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Some Ancient History of the Hill Family of Hudson


Aerial View of Garrison Marker

The immigrant ancestor for the Hills Family of Hudson was Joseph Hills; born in England in 1602 he sailed in 1638 on the “Susan & Ellen” and settled in Charleston, MA (later set off as Malden) where he became active in town affairs.  He was a lawyer, leader of the militia, and held many important officers.  He later moved to Newbury.  In 1645, he served on a committee to set off lots in Nashaway Plantation and  In 1648 he wrote the first laws for the colony of Massachusetts.  In return for his services to the colony, he received a grant of some 500 acres in what is now Hudson in 1661.  Of these acres, 450  ran from a few rods north of the Taylor Falls Bridge, north along the east side of the river  beyond Derry Lane to include the site of Hills Garrison.  When the Town of Dunstable, MA was chartered all 450 acres were within the boundaries of that town.
Joseph passed away in 1688.  By his will he divided the 450 acres into 9 parcels  and passed ownership to members of his family.  With one exception no settlement occurred on any of these parcels until ownership passed at least one more time and outside the Hills Family.  The one exception was the northern most parcel of 89 acres he passed to his son Samuel.  By 1710, Nathaniel, Henry, and James, three of Samuel’s sons, built and occupied a garrison house on their father’s land.   Nathaniel was about 27, Henry about 22, and James about 13 years old.
By 1721 Samuel deeded the northern half of his land to Henry and the southern half to son James.  In 1723 James married Abigail Merrill and a few days later he sold to Samuel Whiting and they moved to Newbury.  Some time before 1732 Nathaniel purchased a 900 acre parcel of unsettled land from Jonathan Tyng.  This parcel also bordered on the river and was adjacent to and north of what had been his father’s 89 acres.  Samuel passed away in 1732.
Some time before 1733 Nathanial and his family moved from the garrison onto his 900 acres.  He set up a dwelling about 1/2 mile north of the garrison and near the bank of the river.  He later established and operated a ferry across the river, known as Hills Ferry.  This was operated by him or one of his descendants until 1827 when the first Taylor Falls Bridge was built.
In 1733 the town of Nottingham, MA was chartered to include all Dunstable land east of the river.  In 1734 the town of Litchfield, MA was chartered.  This charter established the southern boundary of Litchfield at the northern most part of the Joseph Hills grant.  Thus, the acres owned by Henry were in Nottingham, MA.  The acres Nathaniel had just purchased were in Litchfield.  About 1739 or 1740 Henry sold his land and the garrison to Deacon Roger Chase.  Henry then moved 1/4 mile east and established a farm on his brother’s land.  By that time none of the Hills Family had any ownership interest in the garrison or the Hills Grant. The families of Nathaniel and Henry were residing on the western part of Nathaniel’s 900 acres.  James, his wife and 4 small children had returned to Nottingham, MA and settled on a farm (now 20 Old Derry Road) which he acquired from his brother.
In 1740 the boundary between NH and MA was established and by 1746 Nottingham West, NH and Litchfield, NH were chartered.  These charters established the boundary between those two towns as we know it today.  During this period of uncertainty over state and town boundaries there were a number of residents  in nearby Londonderry which were of the opinion their homes would become a part of Nottingham West.  When this did not happen these residents petitioned to be annexed.  This became final in 1778 when some 4600 acres of Londonderry became a part of Nottingham West.
Henry Hills remained on his farm until he passed in 1757.  A few years later it was conveyed to his nephew, Elijah Hills.  Elijah was the grandfather of Alden and the great-grandfather of Dr Alfred K. Hills.  Alvirne High School and the surrounding grounds, including the Hills House, are on land which was a  part of this farm.  As time progressed Henry Hills Jr purchased the  farm  which is now 34-36 Old Derry Road.  Also, Nathaniel Hill Jr established a farm (now 62-64  Old Derry Road) upon part of his father’s land.
From 1661 to 1780 the one constant was the land and the location of the land that Nathaniel, Henry, and James and some of their descendants lived on.  Around this many things changed:  What state are you in?  What town do you live in?  Are we being taxed by more that one town?  What county seat do we use to record land purchases?  In the next few weeks we will be Remembering … some of these properties along and near Old Derry Road. This weeks photo, an aerial view of Garrison Farm, shows the original location of the historic marker  for the Hills Garrison.    The marker is in the open field behind the barn left of the roadway through the field.

