The Stone House Diaries captures the history of Niagara Falls, NY through the reflections of several generations of residents. The house and those who called it home embody the area: at times beautiful, often conflicted, and, occasionally, victims of circumstances beyond their control.
Discover the rich history of the Niagara Falls region, where:
- Loyalist families fled for protection after the Revolutionary War
- American soldiers fought the War of 1812 under gritty conditions
- Hydro-powered industry drained the flow of the Falls
- Moonshiners on the Ice Bridge were a winter tradition
- Stunters and tightrope walkers thrilled tourists as early as the 1800s
- Hopes for urban renewal pitted historic preservationists against economic developers
With rich and accurate historical detail, Moore introduces:
o Nehemiah Cleary, the twenty-year old son of a Loyalist, fighting for the volunteer New York militia in the War of 1812,
. . . Lifting the cover, a section of pages came up with it. A folded piece of old brown paper, dry and frail, slid on the surface of the page. He carefully unfolded it.
It was in longhand, written with a fountain pen. 'November 1812-This warrant is for the arrest of Private Nehemiah Cleary, former Company Clerk for the Lewiston Encampment, who resides near Fort Schlosser in a stout stone house, near Judge Porter's homestead.
. . . Outside some drunks were singing a bit of doggerel that somehow rhymed with Van Rensselaer. "Well," I admitted, "I'm a little scared." My eyes fell on my rusted, useless musket and I pictured myself standing ten paces from a British soldier in a field somewhere, both of us aiming our muskets, me knowing mine wouldn't fire, and I barely kept some bile down. "I'm really scared," I said softly.
o Sawyer Jackson, a Niagara tour guide from 1861,
. . . "It's the sight you've traveled to see and one you'll never forget! The mighty Niagara! Three million gallons of wet fury pouring over yonder precipice! A cloud that never disperses and a roar that has never been silenced!"
Pausing to catch his breath, Sawyer set his red tin megaphone on the ground. Wiping sweat from his forehead, he licked his dry lips. Appearances being less critical than they would be with a good crowd, he took off his cap, lifted the dipper from the wooden bucket and poured cool, river water over his head.
o June Lockwood, a pioneering woman editor who grapples with the changes of the 20th century,
. . . This dawn she saw no one at all as she walked through the woods and emerged on the pathway along the Horseshoe Falls. Down the pathway she knew by heart, she reached the rocky bank and looked for the boulder... Her hand flew to her mouth and she stared.
The boulder was almost high and dry. The watermarks on it were down a foot. The Hermit's Bath was down by almost half. She had seen water levels change through the seasons, spring and fall being the most dramatic, but never so much and so suddenly.
o And Del Nichols, one of the wrecking crew who demolishes decaying, historic neighborhoods to prepare for Mayor Lackey's convention center,
. . . He knew of one old stone house in the neighborhood; maybe that was it. It was standing empty, just a block and a half away, where houses were being knocked down.
o Each character adds his or her story to the diary pages, until the era of urban renewal, when the house itself struggles to survive.
. . . Slam! The ball crushed into the northwest corner. More outside wall collapsed, the third story bedroom was gone. The chimney fell and punched through the roof, letting light pour unnaturally in.