Category Archives: Moon’s Lake House

Saratoga Potato Chip Stories: Traditions, Myths, and Legends

Almost no topic in Saratoga Springs history has had more written about it than the origin of the potato chip.   While the two most popular versions of the story, both of which feature George Crum, are by far the most common, there are several variations that have appeared and disappeared over the years.  The stories fall into two categories, the first are the stories that have some details about when, where and how the potato chip was invented and the others are the stories where an individual is described as the inventor or originator of the potato chip without any details.  There are many more stories in the second category than there are in the first.

Not surprisingly it doesn’t appear that the origin story of the potato chip held any interest until it appeared that Moon’s Lake House, the setting of most stories, might be sold approximately 30 years after Cary and Harriet Moon opened it.  If anyone wrote about George Crum and the potato chip before 1885 I have not been able to find it, so decades separated even the earliest version of the story from the time the discovery was supposed to have happened in 1853.

These stories survive and thrive despite the fact that almost everyone recognizes them as a tradition or legend rather than fact.  Some writers have even expressed their discomfort with the facts by using disclaimers such as “it is related” retelling one of the stories.1  Historians have found themselves in an extremely difficult situation since it is hard to imagine totally ignoring the story of the potato chip in Saratoga Springs when writing about the City’s past.  Historians are left with the story of the potato chip’s invention that is suspect, but Saratoga Springs role in making the chip famous is well documented and something that many residents are proud of.

While many writers were uncomfortable with George Crum stories and there were some facts that cast doubt on the story, no one had uncovered any facts that could totally dispel the legend.  That changed in 2009 when T. J. Stiles published The First Tycoon: The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt and he included the information that some version of special crispy fried potatoes was being enjoyed in Saratoga Springs in 1849. This was four years before the George Crum’s invention was supposed to occur, and although it was at the same location, it was before Cary and Harriet Moon operated it as Moon’s Lake House.2  It was enough information to conclude that it was highly unlikely the stories of George Crum’s invention of the potato chip were anything more than a great story.

If you’re interested in a more detailed discussion of what we know about know about the origins of the potato chip see my article “Saratoga Springs:  Birthplace of the Potato Chip.”  While that article focuses on what we do know, what follows is my attempt to look at the various legends and stories about the invention of the potato chip and to try and identify where the stories come from.  I will begin by focusing on two versions of the story that detail the discovery.   This is not the first time someone has tried to do this.  An extremely well written and researched study of the Potato Chip story was published in Western Folklore in 1983 “Social and Economic Contests of Folklore Variants:  The Case of Potato Chip Legends, William S. Fox and Mae G. Banner.3  My work builds on and extends their efforts.

After the discussion of the first two versions I have included two other sections in this article.  The first is a look at other people and places that have been given credit for having a role in the discovery of the Potato Chip.  And the second is a list of the all of the cooks that have been tied to Moon’s Lake House, even if they were not credited with the invention.

THE CREATION STORIES:  GEORGE CRUM AND THE POTATO CHIP

There are many versions of the potato chip story but the one repeated most often I will refer to as “The Finicky Customer Story.”  A second version, now repeated far less often, was created in the 1940s and for many years was repeated in tandem with “The Finicky Customer Story.” It also focused on George Crum but introduced Kate Wicks into the story.   I will refer to this version as “Kate Wicks and the Accident.”

These versions of the potato chip story, and the articles that have been written based on them, use a wide variety of spellings and nick names.   Kate is referred to as Catherine Ann, Kate, Katie, Aunt Kate, and Aunt Katie.  Her last name is sometimes omitted entirely but when included is spelled both Wicks and Weeks.  There is far less variation in George Crum’s name but he is occasionally also referred to as George Speck, a name he used frequently in legal documents and it is the name on his headstone.   For the sake of clarity and to simplify matters I have standardized their names George Crum and Kate Wicks in this article.

GEORGE CRUM AND THE FINICKY CUSTOMER

The earliest reference that anyone has found to George Crum being the inventor of Potato Chips seems to have been in the August 22, 1885 edition of the Hotel Gazette.  Unfortunately no one seems to be able to locate a copy of this issue or for that matter most issues of this paper or magazine.  The Hotel Gazette was a New York City based trade publication for the hotel and catering industry and was published weekly starting in 1876.   Our only glimpse into the contents of this article comes from two authors, Jefferson Williamson in his book American Hotel published in 1930 and Hugh Bradley in his book Such Was Saratoga, published in 1940, both of these authors quoted extensively from the article.  What each of them wrote is substantially the same giving us a pretty good idea of the contents of the 1885 article.  Here is Williamson’s passage about the potato chip in his 1930 book.4

“This appetizing dainty gets its name from the fact that it was accidently invented in the early 1850’s at the old Montgomery Hall, kept by Carey E. Moon, at Saratoga.  Legend has it that in 1853 George Crum, the chef; got an order from a fastidious diner to cut his French fried potatoes thinner.  In a spirit of sarcasm Crum sliced off a sheet of potato as thin as a wafer and dropped it into the hot fat of a frying pan.  A few minutes later he fished it out and ate it.  So good did it taste that he fried a few more slices, sharing them with his assistants, and with Mrs. Carey Moon, who had a quantity of them fried and put into paper cornucopias for the guests.  The chips won favor at once and within a few years became an established viand throughout the country.”

And this is what Bradley published in 1940.5

“In 1853, while he was busy in the kitchen at—the Gazette says Montgomery Hall, but it must have been Moon’s Lake House—a fastidious diner sent word to cut his French-fried potatoes thinner.  In that spirit of righteous sarcasm which overcomes all great cooks at such moments, Crum shaved off a wafer thin slice of potato and dropped it into the deep hot fat of the frying pan.  Noticing it a few minutes later, he fished it out and ate it.  Pleased by the taste, he experimented with several more wafer-thin slices and offered them to Mrs. Moon and others in the kitchen.

Being also pleased, Mrs. Moon ordered a quantity of potatoes to be prepared in this new and ingenious fashion.  These she placed in paper cornucopias and distributed to the guests.  The appetizing dainty won immediate favor and soon was on menus throughout most of the county.”

It doesn’t appear that the story became widely known or was repeated in print, between 1885 and 1928.   I have only been able to find some very brief mentions of Crum being the inventor of the Chip and nothing giving the level of detail of the 1885 Hotel Gazette article.  When George Crum died on July 26, 1914, one of his many obituaries made a passing reference, “Crum is said to have been the actual inventor of ‘Saratoga Chips’ when he was employed as a cook at Moon’s old place.”6  And this appears to have been repeated word for word in Cornelius Durkee’s “Reminiscences of Saratoga”, a column published in the Saratogian, Saratoga Springs’ major newspaper, on January 13, 1928.7

George’s story hit a much bigger stage in the February 18, 1928 issue of The New Yorker.  Appearing in the Talk of the Town section of the magazine the article “The Home of the Chip” was written by Saratoga Springs native and Mayor from 1924 – 1927 Clarence Knapp.8  While no sources are cited in the brief article, Knapp may have had access to the 1885 Hotel Gazette because the details are very similar to what both Bradley and Williamson would repeat in the years after Knapp’s article appeared in the New Yorker.  Only two details are added in the Knapp piece, that Crum was a renowned fisherman and cook in the days before the Civil War and the anonymous assistants in the 1885 version have been identified as William Groom and Peter Francis.

The New Yorker had a nationwide circulation and at least one other newspaper picked up the story and reprinted it a short time later.  While the Saratogian, didn’t republish the piece as far as I know, it did make a brief mention about the New Yorker story within a few days the article being published.9

Versions of the “Finicky Customer Story” were printed in newspapers around the country in the 1930s.  A few details were added or deleted, but the same basic story survived in each telling.10

In 1940, Hugh Bradley published Such Was Saratoga and in addition to the information from the 1885 Hotel Gazette article he added a number of details about George Crum.  It looks like most of this additional information came from Crum’s obituaries and Cornelius Durkee’s “Reminiscences of Saratoga” column’s in the Saratogian.11   It doesn’t appear that either Durkee or Bradley uncovered anything new.  During his life Durkee collected hundreds of clippings on Saratoga history and preserved them in thirty scrapbooks, these provided most of the information for his columns.12

After 1940, the story did not change much, but many of the articles started to include details about George Crum.  Some of this information, such as his race, became a part of virtually every story, but there was no mention of his race in either the Hotel Gazette story or the 1928 New Yorker Article.13

Perhaps the biggest change was the addition of Cornelius Vanderbilt in the role of finicky patron in 1976, which spawned the controversy that Fox and Banner covered so well in their 1983 article.14 While this detail is still occasionally repeated it is usually not included in the retelling of “The Finicky Customer Story”

KATE WICKS AND THE ACCIDENT

The second version of the story, which reached the height of its popularity from 1950 – 1970, was often reported at the same time as “The Finicky Customer story.”

“’Aunt Kate Wicks’” who worked with her brother, Crum, making pastry, had a pan of fat on the stove, while making crullers and was peeling potatoes at the same time.  She chipped off a piece of potato which by the merest accident fell into the pan of fat.  She fisted it out with a fork and set it down upon a plate beside her on the table.
Crum came into the kitchen.
‘What’s this?’, he asked, as he picke up the chip and tasted it.
‘Hm, Hm, that’s good.  How did you make it?’
‘Aunt Kate’ described the accident.
‘That’s a good accident,’ said Crum.  ‘We’ll have plenty of these’
HE TRIED Them out. Demand for them grew like wild fire and he sold them at 15 and ten cents a bag.”

