Huckleberry Charlie[edit | edit source]
Known as "The Sage of Pine Plains" Charles R. Sherman was born in Watertown, Jefferson County, New York in 1842. He was the son of Eli P. Sherman who was a prosperous Wall Street commission merchant. They were one of the oldest and wealthiest families in Jefferson County. His uncle John A. Sherman, gave the Washington Hall site to the Watertown Y.M.C.A. When he was just a very young boy his parents died and he went to live with his grandparents in Great Bend.
He spent his life in the area selling newspapers and picking Huckleberries to sell. He became known as "Huckleberry Charlie" he claimed that the Huckleberries that grew on Pine Plains, which is now Fort Drum, were the biggest and the best there were. He had a wagon which he rode through the north country towns peddling his ware. He has been quoted as saying. "They’re free from sticks, stones and bruises. Some are black and some are blue. Come up , kind people, and purchase a few, for this is my last time through. Get yer huckleberries."
Huckleberry Charlie was known for telling stories, yarns, and had a lot of colorful sayings. Some people called him eccentric, a crackpot and even crazy. His wife Dell at one time thought him crazy and wanted him put in an institution. He received donations from different local merchants of food and clothing that wouldn’t sell. He would wear bright and odd combinations of clothing which added to the idea he was crazy.
Even after the military bought up land on Pine Plains and was using it for training, Huckleberry Charlie seemed to get along fine and still went about picking his berries. The only conflict was in the summer of 1908 when the army was divided into two groups. One group was wearing red and one blue and were on maneuvers practicing a sneak attack, when Charlie went yelling to the one team where the other was. He didn’t want the men to be attacked who always saw that he had plenty to eat. The officers were not happy and accused him of treason, Although nothing came of it.
Charles R. Sherman better known as the eccentric "Huckleberry Charlie" and "The Sage of Pine Plains" died January 14, 1921 at the age of 79. His funeral was at the Baptist Church in Great Bend, Jefferson County, New York. They say the church that day was full with people from near and far.