Get to Know the Farnsworths

By Wild Harmony

Clint and Patty Farnsworth
Cheryl Farnsworth Miller – 2nd Generation
Abby Miller and Zach Miller – 3rd Generation

What brought you to Cranberry Lake?
I was born in Gouverneur and spent the first ten years of my life at the Ranger School. My dad was on the faculty at the Ranger School from 1930 to 1948. We then moved to Syracuse where he taught at ESF and I got my education at Syracuse University. My degree is in Mechanical Engineering – bachelor’s and master’s. My career was at Xerox in Rochester and retired in1997.

We decided in 1982 to buy property on Cranberry Lake and we bought our place in 1983. The original shack was a mess with holes in the floor and walls and as Cheryl says – we three kids were not happy. This is what they bought?

But I could see the potential. We fixed up the shack and made the basic camp livable and started adding on – the old camp is our comfortable spot. The house went on the westside in 2000.

I knew Clint loved the place. He brought me here in 1962 to camp on one of the early campsites in the Campground and it rained every day. There was only thirty sites at the Campground. And then we came back almost every summer camping — every time we came it rained. We would rent a piece of crap boat from Trout Taylor. We finally bought the boat from him for $200 and it leaked so Clint fixed the holes with caulk and bottle caps. We still have this boat and it’s still functional. It will last forever.

I’m here because of Clint and the natural beauty. And our kids and grandkids love it so it brings the family together.

I wrote my college essay here on how the house expanded with the family, additions and rooms added to accommodate the growing family. This has been the one constant home in everyone’s lives. One place that has been continuous for everyone – relaxation, fun and family love.

One of the problems is we were young teenage girls – we wanted to be clean, showered, makeup and hair – they’d bring us up in the winter and there wasn’t any running water.

When? We camped in the 60’s and bought the property in ’83. 

Tradition for awhile was to take a cocktail cruise in our 1975 Century Sabre with a V8 or our 1964 Criss Craft with a Chevy V8. The kids have joined in for the cocktail cruise but eventually there were too many of them for one boat – so now we have a pontoon boat called Mommo’s Party Barge.

When you first came, did you think you’d end up staying here?

Yes, because it felt right. I wanted two cottages here but Patty and the kids said NO. So I spent a year and a half designing and improving the derelict cabin. I’m proud of what we built. I still think it would have been smarter to build a new log camp but the family didn’t want it.

No, well, I guess I knew we were here when we added onto the camp. That was after Clint retired. Before that I wasn’t so sure.

What was your first volunteer activity?

The first was joining the Boat Club around 1983. Boat Club started in 1909. After joining I started helping out with things like the Picnic at the Pine Cone. The Boat Club matters because it has a history of local and seasonal members. I realized that the community could use some help and that we had a unique set of skills in the 90’s – Jay Edel. Hugh and Lindsey Mitchell. Fred Guevera, Ed Kipp and Jeanne Reynolds.

I became Commodore and thought the boat club should be a more involved community organization to enhance the welfare of the local area.

We donated a defibrillator machine to the fire department for use on the rescue boat. We formally created the Community Improvement Program in 2005 which was the outcome of a failed attempt to put a new entrance on the Community Center. We figured out that we needed a committee to build support for community projects. We should only do what the community wanted / needed. We called a meeting and we had committees – the back yard, the front yard, the Community Center building itself.

In 1999, we decided Wanakena needed a welcome sign – we recruited Jeanne Reynolds and Dave Hedger to help design the sign with help from Wanakena residents. They selected a concept and a guy in South Colton made the sign. Hugh Mitchell designed the frame and I built it and we installed it. We used the frame design again when Derek Lough and I replaced the Cranberry Lake welcome signs.

In 1998 we worked with the town to create Beach Pavilions – Ed Kipp, Hugh Mitchell, Jay Edel, myself, and we got 8k out of the state for the pavilion via a grant written by Fred Guevera. Hugh’s vision for the beach was implemented by the Boat Club and community volunteers. Hugh designed a Beach Pavilion, Rest Rooms and Storage Building and Ballards. We proposed a five year plan to the town, did it in three, and we had great support from Kelly Smith Sr in the Highway Department. Tommy Alford’s saw cut the logs. We still take care of the beach pavilions to this day.

