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While traveling through microfilm last time I was home (Watertown), I found the following in the November 10, 1919 issue of the Watertown Daily Times. Just makes the embers glow a little more for doing a section on the literature of the North Country -- how best can one get the total picture? If anyone finds Mrs. Van Slyk’s book at a flea market this summer, better grab it:



LeRay Mansion In New Romance

The Times today received from the Frederick A. Stokes Company of New York, a notice of a novel by Lucille Van Slyk, published by that company. Part of the action is laid in the LeRay Mansion on Pine Plains. The notice, as sent by the publishers, is incorrect in one detail. It says that the LeRay Mansion was erected by Joseph Bonaparte and was decorated and furnished by him. The mansion was built by Count LeRay de Chaumont and it derived its name from him.

Mrs. Van Slyke, before her marriage, was Miss Lucille Baldwin. Her father was a newspaper man in Syracuse. The family also lived for a time in Buffalo. Miss Baldwin married George Van Slyke, a native of Antwerp who is now the Albany legislative correspondent of the New York Herald. Mrs. Van Slyke’s sister is the wife of John N. Harman of Brooklyn, editor of the Brooklyn Times.

This is not the first time that the LeRay Mansion has been used in fiction. It was used by Irving Bacheller in Dri and I, and by Olin Lyman in Embers of Empire.

The notice as sent out by the Frederick A. Stokes Company follows:

Jefferson county may be proud of its part in a new novel by Lucille Van Slyke entitled Little Miss By-the-Day recently published by Frederick A. Stokes Company. It is a story delightful for its people and its romance but noteworthy also for the unusual charm of its setting. The scene of a large portion of the action is laid in the old LeRay mansion, north of Watertown, well-known in this part of the country, though details of its fascinating history are hard to get.

The writer of this novel secured permission to go through the house and made also a special study of records found in the New York Public library which threw some light on the early history and inhabitants of the house. She has not, however, written a historical story. It is a modern romance, brimful of originality and charm. Only as a heritage for the beautiful Felicia of the story, the author uses the great stone house across the pine plains with its massive gate-posts and marvelously laid-out garden; its quaint, wooden gallery, huge rooms, marble hearths, carved bedsteads, Parisian (sic) carpets, and trunks of beautiful old gowns and laces, reminiscent of the days when Joseph Bonaparte, fugitive from France after Waterloo, built this wilderness fastness, decorated and furnished it with treasures imported from Paris and brought to it his beautiful young Philadelphia Quaker bride. There they lived in the manner of a miniature French court and the demure little Prudence became the lovely Madame Folly (name not clear on copy), whose descendants have been known as LeRay since Le Roi changed its original form.

The “House in the Woods” of Mrs. Van Slyke’s story is a fascinating place of fascinating happenings and when Felicia ventures from it to her adventure in the great world she carries with her a quaint charm from her old-world garden which makes the adventure a glowing and romantic one.

This latter part of the story moves to a picturesque old dwelling on the Brooklyn Heights, about which there has been a good deal of interesting controversy since the book appeared. Many readers who are familiar with this older section of Brooklyn have assured the author proudly that they have picked out, to the very street and number, the house of the story. But though invariably each picks out a charming old house, they never agree! Mrs. Van Slyke always smiles pleasantly and says, “How very clever of you!” but, to her publisher she has recently confided the truth that “there ain’t no such animal.” The Brooklyn mansion is built partly of dreams and partly of combined characteristics of several old, Brooklyn houses. But the LeRay mansion, Mrs. Van Slyke says, is real and one of the most fascinating spots she has known in her life.

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