he alluded as inclusive and sincere, touching the facts of John Apperson’s character and life, and the time effort and knowledge he has given our lake, our mountains and our state. A sincere, honorable and lovable men, who taught boys to love the outdoors, Mr. Apperson was one whom it was a privilege, pleasure and honor to have known, whose memory will be made indelible by his deeds, Mr. Witherell said in conclusion.

Election of officers carried out the recommendation of the Board of Directors, and was moved, seconded and unanimously passed:

President – M. F. Witherell

Treasurer – Dr. John Newkirk

Secretary – Mrs. Dorothy Langdon

Directors –

Miss Hilda Loines

Mrs. David Fleming

Philip Ham

C.B. Huston

Earl Paxton

Dr. Arthur Newkirk

Theodore Dreier

Harry Summerhayes


Mr. Witherell thanked the meeting for their vote of confidence and said that we must not assume our work is done – that it is necessary and important to maintain a “watch-dog group” ready to fight.

Dr. Frederick Sargent gave the treasurer’s report for Dr. John Newkirk who was unable to be present:

Balance 1962                        $1,075.49

Income                                      $130.00

Expenditures                              $23.92

Current Balance                    $1,181.57

Mr. Witherell thanked Mrs. Christie and Mr. Keys for their usual gracious hospitality, Jim Apperson for the soft drinks and setting up the tables, and the Board of Directors for their support.

The meeting was adjourned.

Dorothy S. Langdon, Secretary

(Mrs. E. H. Langdon)