Join me for a celebration of the fourth of July 1829 style!
This farm at 34-36 Old Derry Road has been known by many names. To many it is Jasper Farms Annex #2; to others the George N. Dooley Farm; and still others the Stephen D.Greeley place or even the Henry Hills Farm. This is another of the farms which originated from Nathaniel Hills’ 900 undeveloped acres. It was first conveyed by Nathaniel to his oldest son Enoch (born March 1741 in Newbury). It is not clear if Enoch ever lived on the farm or in this town once he reached his majority (age 21). If he did it was before 1746 when the property was a part of Litchfield, MA. Before 1762 it was occupied by members of the John Marsh Family and Deacon Roger Chase. By 1762 it was occupied by Henry Hills, Jr who remained on this farm until he passed in October 1773. His father, Henry Hills, Sr was the middle of the 3 brothers (sons of Samuel and grandsons of Joseph, the immigrant ancestor). who built and settled at the garrison. Henry Sr. was the last member of the Hills family to own the garrison. He sold it to Roger chase. As it was common practice to dismantle a building and use the materials to build another, there is speculation that the dwelling at 36 Old Derry Road may contain pieces of the timbers used in the garrison.
At any rate, Henry Hills, Jr remained on this farm until he passed in October 1773. His widow Hannah and son William continued to live there. William (born 1754) occupied this place for many years–certainly until some time after 1804. It was later owned by Stephen D. Greeley (born 1811 a son of Moses Greeley) and then by George N. Greeley (born 1871) These two men, although a generations apart, had similar backgrounds. Both were farmers and both were active in town and state affairs. Each served as selectman and in the state legislature. In 1881 Greeley served on a committee to examine the wooden Taylor Falls bridge and recommend repair or rebuilt. The actions of this committee resulted in replacing the wooden covered bridge with the iron bridge. Likewise in 1909 Dooley served on a committee which coordinated the replacement of the iron bridge with the cement bridge.
George N. and Ella (Hadley) Dooley raised a family of 4 sons (Arthur, Walter, George H and Phillip) )and a daughter Ella. Growing up they attended the nearby No 9 School House then to Nashua for High School. From personal memoirs we know that George H rode his bicycle the 4 miles to attend High School in Nashua, graduating in 1936. . George N. passed in 1928 at the age of 57 the result of complications resulting from a farm accident. Ella and the family continued to live here until 1935 when the farm was sold to neighbor Grant Jasper who retrofitted existing and build new structures for his expanding poultry business. By 1940 Mrs. Ella Greeley and daughter Ella, sons George and Philip were living on Ferry Street.
Our earliest photo shows the barn at Annex #2 after expansion from 3 stories to 4 stories with the windmill over the well. This windmill was built by George N Dooley and removed in 1958 by the Jasper Family. Our second photo shows the farmhouse C 1912. The first is courtesy of the Jasper Family and the second from the Town of Hudson records.
Nathaniel Hills, Jr, a young man of 23 years, settled on this farm about 1739 when his father transferred some 50 acres of land to him. These acres were part of the 900 acres of unsettled land that Nathaniel Hills,Sr had purchased from Jonathan Tyng. References vary as to the size of Nathaniel,Jr’s family. Kimball Webster in his History of Hudson in indicates that Susan (Baldwin) and Nathaniel Hills, Jr raised a family of 7 girls and 5 boys. When Nathaniel, Jr passed ownership was transferred to his third son, Samuel (born 1769). Likewise, with the passing of Samuel in 1843 ownership passed to Abijah (born 1806) and later to his son Franklin Augustus (born 1846). It is interesting to note that Abijah Hills in 1846, by an act of Legislature, had the family name changed to Hill. Franklin Augustus was a dairy farmer. He and his wife Luelle had one child; a daughter Helen who passed at age 14. In 1926 Franklin’s widow sold the farm to their neighbor, Grant Jasper.
This farm had been home to 4 generations Hill(s); passing from father to son beginning with Nathaniel, Jr. The original dwelling place was replaced C1830; likely while the farm was owned by Samuel or Abijah. The earliest photo we have of this C1830 Farmhouse was taken by the Jasper Family C 1945.
This farm became Annex #1 of Jasper Poultry Farms. Poultry man Jasper expanded the business into this new space. The dairy barn was remodeled into a three-deck poultry barn only to be burned in 1933. A new poultry barn was added as well as other improvements including a breeding/brooding house. From 1935 to 1939 operations at Annex #1 increased rapidly. The C 1830 farmhouse was used as living quarters for the employees of Jasper Farms.
Disaster struck the farmhouse during the early morning of January 17, 1947 when a fire started from the flooding and explosion of an oil burner near the kitchen. The flames from this explosion destroyed the entire house. The family in residence lost all their belongings; but, fortunately escaped without injury. The fire spread so quickly that the telephone could not be reached. The family fled on foot for about 1/4 mile to a neighbor in sub-zero January weather. Our second photo show the 1830 farmhouse as a result of the fire. There is no way of knowing what Hills family records were destroyed with this fire.
Little if any time was lost before rebuilding. The current house, as shown in our third photo, was immediately built using the old foundation.
By 1972, under the management of Robert Jasper, Jasper Poultry Farms ceased operations. However his son, Shawn, reopened a small poultry business at the Annex #1 location from 1979 to 1983. The property remains a part of the Jasper Corporation. The buildings at 62-64 Old Derry Road have been transitioned to retail space for light industrial uses and storage units; this mostly under the management and hard work of Shawn Jasper.
This farm was located on or near the end of Nathaniel Hill’s 900 acres (which proved to be closer to 1600 when finally surveyed). Until 1733 it was within the boundaries of Dunstable, MA; then it was part of Nottingham, MA. In 1734 the town of Litchfield, MA was chartered and this property was within it’s bounds. When the state line between MA and NH was settled this parcel became a part of Londonderry, NH. It finally was annexed to Nottingham West (later Hudson) , NH in 1788. This brief history gives you an idea behind the difficulty one has when researching historical records. All photos are part of the Historical Society Collection; complements of the Jasper Family.
and while a young child the family moved to Lowell, MA where he attended school and graduated from Lowell Textile School in 1912. He worked as an apprentice in the textile industry and then as a weaver for 3 years. His dad, Arthur, was also a weaver and known for his skilled craftsmanship. Preferring to work out doors, Grant went to work at Lord Farm, a poultry farm in Methuen, MA. He spent 20 months there, working and learning the basics of poultry farming.