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George O. Sanders

               George O. Sanders C 1890

George O. Sanders began his career as a carpenter, builder, and architect. He left the area for a few years working under contract designing and constructing for the railroad. Returning to the Hudson/Nashua area he immediately established himself as a manufacturer and soon became one of the more progressive businessmen in the area.

George O. Sanders was born in 1851, the oldest son of Abi and Palmyra (Whittemore) Sanders who were married in Hudson January 1850. Their early married life was spent in Hudson and Windham moving to Nashua when George was six years old. Abi established himself as a carpenter and builder. George attended the public schools of Nashua and finished his education at Crosby’s Literary Institution. At the age of 17 he apprenticed the carpenter trade with his father who had become a well known builder in Nashua. George had two younger brothers; James born in 1854, and Fred born in 1869.

By 1972 21-year old George had purchased property in Hudson from Kimball Webster and within a year started building his own residence on the west side of Derry Street at the corner of what is now Haverhill Street. He finished his fine Victorian residence in two years. This residence was immediately recognized for it’s splendor, being one of the finest homes built in Hudson. By means of a windmill he provided a water source for his home from a well in his front yard. The George O. Sanders home, later owned by Harry Kenrick, is today listed on the National Register of Historic Places and known to us as the Lenny Smith House.

By 1878, George having proven his capabilities as a builder acquired ‘go west’ fever and followed the railroad to Atchison, KS where for the next four years he built bridges, stations, stores and engine houses on contract for Atchison, Topeka and Sante Fe and the Union Pacific railroads. He even printed a brochure to advertise his building expertise to the Atchison area. He returned to Hudson and married Linda Thomas, a Hudson native, in November 1882. They settled in his Victorian home on Derry Street. Linda’s wedding outfit is a part of the collection of the Historical Society.

Wedding Outfit of Linda (Thomas) Sanders

Using his knowledge and experience he immediately started a wood product which within 8 years would be one of the most successful and growing industries in the Nashua area. Working quietly and efficiently George began to clear and grade a 7 acre tract located in Nashua near the junction of the Nashua and the Merrimack rivers. He then erected a steam saw mill and box factory. He quietly and shrewdly kept developing his plant for the best and most productive result. He added a planning operatoon which was connected directly to the railroad by a private track which he layed at his own expense and for his exclusive use. His facility was totally destroyed by fire in October 1889. Despite the heavy loss he set about rebuilding and within 7 days part of his mill was up and running and completely rebuilt by January 1890. His new mill was lighted by electricity, heated, and equipped with a sprinkler system. From this facility he produced a variety of wood based products and offered the sale of fine lumber. He was able to offer employment to over 60 men.

Expanding his manufacturing interests into Hudson George purchased several acres and water rights from the old Hadley-Willoughby site on Tarnic Brook (Melendy Brook). He build al box shop and operated it for a few years when it was wiped out by a fire in December 1892. This was yet another big financial loss for George. He rebuilt it and sold to Mr. Melendy; retaining the water rites and much of the land.

In the spring of 1891 George purchased land from Nathan Cummings at the height of land on Highland Street. Here he erected a stand pipe and began to install water works in a small way; mainly to supple his own buildings; but, at the request of some of his neighbors he was induced to enlarge the facility to serve them as well. He extended a pipe through the river to his plant in Nashua. By 1893 the Hudson Water Works Company was incorporated with George as president and his wife Linda as Treasurer. Water from this source was used for only a few years as it was of poor quality. This was about the time he had purchased the water rights at Tarnic Brook. He conveyed land and water rites to the water company for use as large wells and pumping station. Sometime before June 1901 the water works was sold to parties in Boston. They failed to be successful and George again became principal stock holder. By July 1903 ownership had been transferred to parties in Maine and incorporated as Hudson Water Company.

