Famous Jefferson County Visitors


Many famous persons have visited Watertown, the Thousand Islands, Camp Drum/Fort Drum and other Jefferson County environs.

Among them: famous World War II cartoonist Bill Mauldin was stationed at then-Camp Drum, and 1970's singer Harry Chapin was among thousands from New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and other states who did their two weeks of National Guard or Army Reserve training there.

President Ulysses S. Grant visited Watertown years after he was stationed at the U.S. Army's Madison Barracks in Sackets Harbor. A young Lieutenant Dwight D. Eisenhower and his wife also spent time at Madison Barracks.

Maria Helene America Vespucci was an Italian aristocrat who became a wager in an infamous game of cards at the LeRay Hotel in Evans Mills.

Franklin D. Roosevelt, then Assistant Secretary of the Navy, dedicated a monument at the Sackets Harbor Battlefield in 1913, then returned as President Franklin D. Roosevelt on August 18, 1938 to dedicate the new Thousand Islands Bridge and ride in the first car to officially cross it.

In 1803, at the age of twenty, Washington Irving traveled through Jefferson County. At that time he was not yet a famous author. He stopped at the public house in Long Falls, now known as Carthage, there hoping to eat & spend the night. He found it to be very dirty and before he left he wrote in pencil on the mantle of the fireplace "The Temple of Dirt" "Here Sovereign Dirt erects her sable throne, The house, the host, the hostess, all her own." In later years as Judge William Cooper, the father of James Finmore Cooper, stopped there and wrote a reply upon hearing of this. It read " Learn hence, young man, and teach it to your sons, The wisest way is to take it as it comes." It was to be in 1853 when Washington Irving was to travel though the same area again on his way to Ogdensburg.



Abolitionist and former slave Frederick Douglass spoke in Watertown in 1857 and stayed at the Woodruff House (where he was temporarily refused accommodations, see link for more info). U.S. Senator and presidential candidate Robert Kennedy campaigned through downtown Watertown.

In 1944 Roy Rogers known as the " King of the Cowboys" stayed the night at the Hotel Woodruff on a trip to Montreal. In 1959 Gene Autry opened the Jefferson County Fair with the "Melody Ranch Gang" and his horse Champion. Also in 1959 Debbie Reynolds, movie star of the Tammy and The Bachelor fame, spent a Saturday afternoon signing autographs for her fans at the Family Bargain Center to help promote her husbands new line of shoes. At that time she was married to Harry Karl who owned a large line of shoes stores.


Concerts performed here include comedian Pat Paulson, Harry Chapin (quoted as saying that he "spent a week in Watertown one afternoon" when stationed at Camp Drum). [more needed]

Robert Kennedy visited Watertown and spoke in front of the Hotel Woodruff in 1964 during his campaign for the U. S. Senate.

In later years, the Disabled Persons Action Organization (DPAO), hosted numerous fundraiser concerts with famous-but-settling-into-their-sunset-years artists like Kansas. [more needed]

Notable Personalities Living and Dead
Inventions, Discoveries and Ideas
Jefferson County Pioneers


This page was created by scannerman & has been edited 9 times. The last modification was made by - lectrichead lectrichead on May 29, 2009 7:29 am