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Plane Crash of June 17, 1928

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Plane Crash Ferryall Field June 17, 1928

Sunday, June 17, 1928 began as a pleasant, slightly windy day at Ferryall Field in Hudson.  Among those present at the airfield was George “Chappy” Lennox, a 24 year old licensed aviator with a recently purchased American eagle type plane.  It had been flown several times the preceding week and had just returned from a short test run.  By all involved and observing at the field, the plane was running perfectly.  “Chappy” and the plane were set to fly and provide passenger rides over the Hudson/Nashua area.  Also present were two well known residents of Nashua; each hoping to be on the first passenger trip of the day.  Marcel Theriault, age 43, and Miss Kathryn L. Thomas, age 22 were engaged in a friendly discussion as to who would be the first passenger of the day.  Mr. Theriault yielded to chilvery and offered that Miss Thomas ride first.  She, out of respect, offered that he ride first.  They settled the discussion by agreeing to both be passengers on the first flight of the day.
 
Kathryn Thomas was the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Benjamin Thomas of Nashua.  He was a prominent official with the Boston and Maine Railroad and a friend of the Theriault Family.  Present with her at the airfield were a brother and her fiance Dr. Linwood Farrington of Lowell.
 
Marcel Theriault was native to New Brunswick, Canada and moved to Nashua at a young age.  After graduating law at Boston University in 1914 he entered into a partnership with a Nashua firm.  He left the partnership in 1920 and worked in Concord for a time and then returned to Nashua and purchased Riverside Farm (later Hayward Farm), one of the largest in the state.  Present with him at the airfield was his youngest son, Albert then age 15.
 
Both passengers wore helmets and flying goggles.  His was of canvas and hers of black felt.  The pilot drove the plane to the south corner of the field so as to take advantage of its entire length during take-off.  At a height of 50-100 feet the pilot saw flames in the cockpit and quickly  and intentionally banked the plane in an attempt to bring it down in adjacent ploughed ground.  The plane struck the ground head on.  The pilot leaped from the plane and then returned to it in an attempt to help the passengers.  The flames drove him away and he rolled to the ground to smother the fire which had ignited his clothing.  “Chappy” was taken to the hospital in Nashua in a nearby auto. He remained hospitalized in critical condition for some time.
 
Death to the passengers came in an instant.  The plane was immediately engulfed in flames when gasoline from the tank ignited and consumed the plane down to its steel framework.  This accident and death of two well known Nashua residents shocked both communities.  Mr. Theriault, a former lawyer and state senator, chose to be burried on his Riverside Farm on Broad Street.  In 1965, after a recent purchase and proposal for a shopping center, the Theriault family removed his remained from the secluded gravesite to Pine Knoll Cemetery in Hannover. 
 
Hudson Police Chief, Harry J. Connell was early at the scene.  Based upon his and other  investigations the tragedy was declared an unavoidable accident.  
 
The account of this accident appeared in the June 18, 1928 edition of the Nashua Telegrph.  Oddly enough, that same paper and the same page, told readers of Amelia Earharts’ flight over the Atlantic – being the first girl to accomplish such a flight.
 
This weeks photo shows the burned remains of the American eagle type plane at Farryall Field.  Behind the remains are James A. Sherlock, Harry J. Connell, and Fred Mears.  This photo and the newspaper article are a recent addition to our collection at the Historical Society.

 

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Ferryall/Rowell Homestead C 1900

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Ferryall/Rowell Homestead Litchfield Road C 1900

This fine victorian home on Webster Street was erected in 1894 by George P. Woodward.  After a few years Mr. Woodward moved to Lowell, MA and by 1912 this home and the surrounding farm was owned by Abraham Ferryall.  It was home to Abraham and his wife Marslene; their son Fred and his wife Angelina (Salival) and their 10 year old daughter Zoula.  Abraham passed in 1915 and ownership of the house farm passed to Fred Ferryall.  Going back in history, this farm was part of the 500 acre land parcel granted to Joseph Hills in 1661.   
 
Much of the Ferryall Farm was located on the west side of Webster Street and bordered on the Merrimack River.  This intervale land was some of the best agricultural land in New Hampshire.  Despite this, the Ferryall Farm is noted in history for the various civic activities, local and national, which occurred here.
 
During World War I which the United States entered in 1917, Mr and Mrs Fred Ferryall donated the use of a  field as a landing place for airplanes and seaplanes which landed on the Merrimack River.  This land, known as Ferryall Field, was approved by the US Government as a landing place, and was placed on government maps.  Following the war use of this field continued as an airfield for the Nashua area until the Nashua airport was established in 1934.   This field was used to charter passengers for Nashua and area businesses, transport animals for Benson’s Animal Farm, as a pilot training school, and even as a recreational site for the flying circus. Fred Connell, well known from Hudson’s past, learned to fly in 1929 at the Manchester Airport.  He flew in and out of Ferryall Field carrying many residents on their first plane ride; air fair being set at a ‘cent a pound’.  These events  became so popular that a second plane was added.  At one time as many as 500 cars were parked on the field.  In June of 1928 there was a serious and fatal air crash at Ferryall Field.  The story of this event will be the subject of next week’s Remember Hudson When…
 
In 1923 Zoula Ferryall and Harold Clinton Rowell were married in Nashua and in 1925 their son Clifford was born.  The Rowell family lived for a time in Nashua.  In 1932 their son Fred was born.  At the time of the 1940 census Mrs Rowell and her 2 sons were living on Derry Road and she was employed as a secretary for the US forest service.
 
