In our last column we introduced you to the magazine, Glens Falls Today.  We would like to follow up with an article about an interesting man that appeared in the Winter 1989-90 issue.  It was written by John Austin, former judge, Warren County Historian, and genealogist.  It was printed on page 31 of the magazine.  It column is reprinted here as it was first printed over 28 years ago.




John Austin


     Ferris Greenslet (1875-1959) was born in a house still standing on the west side of Ridge Street in Glens Falls.  His father came over from Vermont around the time of the Civil War; the Ferris men, Greenslet reflected in his autobiography Under the Bridge (published by the Riverside Press in  1943 and full of invaluable material for local historians) was one of a family that “read Tom Paine and Byron, played the flute, went shooring and fishing on Sunday, but seldom to church.”


     Ferris Greenslet’s mother was a Ferris from one of the local pioneer families, a family described by Greenslet as “kindly, humorous, imaginative, sporting, but not a very thrifty tribe.”

     One of the Ferris family, Orange, went to Congress to serve two terms, “but he was not typical,” and best remembered today for having made the faulty prediction that the proposed purchase of Alaska would be a gigantic mistake.

     Another of Greenslet’s ancestors, Anne Pudeater, was hanged as a witch during the Salem witchcraft trials of 1692.  Greenslet spent considerable time trying to clear her name and was instrumental in helping to get a resolution by the Massachusetts Legislature absolving all of the victims from blame.


     Like other members of his family, Ferris Greenslet was a avid fisherman; at his death the New York Times described him as well acquainted with the best salmon and trout streams in America and he published frequently in sporting magazines around the world.

   But Ferris Greenslet was best know as the long-time editor for the Atlantic Monthly and as one of the most influential of the editors at Houghton Mifflin; he was instrumental in seeing that such literary classics as The Education of Henry Adams, My Antonia. and Queed were published.

   Ferris Greenslet was a writer of distinction himself, producing biographies of James Russell Lowell, Thomas Bailey Aldrich, Joseph Glanvill, Walter Pater, which, according to Greenslet’s recollection, was produced “upon a sewing table in the second floor front of the brick house with a cupola on the corner lot on Glen Street.”

   But he often said that the highlight of his life was the occasion when he bested George Bernard Shaw in a musical contest on penny whistles.  “I played ‘Do Ye Ken John Pell. I don’t remember what Shaw played.”






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