During this time period George combined his manufacturing interests in Nashua and Hudson with the American Bobbin Syndicate which was similar to a conglomerate of many businesses brought together to form one larger company. Given his current losses resulting from recent fires and his need to meet payroll and show a profit, this may have appealed to him as a wise business decision. He received stock and bonds in the new company in exchange for the property and business. In addition George became a director and manager of the box department of this new venture. The American Bobbin Syndicate found it more and more difficult to make a profit, resulting in George assuming more and more responsibility for these losses. Ultimately his property was subject to foreclosure; including his residence on Derry Road. By October 1904 his fine Victorian home was sold at public auction for $3,540. It was purchased by Harry Kendrick, the sole bidder. Kendrick owned the property until the mid 1940’s when it was purchased by Lenny Smith.

Soon after this George moved from Hudson. Little else is known about his activities until February 1915 when he established a new company to produce an additive for cement to keep it from freezing. George passed in October 1921 at the age of 70 while living in Boston. He was laid to rest in Sunnyside Cemetery in Hudson.

Before leaving the story of the Sanders family in Hudson there are a few side points to make. In 1885 brother James began to build a row of houses on the south side of Ferry Street. By 1889 he had built 3; by 1890 he had 5; and by 1892 we see there were 9. To this date some 5 of these homes remain. James is known to have retired as a farmer in the south part of Hudson near the ‘limit’ or the five cent limit on the trolley.

By 1891 George had come into possession of the triangular piece of land we now know of as Library Park. He paid a large price for this land, about $1.300. He had it plotted into several building lots and offered them for sale but did not sell any. Several years later the title was acquired by parties in Nashua who again offered lots for sale. Two of these were sold and one house started before the Hills Family arraigned for its purchase for Library Park.

George did purchase land for and built the block, Sanders Block, as five tenements at the corner of Highland and Sanders (now Library) street in 1891.

In 1890 Abi Sanders built himself a home on Baker Street where he and his wife resided until June 1905 when it was sold. Abi passed December 1907 in Nashua at which time he and his wife Palymyra were residents of the Hunt Community iin Nashua.  Researched and written by Ruth Parker.

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Dr. Adoniram Judson Greeley

Book Plate for Greeley Public Library

History has informed us about the Greeley Public Library but this week we look at the man behind this library, Adoniram Judson “AJ” Greeley, MD.

A Hudson native he was the oldest son of Joanna (Merrill) and Reuben Greeley. Reuben owned a farm in Hudson Center adjacent to the Town Common; a prominent leader in town he served as postmaster, town clerk, selectman, representative to the legislature and an early members of the First Baptist Church. AJ’s mother, Joanna, was born in Sedgwick, Maine where her father, Rev. Daniel Merrill, was the pastor of the local church. Rev. Merrill served in the Revolution and graduated from Dartmouth College. He first served as a Congregational pastor but converted to Baptist and became a leader in the Baptist movement in New England. Rev. Merrill and his family moved to Hudson, then Nottingham West, in 1814 when he accepted the call to be the pastor of the Baptist Church here in Hudson. One could say the rest is history as Reuben, a prominent young man, and Joanna, the pastor’s daughter, were married in Hudson November 1817.

In September of the following year their first child was born and named Adoniram Judson Greeley in honor of the first protestant missionary sent from North America to serve in Burma. He was a New Englander and a Baptist, so it was natural that Reuben and Joanna named their first son in his honor.

AJ’s childhood home exists today at 234 Central Street, the parsonage of the First Baptist Church with the church located next door at the corner of Greeley and Central Streets. Much of the land surrounding 234 Central was Reuben’s farm; including the site of the church, and extending up Greeley Street and west along Central Street. During these early years the Baptists met in the north meetinghouse located near the site of the present Wattannick Hall. The Baptist meetinghouse was not built until 1842 when AJ was 24 years old. Neither did the church have a parsonage, Rev. Merrill and his family occupied a home on Kimball Hill Road.

AJ’s early education was from his parents and a local one room district school; most likely district #4 located on Kimball Hill Road. His high school education was at the Academy and Theological Institution in New-Hampton, NH. Following high school he attended Brown University in Rhode Island graduating in 1841. He then did medical studies at Harvard and received his MD in 1845. He practiced medicine in Searsmount, ME for about 10 years moving to Clinton, MA for a short period and then settled in or near Providence, RI area where he practiced nearly 40 years until his sudden and unexpected death in 1893.

