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Revisit Hudson Rural Areas …Farmhouse at 99 Dracut Road

        The Farmhouse at 99 Dracut Road 2004

This week we begin to revisit some of Hudson’s rural areas of the past. Farms and places of the past!! The first is the Oginskis/Karos Farm on Dracut Road.

Our Remember Hudson… travels this week take us to the south end of Hudson and 99 Dracut Road; for many years home to the Oginskis/Karos Family. The family of Joseph and Barbara (Martin) Oginskis purchased a farm of 57 acres plus house and barn from John Balandis on Old Lowell Road (now Dracut Road) in 1927. Their daughter Vera was about 22 years of age at the time. By 1940, Barbara was widowed; Vera was employed as a mill operator in Nashua. John Karos was residing at the farm and working as a farmhand. Four years later, in 1944, Vera and John were married.

This farmhouse at 99 Dracut Road remained home to Vera and John as well as to Barbara, Vera’s mom, who passed in December 1950. John worked as a machinist in Nashua, his last employment was with Sanders Associates. John passed in August 1966. Vera passed in 2004 at the age of 98. She lived all of her remaining live, except last few months, in this house; having been a Hudson resident for 75 years. I did not know Vera; but in talking with folks who did know her, she was a generous and respected neighbor. One neighbor remembers Vera’s kindness as she passed this home on her way to to catch the school bus a mile from her own home. Another person remembers Vera’s artistic talents and was able to save one of Vera’s paintings before the house was demolished. That painting is now at the Historical Society.

            Hudson Meadows 2016

By 2004 all but 14 plus acres including dwelling and barns had been subdivided and sold. As part of her estate the remaining acres were sold to a developer and Hudson Meadows Condominium Association was soon established.

In the 13 years prior to 1927 this 57 acre farm with buildings had changed hands about 5 times. Going back to the early 1800’s this farm was purchased in 1824 by a Paul Hardy from Pelham, NH and it remained in the Hardy family until about 1913 when it was sold by his daughter Susan (Hardy) Cutter. From the age and style of the farmhouse I estimate it was built about 1850 by the Hardy Family.

The photo of the Karos Farmhouse is in the collection at the Historical Society compliments of Hudson Meadows Association. The photo of Hudson Meadows was taken in December 2016. Written and researched by Ruth M Parker.

The Chalifoux/William Winn House

29 Chalifoux Rds 2019 side view

Winn/Chalifoux House 2019

Many remember this house as the home at Rose Chalifoux and Sons Farm; and later the home of Floreda Chalifoux. John B. and Rose (Delisle) Chalifoux and their family of two sons (Levi and Ernest) and one daughter, Floreda lived in Drewsville, NH an unincorporated community within Walpole, NH when John was killed in a lumber accident. In 1921 Rose and her oldest son Levi (age 21) purchased the farm of Bernard Ready in Hudson, NH. According to the deed of purchase this included land and buildings plus all the cattle, tools, and horses on the farm. The family them moved to Hudson and took on the operation of the farm; at the time Levi was 21, Ernest 17, and their sister Floreda was 18.

Brothers Levi and Ernest worked to improve and expand the dairy farm from that time until the mid 1970’s. In it’s prime the operation consisted of 60 Jersey Cows. Originally milking was a hand process; straining the milk into 20 quart jugs, water cooled on the premises until they were picked up by Descheaux Brothers of Dracut for processing. As times progressed electric milking machines were used and ultimately in the 1960’s a bulk tank was installed for storing and cooling the milk. Levi and Ernest were very acting in Hudson Grange; serving as officers locally, at the county, and state level. They displayed some of their prized Jersey cows at the Hillsborough County Fair. In 1949 they were recognized by “Look” magazine when they won the Golden Cup Award for one of their Jersey cows.

Levi married a Hudson girl, Mildred Shunaman, whose family operated a farm on Musquash Road. Soon after their marriage in 1939 they built a house a short distance from the farm home on Chalifoux Road. They had two daughters, Laura and Margery, both attending Hudson schools and graduating from Alvirne. Laura graduated from UNH with a biology degree. She was employed in the medical research field for many years during which time she authored/coauthored many scientific papers and book chapters. Even from her childhood she was a lover of animals. Laura passed in September 2016 and was laid to rest in St. Peter’s Cemetery in Walpole, NH with her parents and family. Margery married Walter Coomes, JR in Februaray 1969 and they have a family of one son and a daughter. They reside in Belchertown, MA. Mildred Chalifoux is remembered by many as their elementary school teacher in Hudson.

