From Lowell Road take a left onto Wason Road which is between Market Basket and Goodwill. Stay on Wason and then take a right onto Musquash Road. In less than 1/4 mile, the observent traveler will see a relic of Hudson’s history – a cellar hole on the left at 20 Musquash Road; a reminder of an ancient homestead for many Hudson families.
The last family to live here was that of Leslie and Florence (Chadwick) Barrett. They moved to Hudson from Bowdoinham, Maine in 1938 with their family of 2 boys and 2 girls. By 1941 the family moved to “Happy Hills Farm” at 20 Musquash Road. Mr Barrett was employed at Bensons Animal Farm and later as a maintenance person in Nashua. After moving to Hudson the family grew to include 7 sons, one of whom died young; and 3 daughters. They all attended Hudson Schools. Mrs. Barrett passed in 1951 at the age of 40. In 1965 Mr Barrett retired and by July of that year had sold the farm. Members of his family were living elsewhere, working or attending college at UNH, or serving in the armed forces.
Today’s photo shows the charred remains of this landmark home after the unoccupied house was destroyed by fire in April 1966. The Hudson Fire Department used 5 pieces of equipment under the direction of Chief Campbell to fight the fire over a 3 hour period. This building had been a landmark in town for over 170 years. Local legend says this house was a stagecoach stop during the early days — entirely possible when you consider that before 1746 Musquash Road (then called Back Road) was the main road through the center of town!
From this photo and memories offered by family members we can imagine the homestead. The barn was on the opposite side of the unpaved road from the house, with a faded painted sign over the barn door “HAPPY HILLS FARM”. Mr Barrett used a team of work horses around the place. The farm included a few fruit trees, apple, pears, peaches; cows, a few goats, a sheep, pigs, and chickens. The barn was large with a central aisle and stanchions for cows on one side and pigs, sheep, and goats on the other. The Barrett children would play in the hay and on the barn floor during cold and rainy days.
It was a 3 story house with 4 large rooms on each floor, 2 massive chimneys and 8 fireplaces. Looking at the photo, you can see the details of the fireplaces and the separation of each of the floors. There were secret places to hide in the house with large closets accessible from the bedrooms. On the first floor, between the kitchen and living room, there was a small room with an 8 foot dutch oven built into the base of the large chimney, all brick faced, with iron doors for 2 large ovens. This dutch oven was not used by the Barrett family but it was the centerpiece of the house. The house was wired for electricity in the 1940’s and the family had a radio in the living room and an electric washer with a ringer for the laundry. The children helped with the household and farm chores; baking bread, pies, cakes, canning vegetables and fruits, jams and pickles. All these were stored in the cellar along with potatoes, squash, and cabbage for the winter. After helping with the chores the children would explore and play in the woods nearby.
Attached to the front and side of the house was a large porch about 8 feet deep. There were at least 6 pillars in the front of the house and 3 along the side. The lawn contained a large tree and a circular driveway.
The earliest family to occupy this house that we know much about was that of Zaccheus Colburn, born 1765 the youngest son of Thomas and Mary Colburn. He married Rachel Hills in 1788 and they purchased this home from Ebenezer Dakin. Little is known of Ebenezer except that he was on the tax list from 1745 to 1793. Zaccheus and Rachel has a family of three sons and two daughters. One son died young. The other two sons, Elijah and Zaccheus, studied for and became medical doctors. Dr Elijah began his medical career in Hudson about 1823 and by 1825 had settled in Nashua where he had a long and useful career. Dr. Zaccheus began his career with his brother Elijah in Nashua until 1831; then returned to Hudson and practiced until 1838 at which time he moved to Manchester. The youngest daughter, Molly, married Thomas B. Wason and they remained on the farm with her parents. Thomas was active in town affairs; serving as a selectman and representative to state legislature. In fact, it was Thomas who presented the motion to the NH Lesiglature in 1830 to change the name of Nottingham West to Hudson.
Title of the Thomas B. Wason place passed to their son-in-law Obadiah F. Smith who married their youngest daughter, Philena. In June 1891, James F(ranklin) Wilson purchased the farm of 190 acres. James Wilson was a farmer, in fact his father Franklin had owned a farm at the very southern end of Dracut Road. By 1909 James transfered title of his homestead farm to his son, Frank A. Wilson. By June 1917 the farm was sold to Matilda Parker. Ownership remained with this Parker family until 1941 when it was purchased by Leslie Barrett.
In 1988 a tax lien was placed on the property and in 1990 it was conveyed to the Town of Hudson and is near or part of the Musquash Conservation Area. Photo from the Historical Society Collection.