Franklin County Oral History

13/08/2011

Listed here are oral history interviews with thirty individuals who were residents of Franklin County and
from a cross section of life:  farmers, loggers, mail carriers, blacksmiths, teachers, politicians, mill owners and housewives.  Most of the people were born in the late 19th century.  The material focuses on life and work in Franklin county from 1880-1940.  Many of the tapes have been Transcribed.  We would welcome additional information about any of these indviduals.
 

In 1970, Mr. Langlois was awarded a research grant by the State of New York for an expanded oral history
project.  Working with Robert McGowan, the new oral history project was to include early histories of pioneers in Franklin County, New York State.  Together the interviews represent over 100 hours of
tape. 
 

Copies of many of these tapes are now located at the New York Historical Association in Cooperstown and
with most of the tapes and transcrips are located in Special Collections at the Feinberg Library at the State University of New York at Plattsburg.  Below is a
listing of these tapes and transcripts and where they are held.              

Background to Franklin County oral history tapes and transcripts  

It is important for any user of this material to know that many of the interviewees in this collection were known to or in some cases related to either Mr. Langlois of Mr. McGowan.  These relationships are noted in these transcripts.  Thus they welcomed them into their homes and trusted them.   This allowed for the sometimes personal details that are contained in these tapes and transcript.

When the project expanded to cover northern Franklin County, family connections again came into play. Orville Langlois was Mr. Langlois’ great-grandfather, and Mr. Harold McGowan was Mr. McGowan’s father and Mrs. Mattie Haskins was his great aunt. Mr. Langlois’ grandparents operated the Langlois General Country Store in Westville and Mr. Langlois knew Ola Stockwell and George Chapman & Katherine Cushman.    

The Crooks, Kirk and Kilburn families were related to each other, and lived on the same street in Malone, a block from Bob McGowan.  Mr. Langlois’ grandmother lived with Mrs. Kirk as a caretaker.  Bob’s father had grown up near Hollis Foote, and Abbie Cantwell lived on Bob’s father’s rural mail route.  Leo Tobey was a neighbour ofMr. Langlois.  Others interviewees were
often chosen by recommendation of the people who had already been interviewed.  
 

Both interviewers benefited from the fact that either their father or grandparents were born in the 1890s, and through them, they were familiar with logging and farming.  Thus they both knew the kind of information their interviewees would likely possess, and what to ask to elicit it. Of course, they were also inspired by the realization that their  interviewees came from a world that was passing, and that was already unfamiliar to many of their college classmates and professors.

 

 

 

 

Even though they were both only 20 years old, they were able to take full
advantage of their families and related connections to have access to people who
normally were reticent about talking about themselves. Even to this day, family
members of some of those that were interviewed are amazed that some of the
people we interviewed talked to us at all or with such candor.

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