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Garrison Farm at 187 Webster Street


Garrison Farm at 187 Webster

While researching the initial location of the Hills Garrison Marker for last week’s photo, I was reminded of this aerial photo of The Garrison Farm at 187 Webster Street.  The garrison marker was placed by Kimball Webster  in the open field a short distance east (to the right) and down the farm road between the barns. At that time, in 1902, this farm of about 60 acres was owned by Justin M. Sleeper and  operated by himself and his son-in-law Joseph Howard Legallee.
Earlier and following some medical issues Joseph Howard  Legallee could no longer continue his work as a paper hanger.  It was decided that he and his father-in-law Justin M. Sleeper would go into farming together.  In 1891 Sleeper purchased a farm from John M. Thompson on what is now the Marsh Road.  This farm later became the Marsh Place and the site of the present golf course.  Joseph Howard Legallee, his wife Eva, their 2 year old son Howard Sleeper Legallee  and his father-in-law Justin Sleeper moved  to Hudson.  By 1900 they sold the Marsh Road farm and purchased the Hill(s)  Farm of about 60 acres on Webster Street at the intersection with Derry Lane.  This farm included 20 tillable acres and a house in need of repair.  The farm fields were in the river valley and extended on both sides of Webster Street.  On the west they stretched to the river bank.  On the east was the house, pasture for the family cows, and a year-round brook which provided a gravity fed water source for the family home, the farm, as well as water source to the Ferryall Farm (later the Rowell Farm and now Sparkling River) as well as The Hardy Place at the end of Elm Avenue (now the home of Dr. and Mrs. Brody). The Sleeper/Legallee family remained on and expanded the farm operation for 3 generations until about 1950 when the farm was sold to Colby Brothers.
As a  farm it changed hands one more time about 1959 when it was operated by George Colby, Jr and Taze “Mac” McPherson.  This weeks photo was taken some time after 1959 but before George and “Mac” built the Garrison Farm Stand just south of the farmhouse.  The farm stand became a ready source for locally grown produce.  By the late 1980’s and into 1990 subdivision of the farm occurred.  The west field became a residential development (Scenic Lane and Shoreline Drive) and the east side became both residential and commercial.  Currently a small convenience store and landscaping business has developed from the farm stand.
Prior to the 1900 purchase by Sleeper/Legallee this farm takes its roots back to 1661 as it was the northern most part of the land granted to Joseph Hills by the Province of Mass.  Joseph willed this northern parcel of about 89 acres to his son Samuel.  In turn 3 of Samuel’s’ sons – Nathaniel Henry, and James built a garrison and settled here about 1710.  It remained a Hill(s) farm until 1900.
A number of Hudson locals remember the farm stand under ownership of George and “Mac”.  As owners they continued to truck produce to markets but also marketed their produce locally.  A few residents may even remember the ownership of Howard Legallee, his wife Phoebe, and their daughters Shirley, Beth, and Frances.   It was Howard Legallee who transitioned the farm from a family dairy farm into a productive market garden.  This began as early as 1913 when Howard completed a special course in agriculture at UNH Durham.  He specialized in potatoes and later potatoes and sweet corn.  One year his production reached 4500 bushels of potatoes.  With the addition of irrigation and the proper storage barn he was able to sell potatoes year round.
Legallees Potatoes 1939 Small

Legallees Float 1939 Parade

Foremost in what I have read was their participation in the 1939 Old Home Day parade with a huge potato pulled on a flat bed trailer by Howard on his John Deere tractor.  The family worked together on this float; constructing a potato from canvas, colored brown with eyes, sewn into the shape of  a potato and stuffed with hay. Both photos from the Historical Society Collection.