This story first appeared as in article entitled “The Authentic Story of Crum and his Saratoga Chips” by Jean McGregor in the Saratogian on August 30, 1940.15   We know a great deal more about the author of this story than we do the anonymous writer of the Hotel

Gazette story in August, 1885.  McGregor was the pen name of Evelyn Barrett Britten, who was not only a journalist she was for many years the Saratoga Springs City Historian.  As city historian and an active member the Historical Society of Saratoga Springs she did a lot to make sure that Saratoga residents knew stories about their City’s past.  For decades she wrote about the history of Saratoga Springs in a “Chronicles of Saratoga” column that was also published as a collection in two books of the same name, one in 1947 and the other in 1959.

Britten’s source for the “Kate Wicks and The Accident Story” was Augusta Moriarta, who was repeating a story told to her many times by her employee of 24 years Albert Stewart.  Although Britten chose to identify him as George Crum’s great nephew, Stewart was also Kate Wicks’ grandson.  It’s unclear why, but Britten did not talk to the 62 year old Stewart herself to hear him repeat the stories his grandmother Kate Wicks told him.16

The story seemed to combine elements from “The Finicky Customer Story”, a story about an unnamed chef sharpening a knife that seems to have appeared on in 1938, and elements from a 1906 profile of Kate Wicks.

As far as I can tell the story of the chef sharpening his knife only appears in an article in 1938, according to the source, George Rector, a well-known New York City restaurateur and food writer, an unidentified chef at one of Saratoga better known hotels, tested his recently sharpened knife by cutting a thin slice of potato that accidentally fell into a pan of hot fat.  The chef tasted it and the chip was born.17

The final element of Britten’s story might be Kate Wicks’ claim she had the idea for the chip.  The statement was first published in the Saratogian thirty four years earlier, in a 1906 profile of Kate in the “Pioneer Citizens” Column in the Saratogian.18  The story starts out:

“If it had not been for Mrs. Catherine Ann Wicks, the world might never have enjoyed the crisp delicacies known as Saratoga Chips.  It was many years ago while employed as cook at Moon’s Lake House that she conceived of the idea of slicing potatoes to a tissue paper thinness and frying them in deep fat.  Saratoga chips went fare to make Moon’s resort famous”

Kate Wicks c. 1906

Kate Wicks c. 1906

The profile seems to be based on an interview of Kate, but it doesn’t give any specifics about the discovery.  Before Britten’s 1940 story Kate’s claim was repeated in print a few times.  When Kate died in 1917, her obituary mentioned her age, said to be 102, race, and her invention of Saratoga chips.19  Those three things led to her death notice being reported in newspapers all over the country, focusing on just those three things.20  Her story got a few more mentions in newspapers over the years and her profile once again appeared in 1921.21

In Cornelius Durkee’s,  January 19, 1928 “Reminiscences of Saratoga” column in the Saratogian, Durkee included information about Kate Wicks and the chip with a story about an old Indian canoe that Abe Speck, Kate and George’s father, was said to have made.22  It appears that Durkee may have gotten his information about the chip, the canoe, George Crum and Kate from a letter to the editor in the 1924 Saratogian that quoted extensively from the same 1906 profile of Kate.23   However Durkee added the statement that Kate probably learned how to make the chips from the French Chef at the Sans Souci.  It doesn’t appear that Durkee did much interpretation of the items in his collection of clippings and stories.  Perhaps most telling is that Kate Wicks was the third person Durkee had credited with the invention of the potato chip in six months and the second in a week.24

In 1932 Kate’s great grandson John Freeman reasserted Kate’s claim in the Glens Falls Post Star, a newspaper in the same region of New York, after finding that the “The Finicky Customer Story” ran in that paper.25  The Post Star article is based on a clipping that John Freeman’s mother had preserved in a scrapbook.  The only new information provided was that George Crum was responsible for the creamed potatoes that were then so famous at Newman’s Lake House not the potato chip.  Like the original 1906 article there were no details about the discovery.

Just a few weeks before Evelyn Barrett Britten published her 1940 article Kate was also mentioned in Bradley’s “Such Was Saratoga”, but he dismissed her claim in favor of “The Finicky Customer Story” because he believed that since the Hotel Gazette article was written in 1885 it was more accurate.

We don’t know what inspired Britten to write the “Kate Wicks and the Accident Story” in 1940.  It may just have been that Augusta Moriarta came forward with a story, but there were several things going on that may have compelled Evelyn Barrett Britten to print a retelling of the chip story.  In the summer of 1939 in a Saratogian column entitled “Boss There Ain’t No News” written by Reginald F. Torrey there was an active exchange over several months about the invention of the Potato Chip.26  The exchange started when Torrey credited Mrs. Moon with the invention of the Chip.    Several people contacted Torrey with other possibilities, and he printed those in other columns, but none of columns mentioned Kate Wicks.  Another item that may have generated some interest was the release, just weeks before Britten’s column appeared, of Hugh Bradley’s Such Was Saratoga.  As I mentioned earlier Bradley repeated the 1885 Hotel Gazette article, but he also addressed the claim that Kate Wicks invented the potato chip.  A possibility he dismissed.27

These other events may not have had any influence on Britten’s decision to write the article, but they do indicated that there was at least some discussion about the potato chip going on in the community.  This may have remained a local debate since the “George Crum and the Finicky Customer Story” continued to be repeated nationally, but the 1940 articles doesn’t seem to have been widely quoted or retold in print.  The first time I have been able to find a version of Britten’s “Kate and the Accident Story” repeated anywhere but the Saratogian until after 1950, this version of the story really did not seem to take off until then.28  Britten revisited the story several times in her columns in the Saratogian and while she did not make any substantial changes to the narrative a strange thing happened, Britten changed her sources several times.

In 1946 Britten wrote about chips again in her “Chronicles of Saratoga” column.29  The article began with a quote from a clipping she recently received.  The article, from the New England Homestead Magazine, presented “The Finicky Customer Story.”  After repeating the story Britten dismissed it in favor of “The Kate Wicks and the Accident” version, her authentic story.  This time she suggested that this story was based on the memories of two people closely associated with Moon’s Lake House, Kate Wicks an employee and Cornelius Durkee a guest.  The information from Kate Wicks is the same information she presented in the 1940 column, but in this version Britten added a conversation that she had with Cornelius Durkee about his visits to both Moon’s and Crum’s.  She quotes Durkee confirming “The Kate Wicks and the Accident Story” she presented in 1940.  This seems unusual since Britten didn’t mention Durkee in the 1940 article and he never published that and by the time the original article was written Cornelius Durkee had already passed away.

She also significantly expanded on the information she presented about George Crum, once again mainly quoting Durkee and portraying the information as things Durkee had actually experienced.  However it is clear the vast majority of the information actually comes from newspaper clippings that Durkee may have collected, not his own experiences.30

In 1948 a reader sent another clipping to Britten that apparently inspired her to tackle the chip story again in her “Chronicles of Saratoga” column.31  The clipping claimed that Hiram Thomas was the inventor of the potato chip at Moon’s.    Walter Scott, who sent her the clipping, hadn’t heard of Hiram Thomas even though the 73 year old Scott said he worked at Moons as a boy and young man.  Britten didn’t seem to recognize the name either, which may have been because Hiram managed and then leased Moon’s Lake House from 1888 – 1895.32  After dismissing the Hiram Thomas story, Britten retells “The Kate Wicks and the Accident Story” but with a change, she includes Cary Moon in the story as well.  What is most striking is the change once again in her sources.  Suddenly Britten’s information came from interviews with Albert J. Stewart in 1940, an interview she conducted with Aunt Katie Weeks in 1912, and her interview with Cornelius Durkee.  This is the first time she indicated that she talked with either Stewart or Wicks.

In 1953, Britten wrote an article in celebration of the 100th birthday of the Potato Chip.33  There was another small change in the story; she included some information about Pete Francis.  Britten dismissed him as the inventor but suggested that Peter Francis, George Crum and Kate Wicks often compared notes on their menus and all three of them also consulted with Cary Moon on perfecting the chip.  This Britten said explained why all of their names are now associated with the chip.   Britten then added a new source for her claims, a previously undisclosed interview with George Crum she conducted in 1913 when she was a reporter for the Saratoga Sun.  All reference to Albert Stewart, Augusta Moriarta, and Cornelius Durkee as her sources are missing from this version of the story.

THE STORIES COMBINED

This 1953 article coincides with some marketing efforts by the Potato Chip industry organizing a celebration of the 100th birthday of the Chip, trying to promote a National Potato Chip Week and looking for a relative of George Crum in Saratoga Springs to take part in the celebration.34 Apparently some of their promotional materials distributed to the press included both “The Finicky Customer Story” and the “Kate Wicks and the Accident Story” since they both appeared in newspapers with other potato chip industry information.35

The Potato Chip industry’s marketing efforts were continued by the Potato Chip Institute in the 1960s and most of the stories generated at that time contained both stories.  They even began work on a Potato Chip Festival and planned a Statue in Saratoga Springs, but neither of these things ever seemed to come to fruition.36

In their 1983 article in Western Folklore Banner and Fox trace the dominance of the “Finicky Customer Story” and its wide spread distribution to an advertising campaign by the St. Regis Paper Company in 1973.  The Company took out full page ads in Time, Fortune and several other prominent magazines to promote the use of their paper in snack food packaging.  The focus of the ad however was the George Crum and “The Finicky Customer” version of the story and included a photograph of George Crum.  This not only increased the popularity of that story it seemed to push the “Kate Wicks and the Accident Story” to the background.37

Today the George Crum variant is easily found with an internet search and often appears in publications, especially during Black History Month.  And in June 2009 a Saratoga Springs company introduced their version of Saratoga Chips and used the legend to help promote their product, which in turn renewed interest in George Crum’s Story.  Until recently their chips were packaged in a reproduction of an early 20th century Saratoga Chips Box.38

HOW THE STORIES MIGHT HAVE BEEN BUILT

It seems clear that these stories may be a combination of oral tradition wrapped with some facts to create a story that seems to make sense.  On the surface it may seem that a story first presented in 1885 should carry a lot of weight simply because it was written much closer to the time the event occurred and that some of the participants were still alive.  Unfortunately age does not guarantee accuracy, for example just one week before the Hotel Gazette published its article crediting George Crum with the invention the New York Times carried an article about the sale of Moon’s Lake House that gave credit to Mrs. Moon for the invention of the potato chip.39  Both stories, printed at the same time, present two very different conclusions.