Levi married Ethel Morris of Pelham in October 1947. They likewise moved into their own home adjacent to the old homestead. Ethel, like her sister-in-law, was an elementary school teacher in the Pelham School District.

I had the pleasure of meeting with Dick Hanlon, present owner of this house and a great nephew Ernest and Ethel Chalifoux. Dick fondly recalls driving one of their grey Ford tractors at an early age as he helped his uncles cut, dry, rake , and bail hay from their fields to store for winter feed for their dairy cows. In addition to their own fields, they would harvest the hay from the Luther Pollard and Ben Morgan farms along Lowell Road. Whenever they had too many bails to store in their own facility the used space at the Lebouf barn on River Road.

In the late 1970 the Chalifoux farm was leased to Jack Allen of Walpole, NH for 5 years. During this time he continued the dairy operation and added strawberry fields. Many remember visiting Alllen’s Strawberries to ‘pick your own’ berries. By 1982 Jack returned to the Walpole area and the Jersey stock was sold. The farmhouse was subdivided from the farm land. The farm land was then sold to Sanders Associates (now BAE Systems).

Fromt the earlier history of this house we learn that in 1892 it was on a portion of the Sylvanus Winn Farm. Upon his death it was purchased by Clarence and George Muldoon of Pelham who later sold to Bernard Ready of Lowell who in 1921 sold to the Chalifoux family; hence the present day name for the road. Looking at the 1858 Chace map we see this house was in the family of Timothy Ford who had ownership until 1880 when it transferred to Sylvanus Winn.

In 1942 this house was included in a booklet written by the Hudson Fortnightly Club entitled “NH Homes Built Prior to 1842” From this booklet and research at the Registry of Deeds we know that William Winn and his brother Isaac took possession of this place about 1830. William Winn was born 1797 in Hudson and married Pirsis Gildore of Manchester in 1830. Pirsis passed in 1843 and one year later William sold the place to Timothy Ford and moved to Pelham.

WWinn1942_1

William Winn House C 1942

A search at the Registry of Deeds tells me the previous owner, and the earliest I have found, was John Pollard. A few years prior to 1830 he had mortgaged the place to Moses Greeley, Jr. This mortgage was assigned to William and Isaac Winn in 1830. As a result of some judgements against Mr. Pollard the property was seized by the sheriff to satisfy those obligations. By April of that year a sheriff’s deed transferred the property to William Winn.

A few other facts of interest. In early deeds what is now Chalifoux Road was called the Ferry Road. According to Kimball Webster and his History of Hudson, NH a ferry at the south end of town was established by Jonathan Hardy who was assessed here in 1748. This ferry was later known as Pollard’s Ferry and was likely operated by Capt. John Pollard son of John Sr.

I hesitate to give a build date for this house. We do know that a house existed on this premise in 1830 and also while John and Elizabeth Pollard resided here. This house has a number of features we find in houses of the mid to late1700’s. There is a center chimney with 3 fireplaces on the first floor; a large one for the kitchen and smaller ones for each of the living and dining rooms. It is a 1 1/2 story house with 2 bedrooms on the second floor. The windows were narrow and tall with 4 panes of glass (2 over 2) in each. Some rooms had ‘gunstock corners’. This feature shows a part of the corner post exposed to the interior of house; resembling the stock of a gun; hence the name. The sheething board were wide and and rough. The rear wall was a double wall stuffed with sawdust for insulation.

If one were to build a list of Hudson houses built prior to 1800, the William Winn house would be included. In fact this is clearly one of the oldest in our town.  Researched and written by Ruth M. Parker.

Revisit Lowell Road … Camp Cayuga C1956

           Camp Cayuga C 1956 Lowell Road

 

As early as 1956 boys and girls between the ages of 7 and 14 were bused, transported by car, or walked to Camp Cayuga on the Lowell Road in Hudson. Camp Cayuga, a summer day camp, was operated by John S. Groves on his family’s 265 acre farm. The camp activities started at 9 am and ended at 4 pm. Each camper brought their own lunch except on Thursdays when there was a noonday cookout. The camping season was 8 weeks, during the months of July and August. As many as 125 plus children came from towns like Milford, Amherst, Merrimack. Lowell, Chelmsford, Nashua and Hudson. Camp facilities included a large barn for a place of assembly, a swimming pond on the property which was recently dug by a bulldozer along a brook which ran thru the property, bath houses, Indian camps where campers divided into tribes, playing fields, horseback riding rinks, and woods for nature study. Horse back riding was one of the more popular events. special events,such as horse shows, carnivals, and fishing derbys, were often held.