In addition to medicine he had an advocation for antiquity. He traveled to various countries and was particularly knowledgeable about Europe and Egypt. He was known to have a sizeable estate which included his personal library of nearly 3000 books. In his will he bequeathed some 500 volumes to the town of Hudson for a library.

Dr. A. J. Greeley died unexpectedly at the age of 74. He was found unconscious in his office and passed away the next morning at a local hospital. A local police officer was doing rounds and noticed a trail of blood outside in his doorway. He followed the bloody trail to the doctor’s office where he was found unconscious. At first his passing was considered an accident, suffering head injuries as the result of a fall. Dr. Greeley did leave a blood stained note instructing whoever found it to get in touch with his brother, H.C. Greeley, the executor of his will. Following his death and an examination of his body the medical examiner declared his injuries were not consistent with an accident and his death was considered a homicide. The theory being he was attacked during a robbery as he was known to carry money on his person. It is unclear if anyone was prosecuted for this crime.

Monument for Family of Reuben and Joanna Greeley

The rest is history. His brother was the executor of his estate. Through AJ’s generosity and the generosity of his heirs nearly 2000 volumes of his books came to Hudson over the next few months to form the nucleus of the Greeley Public Library. A.J. himself was returned to his hometown where he was laid to rest in the family lot in Westview Cemetery along with his parents and four of his siblings. Our first photo is of the book plate of the Greeley Public Library showing the early method for cataloging books. The second photo shows Dr. A. J. Greeley’s memorial in Westview Cemetery.

Revisit Jette Farm at 117 Lowell Road

117 Lowell Road Jette Farm 1950

 

The Jette farmhouse is located at 117 Lowell Road and has been owned by Wesley Tate since 2004. He operates Jette Farm Auto Repair and Restoration at that location.

Edmond L. Jette and Rose M. Boissoneault married in August of 1933 and lived on the Litchfield Road in Hudson. By 1944 their family had grown to include five children and they needed more space. They then purchased a farm house as well as 30+ acres of farmland. Edmond was a machinist as well as a great father and farmer. Rose took great pride in her family and was always pleasant and friendly to everyone she met.

In 1944, the farm at what is now 117 Lowell Road was owned by the Pelletier family. It would soon be known to all as The Jette’s Garden Farm. Fresh vegetables were harvested and sold daily by a large and loving family. Edmond, Rose, and ultimately, all ten children worked hard together. Cows were milked for cream, milk, and butter. These items for the family were also swapped for chickens and eggs from their neighbors, the Maynard family.

 

                                Jette Field

In 1971, 59 year old Edmond passed away. Rose was left to care for her family and continue the farm stand as well as operating her weekend garage sale. Rose, in memory of her husband and the children in memory of their father, donated some of the farmland off County Road to The Town of Hudson. Today, close to a fenced in baseball diamond, there is a granite memorial identifying Jette Field; a great gesture and memory for all to enjoy. The plow on the marker symbolizes Edmond’s love of the land. In the spring of 2013, 102 year old Fernand, brother of Edmond, threw out the first pitch to begin the baseball season.

Over the years family members tapped from the trees seen in front of the house. Sap was boiled down maple syrup was made by and for family members.

You can still drive by 117 Lowell Road and look upon the old homestead as it stands today. The farmland was sold when Rose downsized. Rose passed away in 1996. Although you are driving by the old farm land for memories, much of it has evolved into Fox Hollow as well as Teledyne, the memories are never to be forgotten. Thanks to Angela Rose (Jette) Dickman, grandaughter of Rose and Edmond, for the memories and photo of 117 Lowell Road.  Written by Ruth Parker.

Planning for and Constructing Hills Memorial Library

Architects Drawing

Hills Memorial Library at the corner of Library and Ferry Streets was dedicated June 11, 1909 and opened for the first day on June 12. Let’s look at the history behind the planning and construction of the library which served our town for over 100 years.

