From left, Harriet Mirick Finnegan, Jeremy Blanchet, Elizabeth Mirick TenEyck in Saranac Lake, August 1994. Courtesy of Sarah Blanchet. Harriet Finnegan, left, and her sister Esther Mirick.
Courtesy of Sarah Blanchet
Born: June 21, 1900

Died: May 19, 1995

Married: Elmer Finnegan

Children: Mrs. Lawrence VanCour, Eleanor Bennett

Harriet Mirick Finnegan was the sister of Esther Mirick, Mrs. Olin (Elizabeth) TenEyck, Mrs. James (Isabelle) Cullen, Emily St. Clair and George Jarvis Mirick II. She was a member of the Saranac Lake Chamber of Commerce. She lived at 36 Lake Street, (now 81 Lake Street) and ran E.L. Finnegan's Shoes.

Adirondack Daily Enterprise, August 1994

Harriet Finnegan's Enterprise career spanned two decades


Enterprise Staff Writer

1994 Blanchet Family Reunion in Saranac Lake. First row (L to R): Emily Fogarty, Harriet Mirick Finnegan, Alice Wareham, Elizabeth Mirick Ten Eyck. Second row (L to R): Jack Fogarty, Esther Van Cour, Ann Ten Eyck, Graham Dunlop, Janet Decker, and Tom Clement. Courtesy of Shelby Hines.Harriet Finnegan's recollections of the Enterprise go back farther, perhaps, than any former employees today. After graduating from Saranac Lake High School in 1918 she went to work for Enterprise Publisher John S. Ridenour for $12 a week. He had recently purchased the paper from Kenneth Goldthwaite, who had owned it for me previous 11 years.

She became Ridenour's assistant and the Enterprise business agent, doing bookkeeping and managing accounts. Later her sister Emily also came to work at the Enterprise.

According to Finnegan, Ridenour was well-respected by his employees. "I admired Mr. Ridenour very much. He was a stern man and very bright — I respected him," she said recently.

She made up bills and delivered them to advertisers. She said Ridenour watched his credit and kept very close track of his accounts, taking a personal interest in his advertisers. As a result, she said, Ridenour had very few bad debts.

"He was all business," she recalled.

Job printing was an important business for the Enterprise during her years with the company, Finnegan said, remembering the men who worked in the press room printing all manner of letterheads and books. The Enterprise came out twice a week, and then later three times each week, she said, before a big fire destroyed the old Town Hall where the printing presses were located.

The Enterprise occupied the whole basement of the Town Hall and part of the first floor, and nearly everything in the building was lost to the July 1926 blaze, she recalled.

"After the fire Mr. Ridenour had me climb inside the building to get the books and policies out of the safe," because she was small enough to slip into one of the windows, Finnegan said.

Ridenour had planned on making the Enterprise a daily in the future, but the fire accelerated those plans, she said. Ridenour made interim arrangements to print the paper in Malone right after the fire, and the Enterprise may have only missed one issue as a result of the blaze, she remembered. Ridenour moved the Enterprise to 72 Main Street. In the back of the building the new presses were set up and the Enterprise became one of the smallest daily papers in New York.

She married Elmer Finnegan in 1937. She remembered getting married very early in the morning because the couple was anxious to start their honeymoon trip. Many friends from the Enterprise attended.

Finnegan worked at the Enterprise for 21 years before taking over her late husband's shoe and clothing business. She said a staff of 16 to 20, including three reporters, turned out a six-to-eight-page paper Monday through Saturday. The Enterprise subscribed to the United Press and Associated Press news services and carried local and national advertising, she remembered.

"Mr. Ridenour didn't allow any superlatives in the advertising — they couldn't say 'the best' or anything like that."

Saranac Lake had a lively social scene in the 1920s and 1930s, she recalled, and the paper carried many column inches of local news and personals about who came to town.

"He believed in getting as many names as possible in the paper, for circulation purposes," she recalled.

Finnegan said she did several jobs at the paper, including proofreading the ads. Ridenour himself remembered her work in a memoir he wrote for an anniversary issue in 1976 celebrating the Enterprise's 50th year as a daily paper.

"Like all of the top brass she doubled on several jobs — cashier, bookkeeper and sometimes managed the carrier boys in the absence of the circulation manager, or did counter work in the absence of the classified advertising manager," Ridenour wrote. His wife took over Finnegan's job when she left the Enterprise in 1940.

Finnegan said she still reads the Enterprise and observed that Tupper Lake and Lake Placid get a lot more coverage than they used to. She suggested that the paper devote more space to local coverage and said the staff could benefit from the presence of older folks who know the history of the area.

Finnegan was also the treasurer of the Saranac Lake Area Chamber of Commerce for 20 years. She recalled Ridenour's attitude about business: "Never, give away what you have to sell."

(Editor's note: Harriet Finnegan is retired and lives in Saranac Lake.)

Adirondack Daily Enterprise, May 22, 1995

Harriet M. Finnegan

SARANAC LAKE - Harriet M. Finnegan, 94, of Forest Home Road, Saranac Lake, died Friday, May 19, 1995 at the Adirondack Medical Center in Saranac Lake. Born June 21, 1900 in Brooklyn, she was the daughter of George Jarvis and Esther (Tully) Mirick.

Mrs. Finnegan had been a resident of Saranac Lake for the past 80 years, and was a graduate of the Saranac Lake High School. She was employed by the Adirondack Daily Enterprise from 1917 to 1937. On May 8, 1937, she married Elmer Finnegan in St. Bernard's Church. He died in 1945.

Mrs. Finnegan owned and operated the E.L. Finnegan Shoe Store in Saranac Lake from 1945 to 1976. She was a volunteer for Meals on Wheels and St. Bernard's School. She was a former member of the Saranac Lake General Hospital Auxiliary, a member and treasurer of the Saranac Lake Area Chamber of Commerce, assisted with local elections, and was a member of the Saranac Lake Professional Women's Club.

Survivors include two daughters, Mrs. Lawrence VanCour of Saranac Lake, and Eleanor Bennett of Marshall, Va.; one sister, Elizabeth TenEyck of Saranac Lake; several nieces and nephews; six grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren. She was predeceased by three sisters, Isabel Cullen, Esther Mirick, and Emily St. Clair; and one brother, G. Jarvis Mirick.

Calling hours and a Bible vigil were held Sunday at the Fortune-Keough Funeral Home. A Mass of Christian burial was to be held at 9 a.m. today, followed by interment at St. Bernard's Cemetery.

Memorial contributions may be made to the St. Bernard's School in care of the funeral home.