Rabbit Wild . It Started with a Shanty . Back to Nature 1897

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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 …

rabbitwild 2 rabbitwild

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.

little ruth

(All rights reserved,duplication of content is forbidden without consent of owner, author)

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2 responses »

  1. my mother was Barbra Hopkins Franklin, Her mother was Grace Elizabeth Wicks. Graces’ father was W.S. Wicks. Family of Elizabeth Collins (mothers sister-“Diddy”) still lives in Barneveld

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  2. Hi Peter, Grace was the sister to my Grandmother Ruth, and the child that Wicks dedicated the Rabbitwild story to in the book I would like to publish. My mom was daughter to Ruth and I remember her talking about a relative in Barneveld who was trying, in vein to talk with my mother, and the name Diddy sounds familiar. There was an irreparable rift of some kind that was not revealed. Do you think the Collins family may have any written examples, photos or postcards that Diddy may have passed on to them, or any verbal stories that they could share? There are missing pieces that are of interest to me. Thanks for the info, appreciated.

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