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Posts Tagged ‘legends’

Hello Friends…

I trust you have all been well and good.

I’ve been asked lately about an embedded story in my novel “Bridges – a Tale of Niagara”   http://www.bridgesataleofniagara.com/ which recounts a strange man called the Hermit of Niagara, whether he was a real person or if I just made him up.

Let’s talk about him a little today…

WAS THERE REALLY A ‘HERMIT OF NIAGARA’?

Oh yes! There certainly was.

He came from England – he lived on Goat Island – he was musically talented – he frolicked in the brink of Niagara Falls – he spoke to no one – and he’s buried in Niagara Falls.

“He was real enough, fellas—a certified nut case for sure, but real all the same he was. Lived on Goat Island all by himself, ya know. Didn’t talk to no one, and he sure ’nough died there, too. The Hermit of Niagara is what they called him.” Ol’ Gordy; Bridges – a Tale of Niagara

Arriving in June of 1829, Francis Abbott shunned society. The villagers had this knowledge of him: He was an English gentleman. He was educated, skilled in music and drawing. He had visited Egypt, Palestine, Turkey, Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal, and France. He wrote in Latin but destroyed his compositions. After his death, when the towns people investigated his hut they found his dog guarding the door (which took considerable effort to remove) and his cat on the bed. There was a guitar, a violin, some flutes, and a number of music books scattered about. The pages were blank. He explored Goat Island extensively, which was a thick forest at the time and had relative solitary confinement due to the only access being a scary bridge crossing the fierce rapids.

“A narrow, rickety foot bridge crossed the treacherous rapids, dividing the mainland from the island. Few dared cross it—so violent were the rapids below, so unstable was the bridge—as it were mere yards away from the brink.” The Hermit’s Story; Bridges – a Tale of Niagara

He did, in fact, find and live in a small log cabin that had been previously erected by a pioneer family before the island was purchased by Peter and Augustus Porter. He lived in it for almost two years before being evicted by the Porters.

Did he hang on to those boards over the Falls like in the book?

According to many witness reports – he did!

The sketch below is the one that ‘Sam’ bought in the novel and was drawn by James Edward Alexander in 1831, shortly after the hermit’s death.  Look closely and you’ll see the Hermit hanging off the wooden planks located on the brink of the Falls at Terrapin Point.

“The walkway ended in a single twelve-foot beam, a mere ten inches wide, extending out like an accusing finger from the tempest. Francis walked the length of the beam for hours, as if strolling down a country road. Spectators were shocked and fearful and often broke into hysteria. He’d sit on the end of the beam, dangling his legs over the edge, and on occasion, he’d suspend himself off the beam, kicking his feet into the roaring maelstrom that spewed and tumbled down past him. Women swooned and fainted; brave men trembled, their knees buckling as they watched Francis casually pull himself back onto the beam with no more concern than if he was rising from his dinner table.” The Hermit’s Story;  Bridges – a Tale of Niagara

Did he really drown in Niagara?
Yes he did – but by the best accounts – he didn’t drown going over the Falls. I took a little literary license with that. After getting booted off the island, he resumed his hermit lifestyle at the base of the Falls. It was down there on June 10th, 1831, he was observed ‘bathing’ by a passing ferryman who saw Francis go under the water surface and not come back up. A search for Francis was conducted – without success. On June 21st, 1831, the body of Francis Abbott did surface at Fort Niagara and he was buried in Oakwood Cemetery in Niagara Falls, New York.

There is a headstone but it’s been knocked over and neglected so that it is unreadable now. It read:.

“Francis Abbott, the Hermit of Niagara Died June 10, 1831 He died in his 28th year” 

What happened? Suicide or accident? 
“What, it will be asked, could have broken up and destroyed such a mind as Francis Abbott’s? What could have driven him from the society he was so well qualified to adorn — and what transform him, noble in person and in intellect, into an isolated anchorite, shunning the association of his fellow-men? The history of his misfortunes is not known, and the cause of his unhappiness and seclusion will, undoubtedly, to us be ever a mystery.”  New York Mirror 1890

Of interest is that found on a rock on Luna Island was the following inscription:

“All is Change, Eternal Progress, No Death”

Did the hermit leave this?

Why was he here?

What was he looking for – or running away from?
To this day, no one knows.  ‘The Hermit’s Cascade’, located between Goat Island and First Sister Island, is named after Francis Abbott, the Hermit of Niagara. If you’d like to read further about the ‘hermit’ let me suggest the following:

“Niagara – A History of the Falls” by Pierre Berton

www.niagarafrontier.com

New York Times article:  July 6, 1875   http://bit.ly/qmnKK6
The Montreal gazette   Oct. 29, 1948      http://bit.ly/mOXxUm
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What have I been doing lately?

