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The Cross Homestead on Barrett’s Hill Road

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Cross Farm on Barrett’s Hill Road

 

This undated photo of the Cross home on Barrett’s Hill Road came to the Historical Society from the estate of Jessie Gilbert and was later identified as being the home Arden Cross. None of the individuals in the photo were identified.

27 year old Hiram Cross purchased land on Barretts Hill Road from William T. Baldwin in 1846. By the end of 1847 Hiram and Sarah Savage were married in Hudson. The 1850 census shows Hiram and Sarah as supervisors of the poor farm (Alms House) along with nine clients ranging in age from 90 to as young as 9. Perhaps this position provided living space while they prepared to build their home or even provided some financial assistance. By 1860 Hiram and Sarah were living in their own farmhouse on Barretts Hill Road along with three sons; William (age 8), Addison (age 4), and Arden (age 2).

Hiram was a fifth generation descendant of Nathan Cross (B:1703 in England). Nathan settled in Dunstable and in 1724, while our town was still a part of Dunstable, MA, purchased a part of the Joseph Hills Farm along what is now Derry Road.

For 125 years or so, the Cross farm on Barretts Hill Road was operated first by Hiram, then by his son Arden (B:1855 D:1927), then by his grandson Nathan Erwin (B:1894 D:1991). Hiram passed in 1892, at which time he was survived by four sons. In addition to William, Addison, and Arden, there was a younger son Herbert some 9 years younger that Arden. Ownership of the farm passed to Arden as each of the other sons had moved to neighboring towns.

The second family to operate the Cross farm was that of Mary Willoughby and Arden Cross. Mary was native to Hollis and they were married in 1893. Their family consisted of a son, Nathan Erwin (B:1894) and a daughter Ruth Vivian (B:1898). We do have some ideas about the farming activities on the Cross Farm. Arden had a productive dairy herd. In 1906 he added two Jersey cows to this herd. The less stony fields surrounding the homestead were used to grow and harvest hay for the winter use. The stony fields were used to pasture the herd during the warmer months. The family garden and orchard was the source of most food supplies: potatoes, carrots and other root crops. apples and pears from the orchards. Neighboring farmers would often assist each other with work which required more than one person: haying, picking apples, digging and storing potatoes to name a few. One major winter activity was harvesting ice blocks from nearby Robinson Pond and stacking then in the ice house using sawdust for insulation.

The third generation was that of Emma Lane, from Claremont, and Nathan Erwin Cross (B:1894). They were married about 1920. There are indications that Nathan Erwin, often known of as Erwin, lived near Clarement prior to their marriage. About 1921 Erwin and Emma returned to Hudson to assist his father who was having difficulty with advanced age and poor eyesight. Erwin and Emma had one daughter, Helen, born about 1932. She attended Hudson Schools and then Nashua High School. After high school graduation she attended Colby College in ME. In March 1955 she married Edward Stabler of New York and made that state her home. Erwin continued with the farming operation until advancing age and poor eyesight required he retire. He continued to reside at the homestead on Barretts Hill as long as possible; spending his last few years with his daughter and her family in New York. The home in Hudson was vacant for many years and has since been demolished. The land which was the Cross Farm is located at the corner of Barretts Hill and Tiger Roads.

Let’s return to the photo for a few moments. It was taken by “Eaton Photographer Oppo. City Hall, Nashua, N.H.” according to the information on the back of the original photo. Thanks to research by Jim Hogan of Nashua we are able to isolate the date of this photo to be circa summer of 1870. Eaton Photographer was listed as a business in the Nashua City Directory but only once, and that was in the 1870-1871 edition. In the same edition, the residential section had a listing for “Eaton, Asa B., photographer, 91 Main St, opp City Hall, house at Hollis” This has also been supported by the 1870 census for Hollis.

Given the Cross family history this is a photo of the home of Hiram Cross, father of Arden. The man on the right would be Hiram (age about 51) and the younger man on the left would be his older son William (age about 18). Arden (age about 8) is not in the picture. Back next to and almost hidden by the shrub between the windows is a woman, likely Hiram’s wife, Sarah. The “photographic artist” placed the men away from the shade of the trees and had them remove their hats so as to make their faces more visible. Possibly Sarah shied away from being in the photo because she does not have on her fancy clothes.

The man and the horse and carriage might be a neighbor passing by who stopped to watch as the photo was taken. It may also be the transportation the photographer used that particular afternoon to drive through the country taking photographs. Notice that he seems to be holding the reins tight so as to control the horse. Also, the carriage is taking up most of the width of the dirt, narrow, Barretts Hill Road. Thanks to Jim Hogan, a historic writer and researcher from Nashua for sharing his work with the Society.

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