Aerial View Derry Road 1977

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Aerial View Derry Road 1977

This 1977 aerial photo of  Derry Road was taken from behind the 20th Century Shopping Center (Now 102 Plaza) looking easterly such that  we see Saint Pattrick’s Cemetery, McDonalds, and Hudson Mall across the two-lane Derry Road.
As plans for the new bridge(s) across the Merrimack River evolved in the 1960’s businesses and homes near the old  Taylor Falls Bridge were slated for demolishion.  This included 20th Century Store, White Cross, Hudson Pharmacy,  along with other businesses, apartments, and homes.  Phil Lamoy, owner of the 20th Century Stores announced plans to build a shopping center on the Derry Road; ground breaking on the 25 acre parcel took place in July 1969.  His site included the location of the former Goodwin’s Fried Clam Stand.  Goodwin’s, a popular clam stand and restaurant,  had been located hear since 1931.  By 1970 Lamoy had moved his 20th Century Hudson store into this center which provided retail space for a drug store, beauty shop, barber shop, and restaurant along with a large parking area.  By 1977 the 20th Century Store had given way to Bargain Outlet.  The center went by the name of 20th Century but the store itself was no longer doing business in Hudson.
By August 1970 the president of The Bank of NH (formerly the Second National Bank and now TD Bank) announced the purchase of a spot on the northern part of the 20th Century Center for a branch office.  Just north of the bank was Quigley’s CITGO gas station which began operation about 1972.  This Citgo has morphed over the years into the Mobil Station.    North of the gas station where we now have a Dunkin Donuts and the roadway to Abbott Farms Condominiums we see no development.
Development of Hudson Mall on the opposite side of the road occurred a few years later.  This was the site of Abbott Dairy, operated initially and for many years by George Abbott.  After his sudden death in 1929 his sons Roland and Kenneth ran the milk business.  Local dairy farmers would deliver their milk for processing after which milk and cream were delivered to homes and businesses in the Nashua and Hudson area.  After Roland’s death in 1964, “Kenny” carried on until the property was sold for the new Hudson Mall.  Prior to 1968 the west side of Derry Road near Quigley’s station had been home to Roland and Hazel Abbott and their family.  On the east side, adjacent to Abbott Dairy, was the home of Kenneth and Hilda Abbott and their family.
In 1973 Vickery Realty, owner and developer, publicized their plans to build Hudson Shopping Mall on the east side of Derry Road, just north of St. Patrick’s Cemetery.  The original mall was a multi-million dollar complex of a climate controlled, enclosed sidewalk mall with a large Alexander’s Super Market on the north end.  Alexanders opened for business in 1974; other smaller stores and First Federal Bank soon followed.   By May 1977 McDonald’s Restaurant was added as a stand alone business.
Significant changes have occurred over the years.  In 1988 the Post Office was relocated to this mall.  In 1990 Alexander’s supermarket (now Hannafords) moved up in size and relocated to the south end of the Mall.  At about the same time, the mall itself was modified to eliminate the interior sidewalk.  The space occupied by the original Alexanders has been re-configured into a number of retail spaces.
This photo, from the Historical Society Collection,  was taken for preparation of the publication of Town In Transition.