Hills Garrison Marker

Hills Marker

Hills Garrison Marker

Four garrisons were built within the town of Nottingham, MA as a protection against the Indians at the start of or during the time of Lovewell’s War.  A garrison consisted of a two-story dwelling surrounded by a stockade style fence with one opening.  The second story of the dwelling extended out over the first story so the settlers could look down and fire upon any intruders below.
The earliest and most northerly of these garrisons was settled about 1710 on land then owned by Samuel Hills of Newbury, MA and settled by three of his sons, Nathaniel,  Henry, and James.  Kimball Webster, town historian, determined the location of the Hills garrison and placed a granite boulder to mark the location in 1901.  This marker was originally placed 25 rods east (412 feet)  of the Litchfield Road on a farm then owned by Joseph H. LeGalee.  Often called Garrison Farm, this farm remained in the LeGalee family for three generations and became a large market garden; it was  later operated by Colby Brothers.  The stone marker was easily accessible and visible to those working in the fields.  As progress occurred and the use of the fields changed to industrial there was concern over the safety of the marker and it’s interference with the development of the area.
In 2008 when Hills Garrison School was completed and so named, the marker was removed from the Garrison Farm location. The photo of the Hills Garrison Marker shown here was taken at its present location along the entry road to Hills Garrison School.  There is a mystery about this marker for which I do not have an answer.  Three brothers, Nathaniel, Henry, and James built and settled in the garrison about 1710; however, Kimball Webster when he erected the marker only mentions the older 2 brothers, Nathaniel and Henry.  Why was James omitted?  Could it be because at the time he was just a lad of about 13 years of age?
The Hills Garrison was built upon a 45 acre parcel which Samuel Hills had inherited from his father Joseph in 1688; a part of Joseph’s original 500 acre grant from the province of Massachusetts.  Neither Joseph or Samuel settled on their land. But, the ensuing families of Nathaniel, Henry, and James became the foundation of all the Hills development and family in Hudson and many of the surrounding towns. Photo from the Historical Society collection.

Location of First Meeting House


First Meeting House Historic Marker

Continuing with the markers of our historic past, this week we visit the Musquash area and the site of the First Meeting House.  Shown here is the second of two markers placed by the town Bi-Centennial Committee following the  1933 celebration.  It was placed near the No 1 schoolhouse, still standing in 1933, which was also the general location of the first meetinghouse for the town of Nottingham, Mass.  Today the marker faces Musquash Road and is easily visible as you enter the Musquash Conservation Area. When you are in the area and look closely behind the marker you will find remnants of the foundation stones of the No 1 school.  The 1933 committee searched the area for a suitable boulder and located one in an old wall on the north side of the schoolhouse.  The marker on granite boulder with a bronze tablet was placed in June 1934.  The bronze has since been removed by vandals and the inscription placed directly into the granite.
Nottingham, Mass was granted a charter, separating it from Dunstable, in 1733.  The town was required to establish a meetinghouse and establish a minister within 3 years.  Settlements within the town of Nottingham were primarily along the river; but they extended for the full length of the town to Lithcfield on the north and  including much of Tyngsboro at the south.  Imagine the difficulty the early town had in agreeing upon a center of town and location of the meeting house!  Finally, on May 27, 1734 it was voted to build the house on this site and to raise it by June 5! With a schedule like this,  I believe the men folk of the town were working on the side frames of the house before this site was selected.  About 1 year later they voted to add a pulpit and seats the meeting house.  Four different sites were considered before this final selection was made.
Nathaniel Merrill, the first settled minister, was ordained here as a congregational minister in November 1737.  His farm was located on the Back Road (now Musquash) 1/4 mile north of this site.  He remained here until his passing in 1796.  Strictly speaking Rev. Merrill was not settled within 3 years; but, the early residents did not neglect their responsibility.  Money was allocated to hire preachers from time to time for short periods until Rev. Merrill was settled  in 1737.
Once established little appears in the town records about the meeting house until the settling of the province line in May 1741 and the subsequent incorporation of New Hampshire towns; especially Nottingham West.  These boundary changes completely upset any agreements and calculations for a meeting house in the center of town.  The town center had just shifted north to about the location of Blodgett Cemetery. Photo from the Historical Society collection.