By analyzing the stories it may be possible to see where some of the assumptions, traditions and maybe misunderstanding may have come from.  My advantage over earlier writers is that we now know that a version of the potato chip was being made in 1849 at Loomis’ Lake House.  That gives us a baseline to compare all the other stores against, and that analysis can give us a sense of origin of these stories.

What follows is a list of some of the elements from “The Finicky Customer Story” and “Kate Wicks and the Accident” and an analysis of each of them.

MOON’S LAKE HOUSE AND MONTGOMERY HALL

By the 1860s Moon’s was regularly identified as the place where potato chips became famous in newspaper articles and publications.40  If you were writing about the birthplace of the potato chip there would be little reason to even consider it happened someplace else.   The Hotel Gazette’s article placing the event at Montgomery Hall is puzzling because so much of the other information in the story is tied to Moon’s Lake House.   The Moon’s did run Montgomery Hall, a hotel on Broadway in Saratoga Springs, before they purchased Loomis’ Lake House and renamed it Moon’s, but I haven’t been able to find any other reference to a connection between Montgomery Hall and the potato chip.41  Evelyn Barrett Britten did include a brief mention that Kate may have cooked for the Moon’s at Montgomery Hall before she cooked at the Lake House, but that is the only reference I have found to indicate that.42

1853

Once the where was established in the story, they needed to lock down the when.  With a few exceptions, that may just have been typos, the year that has appeared in the stories has been 1853.  This may reflect a widespread belief that the chips were born soon after the Moon’s started their Lake House.   While the Moon’s did not actually buy the Lake House until 1854, Sylvester’s History of Saratoga County published in 1878, reported that the business began in 1853.43  The writers may also have seen an 1889 article in which Cary Moon claimed to have started making the chips soon after he purchased the place in 1852.44

MRS. MOON HAD MORE FRIED AND PUT IN PAPER CORNUCOPIAS

This part of the story, like the location being Moon’s Lake House, probably resulted from the numerous newspaper articles that discussed the Moons and The Lake House.   Harriet Moon died in 1869, but plenty of people would have been familiar with her and her presence in the kitchens of Moons.45  And she had been given credit for the invention of the potato chip herself in an article in the New York Times a week before the Hotel Gazette article was published in 1885.  ((“Returning to Saratoga,” New York Times, August 15, 1885))  If a writer believed that the potato chip was born at Moon’s Lake House concluding that Mrs. Moon was responsible for the kitchen would not have been totally unreasonable.

By the late 1860s the Chips at Moon’s were being served in paper cornucopias, but there is no evidence that this was being done any earlier.46   It would be easy for a writer to assume that this had been used from the beginning.

GEORGE CRUM

It is a little less obvious, at least to me, how Kate Wicks and George Crum became part of the story.

Both of them had ties to Moon’s Lake House, but there is no evidence, beside the chip stories, that George Crum cooked at Moon’s Lake House.47    He did, at least according to his 1893 profile in a County History, sell fish and game to Moon’s for 19 years, and that may have been in the kitchen from time to time, but as far as I have been able to discover not as a cook.48  He may also have made an occasional appearance in Loomis’ Lake House kitchen before it became Moon’s as well.  In the 1850 census George Peck and his family were listed immediately after Horace Loomis and family, the owners of the Lake House.  Based on the age, race, and members of the family I believe that this is George Crum, and just a misinterpretation of George Speck.  He lived in a separate building but it is possible that he worked at the Lake House, since his occupation was listed as ostler.  An ostler or hostler handled horses primarily for a hotel, tavern or inn.  While there is no direct connection to Loomis’ in the Census, it was the largest Lake House in that area and the only one likely to employ an ostler.49

The anonymous writer of the 1885 Hotel Gazette article or his informants may have picked George Crum not only for his ties to Moon’s, but also because of his fame as a cook at the time the article was written, not necessarily when the chip was supposedly discovered.  In the 1860s George Crum may have gained some fame as a hunter, fisherman, and guide, but it doesn’t appear his cooking was as well recognized as it would become later.50  But by 1885 George Crum was well known in Saratoga Springs for his skills in the kitchen at his small restaurant in Malta.  A number of articles about Crum, unrelated to potato chips, appeared in local and New York City newspapers.51

KATE WICKS

Evelyn Barrett Britten may have decided on the “Kate Wicks and the Accident” version for her stories because of Kate’s 1906 claim to have been the inventor of the chip.52  While Kate’s 1906 profile, places her in Moon’s kitchen, it also brings up a few questions.  According to the profile Kate and her family did not move to Saratoga Springs from Ballston Spa until 1861 which would mean that if she worked at Moon’s before that year she would have had to travel to Moon’s, boarded somewhere in Saratoga Springs, or lived at Moon’s during the summer season.  The last two possibilities would have meant Kate leaving her very young children with her husband or a relative.  In the same profile Kate Wicks also claimed that she had worked for 14 years at the Sans Souci Hotel in Ballston Spa.  Unfortunately we don’t know when her career started and ended at the Sans Souci or Moon’s.

THE OTHERS

While the “George Crum and the Finicky Customer  Story” and the “Kate Wicks and The Accident” version are the only two versions that actually describe in any detail how the chip was born, there are a number of other stories that credit people and places with the invention of the potato chip.   This is a list of these other claimants, the source of the claim, and an analysis of the story’s accuracy.

PLACES

ANYWHERE BUT SARATOGA SPRINGS

There have been a number of articles written over the years that suggest that Saratoga Springs is not actually the birthplace of the potato chip.  They do not start to appear until the 20th century when the chip stories started to circulate around the country.  Several of these articles make compelling cases that an unknown cook in Saratoga Springs was not the first person to make thin deep fried slices of potato.  There are recipes in cook books and even one among the papers of Thomas Jefferson that suggest the French and eventually Americans were making something similar to Saratoga Chips before 1853 or even 1849.53

I don’t think you can make any kind of convincing argument that this isn’t possible.   That is why I think that it is important that Saratoga Springs, when claiming to be the birthplace of the potato chip, concentrates on the transformation of a crispy fried potato into a sought after delicacy and famous snack.  No other place can really claim this, and for many years the name of the snack, “Saratoga Potatoes” or “Saratoga Chips” included the name of the city.

Montgomery Hall

Source:  Hotel Gazette, August 22, 1885, As quoted in Such Was Saratoga and American Hotel. ((Williamson, Jefferson, The American Hotel New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1930 219 and Bradley, Hugh, Such was Saratoga, New York: Doubleday, Doran, and Co., 1940) 121- 124))

The Hotel Gazette article placed the discovery of chips at Montgomery Hall.  Hugh Bradley acknowledged the Hotel Gazette article named that hotel, but believed that to be a mistake and it’s likely that Clarence Knapp felt the same way although he just replaced Montgomery Hall with Moon’s Lake House in his retelling of the story in the New Yorker Magazine in 1928.54

It’s not clear why the writer of this story, who credited the invention to George Crum and tied it to Mrs. Moon, set the event at Montgomery Hall, the Hotel Cary and Harriet Moon owned and operated on Broadway in Saratoga Springs from 1845 – 1854.  I have been unable to find any other sources that suggest that Montgomery Hall was where the potato chip was discovered.

Lake Shore House, Saratoga Springs

Source:  Saratogian, August 12, 1939

In the summer of 1939, in a column in the Saratogian entitled “Boss There Ain’t No News” written by Reginald F. Torrey, there was an active exchange over several months about the inventor of the Potato Chip.  The suggestion that the potato chip was created at the Lake Shore house was printed outside of the column, but it was clearly inspired by the various theories in the column over the previous months.   The source, J. Henry Lowell came forward to support the idea that George Crum and his wife were the inventors of the Potato Chip.  Lowell, who claimed to have worked for the Crums for five years, did not believe that they invented them at Moon’s Lake House, but at what he called the Lake Shore House down the hill from Moons.

