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