Geraldine Collins and Ruth Hoyt. Paul Smiths College, The Sequel, Fall 2002 Born: March 14, 1911

Died: April 1, 2005

Married: Clement E. Collins


Geraldine Collins was the first librarian for Paul Smith's College, serving from 1946 to 1969. She was also the Town of Brighton historian for fifteen years or more, and served as editor of the Franklin County Historical Review. She wrote a history of Brighton, The Brighton Story, in 1977.

Adirondack Daily Enterprise, April 4, 2005

Geraldine M. Collins

SARANAC LAKE— Geraldine M. Collins, 94, of Overlook Apartments in Bloomingdale, died Friday, April 1, 2005, at the Meadow Brook Nursing Home in Plattsburgh.

Born on March 14, 1911 in Fulton, she was the daughter of Hima and Cora (Trask) Huggins.

She married Clement E. Collins on Aug. 30, 1947 in Lake Placid.

Mrs. Collins had been a resident of Brandon, Fla., from 1970 to 1995. Prior to that she was a resident of Paul Smiths and had been employed at Paul Smith's College as a librarian for 22 years until her retirement in 1968. Mrs. Collins was the very first librarian at Paul Smith's College and helped establish the library for the college.

She also served as the town historian for the Town of Brighton and was a member of the Franklin County Historical Society. Mrs. Collins authored two books, "Paul Smiths Funny Sayings" and "The Brighton Story."

She is survived by her sister-in-law, Mary Couture and her husband Amos of Dannemora; and many nieces and nephews, including Mary Lou and Al Moody of Saranac Lake.

She was predeceased by her husband in 1996.

Funeral arrangements, are in care of the Fortune-Keough Funeral Home in Saranac Lake. Following cremation, a graveside service will take place at a later date in St. John's Cemetery in Paul Smiths.

Friends wishing to remember Geraldine M. Collins may make memorial contributions to the Saranac Lake Free Library in care of the funeral home.

Adirondack Daily Enterprise, May 27, 1977

Autograph party for author of book tells tales of Brighton


GABRIELS — Be sure to go to the Brighton Town Hall sometime between 1 and 5 p.m. tomorrow to meet Geraldine Collins, the author of “The. Brighton Story.” She also will be autographing books.

The Brighton Story, a complete and detailed picture of Brighton's beginnings to date, was released for sale just last week. It is surely an essential part of the library for those who are Adirondack history buffs as well as a fascinating genealogy for the Brighton resident.

Mrs. Collins became interested in the history of this area when she came here in 1946 to set up a library for Paul Smiths College. Now after 30 years of catching stories, interviewing families, searching through old records and graveyards, Mrs. Collins has distilled her collected dates, facts, personalities and stories into a clear and detailed picture of what the hamlets and people of Gabriels, Paul Smiths and Rainbow Lake were like from their beginnings.

Bustling Town

At one time Gabriels was a bustling little town. It had a very busy train station, (up to six arrivals a day), a 3-story, 65-room hotel named the Riley Hotel, a clothing store run by the David Stern family and across from that a large clothing and dry goods store owned by Jacob Hyman. This later became the Legion Hall and the site of many dances and social gatherings.

The Gabriels Sanatorium cared for 2,442 patients between 1895 and 1918, and offered much employment to the area. The Right Rev. Henry Gabriels, the Bishop of Ogdensburg helped the Sisters of Mercy set up the sanatorium in the mid-1890's and the hamlet nearby which had formerly been called Brighton adopted the name of Gabriels.

Across the street from the Riley Hotel which stood on the corner of Main Street and the Rainbow Lake Road in Gabriels was a garage owned by several young men of the time, Russ Studders, Leland Chase, Halsey Brulliea, Irving Davis, and Clarence Newell. They did auto repair work by day and operated a very quiet industry at night. They redesigned autos with heavy-duty shocks for the transport of liquor as it came down from Canada headed for points farther south. Meanwhile state troopers steamed and puffed and drank black coffee across the street at the Riley Hotel. And it seemed the three Gabriels saloons were always well stocked.

Many of the houses, churches and old school houses we see along Easy Street and the Rainbow Lake Road today date back to our early history when B.A. Muncil owned a large mill in Gabriels and was building many of the homes and fine big camps along the lake fronts. While the large hotels and lodges catered to the wealthy, several smaller cottages and homes took in guests also. The house now owned by Barbara and Harold Martin, once known as the Bon Air Cottage back in 1916, offered a $2.00 room or $9.00 for a week's stay, and could take up to 10 guests.

Grand entrance

The tales of our own folk are intricately tangled with the legends of the more famous who came through. Paul Smiths hired an expert driver for his stagecoaches, George Meserve, who had been a capable driver during the Civil War. Apparently this gentleman had a flair for the dramatic. When he drove a loaded coach to Paul Smith's Hotel, he would pace the 6-horse team evenly until some miles out when he would don his white gloves and whip his team into a frantic burst of speed for a glorious arrival. Later his show became more elaborate. When bringing guests from Plattsburgh to the hotel, he would stop at Loon Lake to hitch up a fresh team of 6 perfectly matched white horses especially purchased for this grand entry. Grover Cleveland was so impressed with this driver and his style that he hired him away from the hotel business.

Familiar names

You will find many current residents whose names bear those of original settlers and guides who worked for the famous big hotels, Paul Smiths and Wardner's Rainbow Inn to mention two. Many of our current families are descendants of these well known guides: James Cross, Lorenzo Chase, Moses Sawyer, William H. Titus, Sylvester Newell, Henry Martin, Erwin Jaquis, Henry Hobart and Orman Doty, and many of them guided for such visitors as Calvin Coolidge, Grover Cleveland, Teddy Roosevelt, President Harrison, P.T. Barnum and Henry Firestone.

A reference work as well as a collection of fun old time tales, the reader can quickly get dates of school teachers they may have had, dates and facts on all the churches, lists of Town Supervisors and terms, cemetery plots, Service rolls of Honor for both World Wars, as well as a fantastic dinner menu from Paul Smiths Hotel on Christmas Eve 1887. Of course the influence and impact of the Smith and Wardner families on the town is well documented. Best of all are the tales near the back of the book told by some of our older residents of events from their childhood or stories their fathers told.

It is a great treasure for all of us in Brighton and anyone interested in the history of the Adirondacks since our area housed, guided and thus built much of the folklore of the lakes and mountains.

The “Brighton Story” will be sold in stores in Saranac Lake and here in Brighton by the author. The Red Mill Restaurant will also have some copies for sale.