There is additional evidence to support Lowell’s claim that he worked for the Crum’s, but it would have been at their restaurant in Malta based on his age.55  Lowell was born in 1878 so even if he worked as a teen it would not have been until the mid 1890s.56  I find this reference particularly interesting because it shows that even someone who knew Crum didn’t necessarily have the answers to how the potato chip was invented.  I haven’t been able to find the Lake Shore House, but the Lake Side House was down the hill from Moon’s Lake House.57  I haven’t  found any other evidence that George Crum or his wife Esther worked at that Lake House, but it is possible that they may have had some association with it 1850 when George lived nearby.  It was in business then as Able’s Lake House and began to be called the Lakeside House, in 1867 when Henry Caney began operating it.58   I haven’t found any other evidence associating the Lake Side House with the discovery of the potato chip, the Lake Side House served chips after the property was acquired by Cary Moon and run by his son’s Charles and Henry.59

Avery’s Lake House, Saratoga Springs

Source:  Saratogian, June 7, 1910

Avery’s was claimed as the birthplace of the chip in a 1910 Saratogian article about George Avery.60 Avery stated that Saratoga Chips were invented at Avery’s Lake House in the 1850s when his father Hiram Avery ran their Lake House.  A second suggestion that there was at least a story circulating about the Avery families involvement comes from a 1976 manuscript,  “The Town of Malta Developed by People” by Earl F. Gates, who wrote that one of his relatives said that Old “Mag” Avery invented the Saratoga Chip.61

The only way Avery’s could have been the site of the discovery of the potato chip is if the event happened before 1849 and somehow the recipe was transferred to Loomis’ Lake House.  Avery’s opened as early as 1833 and was run by Benjamin Avery and his sons Hiram and Calvin.  It was located on the same side of the lake as Moons, but further north on the narrows of Lake.62  They apparently were serving fried potatoes by 1850, but the diner who reported this fact didn’t note anything special about them.  Mag Avery, identified by Earl Gates’ mother as the inventor of potato chips, married Calvin Avery about 1839 and could have been working in the kitchen before 1849.63  However there is no other evidence of the chip being invented at Avery’s and Earl Gates Mother’s recollection may have been based on the 1910 story.

PEOPLE

Harriet Moon

Source:  New York Times, August 15, 1885

This article appeared in the New York Times one week before the Hotel Gazette article giving credit to George Crum.  The article, about the sale of Moon’s Lake House, said that “’the Saratoga’ as it is known the world over originated with Moon or rather his wife who was an excellent cook.”  The article doesn’t mention Harriet Moon by name, but it seems likely they were referring to Cary Moon’s first wife Harriet, who died in 1869.64

There are several accounts to suggest that she played a role in the kitchen of Moon’s Lake House, and she has been given credit for being the inventor a few times over the years.  But there is no reason to believe she had anything to do with Loomis’ Lake House before she and her husband purchased it in 1854.  While she may not be the inventor of potato chips she should be recognized for her role, in making the chips famous and creating a nationwide appetite for them.65

Cary Moon

Source:  Evening Observer, June 15, 1885

He is called the originator of the Potato Chip in this brief mention that Moon’s Lake House was for sale.  Many of the newspaper stories and travel guides before this date mention that Moon’s was famous for its fried potatoes but doesn’t really use the word invented or originated until Moon’s was sold.66  A few years later in an interview in the Troy Daily Times he actually took credit for the invention of Potato Chip saying they started frying them soon after they bought the business, which he believed happened in 1852.67  And when he died in 1895 notices of his death appeared around the country giving him credit as the originator of Saratoga Chips.68

His involvement in the discovery of the Potato chip seems unlikely for the same reasons as his wife Harriet.  But like Harriet, perhaps even more, he deserves credit for the popularity and development of what has become known as the potato chip.

Cornelius Vanderbilt

Source:  The World, June 20 1893

In 1893 in a story about the burning and rebuilding of Moon’s Lake House, The World stated that Cornelius Vanderbilt gave Moon his start after the Civil War and taught him how to make Saratoga potatoes.   Cornelius Vanderbilt also appears in the potato chip story again in 1976.69  In that year the Snack Food Association apparently released a version of “The Finicky Customer Story” which identified Vanderbilt as the finicky customer.  When that version was picked up by a Vanderbilt heir and included in a cook book and materials for a party a controversy over fact and fiction developed in Saratoga Springs.70

It doesn’t appear that there was any basis in fact for the story in 1893 nor the one in 1976 and while Vanderbilt may have dined on chips at Moon’s there doesn’t seem to be any reason to think he ever played more of a role.

Flora

Source:  Troy Daily Times, August 15, 1882

In a far ranging story about current events in Saratoga Springs, the writer of this article recounts a visit to the Cedar Bluff Hotel, another Lake House that at time was being run by William Van Arnum of Troy.  The next section of the story entitled “A Bit of History” claims that Gil Vandercook, who for many years had been the Steward of the United States Hotel, had once been a partner of Cary Moon, and that their cook had been “Old Flora” a colored woman.  Unfortunately like Eliza the Cook in the 1849 New York Herald article her last name was never given.  She, the article states, was the inventor of “Moon’s famous fried potato chips” and had made them for several years in Troy before her going to Saratoga Springs.  She was sent up from the Verandah, Troy by Van Arnum.

Because this is part of the same article it seems possible that William Van Arnum may have been the source for the story.  Much to the disappointment of the people of Troy perhaps, this story doesn’t stand up to the facts very well.  The Van Arnum referred to in the story was probably William’s father John Van Arnum who in 1852 was the new proprietor of The Verandah a restaurant on First Street in Troy.71  Gilbert Vandercook was a partner in the Lake House, but with the Loomis’ and not Cary Moon.72  It’s possible that some of the details are wrong and Flora may still have been a cook at Loomis’ Lake House, but the timing is wrong for her to have been part of the discovery of the chip there or her having brought it from Troy.

An 1852 ad for The Verandah announces that John Van Arnum had only recently taken over the business, suggesting that if he played a role in Flora going to Saratoga Springs it was after 1852.73  Most versions of the potato chip story were never challenged but this one generated a letter to the Editors of the Troy Daily Times from Cary Moon.74 Moon wrote that not only was he never a partner of Gil Cook, but that he had never heard of Flora and believed that she was “base fabric of the brain.”  The paper printed the information with the comment that it appeared an unwitting injustice had been done and this was their effort to set matters right.

A Colored “Auntie”

Source:  Troy Daily Times, June 28 1887

Unfortunately this woman doesn’t even get a first name.  This article about the new owners of Moon’s Lake House after Cary Moon sold it in 1885 refers to the “fried potatoes invented and made for nearly a half-century by a colored “auntie””.

At first look this sounds like “Aunt” Kate Wicks as she was sometimes referred to in articles, but that may be a bit of a leap.  There are references to colored Aunties in other publications and stories and it seems older African American women were sometimes called Aunties.  It’s impossible to know who the writer was referring to, or if there even was one woman that invented the chips and cooked at the Lake House for half a century.  At the time the article was written the only cook we can identify at Moon’s Lake House is Susan Jones and I haven’t been able to discover anything about her that could be used to know how long she had cooked at the Lake House.  It seems more likely that the Auntie is a composite of African American women cooking at Moon’s created by the writer.75

Hiram Thomas

Source:  Times Picayune, July 28, 1895

An article in the Times Picayune describes a visit to Saratoga Springs a few years before the article was written.   The writer’s informant recalls that his party was introduced to a man who claimed to be the inventor of the potato chip.  The story, written in unflattering language, doesn’t name the man but states that he was African American, not their term, who came from New Orleans to Saratoga Springs.  He took over the restaurant some years before and then invented the chips.

It’s likely that while most of the details are wrong, it was Hiram Thomas, the informant was referring to.  Hiram Thomas, an African American, ran Moon’s first as a manager and then as leasee from 1888 – 1895.76

Thomas was once again given credit for the invention of the potato chip in his obituary in 1907 in New Jersey. The obituary was republished in newspapers around the country and not only included the information about the potato chip but Thomas’ service to Presidents while Washington DC, his restaurant in New Jersey,  and his involvement in hotels and Saratoga Springs and New Jersey.77

Hiram Thomas did not become involved with Moon’s until after Cary Moon sold it and long after the Saratoga Chip was already famous.  We don’t know if he ever claimed to invent it, but it seems more likely that someone made a giant leap by connecting his association with Moon’s to the birth of the potato chip.

Emeline Jones

Source:  Cleveland Gazette, July 20, 1912

Emeline Jones obituary in the Cleveland Gazette contains a statement by W. E. Gross, who was referred to as “one of New York’s oldest caterers’” giving Jones credit for introducing Saratoga Chips to the public.

At the time of her death Jones was a well known New York City caterer.  She was born a slave in Baltimore, Maryland where she remained for many years, even after gaining her freedom before coming to New York after 1860.78  She worked for many years in Washington DC, Long Branch, New Jersey, New York, and even Saratoga Springs.   Hiram Thomas employed her as a cook at Moon’s for at least one season, but it is possible that it was longer.79  It is clear however that Emeline was not cooking in Saratoga Springs before 1849, since she was still in Maryland in 1860.80 There is another Jones, Susan Jones, who also cooked at Moon’s I have wondered if Susan Jones was Emeline Jones.   They both were from the south, African American, and cooked at Moon’s Lake House at about the same time.  In addition Susan’s specialty was Fried Chicken Maryland style which is from the same region where Emeline Jones was raised.81  But other than those admittedly vague connections I do not have any evidence to support the theory that they are one person.

Pete Francis

Source:  Saratogian, June 5, 1953

At some point Evelyn Barrett Britten must have come across a reference to Peter Francis inventing the potato chip.  She used a portion of her column on Saratoga History to specifically address the claim.  She wrote that Francis wasn’t the inventor but that he, George, and Kate were all cooks and compared notes on cooking.  She went on to write that he played a role with George, Kate and Cary Moon in perfecting the Chip after the initial discovery.  It’s not clear where Britten found the reference to Pete Francis being the inventor of the chip or where she found information about their collaboration.  She may have just assumed the close working relationship and added Peter Francis’ role.

