Noah John Rondeau (Wikipedia)
Born: July 6, 1883
Died: August 24, 1967
Noah John Rondeau was an unusually sociable hermit, and the self-described "Mayor of Cold River City (Population 1)."
He was born and raised near Au Sable Forks, New York, but ran away from home as a teenager. He had an eighth-grade education, and was quite well read, with an interest in astronomy. He lived in Corey's, New York, on the Raquette River where he worked as a handyman, caretaker, and guide for fifteen years. He gained some of his woodcraft from Dan Emmett, an Abenaki Indian from Canada. He was occasionally jailed for game law violations.
Rondeau frequently hunted and trapped in the Cold River area, about 17 miles south of Corey’s. In 1929, at age 46, he began living alone year-round in the remote area, saying he was "not well satisfied with the world and its trends."
He kept extensive journals over a period of several decades, some of which were written in letter-substitution ciphers of his own invention. The ciphers progressed through at least three major revisions in the late thirties and early forties and in its final form resisted all efforts to be deciphered until 1992.
Although he was considered an Adirondack hermit, he generally accepted visitors, sometimes performing for them on his violin.
During World War II, in his sixties, Rondeau was apparently suspected of being a draft dodger, as he submitted a letter dated 4/8/43 to the Ausable Forks Record-Post:
I never went to Cold River to dodge anything, unless it was from 1930 to 1940 when it might be said I dodged the American labor failure at which time I could not get enough in civilization to get along even as well as I could at Cold River under hard circumstances in the back woods. Since I'm not evading I did not make my first appearance at Cold River on the day that Pearl Harbor was bombed. What I'm doing toward the war effort looks like nothing, but that's all I can do and I'm doing it and it is this — I'm self sustained.
In 1947, Rondeau was flown to the National Sportsmen's Show in New York City by helicopter, starting a series of appearances at similar shows throughout the country.
In 1950, the Conservation Department closed the Cold River area to the public after a wind storm leveled the forest, forcing Rondeau from his home at age 67. He then lived around Lake Placid, Saranac Lake, and Wilmington, New York. Besides the sportsmen's shows, he worked for a time at Frontiertown and at the North Pole in Wilmington as a substitute Santa Claus, but he didn’t return to a hermit's life and eventually went on welfare. He was buried in North Elba Cemetery, with a stone from his Cold River home marking his grave.
Source: Wikipedia - Noah John Rondeau
Ticonderoga Sentinel, March 11, 1943
Rationing Hits Hermit Rondeau Of Cold River
TUPPER LAKE — Noah John Rondeau, famed hermit of the Cold River country, crossed his fingers and headed for the Tupper Lake rationing board last week to find out how he could remain a hermit and still comply with the point rationing system.
Rationing had nothing to do with a hermit's life until last fall, when Rondeau discovered that the usual supply of sugar which his hunting friends brought in to him by arrangement each fall could not be obtained without Ration Book No. 1, which he didn't have. His friends and fellow members of the Adirondack Mountain Club and the "Forty Sixers" Club sent him enough from their own supplies to last until Christmas.
It has been the hermit's custom to come out of the woods over 18 miles of wilderness on snowshoes, just once a year, at Christmas time. He visited friends this year at Elizabethtown, Ausable Forks and Upper Saranac Lake, and answered the 80 to 100 letters which come into Corey's post office and accumulate for him each year.
How to get Ration Books No. 1 and 2, and how to get around the time element of the coupon system so that he can hit the trail for his Cold River home with sufficient supplies to keep him there until next Christmas, is Rondeau's problem.
With a vegetable garden, gun and fishing tackle, the hermit manages to be almost self-sufficient, but sugar, coffee and other essentials that he can't grow, shoot or catch can't be obtained at Cold River.