Prior to June 1909 our town library, The Greeley Public Library, was located on the third floor (Webster Hall) of the Baker Brothers Building on Central Street; named for Dr. Adoniran Judson Greeley a Hudson native. By his will and the generosity of his heirs some 1,878 books from his private collection were selected for the library. This library was organized in 1894 and was located at the home of George A. Merrill on Maple Avenue for about one year. The books were then moved to the third floor of the Baker Building on Central Street where it remained for some 14 years. During these years the ‘bridge section’ of our town was growing! The bridge to Nashua plus three trolley lines were transforming the Bridge Area into the business center of Hudson.

In July 1903, almost 6 years before the opening of the Hills Library, Kimball Webster purchased land at the corner of Ferry and Sanders (now Library) Streets from the Nashua Coal and Ice Company. Yes, an icehouse did exist on the lot at the time. Webster realized the need for a permanent and centrally located building and realized that suitable sites were being taken up for other purposes and prices were increasing. He purchased this lot with the intent of having it for a library building when the time came. He gifted it to the town in September 1904 with well considered stipulations. The lot was for a library building facing Sanders Street with no buildings between it and the street. The town had the obligation to erect a reasonable and respectable building. In no case was the town ever to sell, dispose or convey these premises or any part to any person or corporation. If sold or attempted to sell the land would immediately revert to the donor or his estate.

With this gift the town was assured of a prime location for a library and waited for a proper building!! Hudson did not have long to wait. The right people were Dr. Alfred K. Hills, his wife Ida Virginia, and her mother Mary Creutzborg.

Dr. Hills was born in Hudson, October 1840, to Alden and Nancy (Currier) Kimball Hills. Alden was a direct descendent of James Hills who, with his brothers, were the first settlers of this town. Dr. Hills married Martha P. Simmons, June 1865. She passed in June 1885; they had no children. Soon thereafter in June 1887 he married Ida Virginia Creutzborg of Philadelphia. Dr. Hills purchased his family homestead on Derry Road, where he built their summer residence which he named “Alvirne”. It was here that he and his wife spent the summer seasons for many years, residing in New York during the winter. They had two daughters who passed in infancy. Mrs. Hills passed I May 1908.

Mrs. Hills was an educated and refined lady with a happy and cheerful disposition with a generous, philanthropic nature and prominent in town for more than 20 years. Dr. and Mrs. Hills had a vision to erect a building for a town library. His own library at “Alvirne”, a product of Mrs. Hills’ brain in conjunction with their architect Hubert Ripley, was a working model for such a building.

Soon after her passing Dr. Hills proceeded with her wishes. Working with the architect plans were made for a building of stone which would be ornamental and convenient. A plan was presented to the selectmen with the request they call a special town meeting for its consideration. Here, on September 1, 1908 the town voted to accept the gift from Dr. Hills. In essence he would build the library at his expense which would be essentially like the sketch presented at the meeting. This sketch is a part of the collection of the Historical Society. Named “Hills Memorial Library”, it would be built on the lot previously donated by the Honorable Kimball Webster, house the collection of the Greeley library and be maintained by the town as long as it exists. Construction began in October of 1908.

In a report to the town in early November 1908 Dr. Hills acknowledged the thanks and well wishes of the people. With the passing of his wife that same year, their planned gift would occur earlier than expected. He also announced that he would be joined in the endeavor by Ids Virginia’s mother. With solid progress so early it was his hope that the roof would be on by the end of the fall so that interior work could occur during the winter months. On June 11, 1909, the twenty-second anniversary of Dr. Alfred Hills and Ida Virginia Creutzborg, the Hills Memorial Library was dedicated. It was opened for the first exchange of books on June 12, 1909.

Hill Under Construction Fall 1908

 

The second photo shows the construction crew on the unfinished steps of the library. The roof is complete or nearly completed. I date this photo as late all 1908.

By the early 1980’s the expansion of the library services began to outgrow the capacity of the building. These pressures were eased by a bookmobile in 1977 and later with two satellite buildings in the rear of the main building. Attempts were made to expand the building but the plans did not get the approval of the voters. In 2007 a donation from the Rodgers Brothers was made and graciously accepted for a new library facility in memory of their parents, George and Ella M. Rodgers.

In 1984 the Hills Memorial Library Building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places and in 2012 added to the New Hampshire Register of Historic Places.

