Remembering my Great Grandfather, William S Wicks
“The blue crystal water of Jock’s Lake stretched before them, changing far off where the sun fell sparkling on it, into a golden green; and again, to a deeper blue, as it touched the rocky rim of the farther shore…”
William S. Wicks, “Rabbitwild – a Shelter in the Wilderness”
Photo courtesy of CNYIS, Inc
Back to “Rabbitwild” the sweet little book written by Wicks for his little daughter Ruth, age 12 in 1896. There are a few pages above from Chapter 6 … The boys and their father are in the woods, they have met up with Uncle Jock who will be instrumental in getting the cottage built up from stone & timber on the land to the place called “Rabbit Wild” … a Shelter in the Wilderness built by Fred & Hartley Langdon from their Father’s Plans, Uncle Jock Helping.
The more I read and learn about Wicks, his life, family and work, the more I am able to pick up clues in the book as to people, places, and references throughout. The cottage “Rabbit Wild” had been designed and built by Wicks on Honnedaga Lake on a tract of land purchased in 1892 as part of the Adirondack League Club. The lake was formerly known as Jock’s Lake, so real or fictitious, I’ll bet there was a character of some Adirondack lineage that assisted with building the cottage and so we have – Uncle Jock.
During this time, John Albright of The Albright Gallery fame had his camp designed and built by E.B. Green on Wilmurt Lake, a site that was quite far from this area in the Adirondacks. However, I have not found any remnant of information on the Albright camp on Wilmurt Lake. But John Albright’s son was named Langdon – and so here is a reference to that name, and pictured as the architect in this story. The firm of Green & Wicks had designed the residence of Langdon Albright on the estate grounds of John Albright in Buffalo.
At some point, I wonder if I’ll find the “Fred” and “Hartley” in this story – for sure they are the fictional counterparts of the Wicks’ girls Ruth and Grace, but who, I wonder?
In Chapter 6, the boys, their father and Uncle Jock set out to build a shanty to provide shelter as they begin the process of building Rabbit Wild:
“Well”, cried Hartley, “we’ve got to build a shanty, haven’t we?’
“Where shall we build it?” asked Mr. Langdon, turning to Jock.
“Right here, back of this ‘ere fire; see the two trees? That’s why we fixed our fire where we did, so we’d have it right at the entrance, to keep away the skeeters, and warm us a leetle at night. I’ll help ye make a start.”
“One of you boys kin cut down that spruce”, pointing to a tree about five inches in diameter, “trim all the leetle branches off, an’ cut it into two stcks eleven feet long, or about four paces. You, Mr. Hartley, kin clear the space, cut down the witch-hoople, an’ burn all the brush.” …
This camp was to built over the summer as the boys started out on their fourth of July weekend to begin this adventure in the woods. Uncle Jock is on site most of the time as father returns to his work in the city. All of the precise elements of building this camp are included in the book. If someone wanted to retrace the methods and practices of building this camp, it could be accomplished. I love that …
Photographs of Rabbit Wild and Wicks with little Ruth are courtesy of Elizabeth Hopkins Wittemann,
Great Granddaughter of William S. Wicks
Remembering Wicks and bringing dreams of a wild retreat to life.
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Rubble Manor displayed as home of William S. Wicks: “The American Architect & Building News”,The Mappa House, Trenton, New York, August 13, 1913, Vol. CIV., No.1963
Interior Rubble Manor
Sitting Room . Rubble Manor
Interior . Rubble Manor
I have a few books from the Rubble Manor library, or sitting room with the Rubble Manor book-plate & Ruth’s name, including “Rabbitwild”. I remember seeing the Sheraton couch at my Grandmother’s (Ruth) when she was living at the farmhouse with my Uncle Skip. I remember seeing the Sheraton chairs, demilune and round shaker style table as well. I have two early Chippendale chairs, I think one is shown here. I don’t think any of the pictures hanging up survived – they might have gone to auction. I wish I could see them a little better …
and that’s it for the Rubble Manor chapter.
We are family . on the steps . on a summer’s day . Rubble Manor . Barneveld . New York
The Nicholson’s are cousins of Ruth and Emma through the marriage of their Aunt Ione M. Wicks to Charles Nicholson. I can’t make out Grandma and she may have been on the Nicholson side. Cousin Harriet was born in 1874 and died in 1915, she is buried in the Barneveld Evergreen cemetery with many, many of the Nicholson, Wicks & McCartney (Ruth’s husband) families. I also found Frances Nicholson, born in 1869 who died in 1953 also buried at the Evergreen cemetery. So far, I have not found Cousin Nat, baby Henrietta or cousin Mable. The photo is undated, I would guess that it would date to the mid to late 1880’s.
Mother Emma died the same year as Harriet. Harriet was 41 years old. Emma was 54 years old. The privileged country life must have been more difficult than what can be seen in photos and biographies. Still, I love this photo & the picture of who we once were.
Photos are courtesy of Elizabeth Hopkins Wittemann, Great Granddaughter of William S. Wicks.
Remembering Wicks, my Great Grandfather, Author & Architect and the man behind the scene. In Buffalo a partner of the Green & Wicks architectural firm or somewhere beyond creating a new architectural vision, busy providing his family with a beautiful life, and too involved in that process, I am sure to be in this picture, on a fine summer’s day.