Well, on a personal note, I’m been overwhelmed with a couple of things, not important here but they’ve taken up a great deal of my time.
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Meanwhile – I’ve published another short story on Amazon and Smashwords titled:  “The Man in the Painting”. Take a look at it and leave a review.  Use this code during the next week and get it free on smashwords:  FA24C
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Also, I’ve been writing two projects simultaneously. First, is a new novel that I’m not ready to tell you about yet. Suffice it to say it’ll be quite different from my previous work.
Second, is something quite similar to my previous work, which I’ll tell you about next time. (I know, I didn’t talk about either one. Sorry… what can I say?)

Until Next Time:

Embrace Life’s Bridges – For they Define Who You Are

dk Levick

 


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Hello everyone – welcome to the Thursday post of Writing in the Woods….

There’s been a lot of serious writing floating around the past few days. And for good reason too – with Borders closing and agents and publishers attacking John Locke’s book “How I sold a million books in Five Months” (sour grapes and fear is all that is, I’m waiting for his new book to come out “How I sold a million books about selling a million books”). Not to mention finding Rudolph Murdock in our breakfast cereal. Everyone seems to be in on edge a little. Isn’t it Great living in the information age? We’re in the midst of a writing revolution and the formula is changing – constantly. There are no sacred cows any longer.

But, let’s get off that for a bit and take a detour from all these weighty issues. Let’s lighten it up a little, if only for a few minutes.

Let’s go on a ‘mission from God’ – okay? Let’s build Noah’s Ark in 2011.

Follow me…

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Did you ever wonder why Noah built the ark?

You know the story, right?

God was a little upset with the folks down below and decided it was time for them to take a bath – a long permanent bath. But He didn’t want to throw away the baby with the bath water so he figured He’d start over and give it another go. So He found a good man hanging out down below and made him an offer he couldn’t refuse.

And that offer wasn’t as easy to accept as we might want to think. Keep in mind – there wasn’t any rain in those days. It’s true, it hadn’t been invented yet.

Read it for yourself in Genesis 2:5 & 6 “…for the Lord God had not sent rain on the earth….but a mist came up from the ground and watered the surface.”

Take a lot of mist to float that boat,  ya think?

Okay, no rain, so I guess that means floods hadn’t been invented yet neither. There were lakes and seas so they did take baths I suppose (I hope). But, it had to take a lot of faith for Noah to go ahead and build a giant boat on dry land because of rain and global flooding he’d never heard of before. But, when the Big Guy talks to you – what are you going to do?

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This past Friday, June 15th,  the great Wallenda walked across Niagara Falls.

What is the history of those daring men and women who challenged Niagara over the years?

In tribute to Wallenda’s feat, I’m rerunning a post I did a while back about them.

Enjoy! 

   Ahhh –  Niagara, nature’s majestic triumph,

                                                             God’s glorious gift to humanity,                                                                                                              

Home of those….

CRAZY MEN AND WOMEN IN TIGHTS!

For strange – unknown reasons, NIAGARA has been (and remains) a mystic magnet, pulling in people who have thoughts of fame and fortune or just plain weird and crazy thoughts about becoming a part of the drama of the mighty cataracts – and some fulfill their dream and remain forever in Niagara’s lore (and depths).

“The pictures we liked the best (meaning those we argued the most about) were of those daredevils who’d done those bad-ass tricks and stunts over the Falls. While those pictures were exciting, they made us feel cheated as well, because the cops didn’t let anyone do cool things like that anymore.” Kevin; ‘Bridges – a Tale of Niagara’

Beginning in 1827 (see last week’s post “the ‘Pirate’ ship, the buffalo and the loss of innocence”) and right up to the present, people have challenged Niagara.  Whether it’s the surging brink itself, the powerful whirlpool, the steep walls of the gorge above or the raging rapids below – there’s been a steady stream of human fodder offering themselves to the water god in exchange for a moment of glory. Cowabunga!! 

The age of the Niagara stuntmen had begun!

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It was appalling how quickly the ‘takers’ had converged on the river.

Overnight taverns, hotels, mills and souvenirs shops had sprouted up everywhere, each vying for the best location and view of the mighty Falls to fill their insatiable selfishness and greed.

It was only a few short years earlier that a trip to Niagara, to experience the great cataracts, was both difficult and dangerous, available only to the hardy and the adventurous. Access to Niagara was overland, either by carriage, horseback or on foot. The journey was long, tedious and bruising.  Routes were few, roads were bone jarring and treacherous, taking days to cover only a few miles.

But it was worth it, to see the majesty of creation in its fullest glory and radiance, untouched, unspoiled, unblemished by human intervention. Just the pure beauty and splender of nature.

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As we watch in awe and wonder at the mighty cataracts thundering their eternal roar and we bathe in the ever-present cloud of moist incense pluming upwards, our minds think back to the well-known “Maid of the Mist” legend.

You know the story right?

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