Peter Francis was a well known cook, even by the time the potato chip was being served at Loomis’ Lake House.82 He also was George and Kate’s brother in law and may have worked with both of them in the kitchen of the Sans Souci Hotel in Ballston Spa.  But with the exception of Clarence Knapp’s 1928 article putting him in the Moon’s Lake House kitchen as one of George Crum’s assistants there doesn’t seem to be anything else suggesting he cooked at Moon’s.83  As early as 1842 Peter had his own place on Saratoga Lake and within a few years his place was a frequent destination for fish dinners and fishing parties.84

Freelove Moon

Source:  New York Times, August 13 1893

This article was reprinted in numerous newspapers and focused on two famous Saratoga Dishes, Chips and Cream Hashed Potatoes.  The writer suggested that the woman who probably deserves the credit for the Chips was living in Saratoga Springs in 1893.

It seems most likely that the writer may have confused Freelove Moon, Cary Moon’s second wife with his first wife Harriet.  Harriet died in 1869 and likely had a much greater role in the development of the chip, but not the invention.85   Freelove may have also had a role in the running of Moon’s, I haven’t discovered any references, but it was long after the chip’s fame was well established.86

AND THEY COOKED THERE

There are some other cooks that are mentioned in conjunction with the Saratoga Chip and Moon’s Lake House but I have not found any place they are credited with the discovery of the potato chip.  And for the most part these are just passing references.

Susan Jones

Source:  New York Herald, August 19, 1894

This article described Susan Jones as a southern colored woman who worked for Cary Moon and now works for Hiram Thomas at Moon’s Lake House.  The reporter convinced Jones to give the secret to preparing two of the Lake House dishes including Saratoga Chips, which by 1894 was no longer really a secret.  I have not been able to discover anything about Susan Jones, it seems likely that she was not a local and lived only the summer months in Saratoga like so many other African American workers.

Unnamed Southern Mammy

Source:  Saratogian, May 10, 1927

In 1927, the Saratogian featured a series on the memories of Richard Mingay a long time Saratoga Springs resident.  Mingay, who had lived in Saratoga Springs for 76 years, wrote about Moon’s Lake House and gave credit to “Mother Moon” for the chips.  According to Mingay she was helped by her assistant a southern “Mammy”.

There were probably many African American cooks in the kitchen over there years and there is no way to tie this to any particular cook.  If he was referring to the first Mrs. Moon, it’s unlikely that the story is the result of direct experience since he would have only been about 20 at the time of Harriet Moon’s death and probably was not among Moon’s frequent patrons.87

Assistant Cook of African Descent

Source:  Troy Daily Times, July 19 1887

In a discussion of Moon’s Lake House and Cary Moon’s retirement the writer called the potatoes Moon’s best advertising medium and that “for 25 cents anyone could get the equivalent of about one potato that had received confectionery treatment from the first Mrs. Moon or her able assistant cook of African descent.”  This time we don’t even know the gender of the cook, but they would have to have been cooking at the Lake House before 1869 if the story was true..

Mother of Jennie Hill, possibly Sarah Williams

Source:  Saratogian, August 3, 1939.

In the midst of a an exchange over several months debating who was the inventor of chips Mrs. Oliver Prosper came forward and said that her mother, Mrs. John H. Carr employed a mulatto girl named Jennie Hill 65 or 70 years ago (1864 or 1869).  According to the informant,  Jennie’s mother, Mrs. Williams, was a laundress in the winter and cooked for the Moon’s in the summer.

It’s possible that Mrs. Williams was Sarah Williams who was cooking at the Cedar Bluff Hotel in 1882 and was said to have been cooking on the Lake for years.88  She also appeared to know Kate Wicks.  She testified that she had knew Kate Wicks, at the time Kate Adkins and had been her neighbor for twelve years in 1865, suggesting that Sarah Williams also lived in Ballston Spa.89  Unfortunately she has proven hard to track down and I don’t know anything more about her.

CONCLUSION

I don’t believe we will ever know how what we know as potato chips started to be made at Loomis’ Lake House in 1849 and I sincerely doubt we will ever have conclusive evidence about who was involved.  That leaves us with unanswered questions, but an interesting story of how a giant snack food industry owes its origins to an item on the menu of a Lake House upstate New York.

While I don’t believe that George Crum and Kate Wicks had any direct involvement in the birth of the potato chip I do believe they lived interesting lives.   My next effort will be to present their stories.

My research, still a work in progress, wouldn’t have gotten this far without help from the staff and volunteers of several great organizations and some dedicated individuals;

Joy Houle, Kathleen Coleman, Anne Clothier and Kim McCartney from the Saratoga County Historical Society
Jane Meader Nye and Lauren Roberts from the Saratoga County Historians Office
Paul Perreault, Malta Town Historian
Saratoga County Clerk’s Office
Saratoga County Surrogates Court
Teri Blasko from the Saratoga History Room at the Saratoga Springs Public Library,
Mary Ann Fitzgerald, City of Saratoga Springs Historian,
James Parillo, Historical Society of Saratoga Springs.
Ken Perry who has done extensive work on the early African American community in the Capital District
Shelia Powless from the Stockbridge-Munsee Community.
Melissa Tacke, from the Grems-Doolittle Library Schenectady Historical Society
Ruth Ann Messick,
Roy Arnold and Rachel Clothier who have been great resources about Malta Ridge,
Any mistakes are mine and please feel free to post a comment or email me if you discover one of them or if you have something to add.

 


  1. Durkee, Cornelius, “Reminiscences of Saratoga,” Saratogian, January 19, 1928 and Armstead, Myra B. Young, Lord Please Don’t Take Me in August (Urbana & Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1999) p.22 

  2. Saratoga Springs:  Birthplace of the Potato Chip and “Notes from the Watering Places,” New York Herald, August 2, 1849 and Stiles, T.J., The First Tycoon:  The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt New York: Knopf, 2009 

  3. Fox, William S. and Mae G. Banner, “Social and Economic Contexts of Folklore Variants:  The Case of Potato Chip Legends, Western Folklore, May 1983. 

  4. Williamson, Jefferson, the American Hotel, New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1920, 219. 

  5. Bradley, Hugh, Such Was Saratoga, New York:  Doubleday, Doran, and Co., 1940, 121-124. 

  6. “Famous Hunter Guide and Cook Dies at 96 Years,” Saratogian, July 27, 1914 and “A Saratoga Celebrity,” The Day, November 21 1914. 

  7. Durkee, Cornelius, “Reminiscences of Saratoga,” Saratogian, January 13, 1928. 

  8. Knapp, Clarence, “Home of the Chips,” New Yorker Magazine, February 18, 1928, p. 10 and Saratogian, February 20, 1928. 

  9. Saratogian, February 20, 1928 

  10. “Saratoga Chip Created by Accident,” August 3, 1932, Ticonderoga Sentinel and “In New York,” The News-Palladium

  11. Durkee, Cornelius, “Reminiscences of Saratoga,” Saratogian, January 13, 1928 and “Famous Hunter Guide and Cook Dies at 96 Years,” Saratogian, July 27, 1914. 

  12. Scrapbooks in the collection of the Saratoga County Historian, Ballston Spa, NY. 

  13. “Indian Chef Chief Crum Potato Chip Discoverer,” Stars and Stripes, January 29 1955 and “How It Happened – Birth of Potato Chips,” Ironwood Daily Globe, June 28, 1958. 

  14.  “Potato Chip Birthday,” Watertown Daily Times, July 27 1976. 

  15. McGregor, Jean, “Now It Can Be Told – The Authentic Story of Crum and His Saratoga Chips,” Saratogian, August 30, 1940. 

  16. Ballston Spa Daily Journal, May 19, 1917.  Stewart would have been about 39 years old when Kate Wicks died in 1917. 

  17. Sobol, Louis, “New York Cavalcade,” San Antonio Light, August 8, 1938. 

  18. “Pioneer Citizens, Mrs. Catherine A. Wicks,” Saratogian, Oct 10, 1906. 

  19. “Former Resident Dies,” Ballston Spa Daily Journal, May 14 1917. 

  20. “Saratoga Chip Inventor Dies,” Washington Post, May 19, 1917 

  21. Hartford Republican, October 28, 1921 and Saratogian, October 11, 1921. 

  22. Durkee, Cornelius, “Reminiscences of Saratoga,” Saratogian, January 19, 1928 

  23. “People’s Forum,” Saratogian, October 9, 1924. 

  24. Durkee, Cornelius, “Reminiscences of Saratoga,” Saratogian, July 21, 1927, Cary Moon, Saratogian, January 13, 1928, George Crum, and Saratogian, January 19, 1928 Kate Wicks. 

  25. “Another Claims Potato Chip Idea,” Glens Falls Post Star, August 3, 1932.  I haven’t been able to locate a copy of the “Finicky Customer Story” in the Glens Falls Post Star, but this version appeared about the same time in another upstate New York paper.  “Saratoga Chip Created by Accident,” August 3, 1932, Ticonderoga Sentinel. 

  26. Torrey, Reginald F., “Boss There Ain’t No News,” Saratogian, June 14, 1939, July 5, 1939, July 22, 1939, and August 3, 1939.  Saratogian August 12, 1939. 

  27. “’Such Was Saratoga’, Book by Hugh Bradley, Comes Off Press Aug. 9,” Saratogian, July 11, 1940. Bradley, Such Was Saratoga (New York: Doubleday, Doran, and Co, 1940) p 123. 

  28. “The First Potato Chip,” Hartford Courant, October 8, 1950. 

  29. “’Too Thick’ Cried Critic; Result Spa Potato Chips,” Saratogian, May 3, 1946. 

  30. “Crum’s The Famous Eating House,” New York Tribune, December 27, 1891 and “Famous Hunter Guide and Cook Dies at 96 Years,” Saratogian, July 27, 1914. 

  31. “New Claimant as Inventor of Saratoga Chips Appears,” Saratogian, January 23, 1948. 