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These photos of Rubble Manor are from the family archived collection of Elizabeth Hopkins Wittemann, Great Granddaughter of Architect, William S. Wicks of the Turn of the Century, Green & Wicks Architectural Firm in Buffalo, New York. Curiously, the photos are predominantly taken from angles other than the front of the house. The landscaping does not look like there is mature growth, so these photos may have been taken when the home was newly purchased, even though it is reported that the home was built between 1801 and 1809, so there would have been ample time for planned landscaping.
Wicks married Emma Egert Griffith in 1882 and she may have been from this area. If Wicks purchased the home in 1884 he would have been 30 years old. It would be the same year that his father died and daughter Ruth was born. Since Ruth was born in Trenton, now known as Barneveld, my guess is that the purchase took place around this time, if not sooner.
The history of Rubble Manor, Wicks summer home is available in bits and pieces, here, there and everywhere. Here is a brief and succinct synopsis of Barneveld, found on the “Oneida County Historical Society” website, and a little background on the beginning life of Rubble Manor, otherwise known as Mappa Hall outside of the time that Wicks owned the property:
Barneveld – The Village of Barneveld had its beginnings in 1793 when Gerrit Boon, an agent of the Holland Land Company, marked a trail through the forest north from Fort Schuyler. Arriving at the junction of the Steuben and Cincinnati Creeks, he pitched his tent, and soon began the settlement. He named it Olden Barneveldt in honor of Dutch Patriot, John of Olden Barneveldt in Holland. Boon was later succeeded by Col. Adam Gerard Mappa who constructed a beautiful stone mansion, of Trenton limestone drawn from the nearby quarries, on the same site. It was known then and today as Mappa Hall. The village of Olden Barneveldt was incorporated in 1819. In 1975, by a village vote of 88 to 49 the village name was changed to Barneveld.
Contemporary Photo of Mappa Hall Courtesy of the Wikipedia website
I have dozens of postcards to and from Ruth, Wicks and her mother using the Rubble Manor address, with most being mailed around 1909. The home would have been a hundred years old at this point and the subsequent photos reflect mature landscaping. The large urn shown in the photo provided by Elizabeth was kept at my childhood home in Whitesboro, New York for many years. It had a soft polished pottery finish of moss-green. It was an item chosen by my mother, from her mother’s (Ruth) estate. Eventually she sold it, and it graces someone elses garden now.
I believe a tennis court had been added to the grounds of Mappa Hall, I remember seeing it when I was young …. the gardens looked so inviting, yet forbidden.
Wicks died here, in this home on May 30, 1919 after being ill for several months according to a Buffalo newspaper, at only 63 years old. His wife Emma had died four years ealier, I believe she was only 56 years old.
Ruth was 35 years old and married, my mother was born just 5 months later. I wonder, did he have anyone with him when he was ill and dying? Was he alone?
Remembering Wicks & wondering.
(Above photo of Wicks and little Ruth is courtesy of his Great Granddaughter Elizabeth Hopkins wittemann. All rights of original material reserved, no duplication of content is allowed without consent of author.)
Barneveld Free Library . 118 Boon Street . Barneveld . New York
Illustration is courtesy of the http://midyorklib.org/barneveld/ website
History of the Barneveld Free Library – from the Mid York Library Website:
“Barneveld Free Library Association was formed in 1874 when Jacob Wick offered a room, rent free, for the use of a library. A subscription paper was circulated for the purpose of raising funds and the sum of $99 was secured. On November 21, 1874, the subscribers met in the home of Dr. Luther Guiteu and organized as the Trenton Library Association. The association started with 240 books.”
There is a slight error, as the name above should be Jacob Wicks, not Wick. Jacob was the father of William S. Wicks, who grew up in Barneveld, in the Octagon House, if my deduction as to his childhood home is correct. William S. Wicks studied architecture at Cornell and graduated from M.I.T. in 1877, with a degree in architecture and among the first to be professionally trained in this discipline in the United States.
While successfully running an architectural firm in Buffalo with partner E.B. Green he returned to Barneveld to purchase Rubble Manor (aka Mappa Hall) as his summer home. I am not sure of the timeframe of this purchase or how the name change came about.
According to the library’s website, the cornerstone of the building, which is still in use, was laid July 27, 1877. The total cost of the building was about $1,700. The building was erected by the great- grandfather of Alexander Pirnie of Utica.
There is no reference as to the person who may have designed the library. Between the style which looks like a classic Wicks Adirondack simple design, his history in Barneveld and his father Jacob’s connection to both architecture & the library, I would take a wild guess and assume that either one or both had something to do with the design of the library.
Besides, why would the family keep an early photograph of the library seen here tucked away with all of the other treasured photos and postcards for over a hundred years? It would be interesting to find out if someone in the Library system might be able to find out more about this.
Above photos are of the Barneveld Library. Left: This photo is from the Wicks family archives, and right, a current photo courtesy of the Village of Barneveld website. Below are photos of my Great Great Grandfather Jacob Wicks & Great Grandfather William S. Wicks. If I were a betting type of gal, I would wager a dollar that Jacob & son William had something to do with the design and creation of this sweet little library.
Left: Jacob Wicks, Born 1823 . Died 1884, Father of William S. Wicks. Right: William S. Wicks, Architect, Born 1854 . Died 1919. Photos are from the Wicks Family Archives and Courtesy of Elizabeth Hopkins Wittemann, Great Great granddaughter of Jacob Wicks & Great granddaughter of William S. Wicks.
Remembering the Wicks men and work that may have been forgotten, unattributed or overlooked.
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