The Groves farm was located on the western side of Lowell Road and extended to the Merrimack River. Until 1955 Mr. Groves had farmed the land and operated an automobile sales agency on the premises. He then turned from auto sales to teaching school. The idea of using the farm as a summer camp was suggested to him by a friend a few years earlier. The possibilities for expansion were considered as tremendous as within a 15 mile area there were 200,000 people and only 2 other day camps in the area.

Within a few years growth came to Lowell Road and with it an increase in property values. The State of New Hampshire had plans for a Circumferential Highway. By the early 1970’s the northern portion of this farm was used for the access road to the Sagamore Bridge. Of the remaining acres, the part abutting Lowell Road is the location of Sam’s Club; the back portion toward the river is part of The Green Meadows Golf Course, Photo courtesy of Leo Demers and now a part of the Historical Society Collection.

Let’s Take The Trolley

                     Trolley Crossing Bridge into Hudson C 1910

So..you want to ride the trolley to Manchester, Lowell, or Salem?

By 1893 tracks for the street railway (trolley) were in place from Nashua down East Hollis Street to and over the iron Taylor Falls Bridge into Hudson ending near the east end of the bridge. For two years this was a horse drawn trolley which provided fairly good service between Hudson and Nashua.

By 1895 it was re-organized as an electric railway and the tracks extended from the bridge up Central Street and down Lowell Road with a popular stop at the ‘five cent limit’ where Lowell Road branches into Dracut and River Roads (aka Stewert’s Coner). The tracks went beyond this point down River Road to the state line. The infrastructure of the iron Taylor Falls bridge was improved to handle the heavier trolley cars and the increase in both trolley and automotive traffic. This line provided service from Nashua to Lowell via Hudson. Hourly trips were made during the winter months and every 30 minutes in the summer. Running time from Nashua to Lowell was about 1 hour 10 minutes at a fare of 20 cents. The fare from Hudson to Lowell was 10 cents. If you had 10 cents in your pocket you could ride to ‘the limit’, enjoy a picnic lunch, and return home later in the day.

First Electric Car to Service Hudson Center

 

The Hudson, Pelham, and Salem street railway was incorporated by the state legislature March 7, 1889 with the authority to construct and maintain tracks from the bridge through Hudson Center and on to Pelham, Salem and the state line. This line was opened September 8, 1902. The tracks went from the bridge over Ferry Street. At the end of Ferry Street (near Burnham Road) the tracks went “off road” behind Westview Cemetery taking a sharp right turn crossing Central Street near what is now Burger King. From there it continued “off road” through wooded areas and behind the Haselton Barn on to Pelham. Relics of these tracks can be seen off to the right along parts of Speare road and again when it crossed the Gibson Road before entering Pelham. The speeds required to maintain good travel time were often times considered reckless on parts of this line. I have read that some folks even refused to ride this line and some predicted disaster.

Disaster did occur on Sunday afternoon September 6, 1903. Two cars collided on a section of track in Pelham, each car traveling around 25 miles per hour with about 70 travelers on both cars. Many of the passengers on the west bound car were returning home after a visit to Canobie Lake. The crash occurred on a hilly curve where visibility was poor. This accident resulted in 6 fatalities; and more than 40 injuries, many serious. Of those killed was Hudson Postmaster George C. Andrews. His wife Anabel received serious injuries from which she never completely recovered. The cause of the accident was a misunderstanding of the start-up orders for the train leaving Nashua and heading east. Once discovered, it was too late to stop either of the cars.

Between the huge damages and the safety factor this line was forced into receivership late 1904, was reorganized in 1907 and 5 years later consolidated into another company. The tracks for the Salem, Pelham, and Nashua line were abandoned in March 1924.

A trolley line from Taylor Falls bridge traveling north along Webster Street, through Litchfield, Goffs Falls, and Manchester was incorporated in 1905. The line opened for public travel January 1, 1907 with a 12 mile trip from the bridge to Goffs Falls at a cost of 20 cents and a running time of 45 minutes. Trips were made every hour in winter months and every 1/2 hour during the summer months.

These three trolley lines and the concrete Taylor Falls bridge built in 1909 did much to expand the growth of Hudson especially in the bridge area, causing the business center of town to shift from Hudson Center to the bridge area. The area around the intersection of the three trolley lines near the bridge became known as ‘railroad square’; so named for the street railroads as opposed to the steam railroad.

