Isaac Kenwell of Indian Lake

Isaac Kenwell was born in 3 June 1849 in Johnsburg, Warren county, NY and died on 11 June 1940. He was married about 1876 to Olive Hunt who was born in November 1853 in NY and died in 1921. They are both buried in Cedar River Cemetery in the town of Indian Lake, Hamilton county, NY.

Isaac is the son of James and Mary Kenwell, both of Ireland. James and Mary had the following children: James (b. abt 1844), Mary J. (b. abt 1847), Isaac (subject of this sketch), Rebecca (b. abt 1851), Margarett A. (b. abt 1853), Wesley G. (b. abt 1855), Wellington A. (b. Dec 1858), and Theresa (b. about 1859). All the children were likely born in Johnsburgh, Warren county, NY where the family resided.

Isaac's brother, Wellington Kenwell, moved to Inlet where he and his wife Eliza had two children, Gerald Arthur (b. 3 Feb 1887 in Indian Lake, NY) and Laura (b. Mar 1892). Gerald married Ina Murdock and continued to reside and raise a family in Inlet. The Ticonderoga Sentinel states "...Gerald Kenwell, 62, the best woodsman in the Inlet section." in it's Nov. 10, 1949 edition of the newspaper.

Isaac and Olive had one child, Olive Kenwell, who was born in Jun 1885 and died in 1972. Olive was married about 1909 to Herbert A. Palmatier. He was born in 17 Oct 1879 and died in 1952. They do not appear to have had any children. Both Herbert and Olive are buried in Cedar River Cemetery in the town of Indian Lake.

The following wonderful articles were written about Isaac!

From: Ticonderoga Sentinel, Thursday, 11 June 1936

'Ike' Kenwell, Noted Timber Estimator of Adirondacks, is Nearing Century Mark Indian Lake Native, Who Recently Celebrated His 91st Birthday, Was Also a Pioneer in Road Building; Never Drank or Smoked

INDIAN LAKE - Isaac Kenwell, known to hundreds of natives and visitors alike as "Ike", started towards the century mark when he celebrated his 91st birthday Wednesday, June 3. For years he was at the head of his class as an estimator of timber and a pioneer in road building in the Adirondacks.

His activity is surprising. He appears younger than many men at 50. He has never drank or smoked and has spent most of his life in the open.

Mr. Kenwell is still able to estimate timber. "Why," he said, "only three years ago I had a letter from the London Daily Mail asking me to go to Newfoundland to run over a stand of timber it owned there."

His story of being a college man for three hours at McGill in Montreal was retold. That was his higher education. He went there for the purpose of finding out just how much area there is in a circular acre of timber.

His theory is that a person in the woods is always in the middle of an acre of land By figuring it is 117 feet from the point where the man is standing to the edge of the acre in all directions he is able to estimate his timber.

Kenwell does not like to be called a timber cruiser. He says timber cruisers measure the timber but he estimates it. He covered a huge area of land in Canada for a man who was considering purchasing the tract. The man selling the timber had a force of men cruising the same tract.

Kenwell went through the timber in about two weeks alone. The party was at work for almost three months. When the figures were turned in there was less than 5 percent difference in the two sets of figures.

Kenwell was born in the town of Johnsburg near North Creek. His father, James Kenwell lived to be 84 and his mother, Mary, was 91. The town was named after John Thurman, who purchased the tract from the English government. He brought machinery from England and the first piece of calico made in the United States came from Johnsburg, manufactured by Thurman.

Thurman met a premature death in 1809, gored by a bull near Lake George.

At the age of 21 Kenwell came to Raquette Lake. That was in 1866. From that time on he was building roads and tramping from Anticosti Island to Vancouver Island, making estimates on timber.

He tells of a 200-mile trip in a birch bark canoe in upper Canada. It was on this trip that he met Sir Arthur Curtis, who was with a party of men who were making their way to the Klondike to look for gold.

He covered a tract of land for a Mr. Palmer in Canada in record time. When he was asked how he could work so fast he told the men he never stopped to pick gum or fish.

The old gentleman showed a rifle he bought years ago. It was the first breech-loading gun in the Adirondacks. In comparison to the modern arms this was antique as a flintlock was in that time. But many a time the family larder has been replenished with the aid of Kenwell's eye and this firearm.

Mr. Kenwell stated that he has never had any birthday celebration. He has been too busy.

Since settling at Indian Lake he has not been inactive. He aided in founding the North Creek National bank and is still the vice president of that institution.

He was a pioneer in the central Adirondacks. He blazed trails through the woods, depending on his keen eye and woodsmanship to mark them correctly. They gradually became dirt roads and finally arteries of concrete for heavy traffic.

He remembers when moose roamed the Adirondacks; when wolves were plentiful and when panthers could be heard screaming in the night.

As a special occasion on his birthday he had his brother, a youngster of 80, at his home for lunch. Wellington Kenwell, well-known resident of Inlet, is as keen minded as his brother. Their conversation would make a chapter of Adirondack history.

The Kenwells will take an active part in the dedication of Lake Durant when the celebration is held in August.

From: Ticonderoga Sentinel, Thursday, 13 June 1940

Isaac Kenwell Dead at 95; Adirondack Pioneer

INDIAN LAKE - Isaac Kenwell, pioneer road builder and Adirondack lumberman, died Tuesday evening, eight days after he had celebrated his ninety-fifth birthday anniversary. He had been retired for several years but had conducted other minor business activities.

Mr. Kenwell for thirty years was manager of the woodlands department of the Union Bag and Paper Corporation in the Indian Lake sector and was also widely known as one of the founders, directors and officers of the North Creek National Bank. Mr. Kenwell retired from his position with the Union Bag in 1927 and since then had been engaged for a few years in the mercantile and lumber business in his own interests. These latter interests were in addition to the connections with the North Creek bank. Last January 1, he retired as vice president of the North Creek bank.


Last Updated: Wednesday, 14-May-2008 13:18:05 PDT
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