Your Lake, Your Newspaper

The Mirror: 1890

The paper muddled along until W.H. Tippetts moved from Heart Bay to Assembly Point and revived the Lake George Mirror as a medium to promote Lake George as a summer resort.

Tippetts celebrated not only the beauty and the history of Lake George but its plush accommodations and the distinguished, congenial people in residence here.

His timing was propitious. Wealthy New Yorkers who had come to love Lake George through extended stays at the great hotels began building summer homes which they described as cottages and which later generations called mansions -the architecturally eclectic piles that once lined “Millionaires’ Row.”

It’s an old adage of the weekly newspaper business that a paper’s first 1,000 subscribers will determine its character, and the Mirror’s new subscribers were people like the owners of Green Island and the Sagamore, the novelist Edward Eggleston, the artist Harry Watrous, publisher (and reputed blackmailer) Colonel Mann, H. B. Moore, photographer Alfred Stieglitz’s family, D.S. Sanford, LeGrand Cramer, as well as Haydens, Paxtons, Tremaines and Burhanses.

Tippetts filled his columns with news of these families’ comings and goings, their fetes, chowder parties, boating excursions, musicales, fishing trophies and committees. Of the meeting of one such committee, convened for one altruistic purpose or another, Tippetts boasted afterwards that he was the only man present who was not a millionaire.

While the social scene provided the paper with its tone and the editor with his news, it was the hotels’ advertisements that would make the paper pay, so he cultivated their owners and managers no less assiduously. Every week he set out in his tiny steam yacht, the Mirror, to visit the hotels along the shore and to gather their news and, as he said, their shekels.

At the turn of the century, when Lake George’s fame as a summer colony was at its height, copies of the paper were sold in Europe, in New York City, and up and down the coast of New England.

As of now, we know little of Tippetts’ early life. It has been said that he left Heart Bay because of a financial embarrassment, which would not be surprising, since Tippetts fancied himself an entrepreneur.

On Lake George, he dabbled in real estate and publicity. He commissioned, printed and sold charts for the use of steamboat pilots. He also published visitors’ guides and an advertising sheet for a New York to Albany steamboat line. He even promoted gold mines in the Klondyke, in which he probably had invested himself.

His first book, “The Herkimer County Murders,” published in 1885 when he was living in Syracuse, was an attempt to cash In 1902, Tippetts materialized in Florida as “a noted European correspondent and New York newspaper magnate.”

He had abandoned the Mirror in 1900, reportedly for reasons of health, and acquired a hotel in St. Petersburg. After his death in 1909, his wife, Kathleen, became a pillar of that community.

According to “Katherine Bell Tippetts: A Female Voice for Conservation during Florida’s Boom,” an article by Leslie Kemp Poole in the scholarly journal ‘Tampa Bay History,’ “At her death in 1950, Katherine Bell Tippetts was remembered as a woman who wore many hats. In an era when women were just entering community work and seeking political clout in the state, she led campaigns that extended from club women meetings to the halls of the state legislature to national publications, fighting for avian protection and appreciation. Although her work focused in large part on birds, it also embraced a variety of issues in the budding conservation agenda, including the establishment of parks, protections for imperiled plant species, and pressing the state to empower a game commission to oversee wildlife issues. In many ways, Tippetts planted the seeds for the late-twentieth-century environmental agenda that included concerns about Florida birds and plants, but with a new and more far-reaching threat–habitat loss caused by rampant development.”

Among many other things, Katherine Bell Tippetts was responsible for renaming St. Petersburg’s Reservoir Lake to Mirror Lake, in order, she said, to honor the Lake George Mirror.