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Revisit To Hudson Center … Benjamin Dean House – A House Twice Moved

Benj Dean c1942

Benjamin Dean House on Hamblet Avenue C 1942

Continuing to revisit Hudson Center we stop at the Benjamin Dean House.  This 270 plus year old house is among the oldest, if not the oldest house in Hudson.  But I can state for certain that it is the ‘best traveled’ house in town.  For the first 91 years this house was located on Bush Hill Road as part of the Haselton Farm.  In 1838 the home was moved to Hamblet Avenue and remodeled by the owner, Rev. Benjamin Dean.  Here it remained for another 126 years until moving a second time about 1964 to  it’s location on Windham Road.
This house was built by Abraham Page about 1747 on Bush Hill Road on part of the old Haselton Farm.  Between 1747 and about 1838 this house was likely occupied by Abraham Page, Jr and early members of the Haselton family whom he helped to raise. In 1838 the owner, Rev. Benjamin Dean, moved and remodeled the house to a location on Hamblet Avenue just north of the Eli Hamblet house and facing the east side of the Hudson Center Common.  The second floor contained a large room with an arched ceiling, referred to as “Dean’s Hall”.  This room was used as a school and a place for public gatherings.  Rev. Dean occupied the home until about 1850.  The home had various owners until being purchased by the family of Claudia and Richard Boucher.  In the early 1960’s when the State of New Hampshire planned out the new route 111 through Hudson Center, this house was simply ‘in the way’.  The Boucher family sold the property to the state and later re-purchased the house and had it moved to its present (and third) location on Windham Road.  This 1942 photo from the Historical Society Collection shows the house at its second location on Hamblet Avenue.

The Cross Homestead on Barrett’s Hill Road


Cross Farm on Barrett’s Hill Road


This undated photo of the Cross home on Barrett’s Hill Road came to the Historical Society from the estate of Jessie Gilbert and was later identified as being the home Arden Cross. None of the individuals in the photo were identified.

27 year old Hiram Cross purchased land on Barretts Hill Road from William T. Baldwin in 1846. By the end of 1847 Hiram and Sarah Savage were married in Hudson. The 1850 census shows Hiram and Sarah as supervisors of the poor farm (Alms House) along with nine clients ranging in age from 90 to as young as 9. Perhaps this position provided living space while they prepared to build their home or even provided some financial assistance. By 1860 Hiram and Sarah were living in their own farmhouse on Barretts Hill Road along with three sons; William (age 8), Addison (age 4), and Arden (age 2).

Hiram was a fifth generation descendant of Nathan Cross (B:1703 in England). Nathan settled in Dunstable and in 1724, while our town was still a part of Dunstable, MA, purchased a part of the Joseph Hills Farm along what is now Derry Road.

For 125 years or so, the Cross farm on Barretts Hill Road was operated first by Hiram, then by his son Arden (B:1855 D:1927), then by his grandson Nathan Erwin (B:1894 D:1991). Hiram passed in 1892, at which time he was survived by four sons. In addition to William, Addison, and Arden, there was a younger son Herbert some 9 years younger that Arden. Ownership of the farm passed to Arden as each of the other sons had moved to neighboring towns.

The second family to operate the Cross farm was that of Mary Willoughby and Arden Cross. Mary was native to Hollis and they were married in 1893. Their family consisted of a son, Nathan Erwin (B:1894) and a daughter Ruth Vivian (B:1898). We do have some ideas about the farming activities on the Cross Farm. Arden had a productive dairy herd. In 1906 he added two Jersey cows to this herd. The less stony fields surrounding the homestead were used to grow and harvest hay for the winter use. The stony fields were used to pasture the herd during the warmer months. The family garden and orchard was the source of most food supplies: potatoes, carrots and other root crops. apples and pears from the orchards. Neighboring farmers would often assist each other with work which required more than one person: haying, picking apples, digging and storing potatoes to name a few. One major winter activity was harvesting ice blocks from nearby Robinson Pond and stacking then in the ice house using sawdust for insulation.

The third generation was that of Emma Lane, from Claremont, and Nathan Erwin Cross (B:1894). They were married about 1920. There are indications that Nathan Erwin, often known of as Erwin, lived near Clarement prior to their marriage. About 1921 Erwin and Emma returned to Hudson to assist his father who was having difficulty with advanced age and poor eyesight. Erwin and Emma had one daughter, Helen, born about 1932. She attended Hudson Schools and then Nashua High School. After high school graduation she attended Colby College in ME. In March 1955 she married Edward Stabler of New York and made that state her home. Erwin continued with the farming operation until advancing age and poor eyesight required he retire. He continued to reside at the homestead on Barretts Hill as long as possible; spending his last few years with his daughter and her family in New York. The home in Hudson was vacant for many years and has since been demolished. The land which was the Cross Farm is located at the corner of Barretts Hill and Tiger Roads.

