Herbert Newsome’s fate was gruesome
In older times, almost every November saw at least one hunter lost in our Fulton or Hamilton county wilderness. To ‘celebrate’, November’s column will recall two such events, and if we received a dollar for each old time disappearance, we could purchase a fine dinner today in any good Fulton or Montgomery county restaurant. Fortunately, with today’s smart phones, vest radios, and satellite connected compasses, disappearances occur less frequently, although Adirondack cell service is still spotty. To make matters worse, many hapless hunters disappeared during early snow falls, the worst possible time.
Disappearances often shared common factors: the hunter wasn’t familiar with the section of woods he entered, didn’t wear warm clothing, wandered too far from fellow hunters, carried no food, map, or compass, and when finally found, often months later, was often discovered by accident by another hunter. Alas, many were found only a mile or two from safety.
Such was the unfortunate fate of Mr. Herbert Newsome of Woodhaven, a Brooklyn radio and battery dealer, during late October 1925. With the radio craze flourishing full tilt, and desirous of expanding his business, early in September Newsome visited both Amsterdam and Gloversville looking for an additional store location. Finding none, he purchased a building in Glens Falls to sell radios, radio parts and batteries.
But how did such a city man end up lost in the Adirondacks? The Oct. 28 Brooklyn Daily Eagle explained: “Newsome left for Glens Falls last week to establish a branch store. He met friends Saturday and the next day joined them hunting deer.” Another Brooklyn area newspaper, the Leader Observer, noted, “Newsome, 45, is proprietor of the Arrow Battery Service Shop at 80th Street near Jamaica Avenue. Why batteries? Until the late 1920’s, most radios, even expensive home units, were battery-powered.
The October 30th Gloversville Morning Herald synopsized Newsome’s disappearance. “Early this morning men continued the search, which has lasted since last Sunday, for Herbert Newsome, Brooklyn salesman, lost in woods above Wells, Hamilton County. Newsome’s dog, a German police dog and family pet, was sent from New York and started out yesterday with Newsome’s son Herbert and a party of experienced hunters. The dog is the main hope of the rescuing party. They feel he may be of real service in the woods. The men will take a different route this morning. The search party consists of eight State Troopers and the rest are friends of Newsome’s who started on the hunting trip with him five days ago, plus men that live at Wells and are giving time and effort to find him.” The November 3rd Saratogian described the search party as being “more than seventy-five men” and it’s make up mostly “Adirondack guides and hunters.”
No doubt life would have been easier on all those searchers, plus considerably longer for Herbert Newsome, if he’d have politely declined the ‘opportunity’ to join his friend’s hunting party, as he apparently knew nothing about hunting, for everything went wrong from the start. The Leader Observer, publishing near Newsome’s home in Ozone Park, thought Newsome’s disappearance important enough to send an observant reporter to the scene. Of the botched hunting trip, the Observer’s reporter observed, “Soon after the start it began to rain, and the party’s guide, fearing some of the party might become lost, fired an agreed upon signal of three shots. All responded except Newsome. After repeated efforts to obtain a return signal from him, the other hunters began searching. Late that evening, word was sent to Wells, and a posse of one hundred men took up the search.” Regarding Newsome’s dog as a super sniffer, the reporter wrote, “The dog was unable to find a scent, as the teeming rain washed away the snow covering the ground when the party started out.”
Newsome apparently never intended going hunting until invited and, as is often the case, hadn’t brought proper clothing. On the 28th, the Saratogian commented, “When he entered the woods Sunday, Newsome was clad only in ordinary civilian attire and since that time, snow, rain, and cold weather have made conditions unfavorable. Enough snow has fallen to cover any tracks he may have made, adding to the difficulties encountered by the searchers.” Eventually, searchers gave up. Enter Amsterdam postman Andrew Brown, who temporarily traded his mailbag for a hunting rifle, and whose turn it was to experience his fifteen minutes of fame.
The Nov. 11 Gloversville Morning Herald related, “The body found in the woods Monday by Amsterdam letter carrier Andrew Brown while hunting, was positively identified by Speculator Coroner J.B. Head as that of Herbert Newsome, lost in the woods Oct. 25. Coroner Head said the body was discovered about 200 feet from Vaile Creek, roughly two miles east of the new Wells-Speculator highway, indicating that, had Newsome continued the course which he was pursuing, he eventually would have come into the road to safety.” Head also stated, “Indications are that Newsome traveled aimlessly about 12 miles before dying of exhaustion, exposure, and fright. The spot where the body was found was only about 10 miles from Wells in the vicinity of Robb’s Creek, not unusually dense woods.”
Born in England, happily married, and with two grown children, the unfortunate Mr. Newsome traveled a long distance to go hunting on a whim and prematurely lose his life, frozen and alone in our unforgiving Adirondack forest.