In preparing this article I have relied upon various sources: History of Hudson, Documentation presented for inclusion on the National Register, Library history prepared by Laurie Jasper, and newspaper articles from the Nashua Telegraph.  Written by Ruth Parker and edited by Steve Kopiski.

Revisit Lowell Road – 87 Lowell Road – Corner of Birch and Lowell

                                  87 Lowell Road C 1977

 

For years 87 Lowell Road was the home of Etienne J. and Rose Levesque. This couple raised a family of 2 boys (Leo Paul and Robert) and 3 girls (Marie Anne, Eva, and Cecil). He was employed at and later retired from John Mansville in Nashua. Mr. Levesque passed in November 1968 with a family of some 17 grandchildren and 5 great grandchildren. During these years the family saw many changes along Lowell Road. Prior to 1962 Birch Street did not exist; by 1962 Birch Street connected Lowell Road with Winnhaven Drive.
Soon after his passing this “fine commercial site” at the southern corner of Birch and Lowell was cleared for development. A stately willow tree was sectioned and hauled away. The former Levesque home was raised off its foundation and moved 1/4 mile down Birch Street by local contractor, John Lester. This home remains today at 13 Birch Street as a private residence and the home of Richard and Shirley Nason and their family.
By 1970 a 3-store front building was constructed on this corner and occupied by Cumberland Farms, Anton’s Cleaners, and Russel and Son’s Carpets. Within a few years Anton’s relocated and Cumberland expanded into their space. The carpet place was replaced by Cardinal Reality and later by Hudson House of Pizza. This week’s photo, from the collection of the Historical Society, was taken about 1977 for publication in the history update, Town In Transition. Cumberland Farms and Hudson House of Pizza remained at this location until just a few years ago. This location is now occupied by Veria Pizza and Hudson Mini Mart. Written by Ruth Parker.

Route of the Steam Railroad Part 3

            Tracks Passing By 10 Windham Road

After crossing over the electric car tracks on the trestle behind Burger King in Hudson Center the steam railroad continued its path onward to the rear of the Baptist Church and the street level crossing at Greeley Street and then to the Hudson Depot. The depot was located behind the dwelling at what is now 238 Central Street and Wattannick Hall. From behind the grange hall the railroad passed through Dr. David O. Smith’s garden and close by the porch on the front of his house. The tracks then crossed Windham Road onto wood and farmland on route to West Windham. If you find this difficult to picture remember the home of Donna Boucher at 8 Windham Road was not there at the time as it was in its previous location on Hamblett Avenue. The first photo shows the tracks near the front porch of Dr. Smith’s home now located at 10 Windham Road.

To visualize the remainder of the route to West Windham remember that the current route 111 from Hudson Center to West Windham was not constructed until the early 1960’s and when it was built much of the road bed was placed on or close to the right of way to the railroad. Windham Road was the main road from Hudson Center to West Windham. At the time of the railroad Windham Road included the road of today plus a section which has since been abandoned and a section which today is called Lawrence Road. At that time Windham Road took a sharp left curve near the homestead of Albert Smith; the roadway after this curve has since been renamed Lawrence Road.

                     Crossing Sign at Clement Road

After crossing Windham Road the next crossing was at Clement Road near the site of the present Tip-Top Tree service. The second photo shows the sign at Clement Road giving warning of the railroad crossing. The house in the photo was the old Clement farmhouse which burned in 1935. From here the tracks headed east toward the farm of Albert E. Smith. The tracks departed from Windham Road as they went to the rear of the farmhouse and barn, continued through woods and farmland to return to Windham Road near Lawrence Corner. Lawrence Corner was at the intersection of Windham Road (now Lawrence Road) with Bockes Road, and an extension to Robinson Road (now abandoned).

              Fatal Accicent March 1906

The line through Hudson consisted of a single set of tracks, making the use of proper schedules and signals vitally important. On March 17, 1906 the tracks just east of Lawrence Corner near Beaver Brook was the site of a head on crash which left 3 fatalities and several injuries. On that day at 5:00 am westbound train 341 and eastbound train 372 met in a head-on collision which was so severe that both engines were destroyed and cars were derailed. Each of these were extra freight trains; 341 coming westbound from Rochester and 372 eastbound from Acton. The accident was caused by a mix up in the signals. Newspaper reports indicate that over the next few days over 1,000 people visited the site to view the wreckage.