During World War II the donated use of the Ferryall property continued.  Mr. and Mrs. Fred Ferryall donated the use of part of their home for a Government Observation post. This post was manned twenty-four hours a day by civic minded Hudson citizens.  Among those who volunteered were Mr and Mrs Ferryall, their daughter Zoula Rowell.  Her son Clifton was Chief Observer and organized volunteers; those listed above plus Kendall Oliver, Gordon French, Vincent Rigg, and Mary Laflame a domestic employed by the Ferryall family.  Later the American Legion Auxiliary arranged for additional volunteers.  Any and all planes seen or heard were reported immediately via phone to a government number; giving direction of flight, where sighted or heard, and type of plane if possible.  This information was also logged for future reference.  A room in the house which had a separate entrance was furnished for the comfort of the observers.  The use of the phone, heat, and electricity was also donated.
 
The Ferryall/Rowell family donated the use of a section of the farm adjacent to the river to the government for army maneuvers.  The men camped and carried out their training which included the building of a temporary bridge across the Merrimack. During some of these years the Rowell family lived on Derry Road and used the Webster Street home as a summer home.  
 
Post WWII and as our town grew donated use of the family homestead continued.  The home was  the first or temporary Rectory and office for St. John’s Church until a permanent rectory was built.  Use of the field was also donated to the parish for their annual carnival.
 
Later Mrs. Rowell lived there with her son Fred.  When Mrs. Rowell passed, the homestead passed to her two sons.  After the death of Fred, the land and buildings were sold and the Sparkling River development began.
 
Through the years Zoula Rowell volunteered much of her time and energy to her town.  What stands foremost in my memory are the many hours spent as a member of the Historical Committee of Hudson Fortnightly and later as Chairman of the House Committee of The Historical Society which restored the Hills House for use as a museum of Hudson’s history.  Her sons Clifford and Fred were also active in town.  Clifton was a partner in an electrical business, Rowell and Miller, which had their office adjacent to the family homestead on Webster Street.  He later had a catering business ‘The Shop’ in the same location.  
 
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Ferryall/Rowell Homestead Litchfield Road C 1900

This photo is part of the Historical Society collection; being donated by an unknown donor.

Robinson Pond Used For Log Storage 1938

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Robinson Pond – Log Storage 1938

The 1938 hurricane struck without warning on Spetember 21, 1938.  The storm roarded up the coast from Cape Hatteras with winds of 75 miles per hour and gusts in excess of 175.  As the storm progressed communications were disrupted so that communities in its track were not alerted to it’s arrival.  At 4:30 pm there were reports of a slight wind; by 5:00 the winds and gusts had increased so vigorously that workers on their way home from work feared for their safety.  Soon trees were crashing down across  the roadways.  Besides the major tree damage, chimneys were toppled, shingles blown from houses, buildings were crushed, and windows were broken.  Whatever was in the path of the wind was blown around with a fury.  By daylight on the next morning the damage was inspected.  Carpenters, bricklayers, masons, and road workers were in demand to repair the damage.  Hudson residents were left without telephones and electricity  for days.
Huge trees were uprooted, some were snapped off like match sticks.  Much of the fine old standing pine timber in Hudson was blown down. A Town Timber Committee was formed by local folks in an effort to salvage the uprooted trees.  Named to this committee were Robert Hardy, Albert Kashulines, and Charles Parker.  The committee met with representatives of the state and federal governments to work out a plan for storing the logs in water to prevent insect damage to the wood.  Robinson Pond was inspected and approved for this purpose.   Owners of the land, John Robinson and Charles Parker, were paid one dollar for its use.
Salvaged logs were trucked to this site on Robinson Road from Pelham, Litchfield,  parts of Nashua, and Hudson. Records were kept listing the owners of the logs, the grade of the logs, and a count.  Logs were measured and stamped.  In the winter the logs were put on scoots and drawn out onto the ice by tractors and rolled off onto the ice; to remain until the ice melted.  The logs remained in the water for two summers. It was estimated that 5 million board feet of lumber were stored here in Robinson Pond.
In the winter of 1939, Bean and Simmonds of Jaffrey, NH owners and operators of a box shop purchased the logs.  Removal of the logs began in 1940.  Two portable steam mills were set up on the “point” at Robinson Pond.  This “point” is now part of the Town Recreation Area and often referred to as Sawdust Island.  The logs were sawed three inches thick and trucked to a nearby field, stacked for drying, and later trucked to Jaffrey.  Bean and Simmonds re sawed them and used them to make ammunition boxes for use in world War II.  Not all logs were removed from the pond.  Occasionally, even to this day, logs drift to shore or pop-op at the pond.
This photo, from the Historical Society Collection, shows logs stacked on the shore of what is now the swimming area for the Town Recreation Area.  The pond is frozen and logs are waiting to be skooted onto the ice.  Across the pond is the open field of what is now 72 Robinson Road.
If you would like to hear more about The Great Hurricane of 1938 please join with The Historical Society on September 22, 2016 at 7:00pm at the Hills House on Derry Road.  Our guest speaker will be Shira Gladstone site manager for Historic New England.

