HISTORY IS COOL: 80 years ago
Nov. 27, 1942
Lyman Epps Jr. dies
In the death at 102 years of Lyman Epps Jr. on Thursday, Nov. 19, Lake Placid lost the last member of a Black family which was instrumental in the early cultural development of this community.
His father, Lyman Epps Sr., was one of the trustees guarding the standards of the local library when it was first established.
His father was also in great demand as a music teacher, giving lessons on a melodeon and in singing to the neighboring white residents at the old Red School house. His family was also instrumental in founding and maintenance of the Adirondack Baptist Church, now used by the Church of the Nazarene, whose pastor, the Rev. Duane Springer, preached at Epps’s funeral Saturday at Clark’s Funeral Home before the burial in the family plot in the North Elba Cemetery.
Mr. Epps was born in Troy and came here when 5 years old with his family to settle in the colony established for free Blacks by Gerrit Smith. He was widely known as the boy who sang at the funeral of the abolitionist John Brown in 1859.
His father drove the widow, Mary Brown, and part of her family on the first lap of their journey to California, where they migrated following Brown’s execution for the attempted seizure of an arsenal at Harpers Ferry, Virginia (now in West Virginia).
The Epps family was the last to remain in the free Black colony, others leaving because of the cold climate. Forty-six years ago, the family built the home at 56 Sentinel Road, which now stands, and lived there for many years until the parents died. Lyman Jr., in his young days, aspired to wrestling and boxing, which was not quite approved by his more serious-minded family.
Until last year, he walked four or five miles daily, visiting the post office and church as part of his routine. For many years he was an employee of the town of North Elba and boarded on Cascade Road. For the past year, he lived at the county home, where he died. Last summer he was guest of honor at the unveiling of his portrait at a tea given at the Adirondack Community Church.
He was frequently an honored guest at public gatherings and until last year had sung “Blow Ye the Trumpet Blow” at the annual pilgrimage of members of the John Brown Memorial Association.
Pallbearers for Epps were Harry Wade Hicks, Dr. Godfrey Dewey, Wales Wilson and George Lalonde Jr.
The village board has been requested by the war production board to omit the usual decorative lighting for the Christmas holidays because of the critical shortage of materials and manpower.
The board had previously announced that the village would decorate the village this year in a much curtailed manner. Trustees Hunkins and Sheffield will consult with the electrical superintendent in regard to possible decorations which will be both inexpensive in commodities and manpower but which will still lend a fraction of the former holiday atmosphere to the village which, as a resort, serves as a vacation spot to hundreds in winter.