Chris Westbrook was creating the Clifton Fine Economic Development Corporation to try to encourage activities to benefit the community. We were one of the first committees.

I served on the Smart Growth committee and got about 1/2 million in grants via the state and we put in long term parking, the playground, some portage sites and did a lot of planning which really hasn’t amounted to much and is now outdated.

Then we put in the pavilion behind the community center and raised all the money ourselves. It was a 40k project and Derek Lough led the project.

We lost our docks at both the Emporium at The Lodge which was a critical loss for lake access only residents. One day Brett Blackmer offered to host the Boat Club dock so the hamlet was no longer landlocked. We worked with the church and got permission to put the dock in there by using some of their waterfront. We raised $20,000 for that dock from Boat Club Members. We spent 13k and pitched it to the session and they allowed us to do it. 

Then the HUB project came up. The reason the community decided to do it was shear frustration with the Lodge and the Emporium. We ended up with such an outpouring of community love that we were able to restore the building, making it beautiful and secure a permanent location for the Town access Dock.

I was also involved in building the Golf Course Deck – a great addition to the clubhouse.

I volunteer because things need to be done. I love this place. My mom was a big volunteer. When the dust settled I had served 18 years on the Boat Club Board of Directors and 9 years as Commodore.

I am most proud of the HUB because we, the community, got her done. It was a community project and I give a lot of credit to Scottie McWharf, Denise Barstow, Susan Sweeney Smith and literally everyone who gave us a $1 and any good idea.

When he was commodore the secretary quit, so I took over and kept the membership roles and did all the communications for 20 years, 

I enjoy helping the Fireman’s Auxilliary with their events and meals. If I didn’t have to deal with mice, I’d love this place.

I was President of the Lady’s League at the Golf Course and served on Library Board.

Who Inspires You Here?

Chris Westbrook, Chuck Hooven, Mark Hall, Hugh and Lindsey Mitchell, Lucia VerSteeg, Jeanne Reynolds, Derek Lough, Susan Sweeney Smith and Ron Pearl – all tenacious, hard working and community loving. Many of these folks are gone now – either moved or passed away but their legacy remains.

Denise Barstow is truly amazing and she’ll hate that I mentioned her. She was a critical EMT – totally impressed with how much she loves the people here. She will help anyone.

What are the best memories you have of Cranberry?

The design of my home with an atta-boy from Hugh Mitchell. The culmination of all the work we’ve been able to do in this community.

Sharing my life with Clint and our family at Cranberry Lake.

I remember when we used to have The Cardboard Boat Races. We would come home and find the biggest boxes we could and try to race ourselves and of course we’d all sink almost immediately. Two years ago we realized one of the deck tables was rotted and we rummaged through Bob Barstow’s “dump” of materials. We found some pine boards we could salvage and Gramps taught me how to make a table. 

I have two. When I was young Grandpa took me to the Pine Island Yacht Club, a floating dock with a picnic table and a cooler submerged in the deck filled with beer. I had one foot on the deck and one foot on the boat, needless to say I ended up in the water.

When my grandparents decided to build the sleeping cabin, we built the structure together and it was such a great family project. Three generations on the roof hammering nails. Today I use it as a remote office. The back drop makes for an interesting conversation on video calls.

What do you hope for the future here?

At least a couple businesses be re-established like the Stone Manor, the Lodge and the Emporium. My family will continue to enjoy this place – we built a lodge, use it. There’s room for more beds to be built if needed. Susan Smith refuses to give up. I’m glad I found her and forced her to volunteer. She’ll keep going long past our time.

Ditto, I agree with Clint on this one.

I would hope that there is an opportunity for a year round community that can be sustainable, one that is supported by local businesses. At the same time, the natural beauty remains preserved. The State protected shoreline limits the number of residential properties on the lake, which gives way to a truly unique and authentic ADK experience. 

Personally I want to be here as much as I can. I’d like to see some life added to this community – better businesses, bring back the hamlet to be a just a bit more lively and more young people involved.

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Comments (2)

  1. Susan Sweeney Smith


    We love the Farnsworths. Abby just joined the HUB Board – keeping up the family legacy.

  2. Reply

    Great to see many generations involved! My family has been on Union Point since the 30’s. Cranberry Lake is such a special place !

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