Do You remembers Fast Day? A day of fasting and prayer was common during provincial New Hampshire. As time progressed this day lost most of its original purpose, even so Fast Day continued as a state holiday until 1985.
The first Fast Day was proclaimed by the General Assembly of the Province of New Hampshire in 1681 when our state was under the rule of the king of England and it was continued for some 300 years. We remember a holiday on the 4th Monday of April where schools and businesses were closed, state and town offices were closed, and many state newspapers did not publish. As this was not a national holiday the postal system remained open. The observance of Fast Day in NH continued until 1985 at which time it became optional. By 1991 it ceased to exist when the NH Legislature adopted Civil Rights Day in January. Later in 1999, under the governorship o f Jeanne Shaheen, that holiday was changed to Martin Luther King Day.
To most the tradition meant a day off from work or the beginning of April vacation in our schools. To some it signaled the beginning of our state’s summer tourist season. Some with longer memories may remember it as a spring Thanksgiving – signaling the end of winter and expressing hope for a good planting for the new growing season. Let’s step back in time and look at the origin of Fast Day
John Cutt along with two brothers Robert and Richard immigrated to the NH province from Wales prior to 1646. John settled at Strawberry Bank which later became Portsmouth. He was a merchant and after settling in Portsmouth he acquired a large parcel of land, became a farmer and a mill-owner. The Cutt brothers came to America in order to seek their fortunes as opposed to religious freedom; they brought capital and expertise to the area and became leading merchants and ultimately some of the wealthiest men in the New Hampshire colony. In July 1662 John married Hannah Starr and they had several children. She passed November 1674 and was laid to rest In his orchard. He married a second time about 1675 to Ursula Cutt.
In 1679 when the Province of New Hampshire was separated from Massachusetts the king appointed John Cutt as president of the council of New Hampshire which consisted of the president along with three men appointed to assist him The provincial government consisted of the council and an assembly which included representatives of each of the towns in the province. This was an earlier version of our present Governor and Executive Council. Two years later President Cutt, then in his 60’s, became seriously ill. The council proclaimed a day of public fasting and prayer for March 17, 1681 on behalf of the popular Cutt in an effort to improve his health. These efforts were unsuccessful as Cutt passed about two weeks later. Through his will he made provision for a family cemetery in his orchard where he had buried his first wife Hannah and his deceased children. He was laid to rest in this family burial ground
The council decided to continue the practice of an annual fast day and within a year they passed a proclamation making it a permanent holiday. History tells us that fasting and prayer were common in the early colonial days as a way of helping with the problems of the times.
By the late 1800’s fast day had lost most of it’s original significance was gone. The states of Maine and Massachusetts which had celebrated Fast Day discontinued the holiday in favor of Patriots Day. In 1897 then Govenor of New Hampshire Ramsdell urged the legislature to likewise discontinue the holiday. Rather than abolish they passed legislation in 1899 to make it a legal state holiday. The date was flexible but it became customary for the governor to declare Fast Day as the last Thursday of April. This continued until 1949 when legislation established the fourth Monday of April as Fast Day. This provided state employees with a long weekend. It also became the time for the April school vacation.
Today New Hampshire’s unique holiday has passed into history. Perhaps the single reminder of it’s existence is the April school vacation schedule for on the 4th week in April as opposed to neighboring states which take their vacation during the week of Patriots Day.
This photo shows the State House in Concord. This is the oldest state house in the country in which the legislative body still occupies the original chambers.
As we continue down Lowell Road one of the earlier industries to establish itself was Scottie Industries; a manufacturer of sneakers and custom neckwear. Offered employment to many folks from Hudson.
Researching the history of an area makes one aware of the changes which occur over time. This is as true with Hudson as perhaps any other town; particularly along our major roadways like Lowell Road where we have seen a major shift from agricultural use to industrial use. By the 1960’s land use was changing and land values were on the increase. As a result taxes were also on the increase and local farm families were finding it harder and harder to earn a living. Younger generations were attracted to good jobs and professions off the farm. At the same time the older generations were of retirement age and were attracted to selling their land at what was, for that time, a good profit.
