Monroe Holt was a man of stature in more ways than one. Just look at his physique in the famous 1877 painting Two Guides by Winslow Homer, and you can tell he was a big man, eventually over 300 pounds according to some reports. He could carry a very large load leading his clients up over the Adirondack High Peaks and into remote fishing spots.
Holt also cut a wide swath in the Town of Keene: he founded what became the Spread Eagle Inn, helped to build the original town school, served as justice of the peace for 16 years, town supervisor for four years, and assessor, and election inspector, and constable.
Born in 1845, he died in 1921.
One back woods exploit was reported in the Essex County Republican newspaper. It was apparently a deer hunt gone awry. This was the tale: Holt shot a huge swimming deer from his boat, which the wounded deer then overturned in its fury, and attacked the hunter. Holt finally killed the deer with a knife. “Then how to get the deer into the boat was the question. He could not lift him…After trying various experiments, he finally settled on the plan of towing both out in deep water and filling the boat, and shoving it under the deer and then bailing out the water with his hat.”
Ingenious, determined and strong. Classic qualities for an Adirondack guide. He always wore a red shirt out in the woods, either to be easily seen, to ward off bugs, or to honor a fire company, and perhaps all three.
Photos: Monroe Holt and his dog. Three guides: (L-R, Mel Hathaway, Legrand Hale and Monroe Holt.)
(Contibutor Peter Slocum)