Hudson Center From Kimball Hill 1946

Hudson Center from School 1946

Hudson Center from School 1946

Traveling down Kimball Hill Road in 1946 one paused in front of the Hudson Center School for this photo of Hudson Center.  Moore’s General Store, at the base of the cemetery and at the intersection of Hamblett Avenue and Kimball Hill Road, began operation about 1925 when Earl “Dinty” Moore purchased the store and house from Harvey Lewis.  At the time Earl Moore was a rural mail carrier for Hudson but his family helped with the operation of the store.  Harvey Lewis had operated a general store at this location since about 1888.
The large, 2 story home in the foreground was home to Earl and Vesta Moore and their family.  Behind the house to the left you can see  the  general store. Parking was limited to along the streets and the short driveway between the store and the house.  Ownership of the store passed from Earl to his son Kenneth.  Later, Kenneth’s brother-in-law Morillo Post entered the business.   After Morillo passed, the business was sold to David and Robert Thompson, both of whom grew up nearby on Hamblett Avenue and had worked for the Moore Family in previous years.  The Thompson Brothers operated the store at this location until November 1969 when fire badly damaged the building.  Rather than rebuild on this site the Thompsons relocated their business to 230 Central Street, now the location of the 7-11.
This property was rebuilt to a smaller size and then rented and later sold.  It is now the location of the ever popular Kahil’s sub and sandwich shop.  You may ask what became of the Moore family residence?  At some point in time it was moved across the street and up the hill slightly to what is now 9 Kimball Hill Road.  This allowed for some parking and permitted the town to widen the streets.
Hudson Center from School 2017

Hudson Center 2017

Looking at the rest of the photo, we see Hamblett Avenue looking toward Wattannick Grange.  Also, beyond the cemetery are the Baptist Church and the church parsonage.  At the time of this photo, this was home to Jessie (Wentworth) Gilbert. As a point of
comparison we have included a photo of that same location in 2017.The mailbox and driveway on the left are for 9 Kimball Hill Road, the current location of the Moore home.
Photo courtesy of Esther McGraw and a part of the collection of the Historical Society.

EssoHeat Truck Crash May 23, 1947

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Essoheat Truck Crash May 23, 1947

On May 23, 1947 John J. Montgomery of Lowell, MA was operating this EssoHeat delivery truck in Hudson on route to a delivery in Derry.  At about 3:00 pm he lost control of the vehicle near the Gile home on Derry Road and crashed headlong into a stone Wall.  Mr. Montgomery was shaken up but escaped serious injury.  The front end of the truck was badly damaged. Police Chief Polak reported the accident was due to faulty steering mechanism.

Police Chief Polak detailed police officers to guard the truck and also called for a fire truck which remained at the scene as a safety measure until 10:00pm.  Assistant Fire Chief Harry D. Emerson was in charge.

I had no idea where the Giles home was on Derry Road.  In 1947 Derry Road also included Old Derry Road out to the Londonderry Line.  After a trip to the Registry of Deeds and access to the town records I learned that the Giles home had been  located at what is now 145 Old Derry Road.  As you travel on Old Derry Road, heading towards Londonderry, you pass the Hudson Speedway and the intersection with Robinson Road. On your left is the Senter Cemetery.  About 1/10 mile further you come to 145 Old Derry Road on your right


Elizabeth Gile  purchased this homestead in 1944.  Prior to that the property was owned by Alphonse Lee and his wife Delima.  Prior to that it was owned by members of the Heath family and earlier the Senter Family.  In 1952 Roy Cross and his wife Lena (Avery)  purchased the property from the estate of Elizabeth Gile.  Roy Cross passed in 1959 and Lena continued to make this her home until she passed in 1970.  In 1972 the property was purchased by Paul F. Gauvreau from Lena’s daughter Flora Kinsey.  Paul had a keen interest in this section of Hudson particularly the Poor Farm and the Poor Farm Cemetery behind the farmhouse on Old Derry Road.  Paul’s research was instrumental in kindling public awareness of the old Poor Farm Cemetery.