By 1969 a small industrial area off of Lowell Road on Roosevelt Avenue was under construction. By the summer of 1970 Scottie Industries, Inc was operating a plant for manufacturing canvas footwear. The facility included a warehouse, office area, and an outlet store. For the employees and their families Scottie’s also had a 42×18 foot indoor swimming pool maintained by reliable personnel. New Hampshire and Hudson offered an excellent business climate: lower acquisition costs, lower taxes, and an available labor force. Many from Hudson, particularly women, were employed here. In time full operation was moved to Hudson from Lowell, MA. Scottie’s also had a line of custom neck ware.
Scottie Industries remained in operation into the 1990’s when once again we see changes brought on from competition from larger shoe/sneaker manufacturers. The building at 8 Roosevelt Avenue is currently used as a warehouse for Ashley/Ashbrook Furniture.
This photo of Scottie Industries on Roosevelt Avenue was taken c1975 for use in preparation of “Town In Transition”.
Every once in a while we come upon a photo which tells it’s own story. In many ways this C 1922 photo of the World War I Memorial at Library Park is one of those photos. Library Park, that beautifully maintained triangular park bounded by Ferry, Derry, and Library streets was a gift to the Town of Hudson by Mary Field Creutzborg and the efforts of her son-in-law Dr. Alfred Hills. There is a granite boulder with a tablet at the park near the intersection of Ferry and Derry Streets The tablet reads: LIBRARY PARK – The gift of Mary Field Creutzborg 1911. Just prior to 1911, this parcel of land was owned by parties living in Nashua. It was sub-divided it into eleven house lots and offered for sale. Two had been sold and a house was being erected on one of them. The residents of Hudson were beginning to realize that a potential of eleven houses in that area would be of no real value. There had been earlier discussion about acquiring the land for a public park; but, no action had been taken. A special town meeting was called May 15, 1911 to see if the town would authorize the Selectmen to acquire this land by eminent domain for the purpose of a public park. Dr Hills offered a resolution: that the Selectmen be authorized to acquire the property for a public park, to be known as Library Park, at no expense to the town. The resolution passed unanimously. The owner of the house under construction was compensated with a much larger lot in a more desirable location.
The First World War began in Europe during July 1914 and for the first years the United States had a policy of non-involvement. After the sinking of the Lusitania and the killing of some 190 Americans and later attacks on US ships, the United Stated declared war on Germany April 1917. The Armistice which lead to the end of conflicts was signed November 11, 1918.
Between 1917 and 1919 some 71 young men from Hudson were engaged in the Armed Forces. A listing of these servicemen was maintained by historian Julia (Webster) Robinson. At the town meeting in March 1920 the town voted to construct a tablet to honor these men and by early 1922 this granite boulder and attached bronze tablet was placed on Library Park by at a cost of $977.65 to the town. The Dunklee Construction Co. was paid $647 to move this huge boulder onto the park and place it on a foundation. The Hillsborough Granite Co. was paid $30 to cut and shape the boulder for the bronze tablet. The William Highton & Sons Co, was paid $300 for the bronze tablet and setting it into the stone.
Of these 71 service men 3 lost their lives during the conflict. On June 25, 1922 three newly planted trees were formally designated as memorials to these three young men who paid the supreme sacrifice in the World War; a bronze marker was set at the base of each of these trees. These trees were a gift of a local member of the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) Chapter. The dedication ceremony was shared between the GAR and the Town of Hudson. The three servicemen memorialized by these trees were Pvt. Leland H. Woods, Pvt. Carlton L. Petry, and Pvt. Harold M. Spalding.
Leland H. Woods was born February 1897 in Hollis, NH. His parents were Frank A. and Cora Anna Woods. Frank was employed as a brakeman for the Boston and Maine Railroad. Leland registered for the draft in Townsend, MA and entered the US Army via the draft board in Nashua. His death in February 1919 at Coblenz, Germany was the result of disease. He was laid to rest in the Hillside Cemetery, Townsend, MA.
Carlton L. Petry was born November 1888 in New York City. His parents were Alfred and Louisa Petry. When Carlton registered for the draft he was living in Hudson and employed as a farm worker by Paul Butter. He was killed in action while serving in France.
Harold M. Spalding was born July 1889 in Hudson. His parents were Charles Laton and Sarah (Merrill) Spalding. When Harold registered for the draft at the age of 27 he was employed as a locomotive fireman for the New England Gas and Coke Co, in Everett, MA. He passed away February 1919 at Noyems Loiset Cher, France. He was laid to rest in Sunnyside Cemetery here in Hudson.