Let’s return to the photo for a few moments. It was taken by “Eaton Photographer Oppo. City Hall, Nashua, N.H.” according to the information on the back of the original photo. Thanks to research by Jim Hogan of Nashua we are able to isolate the date of this photo to be circa summer of 1870. Eaton Photographer was listed as a business in the Nashua City Directory but only once, and that was in the 1870-1871 edition. In the same edition, the residential section had a listing for “Eaton, Asa B., photographer, 91 Main St, opp City Hall, house at Hollis” This has also been supported by the 1870 census for Hollis.

Given the Cross family history this is a photo of the home of Hiram Cross, father of Arden. The man on the right would be Hiram (age about 51) and the younger man on the left would be his older son William (age about 18). Arden (age about 8) is not in the picture. Back next to and almost hidden by the shrub between the windows is a woman, likely Hiram’s wife, Sarah. The “photographic artist” placed the men away from the shade of the trees and had them remove their hats so as to make their faces more visible. Possibly Sarah shied away from being in the photo because she does not have on her fancy clothes.

The man and the horse and carriage might be a neighbor passing by who stopped to watch as the photo was taken. It may also be the transportation the photographer used that particular afternoon to drive through the country taking photographs. Notice that he seems to be holding the reins tight so as to control the horse. Also, the carriage is taking up most of the width of the dirt, narrow, Barretts Hill Road. Thanks to Jim Hogan, a historic writer and researcher from Nashua for sharing his work with the Society.

Hudson Center Revisited

This series on Hudson History began in August 2014 as a joint project between the Historical Society and the HLN as a way of sharing some of Hudson’s history with our readers.  To date there have been some 170 weekly articles and accompanying photos published in the paper and on  I enjoy writing these articles and the research necessary to prepare for them.
Going forward there are still many sites and topics to write about. But, more time is now needed to do this research.  My plan going forward is to submit  Remember Hudson When articles every other week.  And, on the alternative weeks we will Revisit parts of town by re-printing articles from the past on a theme basis:  for example a Pre 1970 trip down Lowell Road or Restaurants in town, etc.  This week we begin a Revisit series on Hudson Center.
As always if there is  some historical site or photo you would like me to consider writing about, please contact Ruth via the HLN or the Hudson Historical Society by sending email to or a phone message at 603-880-2020.
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Prior to 1834 the only village in town was a small one around the Hudson Center Common.  This  consisted of three stores, a tavern, the north meeting house, one practicing doctor, the post office, and 8 or 9 residences. By 1888 the  Baptist Church sanctuary was built; the north meeting house was replaced by the town hall, and the only railroad station in town existed behind the town hall and off Greeley Street.  This C1888  photo of the Hudson Center Common shows the view from the home of Eli Hamblet  on Hamblet Avenue.
Straight ahead is the Baptist Church. The church where he was elected as deacon just a few years earlier in 1882.  The large vestry at the rear of the church had not been built, but I am certain the need for it had been discussed among the members.  To the right of the church is the home of Mrs. Mahalia Greeley; the widow of John Greeley, MD. Further to the right, not shown on this photo, is the town hall.   To the left of the church is the former home of Reuben Greeley, postmaster from 1818 until 1829; now occupied by his son Daniel Greeley.  Daniel was known to have a good nature and was well liked within the community.  
In the foreground and on the left of the photo is the Old Hudson Center Cemetery.  Up until a few years prior to this photo the cemetery was in disrepair and the town considered moving the remains from this site so that the size of the common could be increased.  This proposal did NOT meet with public sentiment and, as it turned out, a former resident of Hudson, John Foster, made a proposal to the town that he would build a stone fence and clean up the cemetery if the town would maintain it.  Immediately beyond the cemetery is a roof of a barn; possible from the barn connected to the Paul Tenney/Henry Brown House on the opposite side of the common.  Photo from the Historical Society Collection.