Officer Polak and the Cruiser 1942

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Officer “Andy” Polak and the Cruiser 1942

Andrew “Andy” Polak served 34 years as a member of the Hudson Police Force, 26 of these years as Police Chief.  For the year ending January 31, 1943 the Police Department operated with a budget of $3,200; including $1,826 salary for H.J. Connell as Chief, 13 part time officers earning .50 per hour, and expenses for operating the police cruiser.  Of the police officers “Andy” logged the most hours; earning a salary of $350.50 for 701 hours!  In April 1946 Officer Polak was appointed Chief after Chief Harry Connell resigned due to poor health.  Chief Polak remained in that capacity until his retirement in October 1972.
In this weeks photo we see Officer “Andy” next to the Police Cruiser on the Derry Road in front of Goodwin’s Fried Clam Stand with  Saint Patrick’s Cemetery in the background.  Visible are the front wall of the cemetery, a house adjacent to the cemetery,  and the corner of the roof of Goodwin’s Stand.  Perhaps “Andy” was at “the stand” on town business as Fred T. Goodwin, proprietor, was one of the three Selectmen for the Town of Hudson.
Police activities for Chief Polak in the early years was much different than today.  In addition to being Police Chief he was also the Health Officer, responsible for recording measles, mumps, and other infectious diseases.  The mobile radio installed in the cruiser was receive only.  Calls for service were dispatched to the Chief.  After completing the call or if he needed additional personnel he would have to find a phone nearly to call in his report.
Chief Polak attended the Federal Bureau of Investigation National Academy in Washington, DC where he learned about all phases of police work and investigations including fingerprinting, photography, and shooting.  The local Lions Club was able to sponsor this schooling for the benefit of the town.
During his time as Chief “Andy” and his department were instrumental in solving many major crimes in Hudson; here are a few.    In 1958 a man reported that his wife was missing to an on duty officer at the Hudson Speedway.  After investigations and questioning the huspand it was disclosed that he and his wife had argued and she had been murdered and was buried out of state.
The following year Hudson was the site of one of the largest robberies in the state up to the time.  Three men entered Benson’s Wild Animal Farm, beat a watchman, bound and gagged an animal trainer, and opened the safe with a blowtorch removing $23,000.  After 8 months and a five state investigation  the crime was solved.  No significant amount of money was recovered’ however a large number of other roberies were solved in connection with this investigation.
In 1968 the first bank robbery in Hudson occurred.  The Indian Hean Bank, then located on Ferry Street near the site of the present Santander Bank, was robbed.  The investigation of this $1,900 robberd was unsuccessful.
In 2000, during a ceremony to recognize retired Chief Polak at the Historical Society, he donated his police uniform to the Society to be retained as part of our town’s history.  Information for this article is from the book Town in Transition, Hudson, NH and from the Hudson, NH Town Report for the year ending January 31, 1943,  Copies of the Town in Transition are available for purchase from the Historical Society.  The photograph is from the Society’s collection and was a donation from Celia Polak, daughter of the Chief.

Webster Street looking North C 1920


Webster St North from Ferry St C 1920

In 1893 the horse drawn trolley line from Nashua came across the Taylor Falls Bridge and ended at the Hudson side of the bridge.  Hudson businessmen and residents encouraged the transit company to extend the line further into the streets of town.  By 1895 the line was reorganized as an electric railway and the line extended into Hudson on Central Street, and down Lowell Road.  At the same time the iron bridge, built 14 years earlier was repaired and strengthened to withstand the extra weight of the engines and the increased traffic.
In 1902 a second  line was extended onto Ferry Street to Hudson Center and then on to Pelham and Salem.  In 1907 a third line was completed also traveling on the bridge into Post Office Square.  Rather than continuing on Ferry Street this line made a sharp turn northward along Webster Street towards Manchester.  Some of the tracks for this line were on the street right of way but many ran off road in open fields or wooded areas.  A trip from Taylor Falls Bridge to Manchester took 45 minutes and the fare was 20 cents.
A business area developed near the bridge.  As you crossed from Nashua you could take a left onto Ferry or a right onto Central Street.  If you turned left  there was a business block on your left known as Martin (later Connell) Block.  This was an apartment building and location of Daniels and Gilbert Grain and Grocery,  Later this was location of a small garage and the 20th Century Store.  After passing this block one came to Webster Street, a left turn from Ferry Street.  In the late 1960’s, to make way for the construction of the Veteran’s Memorial Bridge (northern span) this entire block and other buildings in the area were demolished.  The northern span was built just north of the old Taylor Falls Bridge at about the same location as this Martin Block.  A a result  in Webster Street ending at a turn around at the Ferry Street end.  Today you can exit from Ferry onto Webster; but cannot enter Ferry from Webster Street.
In the early 1900’s Hudson had a police court  with George W. Clyde and Nathaniel Wentworth acting as judges.  There was a small grainery on the bank of the Merrimack River off Webster Street which also served as a house of detention (jail) for individuals until they were released or transported to Nashua for longer stays and more secure accommodations.

