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Some Ancient History of the Hill Family of Hudson


Aerial View of Garrison Marker

The immigrant ancestor for the Hills Family of Hudson was Joseph Hills; born in England in 1602 he sailed in 1638 on the “Susan & Ellen” and settled in Charleston, MA (later set off as Malden) where he became active in town affairs.  He was a lawyer, leader of the militia, and held many important officers.  He later moved to Newbury.  In 1645, he served on a committee to set off lots in Nashaway Plantation and  In 1648 he wrote the first laws for the colony of Massachusetts.  In return for his services to the colony, he received a grant of some 500 acres in what is now Hudson in 1661.  Of these acres, 450  ran from a few rods north of the Taylor Falls Bridge, north along the east side of the river  beyond Derry Lane to include the site of Hills Garrison.  When the Town of Dunstable, MA was chartered all 450 acres were within the boundaries of that town.
Joseph passed away in 1688.  By his will he divided the 450 acres into 9 parcels  and passed ownership to members of his family.  With one exception no settlement occurred on any of these parcels until ownership passed at least one more time and outside the Hills Family.  The one exception was the northern most parcel of 89 acres he passed to his son Samuel.  By 1710, Nathaniel, Henry, and James, three of Samuel’s sons, built and occupied a garrison house on their father’s land.   Nathaniel was about 27, Henry about 22, and James about 13 years old.
By 1721 Samuel deeded the northern half of his land to Henry and the southern half to son James.  In 1723 James married Abigail Merrill and a few days later he sold to Samuel Whiting and they moved to Newbury.  Some time before 1732 Nathaniel purchased a 900 acre parcel of unsettled land from Jonathan Tyng.  This parcel also bordered on the river and was adjacent to and north of what had been his father’s 89 acres.  Samuel passed away in 1732.
Some time before 1733 Nathanial and his family moved from the garrison onto his 900 acres.  He set up a dwelling about 1/2 mile north of the garrison and near the bank of the river.  He later established and operated a ferry across the river, known as Hills Ferry.  This was operated by him or one of his descendants until 1827 when the first Taylor Falls Bridge was built.
In 1733 the town of Nottingham, MA was chartered to include all Dunstable land east of the river.  In 1734 the town of Litchfield, MA was chartered.  This charter established the southern boundary of Litchfield at the northern most part of the Joseph Hills grant.  Thus, the acres owned by Henry were in Nottingham, MA.  The acres Nathaniel had just purchased were in Litchfield.  About 1739 or 1740 Henry sold his land and the garrison to Deacon Roger Chase.  Henry then moved 1/4 mile east and established a farm on his brother’s land.  By that time none of the Hills Family had any ownership interest in the garrison or the Hills Grant. The families of Nathaniel and Henry were residing on the western part of Nathaniel’s 900 acres.  James, his wife and 4 small children had returned to Nottingham, MA and settled on a farm (now 20 Old Derry Road) which he acquired from his brother.
In 1740 the boundary between NH and MA was established and by 1746 Nottingham West, NH and Litchfield, NH were chartered.  These charters established the boundary between those two towns as we know it today.  During this period of uncertainty over state and town boundaries there were a number of residents  in nearby Londonderry which were of the opinion their homes would become a part of Nottingham West.  When this did not happen these residents petitioned to be annexed.  This became final in 1778 when some 4600 acres of Londonderry became a part of Nottingham West.
Henry Hills remained on his farm until he passed in 1757.  A few years later it was conveyed to his nephew, Elijah Hills.  Elijah was the grandfather of Alden and the great-grandfather of Dr Alfred K. Hills.  Alvirne High School and the surrounding grounds, including the Hills House, are on land which was a  part of this farm.  As time progressed Henry Hills Jr purchased the  farm  which is now 34-36 Old Derry Road.  Also, Nathaniel Hill Jr established a farm (now 62-64  Old Derry Road) upon part of his father’s land.
From 1661 to 1780 the one constant was the land and the location of the land that Nathaniel, Henry, and James and some of their descendants lived on.  Around this many things changed:  What state are you in?  What town do you live in?  Are we being taxed by more that one town?  What county seat do we use to record land purchases?  In the next few weeks we will be Remembering … some of these properties along and near Old Derry Road. This weeks photo, an aerial view of Garrison Farm, shows the original location of the historic marker  for the Hills Garrison.    The marker is in the open field behind the barn left of the roadway through the field.