Before the popularity of the automobile residents could rely on the trolley for transportation to/from their jobs;for travel to Nashua and/or Lowell for shopping; and for recreation!! The owners of each of these trolley lines, in an effort to increase ridership invested in destination recreation facilities on each line. Just beyond the state line on River Road was Lake View Park; on the Pelham and Salem line was Canobie Lake Park; and on the Litchfield to Goffs Falls run thee was Pine Island Park.

         Trolley Tracks on Central Street C 1907

The 1920’s with the rise of the automobline was tough on the trolley. Ridership dropped, safety vs speed became an issue. By 1932 all trolley traffic in Hudson had ceased.  Researched and written by Ruth Parker.

Revisit Lowell Road … George Steele Farm

              George Steele Store C1899

This week’s memories extend to the George Steele farm at Stewerts Corner; the intersection of Lowell, Dracut, and River Roads. In the early 1900’s Hudson was serviced by three trolley routes. One of these routes went from the Taylor Falls Bridge, down Central Street, then down Lowell Road to Stewerts Corner. The fare from Taylor Falls Bridge to Stewerts Corner was five cents!! Thus, Stewerts Corner was also called ‘the five cent limit’ or ‘the limit’. During warm months open-bench trolley cars were used. Many children and adults would pack a picnic lunch and ride the trolley to the ‘limit’. Once there they could buy ice cream and soda at George Steele’s farm store. The first photo shows his store C1899 with two ladies and children waiting outside; perhaps for the trolley. If the season was right they could also pick strawberries for Mr. Steele for two cents a box! For additional fare, families could extend their trip down River Road to Lakeview Park, an entertainment area just over the state line, or go all the way to Lowell and spend time shopping.
George and his brother Fred were native to Hudson; growing up and working with their father, Silas, on the family farm on what is now the Steele Road. As a young man of 24, George purchased his own acreage from William Chase in 1887. By 1893 he married Edith Colburn and built their home on River Road. For most of their adult lives, George and Fred continued to operate large vegetable/market gardens near Stewerts Corner. The George Steele farm remained in his family until surviving son, Ralph, sold the property to the Friel family in 1977. The land and buildings are now a part of Green Meadows Country Club.

 

         Aerial View George Steele Farm C1942

The second photo is an aerial view of the George Steele Farm C1942. We see gardens along both sides of River Road. Photos courtesy of the Steele Family and now a part of the Historical Society Collection.  Researched and written by Ruth M Parker.

20 Old Derry Road

20 Old Derry RMP 2019

The Colonial at 20 Old Derry

20 Old Derry road was once a part of a 100 acre farm settled by James Hills in 1737. James was born into the large family of Samuel and Abigail (Wheeler) Hills of Newbury, MA in 1697. By 1710, James, then a lad of 13, along with 2 of his older brothers, Nathaniel and Henry, built and lived in a garrison house on the east bank of the Merrimack River on their father’s land in the town of Dunstable, MA. By today’s landmarks this garrison was located on the east side of Webster Street a short distance north of Elm Avenue. Sometime before 1722 Samuel deeded the southern half of his Dunstable land to James and the northern half to Henry. The oldest brother, Nathaniel, had already purchased 900 acres adjacent to and north of his father’s property from Jonathan Tyng.

James married Abigail Merrill of Newbury, MA in December 1723; soon thereafter he sold his interest in the garrison land and took up residency and began his family in Newbury. About 1737 James and Abigail with their young family of a son, Jeremiah, and a daughter, Hannah, returned to New Hampshire. There had been 3 additional children but they passed at a young age before they moved from Newbury. Returning from Newbury James acquired 100 acres of unsettled land from his brother Nathaniel. It was here that James settled and established the farm. Three additional children were born to him after moving to what became Nottingham West, now Hudson. James lived the remainder of his life on this farm, passing about 1751. The farm remained with his family. By 1800 his grandson William owned the farm. William was born July 1777 to Jeremiah, the oldest son of James. William likewise lived out his life on this farm passing it to his second son, Granville in 1852. By 1877 the farm was owned by a Charles W. Hill(s). It is not entirely clear how Charles W. acquired the farm. Apparently the next family member in line to own the farm was living in the Midwest and choosing not to return he sold his interest to a cousin, Charles W. Hill(s). It is clear that the last Hill having title to the farm was Mary Elida (Hill) Robinson daughter of Charles W. Hill and wife of Frank L. Robinson. Mary Elida was born in Hudson May 1878 and married Frank Robinson in Nashua January 1909. At the time of her marriage she was employed as a teacher in Nashua and Frank was employed as a railroad worker in Nashua. In November 1926 the farm was sold outside of the Hill(s) family and purchased by Grant Jasper. A quick note before the reader gets too confused over Hills vs Hill. In July 1846 Grandville Hills changed his name and that of his family Hill by an act of NH Legislature.