Hudson Speedway C 1947

Hudson Speedway C 1947

Hudson Speedway C 1947

For 70 years, from 1946 to the present, race enthusiasts  of New England have participated in and watched events at the Hudson Speedway.  Located in northern Hudson at what is now the corner of Robinson and Old Derry Roads is this 1/4 mile short oval asphalt  track banked at 12 degrees.  It was initially a dirt track and by 1953 it was paved.
Often times the racing schedule called for 11 individual races during  a Sunday afternoon or evening.  At one time as many as 4,000 race fans were reportedly on hand for these events.  Some Hudson amateur, and not so amateur, drivers participated in events using stock cars they themselves modified and painted for the occasion.  Local race fans Gary and Lorna Granger and their friends Bertha and Richard Ashford drove their cars (#68 and #69) at this raceway and the sister track in Epping, NH.  Stock car races were of several types:  sportsman, modified, demolition derby, powder puff, and spectator races.  This current 2016 season the racing schedule runs from May to October.
The neighborhood and roadways around the Hudson Speedway have changed significantly these past 70 years. Before the early 1950’s the part of Derry Road (Route 102) from Old Derry Road just beyond the Hills House to the Londonderry Flea Market had not been built.  The road we know of as Old Derry Road was The Derry Road.  Robinson Road ended at what is now Old Derry Road at Potash Corner near the Senter Cemetery.  There was an unnamed cross road from this corner to the Litchfield line.  The intersection of Robinson Road, West Road, and Derry Road at The Irving Station and Dunkin Donuts did not exist.
The neighborhood was rural; Nadeau Dairy Farm, Jasper’s Poultry Farm to the south.  On the north towards Londonderry there were there were 2 or 3 houses between the cemetery and the Londonderry line.  The property on Old Derry Road between the speedway and Putman Road, where some 6 houses now exist, was undeveloped and one family lived there.   The  property was later  owned by the town of Hudson for unpaid taxes and in 1955 sold at public auction and by 1971 again sold to a local developer.  By the mid 1970’s there were some 6 families living adjacent to the speedway on Old Derry Road.  Local property owners were issues seasonal passes to the speedway events.
With the increase in residency and continuation of the racetrack activities conflicts  occurred and the local residents organized to seek regulations of the speedway.  The speedway had been in existence for about 25 years before this  occurred.  The issues centered around noise, crowd and traffic control before and after races, litter along highway, and even trespassing on private property.  Neighborhood fields were used for parking with property owners charging for parking; the hours of races were controlled so there were no evening races when school was in session the next day.  To this day, Sunday races continue.  To some of the residents in the area it is part of our neighborhood activities; to others, I am sure, the noise and activities is more that just an inconvenience.
The photo shown here is from an early postcard with the photo by A. Dallaire of Manchester, NH. It is an aerial view looking west to each over the track.  Old Derry Road (Derry Road) is behind the bleachers with a field of the Nadeau Farm across the way being used as a parking lot.  The post card was a recent donation to the Historical Society’s collection.

Lumber Yard on Haselton Farm C 1900

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Lumber Yard on Haselton Farm C 1900

A trolley line through Hudson via Ferry Street was opened to the public in 1902.  At the end of Ferry Street the line went through the woods behind Westview Cemetery, making a sharp turn right and crossing Central Street near Burger King and onto the  Benson’s Property towards Bush Hill Road and behind the Haselton Barn, and then on to Pelham and Canobie Park  in Salem.  This line was popular because of the Canobie Lake Park destination; it was also the most dangerous because of the sharp turns and hilly terrain coupled with the desire to maintain speed.
Our photo for this week shows a lumberyard in the field behind the Haselton Barn on Bush Hill Road.  Planks of sawed lumber have been stacked for drying before distribution or use.  Evident are the tracks from the wagons used to transport to and from the saw mill.  Although the tracks for the trolley line are not visible, we get a sense of where they were from the electric lines behind the barn and near the lumber piles.  On the rear of the barn is a sign “Haselton”.  Why place a sign on the  back side of a barn?  For the benefit of those traveling on the electric trolley.
This undated photo is from the collection at the Historical Society; but, my estimate is circa 1905.  The trolley line is present and the cupola is on the barn.  The donor indicated the lumberyard was operated by George Washington Haselton and his brother-in-law Clifton Buttrick.  Buttrick was another prominent Hudson Center farmer living on Windham Road.  He married Marietta Haselton about 1869.  Unfortunately she passed in 1873 before her husband and brother were in the lumber business together.