This photo of the WW I memorial is the earliest I have seen of Library Park; being completely open, uncultivated, and with no landscaping. The pre-civil war cannon which we see there today was not placed at Library Park until May 1929. Looking beyond the boulder to the left we see the home of Harry Kendrik House (also knows as the G. O. Sanders and Lenny Smith House). Noticeable is the spire on the ell of this great victorial home. To the right of the boulder we see homes along Derry Road beyond what is now French Insurance Agency.
In sharp contrast to Library Park of 1922 our second photo was taken this past week from about the same location. You may ask Where are the memorial trees which were planted in 1922 as a memorial to Privates Woods, Petry, and Spalding? We have searched the park for the specific trees with the memorial markers, but these specific trees and their markers could not be located.
You are encouraged to keep your eyes open for changes comming to Library Park a couple of weeks prior to Memorial Day. This park will become the site of “Field of Honor” at Hudson Library Park. This is a local effort sponsored by the Hudson American Legion, Post #48 which offers area residents an opportunity to honor military veterans and first responders. A flag with the name of each honoree will be flying at Hudson’s Field of Honor until June 14th, Flag Day.
As we continue to travel down Lowell Road and revisit historical sites we come to the power house; used to convert electricity for use by the Nashua Street Railway Company. Electric car service on Lowell Road was discontinued by 1931. A short time after that 48 Lowell Road was repurposed into a private dwelling. This article was first published in August 2016. Since that time the dwelling house remains and the surrounding area re-configured for commercial usage, including a barber shop/salon.
The trolley or electric street cars provided a cheap, pleasant, and relatively rapid form of public transportation in Hudson from 1895-1931. There was a trolley line from Nashua’s Tremont Square (corner of Main and Pearl Street) that proceeded east over the Taylor Falls Bridge thru Hudson via Central Street, Lowell Road, and on to Lakeview and Lowell, MA. The New Hampshire portion of this line was owned by the Nashua Street Railway, but operated under a lease by the Lowell and Suburban Street Railway Company (later known as Bay State Street Railway Company). The power to operate this line was provided by a Bay State owned substation on what is now River Road adjacent to Aeyers Pond.
In 1918 the Bay State Company discontinued service and turned the line back to Nashua Street Railway Company. The Nashua Company chose to operate the line and picked up the previously discontinued service down Lowell Road to Stewerts Corner (junction of Lowell with Dracut and River Roads) making 2-3 trips a day to accommodate workers, students, and week-end picnickers. The needed electric service was no longer provided by the Bay State powerhouse; it was supplied by the Nashua Light, Heat, and Power Company and converted to DC type at 600 volts in Nashua and Hudson. In Hudson, a powerhouse was constructed for this purpose at what is now 48 Lowell Road. This building was of sturdy construction as evidenced by the large beams and crossbeams used in the basement to shore up the main floor of the building.
The end of the electric cars occurred gradually as the auto became more and more affordable and popular. By 1924 they were operating at a loss and by 1931 they were discontinued in Hudson. Soon thereafter, the Powerhouse on Lowell Road was re-purposed into a private residence.
For nearly 50 years, beginning in 1956, this was home to Vincent J. Zelonis and his wife Mary (Wisneski) and their large family. Vincent was a man of many interests and talents – a devoted gardner and accordian player. He worked in the culinary field at a number of resort hotels. He attended technical school and received his diploma in refrigeration and air conditioning. During WWII he served in the Army and maintained HVAC-R equipment at a base in Puerto Rico. After the war he worked for J. Lawrence Hall Co. of Nashua and in 1953 started his own HVAC-R business, Hudson Service Company, where he worked with his sons William, Charles, and Daniel and his brother Richard. Vincent passed in 2005. Son Daniel and his wife Gayle and family continued to reside at 48 Lowell Road until a few years ago when the property was offered for sale. Daniel was a CPA and established his accounting and bookkeeping services here about 1979 until his retirement. Daniel and Gayle continue to live in Hudson and are active in various church and community organizations.
Within the past 2 weeks this property has been sold. After almost 85 years as a private residence, nearly 60 of them with the same family, we are about to witness a new era for this property. Will it be used for residential or will it be re-purposed again?
We share two photos of this property. The first shows the house and business of Vincent Zelonis C 1983 as seen from Lowell Road. The second shows the house as seen from the south side, looking north about two weeks ago. Both photos are from the Historical Society Collection.