Adirondack French Louie
French Louie Masthead

Louis Seymour - Adirondack French Louie

French Louie
Photo right: Louis "French Louie" Seymour, Courtesy Edward Blankman, The Lloyd Blankman Collection

Adirondack French Louie -- Early Life in the North Woods was published in 1952 by amateur historian Harvey Dunham following after almost thirty years of research. The story of "French" Louie has become an regional classic due in part to Dunham’s dedication to research. The first-time writer insisted that he record only firsthand sources, stories that were told by old-timers who knew Louie, capturing the Woodsman’s picturesque life-story. The book elevated the simple trapper-woodsman into the halls of Adirondack legend.

The book Adirondack Characters and Campfire Yarns contains two articles about Louie, one by Lloyd Blankman and the other by Harvey Dunham. Here's an excerpt from Dunham's article:

If you go far enough up the old "West Crick" to its headwaters, you will come to the West Canada Lakes. On North Lake of these West Canadas is a clearing which has been a stopping place of hunters, trappers, and woodsmen for more than a hundred years. There, in the 1850s, were signs of rotting logs of an old cabin. So said the trappers Marinus Lawrence and Burr Sturges of Newton Corners, now Speculator. Soon after that date, they built a slab shanty against a large rock on the south side of the clearing.

In the 1870s, Louis Seymour, a French Canadian, better known as "French Louie," took over the slab shanty as his own and about ten years later built a new cabin that could accommodate his "guests," who were many. He lived at this clearing until he died in 1915.

Louis Seymour was born in Canada about 1830. As a boy, he ran away from home and came across to the United States where he worked with
circuses and drove mules on the long Erie Canal towpath. It was not until the fall of 1868 that he climbed down from the big-wheeled buckboard stage from North Creek at the small Adirondack town of Indian Lake. He was stockily built, not tall but deep-chested, with broad shoulders, very long arms, and strong hands. He had a large head with light brown curly hair, and
sparkling, blue-black eyes, narrow and smiling.

A man of Louie’s type blended with the surroundings, yet one native of
Indian Lake Village looked curiously at this new Frenchman. Tall and wiry,
Ike Kenwell, just past twenty, and about fifteen years Louie’s junior, went out of his way to speak to him.

"Howdy," meeting Louie’s squinting, friendly eyes.

"Work? She’s plaintee?" Louie asked.

"Griffin’s hirin’ men. You want a job?"

"On de lumberwoods. Dees Griffin lumbercamp? W’ere she be?"

And so Louis Seymour came to the North Woods. He drifted from lumber jobs to trapping and had a cabin on Lewey Lake. His trapping took him to the Cedar Lakes and to Pillsbury Lake. From Pillsbury he went out to Newton Corners instead of to Indian Lake Village.

Harvey Dunham spent a great deal of time up in Louie's neck of the woods and eventually built several camps on the West Canada Creek north of Route 8.

More about Harvey Dunham
More about the book: Adirondack French Louie

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