Water Towers on Highland Street

Standpipe On Highland Street

The first water storage and delivery system in Hudson was this wooden standpipe at the height of land at what is now 30 Highland Street.  The concept is fairly simple.  Water is pumped  into this vertical standpipe, stored; as needed the water  flows by gravity to the home or buildings in the area. This standpipe was constructed by George O. Sanders as early as 1891 to supply water to his buildings in Hudson and Nashua.
     Sanders was born in Hudson and at age 6, moved to Nashua with his parents.  His dad was a well known contractor in Nashua from whom he learned the trade by serving as an apprentice at the age of 17.  In 1873 he selected a prominent site in Hudson and proceeded to build what is known, even today, as one of the finest residences in Hudson.  It remains today; the elegant Victorian overlooking Library Park at the corner of Derry and Highland Streets.
      In 1882 he established himself in business in Nashua.  He purchased a parcel of land near the junction of the Nashua and Merrimack Rivers and soon had a sawmill and box factory.
     At first, Sanders supplied water to his residence from a well with a windmill operating along side his home.  In need of water for his factory as well as his residence he built the standpipe and power station on Highland Street.  He then pumped water from Little Tarnic Pond (aka Swamp Pond) into the standpipe to provide this water. He laid pipes from the standpipe under Highland and Derry to reach his residence.   To reach his buildings in Nashua pipes were laid in the river. He also extended the pipes to provide water to a few of his neighbors.  The first distribution of water through these pipes was in 1891.  Our first photo was taken as you proceed up Highland from Derry street.  The standpipe, on your left, is located on what is now 30 Haverhill Street.  Note that Highland is a dirt road and there are but a few homes in the area.
     The Hudson Water Works Company (HWWC) was organized in he spring of 1893.  After a short time the water from Little Tarnic contained sediment and was unsatisfactory for domestic use.  About this same time Sanders purchased a number of acres and  water rights along Tarnic Brook and what is  now Melendy Road. He transferred a part of this land to HWWC for a large well  and a pumping station.  Pipes were laid under Central Street and connected with the former system of pipes.  Water from this new well was pumped into the standpipe by a circuitous route.
   About 1901 the HWWC was sold to parties in Boston.  They failed to make the business successful and Sanders again became principle owner.  By 1903 all, or nearly all stock was transferred to parties in Portland, ME and by 1905 the Hudson Water Company(HWC) was incorporated.

Steel Water Tower from Highland C1978

     The vertical standpipe at the corner of Highland and Haverhill continued to operate by Hudson Water Company until a  water tower was planned and built in 1939.    This replacement was located across Highland from the standpipe.  According to a February 6, 1939 article in the Nashua Telegraph this new water tower was made of welded steel, stood 85 feet above it’s footings, weighed 65 tons, and had a storage capacity of 240,000 gallons!  This provided a 10 lb increase in pressure to  existing customers and extended to potential service area to 1/2 mile beyond the Hudson Town Hall at Hudson Center, now Wattannick Hall.   This tower was equipped with a gauge on it’s south side, making it possible to determine the amount of water in the tank from Ferry Street.  We have two photos of this steel tower.  The first shows the 85 foot tower and was taken from across Highland Street.  The second shows the tower from the intersection of Ferry and  Second Streets, looking between 66 and 68 Ferry at the tower.

Steel Water Tower from Ferry C1978

     Once the new tower was planned the land parcel upon which the standpipe sat was sold by HWC to Helen and Ray House, with the understanding that the old standpipe was to be removed before May 1939.  This new tower remained in use by HWC into the late 1970’s, perhaps as late as 1978; at which time it was demolished.  The photos of the tower shown here were actually taken by the author a the time of demolition.  Before this demolition a third water tower was built on a hill above Belknap Road at Gordon Heights.
     As time went on the HWC morphed into Consumer NH Water Company.  Then, in January 1998 at a special town meeting, the voters of Hudson authorized the acquisition of the water system from Consumer NH.  As a result of this action Hudson has it’s own water utility and Water Utility Department.
     My thanks to Gerald Winslow and Lionel Boucher for adding insight to this story. Jerry moved, with his parents, into his house on Highland Street, adjacent to the steel tower, in 1940.  I was curious if the younger generation rose to the challenge of climbing the tower or decorating it for Halloween. He replied, “not too often”.  However, he did remember that “Nick” Connell had an annual practice when he returned home to Hudson after wintering in California.  He climbed the tower and proceeded to do hand stands on the top.  What a site that must have been!!  Lionel worked a a building contractor in Hudson; he worked on the removal of the old standpipe and the construction of the home at 30 Highland Street for Mr. and Mrs. House.