The James Hills (aka the Granville Hill) Farm had been owned by as many as 6 generations of Hills over a period of 180 years. Over these years the farm acreage was reduced from 100 to the 40 acres which Grant Jasper purchased from Mary L. (Hill) Robinson in 1926. From 1926 until 1958 the 40 acre parcel changed ownership 4 times; in 1958 the owner at the time, Harry Tuft, sold 28 acres, including the colonial house, to Ralph and Nellie Weaver who later sold to Lionel Boucher in November 1962. This was the beginning of major changes in the landscape of the farm. Within a month a survey was done and the colonial home along with the current 1.39 acres was separated from the remainder of the farm and sold to John and Margaret Aldrich. The remainder of the farm was surveyed and subdivided for house lots. Our story line continues with the colonial home.

In February 1973 the home was purchased by William and Carol Murray and their son, Terrance. Owning this fine colonial home had a major influence on the lives of this family. They acquires an appreciation and love for antiques and the structure of this home. Much of the following information was reported by The New Hampshire Sunday News and published May 18, 1975.

Change became a two way street when the Murray family moved into this 1800 colonial home in 1973. Not only did they bring about changes by restoring the old colonial, living there changed their life style and interests. Carol developed a sudden interest to furnish her “new” home with period furnishings. Her fascination with “old things” began to rub off onto her family as both son Terrance and husband Bill develop an interest. Bill took to restoring the house; removing modern door knobs and replacing with period latches, all while using groves in the wood where the originals once were. Walls were torn down and replastered; wide floor boards were scraped and refinished. Old chairs were stabilized and in some cases the caning or rush seats replaced. Their interest was such that the Murrays planned to open an antique shoppe and augment the items for sale with some of Carol’s hand crafted items.

Parts of this house were likely built about 1800 during the ownership of William, grandson of James. There is evidence that the present building resulted from two separate buildings being melded together into one. This is shown by two massive beams 12 inches wide running one over the other the width of the house in the attic. Also, one of the upstairs rooms is at a different level, requiring a step up/step down to enter/exit the room. There are 9 rooms, 2 chimneys, and 8 fireplaces; all of which were functional. The kitchen fireplace is deeper than the others with evidence of a baking oven at one time.
This was found to be an old house with lots of hidden charm; one where the Murrays liked to reside in and where visitors liked to come. And here the Murray’s stayed for 27 years until Carol sold in August 2000. Since the Murray’s this colonial has hosted four owners; the most recent, Hughes and Titianta Lafontaine, took ownership a few months ago. Welcome to Hudson!!  Researched and written by Ruth Parker.

Revisit Lowell Road … Aerial View – Luther Pollard Farm Lowell Road C 1939

Aerial View Luther Pollard Farm on Lowell Road C 1939

 

This week we look at the changes along Lowell Road with this 1939 aerial view. The farm buildings in the center of the photo are those of the Luther Pollard Farm. Owned by members of the Pollard/Parker family of Lowell, MA and Hudson; Robert Hardy was the farm manager. Robert and Bertha Hardy along with their large family lived in this farmhouse and worked the farm for the owners. Robert raised turkeys, chickens, cows for milk, as well as a large garden and fruit trees. Besides managing the farm resources, he was able to produce ample food for his family. John Hardy, Robert’s son, purchased the farm in 1946. Behind the farmhouse, but not visible because of the trees, was a large home with spacious porches. This was the Pollard/Parker family’s summer home.

Along side and to right of the farmhouse is Lowell Road. Barely visible because it is hidden under a row of trees. Looking north, towards the top of the photo, pieces of the road are visible. On the opposite side of Lowell Road, to our right, is the farmhouse and farm of Raymond Pollard. Ray, his father and grandfather before him owned and operated this particular farm.

By sharp contrast, today both farm houses are gone. Where the Pollard/Parker farmhouse stood we now have the recently built Inn at Fairview, a part of the Fairview Nursing facility. Likewise the home of Ray Pollard has been removed; now the location of the north end of the parking lot of Market Basket at the corner of Lowell and Wason Roads. The garden seen in the forefront of the photo is now the location of Haffners. Lowell Road is no longer a narrow two lane roadway; now a four plus lane highway with plenty of traffic and traffic lights!! The open fields for market produce have given way to houses and industrial parks.

Enjoy this step back in time! We will explore more of these early landmarks in the weeks ahead. Photo from the Historical Society collection. The society can be reached for comment by calling 880-2020 or sending email to HudsonHistorical@live.com.

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