Aerial View Derry Road 1977

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Aerial View Derry Road 1977

This 1977 aerial photo of  Derry Road was taken from behind the 20th Century Shopping Center (Now 102 Plaza) looking easterly such that  we see Saint Pattrick’s Cemetery, McDonalds, and Hudson Mall across the two-lane Derry Road.
As plans for the new bridge(s) across the Merrimack River evolved in the 1960’s businesses and homes near the old  Taylor Falls Bridge were slated for demolishion.  This included 20th Century Store, White Cross, Hudson Pharmacy,  along with other businesses, apartments, and homes.  Phil Lamoy, owner of the 20th Century Stores announced plans to build a shopping center on the Derry Road; ground breaking on the 25 acre parcel took place in July 1969.  His site included the location of the former Goodwin’s Fried Clam Stand.  Goodwin’s, a popular clam stand and restaurant,  had been located hear since 1931.  By 1970 Lamoy had moved his 20th Century Hudson store into this center which provided retail space for a drug store, beauty shop, barber shop, and restaurant along with a large parking area.  By 1977 the 20th Century Store had given way to Bargain Outlet.  The center went by the name of 20th Century but the store itself was no longer doing business in Hudson.
By August 1970 the president of The Bank of NH (formerly the Second National Bank and now TD Bank) announced the purchase of a spot on the northern part of the 20th Century Center for a branch office.  Just north of the bank was Quigley’s CITGO gas station which began operation about 1972.  This Citgo has morphed over the years into the Mobil Station.    North of the gas station where we now have a Dunkin Donuts and the roadway to Abbott Farms Condominiums we see no development.
Development of Hudson Mall on the opposite side of the road occurred a few years later.  This was the site of Abbott Dairy, operated initially and for many years by George Abbott.  After his sudden death in 1929 his sons Roland and Kenneth ran the milk business.  Local dairy farmers would deliver their milk for processing after which milk and cream were delivered to homes and businesses in the Nashua and Hudson area.  After Roland’s death in 1964, “Kenny” carried on until the property was sold for the new Hudson Mall.  Prior to 1968 the west side of Derry Road near Quigley’s station had been home to Roland and Hazel Abbott and their family.  On the east side, adjacent to Abbott Dairy, was the home of Kenneth and Hilda Abbott and their family.
In 1973 Vickery Realty, owner and developer, publicized their plans to build Hudson Shopping Mall on the east side of Derry Road, just north of St. Patrick’s Cemetery.  The original mall was a multi-million dollar complex of a climate controlled, enclosed sidewalk mall with a large Alexander’s Super Market on the north end.  Alexanders opened for business in 1974; other smaller stores and First Federal Bank soon followed.   By May 1977 McDonald’s Restaurant was added as a stand alone business.
Significant changes have occurred over the years.  In 1988 the Post Office was relocated to this mall.  In 1990 Alexander’s supermarket (now Hannafords) moved up in size and relocated to the south end of the Mall.  At about the same time, the mall itself was modified to eliminate the interior sidewalk.  The space occupied by the original Alexanders has been re-configured into a number of retail spaces.
This photo, from the Historical Society Collection,  was taken for preparation of the publication of Town In Transition.

Hudson Center From Kimball Hill 1946

Hudson Center from School 1946

Hudson Center from School 1946

Traveling down Kimball Hill Road in 1946 one paused in front of the Hudson Center School for this photo of Hudson Center.  Moore’s General Store, at the base of the cemetery and at the intersection of Hamblett Avenue and Kimball Hill Road, began operation about 1925 when Earl “Dinty” Moore purchased the store and house from Harvey Lewis.  At the time Earl Moore was a rural mail carrier for Hudson but his family helped with the operation of the store.  Harvey Lewis had operated a general store at this location since about 1888.
The large, 2 story home in the foreground was home to Earl and Vesta Moore and their family.  Behind the house to the left you can see  the  general store. Parking was limited to along the streets and the short driveway between the store and the house.  Ownership of the store passed from Earl to his son Kenneth.  Later, Kenneth’s brother-in-law Morillo Post entered the business.   After Morillo passed, the business was sold to David and Robert Thompson, both of whom grew up nearby on Hamblett Avenue and had worked for the Moore Family in previous years.  The Thompson Brothers operated the store at this location until November 1969 when fire badly damaged the building.  Rather than rebuild on this site the Thompsons relocated their business to 230 Central Street, now the location of the 7-11.
This property was rebuilt to a smaller size and then rented and later sold.  It is now the location of the ever popular Kahil’s sub and sandwich shop.  You may ask what became of the Moore family residence?  At some point in time it was moved across the street and up the hill slightly to what is now 9 Kimball Hill Road.  This allowed for some parking and permitted the town to widen the streets.
Hudson Center from School 2017

Hudson Center 2017

Looking at the rest of the photo, we see Hamblett Avenue looking toward Wattannick Grange.  Also, beyond the cemetery are the Baptist Church and the church parsonage.  At the time of this photo, this was home to Jessie (Wentworth) Gilbert. As a point of
comparison we have included a photo of that same location in 2017.The mailbox and driveway on the left are for 9 Kimball Hill Road, the current location of the Moore home.
Photo courtesy of Esther McGraw and a part of the collection of the Historical Society.

EssoHeat Truck Crash May 23, 1947

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Essoheat Truck Crash May 23, 1947

On May 23, 1947 John J. Montgomery of Lowell, MA was operating this EssoHeat delivery truck in Hudson on route to a delivery in Derry.  At about 3:00 pm he lost control of the vehicle near the Gile home on Derry Road and crashed headlong into a stone Wall.  Mr. Montgomery was shaken up but escaped serious injury.  The front end of the truck was badly damaged. Police Chief Polak reported the accident was due to faulty steering mechanism.

Police Chief Polak detailed police officers to guard the truck and also called for a fire truck which remained at the scene as a safety measure until 10:00pm.  Assistant Fire Chief Harry D. Emerson was in charge.

I had no idea where the Giles home was on Derry Road.  In 1947 Derry Road also included Old Derry Road out to the Londonderry Line.  After a trip to the Registry of Deeds and access to the town records I learned that the Giles home had been  located at what is now 145 Old Derry Road.  As you travel on Old Derry Road, heading towards Londonderry, you pass the Hudson Speedway and the intersection with Robinson Road. On your left is the Senter Cemetery.  About 1/10 mile further you come to 145 Old Derry Road on your right


Elizabeth Gile  purchased this homestead in 1944.  Prior to that the property was owned by Alphonse Lee and his wife Delima.  Prior to that it was owned by members of the Heath family and earlier the Senter Family.  In 1952 Roy Cross and his wife Lena (Avery)  purchased the property from the estate of Elizabeth Gile.  Roy Cross passed in 1959 and Lena continued to make this her home until she passed in 1970.  In 1972 the property was purchased by Paul F. Gauvreau from Lena’s daughter Flora Kinsey.  Paul had a keen interest in this section of Hudson particularly the Poor Farm and the Poor Farm Cemetery behind the farmhouse on Old Derry Road.  Paul’s research was instrumental in kindling public awareness of the old Poor Farm Cemetery.