Town Pound on Pelham Road C 1975


Town Pound on Pelham Road C 1975

Early towns were required to build and maintain a pound.  Any person within the town could impound domestic animals (swine, cattle, horses, sheep…) which were creating damage or running loose on the roadway, the common, or was in violation of local laws.  A pound keeper was chosen each year as one of the town officers.  Owners of the impounded animals would claim them and  pay for any damages, board, or fines.
Our early town records mention pounds as early as 1737 in Nottingham, Mass; then again in 1744 in the District of Nottingham, NH; in 1747 in Nottingham west.  The earliest of these was likely built in that part of Nottingham which ended up in Pelham.  The others were either not built or constructed of wood and did not last.
In 1759 the town of Nottingham West voted to have a pound built on common land near the house.  This was likely on the common near the Blodgett Cemetery.  Yes, there was a meeting house and town common in that area; it is now the location of Blodgett Cemetery and the intersection of Lowell and Pelham Roads, at Meineke Car Care.
The pound shown in this weeks photo was erected in 1772 after a vote at the annual town meeting.  It was voted to erect a pound on high land between land owned by Nehemiah Hadley and Timothy Smith.  Today this location is at the intersection of Pelham and Melendy Roads, on your left after the stop sign as you proceed down Pelham Road toward Bush Hill Road.
A committee of 3 was elected to build it with stone, 33 feet within the walls to a height of 6 feet plus one foot of wood.  The pound was completed by September 1772, its date was carved on the gate post.  At the next town meeting Timothy Smith was elected keeper of this new pound.  This pound was continually used for over 100 years.  In 1887, since the pound had not been used for some years the town considered selling it.  At the town meeting this was rejected and the voters instead decided to keep it as one of our town’s ancient relics.
This pound stands today, a relic of early times; maintained by our faithful Highway Department.  Photo from the Historical Society Collection.

Site of First Town Meeting


Site of First Town Meeting of Nottingham in 1733

In this week’s photo we travel to the south end of Hudson and visit the historic marker for the home of Ensign John Snow and the first town meeting for the town of Nottingham, Mass held May 1, 1733.  This marker was placed  in 1934 by the town Bi-centennial Committee using funds remaining in their accounts after the celebration was completed.  The committee searched the area for a suitable boulder and one was found close to the highway on land then owned by Charles Shunaman near 103 Musquash Road, not far from the site of the Snow homestead.  The original marker consisted of a bronze tablet attached to the boulder.  Later, after vandals removed the tablet, the inscription was made directly into the stone.
On April 4, 1733 some 3 months after the charter of Nottingham, Mass was issued, an order was directed to Mr Robert Fletcher, a principal inhabitant, giving him the authority to assemble and convene the town for the purpose of choosing town officers to hold until the following March.  Mr. Fletcher issues the call for the  meeting to be held May 1, 1733 at 10:00 am at the home of Ensign John Snow.  At this meeting the inhabitants chose a moderator, clerk, treasurer, 5 selectmen, surveyors, fence viewers (in charge of boundaries and disputes), and hog reeves (warden in charge of wandering swine and appraisal of damages they cause).  The 1733 tax list contained 55 men. This may seem like a large population but we must remember, many residents of Nottingham lived outside the area which later became Nottingham West and Hudson.  Of these 55, only 18 resided within the boundaries of the present day Hudson.
Ensign John Snow, born about 1667 in Woburn,  married Sarah Stevens in 1693.  They had 3 children; Elizabeth who died young, Joseph who also resided in Nottingham, and Mary. Little else is known about Ensign John except he was elected the first town treasurer, and a few years after this first town meeting he passed at he age of 68.  He is buried in Ford Cemetery not far from his home.
The cellar where his house stood was pointed our to Kimball Webster by Timothy S. Ford many years prior to 1912 and the publication by Webster of the town history. Today this marker can be found on Musquash Road just south of its intersection with Gowing Road and on your left.  Look for it along the side of the road near a stone wall.  Photo from the Historical Society Collection.