  32. Troy Daily Times, May 11, 1888 and Directory of Saratoga Springs, Saratoga Springs, NY: Saratogian, 1895. 

  33. “Chronicles of Saratoga.” Saratogian, June 5, 1953. 

  34. Saratogian, January 7 1953  

  35. “The Potato Chips Was Invented 100 years Ago by Indians” The Chillicothe Constitution Tribune, October 26 1953 and “Chip Off The Old Spud Big Business at 100,” The Bee, November 9 1953. 

  36. “A Chip Statue?” Saratogian, Oct 6, 1964. 

  37. Fox, William S. and Mae G. Banner, “Social and Economic Contexts of Folklore Variants:  The Case of Potato Chip Legends, Western Folklore, May 1983. 

  38. Saratoga Chips, LLC, orginalsaratogachips.com 

  39. “Returning to Saratoga,” New York Times, August 15, 1885 

  40. “Life at Saratoga,” New York Times, September 7, 1860, “Letter from Saratoga,” Boston Post, August 10, 1865. 

  41. New York, Saratoga County, Deeds TT 215, White to Moon February 24, 1845 

  42. Britten, Evelyn Barrett, Chronicles of Saratoga (Saratoga Springs: Saratogian, 1959) 175-179 

  43. New York, Saratoga County, Deeds, 68: 72, Loomis to Moon, March 30, 1854 and Nathaniel Sylvester, History of Saratoga County, New York (Philadelphia: Everts & Ensign, 1878) 214 

  44. “Saratoga Springs,” Troy Daily Times, December 14, 1889 

  45. Saratogian, October 7, 1869 and “Saratoga and the Races,” Troy Daily Times, August 15, 1870 

  46. “Saratoga Races,” New York Herald, July 27, 1866 

  47. Crum did cook at Moon’s Lake House in 1897.  Saratogian August 23, 1897 

  48. Sylvester, Nathaniel, Samuel T. Wiley and W. Scott Garner, History of Saratoga County (Richmond IN: Gresham Publishing Co., 1893) 535 

  49. United States Census 1850, New York, Saratoga County, Town of Saratoga Springs, Dwelling 959. 

  50. Landon, Melville D., Saratoga in 1901, (New York, Leggo & Co., 1871) 108 and Saratoga Sentinel, July 3, 1873 

  51. New York Times, May 7, 1883 and New York Herald August 10, 1884 

  52. “Pioneer Citizens, Mrs. Catherine A. Wicks,” Saratogian, Oct 10, 1906. 

  53. Mary Randolph, The Virginia Housewife, (Baltimore: John Plaskitt, 1836), 97. Also repeated in the Unknown, The Cook’s Own Book, (Boston: Munroe and Francis, 1832), 150.  Both from Karen Hess, “The Origin of French Fries” PPC (Petits Propos Culinaires) 68 November 2001 

  54. Knapp, Clarence, “Home of the Chips,” New Yorker Magazine, February 18, 1928, p. 10 and Saratogian, February 20, 1928 

  55. Ballston Spa Daily Journal, February 1, 1945 

  56. United States Census, 1910, New York, Saratoga County, Town of Saratoga Springs, Dwelling 68 

  57. Saratogian, September 19, 1867 and Boyd’s Saratoga Springs Directory, 1868 

  58. Saratoga Republican, July 16, 1847 and Saratogian, September 19, 1867 and Boyd’s Saratoga Springs Directory, 1868 

  59. Saratogian, May 28, 1874 and Saratogian, May 18, 1876 

  60. “George H. Avery Takes New Hotel,” Saratogian, June 7, 1910 

  61. Gates, Earl F.,The Town of Malta Developed by People, 45.  Unpublished manuscript. 

  62. Broke, Sophia Frederica “Diary of an American Tour, 1834,” University of Rochester Library Bulletin, Winter 1949.  New York, Saratoga County Deeds ZZ: 74 Avery to Avery, September 13, 1847. 

  63. United States Census 1850, New York, Saratoga, Town of Saratoga Springs, Dwelling 1037 

  64. Saratogian, October 7, 1869 

  65. Troy Daily Times, August 15, 1870 

  66. Boston Post, August 10, 1865. Only Hotel that knows how to cook them. The World, August 4, 1884. 

  67. Troy Daily Times, December 14 1889  

  68. “Death of a Well Known Landlord,” New York Times, January 14, 1895. 

  69. Watertown Daily Times, July 27, 1976 

  70. Fox, William S. and Mae G. Banner, “Social and Economic Contexts of Folklore Variants:  The Case of Potato Chip Legends, Western Folklore, May, 1983. 

  71. Troy Daily Times, March 22, 1852 

  72. New York, Saratoga County, Deed ZZ:226 

  73. Troy Daily Times, March 22, 1852 

  74. Troy Daily Times, August 30, 1882 

  75. New York Herald, August 19, 1884 

  76. Troy Daily Times, May 11, 1888 and Directory of Saratoga Springs, Saratoga Springs, NY: Saratogian, 1895. 

  77. “Originated Saratoga Chips,” Duluth News Tribune, July 11, 1907 

  78. “An Old Fashioned Cook,” New York Times, December 30, 1899 

  79. New York Times, August 20, 1888 

  80. United States Census 1860, Maryland, Baltimore, 11th Ward, Family 614 

  81. New York Herald, August 19, 1894 

  82. New York, Saratoga County, Deeds, NN:364 and William Stone, Reminiscences of Saratoga and Ballston Spa New York, Worthington Co, 1875 

  83. Knapp, Clarence, “Home of the Chips,” New Yorker Magazine, February 18, 1928, p. 10 and Saratogian, February 20, 1928 

  84. New York, Saratoga County, Deeds, NN:364 and William Stone, Reminiscences of Saratoga and Ballston Spa New York, Worthington Co, 1875 

  85. Saratogian, October 7, 1869 

  86. Troy Daily Times, August 18, 1882. 

  87. Saratogian, October 7 1869 

  88. Troy Daily Times, August 18, 1882.  

  89. Civil War and Later Pension Files, Catharine Adkins, service of Richard Adkins 

Saratoga Springs, New York: Birthplace of the Potato Chip

First I have a disclaimer before we go any further.  I don’t know who made the first thin crispy fried potato and freely admit that it is not only possible, but likely that Saratoga Springs was not the first place where thin slices of potato were fried.  However I don’t think there is much room to debate that the snack we know as the potato chip was born and developed in Saratoga Springs and only then became popular around the country.

Why write still another article about the history of the Potato Chip and Saratoga Springs?  There certainly is no shortage of material on the topic and some of the stories include incredible detail covering not only when, where and how they were invented, but who was responsible for the discovery.  Unfortunately most of this information cannot be confirmed by sources created at the time of the discovery and some parts of the story just don’t stand up to scrutiny.   The fact that these stories are a mixture of myth, folklore and urban legend with a smattering of facts doesn’t make them unimportant or uninteresting.  As a matter of fact they are great stories, worthy of repeating and celebrating, as long as they are viewed as folklore and tradition. I have to admit that these stories fascinate me as much if not more than the “factual” history of the chip and I am already working on a post about them.  But this, my first blog post, explores the history of the potato chip in Saratoga Springs using contemporary sources to tell the story.

To try and avoid confusion I am going to refer to these thin fried slices of potato by the generic name chips because at various times they have been called Moon’s Fried Potatoes, Saratoga Fried Potatoes, Saratoga Chips and a few other variations before people seemed to settle on the name Potato Chips.

The earliest mention of the chip I have been able to find in Saratoga Springs is an 1849 newspaper article that historian T. J. Stiles discovered when he was researching his book, The First Tycoon:  The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt.  The article contains a profile of a Lake House run by Loomis & Company on the shores of Saratoga Lake; a body of water located about four miles east of Saratoga Springs’ resort hotels.  The writer explained that wealthy visitors to Saratoga Springs often drove out to Loomis’ for a few hours of recreation or for an elegant and private fish and game dinner.  While the author was very complimentary about the quality of the meals and the parties, he reserved special praise for one item on the menu and one person on the staff.

“…while the fame of “Eliza, the cook, “ for crisping potatoes has become so wide that she has frequent offers to take places of profit in the city, where her talents in this respect may be made effective.  A queer way to build up a reputation, you will say; but it is nevertheless true, that “Eliza’s” potato frying reputation is one of the prominent matters of remark at Saratoga, and scores of people visit the lake and carry away specimens of the vegetable, as prepared by her, as curiosities.  Ladies frequently pay her a handsome fee for the privilege of witnessing the mode of operation, pursued by her, so that they may instruct their cooks at home.  Eliza always takes the fee and pleasantly enough imparts the theoretic knowledge necessary for potato frying; but no lady has, as yet, been able to teach the art to her cooks at home.  Who would think that simple potatoes could be made such a luxury! and yet, Eliza is not proud of her reputation;  she is not puffed up with pride; she cooks on during the summer and has numerous standing offers to cook for nabobs of the city, at large wages, during the winter.  Who knows how many of her children, or children’s children, will here-after drive tandem to Lake Saratoga, to eat trout, woodcock and fried potatoes, under the same roof where she is now engaged in acquiring laurels.”1

It’s possible, but I think unlikely, that these potatoes were thicker than chips and were instead of chips were the thick slices that cook books of the time called fried potatoes and instructed should be fried on both sides by turning them over.  These thick fried potatoes were rather common so the writer’s excitement suggests that there was something radically different about Eliza’s fried potatoes.