Elm Avenue Industrial Park


Industrial Park at Elm Avenue C 1977

Coming into the 1950’s the tax base in our town was primarily rural, farming, and residential.   In an effort to balance this base and provide a venue to attract industry into Hudson, the Hudson Industrial Associates was organized in the early 1950’s.  Their purpose was simple:  attract industry, improve the tax base, and make Hudson a better community.  This association consisted of some 16 public-spirited individuals including selectmen Edwin Steckevicz, George Tetler, and Frank Nutting.  Arthur Kashulines  was the first president, Ned Spaulding the clerk, and Paul Buxton the treasurer.  A brochure advertising the merits of our town was distributed and inquiries were received from various states.  In these and other ads Hudson was pictures as an alert New Hampshire community with a blend of traditional New England qualities with a forward look. We offered to industry level acreage with city facilities, room to grow, central location, and local government.  Write or call for full details.
This group arranged for the purchase of land in different parts of town including previous farm land between Derry and Litchfield Roads along Elm Avenue. The result was a 26 acre industrial park.  The first industry to build here was The Newton Manufacturing Company in 1959.  Others followed, and by the late 1960’s the park was at full capacity.  Prior to this development the land parcels involved were owned by the family of Elijah Reed and the family of Carl Oliver.  Mr Oliver is remembered by many as a public school bus driver.
This C 1977 aerial photo of the Elm Avenue Park was taken from Webster Street looking north and east towards Derry Road.  At the top of the photo we see Derry Road and the Kopinski Homestead at 147 Derry Road.  The United Pentecostal Church (The Sanctuary) is just off the photo to the right.  At the time of this photo  this park was home to  five  industries:  North American Angenieus, Inc (Optical Laboratories), Contact, Inc. (Soldering Equipment, Wire Strippers), New Era Industries, Daw Tire and Supply Co., RDF Corporation (Temperature Control Systems).  RDF Corporation occupied two buildings.
As you approach this park today from Webster/Litchfield Road you will find the following industries on the left side of Elm Avenue:  A J Mac Contracting Electrician in a building  which did not exist in the photo; RDF Corporation which now occupies four buildings, Able Air (Compression Air Systems).  The final building before the intersection with Derry Road is being demolished.  That part of the Elm Avenue Park including the stretch along Derry Road awaits the next chapter in its industrial/commercial life.  And, we all get to watch as it develops.
The C 1977 photo of the Elm Avenue Park is from the collection of the Historical Society.  Much of the information re: the Hudson Industrial Associates and these industries was found in Town in Transition and Nashua/Hudson City Directories.

Main Street Station – Photo by Alice Peavey


Main Street Station – Photo by Alice Peavey

Walter A. Peavey and his wife Alice were residents of the Crown Hill section of Nashua until 1910 when they, and their five year old son Walter H, purchased a farm and  moved to Central Street in Hudson.   Walter was born in Framingham, MA about 1863; his wife Alice Gorham was native to England  and became a citizen soon after immigrating to this country.
Professionally Walter was a machinist, being employed by Nashua Iron and Steel Co, Nashua Lockshop, and Fiather Machine Shop.  By avocation he was a farmer; growing vegetables and fruits on the fields behind his home.  Besides being a homemaker, Alice was a photographer.  The Historical Society has within it’s collection a number of her photographs of Hudson and Nashua, some of these photos were reproduced from the original glass negatives.
Their son, Walter H. married Julie McAlister of Salem, NH in December 1937.  After their marriage they resided in Hudson with his parents.   In 1978 a number of Alice’s photographs were presented to the society by her son Walter H.
The Peaveys were residents of Central Street in Hudson for 29 years.  He passed in April 1939.  From his obituary we see he was active in the Giddings Brotherhood (Men’s Fellowship) of the Hudson Community Church and Hudson Grange.  The Peaveys remained in Hudson a few yeas after his death.  By March 1942 the Peavey homestead was sold to a young, recently married couple named Leon and Gertrude (Gerri) Hammond.  The Peaveys returned to Nashua; Alice became a resident of the Mary Hunt Home until her passing sometime in the 1950’s.  Walter H. and Julia lived at various locations in Nashua.  During WWII Walter H. enlisted in the Navel Reserve and saw active duty.
This week I share with you one of my favorite photographs by Alice Peavey; the Main Street  Station of the  the Worcester Nashua and Rochester Line of the B & M Railroad  located on the site of the present Citizen’s Bank opposite city hall and near the intersection of East Hollis  and Main Street.   Going west from this station the tracks crossed Main Street just south of the present city hall.  Coming east from this station the tracks ran alongside  East Hollis Street into the Nashua Junction and then continued eastward and crossed the Merrimack into Hudson just a few rods south  of the Taylors Fall Bridge.  From there it took the familiar route into Hudson Center and on to West Windham (Anderson) Station.
Soon after 1940 this station was moved from its location, turned 90 degrees and became an addition to the Yankee Flyer Diner.  I have read that it was still in use 1953 and likely was still standing when the diner was moved to Massachusetts in 1965.  Today the area of the Yankee Flyer is identified with a  large mural.
In the 1990’s the rails were removed and in 2000 the Nashua Heritage Rail Trail opened  on the site of  1.3 miles of track  going west from Main Street.  Coming east into Hudson the rails have been removed and paved  to improve street usage or converted into commercial usage.
This photo of the Main Street Station was taken from a green space, called the railroad garden, between the station and East Hollis Street.  In this photo we are looking west across Main Street.