From this point the rail line continued through rural countryside to the Anderson station at West Windham near the intersection of route 111 with route 128.

These photos are from the collection at the Historical Society or from editions of the Nashua Telegraph.  Written by Ruth Parker.

Revisit Lowell Road … Hudson Super Duper

Grand Opening Super Duper 1970

As early as the mid 1950’s the ‘go-to’ grocery store for many Hudson residents, especially those living on or near Lowell Road, was the Hudson Super Market owned and operated by Robert “Bob” and Doris Provencal. Hudson was a fast growing town and business expanded so that by September 1970 the Provencal family held the grand opening of The Hudson Super Duper as shown in this week’s first photo. This event included onsite broadcasting of a local radio station, door prize of 18 inch portable TV, and special sale prices from all departments within the store.

The story of The Hudson Super Market, The Super Duper, and later The Piggly Wiggly, is also the story of Bob and Doris Provencal and their family. It began as early as 1936. Bob, then 16, lived with his family a short distance from what would later become the Super Duper. Bob needed extra money to buy a car. He had the idea of making bleach water and selling it for .20 a gallon to neighbors and friends. His efforts were profitable enough so he could purchase his first car. At 18 he took over his father’s filling station in Hudson as a mechanic. Again he was successful and needed to hire extra people.

After our country became involved with World War II, Bob wanted to enlist in the Army. His classification made him not eligible. Wanting to do something to help, he closed the gas station and went to work at Fort Devens where he ran a dynamometer and tested White Engines. By 1945 he met and married Doris Ledoux, also of Hudson. Soon thereafter he resigned from Fort Devens and re-opened the gas station, hoping to settle in Hudson; but there was a lack of housing in town so they settled in Nashua while making plans for and building an apartment building in Hudson. The rent they received would help pay the mortgage plus they would have a place to live in Hudson. As things were looking bright for the young couple, they were saddened by the loss of their first born son at the age of 10 days.

For her own health Doris knew she should keep busy. She suggested they put an extension onto their house so she could open a small store. This they did, and Doris ran the store where she met people while Bob ran the business of his own across the street. They added a grill and soda fountain and the endeavor became an immediate success. When not busy in the station he would help Doris in the store. One could say ‘the rest is history’.

The Hudson Super Market was opened in October 1952. Business grew and the store was expanded. A few years later the family realized the existing store could not accommodate the growing demands. On September 2, 1970 the ribbon cutting ceremony for the Hudson Super Duper took place. That same year Bob Provencal was named Grocer of the Year by The NH Grocers Association. Doris and Bob had a family of 2 sons (Greg and Donald) and 1 daughter (Charlene). The family grew up with the grocery business; and by 1970 Charlene was studying floral arrangement in Boston. She would later open her own Charlene’s Flower Shoppe nearby on Lowell Road. Donald was managing the frozen food department in the family store; and Greg was studying business in a local college.

By 1972 the Provencal family aligned their Super Duper Market with the Piggly Wiggly enterprise. This Super Market, along with Shop and Wash, and Richard Coiffures were located on Lowell Road, a major part of The Super Duper Shopping Center in Hudson.

Citizens Plaza 2006

By 1977 The Nashua Trust Company, which held the mortgage, foreclosed on the Piggly Wiggly building. Two business remained there as tenants: Richard Coiffures and the Shop and Wash Laundromat and Dry Cleaners. In 1979 Nashua Trust announced its plans to build a new banking facility on this location and the two remaining tenants had to vacate. By 1980 construction was completed and The Nashua Trust moved from its location at 1 Derry Street to open its Hudson Community Banking Center at 71 Lowell Road. Since that time due to bank mergers and closures the Nashua Trust became The First NH Bank and later Citizens Bank. Our second photo shows this site in 2006 – home to Brooks Pharmacy, Citizens Bank, and Hudson Chamber of Commerce.  Written by Ruth Parker.

 

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