Unfortunately the newspaper never mentions Eliza’s last name nor does it claim that she invented the potatoes; just that she had mastered their preparation.  The failure to mention Eliza’s last name could have just been an oversight or it is possible that it was a conscious slight because Eliza was African American.2  I think it is certainly possible that Eliza was African American, many cooks were African Americans, but I wonder if a writer in 1849 could imagine an African American’s children being served along with the wealthy visitors at the Lake House one day as the article predicted?  I think it is also at least worth mentioning that Eliza could be Eliza Loomis one of the owners of Loomis’ Lake House in 1849.  When couples owned an inn or tavern it was not unusual for the woman to work in or the run the kitchen.  But if the author was referring to Eliza Loomis that would seem to make it more likely that the writer would include her last name.

Loomis’ Lake House was new; the owners rebuilt it after a fire destroyed Loomis’ earlier Lake House on the same site in December, 1846.3  George Loomis and his wife Eliza started operating the Lake House in 1841 and teamed up with a variety of partners during the years they owned it.4  George Loomis died in June, 1849, but Eliza Loomis carried on with her partners, her brother in law Horace and his wife Abigail Loomis, George’s nephew George H. Loomis, and Gilbert and Sarah Vandercook, at the time the New York Herald article was written.5

There’s no way to know how long the Loomis’ had been serving the chips before that 1849 article was written, but the tone of the story suggests that it wasn’t something brand new.  There are some stories in newspapers about visits to the Lake House that included positive comments about the food before 1849, but nothing specific about potatoes.6  My reasonably thorough search of newspapers and other sources hasn’t uncovered any other mention of the potatoes or chips on Saratoga Lake nor anywhere else in the country before 1849.

Even though they are not mentioned anywhere it’s possible that the chips were served soon before 1849 sometime after the Loomis’ started running the Lake House in 1841.  It is also possible that the chips predate the Loomis’, since there had been a Lake House of some kind on the property as early as 1810 when James Greene was running a tavern and a ferry across the narrows of Saratoga.  By 1823 he was advertising for fishing parties from Saratoga Springs to visit Greene’s Hotel.7  But unless some new evidence appears it looks like 1849 is the “birth date” of the chip.

Over the next few years there continued to be brief mentions of parties at Loomis’, but only two more sources mention the chips.8  In a book published in 1852 George William Curtis describes the Lake House.

“A spruce, little cottage like inn, now stands upon the bank over the lake, devoted to the entertainment of men, and famous for delicate fish-dinners and fried potatoes. It is de rigueur at Saratoga to dine at the Lake — and to pay likewise. Every afternoon scores of carriages and saddle horses are tied in regular lines to the adjacent fences. Nimble hostlers and waiters in white jackets run busily about, while parties from the United States are rowing upon the lake, or sipping sherry-Cobblers on the piazza.” 9

The second story also from 1852 confirms that the chips were becoming well known and their fame was not limited to Saratoga Springs.   In Newport, another popular summer resort of the wealthy, they were serving a style of potato referred to as “Crisped Potatoes A La Saratoga Lake.”10

MOON’S LAKE HOUSE

Moon's Lake House.  Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper .  July 26, 1862

Moon’s Lake House. Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper . July 26, 1862

Beginning in 1854 new ownership signaled the beginning of the transformation of the chip from a delicacy the Lake House was famous for, into a snack that would be imitated, reproduced on a large scale, and eventually made available around the country, not just in Lake Houses and Hotels, but in restaurants, groceries and homes.

This change in ownership happened when Eliza Loomis, George H. Loomis and Gilbert and Sarah Vandercook, sold their interests in the Lake House and Horace and Abigail Loomis after acquiring sole ownership, sold all of the shares to Cary B. and Harriet Moon in March, 1854.11

Their new property was ideally located at the end of the main road from Saratoga Springs to Saratoga Lake and near one of the principal ways to access and cross the Lake.   Cary and Harriet Moon were already experienced Saratoga Springs landlords when they bought the Lake House having operated the Eagle Hotel with Harriet’s family and running their own hotel, Montgomery Hall.  12  The prime location, the existing reputation of the House, their experience as landlords and apparently the secret recipe of the chip, all contributed to the success of Moon’s Lake House.

An article from 1860 gives an idea of how compelling some people found Moon’s Fried Potatoes.

“Before coming to Saratoga I encountered a young lady who had just completed the tour of Niagara Falls and the White Mountains.  To the question of what she had seen and found worth mentioning during her travels, she replied that the fried potatoes at Saratoga Lake were delightful.  In the course of an hour’s conversation you could pump nothing from her but fried potatoes.  The same enthusiasm prevails with everyone you meet.  The livery-keeper urges you to hire a horse and ride or drive to the lake, and his main argument is ‘Fried Potatoes’.”13

The Lake House became even more popular as a place for the elegant private parties hosted by Saratoga Springs rich and famous visitors.  Recognizing that the size of the Lake House, limited the number and size of parties, and the fact only the wealthy could afford the dinners, the Moon’s developed another source of revenue.  They succeeded in attracting other visitors, both wealthy and just well off to enjoy the bowling alleys, fishing equipment, trout ponds, row boats, and sail boats they offered.  The grounds featured paths, awning shaded patches of lawn and little summer houses to relax under and enjoy cool breezes and the view of the Lake.14   The Moon’s offered beverages such as lemonade, cobblers, and juleps and plates of their famous fried potatoes all served on the piazzas surrounding the Lake House and on the grounds.  Reports claimed that by 1870 the dinners, often costing from $600 to $800 each, were bringing in $70,000 a year and the refreshments and chips served on the piazzas brought in an additional $6,000.15

CHIPS TO GO

Moon's Lake House. New York Public Library

Moon’s Lake House. New York Public Library

It’s not clear if the next development in the history of the chip in Saratoga Springs was driven by inspiration on the part of the Moon’s or just an answer to the demands of their visitors.  Cary Moon later remembered that his patrons asked for samples to carry home and to their hotels.  And they would tip their waiters for extra quantities.16 By 1866 the Moon’s were packaging their chips in a paper cornucopia like the one’s confectioners used to sell candy.   Now chips could be purchased and taken away by visitors who did not have a table, just wanted some light refreshment for the trip back to the hotels, or thought they would share them with friends later.17  These cornucopias sold for twenty five cents each, an expensive treat, but it gave those who weren’t invited to one of the private parties or couldn’t afford a fish and game dinner at Moon’s a taste of what the rich and famous were eating.18  One of the many questions I have not been able to find an answer to is when the chips started to be served cold, but the descriptions of the cornucopias suggest that this may also be the time that chips started to be eaten cold as well as hot.19

THEIR FAME SPREADS

Newspapers from around the country sent writers year after year to report on the happenings in Saratoga Springs and other newspapers enthusiastically reprinted their reports.  Many of the visitors to Saratoga Springs were the celebrities of the day because of their wealth, social standing, political power or fame as businessmen.  Many of the reports of their activities while in Saratoga Springs included the private parties at Moon’s, the afternoon drives to the Lake, and descriptions of the Fried Potatoes served at Moons including the new and seeming unusual cornucopias.  This of course spread the chip’s fame far wider than just the experience of visitors to Moon’s ever could.  Soon people wanted to try chips for themselves so attempts were made to duplicate Saratoga Fried Potatoes at other Lake Houses and hotels at Saratoga Springs and around the country.

Apparently duplicating the chips wasn’t easy to do.  During the 1850s and 1860s the secret of how the chips were prepared was closely guarded and other Lake Houses and restaurants didn’t seem to be able to successfully imitate Moon’s.20  It may have been Harriet Moon who safe guarded the secret, because soon after her death in 1869 details started to emerge about the process.21  By 1870 parts of the process for making the chips started to appear in some newspapers, letting the potato slices soak in cold water and then thoroughly drying them before frying them.22  And in July, 1871 Cary Moon revealed what he claimed to be the secret, which was repeated in numerous newspapers around the country.23  He confirmed some of the earlier information suggesting they be cut as thin as paper, soaked in ice water overnight, and wiped dry with a towel, but the new piece of information was that they were put in a warm dark oven where they dried to a crisp before being fried.24    The recipe started to appear in newspapers and cook books, but surprisingly giving away the secret didn’t dramatically hurt sales since in the summer of 1872 Moon managed to sell 13,000 of the cornucopias, in spite of the fact that the hotels offered chips that some claimed were just as good, and they were free.25  Was it the fact that many still thought Moon’s tasted better or was it just the association with the famous Lake House that continued to compel people buy Moon’s chips at twenty five cents a cornucopia?

SARATOGA CHIPS

Most of the discussion of the history of fried potatoes at the Lake has referred to them as Saratoga Chips, but it actually took some time before Saratoga Fried Potatoes started to be called Saratoga Chips.  The first use of Saratoga Chips that I have been able to find is in the April 18, 1874 issue of the Hudson Evening Register where Toone’s Saratoga Fried Potato Chips for hotels, restaurants and families were advertised.26

During the 1870s both terms, Saratoga Fried Potatoes and Saratoga Chips were used, but gradually Saratoga Chips became the more popular name on menus, newspapers and in cook books.27

When Chips were first sold in stores the businesses may have been supplied by someone preparing chips in their home, but the demand quickly grew enough to require small factories to be set up.28  Larger operations such as the Revere Chip Factory in Lynn Massachusetts and Peerless Saratoga Chips, existed by 1878 and the Chicago Saratoga Chip Company was doing business as early as 1880.29

Even though the chip was now available around the country, they still remained popular at Moon’s; in 1884 at least one newspaper thought they were still the best.30  The only money that the Moon’s seem to have made from the chips was from the actual sale of the chips at the Lake House and any increase in business generated by the fame of the Lake House and its chips.  There is no sign that there was any effort by the Moon’s to try and license or patent the process of making the chips and it seems unlikely they would have had much success if they had attempted it.