The Hadley /Willoughby Mill


“Old Mill” Facing Melendy Road

In his “History of Hudson, NH” Webster states it is impossible to determine when, where, or by whom the first mill was built in our town.  Having said that, he does provide us some insights into where early mills did exist and who may have operated them.  Settlers into this area needed sawed lumber.  Just imagine how impractical it would have been to transport these products from Dunstable, across the Merrimack River with no bridge or ferry.  Standing timber was plentiful and a number of brooks existed to provide the necessary power.  Once their homes were established these settlers would also need a grist mill to grind their corn and grains into flour.  Without a doubt these first mills were established by the early settlers along these streams.

This week we look at  some of the history and background of the mills along Otternick (aka Tarnic or First ) Brook from the outlet of Otternick Pond to Melendy Road.  Tradition claims the earliest mill in this area was built near the outlet of the pond on Otternick Brook about 1710.  There are no records to tell us who the builder was or the exact date.  To put this in perspective:  our town was mostly wilderness.  There were a few settlers mostly along the river on land granted to Joseph Hills.  Three of his grandsons were building the Hills Garrison about this time.  The other garrisons, Blodgett and Taylor, would be built within a few years.
We do know that about 1778 Moses Hadley built a small grist mill and probably a saw mill along this brook, near the site of the earlier mill.  Some 20 years later, about 1798, he purchased the Richard Cutter farm located below this site and along the same brook.  He then built another saw and grist mill.  This site of this mill was on what is now Melendy Road.  Our first photo shows the “Old Mill” just east of the dam which secures the pond behind the mill.  The Hadley mill, built about 1800, remained in operation as late as 1870.  Moses Hadley passes in September 1829 at the age of 79. In 1838 two brothers, Ethan and Mark Willoughby moved into town from Hollis.  They purchased the Hadley mill from Moses’ family and continued its operation.  The location of this dam and old mill (now gone) are at 12 Melendy Road; slightly east of the town’s Pickleball Courts (site of old skate park) at the corner of Central and Melendy.
Moses Hadley lived on what is now Central Street.  From the early town records we see that in 1827 the town of Nottingham West (later Hudson) authorized the laying out of a road from Hamblet Ferry (at what is now the bridge) past Moses Hadley’s place to the North Meeting House in Hudson Center.  This was Central Street and the North Meeting House was located on the site of the present Wattannick Hall.

The Old Mill from Across Melendy Pond

Our second photo is of the same Hadley mill at about the same time.  From this perspective we are looking across the pond at the opposite side of the old mill.  Both photos are from the Historical Society Collection.  The first was courtesy of Natalie Merrill and the second courtesy of Frank Mooney of Nashua.  Both photos are undated.  The  “Old  Mill” has been gone for a number of years.  If any of our readers know when and under what circumstances the mill or the mill stones were removed please contact Ruth at the Historical Society either by email at or leave a message at 880-2020.
Both of the Willoughby brothers lived nearby.  Mark on Central Street a short distance west of Sunnyside Cemetery.  Ethan lived near the mill on the west bank of the mill pond.
During this time a facility was constructed west of the dam for various manufactures.  About 1858 Daniel L. French and his son Edward Payson built tables and furniture using the business name of French  & Gould.  After several years of success the it was operated by Warren and Jacob Spalding under the name Albert Shedd & Co.  Still later George S. Wood operated these mills and a table shop.  Fires occurred in 1874 and again in 1888, each time it was rebuilt.
By 1892 George O. Sanders purchased the property and built a box shop.  After operating for a few years it burned once more.  Sanders rebuilt and sold the building and  part of the land  to George Melendy; retaining the water rights to the brook and the pond.  Sanders built a large well and pumping station to be utilized by Hudson Water Company which he organized in 1893.
The Melendy Box Company operated for several years and ultimately became property of the Town of Hudson.  The site was used by the Highway Department for the town barn.  When the highway department moved into their new facility on Constitution Drive this area was utilized for a skate park and now for Pickleball.