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The Kaplan Lincoln


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"There's a lot going on in the Military Room," says museum curator, Joe Laurenza. He's not wrong. There's so much to look at in the Military Room, you might have overlooked a small portrait. Unless you look closely, you might not noticed it, because the subject doesn't even look familiar. But it would be a mistake to overlook this 1840's daguerreotype (it's a copy.)


What makes this an item of interest? For one thing, the original daguerreotype was found by Albert Kaplan of Gouverneur and it is the earliest known picture of Abraham Lincoln.


Many authorities of 19th Century photography, backed by forensic scientists, are convinced it is truly Abe Lincoln. It is known as the "Kaplan Lincoln" and the original is valued at $11,000,000.00. That's eleven million dollars. Now THAT's interesting.


Albert Kaplan was the son of Sol and Esther Kaplan, owners of Kaplan Department Store in Gouverneur. Albert purchased the daguerreotype from a gallery in New York in 1977. He was convinced, after years of personal research, that the young man pictured in the daguerreotype was Abraham Lincoln. He sought out forensic specialists in Paris to find out more.


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Headline: Sol Kaplan Found America A Land of Golden Promise Represents the Bottom and Top Rungs of Ladder of Success, Article from "The Commercial Advertiser", 1946

The Watertown Daily Times carries the following interesting story about Sol Kaplan, clothing, chain-store man, of Gouverneur, with stores at Gouverneur, Canton, Potsdam, Massena and Star Lake.

Gouverneur, March 4, 1946 - Rising from a beginning as a small-time junk peddler to the owner of a chain of clothing stores in northern New York represents the bottom and top rungs of Sol Kaplan's success ladder during a period of 36 years of business adventure in the north country.

Born in the province, of Minsk, Russia, 57 years ago, Mr. Kaplan migrated to this country in 1907 after spending his first 19 years in his native country. Mr. Kaplan who soon will venture into a new business enterprise in Gouverneur, said yesterday that he and his parents were living comfortably in Russia but that the lure of this far away land was too great and he finally succumbed to it coming to the United States in the spring of 1907.


While in Russia, he and his brothers and father operated a large scale mercantile and fishing business. Fishing was their greatest source of income. Mr. Kaplan stated that living conditions in the province of Minsk were very good and that people there during the rule of the czar lived fairly well. The land on which he and his relatives operated was the property of the land owning class and was leased to the Kaplans.

When he arrived In New York city during his 19th year, Mr. Kaplan learned the clothing trade. His first work was to learn to make boys' clothing. After spending three years In this field, he came to Gouverneur to live. Here he started his career as a junk peddler.


After one year of this, he became a partner of Hyman Saidel, a furniture store proprietor. Mr. Kaplan remained In partnership with Mr. Saidel until the partnership was dissolved In 1915. Mr. Kaplan then bought out the Andrew Kinney clothing store here, which was located on the site of the present Crumb store. Here he operated. a small clothing business for two lean years.

Obituary of Sol Kaplan - Ogdensburg Journal, Monday, January 5, 1959

Following his two poor years in the clothing game, Mr. Kaplan once more reverted to the junk business and purchased a small building on the site of the present supermarket on Clinton Street. Then Mr. Kaplan launched into the property buying drive which has continued ever since. He procured a block on Main Street, following this up with the purchase of the Freeman block.

Across from the Freeman block on Clinton Street, Mr. Kaplan purchased the old firehouse which he later sold to George Beaman. This property was later purchased again by Mr. Kaplan. In part of the Freeman block, he began his present clothing establishment. The block was originally used by Mr. Freeman and on the two upper floors were a dance hall and meeting room for the local Odd Fellows.

Twenty years ago Mr. Kaplan began to branch out in the north country. He purchased properties in Canton, Potsdam, Massena, Star Lake, Watertown, Tupper Lake and ventured as far westward as Newark, near Rochester. He finally established stores in all these communities. Later, he dissolved the stores in Newark and Tupper Lake and Watertown.

Making a success in the clothing field, Mr. Kaplan is now endeavoring to promote the building of a hotel in this village. He said yesterday that a hotel was, sorely needed and that if residents of the village are willing to back him, he will proceed with construction of such a building on Clinton Street. Mr. Kaplan said he will call in an architect to draw up blue prints and estimate costs of a new hotel. He feels that with the support from the villagers, the new enterprise will be successful.

Mr. Kaplan came to Canton several years ago and purchased two stores of the so-called Sherman Block and remodeled the double store into one store with massive, attractive front and established there one of his north country stores, which has been run successfully and has a fine patronage since its coming to Canton. The store has always appealed to the public and while Mr. Kaplan comes only to visit the store from time to time he has gained an acquaintance in Canton- Everybody who meets Sol Kaplan likes him. He has the winning way in friends as well as in business. The manager of his store and all the clerks are of the friendly type. You feel you art being taken care of in a homey, friendly way and you are.


Gouverneur — Sol Kaplan, 69, owner of clothing stores in Gouverneur, Canton, Potsdam, Massena, Ogdensburg and Star Lake, died Saturday in a Montreal hospital. He had been in ill health since summer when he returned from a trip to his native Russia and had been hospitalized several weeks.

Born in the province of Minsk, Russia, 69 years ago, Mr. Kaplan came to this country in 1907 as a youth of 19. when he arrived in New York, Mr Kaplan began to learn the clothing trade, learning to make boys' clothing and working for three years in this field.

Then he came to Gouverneur where he first made his living as a junk peddler. After a year of this, he became a partner of Hyman Saidel, a furniture store proprietor, and remained in business with him until the partnership was dissolved in 1915. Mr Kaplan then operated his own clothing store for two years.

After two years of operating a clothing store, Mr. Kaplan reverted to the junk business and soon began to make extensive property purchases in Gouverneur. He then opened his present clothing store in that village and in the mid 1920's, began to establish stores in other communities as well. At one time, he operated stores in Newark, N.Y., Rochester and Watertown, as well as those still in existence.

Surviving are his wife, two sons, Samuel of Potsdam, and Albert of Massena; two daughters, Mrs. Bertha Segal of Canton and Mrs Samuel Simon of Ogdensburg, and four grandchildren.

Services were at 10 a.m. Monday at the synagogue in Watertown with burial in Watertown.

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