This brings us to this week’s photo of Webster Street, looking north, just after the intersection with Ferry Street C 1920.  Along the left of Webster Street are the  tracks of the trolley which went north to Manchester.  Think of the sharp turn the trolley car(s) made after leaving the bridge, stopping at the transfer station to leave and/or pick up passengers, then making the turn onto Webster street and heading north.

The small building on the left is the grainery which history tells us was also used as the local jail.  You may ask what became of the jail?  According to the Town Report for the year ending 1918 the town paid Law and Ingham $13.00 to move a safe and cells.  Did not state where they were moved from or to.  Also, a brief article in the February 19, 1918 edition of the Nashua Telegraph tells us that a young man named Roland Abbott had plans to repair and remodel the building and use it as a club house for the young people of Hudson.  It is doubtful that this club house ever became a reality.  We do know the building was later moved to Ferry Street, placed on a foundation and used as part of the dwelling at what is now 88 Ferry Street. At the time of this move the property was owned by Nathen Cummings.  Some residents of today may remember it as the home of Clayton and Victoria Smith.  Photo from the Historical Society Collection.

Hudson Center School Bell

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School Bell at Hills House

Each year as part of the Hudson History Tour students delight in ringing the bell located on the front lawn of the Hills House.  This bell once hung high above Hudson Center in the tower of the old two room school house on Kimball Hill Road.  A few rings from this bell would announce to all the beginning of classes or the end of recess or lunch period.
The Hudson Center School was built in 1908 as a replacement for the Smith School on Windham Road which had burned.  Why this alternate site was selected rather than rebuilding on the original site is not entirely clear; but I suspect it had to to with the need for a reliable and safe water source.  By the beginning of the school year 1908 this bell had been placed in the school  tower  where it would remain for over 65 years. The bell was given to the town by Henry C. Brown, a well known resident of Hudson Center.  Mr. Brown served as Postmaster of the Hudson Center Post Office located in the train station which sat along side the tracks off Greeley Street and behind the Town Hall (not Wattannick Hall). His residence was on Kimball Hill Road opposite the Hudson Center Common and the Baptist Church.  His house became part of the Benson Farm property and was demolished by the state prior to the town’s ownership.
From 1908 until 1956 students from the Hudson Center and even West Windham attended this two room school house for grades 1 thru 6.  I myself remember attending grades 1-3 with Mrs. Marguarite Gilman as teacher; and then grades 4 and 5 with Miss Florence Parker.  By my 6th year we were seeing the possibility of closing this school house due to small enrollment at Hudson Center and available space in the schools in the bridge area.  I attended Webster School for the 6th grade and then on to Alvirne for grades 7 -12.
Charlie and Eric with bell

Charlie and Eric Parker Transporting Bell

The old school closed in 1956 and remained unoccupied until mid 1970’s.  By that time the property and school building were owned by Mr and Mrs Robert Thompson.  In 1974 with the help of the Hudson Fire Department the bell was removed from the tower and placed in the bed of “Charlie” Parker’s pick-up truck.  It was then transported by “Charlie”  and his brother Eric to the Historical Society.  The Society contracted with Adrien Labrie  to construct the bell stand for $485.00.  There the bell remains awaiting the occasional ringing by students or visitors to the grounds — especially during Old Home Days.