There is a box in the collection of the Historical Society of Saratoga Springs that on the surface looks like Cary Moon may have made an attempt to market his chips to wider audience than just the visitors to the Lake House.  The box of Moon Brand Saratoga Chips made by the Saratoga Specialties Company of Saratoga Springs was discovered in the wall of a Saratoga Springs home during a renovation in 1977.31 However I don’t believe this venture had anything to do with Cary Moon.  There are some dates on the box, Jan 29, 1884-1892, which don’t seem to correspond to any dates associated with Moon’s Lake House that I am aware of.  I believe the box dates from after 1893 since the image of Moon’s Lake House on the top of the box seems to be of the Lake House built in 1893, not the pre 1893 structure.  And there is some other evidence that supports a later date, probably after Cary Moon’s death in January, 1895.  32   Three Saratoga Springs men, John Shipman, William A Pierson, and Samuel B. Archer incorporated the Saratoga Specialties Company in 1902 and among a laundry list of things they were to manufacture and sell were Saratoga Chips.33  I don’t believe this particular venture was very successful since the only trace I can find of the product is a mention in a Glens Falls Newspaper in August of 1904.  The brief notice describes the image of Moon’s Lake House on the cover of the box and announces that Kinney the Spring Water man had the original Moon Brand Chips for sale for 15 cents each.34

In the years after Harriet Moon’s death Cary Moon continued to run the Lake House with his sons Charles and Henry.35  While on the surface everything seemed successful there were some financial troubles and Cary had some serious health problems.  36  These issues combined with Henry Moon’s unexpected death in December 1881 may have played a role in Cary Moon finally selling his Lake House.37

Apparently for a time in 1883 and 1884 the property was close to being sold, but a deal was finely made with John Foley of Saratoga Springs and Edward Kearney of New York and Saratoga Springs in August, 1885.38

Foley and Kearney did not run the Lake House, which they continued under Moon’s name, themselves.  Eventually they hired Hiram Thomas, the African American head waiter of the Grand Union Hotel, to manage the Lake House.  It didn’t take long for Hiram Thomas to move from manager to leasee and he began to run the Lake House on his own behalf.39

Moon's Lake House 1893 - 1908 Collection of Brookside Museum, Saratoga County Historical Society

Moon’s Lake House 1893 – 1908
Collection of Brookside Museum, Saratoga County Historical Society

In May 1893, while Thomas’ was still running it, the 53 year old Lake House burned down.  The business must have still been successful because within a few months it was rebuilt and open for business again, this time as the New Lake House.40  But it seems that its glory days may have been behind it, Thomas’ last year operating the Lake House was 1895.  There were a series of new owners, short term leases and managers until June, 1908 when for the third time a Lake House on the property burned.  This time there was no effort to rebuild and the land stood vacant for most of the century.41

POTATO CHIPS

The earliest description of the fried potatoes at Moon’s Lake House that I have found to use the term Potato Chips was in 1872.42  However the name didn’t seem to immediately catch on, it was a gradual process.  Beginning around the turn of the century Saratoga Chips started to appear on fewer menus and advertisements and Potato Chips became the more popular name for the snack food born on Saratoga Lake.  Even though you will very seldom hear them called Saratoga Chips today, the connection survives between Saratoga Springs and the chip for many people.  Part of this may be explained by the promotional efforts of various Snack Food Industry groups who promoted the connection in the 1950, 60s and 70s, the new Saratoga Chips made by a Saratoga Springs Company, and the fascinating web of myths about the creation of the Potato Chip and the very interesting people such as George Crum and Kate Wicks who are credited with their invention.

That’s what I’m working on for my next post, examining some of the stories of the birth of the chip, a look at where the stories came from and to try and sort out what may be true, and what may just be legend.

My research, still a work in progress, wouldn’t have gotten this far without help from the staff and volunteers of several great organizations and some dedicated individuals;

Joy Houle, Kathleen Coleman, Anne Clothier and Kim McCartney from the Saratoga County Historical Society
Jane Meader Nye and Lauren Roberts from the Saratoga County Historians Office
Paul Perreault, Malta Town Historian
Saratoga County Clerk’s Office
Saratoga County Surrogates Court
Teri Blasko from the Saratoga History Room at the Saratoga Springs Public Library,
Mary Ann Fitzgerald, City of Saratoga Springs Historian,
James Parillo, Historical Society of Saratoga Springs.
Ken Perry who has done extensive work on the early African American community in the Capital District
Shelia Powless from the Stockbridge-Munsee Community.
Melissa Tacke, from the Grems-Doolittle Library Schenectady Historical Society
Ruth Ann Messick,
Roy Arnold and Rachel Clothier who have been great resources about Malta Ridge,
Any mistakes are mine and please feel free to post a comment or email me if you discover one of them or if you have something to add.

©2013 David Mitchell


  1. “Notes from the Watering Places,” New York Herald, August 2, 1849 

  2. “Q&A with T.J. Stiles, insidevandy.com,” October 3, 2010.  T. J. Stiles put forth the possibility that Eliza was African American in this profile. 

  3. “Saratoga Lake House Destroyed by Fire,” Schenectady Cabinet, December 22, 1846. 

  4. New York. Town of Saratoga Springs Excise Commission 1842 George Loomis and Arba Simmons. New York: Saratoga County. Deeds RR: 189. Sheriff to Simmons, and TT: 397 Simmons to Loomis. 

  5. New York:  Saratoga County. Surrogates Court, George C. Loomis.  New York: Saratoga County. Deeds ZZ: 226. 

  6. “Saratoga Correspondence,” New York Herald, August 3, 1842 and “Correspondence Commercial Advertiser,” Commercial Advertiser, July 27, 1844. 

  7. Saratoga Sentinel, February 27 1810 and Saratoga Sentinel, July 22, 1823 

  8. “The Watering Places,” New York Herald, July 22 1847 

  9. Dana, Charles.  Meyer’s Universium (New York:  Hermann J. Meyer, 1852.)  

  10. “The Watering Places,” New York Herald, July 21 1852 

  11. New York. Saratoga County. Deeds 58: 155 and 61: 336 and Loomis to Moon 68: 72.  “Fashionable Saratoga,” Troy Daily Times, August 18 1882 

  12. New York. Town of Saratoga Springs, Excise Commission, 1839, Cary Moon Eagle Hotel and New York. Saratoga County. Deeds TT: 215 White to Moon Montgomery Hall. 

  13. “Life At Saratoga,” New York Times, September 7, 1860 

  14. National Era, August 25, 1859, Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper, September 3, 1859, Daily Saratogian, August 31 1860, Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper, July 26 1862. 

  15. Saratogian, September 22, 1870 

  16. “Saratoga Springs,” Troy Daily Times, December 14, 1889 

  17. “Saratoga Races,” New York Herald, July 27 1866 

  18. “Saratoga Springs,” Troy Daily Times, December 14, 1889 

  19. New York Times, July 15 1873.  Served Cold and “Saratoga Springs,” Times Picayune, July 28 1895 still served warm some places 

  20. “Letter from Saratoga,” Boston Post, August 10, 1865 

  21. Saratogian, October 7, 1869 

  22. “From Saratoga,” Albany Evening Journal, July 29, 1870 

  23. “State Items,” Buffalo Daily Courier, August 4, 1871 

  24. Commercial Advertiser, July 1871.  I haven’t been able to locate the original column, but it is reprinted in a collection of the authors work.  Melville D. Landon, Saratoga in 1901 ( New York:  Leggo & Co, 1871)  

  25. “Summer At The Springs,” New York Times, July 15 1873. 

  26. “A Delicious Delicacy,” Hudson Evening Register, April 18, 1874. 

  27. Saratoga Sentinel, July 31 1873 and Marion Star, November 23, 1878 “The Week,” Baltimore Bulletin, August 22, 1874 and “The Fast Mail,” Inter Ocean, September 17, 1875 

  28. New York Herald, December 24, 1878 

  29. North American, August 6, 1878, Macon Telegraph October, 29 1878, The Lakeside Annual Directory of the City of Chicago 1880 p. 1441 

  30. “Cool Saratoga Breezes,” New York Times, July 7 1884.  

  31. “Spa History Seen in Times Square,” Times Union, September 8, 1992 

  32. Troy Daily Times, January 12 1895 

  33. New York. Saratoga County, Articles of Incorporation 2: 320 

  34. Morning Star, August 5 1904 

  35. New York: Saratoga County. Deeds 147: 104 C. B. Moon to Henry Moon.  Saratogian, June 8 1871. Charles and C. B. Moon Excise License. 

  36. New York. Saratoga County Clerk. Lis Pendens, 5: 128,  Saratogian, June 17 1882 Mortgage Sale, New York Times, June 20, 1879 Cary Moon Ill,  Saratogian, November 10, 1877 Cary Moon Ill, 

  37. Saratogian, December 30, 1881 

  38. Brooklyn Daily Union, September 5 1882, Saratogian July 3, 1885, New York. Saratoga County Clerk. Deeds 171: 180 Agreement to Purchase and  Saratoga County Clerk’s Deeds 171: 400 Moon to Kearny and Foley. 

  39. Troy Daily Times, May 11, 1888 

  40. Schuylerville Standard, May 17 1893 and New York Herald, August 19 1894. 

  41. New York Press, July 16 1893, Saratogian, June 3, 1908. 

  42. “The Barnard Impeachment,” Morning Telegraph, August 18 1872.